Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Fruitfulness and Cake Whores

It occurred to me today that it's been nearly a year since I started up this blog, and then I thought about how far I've come since then. Starting out I had vague dreams of having a writing schedule, getting a first draft finished and learning more about this self-flogging thing called writing. I haven't quite got the draft done yet but I think I'm only a few thousand words away now (it's going to be shorter than I thought, likely about 90,000 words rather than 100,000). I have a definite schedule (most of the time) and am definitely conscious of getting words down every day. But the main difference I've felt is in my confidence. I don't think I'd have been up to submitting stories for flash fiction competitions, like on Chuck Wendig's blog, or chatting to people on twitter about writing a year ago. It's amazing how much we change without us really realising it.

Progress on the novel has been slow but good. I have the beginnings of an outline for the second draft so can make a start on that as soon as the first draft is finished. As those of you who follow me on Twitter know, yesterday I had a bit of a revelation when I finally realised what the theme of the novel is. I must admit I was beginning to have concerns about that. Here I am, I thought, at the end of the draft and I still have no idea what this damn story is really about, you know, under all the drama, gore and magic. What its essence is. I don't even know what it was specifically that triggered the realisation, but I was working on the final chapter of the draft, while writing bits of an outline for Draft 2 when suddenly, out of nowhere, I said to myself,

"Control. Trying to control things beyond your abilities, and the dire consequences of that on yourself and those around you."

Bang! Whizz! Pop! It was like a mini firework show in my head, amid frantic scribbling in my note pad. And then the feeling of pressure being released, pressure I hadn't even realised was there until it was gone. Ahhh.

So although I haven't been getting huge word counts in (only a few hundred each day) I feel like I've moved on leaps and bounds this week. With the theme firmly planted I can see now how to weave that into the main plot and the sub-plots. I can see what it will mean to the characters caught up in its vortex, how it's going to make them do things they shouldn't do, and make decisions that are hard but need to be made. Essentially, my story has gone from being 2D to being a full 4D experience. And I can't even begin to explain how relieved that makes me feel.

One last thing before I go: The aforementioned Mr. Wendig linked to this story today on Twitter and I thought it was one of the best short SF tales I've read in some time. The kind of story that makes me slightly envious but encouraged to try to do something as good. It also has a fantastic title. Ladies and Germs, I give you, "Cake Whores of Mars".

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