dark am i, yet lovely, a lily among thorns, majestic as stars in procession

dark am i, yet lovely, a lily among thorns, majestic as stars in procession

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Happy Anniversary

2 Today!
It’s 2 years to the day since I got started writing a novel. I’ve only just found out so I decided that this statistic, especially since it just turned midnight, warranted a blog post. Seriously, I gotta talk to someone about this. 2 whole years. It's been a year since I was bragging about how fast I was gunna storm through it right here on the Art Till Death art and writing blog. Huh! Don’t think so sunshine! My outline got scrapped. I made a new one. By outline I mean a 5 minute spider graph. I stopped for months at a time. I’ve just had over 2 months off now. 67 days to be exact. It feels like 3 weeks. It’s still fresh in my mind, and I haven’t thought about it since. Apart from the word SINKHOLE. There will be a sinkhole in the plot.

The idea started as a short story to be honest, originally titled MUDDY ANGEL: DARK DOMAIN. I always start with a title. The title is the first thing down. The conception. The first day writing was in MacDonalds, I think, which felt weird, and most of it has taken place in a cafe ever since, in the library a couple of times, a couple of times in bed, and once on a table outside my patio. Always with a black biro pen in tiny non-slanting joined-up letters. I type up chapter by chapter. 3 chapters are typed up in hard copy, Estrangelo Edessa font, size 10 or 11 maybe. It’s a big clear font. Headers are in...oh let’s not go there (although it is very interesting). I start from the back of the notebook and go backwards like a reverse clock...I don’t cross words out because it looks messy...I don’t use indents or any other blank space on the page...

2 years. 730 days. And you know what? I’ve had 694 non-writing days in all that time. Yes, you read correctly. 694 non-writing days. Only 36 days on the novel in 2 whole years today. What’s more, most of those days have consisted of nothing more than an hour sat in the cafe. Theoretically, I could have done my current amount in just over 1 month. I am now on the edge of the 4th chapter (soon to be the edge of the sinkhole), and knocking on Mister Twenty Five Thousand Word’s door. 36 divided by 25? I’ll leave that one to you (it’s over 500 words a session). Not bad on a daily basis, but not so great on a fortnightly basis.

Is there an advantage to getting it all done sharpish, in 36 days consecutively, compared to 36 days spread over 24 months? You betcha. Your continuity will be better. Tighter. And you’ll be less likely to repeat words. But the longer stretch wins in my opinion, because you grow and change with time, as does the book. Then again, having said that, getting something down and finished while you are still the same person is quite awesome too, because the completed product will be like a snapshot of you as that one person, rather than an album of you in evolution. Hmm...it’s a tough one.

As far as story goes though, and sheer investment, the long haul reaps the harvest of your experiences. That’s why this novel is changing. I’m about to twist it off on a tangent (curveball!), and fly in this new direction for as far as it's sails will carry me. The main characters are sat around a camp fire and about to tell a story. A story within a story is a legitimate excuse to propel a novel. This is the beautiful thing about a novel, it's possibilities. 40k+ words is a helluva spread of playground to explore, and you know what, I don’t care if these main characters fail to feature much from here on in, because they may have already served their purpose by introducing the story they are about to share with each other. The story may even be longer than the preceding 25k words (although I doubt it). But if it was, why not?

One thing that genuinely impresses me is a novel or a movie that transforms into something different to how it started out. Ones that become something else (think chrysalis, think eureka moment, think cross-genre). And over 2 dozen lunar cycles is bound to alter your work. So. Now. I’m ready to take this thing into the unknown. The vaguely known unknown. Ethel Franklyn, a limping 6 foot tall (maybe more) left-handed woman who is addicted to lynching people; then a chase out of a church tower, across a canal, and into a sinkhole. A holographic female entity is doing the chasing by the way, and to avoid the HOW TO, I’m afraid it will have to be a dream. Then it’s back to reality, which might involve a twin on horseback fresh on a gun-toting rampage thru rehab. And that’s it, essentially. That’s my 3rd outline summarised. But it’s all the filling in between that takes time. The padding tends to expand and bear fruit of its own. Ethel’s history, for one thing: She was stolen as a baby, survived a stoning and other execution attempts for multiple witch accusations, befriended a land owner...oh who knows what...

Just trust and believe that this is the last time I talk the talk about it until I make some good ground up. I feel the ink about to flow again sometime this week. The predominant feeling is relief. Somewhere I can go. Somewhere other than the restricted realms of my environment. In order to flourish in this world I have to investigate hers.

And how does a writer flourish? By sales? By numbers? By pats on the back? By signings and talks and leather-clad notebooks? By over-emphasising their bohemian aspect with a disastrous fashion sense? Or by writing? Or by writing. A writer writes, goddamn it. A writer goddamn writes.

Escaping Hazel
Coming, uh, soonish  

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