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.

It’s National Bookshop Day!

It's National Bookshop Day.

Despite the choruses of doom last decade, the  book is not dead. And neither are the purveyors of reading pleasure. According to this ABC story "Australian bookstores are still going strong" - and I am glad. Give me a paperback to shove my dog-eared bookmark into any day.

I love bookshops. That won't an earth shattering revelation. I love big bookshops, with aisles of tomes, elegantly displayed for easy access. I love cramped cupboard-shops with barely room to move as I hunt the wobbly stacks for that one great find. Paperbacks, hardbacks - it doesn't matter. It is the excitement of not knowing what I will find, and knowing that when I do it will bring knowledge, entertainment (and) or joy to a dreary day.

There are three things my Dearheart and I do when we travelled overseas:

  1. Sample the local chocolate
  2. Visit local bookshops (my favourite was the one in the crypts of San Lorenzo Church in Florence where I purchases a book on the archeological excavations of the Medici crytps) and
  3. um... let's just stick to two.
There is more to a good bookshop than the stock that lines the shelves.  Usually the staff are book-lovers as well, ready to help you find your perfect read. Here is my book stash acquired this weekend, both new and preloved. new books 2ndhand

Some bookshops had giveaways (Cabin in the Woods was from Dymock's 'free pick box'); others had raffles to celebrate (I am hoping to win one of the book hamper from Dillon's books).  We even visited Oxfam's bookshop where I scored a 1873 copy of Ivanhoe to add to my colletion.

There is still time to visit your local store this weekend. Enjoy. Viva la librairie!


NaNoWriMo Wrapup

April Camp NaNoWriMo is coming to an end. My goal for this adventure was to complete as least 15000 words of Doctor Jack (30-35K words). Camp is useful that way - I can write new stories, revise, edit - whatever. But how to record the rewrites?

The official camp information quotes one hour of rewrites equals 1000 words. By this reckoning, I have written over 50000 words! In truth (to date), I have rewritten two short stories (total 7000 words) and over 26000 of my novella. I felt more comfortable with my assessment.

As of 28th April, my word count is  33792 - double my original goal. I am very happy with that. stats 150428 april 2015

What does this really mean? This months camp has left me wondering a few things:

1. Do I write too slowly? I have only achieved half of NaNo's suggested word count for the number of hours I have actually toiled away on my computer.

2. Am I comfortable with the whole 'write the entire draft first then rewrite everything'? Not really; Okay, I admit the first draft outlined the entire story of Doctor Jack. It was the first time I have attempted this  method (often recommended in writing books etc). Honestly, it made rewriting a more onerous task for me. I admit it did make it a lot easier to rewrite background story changes - but at what cost?

I confess I find the whole rewriting and editing gig less stressful when I write one or two chapters, then rewrite. Write. Rewrite. Next section. Repeat. I completely understand that this will most likely mean that more time is needed on final rewrites - in changing background information, changing characters or editing plot points.  On my head be it.

3. Is all of this because I ended up with a much shorter deadline than expected (I lost almost a month due to family issue, dying pets and poor health)? Was it because I felt out of my depth with such a large unedited word count hanging over my head? It was almost claustrophobic.

My main 'take home' from this entire process has been: If I think I need one month for rewrites, I will schedule two (or maybe three?).

So two days to go. 7352 (or thereabouts) words left to rewrite and edit. Then Doctor Jack is ready for the final (hopefully) proofreading.  Then to cross my fingers and hope that the postal service doesn't screw up and take too much longer than expected. Book launch here I come!

Doctor Jack Ch 1 done 150422