Sunday, 31 July 2011

I Did It!!!

Glory days, alleluia, not to mention very frickin' chuffed - I have just completed the Julnowrimo challenge!! A total of 50300 words have been written by yours truly in the last 31 days, and I now have a novel of 77519 words. It isn't quite finished yet but I am damn close, with only twenty thousand words (or four chapters if you prefer) before it is completed.

I have never, in my whole life written as much as I have in the last month - and I've loved it. Even if it is massively stressful. Greatest thing I've learned; how to push on through the blocks so you get something done each day.

I honestly feel like I've just climbed Everest. Excuse me while I go bounce around the room in ecstatic joy.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Emerging From the Cave

Hello readers, I am poking my head out of my cave to say I am very, very, very close to achieving 50,000 words in July. Those of you who have read previous posts will know I signed up for Julnowrimo, and I am exactly 9679 words from the 50,000. In the words of Bender from Futurama, woohoo! So this won't be a long post as I got typing to be getting on with but I wanted to share what my experience of julnowrimo has been like so far.

This last week, while I've been away from work, has been massively helpful  in experiencing what writing large word counts is like. The best way to describe it is; tiring, exhilarating, frustrating and rewarding. The hardest part is getting started each day, but once you tie yourself down to your chair (chains optional) it's amazing how much you can get done when you know you have the whole day to do it. I have also worked out why professional novelists seem to only write three to six thousand words in a day. I always wondered why they didn't do at least eight thousand, or even ten thousand if they have the whole day and that's the day job. Now I know; it would make your brain melt out of your ears. There are times when I got so deep into my story I couldn't actually see anything else, and though it's a great feeling it's also a little uncomfortable when you leave. I'd be walking around with my head still very much in the story, and had to make a conscious effort to get back to reality. Also, I found I started to lose perspective at times when I'd been deep in the writing for three hours (without realising it) and needed to stop to take a break and get an overall view on what I'd just done. It reminded me of when I used to do life paintings; there would come a point where you had to stop and take five or six steps away from your painting so you can see the whole thing. When you did that you could see the bits that worked, the parts that didn't and see what you had to do next. Turns out writing is much the same.

The method of writing I preferred this week was doing a little bit in the morning, only an hour or two and then stopping for about three hours to do what I wanted. Then I'd go back to the story in the afternoon or even the evening and work for three or four hours straight. Doing five thousand words that way is a lot more pleasant than trying to squeeze three thousand words into a late night session after work, and my dreams of doing this full time are even stronger now that I've had a taste of a writer's day.

So I'd better sign off so I can get on with the story. By the time the challenge is complete I should have just under 80,000 words done, leaving me with only 20,000 to do in order to finish the book. And even as I type that I can't quite believe it - I have never finished a long piece like this before, and it still doesn't feel real that I might actually manage it this time. I refuse to jinx it by saying it will be done, but I have a good feeling about this one.

Monday, 25 July 2011

A Week Off Work!

There are few things as joyous as waking up on a Monday morning at 10:00am and knowing you don't have to be at work again for another week. But though I've got this week to myself it's also my chance to get my 50,000 words finished for July. I have just under half of that to do in seven days... my fingers may be hurting by the end of the week. And yet I can't wait. I'm actually really looking forward to just focusing on my story and getting it written, without having to squeeze it into a couple of hours before I go to bed each night. I'm also thinking this is a chance to do a "proper" writing day, that is a good five hours or so of writing, to see what that feels like. In all the time I've been doing little bits and pieces I've never sat for that long just writing one thing. I'd like to give it a go this week to see how it feels. To see how the professionals do it, as it were.

The story is going well, and I'm in the pre-ending section, where all the little threads start to come together and the mysteries are revealed, characters redeem and curse themselves, and everything comes to a close with no loose ends. I'm reasonably sure it will turn out like this, as I've had the conclusion for the story clear in my mind for a while now. This doesn't mean that the plot hasn't changed a bit. I've just finished a chapter that reveals the past of a main protagonist and originally I had intended for him to work against the main character, to the point where he helps others to try to kill her. But after his meeting with his estranged family things got a bit... tense. And now they've tied him up and are going to offer him as a sacrifice. And you thought your family get togethers were bad. Needless to say I haven't actually outlined any of that, and it does mean that the way things play out is going to alter from the plan. But as I was writing I realised this had to happen; his family are hideous and they want the death of the main character too, so it makes no sense for this guy to agree with them. I hadn't thought of that in the outlining process, but it became clear  when I was writing the chapter.

So for any other writers out there trying to hammer their stories into shape I say this; sometimes you just gotta let go and allow the characters to do what they were meant to do, not what you thought they'd do. Trust me, it's probably better than the plan (it certainly is in my case).

