No Pressure

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You know – I think I’ve sussed one of the reasons I didn’t get on so well last week. I was re-writing old chapters so it didn’t feel like I was making any progress.

I’m now thinking that I should carry on from chapter six and write some new stuff. I can go back and re-write the earlier chapters later. The trick is to actually finish a book isn’t it?

I’ve made another decision. As well as writing I love handicrafts. (I write a blog about this too. http://raggleberry.wordpress.com)

From now on I’m going to go with the flow. If I feel like writing I’ll write. If I feel like crafting I’ll craft. It might take me longer to write my book but I’m not putting myself under any pressure.

This weekend I’ve worked on my crafts.

 

 

 

Day 2

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I finished my first revised chapter but already I’m asking myself why I am doing this.

I’m not sure if I really have a story to tell.  I enjoy the process of writing and I like setting up individual scenes but I’ve no plot. Perhaps something will come to me..

I’m not sure if I’m sufficiently in love with Jenny to care what happens to her and that can’t be good,

So… should I knock it on the head before I waste any more time?

Anyway – back to work tomorrow so I’ll take a few days to think on it before next weekend.

Day 1

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It’s Sunday and I’m going to make a start.  Although I have the six chapters I wrote two years ago I intend to change them so much it feels like I’m faced with a blank page.

In my original draft my main protagonist – Jenny had three friends. The book I studied about writing a novel suggested I would get on better if I got to know all my characters. As a result of this piece of wisdom I have three friends I know very well. I know what they look like, whether they are married or single, the ages, the way they speak and their mannerisms. It’s going to be hard to lose two of them but I’ll keep them for a later novel. There’s confidence for you.

Write about things you know. Isn’t that the mantra?  Well I don’t ‘know’ a lot of big stuff.  I don’t have an interesting job. I do clerical work in an office – nothing exciting here although there are certainly some characters that I can draw on. I live an average life in an average house. We don’t go out much because we prefer to stay at home. We don’t have many close friends or a big family. I love music and particularly Bruce Springsteen. Mike and I go to several gigs each tour. I was keen to include his music in the book but my references seem a little forced. I think I am perhaps trying too hard to get Springsteen defences in so he might be going.

So I think it’s more about the little things that I know. I know about having hair that goes frizzy in the rain. I know how to cook chilli con carne. I know what it’s like to own a cat, ride a horse, paint a watercolour, catch a bus. All these small things can be brought in to my book to round out the characters.

So here goes chapter one.

Well…long time no see

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A very long time actually. Just over three years. Yes! that’s three years since I’ve seriously thought about writing a novel.  There’s no doubt that I love writing but I also love crafting and for a while I decided to concentrate on that. I have such a lot I want to cram into my days and I have to work full time as well.

Anyway I suddenly got the urge to try my hand at writing again. I was going to start from scratch but I’ve just read an article in Writing Magazine by Mark Billingham. He says you should finish what you are writing even if you think it’s terrible. So I plugged in the memory stick and started to read.

I see from my last blog that I hated my first chapter. Reading it again years later I think there are good bits in it.

It’s true I have rambled a bit. The descriptive passages are useful for me. They help me set the scene in my head but they aren’t key to the story for the reader.

I’ve made life very complicated for myself by giving my main protagonist three fully drawn friends and quite a detailed back story. I need to cull the back story a lot and take out the detail about two of the friends.

There’s too much dialogue. Although I say so myself, I think I write very natural dialogue but I’ve relied on this too much to tell the story. I need to balance the dialogue with more narrative and action.

It looks like my 8000 words will be nearer 4000 by the time I’ve finished but the whole thing will be better for it.

Along with the book I’m going to start this diary again.  I’m not too concerned about the writing style here. I could get so hung up on the blog that I never get time to do any work on the book itself. These musings are really for me to look back on if I ever get to the end of the novel. It will be interesting to see how I felt at any one time in the process.

So I’m off to cross out half of my original draft!

 

It’s awful!

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Being in between craft projects – Bruce Springsteen doll finished and pink teddy not yet started – I decided to have a go at the novel.

