Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012: The Writing Year in Numbers

Completing NaNoWriMo and pushing through the last few weeks of work before Christmas seem to have robbed me of all energy, therefore I present my review of the writing year mostly in numerical form:

2 novels undertaken, one for work, one for... fun(?)

competition successes: Cargo Publishing/Scottish Book Trust's twitter competition, Indigo Ink's Grimmoire Fairy Tales anthology, 5 Minute Fiction's Christmas competition

9 short stories completed: Something New of You, It'll All be Gone Tomorrow, The Gorgon and the Goddess, Ring-a-Roses, The Weeping Glen, Unnamed, Unsettled, The Visitor, The Queen and the Stag

12 blog posts (far better than last year's effort of 1)

63 short stories ghostwritten

179 tweets, mostly about writing

25, 432 words written for NaNoWriMo

77, 159 current length of the complete (in first draft) novel

And now for some New Year writing goals/projects in bullet point form:
  • Rewrite novel
  • Complete more stories for fairy tale anthology
  • Enter more competitions
  • Keep up the Pen Poppers (writers' group)
  • Write more posts for Writers' Block (meta)
Think that's my lot for now. 2012, you've been awesome. 2013, I'll deal with you later.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 21, 2012

An Advent of Stories

Whoever invented the modern advent calendar (I suspect those clever, Christmas-loving Germans) was onto a good thing. Whoever invented the chocolate advent calendar was onto an even better one. And now, the folk at 5 Minute Fiction have come up with an idea that's just as sweet: an advent of Christmas stories.

I've actually been thinking a lot about Christmas fiction recently. I think it's a lovely tradition, obviously made popular by Charles Dickens among others, and it's rather a shame there isn't more about at this time of year anymore. I had a couple of ideas for longer festive pieces, which I hope to write one day, but when I saw this competition - to pen a Christmas-themed flash fiction, the best of which would be displayed on the 5 Minute Fiction website during the countdown to Christmas - I decided to have a go with a completely new idea.

I can't really say too much about it, as it's pretty short and I'm a spoilerphobe. But I was really pleased that 5 Minute Fiction named me runner up in this competition and my story, The Visitor, is now available on their website here.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012: The End

At this stage in the novelling game, I don't anticipate my last scene to be followed by the words 'The End'. It would certainly be nice and neat but, for a story about second chances, it wouldn't work to close with so much finality. Nevertheless, a few days ago, I was sorely tempted to write those two little words at the bottom of the page for, after a month of NaNoWriMo, I had reached The End.

Progress throughout the month: a little hit and miss

As can been seen above on the Bar Chart of Joy, this year's Nano has not been particularly smooth sailing. In fact, I became severely stranded on three occasions both for pleasant reasons - a trip to Amsterdam, the visit of a friend - and a thoroughly unpleasant one - being struck down by an evil time and energy-guzzling illness. Sabotaged by my own body! It was a bit of a struggle, more so than I anticipated, but I did manage to claw back my word count over the last few days and finally finish - hurrah!

Now, after a few days of hardly thinking about writing at all, I think a kind of debrief is probably due on the experience, for which I've come up with the following:

1) The first draft is complete
Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, I have finished it, just like Joss Whedon told me to. It might be in a complete state, but it's all there, and therefore far easier to work with than a load of blank pages.

2) I have a better grip on the story
I have written this story over several years with months and months going by between bursts of activity. Returning to the plot in such a concentrated way has allowed me to see what works (the settings, for one) and what doesn't (the lack of emotional payoff at the end is currently my biggest concern), and therefore what I need to work on...

3) I have a plan
... Which leads me to the future of the book. I love to organise, and writing is one of those glorious activities that almost always benefits from a healthy dose of planning. It was always inevitable then, that as I was typing furiously to the deadline, my mind would be on the next stage of the process. I already know that the first thing I'm going to amend in the New Year is the opening of the story, which will take place in a completely different location (a wood) and then I'm going to tackle the rewrite chronologically, ie separating out my interlinking 2005/2010 timelines in the hope that I can smooth over all my plot holes and straighten out all my story arcs.

So finishing Nano is not an end - far, far from it. But the point is it's not a beginning either. To quote the mighty Joss once more:
Finishing [...]is first of all truly difficult, and secondly really liberating. Even if it’s not perfect, even if you know you’re gonna have to go back into it, type to the end. You have to have a little closure.
Which is why, to myself, and only in relation to the first draft, I think I can say it just this once:

The End.
This is the first and last time a post will feature
more than one graph. Promise.