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 Quick Update

Evening all, I just wanted to post a very quick update here. I managed just over 1200 words tonight. This is the first time I’ve written properly for a few days and I’m still not overly happy with how chapter four is taking shape, but I’m happier with this version than I was with the last attempt. I’m going to run with it for the moment and see how it feels when I start typing it up.

That’s all there is to say really. Work is still being done on Project Apollo and The Residents, but the Avoiding The Game re-write is what my main focus is on. I am planning on spending some time in the next week or two on both Project Apollo and The Residents, respectively. I’ve got a few notes I need to scribble down and a few ideas I want to think through for both projects.

I will wrap this up by giving a quick word count update: For the year I’m now on 31000 words. That’s not anywhere near where I was planing to be but I think it’s still pretty good.

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.

A Quick Update

Evening all, I’ve just realised I haven’t posted for a few days and the simple reason for that is there’s little to tell.
I’ve done a little work today, getting a few pages red-penned for Earth, After Liberation. I also spent some time making notes for mine the universe that Project Apollo is set in. Owen and I are going to talk tomorrow evening about it. This will be the first time we’ve had a discussion about it in well over two months, so needless to say we’ve got to get back on track a fair bit.
Chrystalyn and I have been chatting throughout the day about The Residents and have made some good progress I think.
I’d like to have gotten some more done today but I’m still feeling a little disillusioned with Earth, After Liberation despite seeing some good stuff in those early pages. I’ll be working on the red-penning for the near future and see how that goes before putting the notes into action.
We also had my Nan over so I was working sporadically through conversations.
That’s all really. I’ve got to get myself back on track a little and hopefully get back into a routine.

Looking To 2015

I’ll just mention my words from the last two days. Yesterday I managed 933 but it was a struggle, today I’ve gotten 1321 words done and it felt a lot easier and much lees of a struggle.

Now, to what I’d like to achieve this coming year. I think my first priority is to get Earth, After Liberation and it’s sequel, Oppression, finished. I’m 33,000 words into the Earth, After Liberation re-write. I’d like to say I’m half-way through it but my 60,000 word target is a soft one and very flexible as the story will be as long as it needs to be. With Oppression I’ve all but decided to re-write it as well. I think it’s pretty good but I’m going to need to change a lot so it fits into the world I’m building with Earth, After Liberation. I could go and retro-fit it all but I’ve tried to do that before and it really doesn’t work for me, I’m finding re-writing is a much more efficient way for me to work. Now, depending on how the second book comes out in the re-write will decide on whether I make this into a trilogy or not. That was my original plan but as I was trying to get words for the 50k that is NaNoWriMo I found the story came to an end. Now if I can work the re-write out so that I have between 45,000-60,000 words without wrapping up the details then I’ll look to write a third, and final book that focuses on these core characters. I’ll only do that though if I have enough story for a third book, I’m not going to write three books with these characters just so I can say it’s a trilogy.

Earth, After Liberation should hopefully be done by February, hopefully. Then I’m tempted to jump straight into the re-write of Oppression. Owen and I were hoping to start the re-write of Project Apollo on February 1st but I’ve got a feeling that may not be a realistic ambition. Apollo is a big and complicated story and I’m not sure we can outline two thirds of the story in a month.

Owen and I have talked about more stories in this universe and I think we’ll be writing a few synopsis’ for these so we can make sure they tie in together when and where we need them too.

Another goal for the early part of this year is to get my vampire collection tidied up. I’ve had one Beta Reader’s notes back. Another is still looking at it, and i have one other person I really want to look at it, but they’ve just moved house and got their hands full getting settled in. I’ve got a date in mind that I want to release it, but again, thats a soft target. This collection has been five years in the making, holding it off a little longer isn’t going to make much difference to the book.

Brainstorming of The Residents is pretty thorough at the moment, and I think the next stage will be to start working on a timeline. There’s a few things that we’re waiting to sort out before that, but the story is looking pretty good 😉 I’d like to write more about what we’ve got planned, but that’ll be spoiling it 😛

I’ve got a zombie novella that I’d like to write this year as well. I’m thinking it’ll be about 30,000 word or so. I’ll write that for NaNoWriMo if I don’t write that third book I mentioned earlier in the post. The zombie story is roughly thought out but needs outlining and character work. The story is quite simply but the rest of the setting needs building up some before I make a start. If I don’t write it for NaNo I’ll try and squeeze it in at some stage.

