clhollandwriter: (Default)
I seem to have forgotten to mention that the Flash Fiction Online Anthology 2015 came out in January, and contains my story "Your Past Life Interferes with My Very Important Studies". This story is one of my favourites, and came from the combination of random prompts at Codex Writers' Group - the title "Your Past Life Interferes with My Very Important Hobbies", having to use one of Shakespeare's characters or plots as inspiration - and the first line "Your past life drank all the milk again" landing in my head. At first I tried to resist writing the story. I thought it would be too silly, which just goes to show you should write the story that wants to be written instead of what you think you should be writing.

I've just started another story and I'm having the same problem. At this early stage I'm not sure the whole idea isn't going to come across terribly corny and contrived. Unfortunately, being a discovery writer, I won't find out until I write it. Another problem was I couldn't start until I had the main character's name. Placeholder names don't work for me, I can't change the name later as the character grows into it. One day it might be fun to start with a silly character name and see where it takes me. For now I've got this story to keep me going.

I'm trying to decide about doing NaNoWriMo this year. I'd like to, in that it's done wonders for my productivity in the past, although I'm not sure I have the mental energy to sustain it this year. Probably it's the idea of doing it I'm finding attractive, since I remember how much I enjoyed previous years. Perhaps I'll sign up to a shorter project instead, a half NaNo or a story a week. I certainly need to get some momentum back up again.
clhollandwriter: (Default)
I was chatting with some writer buddies the other day, and realised that I'm really bad at motivating myself to write longer works. I can manage flash (although even that's touch and go these days) but anything longer and I really struggle.

A large part of this is that I write best if I can get my first draft down in one or two sittings, while the idea is fresh in my mind. However writing around work often means dragging things out for days, even weeks for longer stories, snatching ten minutes on the bus or an hour at lunch. I can't sustain that for anything longer than a few thousand words before I lose momentum.

The longer projects I have managed - "The Reflection of Memory", and two completed runs at NaNoWriMo - were written under very different circumstances to normal. "The Reflection of Memory" was written in an online writing group, where some friends and I got together with the goal of submitting to that quarter of Writers of the Future. There were deadlines and a supportive atmosphere. My first run at NaNoWriMo was completed on excitement and pure adrenaline, and continued with a similar online group which formed to finish novels. Unfortunately the group breaking up, and the realisation I had no idea what was behind my plot, stalled that project. My second run at NaNoWriMo ended on 30th November and 53,000 words. That one was also run on adrenaline, and also silliness as I'd promised myself a terrible fantasy trope every 1000 words.

Unfortunately the dedication required for NaNoWriMo (1667 words a day, or some seriously long weekends) just isn't sustainable in the long term, at least for me.

My work schedule gives me some long mornings, and some long afternoons (with the other end of the day being correspondingly short). I might try spending my long afternoons writing, so I can give it a couple of hours, and then use the long mornings for revising or sending submissions out. I need to try something to fit with the work hours.

I'm considering doing research in October, and then NaNoWriMo in November, although I suspect that way madness lies.
clhollandwriter: (block)
I read this last month, and like so many things meant to blog about it but didn't get around to it.

It reads more like a conversation than instructions. Lamott is both wise and funny. The main things I took from it were that it's okay to be a pantser (I seem to be having problems with this lately and have developed a fear of throwing myself in at the deep end) and it's okay to write a shitty first draft. Which I already knew but it was nice to have someone say it. So much of the writing advice out there these days is aimed at plotters, or pantser to turn them into plotters. Now I just need something to write a shitty first draft about.

I've also got Elizabeth George's Write Away on the TBR pile, and a book about writing crime and thrillers since I'm trying to broaden my horizons. And there's a stack of writing magazines I'm struggling to keep up with, although I'm thinking about giving up on some of those. That's a whole other blog post though.

Next month is NaNoWriMo. This year is the tenth anniversary of my first attempt, and I feel a little like I should celebrate by taking part. I'm not sure there's room in my life for a 50,000 word novel at the moment though. Certainly not one I write in a month. Although it would get me a shitty first draft.
clhollandwriter: (poppy)
Things have been a little quiet around here for the last couple of months. Part of that was a change of role at the day job - new hours, new processes, new colleagues, all of which took some getting used to. Most of my writing energy in October went into admin tasks: finishing some edits, getting my submissions up to date, and submitting my tax return.

