Wednesday, 16 November 2016

My book is a beast

I have a confession to make. My book is a beast.

There, I said it.

My book: destroying everything in it's path...

It's this huge, lumbering, unwieldy thing with bright blue fur, three heads, six inch talons, fangs, four wings, a long spiky tail and ten eyes. It won't do what I tell it to do. It won't listen to me - it's own creator! How rude - it just keeps lumbering along, occasionally gaining momentum but then slowing down to a halt to graze on green leaves and possibly the souls of small children (just joking - or am I...?) before running away from me again. I'm constantly running after it, panting and shouting at it to stop, but it simply takes no notice. It makes no sense - it shouldn't exist and it goes against everything I've ever believed as a writer, and yet - I love it.

I love it despite the fact it has a fat middle, a non-coherent beginning and a fairly decent, if somewhat abrupt, ending (well, the last scene anyway - let's not talk about the chapters before it). I love the fact that by writing absolute nonsense, I'm learning more and more about my main character every day - some days I love him, other days I wonder why on earth I ever bothered to write him in the first place and sometimes, just sometimes, he terrifies me and takes my breath away. I love learning more about my supporting characters and where they fit and why. I love writing scenes, knowing they will never make it into the final book, or they will have to be so heavily edited they won't be recognisable anymore; but it's only through writing what I don't want in the book, that I can start to discover what I do want in it. I especially love discovering more about the world they all inhabit, and how I can bring that world to life on the page.

I chose to do NaNoWriMo because I wanted to challenge myself as a writer. I wanted to try something new, something completely different to what I've done before. And I'm so glad I took the plunge.

Come December, I'll hopefully have 80,000+ words to work with on this WIP. It's a daunting task, but you know what? I'm so looking forward to taming this beast. I'm looking forward to wrestling with it, shaving off all that fur, clipping back the talons and untangling all those knots, to see what beauty lies beneath. Maybe there won't be any. Maybe I'll do all that work and discover it wasn't the book I thought it was, or the book I wanted it to be. But that's ok. This is what writers do - we write, we rewrite and, if we have to, we scrap it and start the whole process over again.

A few months ago, the thought of ditching a project, or coming to the end of a book and discovering it might not be publishable didn't make any sense to me. Why go through all that frustration and pain and heartbreak? But now, I'm slowly starting to realise that no matter how long it takes, or how many times you have to start over, some things are worth fighting for. I firmly believe that this book is worth fighting for - I will do whatever it takes, however long it takes - until it's done. It might take me a couple of months - most likely it will take me years. But that's ok. I'm going to keep chipping away at the beast, word by word, chapter by chapter, until one day, I can stand back and be proud of what I've achieved.

My book is a beast - but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Calcifier: a much more manageable demon

Is your book a beast? How do you 'tame' your novel? How's your NaNoWriMo going? What's your favourite Studio Ghibli film?

Monday, 14 November 2016

NaNoWriMo and Second Breakfasts...

I didn't want to go to my day job today. Not because I don't enjoy it, but because I had Friday off and. It. Was. Amazing.

I mentioned last week that I booked some time off in November to do some writing specifically for NaNoWriMo, and Friday was one of those days.

I was so happy when I woke up on Friday morning to a clear sunrise - I don't know why, but if it's sunny outside, I feel like anything is possible. Sunshine definitely has a positive effect on my mood.

My first stop of the day was my local Starbucks - I'm aware this isn't exactly supporting small businesses but it had free parking and I knew it would (probably) have decent wifi. I ordered a hot drink and a chocolate swirl to 'keep me going' (I have a confession to make - this was actually my second breakfast of the day, but I felt like I had to order something so I wouldn't feel guilty about being there!)

The breakfast of champions writers! Don't ask what's happening with the cream

I stayed there all morning, before deciding to find somewhere new to have lunch and start my afternoon writing session - not that there was anything wrong with Starbucks, but personally I think it can be quite expensive and I wasn't prepared to pay through the nose just for a sandwich. So I went to the cafe I worked at for a couple of weeks earlier this summer, before I got my marketing job. It was lovely to see everyone again, and the upside of going somewhere I've worked before meant that I knew exactly where the radiators and plug sockets were.

Chicken burger and chips for lunch - fuel for the afternoon!

The only downside was that the wifi didn't appear to be working properly. It wasn't a huge issue, as I was only using it to listen to music and I had music on my phone - but I'm finding more and more that I can only get into a really good writing groove if I plug my headphones in and shut the world out. After a few hours though, it was becoming obvious to me that I wasn't get as much work done. Music plays a huge part in my writing and I felt that because I didn't have the right songs on, I was getting restless and not really concentrating. So I went home early, put the fire on, made cup of tea and finished my writing session at home.

