Listen. I’m nearing the end of Project If (as yet, still untitled) and Project Unicorn Poop is shaping up okay – I’ve just figured out what was wrong with one of the characters (he lacked conflict, if you must know) and I can’t wait.
I just cannot wait.
I can’t wait for draft one to be over and done with. I can’t wait to plunge into the editing, the butchering, the going over everything with a fine tooth-comb, the polishing, the looking for an editor to do the job for me, the second edits, the line edits, ALL THE EDITS and then the front cover and then the publishing.
It isn’t that I want to be famous. It isn’t that I want to make pots and pots of money through this – though, I’m sure, I wouldn’t refuse if you really insisted.
It’s just that I want to sniff my book. I want to see it done, in the hands of the person it was written for. I want to hold it and stare at it and admire it and tell people I wrote a story that I wanted to read and I wish – oh I wish – you’ll read it too.
I want to have something that I’ve birthed. (Not literally birthed. I mean, maybe that will come in the future but not right now.) I want to see a beautiful book and pick it up and be surprised that oh this is something I wrote – something I wanted to read but couldn’t ever quite find.
It isn’t for pride, it isn’t for fame, it isn’t for anything except a single thing: I want to take joy in what my imagination has produced.
Right now it’s in my head and imperfectly on a page. Right now it’s rough – like a block of marble that hasn’t been shaped and chiselled. Right now, not even a proud mother could come up with a positive adjective to describe it.
And when it’s finished, it won’t be perfect. I’m no Heyer, no Sutcliff, no Sayers, no Wynne Jones, no Wodehouse.
But oh – if it’s a tiny bit beautiful, if it’s a little funny, if it’s moving, if it’s a wondrous adventure, if it makes you see a glimmer of something you can’t quite name, or startles you into a laugh; if it’s something that I can be pleased with then, I would like to share it with you.
Let me regale you with the adventures I’ve somewhat recently taken between the pages of books, thundering away at a keyboard, and – memorably – in a cinema seat.
YOUNG ADULT NOVELS AND I STILL DON’T GET ALONG
I DNF’d A Curse So Dark and Lonely – it wasn’t my cup of tea, and … I forgot that YA novels and I aren’t always the best of friends.
ALSO I HAVE THINGS TO SAY ABOUT IT but they might have to hold until another time,.
LORD OF THE RINGS – I’M READING THEM!LE GASP!
Though I have watched the movies, I hadn’t read the books. But now? I’ve read the first two and have almost finished with the last. Reader, I cried.
Just … Sam … Frodo … the bittersweet scent of change that permeates everything … the lore … the world … the friendships … ugh!
Also, I love the Ents and WHAT HAPPENED TO THE ENT WIVES I ASK YOU. WHAT. HAPPENED?!!!!!
TOLKIEN – THE MOVIE
I watched it. I thought it was pretty okay. I was confused for a bit because there was a man named Chris and I only worked out that it wasn’t C S Lewis near the very end of the movie. The actor did a fabulous job as Tolkien and though I enjoyed it, I thought that it lacked a wee bit of substance.
Like a cream tea without the tea. Scones and jam and cream without the jam. A body without bones. That sort of thing.
ENDGAME – MY EYES AND HEART ACHED
I went twice. My heart hurt. My eyes hurt. My soul ached at some points. And though part of me questions the treatment of one of the characters (Thor, FYI), I am – as a whole – satisfied with the ending of an era that has had a part in shaping my life.
ROMANOVS – THANKS, I HATE IT.
I’ve been reading a book about the Romanovs – and though it’s wonderfully written and fascinating – I’m just about ready to throw in the towel. (Trowel?) I feel very done with them. I had hopes for one Tsar – that he might be a decent fellow. But then … UGH. A ranting entry in my diary, and (if I recall correctly) a rambling conversation with my sister (or was it a friend? I’ve blocked the memory. It was a terrible time.) later and I feel quite finished.
History is wonderful but I’ve only so many hours and I’ve got a hundred other books which are all clamouring to be read. I think I might give it a pass.
Also – my bookmark got knocked out and I can’t bring myself to go through it all again and find my place.
^VERY valid reason. Also an actual reason.
My next factual book will probably be On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society which looks incredibly interesting.
WRITING: FREELANCE, THE LARGE PROJECT, AND OTHER THINGS
I was doing some freelance on fiverr – it was an adventure, for certain. I’ve found that there isn’t enough time to complete freelance work AND to write my own projects. Honestly?
Procrastination + deadlines = sleep deprivation.
