Decisions, Decisions.

I've been mucking around for the past two months. Lots of crocheting to get Octoarm scarves ready for sale for upcoming events. A bit of writing here, a bit of writing there. Most of the writing has been on blog posts - with time spent on research, rewrites, photos.

Today I realised I have been using blog writing to procrastinate on my story writing. I have only managed one short story (and jotted down some ideas for two others) since August. This is significantly down on previous efforts. Frankly, I am out of practice and in a rut. The main victim has been my novel manuscript. Time spent blogging and social networking has taken its toll. This is not a good thing, given I am trying to make a career out of writing. Even my costume making has suffered.

It's time to take stock. Do I want to get my book completed? And what do I need to facilitate this? The answers were: Hell yeah and spend more time working on my manuscripts. If I want to make my deadlines for The Department of Curiosities and the next set of The Adventures of Viola Stewart, decisions had to be made: less time writing personal blogs and only scheduled time on social media.

November NaNoWriMo is looming  - the perfect opportunity to get a big chunk of writing done and the perfect time to start my new regime: From November I will be only blogging once per week. On Sundays (Australian time) I am all yours, blogging here as usual. I hope you stick around and keep reading while I continue to work on my next books, so you read them early next year.

Not Just Soggy Around the Middle

First read through and rough rewrites on The Department of Curiosities is progressing. I have a long list of notes for the next rewrite, more research of facts and scenes to change or exorcise. Rewriting the beginning is, in a weird way, fun. I can revisit the excitement of a new adventure. Help my characters grow and add more va-voom.

soggy middle notes

But the middle? Argh!

Why do I keep stalling? It's not just the trudging through the myre of the soggy middle. It's first draft is done and discussed in Of the Muddle of the Middle and Other Inconveniences. I thought it would be easier attacking rewrites for this section. During my procrastination-research stage, I read many blogs and articles specifically on writing the middle (act 2) of a story. It seems I am not the only writer to say it: Rewriting the middle is drudgery.

I need to kill my darlings. In every sense of the phrase. Let me just talk about rewrites (or spoilers!) I need more action. I need to consolidate the twists and plots. I need to tighten the belt around that soggy middle.

I'm off to another writing class next month: Power up your writing.  Perfect timing. I need to start my next rewrite with a new eye, new skills and gumption.

But that is not my only hurdle.

I can't believe I wrote Of the Muddle of the Middle and Other Inconveniences over a year ago. To be fair, I have written and published three short stories and a novella, Doctor Jack, while I procrastinated my way around a specific scene. One I am now facing once more.

I thought the middle was a muddle for my head. Act three is just as wracking. Remember the darlings I mentioned. I don't want to part from my characters. They have been with me for over a year of writing and floating in my imagination for twice that. When I finish that last scene, they will have changed. That part of their story is ended. Some will return for another. Some may not.

So it's not just a soggy middle I am wallowing in. There is reluctance to give up my darlings and move on. Time to hitch up my belt, set my sights on the end and exercise those writing muscles.

I can do this.

Breaking the Curse

It has been a rough month. The black dog has been biting at my heels. Anxiety has cursed me with migraines. There have been a few highlights, including my talk for Critical Mass but, I must admit, the writing has been sporadic - at best.

I can't blame writer's block; I am transcribing the handwritten draft of The Department of Curiosities. I have been side-tracked by research to plug up some holes. Character names are in flux. I knew this would be a possibility as I am a Pantser at heart - no matter how I try to plan.

My real daemon has been anxiety. It can cripple. It can curse. It can throw all plans in my face and laugh maniacally as I try to pick up the pieces. Today is a good day, as was yesterday. Life goes on, as does my writing. Slow, but ever forward.

An interesting revelation has dawned on me:  After transcribing the first draft into Scrivener, doing some rewrites and shuffles, the handwritten notes declare I am just finishing up chapter fourteen. Not so. After rewrites and chapter changes, I am currently working on chapter eighteen. My chapters are almost twice as long when I hand write a manuscript. Perhaps this is because the plot timing changes when I write in different formats? Or have I just had more time for the story to mull over in my head - and present itself differently?

The important thing is I have finally kicked the dog in the b*lls and am typing like the wind, only slowing down to fill in the blanks noted for research in that first draft. Our heroes are preparing to take flight to experience new adventures and whispering hints for future tales and a second book.

But first I must finish this one.

chapter 18 rewrites DOC 150915