Friday, 7 December 2018

20k/5 Days: An Experiment

 The structure of NaNoWriMo was something I really got into this year. I had tough points, but no matter the blow to my mood, or my word count, I managed to pull it back and get a win.

 Part of that, I think, was the method I developed (with great help from Sue, one of my region's Municipal Liaisons) of treating blocks of time as word wars, or, in my case, sprints.

 I learned that I can do five hundred words in half an hour pretty consistently, and with that strategy in use, I managed to do three thousand a day on my best solo days (Write In days were usually better because of writing in more than one place and in a social setting).

 With NaNo over, and a supplementary short story and my project from last year still unfinished, I felt a little bereft with no challenge.

 I was as Alexander, I wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.

 So I made my own.

 As it is my wish to be a professional writer, a daily minimum word count for non-NaNo times is something that I need to develop.

 With a successful NaNo behind me, I decided to think big, and so, I committed to spending the next five days, starting Monday, on writing twenty thousand words.

 Wish me luck, and do not weep for me if it all goes tits up.


 Day's Word Count: 4063


 Phew, today was a hard start.

 I felt pretty good at the beginning, got an early start and had my first thousand words done by quarter past nine. (I woke up at five, these things happen.)

 I ended up taking a long break after, about forty five minutes, and I feel like this may have been a mistake. I felt like I was flagging pretty early on during my third block for the day.

 Block four forty five minutes later wasn't too bad, though.

 Blocks five and six came in rapid succession after lunch, that flagging feeling disappearing pretty fast.

 With the end of block six came the end of the last short story I wrote to fill up my NaNoWriMo 50k. So long Lesbian Witch Romance (working title, I promise.)

 Now, strictly speaking, I had a thousand words left for the day. It's the 500/30 method I mentioned above, after all.

 However, I spent the better part of two hours feeling way too intimidated to get back into the novel that had been my white whale since the end of last November.

 (Out of about sixty eight thousand words, forty six thousand were written in NaNo17. Twenty two thousand over eleven months is pretty dire, I think.)

 So my seventh block was just 250/20 to try and ease myself back into it, which worked pretty well, ended up with three hundred and forty, not too shabby.

 Unfortunately, though, the last block was back to 500/30 and I under performed by about two hundred words.

 No matter, though, I made up the shortfall to the total 4k for the day shortly after.

 Not the most brilliant start, but a start it is. Hopefully I can continue to build momentum on TWoA tomorrow.


 Day's Word Count: 4042

 Running Total: 8105


 Why am I doing this to myself?

 Well, the good news is that I managed to get the first four blocks done with little trouble, under performed a little on block four, but not by enough to really put a dent into my progress.

 Block five is when I really started feeling the burn. I under performed slightly again, but it felt like a struggle in a way the previous four hadn't.

 Block six was an out and out failure, I put it off for hours and got less than half what I wanted to.

 Seven only came, with less of that burned out fog mind, after a half hour on my exercise bike. The blood being pumped a little harder helped clear the malaise.

 Since Six was a wash, I had six hundred words left over, and by this point it was five thirty, so I filled up the rest of those by starting something silly and indulgent.

 Finally finished that at about twenty past nine. I am a mess and want to go to bed.


 Day's Word Count: 0

 Running Total: 8105


 I woke up today feeling exhausted and dreading getting up. I stayed in bed past the time I'd already written five hundred words avoiding the day.

 Now it's twenty five past one and I have failed to write a single word. If I manage to write anything, I will note it in an addendum, but my hopes are not high.


 Day's Word Count: 538

 Running Total: 8643


 So I ended up sleeping in until ten. Apparently I was that tired.

 I wrote one block after brunch, but didn't really feel the need to push myself to write more. Instead I actually did some housework.

 After such severe burn out, I'm satisfied with that count for the day. I will, however, try to get more done tomorrow.


 Day's Word Count: 1623

 Running Total: 10266


 Well, I woke up on time and got three blocks done in the morning (although a bit later than Monday and Tuesday to start and took a long break).

Fifteen hundred was really what I wanted to do as a minimum today, and might have managed more if my Mum hadn't given me the change jar. So any possibility of writing died in the face of counting out well over a thousand coins.

 (It was a worthwhile exercise.)


 Twenty thousand in five days was just far too ambitious.

