Mid-Oct check-in…

 Erk! See, this is what happens when you take a break. The writing goes out the window, and you should see what’s been creeping in:

  • sock making
  • ginger beer making (and bottling)
  • yogurt making
  • sushi creation
  • general baking (including a dangerously good sesame-seed brittle that I think has been my undoing)
  • book reading (A Darker Shade of Magic, VE Schwab)
  • TV-watching (finished season 3 of Downton Abbey)
  • travel (a trip up to Taupo over the school holidays)
  • Actual socialising with real people
  • Exercising

Shocking, I know. And now I am trying to slowly put the lid back down on all of these very fun activities that need to take a backseat to the writing of words, it is proving to be rather difficult.

This always happens to me. I am a person of many interests, and it is usually not long before I get distracted. The word count card of September did amazing things to keep me on track, and I think I will be starting another for November.

No, I’m not going to do NaNoWriMo. I successfully “completed” years 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010, with pieces that I still look at with a sense of awe and dread. Yes, I think I have proven to myself that I can push through something and get the words down on the page. But I’m not sure if writing 1,667 words per day really allows me to ferment/percolate the way I have been with my current book/novel/thing.

Then again…a 50k injection might be just what I need right now. Currently at 39,428 words. Oh help, just when I’d decided I wouldn’t. Maybe…?

September wordcount

Well! That was a really interesting month, and a much more productive one than I’ve had in a while.

Things didn’t end too well, as you can see in the last few days of the month, with the 30th consisting of a busy day with the sproglet and then a surprise bottle of bubbly that Steve brought home. Seeing as surprise bottles of bubbly are a rarity in our house I wasn’t about to start looking that gift horse in the mouth. It was good fun, and hey, I sneaked in there past the hoped-for minimum goal, even with five days of missed writing.

So how are things looking? The grand total for September was 23,246 words, and I’m rather keen to try and beat that this month. That said, it’s currently school holidays, and though the wee one’s not old enough for school, she’s not going to playcentre and I’m not getting my two or three drop-offs each week, which makes a mental difference for me. We’re also going to head to stay with my parents for five days or so, and though I’m taking my laptop, it’s not realistic to think I am going to be able to consistently get the words in while we’re there.

The manuscript is at 37,407 words though, and I’m pretty happy with that, as it’s officially in the “middle stage” as opposed to the “I’m writing a novel, really,” early bits. It’s feeling like there is a bit of weight and momentum behind it now, so much so that I feel relatively ok about what’s going to amount to a whole week missing in my writing schedule.

That said, it feels good to have a brain-break. I’m sure I’ve mentioned earlier that I plan a bit and pants a bit, and most days of writing usually involve a bit of dread when I sit down at the keyboard. You know: “oh god, what am I going to pull out of my arse today?”

Not exactly out of my arse. But you know what I mean. If I’m lucky I might be able to drum up a few new insights while I’m holidaying (and sharing a bed with the sproglet, eep!). Then again, I might be lucky to get any sleep and any sort of a break and the next five or so days might just consist of semi-vegetating in front of Dad’s golf on TV.

But no pressure. I have to keep reminding myself that I’m a mum, with a small person, who is still managing to do some other work. Any forward momentum is to be celebrated.

Er…not that I have to remind myself that I’m a mum. Oh dear. I must be tired.

Excerpt from the WIP – Pyr and the gold-and-crimson

Just realised with all this talk about my current Work-In-Progress I haven’t shared any of it so far. Here’s a snippet from tonight’s writing. Things are going poorly for young Pyr, the village boy / apprentice to Felathia the necromancer. He’s been caught and tied up by the people he thought he was tracking. It would seem they are taking him off to the famed Lowland Academy, as his Master’s secrets are in very high demand:

The goat was coated in a pungent spice that the boy had never tasted before. Smoky yet sour. Pyr didn’t think he really liked it but his hunger had returned with a vengeance, and so he gnawed and tore at the stick as best he could.

“Not long now,” the haystack-haired acolyte said, as Pyr sat back on his heels to chew the last of his meal. “Have you been down the causeway? It’s terrifying. Completely black, with only your own lights to guide you. Every now and again a torch left guttering in a sconce, perhaps, that some lonely traveller lit on their way up or down. Vaulted ceiling so high you can’t see the top of it. Whistling air, all around you. Sometimes you swear you hear voices in it.” The man leaned closer. “There are hundreds – thousands, some say – of strange little pathways that lead off, right out through the rock. Why, the whole mountainside must be honeycombed with them. You’d think it’d all come crumbling down, wouldn’t you? But there are other things, too – great grand doors, set fast into the stone, doors with locks that no-one can open. And the great staircase, every inch of it covered in a strange language that no-one can read, or decipher. Made for giants. Or Gods.”

Pyr tried to swallow the last dry lump of meat that had lodged in his throat. “Water,” he gasped.

