2015 Writing Review

I came into 2015 with a very solid idea of what I wanted to write, but that went out of the window by the end of January. My plan was to re-write Earth, After Liberation so it tied into its sequel, Oppression, better. Then I’d write the third book in the series during NaNoWriMo 2015 and then edit them altogether once the third book was finished. None of this worked out at all. I think I was trying to over complicate the Earth, After Liberation re-write too much and it was beginning to loose its soul.

I’ve yet to go back to them as I don’t want to spend another three months working on something which wasn’t going anywhere. I think there’s something there worth saving but I’d like to get some new fiction done and finished. So for the foreseeable future I think they’re just going to have to wait.

The next major project I wanted to get done in 2015 was Project Apollo, which crashed and burned as well. Owen and I have been trying to make this story work for nearly a decade now and I’ve got to the point where I think it’s never going to work, but a lot of good has come from this failure.  We’ve got the potential to write at least a half a dozen stories directly from Apollo, probably more. We’re basically going to cannibalise it and take the individual stories and characters and build from there. I think what made Apollo such a hard story to write is that we have at least a half dozen Point Of View characters, as many A-level plot lines and equally as many B-level plot lines. Eventually I realised that we were trying to write a story with a huge amount of depth and complexities without building up to it with smaller, more straight forward stories.

I think Owen and I are a few years, and a number of finished books away from being able to pull off a story like that. As I said though its not been a total loss; we’ve got a lot of great stuff to pull from Apollo and we’re going to explore those for the moment.

Now onto my vampire collections. When I started on these again I managed to knock out about 15,000 words of story really quickly and with only a little trouble. I went back to this universe because I thought it would be a good way to rebuild my confidence after two major project for the year had failed, and it was going really well. Then I stopped for NaNoWriMo and lost my momentum for the vampire collection with it. When I resumed it in December I’d found that I was having trouble building a story, writing in 1st person, and keeping the characters true to how they are written in the first book and the first few stories of book two.

I took a break and wrote a short story about a mermaid, which I’m really happy with, but I haven’t been able to get back in the mindset of these vampire stories. I’ve got a few ideas on how to get back into the rhythm with them but that’s something for 2016.

I’m not going to say much about the mermaid story, aside from its written in 1st person and I may edit it to 3rd person as I like a lot of the content and think I could write more in that setting.

I won NaNoWriMo only after a serious kick up the butt from Chrystalyn. For NaNo this year I only had an idea which could be summed up in one sentence, and I will never write another long form piece of fiction based on that again. I got a good start but soon I was struggling and began to jump around a lot and write scenes with huge gaps between them and I soon realised that the story would need an absolutely huge edit-rewrite once NaNo was over.

As I said, NaNo cost me my vampire book momentum but Ive got a lot of good content to play with and I learnt to write more from my dark side and not worry about what people may think of some of what I write that may not be what people would expect.

At about three weeks in I was beginning to loose momentum. I think I’d gotten it in my head that as I’d need to do a lot of work on the story it wasn’t worth adding more to it until I’d read through and done some proper preparation on it. After a few days of me saying to Chrystalyn that I didn’t think I’d hit the 50k she basically told me to shut up and get writing. By this time I was needing 2000 words a day to finish on target. I think I rolled over the 50k with a day to spare, and I realised that I needed to hit that milestone as it showed me when the chips are down I can hit a deadline.

The Residents hasn’t moved forward much but we have done some work on it. It’s still a project I’m really excited about and looking forward to when both Chrystalyn and I are ready to commit the time needed to write it.

I have also written two outlines for Apollo universe stories.

Something I worked on towards the end of the year was creating a universe bible for all of the Apollo universe stories. I’ve written down a lot and just need to start typing it up.

I also wrote a ‘off the hip’ story for the Apollo universe at the end of the year. This is technically the first completed 1st draft that’s been written in this universe that doesn’t need extensive work to get it right. As of writing this Owen has read it and is very happy with it, but wants to add some details to it which we’ll be discussing soon.

I may not have completed many stories in 2015 but I learnt a lot. If a story doesn’t work it doesn’t mean its a failure because I took a lot of lessons from those failures. I hadn’t thought of it like that until Chrystalyn said it.

I’ve also learnt that I can hit a deadline, and can work on outlines without actually writing the story out. I’ve learnt a lot about world building and character development and growth. There’s a lot of other things that I’ve learnt this year as well, but they’re more subconscious and I haven’t realised I’ve learnt them until it occurs to me that I’m not making the same mistakes and so on.