Getting a few short stories written and submitted is also a goal for the year, but those will be more of a back burner item. I want to focus on getting some longer pieces completed.

There it is, my rough goals for the year. I deliberately didn’t mention much about publications. I am hoping to have my vampire collection out this year, I’d like to think Earth, After Liberation and Oppression will be close to being ready too, but I’ve made promises to self-publish before now and I’ve failed in those promises. Before I even think about announcing any dates, I’m going to have the story in mind edited, cover art done and formatted. So I’m not rushing to get everything together in a time frame.

Looking Back at 2014

Last year was a year that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. It was a year in which I grew hugely as a person and as a writer.

On a personal level life was turned a little on its head in March when Tracie and I broke up. I’m not going to go into details, except to say it was an amicable break up. It was sudden though and it was quite clear to me that we’d made the right decision.
That changed a lot in my life about how I wanted to move forward. One thing I didn’t want to do was to dive straight into another relationship. I wanted to get my head, and heart, clear before even thinking about another relationship. I also wanted to make sure I knew how to be happy, or at least content, on my own. And I think I have done that. I still get my lonely points but they don’t last long and if I’m being productive with writing then it’s almost never.
I’ve been single since then, and I am okay with that. I’m enjoying having the time to myself and that time is letting me get writing, but more about writing in a bit. I think a few of my close friends may think I’m against meeting someone but if someone came along who blew me away then I’d embrace that, but I’m not willing to start dating someone who isn’t right for me.
That wasn’t the worst part of my year, I have family who are fighting serious health problems, but I won’t go into those in any detail at all. All I will say is that they are serious health problems that I wouldn’t wish on anybody.

A big upside of the year has been my cash flow. I won’t go into details but since becoming single it’s something I’ve worked hard on getting more stable. It wasn’t out of control but I was living a little close to the wire at times and I really didn’t like it. I’m not quite where I want to be, that’ll take a little while longer as I’m paying off a loan. But thanks to a little bit of luck this year is starting off really well now. Even without that bit of luck I would still be starting this year off on a good financial footing. Many months of being sensible are paying off and it’s a damn good feeling.

Now to the writing. Most of the year I was writing like I have always done, erratically. To occupy my mind I threw myself into writing after the break up and I got a short story written in about a day in April. That was also the first time I went to write-in with my local NaNoWriMo group. I’d been a member of the Facebook group for my region for a couple of years but this was the first time I really interacted with anyone from it, and I wish I’d done it sooner. This group has been incredibly supportive and inspirational since April and I don’t think I could have done as much as I have done this year without them (including a day when I wrote 7500 words, a personal best).

After that I turned to getting my vampire collection of short stories sorted out. Which I have done. This is a series that I have had stories written for since the end of 2009 and it felt really good to get the last story done and have them all tied together. I had to write a number of new stories to make the collection a decent size and to tie them altogether. This collection is with one of my primary Beta readers at the moment, and I’ve already had great feedback from another Beta reader. I’m hoping to have this out this year, I do have a date in mind but that’s staying with me until I have everything I need in place to have it published.
For NaNoWriMo I wrote a sequel to the story I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2013. Before NaNo began though I wanted to go through the first story and get it all tidied up, but it didn’t work out like that. I spent a lot of time faffing about and cutting huge chunks of it, but I didn’t get done before November and decided to sort it out after I finished NaNo.
I ‘won’ NaNoWriMo this year, finishing with a good few days to spare. The problem I found as I was writing it was that it was much better than the first book. So during December I started to re-write the first book. I set myself an outside target of 60,000 words and I was over 30,000 when I finished writing last night.
That put me on 162,870 words for the year.

I just want to take a moment to talk about the two collaborations that I’m working on. Firstly, The Residents. This is still in the brainstorming stages but we’re getting closer to working on getting the outline done.
Project Apollo is a little closer to being ready for Owen and I to get the re-write started. Due to Owen’s work commitments he was unable to give the outline of the first third of the book a good look, over the last couple of months. So hopefully we’ll be getting more of the outline done, and locked down soon.

That’s the general parts of the year that come to mind as I sit here and write this, next year I’m going to up my output for word count and also get things edited and closer to being ready for release.