Monday, 27 July 2015

Taking A Long Time To Write That First Novel?

Well you and me both, my friend.

I have been getting so frustrated with the target / aim / call it what you will, to write a novel. I have a story inside me that I want to get out but life simply gets in the way.

And today I saw this post on WritersRelief .... Five authors who took 5 years to write their books including JK Rowling and JR Tolkien. So there has to be a chance for me yet.

I have continued to think occasionally about the plot and how the story will unfold. I know I should be doing more but it is not only the novel which is suffering but I have done very little writing for several months. I know, I can hear the comments, "calls himself a writer and isn't writing!" But as I said life is simply too complicated at the moment and my focus is elsewhere. I cannot do the writing any justice and so I find it too hard to move it forward at all.

I know it is a flying visit but I simply had to share the post, and you never know it could give me that little push to get back into the habit of regular writing.

Monday, 24 November 2014

What Happened To That Routine?

In my last post, I stated that I had finally written and published three books of poetry and one on running an art group. I said that I thought I had been procrastinating and that now those books were available, I would be getting on with the novel. Did it happen?

Unfortunately and most definitely not!

Partly because of a total knee replacement, which meant that sitting still to do anything was very uncomfortable - let alone writing creatively. But that was not the only reason. I have been spending a lot more time painting, which you can read about by browsing my painting blog. All my blogs are available from the menu bar above, under the header.

I have also been getting involved with a ukulele group. I have taken the task of learning to play this new (for me) instrument to heart. I am really enjoying the group sessions. My son bought me the Uke for Christmas last year and I feel I owe it to him. In fact this has taken precedence over many other things at home recently. Again, read more on my music blog.

So, the novel has taken a back seat. I have been reading copiously whilst recovering from the operation and I have started to doubt my own abilities to create a novel which I would be proud of. I need to recover the confidence with which I started this project, but in the short term I do not think this will happen. Music and Art have captured my creative side and this leaves little time for writing, even poetry.

I will be planning and noting ideas, etc, for the time when I do again find my writing muse but for now I feel I will have little enough to report on this blog apart from why I am not writing, but I will try to report on progress or not as the case may be.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Getting back into the routine

OK, the poetry books have been published, the decks have been cleared and I am ready to roll - again.

My first action was to read the chapters I have written so far. Ouch, doesn't look too good but I am assured that this is par for the course for a first draft. The story itself still excites me, so I guess I just pick up where I left off and leave improving it until later.

One of the first things which I have been making notes about is to fill in the structure of the story, the outline. I am preparing a list of "titles" for the scenes in the next part of the story. To this end I am trying to put a little flesh on the bones of the story by preparing some visualisations as discussed in a reccent post.

So far I have dealt with:-
  •  an introduction to the story, 
  • the magical accident which results in an evil twin of King Eadwyne being "born" as an adult, 
  • how this twin (who becomes known as FEAR) begins to explore the castle and
  • the discovery of the library of magic by FEAR
  • and how Dinbar, Eadwyne's Court Magician is used by FEAR to learn how to use the power of the library for his own evil ends.
I have outlined several other chapters but I am now working on adding the flesh referred to above. As an example, here is a photocollage of a scene where the Castle Commander, Bryssan Firaeus is being warned about FEAR by Dinbar. I am not yet sure who the imp in the background leaning over the wall is supposed to represent but it could yet lead to an interesting side plot.

(check out my photography blog for how I did this, or use the page menu at the top of the page).

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Procrastination or clearing the decks?

It has been five weeks since my last post but I have not been idle. I have been converting a number of articles and poetry collections into a format which I can publish on Amazon. I have used their own independent publishing company Createspace. Createspace offers a completely free service including ISBN numbering and an on-line cover designer however a number of professional services are available if you need or desire that help. I chose the free services but found that proof reading is a skill I definitely need to cultivate, LOL.