I think I’ll look back at 2015 as a year where I didn’t finish much but learnt a lot more.

 

 

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Getting Out Of This Rut

I’m almost raring to go this morning. I’ve got a few bits and pieces to do out in the garden this morning and I’d like to watch a little football this afternoon but I really want to get some words down. I feel like I’m coming out of this rut but it’s been more of a slow process than just flicking a switch.

I REALLY need to get myself out of this rut, it’s begining to drive me crazy and the longer I’m in it the harder it’s going to be to get myself out of it. I keep thinking I’m almost out of it but then I hit a little roadblock and that’s it, I loose my rythm and that knocks me off the horse for a few days.

So, this week I’m going to make a concetrated effort to get words written. I’ve got both the AVG and Project Apollo rewrites to work on, so if I get stuck on one of those I can switch over to the next one. I’ve also got planning work for The Residents to do, as well as a couple of blog posts that I want to write as well. And I’ve got Beta Reader’s notes to read through on my Vampire series.

I’ve got enough to do, and I know this rut isn’t the dreaded writers block (which I don’t think is something that I’m gonna suffer from) I think it’s a mental barrier that I’ve built up after Earth, After Liberation crashed and burned. I had a rough outline of three books and I was all set on getting them written this year and hopfully start getting them published. That was my plan for the start of the year, and now its all out of the window.

I don’t know if this is something that other writers experience, but I’ve got to get out of this rut and start building my confidence up again, and today’s the day I’m going to start.

A Little Hit and Miss

This is just going to be a short post. I’ve had a quiet week, well month to be honest, with writing. I’ve eased off the AVG rewrite simply because I’m not sure about the pacing of A revelation for the characters that I’m at and I want to think it through A little before continuing.

I have attempted to write a really short little story in mine and Owen’s Project Apollo universe, but that really didn’t go well, so I stopped that and am currently making an attempt to get Project Apollo started again. It’s early stages yet, but its feeling both good and bad. I’ve got the first chapter done, which has come up shorter then I thought it would but I’ll be typing it up tomorrow and getting it of to Owen for his additions.

I’ve got a bit of a busy day tomorrow, but I’m hoping to be able to get a bit of writing done. I still feel like I’m in this slump that Earth, After Liberation has left me in, but I’m seeing a few signs that I’m coming out of it.

Monday 2nd March

I managed to get some words written both during my lunch break and this evening. In total I wrote about 680 for the day. I’ve dropped my daily goal down to 500 words, for two reasons: 1- I’m writing longhand and its slower for me than it is to type. 2- With how disillusioned I’ve been feeling recently, and being hampered by a stubborn head cold, I decided to drop the target from the 1000 word mark to something that I feel is a lot more attainable for how I am right now.

I finally thought up a title for a short story that I’m planning on sending out to the magazines for submission soon. Titles are a pain in the backside as I don’t find them easy to think up, but when I do I tend to like them and this one I think suits the story really well. One of my Beta readers agrees as well. I’ve sent that story to another Beta reader today and once I get those thoughts back and made decisions on whether changes need to be made I’ll be sending it off to try and find a home.

I did also send a copy of the Earth, After Liberation re-write to Owen to get his thoughts on it. I’d like to hear what he says and decide from then what I’m going to do with the story. I’ve invested a lot into that story and I don’t like the thought that it’s dead in the water, but we’ll see. No matter what I don’t think I’ll be working on it again this year in any real way.

I’ve felt pretty good today, much like what I think of myself to be. This surprised me a little as I got a late night (damn you Game Of Thrones 😉 ) but the day has been pretty good and I’ve felt a lot like my old self again. I’m all but over this cold, although I am going to take cold capsules for the next couple of days just to be sure. And after talking to Owen on Saturday about the short story I mentioned earlier (he liked it a lot) I’m feeling better about writing. I did also have a friend on Friday give me some moral support. I needed to hear what she had to say, just a little moral support and belief in me.

Looking Back at February

I think February 2015 will be a month that I look back on with disappointment. I wrote just over 5000 words this month, which isn’t good, when I look back at my targets for the start of the year it’s not even close to where I wanted to be. I’d had plans of having three books written, edited and put up for sale either this year or early next year. But with how Earth, After Liberation crashed and burned that’s not going to happen now. That hit also knocked me hard, it’s not been until this last week that I’ve realised how much of a blow its been to my confidence. I was talking to Owen about it last night and he commented that as I was talking I was shrinking in on myself.

The head cold that I’ve had for the last two, three weeks hasn’t helped either. Writing with a fuzzy head is not very easy.

