Of Lessons, Practice and Satisfaction.

I often say - "I learn something every day." In fact if I don't learn something new, I sometimes get disappointed. There is a wonderful world out there - so much knowledge, so many talents and skills that are to be found in our Earth's inhabitants. If I can but glean just a miniscule amount from any of them, then I am happy.

Though our writing group only officially meets once a month, it is one place where I always learn something (and not always about writing). Last month, I had very useful constructive feedback on Chapter 3 - of The Department of Curiosities.

  1. on dialogue, setting out dialogue and associated action
  2. building tension, plot and storyline - specifically within a chapter.
  3. culling, minimising or spreading around 'information/background dump'
I finished the rewrite to both chapter 2 and 3, spreading out background where it was more appropriate - and to reduce boredom.

This month, I proffered the first part of chapter 4 - Of Diaries, Ghostmen and Despicable Acts. I steeled myself for another long list of rewrites. In the end I had less than 1/4 of the rewrites as last month.   I was complimented on the improvement in dialogue and pace of the story.  I came home and finished the rewrites on the same afternoon.

It is extremely gratifying when I get constructive feedback. Without it I could not learn more of the craft of writing. Without it I could not gain the confidence to try new things. There is a comforting sense of satisfaction when I realise that I have actually learnt something - and even more when I have put it into practice.

Tomorrow I look forward to writing more - and learning more. I love this writing gig!

Manuscript Word Progress: Total Words:   Revised Words:  At 1st draft only:

Of Changes, Achieving Goals and Beating Procrastination.

Hello to you, Dear Reader.

Firstly, my apologies if you popped in to read my blog yesterday. I have decided I want to finish the manuscript for The Department of Curiosities by October - at the latest. This means I have to knuckle down and work more my manuscript. To achieve this goal, I had to make some hard decisions.

This leads to my second apology. I can only write so many words in a day, or a week. To achieve my writing goals, I need to write more of my story; this will mean less words for my blog. At this stage, I am planning to  provide you with two blog posts a week. I will be working around my day job, so this will most likely be a Wednesday/Thursday and Saturday/Sunday.

After a a few days of collecting my thoughts together, I had reached that point where I needed to start work on chapter 5. I faced yet another blank page. I choked. I wrote a couple of sentences, crossed them out and then rewrote them - almost word for word.

I find a blank page a very scary thing. Since the last time I wrote on the problem of blank pages and scene changes, I have read  actively on the subject. I then engaged anti-procrastination tactics.

  1. I spent a day creating a quick plot outline, from the many ideas that were bouncing around in my brain.
  2. Next I tried to order them in a more logical timeline (pushing some into chapter 6)
  3. I listed the clues and character background I wanted (or needed) to reveal in this chapter.
  4. I penciled notes into previous chapters, to give hints on some of the upcoming clues and characters, so they did not just plop in out of nowhere.
  5. I took a long shower . This usually ends up with lots of ideas and sentences spilling out of my head. (I really need to find a waterproof notebook or recording device.)
  6. Concentrated on creating a specific character before he began walking and talking in chapter 5
I managed only 550 words, so brought out the big guns.

7. I went to bed to get some sleep. Words started tormenting me. Within 20 minutes I was grabbing the notebook, I keep my the bedside table, and was scribbling down a few pages of ideas.  Any ideas... whatever came to me.

Today, I managed to add 1400 words to my tally on the previous day - though not on chapter 5. I had been concentrating on the character of the Big Bad - more commonly known as the antagonist.  I was resisting the urge to make him a short, snivelly and bald cliche.  In the end I wrote both his first and  final scenes in the story. Having now filled out his character, weaknesses, background and motives, I am ready to plough on with chapter 5. Manuscript Word Progress: 24% completed to at least first draft!

Revised Words:  Total Words:   At 1st draft only:

Welcome to my Migraine – Free Writing Exercise.

More Free Writing exercises: 10 minutes. Subject: How I feel  (just as I start having a migraine). Twist: write in present tense (not my favourite)

In the depths of my stomach, something stirs.  At first a constant throbbing, then the feeling of weightlessness; my internal organs defy gravity, slowly turn in space then fall with a decisive jolt. All the while I resist the urge to relieve it of its contents.

My ears decide that they want to participate. Any slight movement results in the inner ear canal swishing. I hear a rush of fluid then the nausea returns -  a wave slowly encompassing my entire body.

Not to be outdone, my tongue conspires to betray me - my favourite food takes on the most peculiar of tastes. Strange phantom smells parade through my consciousness. My husband is slowly getting more frustrated as I ask him, yet again, to check for smoke, 'that strange rubber smell' or dead 'somethings'.

Rounding off the senses, are vision and touch. They all clamour to be part of a discordant symphony. Light is now painful and the all too familiar (but beautiful) electric blue spots invade my peripheral vision. With it comes a most excruciating headache. This is an not unfamiliar migraine. The pain cuts into my head, accompanied by swollen sinuses, both working in unison to try to split my head open - ever so slowly. (at least that would relieve the pressure!)

Fortunately touch is less effected by this onslaught of hay-wired senses.  My tongue, now feeling thick and clumsy, finds everything difficult to pronounce. My brain searches for the appropriate word, and fails. Tea is either too hot or too cold, even when it is just right.

If I lean too heavily on my forearms, my tendons complain and the muscles ache.  My fingers still can feels and they, at least, will respond to my commands to write - as long as it does not involve changing posture.

Welcome to my migraine.

aliens giftArt/Photography: Made some jewelry for a friend. (similar set available for sale on request. $30 + postage)

Doctor Who

Costume: Preview pics from the upcoming Doctor Who Christmas special and an interesting costume.

Reading/Writing: currently trying to stave off procrastination and finish Chapter 3.