I have been "clearing the decks" of some material I have had around for some time and decided that I would take a few weeks and then I would have a clear way forward with the novel. I hope I am not simply procrastinating, it would be such a pity since I started "Emcounter with Fear" with such high hopes and expectations.

For your information, the four books published so far are:-

You can see them all on my author page on Amazon (Nightmare may take a couple of days to appear due to the Amazon processing).

Depending on how I approach the next couple, there may be another 2 or 3 books to be converted, however I shall not be spending too much time on those and expect to be back to writing the novel very soon.

I have not been completely out of touch with Eadwynne and hiw friends however I have been making notes and scribbling down ideas. I even visited a local castle, Kenilworth Castle,  to take in the atmosphere and take a few photos to help with setting the scenes for my story. Hopefully I will be back to regular postings by the end of this month. Watch out for postings via the usual social networks.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Do You Envision Your Locations, When Writing A Novel?

I have found that creating images of my locations is helping me considerably. All the books and articles say that your characters should be well defined. That you should make them "live" in your mind; they then provide lists / ways of getting to know your characters, their likes and dislikes, their strengths and weaknesses and how they would react to any given situation.

Maybe defining locations is not exactly as exciting as getting to know your characters but I have found that by creating montages of my locations i have a much better way of envisioning them. The images bring them to "life" for me and help inspire the stories which occur in those locations.

For example; in this novel, the "Room of Magik" is a central location. What is it like, what is in the room? I bought together a background and several items which I would expect to be in the room. This has helped me to write from knowledge of that location.

The basic stone table was already in the room  used as the background. I added the books and scrolls, the shelving with books and the document on the wall. Oh, and yes the flame of the torch.

In this image I have used one of my own photos as a background and superimposed a photo of a statue (a monk) who represents the main antagonist in my story. In this way I have really been able to bring the locations (and characters) to life.

I have been writing since the last post but I am going to stop posting drafts of the scenes from the novel. I am not sure if they really do any good. I will see how it goes.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Seeds Of Doubt, The Writers' Enemy

I have been doing too much thinking about my novel over the past week. I am finding too many other uses for my time and too many other reasons for writing. I am beginning to have doubts about my endurance with this project and whether I have the right skills to pull it all together.

For example, I am still reading too much, both fiction and non-fiction as a ratio to time spent writing and especially time spent on the novel. I even took time to take one of my poetry volumes (available on Scribd for free) and published it on Amazon (via CreateSpace). I am waiting for a proof copy at the moment before proceeding with publishing more of the PDF files which are available at Scribd.

This is not boding well for progress on the novel. However, maybe I spent too much time on the novel over those first few weeks and have been catching up; maybe some happy medium will be found.

One of the reasons for the doubts is that I am more concerned with the story at the moment than I am with the descriptions which I read of scenes, characters and all the details which are often included in the #1 best sellers. I know that I am only writing a draft and that it will take a lot of work to produce a decent manuscript but I have nothing to compare with. I have no first drafts to read except my own so I can only compare my work with fully worked on and published copy. Do other writers have this issue, especially when they start writing fiction.

Of course the other aspect is making time for writing. here is a quote from Creative Writing by Adele Ramet:-

One of the first rules to remember is that writers write. You should write something every day, even if all you do with the finished piece is tear it up and throw it away.Writing something, anything, every day will enable you to build up the discipline and commitment required to ensure that you can produce a complete manuscript in whatever genre you choose.


But for now, here is the latest scene from chapter 1. I have now completed the list of 8 scenes which I had  listed for this chapter. Here is a screen shot from yWriter5.

The first and opening scene is when King Taienege hears about the raids on his countries West Coast.

Taienge Dyenth, King of Alendreya, was at that moment sitting in his audience room trembling with anger;  listening to messengers from the Western Coast Protection Force (WCPF) who were describing horrific scenes of carnage and arson on a grand scale.