November is, of course, National Novel Writing Month. I wasn't sure at first if I was going to take part, and in the end decided that 50,000 words was too much to take on on top of everything else. Fortunately my online writers' group runs a novella contest for six weeks starting on November 1st, so I'm taking part in that. The wordcount is 17.5k to 40k, and I'm aiming for the lower end. I'm two thirds of the way through the time, and a bit behind on the words, but I'm happy with the story so far.

Which is to say, if I go silent for another two weeks, this is why!
clhollandwriter: (Default)
It's been a while since this saw the light of day!

‘Tis the night before NaNo, and all through my head
Not a creature is stirring, not even the dead.

A notebook is open beside the armchair,
In hopes that an idea will lodge itself there.
The boyfriend is nestled all snug in his bed.
The prospect of lonely nights fills him with dread.
And I at my screen so bright and enticing
Have just settled down for a long night of writing.
At midnight world-wide there’ll arise such a clatter
Of fingers on keyboards, it’s likely they’ll shatter.
Away to the pencils the writers will fly
For fear of a wordcount that passes them by.
The moon and the sun and the sky and the stars,
People and partners and buildings and cars,
All disappear as the writer’s gaze lingers
On two busy thumbs and eight busy fingers,
On hands that drive stories where speed is essential.
In order to win the flow must be torrential.
More rapid than eagles the words they must come,
As for punctuation – what better than none?
“No Full-stops! No Commas! No Speech Marks or Hyphens!
No Brackets or Colons, or grammar that frightens!
Leave them to the edit and heed not its call.
Now throw away! Throw away! Throw away all!”
As word after word to the novels will fly,
As the days of November will swiftly flow by,
So each hundred words will add fuel to the fire,
And pages once printed will pile ever higher.

And then, in a flash it will be December
And writers emerge and begin to remember
That every good novel begins with a plot –
Something that during the rush they forgot.
Suddenly characters seem paper-thin.
The piece needs an edit – but where to begin?
The words – how they cluster, in structures so dense
They switch between past, present and future tense.
The sentences, structured as Gordian knots,
Are tied up so tightly they serve as garrottes.
The story is choked beneath thousands of words,
Most are unneeded, and many absurd.
Plots twists are more tangled than tagliatelle,
With wandering penguins and jars of grape jelly.
Perhaps NaNoEdMo will prove its salvation
And make a real novel from this aberration,
Which doesn’t seem that it was writ by a loon.
Or failing that, Script Frenzy opens in June.
The year will pass quickly, with novels dismembered,
And before you can blink, we’ll be back to November.
The thought of another month’s anguish and pain
Makes the suffering authors cry “Never again!”
But the fun makes the poor fools forget all the fear
As they do it again in each following year.
So let me exclaim, before I too am struck,

"Happy NaNo to all, and to all some Good Luck!"
clhollandwriter: (marchin)
I seem to be slightly short of links this week, so I thought I'd post some for those planning on taking part in NaNoWriMo next month. I'm giving it a miss this year, too much other stuff going on, but no doubt I'll be wanting to take part by the end of the first week.

For those who don't know what NaNoWriMo is, here's the website. They have a very helpful Reference Desk where you can research pretty much anything. The danger is spending more time there than actually writing.

If getting words on the page is a problem, Write or Die has a nifty online app that punishes you if you stop writing for too long before you reach your wordcount or the timer runs out. The consequences vary from a gentle reminder to your word unwriting itself. If you're more for the carrot than the stick, Written? Kitten! offers pictures of fluffy cats for wordcount. Just don't set your count too low as the number of available kittens isn't that big.

Of course, you'll be wanting to keep track of your wordcount, and post status updates all over your social networking. Writertopia have a couple of nifty wordcounters you can add to blog posts.

Finally, if you're struggling for ideas, Seventh Sanctum has a random story generator, along with generators for settings, characters, and other random things. Just don't spend all your time playing with it.
clhollandwriter: (block)
I've been offline for a couple of days, in a sadly failed attempt to get ahead with my November not-quite-NaNo project (a 20-40k novella), so I forgot to post up a link to "The Noise" over at Kazka Press:

I should get back to writing - so far I have characters, settings, backstory, and nothing is happening. :(

clhollandwriter: (Default)
It's the last day of NaNo, and there's no way I'm going to manage the just-under-15k I need to finish by midnight. There's no way I'm going to get the novel finished, either. But since I've got another 35k into it, kick-started a stalled section, solved some problems, and rediscovered why I liked writing the thing in the first place, I don't think it counts as losing except in a purely technical sense.

In December, I'm going to plod to the end at the more stately pace of 500 words a day. Anything more is a bonus.

