Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Another first draft complete

Woohoo! Another first draft finished and Cinderella gets her 'sort of' happy ever after, at least the best happy ever after that she can hope for in the complex love and family circumstances she is now in.

After ditching the false beginning which was all about Sleeping Beauty who suffered from narcolepsy (and never made another appearance in the story), I have replaced it with the original short story that started it all. And this is my final first draft word count:

Zokutou word meter
68,572 / 68,572

Today, I've been editing 'I'm with the Band' and looking through magazines for words for a collage gift that I'm making for a friend. I will post a picture of the gift once it is finished and presented.

My last short story has been doing the rounds of the office and I've been getting some very interesting and encouraging feedback. It's very appropriate for my co-workers to read it as it is set in a call centre, and we work in a call centre. But I've got to hang out for another four weeks to find out the competition results. The results are in, but will not be announced until the writers' group AGM. Best not to think about it.

So with the completion of Beyond Happily Ever After, that makes five first drafts in various stages of development. Time for some editing!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Almighty Critic has forgiven me & the Ipod oracle

It seems that the Almighty Critic has forgiven me. Or maybe he/she had a second read of my writing and decided it wasn't so bad after all.I found the missing 844 words. The words were hiding in a notepad file entitled 'rescued document' with loads of question marks and the missing words. I came across it accidently last night when I was creating my google base feed for the Chickollage store. So now I have to compare those the two versions of the scene.

I've been churning out the words with regular word sprints. I'm hanging in there on writing 100 words a day and often surprise myself as to my productivity, especially on work days.

Beyond Happily Ever After is now up to 64,821 words. I've extended the word count goal as the story expands, but I truly think I will cross the finish line of Beyond Happily Ever After in around 2.5k words. I've already written the final part of the story. I just need to write the 2 scenes that get me to that point.

Once I've finished Beyond Happily Ever After, I will start preparing the first three chapters of both that and I'm with the Band for a competition coming up in June. Which mean synopsis writing. Not one of my most favoured aspects of writing.

I want to dedicate May to polishing one manuscript for submission (which means - gulp - more synopsis writing but reducing a 5 page double spaced synopsis to a single page single paced synopsis. More gulping).

And then in June, a bunch of RWA writing buddies and I are doing our down under version of Nano. We've dubbed it 50ks in 30 days and we're taking advantage of our winter and the need to hibernate to work on our novels. I have no idea what I will be writing, although I may resurrect Hold the Anchovies, my novel about working as a pizza delivery girl.

So, it's full on and there's lots of work to do!

I thought it was time for another MP3 oracle. This time it will be an oracle by the divine Ipod because I've moved up in the world. I love my Ipod. I love that this it makes a random selection from all the songs on my computer - and I cannot promise I will know all the songs (or artists) it plays today.

Set the Ipod on shuffle, and then hit play to answer the first question. Hit next to answer each subsequent question.

So here goes:

1.How are you feeling today?
I guess that's why they call it the blues - Elton John(um, no I'm feeling good today. Tomorrow when I get to work may be a different story.)

2.Will you get far in life?
Wild Star - Transvision Vamp (you don't cruise,you just ride on by)

3. How do your friends see you?
Before too long - Paul Kelly (he who is nothing will suddenly come into view)

4.Will you get married?

Alimony Blues - Chris Wilson (so I guess that's a no)

5. What is your best friend’s theme song?

Fall to pieces - bluehouse

6. What is the story of your life?
The Angel and the Madman - Moving Pictures (Hmm but who is the angel and who is the madman?)

Moving Pictures have certainly provided the soundtrack to my life.

7. What was high school like?
Don't tell me the time - the Motels (This is probably right, I have never liked living my life to a schedule but it is part of adult life)

8. How can you get ahead in life?

In this little town - Dave Stewart & the Spiritual Cowboys (well, yes, I am living in a little town and I have never been more productive)

9.What is the best thing about your friends?
The Trouble with Andre - Shakespear's Sister (hang on, I don't even have a friend named Andre, maybe that's a good thing.)

10. What is in store for this weekend?
Would I lie to you? - Eurythmics (guess I'm not telling)

11. To describe your grandparents?
Mexican Moon - Concrete Blonde (huh?????)

-"thinking of you underneath the mexican moonlight"

12. How is your life going?
"working through the rooms in my head I came across your image"

I Don't Care - Shakespear's Sister.

"whenever I fall, I land on my feet"

13. What song will they play at your funeral?
Never Can Say Goodbye - Gloria Gaynor (cool!)

Does this mean that I will come back to life?

14. How does the world see you?
Another Stupid Love Song - Amiel

15. Will you have a happy life?
When you Smile - Concrete Blonde (ok, so I need to smile more)

16. What do your friends really think of you?
The Power - Vanessa Amarosi

17. Do people secretly lust after you?
I Think I'm Paranoid - Garbage

18. How can I make myself happy?
Blue Black - Heather Nova (really not sure how to interpret this one)

19. What should you do with your life?
Wreckage - Chris Wilson

'We're wreckage but I love you just the same."

20. Will you ever have children?
Island - Heather Nova

21. What song would you strip to?
Hymn - Chris Wilson (definitely not! - this is an instrumental with a heartbeat)

22. If a man in a van offered you candy, what would you do?
I've got to fight - ???????

23. What does your mum think of you?
Heaven and Earth - Tania Bowra.

Ah, the dichotomy!