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Phrases I've Learned from 'Hackgate'

I think everyone was expecting that the grilling of Murdoch and Murdoch by the Select Committee yesterday would be entertaining, though likely not in the way it actually played out. I had hoped the MPs asking the questions would be tough on the Murdochs, considering the shit their organisation's antics have pushed everyone into, but alas, cowardice and butt-sucking seemed to be the order of the day (except for Tom Watson, who was brilliant). But despite the total lack of progress in sorting out this "hackgate" scandal I did learn some things. Like what to say and do if someone is blaming you for something. So I give you my list of responses to uncomfortable questions, accusations of lying or being responsible for the biggest infringement of private people's lives in living memory. These are guaranteed to get your accusers off your back (not a guarantee).

"Shut up son, I'll handle this... What was the question?"

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Harry Potter Special - The Top Ten Best Things About Harry Potter

In honour of the release of the last film of the Harry Potter franchise (until Rowling realises what a money train she's given up and writes some sequel or even prequel stuff), I thought I'd do a list of my top 10 favourite things from Harry Potter. That's the books, the films, the universe - everything. Narrowing it down to ten has been... tricky, so apologies if I leave out something you consider to be really obvious. So, in ascending order...

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Writing is a Path to Fortune and Glory - Right?


It isn't. It really isn't. I long suspected this but found some really helpful advice and information online about it this week, mainly involving the Google search "How much does a writer make on average?". And oh boy the answers are a wake up call if you see yourself sailing the blue seas on your yacht, or lounging in a hillside mansion while you contemplate your next tome. And because I'm super nice (sometimes) I thought I'd collate my findings here. Actually scrap that super nice crap - this is for me as much as for you. To keep my feet on the dark, dank ground of reality. I hate you reality.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

No More News of the World - How an Empire Slays the Weak to Save Itself

Today is the final run for News of the World after the worst week of it's 168 year existence. Scandal may have been their speciality but when they were put into the headlights they suddenly experienced the kind of hounding and condemnation the paper itself had laid at many people's doors. But a lot of innocent (if not necessarily honest) journalists and support staff have lost their jobs and now must join the 2.43 million unemployed in Britain. Was justice done? Or is this just an attempt by an empire builder to protect his creation. I think you can likely guess what my opinion is...

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

I Am Alive, I'm just Writing

Yeah, yeah I know. I said I'd keep the blog to a schedule of Saturdays and Wednesdays. I lied. Actually, I didn't lie, I was just overly optimistic. Julnowrimo has taken me over a bit so I was running behind with the blog. Like the UK government I had to make cuts, even if they are the wrong cuts to make. But I'm getting used to it all and have so far written just over 7000 words! In a week! (I know I tweeted 6000 earlier - I just used a calculator and it's actually 7000.) This is officially the most I have EVER written in such a short space of time. I've always made excuses before or found something to distract myself and thereby avoid the crushing weight of responsibility when I thought about how many words I had to do. In short I liked the idea of writing but not the reality. Now I'm liking the reality, though I am missing my Xbox a bit. I swear I heard it cry itself to sleep last night.

The one side effect of all the writing is I'm staying up later as I'm finding it hard to stop mid-chapter, which in turn means I am very tired most of the time. And yet this is also giving me some unforeseen ideas for the story, which has started to veer off the outline a tad. Not in a big way, but enough to establish characters a bit more and make it seem like an actual journey, rather than a race. How this will work in the long term I'm not sure - thankfully I have a week off at the end of July in which to work and sleep. In theory.

In other non-writing related news I was super excited to see the first trailer for "Brave", the latest animation form Pixar. And I was not disappointed; it looks beautiful and I love the design of the heroine with her flaming red hair and attitude. AND as if that wasn't good enough it's mainly Scottish people doing the voices - actual Scots, doing Scottish character's voices. I get very tired of Americans putting on awful Scottish accents so the fact that someone has been paying attention and realised this is stupid for this film has made me look forward to it all the more. Trailer is below for your and my amusement. FREEDOM!!! Oh, wait, wrong film...  "Brave" comes to cinemas in June 2012.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Film Review: Transformers - Dark of the Moon (2011)

With a whopping $162.1m (£100.4m) in box office takings so far 'Transformers - Dark of the Moon' is defying the critical panning it's received thus far. Its Rotten Tomato rating is currently at a miserable 38%, but the audience rating is 90%, and some of the most expressed comments about it are "incoherent plot" (Chicago-Sun Times), "mind-numbing special effects" (USA Today) and "an improvement on Transformers 2, but then what isn't?" (Empire). This is in stark contrast to the public's reviews which are generally positive, and reflect that many have enjoyed, and even loved this film. So what's up? Have professional reviewers lost their sense of fun? Or have the public lost any sense of taste? With all this floating around in my head I watched the movie for myself on Saturday. And I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.