In the meantime, I have to research the likely effects of being beating someone unconscious and throwing them in a river. Without looking like a serial killer.
clhollandwriter: (Default)
Am about 3 days behind with NaNo now, at about 30k and change, and unlikely to make it up in the time I have left. I don't mind as much as I thought I would, though. It's still a hefty chunk of words done on a project that really needs to be finished. Not only that, but I'm not likely to get the story finished in the tme anyway - the Zokutou clause states you have to have a finished draft, or something, and so far hardly anyone's even in the right country, let alone in the city they need to hit for the climax.

I have had a few Eureka! moments though. I know how some things are going to resolve themselves that I didn't have a clue about before, including how to defeat both main villains. Although villain is possibly not the best word for them - one hasn't appeared in the narrative thus far, because I haven't known where they've been hiding until now, and the other's a city-within-a-city. Like the Vatican, but with magic and less cool paintings.

When finished, this MS is going to need a raft of rewrites.

It's still fun, though.
clhollandwriter: (Default)
Not quite halfway to 50k yet, which means I'm about a day and a half behind. I don't care though - yesterday was a much-needed night off from wordcount, as I was dancing pretty close to burnout.

I'd noticed the day before that a nearly-ceiling-height wardrobe door is a pretty good place to organise 3x5 notecards. So that's what I did instead, which might account for the very strange dreams I had last night. Or maybe not: the wine probably didn't help.

The exercise did show me some interesting things about Reunion though. How one particular character's narrative is the constant thread through everything, just how late another character arrives at the party, areas of the timeline where there are gaps, and that fact that I need to rewrite a major chunk of the first few chapters to fit in a new character who's making herself known in the second half.

Also, I had an epiphany about how things will work themselves out. Life s good.
clhollandwriter: (Default)
So, to jump on the bashing-the-NaNo-bashers bandwagon: why is it that some professional writers see others having fun and decide they have to spoil it? Sure NaNoWriMo produces a load of crap, but anything that gets people writing is a good thing, right?

Anyway, several writers a making good points about why sometimes the NaNo process helps to produce decent novels, and since it's only a tool in the process anyway bashing it is a bit like killing kittens. And they're published writers. With novels and everything.

From my own point of view, NaNo isn't about writing publishable prose. It's about writing. It's about telling the crappy year I've had "screw you" and getting back into the habit of writing every day. It's about rediscovering my love of the process, and about proving to myself that I can write more than I do. After a month of NaNo - whether I win or not - it renews my motivation and gets me working on other potentially publishable things. Then, when I start to flag and my productivity tails off, it's back to NaNoWriMo again to recharge the batteries.

My non-writer, long-suffering boyfriend understands all this. He positively encourages me to do NaNo, because he knows I'm happiest when I'm writing regularly. If he can understand this - as someone who regularly glazes over when I start talking about writing - then how come other writers can't?

By the way, I'm up to 18,393 words now. So there.
clhollandwriter: (block)
Not such a good day for writing yesterday, as I'm now 250 words behind. I hope to catch up, but I've been Week Two'd and I'm not feeling the love so much at the moment. I have, at least, got five viewpoint characters on the go to pick and choose between so it's just a case of hitting a flow.

The weather here is appalling at the moment - tipping it down, and blowing a gale loud enough to frighten the cats. They even tolerated each other's company last night for the sake of being near people. I could have done without Lucifer wedging her way in the bed, with freezing cold feet and jumping every time there was a loud gust. Silly cat.
clhollandwriter: (Default)
14,010 words into NaNo, and someone is currently finding out what it's like to fall down a waterfall. Someone else is about to find out that he gets very, very seasick. Should be good for a couple of thousand words.

Only just over a week of NaNo meals in and I'm already craving fresh vegetables. There may have to be veg curry tonight, and the wordcount be damned.

And I'm starting to want to write for projects other than NaNo, which is a good if unfortunately-timed side effect. The trick will be keeping the momentum going in December.
clhollandwriter: (Default)
So, 12318 words on NaNo so far. I've found that the best way to keep the words flowing is to have more than one scene on the go at once so I can switch between them. Also, adding [add something here!] tags when I get stuck stops me getting to bogged down on silly details (culturally specific phrases that mean the equivalent of "trouble in the state of Denmark", for example).

It's still flippin' hard work though.

Incidentally, if any of my writer buddies are reading this (as opposed to trying to make their daily goals), does anyone know of any writing software that does the equivalent of a packet of 3x5 notecards? Namely so I can write the different plot threads down and shuffle them around alongside each other, since I'm going to have to abandon the structure of the entire first half of the book.