"Your Majesty, we cannot provide cover to all the coast. We do not have sufficient men to patrol the potential landing sites for these scum and they are coming more and more often. My men are afraid for their families and are deserting their posts so that my force is weakening. We need help from other quarters Sire."
"What is happening that has caused this chaos?" The King enquired. "How many villages, how many people?"
"Sire, we have no realistic numbers but it is too many. The pirates seem to be better armed and stonger than in the past, we feel that they are being helped in some way but we have no suitable reconaissance which helps to inform us of its source."
"OK, first of all, you will get together with my commanders and discuss this latest issue. I will not tolerate these incursions on my sovereign territory causing so much grief and you will plan an immediate campaign to stop these enemies of my people from any further success this time and in the future."
"Thank you my Lord, your people will be thankful and bless you for this help."

The King smiled, almost, and then turned to his Commander-in-Chief, "I imagine the force to be sent will be large and will need much planning. In the meantime we need to do something to stop these carrion. Inform my vassal, King Eadwyne, that we need him to raise a force and make haste to protect our peoples in the west coast area. Give him as much information as you can but impress on him a need for speed in this matter. This is war my friends and we will not be found wanting."

The king left the hall and expected his commanders to do his bidding as quickly as possible. His kingdom had historically had a problem with pirates from The Western Isles who would from time to time cause havoc on his western shores. The Protection Force had been formed from local men to prevent the worst of these pirate raids and maintain security of the area but things had become increasingly serious.

Of course, The pirates had been repelled and followed to sea but they were cunning sea-farers and used local knowledge of the islands and archipelagos, and the surrounding rocks to sail away from the following forces. No one knew exactly where they came from since they appeared to live on the sea, spending their time aboard ship and rarely making landfall except for provisioning. It had been the KIng's strategy that punishing the civil populations of these islands would only provide support for the pirates and had attempted to bring peace to his land by taking steps to help the Islands.

They had been treated like men too often. Now they would be run down and punished like the dogs they

More thoughts and writing from my novel in the next post.


Friday, 14 March 2014

Is Reading When I should Be Writing, Simply Procrastination?

Another question about the dreaded curse of procrastination.

All the books and articles I read tell me that a writer should do lots of reading. In the past couple of weeks I have read three novels.

My trouble is I love to read, I can't sit at my computer all day and there is so much I want to do. Not all of it connected with writing my novel. So far I have let things happen as and when I felt like it. But I am not sure this is going to work with something like a novel, which has such a long time span. And there is, as I said, so much to do at the moment.

I am writing my first full-length Squidoo Lens for over a year and I am desperate to get that finished.

I have just published (well just waiting on the proof copy) my first volume of poetry on Amazon (via CreateSpace). An exciting thought, but the first time it did take longer to sort out the details than I thought it would. I had manuscripts for the ebook sorted and posted to Scribd already. CreateSpace needs more detailed photos so I hade to sort out the images which I had used.

But READING? Is it really that important? I guess it gives the writer an opportunity to see how things should look, how other authors create tension and mystery, etc. It is not unusual for me to read three novels over a couple of weeks and I can only ever think of very few books which once started I do not finish. And that does not count the "how to write a novel" books I mentioned in my last post.

In the latter part of February, for instance I read:-

You can see I have been reading Lincoln Rhyme novels by Jeffrey Deaver. I am finding so many series of books which I want to read because I have only just started reading novels other then Sci-Fi and Fantasy. I have lots to catch up with. In fact I have about 21 novels in my bedroom waiting for me to read. the trouble is I keep seeing books I want in charity shops, etc and buy them because they might not be available when I need them. LOL. It is getting on my wife's nerves and something else I will have to take stock of. I have been tidying up my personal library however and recycling some books back to thte charity shops. It does make me feel good.

So the question is, is reading simply procrastinating? I know what I must do. I need to assign a set time each day for my novel. I have tried this before with all my other interests and failed. Picking them up as I felt like it. But this time I feel I must show some discipline or that novel is simply not going to appear at all.

Right, I feel better now I have cleared the air, where's my calendar and to-do list?