So I’ve called it a day on most freelance work.
Here’s something that I’ve recently discovered though: word sprints. Do them. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, knowing that there is someone else writing and comparing word counts etc is enormously invigorating and words are always added. It’s great. Find someone who writes. And do it.
So far, I’m just over half way through IF – a project that was supposed to be an action packed mash of a Jackie Chan + John Wayne sort of adventure.
… it hasn’t ended up quite that way. I’ve ended up with a man bogged down in paperwork who then hurtles off on an accidental and reluctant adventure.
And then there’s Operation: Unicorn Poop which is tickling my funny bone.
BOOKS I WANT TO READ IN THE FUTURE
I want to reread my Georgette Heyers. Desperately. I’ve got a book on the Spanish Inquisition which I wasn’t expecting.
… but very much would like to read.
And then there’s The Poison Maiden by Paul Doherty which looks amazing and I want to read it straight away and My Plain Jane which I SWORE I wouldn’t read but … GUESS WHAT ARRIVED TODAY IN THE POST?
Also: a thousand other books but *sigh* life.
ALSO: expect a blog post about the MOST excellent ‘The Emotional Craft of Fiction’ and ‘Steal Like An Artist’ and ‘Keep Going’ because those three books are the bomb*.
I haven’t yet saved the world or slain a dragon, but that’s alright. We can’t all be heroes but we can be kind to each other. It’s more achievable.
I’m trying to establish a routine. This is the first week I have implemented Operation Get More Sleep and Write and Read as Much as Possible. (OGMSWRMP for short.)
(I pick the best Operation names)
Here’s the bare bones of it: Get up at 5:15-20ish, devotions, write for ten – twenty minutes, go to work. When I get home, do some exercise, practice my violin and do more writing. Read. Sleep. Wake up. Repeat.
(And have a semi-social life as well. But that’s not the focus of this post.)
5:15am: Rejoice with me! I actually got up and blearily read my Bible and wrote! True. The words were probably not worth much but I wrote!! This was good news indeed.
Also, I flossed. Am a total adult.
Afternoon: When I returned from work, Mum and I had a walk in the park. Picture two ladies from a Heyer or Austen novel ambling arm in arm across rolling green hills lined with trees with a river grandly running at the bottom.
That was us. In a way.
Evening: Practiced the violin. It didn’t totally suck. VICTORY IS MINE! Managed to write 1,000 words in Project If.
Retired to bed (isn’t that a grand sentence?!) with a pile of books.
“I don’t know how I’ve stood it. It’s been hard over the years. Believe me, I was sorry at first for you – crying in a ball and snivelling like a toddler, as you were when you first got here – but then you passed the Test and I was vomiting eleven times out of ten. It was a hard time for me. Very difficult.”
Project Unicorn poop
Rinse and repeat. No stroll though as the heavens had decided to weep all over us. Had a lengthy chat with an uncle and aunt about books and how the world needed more kindness, caring, graciousness, and compassion.
Played the violin. It partially sucked. Wrote 1,000 words – took me a long time and a ramble through youtube to get to it so I wish I had written a bit more.
Retreated to bed with books. Perhaps I should write Project If instead of Project Unicorn Poop in the morning?
Rinse and repeat – except for the fact that I had a crazy dream where every element from my life was jumbled together in the most bizarre brain trip ever.
We should have done the Grey Wolf said a co-worker and in my dream I thought: my gosh. this makes SENSE!
Woke up. Wrote 450 words. A paragraph was just awful. I’m not sure how I did it but it was the worst.
No stroll this afternoon, but I was forced to sit still for a little while, so watched a movie to pass the time. Pillow Talk has SO MUCH INNUENDO HONEST TO GOODNESS. Doris Day! I thought you were in innocent movies!!
Edited Project If and snatched some Out of Character behaviour from someone and plopped it into the lap of someone else.
Also, poor Marius is just having the worst day. Week. Month. Year. Poor soul.
I think I’m writing too much about unicorn poop <- my crisis from this morning. But there’s so much to talk about! Who knew?!
Home. And writing – had to write a really big chapter in Project If. I’m not certain that I did it correctly but … it’s Draft One. All things can be forgiven in Draft One.
INCLUDING RUINING THE WHOLE DANG PROJECT. GOOD ONE, NESS!
It was the stooped man who held his fist as if it hurt, eyeing him as a butcher does a carcass – wondering where to cut first.
I’m reading ‘stooped’ as ‘stoopid’ as in ‘stupid’. SO THAT MAKES THAT LINE REALLY GREAT, DOESN’T IT NOW????!