It must be at least six weeks since I looked at it but in the mean time I have read a lot and I mean a LOT about writing.  I’ve also read two or three novels and finished a short story.

So I sat at the computer to continue with chapter eight and I couldn’t help myself – I just had to read chapter one … and … it’s awful!

At the beginning of this process I quickly decided on the location of my story.  It’s based around a little park in Leeds which I love and I think I got a bit too hung up with creating the atmosphere. I’ve opened with a line of dialogue and followed up with a long winded description of the cafe in which my two characters are sitting. Not good for moving the story along.  My reader will give up before the end of  the first page.

Most of the advice I’ve read recently says you need to get your reader to keep turning the pages.  I must admit that I love a good page turner myself and don’t like getting bogged down in details.  So, I ask myself, why am I writing a book that I wouldn’t read?

Anyway I’m going to try to move on with the story and leave the early chapters alone for now.

Onward and upward.

Mini Eggs

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At the start of this year – about January 4th I think – I started a diet.  I have always struggled with my weight primarily because I like to eat and I like to eat all the wrong things.

I was a skinny kid but started to put on weight when I was about 13 or 14.  At my largest I was squeezing into size 16 clothes.  Throughout my adult life I have never been bigger than a size 14 and at my smallest I can comfortably buy size 10 trousers.

Anyway over the past two years my weight had crept up until most of my size 12 clothes were too tight for me and I was determined to do something about it.  I set myself a target of a pound a week so that by Easter I would have lost a stone.  My reward was to be a bag (or two) of Cadburys mini eggs.

Those of you who have ever tried to diet will know that sometimes your will power is non existent and other times you can be really focussed.

Well I was in the zone. I lived mostly on chicken and fish and kept to 1200 calories a day plus any extra gained by taking exercise.  A minutes jogging uses up about 10 calories so a digestive biscuit = an 8 minute run.

I did it!  By Easter I had lost 15 pounds but… disaster I couldn’t find any mini eggs.

I’ve been a bit lax for the last two weeks and despite my success I still have a particular pair of jeans that are a touch too tight.

So I’ll get back on the straight and narrow next week but in the mean time I’ve found the elusive mini eggs.

To edit or not to edit

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My Novel isn’t going too well at the moment.  Well that’s a lie – it’s not going at all but I think about it all the time.
You see writing isn’t my only hobby.  I like to make cards.  I do a bit of knitting from time to time. Used to do cross stitch but that’s fallen by the way side as have the Christmas tree baubles which I made and sold for many years.  I went through a handbag making phase – that proved too difficult.  I have two guitars hanging on the wall to remind me I haven’t practiced for weeks and still haven’t mastered the barre chord.
At the moment I am making fabric dolls and when I have finished this one I am going to start on a fabric teddy bear for my granddaughter Gabrielle.  I made Stuffy Bear years ago.
Gabrielle’s will be all pink and girly of course.
But whilst I am doing all these other things I am thinking about my novel.
The other week I discovered Writing Magazine.  I’ve found it really interesting, packed with advice about every aspect of writing and publishing and full of reading.  Previous writing magazines I have tried were a bit short on content.
The trouble with advice is that it is always conflicting.  So last month in an interview with a published author she advises never starting on the next chapter until you are entirely satisfied with the one you are working on.  This means you might write and rewrite a chapter several times before moving on.
This month in a similar interview with a different author he recommends writing your book from beginning to end before starting to edit at all.  I can see his logic. He points out that once you have reached the end, even if you have to rewrite a lot of it, you have at least finished the story.
At the moment I seem to be caught between two stools.  I am on chapter eight and this is how it goes.  Hmmm I think I’ll work on my book for a couple of hours: just better read what I have done so far: chapter one – don’t like that I’ll just tweek it: chapter two – might just change those two paragraphs round: chapter three – I’ll just take out that sentence: chapter four … and so on and so on.  Before I know it two hours have gone by and I haven’t made any actual progress.
So I think from now on I’m just going to power on with the story and edit at the end.  I’ll let you know how I get on!
In the mean time I have found time to write my first short story which I am going to enter in the Writing Magazine‘s competition.  I’ll let you know how I get on with that too.

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