writing

An abundance of M’s

Today I’ve been trawling through every file on my computer, Dropbox and Google drive in an attempt to find  something I started writing 3+ years ago. I remembered that it had been an attempt to write something with more of an ‘action’ feel to it, and that it began as an exercise in a creativity workshop thing I was doing just prior to Natalie’s birth – I’d been too tired, too scared, too anxious about trying to write something novel length since Lauren was born, and this particular piece, stemming from a dream I’d had, was a perfect way to cautiously approach a novel.

Of course, I never finished it, because life with a newborn, a 20 month, and a 5yr old is actually kind of insane.

But I thought about it today as I’m in a weird place in life right now – I have some spare time, but I have to start work on another assignment really soon, I have no pressing deadlines hanging over me (for uni, or anything else), and I want to write, but have nothing in progress as such. I’ve finished the drafts of three novellas this year, but I don’t have the time right now to revise any of those, and there isn’t much point in stressing myself out about that right now because I don’t plan on releasing those until late next year…

So naturally my brain went back to that other time when I was in limbo, waiting, and wanting something to play with. And this novel was the thing.

It has zombie babies, and regular zombies too. I’m on a bit of a kick right now and a friend recently said to me ‘you should write your own zombie novel’, so it was inevitable that my brain latched on that old idea.

I never titled this piece, and I couldn’t for the life of me remember the main characters names, so I went digging through every forgotten file, every ‘untitled’ document I could find.

And I didn’t find the story initially*. What I did find was that I have a ridiculous tendency to give my female leads names that begin with M. Overwhelmingly so. I had no idea!

Madea is the MC in Sun-Touched, and then we have Melanie from Surplus to Requirements, there is Melody in The Way the Sky Curves, and Moana in Shell and Bone. And then we have Meredith, Marama, Meagin, Megan, Marie, and Melissa from various short stories. And finally, Matilda in the Zombie Baby novel. Yes, I’m just going to call it the zombie baby novel for now. I literally have no idea where the story is going, though I’m sure I’ll have a blast finding out.

Not ALL my novels have M’s in the lead – Delaney is in charge in Saving Tomorrow**, and Lyssa is the female lead in Chasing Ascension… Gah! That might be it? Lord help me. I have an obsession with M names. Someone stage an intervention, right now. I’ll have to go out of my way to pick ANY other letter of the alphabet the next time I start a novel. Well, Samantha is the lead in my next novel, so at least she’ll kind of balance things out…

Save me?

Next time I start something new, I think I’ll put it to you to choose the letter the name begins with, because I need help. Obviously.

*I did find the first couple of chapters, thank goodness, but only because I’d emailed them to Anthony and I hadn’t deleted that email. I’m so pleased that my inbox seems to hold EVERYTHING from FOREVER ago. Apparently sending your stories to other people is the best back up method after all!

** It appears I might also have a thing for titles that begin with S… 

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Plans, they keep a-changing

I’ve made a lot of plans this year, and it seems like every time I’ve been on track with one of them, something has cropped up that means I veer off in another direction, or get jolted off course altogether.

And that’s life, isn’t it?

This was meant to be the year of the novel, but it wasn’t. Apparently it was actually the year of the novella, which in some ways makes sense. Making that leap from short fiction to long can be difficult, making that leap when your family is in chaos and stress levels are through the roof is just ridiculous.

However, I DID finish writing my novel Sun-Touched, and it’s at the top of my list for revision come the new year, but Surplus to Requirements simply did not get further than about 5k into the rewrite. I couldn’t get past those opening scenes, and then the nudge to write Burn came along so I ran with that. Sometimes you have to run with things.

My writing group has been a great help in my sanity this year, and in keeping me moving forward. Even though we’ve all been busy, just knowing that these other writers give a damn and are there when I need a boost, or need to be challenged or cajoled does a great deal in keeping one foot moving in front of the other.

I think I am slowly learning to be okay about the fact that just about anything can derail a writing plan – the important lesson this year has been that no matter what else is going on in my life, writing will be there when I recover enough from life to get back to it. I can’t count the number of times this year I’ve been sure the muse has abandoned me forever, only to find that the moment my stress level has dropped below that line where I can begin to think of other things, the ideas are there, waiting for me.

And I do have ideas, good ones. I’m just starting to rough draft a new short story, as well as planning for a new novella to launch into come December. They’re both set in New Zealand, which is exciting for me, and I’m looking forward to tapping into some of my personal history, my heritage and experiences of life in NZ and using them creatively in fiction.

What have you all got lined up for the last few weeks of the year?

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Cough, splutter, cough

I’ve been sick for the last week, which has been incredibly not fun. The saving grace is that the kids managed to avoid catching the same thing, which would have been terrible. I can’t breathe, and breathing is so very important! Well, today I can breathe a little easier, finally, but no running or jumping for me. It almost kills me lol

This has meant not as much writing has happened recently. Which is a shame. I started the month off with gusto, and then fall flat a little, though not because of the story – because of ME.