 Just way too much to do.

 While I had achieved numbers higher than four thousand in a single day during NaNoWriMo, they tended to be spread out and at least partly done in a social setting.

 I think about a thousand a day is a good minimum for me personally (at least during a 'work day') and three thousand is a number that is definitely achievable on a day to day basis.

 Doing original writing in the morning and dedicating the afternoon to editing writing blog posts, or artistic pursuits may be the optimal method of organising my weekdays.

 Currently I'm not actively editing anything, so that will need to be tested in the New Year.

 Until the end of December, I'm going to take it easy.

 Despite NaNoWriMo being successful, I had a pretty rough time of it last month.

 Some personal issues, the DWP screwing me over, and the change of seasons laying me low as per annual tradition. all made my NaNo success a surprise to me.

 The New Year is something I'm particularly looking forward to because I'm going to be trying a new method to help organise my life and improve my productiveness (hopefully enough to get out of the hell hole that is the jurisdiction of the DWP).

 I plan to cover that at a later point in the month.

 As for now, have a nice weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

National Novella Writing Month

 This is the first, unedited, line of my NaNoWriMo project this year titled More Canals than Giza.

 It's only tangentially related to the rest of the novel, as the story begins with workaholic Tonina Lagoria breaking out of her work groove as an illustrator in the wee hours of the morning.

 After that point, she is swept up in a story of aliens coming to Earth and running into a cute guy.

 My inspiration for this story was based entirely around my irrational worry that a pale face will pop up outside my window in the dead of night.

 Or rather, considering the somehow less terrifying thought of a dark skinned face popping up outside of that window.

 Attached to a person, not just a disembodied face. It's not like Idris Elba's visage decided to go for a post midnight walk without the rest of him.

 (In that instance I'd still scream like it was a pale face, but I'd also be charmed. He's very handsome.)

 So this entire plot was born of coming up for a legitimate (as in logically consistent and not crime based) reason for someone to be in your back garden at two o'clock in the morning.

 All I could think of was running away from some threat, and my brain supplied giant alien cats as said threat.

 Which I am so glad my brain supplied because writing this story was a lot of fun.

 I'm both seriously looking forward to January to begin revising the story, and dreading it, because I've never edited anything this long before.

 For my sins, this is the first finished draft of anything longer than a short story I've ever managed. Even though it's only about 35k long, it's still an intimidating length for a novice like myself.

 So, with the writing relatively fresh in my mind, here are things I want to address in the edit:

  1. Giving currently nameless characters names.
  2. Improve the romance
  3. Improve the humour
  4. Improve the deeper social commentary (that there is. It's not much, tbf)
  5. Improve the ending
  6. More descriptive detail for Tonina and other characters
  7. Drive home Stephen the Newsreader losing his goddamn mind
  8. More horror elements
 I'm pretty satisfied with the first draft and keeping these points in mind to improve it for the second.

 I mean, honestly, if it had been a white guy in her back garden, Tonina probably would have assumed he was a ghost and left him there to die.

 I know I would.

Monday, 3 December 2018

Post NaNo Blues

 So, another year, another NaNoWriMo has passed.

 Same old, same old, right?


 This year I actually managed to pull it off!

A winner is me.

 I feel like a proud mother.

 And like any mother, not everything I did is worth a damn, but this is a risk of any creative process.

 Including making people.


 This year I didn't do one long novel I haven't finished.


 This year I managed to create a complete story.

 More than one, actually.

 Yeah, my initial idea couldn't hold on for a full fifty thousand words, so I ended up having to supplement my word count with a few short stories.

 Three, to be exact.

 Two I have finished, and a third that still needs to be completed.

 In the spirit of sharing, I shall leave the first lines of each of these four stories below in a suitably aesthetic manner.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Manderlay - A Review

 It occurs to me that I should probably put links to my Fission Mailure Reviews up here.

 Last week's review was late, due to hanging out with Doug during the period I should have been watching the film, but it was of Manderlay, the 2005 sequel to a film I previously reviewed called Dogville.

 Here are yon relevant links.

 Manderlay (2005)

 Dogville (2003)

Friday, 2 June 2017

The Lake House Review Supplemental

 Review here (x)

 You know, the one thing other than 'Keanu Reeves isn't that bad an actor' that was going through my head while I was watching this film was 'this just straight up wouldn't work in Britain'.