Owen and I did make some good progress last night with Project Apollo. One of the major sticking points was resolved, which I’m really happy about because it was a key detail in the story. I’m still not sure when we’ll make a start on the re-write but it’s feeling closer now than it was.

The AVG re-write is one of the few elements of February that I’m happy with. It’s progressing well and I’m still enjoying the act of hand writing the story and not typing it up.

That was my February, I hope yours was much better and heres to a more productive March.

Fighting Back From Disillusionment

Today I’ve felt more like myself than I have done for the last couple of weeks. Ideas have been popping around in my head all day and its the first time in quite some time that those ideas have been coming to me while I’ve been at work. Aside from when I’ve actually been writing I’ve not really been feeling creative.

I think part of this lack of new ideas has been to do with the disillusionment that I’ve been feeling due to how the Earth, After Liberation re-write just fell apart. I’m also thinking that I got myself a little burnt out. I’ve done a lot of writing since November and I’m wondering if I should have had a few days for a break between wrapping up the sequel to Earth, After Liberation and then working on the re-write for Earth, After Liberation.
I found a lot more plot holes with it then I was expecting to and how I was planning to set the stories up will not work out how I thought they would. I think I need to work out how some of the details of the plot will work out before I look to it again.
One of the problems I’ve had with Earth, After Liberation was that it was feeling very robotic as I was writing it. This was just part of the disillusionment that I mentioned earlier in the post. I was really sick and frustrated with what I was writing and felt like I’d lost the ability to write a story that had a structure as well as depth of story, character and the universe it’s set in. It also felt like it had no soul to it.
This was a really low place I found myself in and I didn’t really know where I wanted to go with writing. At the end of last year it seemed like I had a lot of words to write this year but I found I couldn’t find anything that I wanted to write. Owen and I aren’t ready to start the re-write of Project Apollo. Nor are Chrystalyn and I ready to start on The Residents.
Knowing I had these two books to work on in the next year was worrying me as well because I feared that I wouldn’t have the ability to do either story justice.
Finally I decided I needed to go back to basics and picked up a pen and paper and started re-writing Avoiding The Game. This is the first story I wrote for NaNoWriMo back in 2010 and it’s one that I tried to re-write a couple of years ago but I never managed to get a good feel for it. That time I was writing straight into a computer and this time I’m doing it by hand, and it’s feeling so much more natural than it has been when I’ve been typing my recent drafts.

Writing longhand has felt so freeing on a level that I have not felt in a long time. I don’t feel constricted like I was, the words are flowing a lot more naturally and my characters are talking to me again.
It is a slower process but if it means that my first draft is so much better than recent efforts then it is very much worth it, and hopefully when I came to type it up I’ll be able to make the changes as I type it up.

And,

Writing is actually fun again.

Looking Back at January

I think this January just gone is going to be one that I have mixed emotions about. Before adding in the hand written words I’ve done this last week I’ve written about 17,000 words this month. All of those on Earth, After Liberation. A story that as I wrote more and more of it I felt that it was getting worse with each word. That’s one of the reasons why I’ve stuck it in a draw for a few months before going back to it. I’ve tired to start red-penning it but I was just getting more and more disillusioned with it as I went and that tells me that it’s not anywhere near good enough. I think it’s lost its identity and I think some of that may have been the way I was writing it. At times it felt very robotic and I don’t know if that was because I’m trying to stick to an outline top closely or that it’s where I’m typing it as opposed to writing it with a pen and paper; I simply don’t know. It doesn’t feel like the same story that I began writing how ever long ago it was. Where I’m writing on the Avoiding The Game re-write with a pen and paper, and without an outline aside from the original draft I wrote, it’s coming out quite well even if it is a bit more of a slower process.

Something that has been a bit too much of a distraction this month has been me thinking about how many things I want to get published this year. I think that has taken too much of my attention away from the actual craft of writing and at this stage in my writing I need to be focusing on the writing and not all the other bits and pieces about self-publishing or submitting to magazines. If I can get the writing quality as good as I’m able to and the stories right, then I can look more at the publishing side of things.

I mentioned submitting to magazines in the last paragraph and I have still only made one submission, which I need to change this year. I’ve got a short story that is almost there. I’ve got some grammar edits to make before sending it off to a couple more Beta’s before I do submit it. I have high hopes for this one as I think it’s quite a good little story 🙂

So despite it feeling like January has been a bit of a let down for me I’m looking at the positives and learning the lessons. The main one is that just having an outline doesn’t mean it’ll be a piece of cake to get a good draft done.