writing progress

Funny how the brain works. Maybe it’s because I put away the first draft of Waypoints during a dark period–maybe it’s because I decided that writing wasn’t working at all, but I had this idea that I had never gotten around to finishing first draft on it. So, I was quite surprised when I opened scrivener to find that I had indeed managed to finish first draft on that novel. True, it wasn’t a clean first draft; true, it was filled with open and close parenthesis that looked like this: (fill this information in later on) and (what does this person want anyway and why is this character here? Justify that.); but, it was a first draft.

I know it needs quite a bit of work before I can even show it to anyone else, so I’ve decided to discipline myself and focus on working on this story for at least a couple of hours each day for the duration of the stay at home rule.

When I started working on Waypoints, I had no clear plan of where I wanted this story to go. What I had was an image and an idea and a very strong feeling. I followed those things and just put words on the page without stopping to consider whether each event was helping the story or moving the story forward or doing anything useful in the story.

At one of the first workshop meetings, I told my students that when we write, what we put on the page must serve the purpose of the story we want to tell.  I find it amusing to discover that these were the exact words I needed to hear as well because I quite forgot about that point while writing the first draft for Waypoints. I was just indulging myself and having fun.

I do remember going back to visit this first draft sometime ago and feeling a sense of overwhelm. It felt like this incredible mess and I had no idea how to make sense of the mess. So I shut the file up again and shelved it.

The interesting thing about some stories is how they will nag at you and refuse to let you go. You put them away determined to forget about them, but they keep coming back to haunt you. They nag and nag and remind you that you haven’t really given them their due. I have two stories on file that keep doing that to me and Waypoints is one of them.

Today, I’ve identified my main problem with this novel and why I’ve found it more challenging to organise as compared to when I make sense out of the chaos of a first draft short story. 

First of all, I have lots of characters on the page who want all kinds of different things. Second, my viewpoint keeps shifting and right now it feels like I have more than three threads vying for dominance. 

It also suffers from a thing one of my instructors pointed out to me when I was at Clarion West–I’ve tried to stuff so many things into this draft that it’s hard for the reader to identify what’s most important. (Considering how I am reading this draft after a year and having trouble identifying what’s what already says a lot.)

So today, I’m asking myself questions as I look at my draft. What do my characters want? Where do their wants coincide? Where do their wants diverge? Who has got the most lose? Who gets hurt the most? How much are they prepared to sacrifice in order to achieve their wants?

It’s small progress but I am working at this one step at a time.

Process: Fire and Life and Story

Wrote 1647 words to the wip yesterday.

Worked on that story that I let lie for a long long time.

I am sitting at my writing desk–butt in chair, eyes to the screen. I plan to write and I plan to keep on writing.

I think of conversations had with friends about the writer’s life and the act of writing. I think of stories and I think of fire and I think of how what is twisted and cold and hateful will always try to kill what is warm and passionate and alive.

Fire and life.

I think of how we come to story from many different backgrounds. Half-scared out of our skins because to write story is to bare yourself to the world. It is to make yourself vulnerable and open to possible derision, to possible shaming, to possible rejection, to possible pain. And yet, we keep doing it. Again and again and again.

While sorting through the business of paperwork and thinking through how I should go on, I told the accountant who was helping me to deal with the finance side of stuff that I was working on my first novel. She smiled and told me that it’s a rare writer who is able to make a living off of their writing. I know this. I know this very well.

Still, I write.

I write because stories are life. They remind me of hope and joy and of the passion that is so vital to life. I know what it’s like to walk in this world carrying worlds inside my body–to have that feeling of knowing a place that is beyond the space my physical self occupies.

 

Story is a fire. It is my job to open the door, to make the fire so inviting that the reader can’t help but come in. It is my job to make the world I carry inside me become just as real to the reader as it is to me.

There is enough killing hatred in the world. There are enough people who populate the world with killing words and killing deeds.

Words have power. (Fantasy reminds us of this.)

I write to remember that the world is filled with infinite possibilities, that there is still hope, that we have the power to change, that we can change ourselves and the world around us.

Blow fire into your story.  Keep hold of your hope. Be contagious.

Writing progress

I’ve been working slowly on the Cartographer’s World novel. I have the world so fully formed inside my head that I sometimes feel like I’m walking in that place and introducing people who populate it as well showing out the sights while I’m at it. While Siren from Song of the Body Cartographer plays a major role in this novel, there are other characters who intrigue and catch my attention with their own stories. I should probably start a character chart soon as the world and their stories come out on the bigger canvas. Writing a novel is an immersive and fun experience.

In the meantime, I’ve also been working on two different stories. One which springs from an image of a person looking out towards earth from the viewing deck of a generation ship. It’s a pretty cliched image, I know, but the possibilities that exist there…I found myself thinking of where this person came from and where this person was headed to. I also thought of possible dialogues that were running through this person’s head as the ship draws farther away from earth. This is the first time I’m attempting something like this and I’ll admit it’s a bit daunting, particularly since using the first person pov is something I’m not very good at.

I was prompted too by the thought of what happens when someone is sent into exile where the exile benefits those who are in power. It’s not an easy story to write and I rather hope it ends on a good note.

The second story that I’ve written a draft of is a bit of a fun caper. This one was inspired by a conversation I had with Tade Thompson on family coaches. I meant, the person who helps families restore structure in the family setting but somehow this morphed into something else .It’s a lot of fun and also involves some really cute animals. <g>

I haven’t talked about it on here, but I am participating in the Clarion West Write-a-thon. I’m hoping to raise at least 200 dollars for Clarion West and have promised to post a previously unpublished short story for every 50 dollars I raise. I’ve just raised my first 50 dollars, so watch this space for a free story soon. I will be sure to post about it on twitter and facebook and will also let my sponsors know that it’s up. Please do check my profile at the Clarion West website. There are lots of other fabulous authors participating, so you can take your pick of who you wish to sponsor.

Finally, I have been sitting on a bit of good news. I received an acceptance for Magnifica Angelica Superable and just sent out the signed contract this week. I had a lot of fun writing Magnifica Angelica. I think I chuckled to myself while writing most of it.

I’m working on updating and revamping the book blog, but will post more about that once things are better in place.