I can also be heard talking about wrestling.
I can also be heard talking about wrestling.
As if by some strange miracle I actually managed to get to work on the book before 10am this morning so had a good blast at it for a couple of hours. I’ll need to go and wash the breakfast dishes eventually but I’m now over 34,000 words. At around the 25,000 mark I was thinking this story might peg out before the 55-60,000 I wanted to get to. Now, with about 20,000 to go, I’m worried I won’t be able to wrap it up in time. It’s a much happier problem to have though.
I’m becoming more and more concerned with how I’m handling time shifts in the story. It’s very much a 50/50 split between the events of ten years previous and the girl’s initial disappearance and what happens after her return. It’s sometimes feels hard to piece all this together without seeming like it’s terribly confusing being as it features the same characters. I’m finding myself laying down markers with scenery and parts of the actual town itself changing. Heck knows if this is working or not.
But progress is good and I’m feeling a ton better about it than I was even a month ago.
The characters are beginning to morph.
Even after all the notes I made this time last year about each and every character in this thing I’m finding that the more I write the more they’re changing. A good example would be the girl who actually goes missing.
Originally, throughout all the planning stages, this character was always ten years old. It seemed like a good number and it was actually the age that my son was at the time. As a result of that it seemed really easy to write. As I’ve got further along the word count though I’ve realised that her actions and mannerisms seem to make her that little bit older. One of the main police investigations into her vanishing is the theory that she’s gone off to meet a boy against her Mother’s wishes. Ten years old would seem rather young for this sort of thing to happen, fourteen would make a lot more sense.
So I’m keeping going for the meantime but it’s painfully obvious in the structure currently that her character has altered halfway through. It’ll end up being one of the main things I’ll be smoothing out when the time comes for rewrites.
We stand at 33500 words.
Whilst this blog is usually writing about whatever I’m actually supposed to be writing at the time I have, on occasion, written about other people who are doing good things locally. It’s not exactly as if I have vast numbers reading this blog and the people in question will instantly get a massive boost in numbers. It’s more that it’s very easy to be negative about anybody making cool projects from scratch and sometimes you just need to know that somebody else appreciates what you’re doing.
This will be one of those posts.
Give me a bit of space to set the scene here…
Carlisle is not a massive city. In fact I could pretty much get away with saying that Carlisle is like eight different villages sellotaped together with a shopping district in between. Sometimes it even has the attitude to match. Anything cultural seems to get storied away in small pockets of the city and only let out for a couple of hours a day for grazing purposes. The usual big chain stores exist in Carlisle but it seems a bit tougher for the smaller, individual shops who may specialise in a particular field. Most bigger cities I’ve been to have stores dedicated to comic books and general geekery almost by default. Carlisle never really has, until now.
1Up is in very early days having only just opened their doors at the tail end of 2017. I’ve been in a couple of times firstly to check it out and then to buy new pieces for the X-Wing Miniatures game and some new Batman comics. I don’t know the guys who run it but they always come across as really friendly and willing to put the time in to this fantastic venture.
Building such a business from scratch is difficult and they’ve recently started a crowdfunder to pull some initial cash together and get furniture for the store so they can make it not only a shop but a hub for the culture in the local area. You can read the details on the link right here…
A lot of the time when any new business is covered by the local press the words ‘This is just what Carlisle needs’ are spoken even when it’s the 100th bar or sandwich shop in the city centre. Those words are true for this project however because there is certainly nothing like this in the area. Carlisle does indeed need something like this.
If you have some money going free then please chuck it in the pot. If you’re near Carlisle then pop on by and see for yourself the start of something a bit special. Even if you’re miles away or in another country altogether then still donate. You’ll have the warm glow of knowing you’ve helped somebody get a good project on the road.
Writing a blog about writing a book is difficult to keep interesting at the best of times. When progress on aforementioned book has ground to a halt in recent months then it’s even harder. The noise of Christmas and New Year has now faded in the rear view mirror and I’ve suddenly became very much aware that it was one year ago since I started writing the basic outline and notes for the story. The actual task of putting words on the page was started in March and I made fairly steady progress over the summer months. Then in October, once the nights had started drawing in, I reached a part of the story in which the whole thing seemed to suddenly run out of steam. It’s been hard picking back up after that and I’ve constantly been saying to myself that I’ll return to it. That return keeps getting shoved back.
Reading what I have so far confirms the worst fear that it’s 30,000 words of utter nonsense. It’s a combination of small town Scotland, aliens, child abduction and people not quite seeming what they are. If that sounds like it shouldn’t hang together well then rest assured that at this current moment you are indeed correct. The overwhelming feeling is that even if I do charge forward and reach the end then the editing job to get it anywhere near watertight at the end is massive.