ETA - I don't have a Mac, so Scrivener's out. :(
clhollandwriter: (Default)
I am still, at incredibly short notice, trying to decide whether or not to do NaNoWriMo this year.


Who am I kidding, I'm raring to go! All I have to do is figure out how to fit it in around a house guest, and real life, and Dragon Age turning up very soon....

My NaNo history )
Which brings us to 2010. And what more fitting than to invoke the Zokutou Clause to finish something already begun? So this year, my project is to Finish. Reunion.

If anyone else is taking part and wants to buddy, I'm on the site as strange behaviour.
clhollandwriter: (Default)

In the wake of submitting my Tax Return, I've decided to do a little housekeeping. And.... I currently have one story out. Embarrassing since the plan was to keep it at ten.

There are a number of stories in progress, that have floundered for one reason or another: too much research required, I wasn't sure where it was going, I didn't think I could do what I was trying to, or simply that something shinier came along. A few have been out and come back, and are now in the editing pile* because I've decided I don't like them as they are. I'm also half-heartedly hacking my way through the early chapters of Reunion to keep the wheels turning, and also writing an entirely diffrent project during my lunch breaks. So there is writing happening, just not of the short story variety.

Somehow, after not going on the site for nearly a year, I've managed to remember both my NaNoWriMo username (strange behaviour) and password. I still haven't decided if I'm going to do it or not. The bf thinks I should, but I'm not sure he's going to like the onus being put on him to do all the cooking and washing up for a month, especially as Fallout: New Vegas arrived yesterday. Plus we have a houseguest arriving on 1st November for a week. And anyway, it's an even-numbered year and, sure as the odd-numbered Star Trek movies suck, I always fail badly in even-numbered years.

Is anyone else giving it a go this year?

Anyway, off to continue excavating my writing desk from beneath a layer of random things.

* At first I wrote editing pie. Mmmmm, pie.

clhollandwriter: (Default)
So NaNoWriMo is a bust. 139 words so far, not counting those hand-written but not typed up yet. Now I'm back on early starts there just doesn't seem to be time to do anything. Add on top of that trying to find a new place, getting references for said new place, learning a dance for the performance in December, and packing, there just isn't room in my head for much else. Beyond checking my emails I'm hardly even going on the internet much at the moment. I'm actually starting to miss being unemployed.

In order to keep from going batty, I've decided not to write for a little while. Instead I'm going to read on the bus and in my breaks, and maybe catch up on a little editing as that uses a different set of mental muscles. I just can't focus on doing anything new at the moment.

And I forgot to mention before, 10Flash have accepted my story "On the Penitents' Road" for their January issue, and I had a rejection that invited me to rewrite and sub again. So it's not all bleak in the writing world.
clhollandwriter: (moon)
Samhain feast today, consisting of pumpkin flesh, onion, red and orange peppers, mushrooms, tomato and pine nut stuffing, and sweet potatoes, roasted in chilli and honey, then served in the roasted pumpkin shell alongside crispy roast potatoes, carrots and broccoli. Now the whole flat smells of pumpkin, and we have to fight over who does the washing up.

The bf took the afternoon off work yesterday and we spent it going around the local estate agents. None had anything available in our price range though. I'm starting to have less and less faith in us finding anywhere, even though these things usually work out. At least our price range is a little higher now that I'm starting a job on Monday.

NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow, and not only do I not know the gender of my secondary MC but I'm also supposed to spend the day packing. With a full time job, and a house move to organise, I think I may have taken on a bit much this year.
clhollandwriter: (curious)
I've decided not to complete NaNoWriMo this year.

Although I've enjoyed revisiting the characters, it's not as much fun as it was last year. I'm struggling to keep the motivation up, and started to resent the time I'm spending on it. There are just too many other things I have to do - my bio for WOTF, a rewrite that needs to be done this month, and a collaboration on a story that's due in January. Plus there are stories I want to be working on, just researching and things so I can start them over the Xmas break.

I might add a few words here and there, because there are bits I'd like to write, but getting to 50K is no longer my goal. NaNoWriMo can fit in around the rest of my life this year, instead of the other way round.
clhollandwriter: (Default)
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
13,342 / 50,000

Slow day today, but I'm still ahead so I don't feel too bad about it.

Although I got a rewrite request today, and have to do a bio for the WOTF anthology, so I may end up with some catching up to do!

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