Fell views on the way home - winter is definitely coming

In total, I wrote 10,000 words on Friday. That's a huge achievement considering I hadn't written anything for about a week. I was planning on writing 5,000 words each on Saturday and Sunday too, but on Saturday I had to help out on the family farm for most of the day and Sunday just seemed to pass in a blur. I wrote another 4,000 words altogether, which is still pretty good - I'm well below the official NaNoWriMo word count for this time of the month, but I'm happy. So long as I keep writing every day, I'll get there in the end.

I have another two days booked off right at the end of November and I'm already counting down the days - I had such a good time just being a writer and doing what I love to do, that I can't wait for next time! Next time though, I know to stay somewhere with decent wifi and not switch workspaces halfway through the day - it breaks my concentration too much!

Have you ever taken time off work specifically to write? Do you like to write in cafes or at home? Do you listen to music while you write?

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Busy weekends and NaNoWriMo updates...

I have a confession to make - I haven't written a word for NaNoWriMo since about this time last week.

There are a couple of reasons for this - we went to see our friends in Cheltenham last weekend (my lovely friend Jess is also a blogger - check out her amazing food blog here! Be warned though - it will make you very hungry) and I had such a good time - we saw a firework show at Cheltenham racecourse, went to an organic farm shop and made chocolate apples (mmm....)

The only thing is, we were also away the weekend before that too, which meant I've had two weeks with basically no breaks - I'm not complaining because I've had such a good time catching up with people, but I've definitely noticed a difference in my mood this week. I've been so exhausted when I get back from work that I barely have the energy to make supper. It's been a struggle not to just fall asleep where I am on the sofa every night.

But I have some good news - I'm off work tomorrow! At the start of November, I booked a few days off with the specific aim of getting a load of writing done - and I'm planning on spending the whole day in a small coffee shop somewhere scribbling down my words for NaNoWriMo. I can't tell you how much I've been looking forward to this - not just because it's a well-needed break from my day job, but also because it'll be the first time in years (since uni in fact) that I'll be able to a) dedicate the whole day to writing and b) get out of the house to do my writing. I'm so excited!

So even though I'm down on my word count, I'm still happy. Am I going to give up because I've fallen behind? Nope. I'm going to keep writing, and see what happens - maybe I'll complete NaNaWriMo, but if I don't, well, I'll still be several thousand words ahead than I was in October. And that's all that counts.

I have all my notes, I have my notepad, and I have my laptop. Let's order in the coffee (and maybe a cake or three) and let's get writing! We can do this!

Happy NaNoWriMo, everyone! Keep going - you're all amazing xx

P.S. To keep you going, here's a photo of me meeting Batman in my workplace this week. Not gonna lie - it was awesome...

How is your writing going? Are you taking part in NaNoWriMo? What are your plans for the weekend?

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

IWSG November: My favourite part of being a writer is...

I feel like I’ve been so wrapped up in life lately, I completely forgot it was IWSG until I happened to check my blog this morning and see everyone else’s posts. I was originally going to post today on some other stuff but I think I’ll save that for December, after the craziness of NaNoWriMo has passed.

This month's IWSG question is:

What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?

I instantly knew what my answer to this question would be – world building. I adore getting lost in a book where the world building is so complete and intricate that you could believe that that world actually existed. I’ve read books where the world building has been so good, it’s taken me a few moments to readjust back to reality once I’ve stopped reading, or I’ve felt gutted when a book/series has finished and I know I have to leave that world behind forever.

I love good world building – I’m not just talking about descriptions of places, I’m also talking about the history of the world, its rules and regulations, its political system, its currency, different races and religions, gender and their roles in society…it’s all these things that really bring a book to life. As a reader, I think it can be obvious when an author doesn’t put as much thought or time into their world building as they should – but if they do put in the effort, it makes the whole book flow and reading it a joy.

In terms of being a writer, this is my favourite part of writing because although it can be a challenge to bring a world to life on a page, I love exploring the possibilities of new worlds and coming up with the little details that all add to the overall picture. In the fantasy novel that I’m currently working on, I’m taking the time to explore the backstory of my fantasy world and I’m absolutely loving it – whenever I don’t feel like writing a proper scene, I’ll write some folklore or dream up a new location in my world, and write about that for a while instead. It’s actually a surprisingly good way to get myself into the writing mindset – and I’m planning on using this technique to up my word count during NaNoWriMo if I get desperate!

What about you – what’s your favourite aspect of being a writer? Have you read any books lately with brilliant world building? What brings a book to life for you? If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, don’t forget to add me at: REPattinson1!