Wrote in Project Unicorn Poop. It’s either utter rubbish or probably the best thing ever. I’m not sure which one … but I’ll take it.
I’m pretty sure I had something incredibly insightful to say here but … nope. It’s gone. OH WAIT! I remember. I played my violin. Someone else played their guitar downstairs. I realised that while the guitar was hitting actual-in-tune-notes … I was not. My violin was quietly put away.
(I knew it was insightful!)
(And has nothing to do with this post.)
Also, Project If is proving to be moving faster than the chapter plans for it. I’ll be lucky if I can reach 60,000 words for it. And all because I forgot to add a really important element of the story … oh well, Draft Two’s going to have so much work to do. If Draft One is a shrimp, Draft Two’s going to be a blue whale.
Books Finished: Two. (They were small – Steal Like an Artist and Keep Going by Austin Kleon)
Project If: 4332 words written and a chapter lightly dusted with editing.
Project Unicorn Poop: 2048 words written. Still bewildered, bemused, and amused that I’m writing it.
Amount of Sleep: Between six to seven hours each night. Wayyy up from last week which averaged at five orless.
I wish I’d written more but …I’ve written more in this one week than I’ve written for a while. I’ll count this as a success!
I’ve always blogged – or rather, it feels like I’ve always blogged. And lately, I’ve been applying pressure on myself to take of words and books and make it more … well, coherent. Professional. Polished. Rife with blog series and regular blog posts. But – as you might have noticed by its echoing absence … that’s not what is happening here.
I love to express myself with words. (Don’t we all?) But more specifically, written words. I’ve got piles and piles of diaries going back to before I could spell. (To be honest, nothing much has changed there. Oh well. We can’t all be perfect.)
Blogs – this blog – has been my playground and I want to go back to having fun. I’ve got so many blog posts in drafts and I haven’t posted them because:
they’re not complete
I haven’t had the energy to tidy them up and make them presentable
Instead of trying to make sure that each blog post is perfect – which, haha, it never is – I’ve decided to relax. To enjoy it.
This isn’t the way I make my living. Nothing much depends on it save my own enjoyment and – possibly and hopefully – yours. It’s a place to write about what I read and how I read and when I read and what I write and what colour my toenails are and what I had for breakfast and all that sort of thing.
Any pressure – however misplaced – I put on myself, tends to ground any project to a halt. Pressure and I don’t like each other. If I met Pressure on the street, I would not say ‘good morning’ to it. I would glare at it.
I’m home from Moldova now. I’m working. I’ve slowed down my freelance work because well, there’s only so many hours in the day and I’d much rather torture my own characters than describe someone else’s book.
So, here’s to a few more blog posts appearing here. Less pressure. More fun. Here’s to expressing yourself in whatever way you like. To late nights and early mornings and peppermint tea and the sun shining through afternoon rain and the tap-tap-tap of a keyboard and the curl of black ink on a white page.
I was in Canada and borrowing heavily from the library. I learned about the Opium Wars which made me think: my word, Britain, what the heck were you DOING? And then I learned about the Rape of Nanking … which is probably one of the most horrifying books I’ve ever read. I had to stop reading it on the bus because it was driving me to tears. So that was that.
april 2017 … prolific! I was prolific!
I wrote a total of FOUR BLOG POSTS IN ONE MONTH!! I know. Given my current track record, this is amazing. I wrote about two lessons I’d learned that month (novels on the high seas aren’t always my cup of tea AND IT IS POSSIBLE TO ENJOY A YA BOOK!! WOOT WOOT!)
In a historic move, I merged two of my blogs and made them into of words and books so I guess April is of words and books’ proper birthday month. (Woot woot!) I once again used a prompt from Heffington and also posted some snippets from Trials of a Blacksmith – the trilogy of which … still isn’t finished. Oops!
And those are all the Aprils in which I’ve posted on my blog. How time flies! Some of these memories – reading Villette in the garden, collecting Heyers and writing about my love for them, giggling about taking a prompt of ‘travel-by-foot’ and turning it into a story about people dressing up as cupcakes – are so close that if I shut my eyes, I’m there again … basking in sunshine or tapping away at my computer with a laugh caught in my throat. However, there’s some distance.
The Ness of then and the Ness of now has changed. Grown up – a little or more than a little, who knows? But one thing hasn’t changed – I still love writing, I love reading, I adore adventures. Life is hard sometimes but life is also beautiful. And with a book in hand and a story in my soul … oh, it’s a grand adventure.