 The entire concept of the film is dependent on the two main characters being able to find letters that they leave for each other.

 The letterbox for a British house is in the front door, not on a stick outside of the house.

 Alex would find that first letter from Kate on the doormat and that would be the end of proceedings, because he'd have no way to reply unless the Royal Mail was in on it.

 While I think we can all agree that the addition of time travelling posties would only be an improvement to any film, it's beyond any normal level of suspension of disbelief that everyone in the sorting office would see a letter from the future and not return it to sender for being a bullshit merchant.

 Look, we're British. We don't do that lighthearted quirky shit unless kids are involved.

 And I think it needs to be made clear that Alex would have to put his replies in the postal system. The idea that you could leave a letter for someone else near your house and expect it to be delivered is some weird foreign nonsense, unless you have some blackmail on your postman.

 Even if the Royal Mail did deliver time travel letters (which they wouldn't, mostly on principal and because of cuts), these cutesie conversations between the protagonists would take much, much longer.

 In film, it's instant messaging with real paper, in the British version, they're glorified pen pals. Which wouldn't last for long because they'd both be spending a fortune on stamps.

 Which would be an interesting way to raise revenue, if nothing else.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

NaNoWriMo Extract

 So my sleep patterns been playing me right up these last ten days or so, and I just couldn't think of anything to post about. My apologies for both of these things.

 However, not what the post is about, this post is an extract from yesterday's NaNoWriMo efforts that I fancied showing off.

 It revolves around one of the newer characters in the story, Carwyn.

 (For reference he calls his sister Padi)

In the Shadow of the Stonehearted King

 He'd decided to name it Padikin.

 It was barely the height of his palm, standing in the awkward arms held straight out from the shoulder position that was depicted in the book on his desk.

 A small sculpture of a girl with pigtails and a long dress made from clay he'd taken from the arts rooms. Padikin didn't have much detail, except for little dot eyes and a smiley mouth on her face and tiny snakes of a necklace and bracelet.

 He'd made her small so she'd be easier to fire, but it made her harder to paint. She had a big black splodge on her right cheek from when he was painting her hair.

 Carwyn thought it made her cuter.

 He re-examined the pages concerning the ancient rites of golem animation. It was complicated, with many glyphs and a strange chant that the book was determined could not be sung.

 He was certain that the T'schdem had streamlined it since the book was written, as it did not need to be as complicated as it was.

 He drew one glyph on the desk in chalk coloured with the blood of a ram. The book called for fresh billy blood, but he couldn't get his hands on that at such short notice. The long dried blood of a similar looking male would have to be enough.

 He placed an inverted plate on top of it and carefully wrote the chant in a circle around it.

 With a knife he wedged the plate up so he could remove it without smudging the chalk.

 A few careful curves and curls to fill in some space and the cirle was finished.

 It didn't look much like the diagram, which was designed to give a general idea and not the actual circle of magic used, that was all straight lines, glyphs and the suggestion of vines. Carwyn's was all organic looking shapes that reflected no actual living thing caught between a glyph and the carefully written chant in the alphabet of the Lords.

 He admired his handiwork and gently placed Padikin in the centre of the circle.

 "Gentle Padikin, sweet child of clay," he sang trailing his finger around the circle before spiralling through it, "to you I give the gift of life."

 Once his finger reached her feet her turned her with his free hand, causing the chalk on his finger to leave gradually fading marks on her dress. At her shoulder he stopped, pressing his finger tip against her little smiley mouth.

 "As once the gods granted it to man. I wish you a duty of nothing but joy," he crooned before blowing gently into her face, some of the trace of chalk he'd left with his finger blew away.

 Her arms fell to her sides.


 She tilted her head at him before nodding.

 He smiled widely.

 "Welcome to the world little Padikin, and thank you, I'll be able to revive Southern soon thanks to you."

 Padikin pushed out her chest and put her little mitten hands on her hips in pride.

 Her pose of triumph didn't last long though, as she started trying to brush off the chalk the second she touched some with her hand.

 Carwyn chuckled and handed her a tiny scrap of cloth.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

The Slangebarn (Part Two - Cultural Narrative)

 Long ago in the time before the Lords, there was wise king in the lands of the north.

 She ruled well and protected her people from both invaders and the villains from within.