The haystack acolyte untied a water skin from his belt and held it up so Pyr could drink. “The sooner we’re down in the Lowlands, the better,” he said. “You’ll like it there, you really will. Mecha do everything for us. They cook, they clean. The only thing you’ll have to do is focus on your classes, and learn, and do what the Academy asks of you. Don’t ask too many questions (they don’t like that), but study hard. I’m sure they’ll let you come back and visit your family, one day.”

A bitter aftertaste began to creep up Pyr’s throat, and he wasn’t sure if it was the food, or his own fear.

(I say “it would seem” as, while I do have a sense of where all of this is going, I still enjoy being surprised when things change about as I write them.)

Bonne nuit!

On zero-word days and cutting yourself a little slack

A couple of days late on the check-in, sorry. Here’s what days 11 – 20 looked like for me, wordcount-wise:  A couple of zero-days in there. The first was due to a day-long workshop I went to, and then fell asleep on the couch afterwards. The second was the day before Steve’s birthday, and we were busy getting ready for it, and then he came home with a bottle of red wine, and it was Friday night, and we wanted to watch the last few episodes of Outlander…

So, still on track, but it’s really interesting to see what a dent a couple of no-work days can have on your productivity!

Yesterday was a zero-word day as well, partly due to the fact that my wee girl looks like she is starting to give up her naps. Up until well, now, I’ve been doing a lot of writing and organising during that two hour chunk of time in the middle of the day when she’d been sleeping. Suddenly I don’t have that any more!

I know it’s a big step for her but losing that time is a seriously huge change for me.  All of a sudden if I have something on in the evening, it means if I want to write I have to (gulp) get up early to do it, or stay awake long enough in the evening to do it.

Problem is, she’s awake at 5:30 most mornings. So “getting up early”… means 4:30? 5? Nooo. I try to grab every scrap of sleep I can get these days. Or do I, as Ursula K Le Guin did, write from nine till midnight, and hope I can still make it on 5-6 hours of sleep a day?

Bleugh. I don’t function on that much sleep. I turn into a grumpy zombie.

Or do I (this is rhetorical, of course this is the option I’m going with) just accept that these zero-word days are just a part of life, and having kids, and potentially a bit of slack might be the decent thing to do, when one has other responsibilities? The wordcount log still keeps me on track, and maybe unlike Ursula I can aim for 8-10pm, get in a bit less writing, but still keep my toes wet.

All of this makes me think I need to compile a handy list of things I can be doing while my little love is up and about. I feel a mind map coming on…

Where I work, part 1

Photo 17-09-15 4 26 43 pm

This is where I work these days – up at the living room table, stuff spread everywhere. I do have a study (stay tuned for part 2), but in winter it gets cold, feels dark, and writing with the baby monitor on can be a pain. It’s also a bit of a hassle for everyone at dinner time, when I usually wind up shoving everything down to one end and we eat down where the CDs are. But the pros are that it’s close to the kitchen (and coffee!), and I can type a little, like I am now, when the sproglet watches her little bit of TV in the afternoon.

Plus – when I stand up, this is the view!

Photo 17-09-15 4 33 10 pm

Checking in – first ten days of September

A small check in:

I’ve written up a word count chart on an index card, and I’m using that to keep track of my writing goals for the month. It looks like this:

I love index cards

The last 10 days were good, writing-wise. I wrote every day, and on all but one day I surpassed my word count goal (something around the 760 word mark). I intentionally decided that I’d give myself a very comfortable word count goal for this, so that I actually do write every day, and get the added bonus of hitting the targets and feeling good!  So: 9,357 words in the last ten days, which means I’m on track for my monthly goal of a minimum of 22,980 words. (I also put in a “comfortable” (whatever that means) goal of 25,500.)

Organisation-wise, I did have some work to do. I decided when I picked this project up again that I would really only be able to make good use of my limited free time if I had some sort of goal when I sat down every day.

Now, I’m by nature not inclined to outline. In the past I had a lot of difficulty if I wanted to try and sit down and plan out a longer piece. I usually wound up freewriting until I got to a certain point, and then would keep a single document (or page in a notebook) where I’d just list “stuff that has to happen” or “what happens next.” A quasi-outline, I suppose.

This time around, I’m notecarding. I do love index cards (I’ve written about them in the past), and something about shuffling them around, putting two different scenes side-by-side and looking for a spark that might result in an unplanned, third scene, is awesome.

I’ve also decided to loosely adopt a standard three act structure for this guy, just because it feels intuitive, and again, I’m starting to learn that I find the writing less intimidating if I butt up against some structure now and then.

But going back to what I was blathering about organising, I really only have planned scenes for the first act, which I suppose is me doing my quasi-outline thing again. And these are, of course, changing as things progress (I didn’t suppose that my elderly heroine, Felathia, would lose one of her eyes after she struck a deal with the old gods – it happened, and I sat there for several moments after, thinking what just happened? but also oh, of course.)

Anyway, apologies for the detail and the rambling. I’ve decided this blog is going to be the way to keep me on track – if I miss my goals next week (or next month), I’m going to have to own up to it! Hah. That ought to terrify me into sticking to the plan.