I seem to have spent the first two weeks of 2018 taking up other projects separate from the book which seems like a subliminal effort to avoid actually doing anything about the thing. I’ll write about video games over on Dragon In The Castle and I’ve had the mad notion to start a printed games fanzine. I’m also still involved in the pro wrestling podcast called Conquistabores. I’ve also had the pleasure of being invited up to Edinburgh on a fairly regular basis to talk about Doctor Who on another podcast called The Polis Box.
These things are all great fun and I look forward to participating in them. The strange thing is that I’m struggling most with the one that I’m solely responsible for. It seems just that little bit uphill at the moment and the hope is that I find a thread sometimes soon and carry on. I have a feeling that once I hit a rich vein then it’ll become far easier.
If I had a publisher then they’d probably be yelling at me down the phone right now. They would tell me to put down the car wash sponge as the car was only a little bit dirty and it’s about to rain anyway. They would tell me to stop filing my nails down. They would tell me that the list of video games I have made that I think need completed by the end of 2017 isn’t really the most important thing in my life right now.
There would then follow a long talk about how it’s coming along gradually and that the chapter I was having so much trouble with has now been finished. The completion has brought with it a complete red herring as far as the police officer’s investigation is concerned and a brand new character who will only remain in the story for another chapter at the most.
We’d then move onto how the final phase of the book currently tilts between and ending which will be fun to write but doesn’t make much sense and another which is the polar opposite.
Then we’d laugh and laugh.
Promising to do this all again next week before hanging up.
I’m quite glad at this stage that I don’t have a publisher.
As you might have noticed the book has slowed down to a pitiful grind in recent weeks. In fact I think it might well have been around a month since I last put a word towards the thing at all. This is for a multitude of reasons, some of which will actually go into the nuts and bolts of the story so have a spoiler warning for something that doesn’t even fully exist yet if that kind of thing really bothers you.
It’s mainly been down to a moment of truth between two characters. The story has turned into something of a time slip. Half of the book is set ten years previously when the young girl actually went missing in the first place and the other half concentrates on her return a decade later. It’s been a bit of an effort to separate these two time lines and sometimes certain characters can have completely different opinions of each other within a few pages because we go into a new chapter and events have taken hold in the years between. I’ve made certain lengths to not put the same characters in joining chapters for this reason but it sometimes feels like I should because it would be best for the story.
There’s also the issue of giving correct signifiers of which time frame the story is in. I have buildings that thrive in the town of 2007 then crumble in 2017. There’s a cinema in the main street that two of the characters walk past in the earlier time line, it’s an empty husk by the time the modern events occur. I’m not sure if it actually makes any kind of difference and I think I might well be running out of examples to use. With this story originally being intended as a ninety minute film with minimal locations it’s becoming quite regular that I find myself describing somewhere I’ve already given details of a few chapters before.
The chapter I’m currently writing has the male police officer receive the report of the missing girl from her Mother. The Mother is obviously panic stricken so she spends the first few pages almost babbling at him. He’s the calm one, insisting that it’s probably nothing and they’ll find her fairly quickly. It’s two obvious, opposing ideologies at play and it should work better that it currently is. Reading it back now she just comes across as hysterical and he sounds like he doesn’t care.
I was reading something about police investigations on missing people and something really stuck with me. Apparently there is always a reason why somebody goes missing. Nobody just vanishes without a reason. The first thing investigators do rather than go out physically looking for the person in question is search their home/room/office/car so try and find something that would lead them to run away. With this in mind I have the police officer insisting on searching this girl’s room rather than go down to the harbour where she was last seen. Her Mother cannot see the point in all of this and protests as such.
But then the issues come up of what exactly would he find there? This girl has gone down to the beach, found an alien life form, had an alien parasite placed on her and then given back after ten years underwater. There’s really nothing he could possibly turn up under her bed that would lead to this conclusion. This begs the question of what the point of this part of the story is. I’ve written about 500-600 words on that chapter, looked at what I had so far and wanted to delete the whole thing. It’s the first time I’ve felt that way about anything I’ve written towards this story.
If I’m getting rid of this thread then I’ve found it really hard to think of what to replace it with. Do I just have them go down to the beach and scrap the more ‘realistic’ aspect of a police investigation? Would the mother refuse police help if she thought it wasn’t really going anywhere? Is it possible to make him come across as calm without making it sound like he doesn’t actually care about what happens to this girl? There’s a certain level of inconsistency at the moment as to why these characters are doing what they are doing which is undermining the whole thing.