24. What is your deep dark secret?
Reckless - Australian Crawl

25. What is your mortal enemy’s theme song?
Mustang Sally - the commitments

26. What’s your personality like?

People Like Me - Chris Wilson

"people like me - we'd rather live on nothing than slowly die to live"

27. Which song will be played at your wedding?

Don't Change a Thing -INXS

Monday, April 14, 2008

And the words just vanish!

I lost 844 words tonight. Actually more - I'd written 121 words during the day and when I tried to save the new 844 words to my flashdrive, it gave me grief and wiped the whole file instead. There is a copy of the file on my hard drive but only up to last night's writing.


Cinderella's cursing me too! When I left her at the end of the 844 words, she was holding her new gorgeous baby in her arms and now - she has to go through the labour again. Well, not really - the scene I lost wasn't about her labour, it was about her husband's anxiety because he's just been busted! With his pants down. You get the drift. Prince Charming! Not quiet.

So it's back to recreating the scene. Perhaps the almighty critic of the universe had decided that it just wasn't right. The judgemental flash drive obviously didn't think much of it. But it would've been nice if they'd let me decide!

Back to work!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Finished 'I'm with the Band!'

Whoo hoo! The first draft of 'I'm with the Band' is complete! I finished writing it on Monday (the day before I was due back at work) with a mammoth writing effort of 4,314 words for the day.

This is the final word count:
Zokutou word meter
110,173 / 110,173
So my estimate that I'd be finished at 103,000 words was not quite right - the story kept expanding.

And this photo above indicates how I felt at the end of the writing marathon. Although the cyber dancing girls did come out to celebrate and did high kicks, and splits, and somersaults. Thanks Sandie and Rachel.

I'm still amazed that these two photos and the acoustic Moving Pictures tour in 2005 inspired a whole novel. The imagination is a wonderful thing!

The feeling I wanted to capture for the story was about a woman feeling 17 again, being transported back to her teenage years by the reunion of her favourite band. I even managed to slip in a cameo for the author when the band plays a gig in Coffs Harbour.

So this manuscript will be set aside for awhile as I complete my 100 word a day challenge with Beyond Happily Ever After.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
53,592 / 60,000

When I've finished Beyond Happily Ever After, I will have completed three first drafts in less than 3 years. So somehow, somewhere, sometime I need to fit in the rewriting, editing, reworking that is required to polish these drafts to submission standard.

And submit, submit, submit.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

My Writing Journey

Rachel left a challenge on her blog to talk about our 'call to writing'. The following piece I composed a year ago as a homework exercise for my writers' group.

Once upon a time I wanted to be a writer. I dreamed about it. I envisioned it. I talked about it. And occasionally I wrote.

I was consumed by the relentless pace of the city. I was out almost every night of the week, at the theatre, the cinema or opening nights at work. I was gathering writing material, experiencing life, and dumping the events and memories into a filing cabinet into my mind, unsorted and unexamined. Rarely writing anything down.

My journal entries were sporadic and did not live up to my intentions. Looking back, I regret not keeping a log of the theatre productions I attended. The files in my filing cabinet have become damaged and incomplete and sometimes I can’t find the key to unlock the memories.
I made many excuses not to write. I was too busy. There were not enough hours in the day. My hand could not keep up with my thoughts. But they were all just excuses. I could choose to write anyway.

Ten years ago I made the decision to learn to be a writer. I moved to Adelaide and enrolled in a Professional Writing Course. I knew that I could no longer be distracted by the constant stimulation of Sydney.

It was a start. I learned about style and structure, editing, character, outlining, writing short stories and novels. But the course was the highligh of my week and my daily life was falling apart as I took on the mind-numbing ask of preparing loan documents for scanning at the Westpac Mortgage Centre. I applied for jobs in the theatre and arts industry and was constantly disheartened by the parochial and condescending attitude of the reigning arts administrators.
So it was time to sell up and move back to a friendlier town before I tied myself to the Glenelg tram line.

My father had moved to Kempsey and said we should join him. We looked at the map before bundling our possessions and drugged-out cat into the car, and decided we would end up either in Port Macquarie or Coffs Harbour.

And then I was offered a job in Nambucca so I moved. The job fell through. I wondered what the hell I was doing in this town with no job and no prospects. Until I joined the Nambucca Valley Writers Group.

A few months later I started work in Coffs Harbour but by the time I moved north, I had bonded with the writers of the Nambucca Valley. By tackling new writing exercises, I learned that I didn’t need a writing course to learn how to write. I just needed to do it.

Here I am, three complete first drafts, one nearly complete first draft, and one started novel later. Since joining the group, I’ve written more than 340,000 words and created more than thirty collage poems. I’ve learned that ideas will always come if you just take the time to write. I’ve learned that writing every day keeps the muse happy and your writing world just below the surface ready to access with a stroke of a pen or the tapping of the keyboard. I’ve learned that there is no better high than a creative high – when the words are perfect and the characters are alive and you are inhabiting a world of your own creation.

Postscript: since writing this piece I have joined RWA and attended the conference in 2008. While I don't strictly write romance, all my stories have a girl and a guy and usually a happy ending. But the theme of all my novel-length pieces so far is 'finding yourself through some form of creativity'. Which is exactly how I'm living my life.

Cumulative word count is more than 400,000 words (see sidebar for breakdown) and the well of creativity is never dry.

In the last 12 months, Nambucca Valley Writers Group has expanded exponentially. Last Saturday, we added another 4 members to our group. We now have members in Coffs Harbour, Taree, South West Rocks, Melbourne and even one member who spends six months of each year in Vanuatu. Yes, we have become international. And this year, we celebrate our 20 year anniversary.