Sunday, 25 May 2008

The Form and The Function

It's been all about the desk clearing, this week.

I've had so much on my plate with adminy type things to do that I've been finding it difficult to concentrate on the novel. I suppose being a writer does involve some small amount of paper work but where's the justice in that? I'm meant to be sitting pontificating over a big mug of tea creating believable characters and worlds not writing the covering letters and synopsise to go with them!

Well, that's exactly what I've had to do. So a couple of days were put aside writing covering letters for Earworm Turns and RWBW to send with my submissions. I really don't like writing synopsise, feels like you're sucking the life right out a story exactly when you need it most. This was especially difficult for Earworm Turns as the concept is really quite simple. Man hears song on tube, thinks its the best thing he's eve heard, goes mad trying to find it. See? Not exciting at all but it makes sense if you actually read it!

Anyway, they're done now. Earworm Turns is off with Interzone. RWBW hasn't gone to Cemetery Dance yet as they insist on you sending an SAE complete with US stamps. Of course, you can't get US stamps in the UK and USPS (which the mag suggests) no longer post stamps outside the US. So, I'm asking a favour of a friend from work to bring some back for me after she's gone to Boston. (Thanks Audrey!)

I did get a little break, however. Waterstones is doing a big writing competition 'What's Your Story' where you submit a very short story on one of their special postcards.
If you win you'll have the story printed in a small book of postcards alongside some big authors who have done the same: Neil Gaiman, JK Rowling, Nick Hornby, Margaret Atwood and such and runners up have their cards displayed in the shop windows nationwide.

So, I've already written my entry but I've been obsessing over how to present it. Shall I handwrite it? Type it up and stick it to a card, submit electronically?
I think the story in itself is fine but for something so short (134 words) it needs a little more atmosphere; more form. So I went through all the fonts on Word and chose the one that looks like it a) was written by hand because my handwriting is rubbish b) looks like it was written in pen and c) makes capital letters look bigger than lowercase letters.

I chose Freestyle Script in the end and I'll send it off next week after people I've sent it to give me back comments. If I don't win I'll post up the story on the blog. Can't say fairer that that!

As for the novel, I'm really not enjoying it still. Finding it really hard to get to grips with it. I'm hoping that now all the adminy things that needed doing are done it'll free up some headspace and I'll be able to dedicate myself more fully to it again. I'm printing it off now to get a different perspective on it. *Sigh* I think we need some kind of marriage counsellor.

Well, that's all from me!

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

All in front like a wheelbarrow

Well, what is there to say?

Still editing the first few chapters of Act Two. It's going well. Think I'm a bit faster at the whole process now I know what I'm doing.

Rob returned the first chapter of Act One, complete with scribbled notes. The gist is 'the story is fine, just needs a polish' which I knew already. Quite a relief, really.

The Earworm Turns is now complete and I'll send that off to Interzone sometime in the next week after I've written a good enough covering letter. Finding that a bit difficult as it really is quite a simple premise and I don't think it sounds interesting unless you actually read it (and even then, I'm not so sure).

Murky Depths got back to me after I sent them the synopsis for Of The Father. They said they would like to see it. The Managing Editor even remembered I'd sent in something before but he suggested that I give Of The Father one last look through and see if I could cut it down before sending it as he thought that RWBW was a little overlong. I was a little miffed at that. I'd spent all that time editing it in the first place and he thought it still might need more? So I looked the story through; 1,400 words came out. It was a whole scene that came out plus about three other sentences. Anyway, that's been sent.

I also gave RWBW another look through before I send it to Cemetery Dance (again with a covering letter, I hate covering letters). About 700 words came out of that as well.

I suppose that's what editors are for. To make us writers look good.

So, hopefully, I'll be getting an acceptance for something soon.

Here's hoping.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Finely Polished Words, in the pursuit of

A slightly late post this week.

It's been a fairly busy week this week. After the initial flurry of activity editing Act Two has frankly become a bit of a bitch. It's like starting a roll of sticky tape; I've just been skimming the surface unable to get my nail back underneath where it needs to be. It's getting easier, however, and I'm slowly getting back into it as I go.

I've written in new scenes I thought were needed, there's one I'm not sure will remain, there's a good chance it will get cut. Truth is I've never been sure about it, it breaks the flow of the story a little, I feel, but I really like the message it gives, I enjoy its juxtaposition with the status quo of the rest of the story, how human it is. So right now it has to stay until I either a) give in and delete it regardless or b) manage to fit the message in a different way. So that means it's just a massive A4 post-it note reminding me to try and get that message in.

In other news RWBW was rejected again. This time by Future Fire who said (and I quote):

"This was a well-written and convincing horror story, with nicely fleshed out characters and clever, well-paced narrative; the finale was especially chilling. However, the theme and content are not really what we are looking for in the magazine."

So that's 2 mags that loved the ending to 1 that hated it. A victory to me (for now).

That's all there is to report really this week. All there is left to do is copy and paste this section from Neil Gaiman's blog (link here to the full thing) which I found especially comforting and useful about the second draft stage.

"On the second and subsequent drafts, you do four things. 1) You fix the things that didn't work as best you can (if you don't like the climactic Rock City scene in American Gods, trust me, the first draft was so much worse). 2) You reinforce the themes, whether they were there from the beginning or whether they grew like Topsy on the way. You take out the stuff that undercuts those themes. 3) You worry about the title. 4) At some point in the revision process you will probably need to remind yourself that you could keep polishing it infinitely, that perfection is not an attribute of humankind, and really, shouldn't you get on with the next thing now?"

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Business and Pleasure

Good morning,

it has been a busy week this week. I am back on form and continuing to write away.

I've started to look over the first chunk of Act Two. It's as thin as the paper it's printed on and makes me cringe so I seem to be basically rewriting it and a new character is going to be inserted to replace an older one that I don't feel fits in with the story anymore. It's annoying to have to do so much rewriting but I guess it has to be done. I can't believe I was really that shit a year and a half ago when I wrote it. Can't wait to improve even more and say that about the stuff I'm doing now.

Today, Sunday, I'll be taking it easy. I'm taking three hours to look over Earworm Turns and hopefully it'll pass inspection and I'll be able to send it to Interzone.

At the moment I've been finding it difficult getting my work / play balance right. You see I write an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening and so if I go out for whatever reason on a weekday then that's an hour of writing down the plug hole. That means that I get a bit panicky even though I'm having a good time that I haven't been keeping up with my writing.

I've been out twice this week; once to go on a pub crawl and the other to go see Iron Man (very entertaining) so that was two hours behind. So I've had to make it up to myself this weekend.

It's very much a damned if you do damned if you don't kind of thing. I feel annoyed when I don't have any plans to go out and when I do I'm worrying about my writing. The only two logical courses of action are 1) give up writing (yeah, right) or 2) become a best-selling, rich author so I can quit my job and have my evenings free. I'd best go for the latter, though there's the massive chance it will never happen and so I'll have to live like this forever.

Decisions, decisions.

Thanks for reading.