Wider ranging questions have been brought up regarding the story also. Why exactly has the Mother come back ten years later? Does she seek closure? Does she seriously expect to find her daughter in the town she left? Is she chasing a much happier time in her life? Is she driven by a wish to change what happened in the aftermath of this event? When reading back the text so far she seems like she herself doesn’t truly know and it makes her sound less of a fully rounded character and more of a floating emotion minus heft and weight.
The current word count is halfway towards what I consider the finish line to be (as far as a first draft goes, they’ll be a heck of a lot of editing to do once I get there). I’m spending a lot of time looking back at what I have so far and wondering if it’s actually a worthwhile investment of time. All kinds of doubts have crept in and are starting to take root. This fundamental disconnect between two main characters is not helping matters.
There’s a way back in there somewhere and I’m glad in a way to have had some time away from it so I can view it from a much wider angle but time is ticking onwards. I started the book in March 2017 just before the clocks went forwards. Now I’m here, in October, with the clocks about to go back again and at the stage when I really thought I’d have a full draft by now. There’s a long winter ahead.
Blame it on getting past the halfway marker on the book but I’ve been thinking a whole lot about endings recently. A chain of thought that led from the ending of the book and spanned further outwards into how everything ends, eventually stopping in one form or another. Then I began to think about ideas and projects of my own.
It’s said that Stanley Kubrick only made one film of each genre. Whilst I’ve had a look at his filmography and that statement isn’t completely accurate there is a tendency to regard his main cannon of movies cornerstones in their particular field. His Science fiction movie was 2001, his horror The Shining, his comedy Dr Strangelove and hell knows what Eyes Wide Shut was going to be.
I have no idea if this will be the only book I ever write. For something that I felt like doing just to give it a go it’s going fairly well. Any thought that I’d have it done by the time the clocks go back has pretty much faded right now though. If it is the first and last book I ever write then at least I can say I’ve written one.
This in turn got me thinking about all the small, one time projects I could do and then never make another one of that particular type again. Then I got down to writing a list.
1X Short Film.
When I was in college one of my tutors encouraged us to write a list at the start of each week with what you hoped to achieve. He added that he always put something at the top that either you’d already done or were close to doing so you could cross it off straight away and have a psychological boost right off the bat. This would be mine. Already done, made and screened. One day I’ll stop banging on about it.
1X Feature Film
Still working on this one, script have been done but nothing picked up yet.
Currently in progress.
1X Comic Book.
I’ve always had a few ideas kicking about for a comic book actually but I cannot draw to save my life so I’d need somebody who could.
Once again I cannot play any musical instruments at all but about a year ago I went round to a friend’s house who certainly can. We had a system running where I hummed stuff and he translated it into guitar and drums. It was a really fun day and we had something akin to a song by the time we were done. The idea of just making one album or strange bleeps and bloops, never playing it life in any way and only producing about three physical copies of it just appeals to me.
1X Radio Play.
Something creepy with sound. Quite doable on a really low budget, at home with decent microphones too.
1X Published Short Story.
In a magazine or something along those lines.
1X Video game.
Probably something with a bit of story to it especially as I’m really only able to make text adventures right now.
1X Any of the above but under the banner of Doctor Who
Because the day I get to write ‘TARDIS lands’ I will truly have to stop myself from flipping out.
Working through this list I feel I could die a happy man. Probably quite poor but still happy.
The more I’ve got into writing this book the more I’ve began to appreciate and be inspired by others online who are trying to get their dreams and ideas into reality. I’ve usually never met these people (but would certainly try and say hello if I ever did) but their individual stories do remind me that, when ploughing through another thousand words or so, there might just be something really special at the end of all of this. For the last few weeks I’ve been thoroughly addicted to watching Games As Lit 101 on YouTube in which Samuel Gronseth casts a critical eye over interactive media. I’d been watching a lot of his videos (drawn in mostly be his remarkable analysis of Bioshock) when his latest video describing his personal circumstances landed.
Rather than waffle on about it myself I’ll just put the video right here.
Once again I’ve never met Samuel nor ever spoken to him but I wanted to go right ahead and sign up to his Patreon because I really enjoy what he’s doing and want to help him advance it to the stage that he obviously reckons he can. There have been so many times whilst watching his videos that he’s introduced completely new ideas regarding games I long since thought I knew everything about.
I’ve signed up to $4 a month which isn’t a huge amount (does four bucks buy you a coffee and doughnut over that side of the Atlantic these days?) but I hope it goes some way to getting to his target. If you like video games and don’t just regard them as junk, throw away entertainment then I’d certainly recommend chucking Samuel some money so he can expand his show and bring his ideas to life.
Also, he likes cats so that’s an automatic thumbs up from me.
Now I need to go and write more words.