My story is awesome. I’m sitting around 13.5K at the moment, and there are around 3 scenes/5,000 words to go. This should put me right at the bottom end of the word count guidelines for the place I want to submit it, and gives me plenty of room to expand where necessary and play in this wonderful world I have.

I have to say that I think this novella is the least populated that I have written to date. Considering the length of it, that is. I’ve had short stories with only three characters, one with just two. But when the other main characters are a baby and a dead person, it makes dialogue a little tricky at times. I firmly believe dialogue is important though, so its lucky that I know from experience that people talk to babies ALL THE TIME, just like they talk to cats and other things that can’t talk back.

Anyway, I’m kind of hoping to finish up the first draft this week. Then I can let it simmer for a week before giving it a tidy up and passing it on to my crit group. It feels really great to have set the goal of writing it in one month and actually knowing that I can achieve that. Does wonders for my confidence as a writer.

Now I just need to set some firm goals for the StR rewrite. And follow through on those, as well. I’m starting to get a better shape of my day sorted out in my head, seeing patterns of time blocks that will work for me. It’s not just a matter of making sure I don’t waste those on unimportant things, like facebook, and twitter… damn those evil sites which eat time. Maybe it’s time to go on haitus again?

Anyway, enough about me. Tell me about you! What are you all up to at the moment?

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June, already

I’m still getting my head around the fact that it’s June already. I know I keep saying this, but the year is flying past. May kicked my ass. It was one of those months that simultaneously blew past, but also dragged on forever. It was pretty hellish. June is already looking better, and I really hope it stays that way.

My big goal for this month is to get the first draft of my new novella (Burn) written. I began on June 1st, and am currently sitting at just over 6,500 words. I’m hoping to hit 10K by the end of the approaching weekend, which should mean I am around halfway done – that said, I am lousy at predicting word counts, so that could well change.

I’ve done things a little differently this time, having sourced a bunch of images on Pinterest to help guide my character, and myself, through the plot of the story. Several of them have scenes crafted around them, while others just contribute to the general feel of the story for me. I’m really enjoying writing it so far, and have to say that this month, first drafts are easy!

I’m quietly hoping to wrap it up before the end of the month so that I can claim some more time for StR. I only managed 5,000 odd words on it in May, when my goal was 10,000. I feel like getting back to basics with this novella has helped shift my head from the ‘must be perfect’ mind set that was choking my progress just a few weeks ago. Fingers crossed huh?

What’s happening for you this month?

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If 1st drafts are meant to suck…

What are second drafts meant to do??

We hear it over and over again. It’s a first draft, it’s okay if it’s not perfect. It’s MEANT to suck. You’re just working all the kinks out. You can’t edit something that hasn’t been written – get that story written down. Once those words are on the page, then you can start getting the story perfect. All first drafts are bad.

Where is the advice for second drafts though? Because I need some. Now. I’m about to admit defeat, throw my hands in the air, and consign myself to being that girl who writes fifty million first drafts because it’s so much easier than trying to edit something to perfection. Because I can’t do this. I can’t. I can’t make it right, or anywhere near right. And I certainly can’t make it perfect. I’m not even sure I can make it ‘good enough’.

So someone, please, tell me that second drafts can suck too. Because I need to find a way to ease off on myself and stop thinking that every word I write is rubbish. If it’s even a fraction better than the original, that’s something. Right? Does it count? Second drafts suck less?

Complete this sentence for me. I’d love to know what you think: Second drafts….

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A new title for the new vision

TCM has undergone quite an overhaul (at least, the outline of it has, I’m yet to get into ripping the organs out of it and replacing them with better working parts), and as such, the title is now completely irrelevant. I think I mentioned this a few months back…  Ah yup. I did.

Anyways! Seeing as Sun-Touched is now finished, and I’m reworking TCM, the time has come to rename it. I was talking about it with Merrilee just yesterday and she fired off a bunch of names. This morning I went through and put them all into Goodreads to see which ones have been used plenty (this is a great tool! you don’t want a name that already has 10 books sharing the title).

I’m pleased to announce that TCM now has a new working title, and it’s Surplus To Requirements. Which I guess means it’ll become STR. I can handle that. It fits the story, which is about a girl who flunks out of her final tests and so is set to be shipped off Earth with the other failures to help pre-colonize planets for the worthy. There is no room for failures on Earth, hence she is surplus to requirements.

I also purchased Scrivener a few days ago. I’ve had the trial version for ages, but keep forgetting to start working in it. Logically, I know it’s a good move, but I just haven’t made the leap yet – well, until yesterday. I opened it up, filled in the scene cards for the first act, and started the first scene of the novel. I’m really excited about the direction it’s taking now, and am looking forward to bringing you snippets of it as I go.

It’s Mother’s Day today (Happy M’day to everyone!), and I’m hoping that means I can get maybe an hour to myself this afternoon to write. That would be the best gift right now. I want to start making a dent in this thing 🙂