 Her people loved her and the gods blessed the name of King Slange.

 Like many powerful monarchs, she struggled to find a suitable helpmeet, a man who would support both her and her kingdom and be able to provide her with an heir.

 Many men approached her, but none could be what she and her people needed from a consort. Some were good commanders but little else, some were lovers who lacked the skills to rule, many sought to take her power, and many more were entirely unqualified.

 A sad few, though, they were good men with strong spirits and warm hearts, but could not provide the heirs Slange and her people needed.

 Heart broken after turning away another of these suitors, Slange petitioned the gods of her people.

 She asked not for the perfect helpmeet, but for heirs, resigned as she was to that man not existing and wishing to no longer have to turn good men away.

 The gods listened, and two descended in the form of animals, offering to give her children to bear.

 Both wished for the child they granted to be her heir, but Slange was as fair to gods as she was to men, she asked to bear both children as twins and would choose her successor from between them.

 The gods agreed, each confident that their child would be fit to rule Slange's kingdom.

 Using their magic, they granted Slange the gift of motherhood.

 The people rejoiced the announcement of her quickening, and a great feast of many days was prepared for the birth of the twins.

 When they blessed day came, the first born of the twins was a son Slange named Svan, and she named his sister Alga.

 The children grew to be healthy and strong, and Slange was happy in her motherhood.

 As the twins learned to read and write, a man came to court who caught Slange's eye.

 He was a handsome man who was also wise and caring, and saw no issue with opposing Slange when he did not agree with her.

 She grew more attracted to him by the day, and one day she invited him to her private chambers for a meal.

As they ate and drank, she confessed her interest in him, and he replied that he too was attracted to her. He'd come to her court out of admiration and had since, he believed, fallen in love.

 The two began a short and passionate courtship and it seemed to all that knew them that they would be wed within the year.

 The seasons changed, and much sooner than before, Slange felt the quickening.

 Before the sun set, the father gods of Svan and Alga descended in animal form once again to confront the pair.

 They spoke of betrayal and lies, not of Slange, but of her paramour. For he was a god in disguise.

 The lie cut Slange deep.

 The father gods of Svan and Alga presented the god with an ultimatum from their king, either the god was to return to heaven and never return to Slange's side, or he could give up his godly powers and status to live along men.

 In a heartbeat, the god gave up everything, becoming the man that Slange had believed he was.

 This act of sacrifice proved to Slange that he never wished to hurt her and she felt that she could forgive him.

 The father gods of Svan and Alga left them, their task completed.

 Once the pain of the lie had faded, the pair wed, their honeymoon blessed with Slange's third child. A son she named Earn.

 For many years the family lived happily, until the twins showed signs of adulthood, it was then that they began to compete for their role as heir. The following years saw their competition turn to rivalry and then to fighting.

 Slange and her husband tried to stem their conflict, but by the time Earn had earned his manhood it had become irreconcilable.

 Svan and Alga could barely stand the sight of each other and their skills in war and rule were evenly matched.

 Slange could not choose either of them to take her throne, and her promise to their father gods prevented her from taking the suggestion of Svan and Alga themselves and select Earn as her heir.

 Instead she split the kingdom between them, into the land of Alga bordered by Svan's kingdom.

 With no land of his own, and wishing not to choose between his beloved brother and sister, Earn struck out his own path west.

 Over the sea he found an island of two nations, with kings who fought and warred constantly, with his experience gained from serving his mother and the fights of his siblings, Earn began to create his own kingdom. He took lands as payment for fighting the northern king for the western one, and his people prospered as they claimed the land.

 Before long, he rose and army of his own and pit the kings against each other enough to take as much land as he could before he began to push them back to the north and the west. His success continued until the terrain prevented his expansion to the north and the sharp bite of magic to the west.

 His mother, father and siblings were proud of his accomplishments, and Slange lived out her life the mother of three kings.

 Her fate was not the one she had wished and hoped for, but she could not have been happier with it.

 This story is incredibly old, it was old even at the time of the arrival of the Lords, an event recorded as happening two and half thousand years ago.

 The scholars of the Slangebarn believe that the spirit of the story is true, that there was a group named the Slange and it split into the Svani, Algmen and Earnmen, with the latter striking out to establish a kingdom between the borders of Damhtir and Maharentir.