Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Some Kind of Success

Obviously, I've not been affected by Liverpool's bout of riots, though we've had mercifully little of it compared to other British cities and it's all been a few miles away from me. The worst I've got is a profound sense of disgust with the entire socio-political landscape of this miserable country.

But that's a different blog post. This blog post is where I've been for the last two weeks. I've been writing 'Some Kind of Angel', the sequel to 'Heaven Can Wait', and I've finished the first draft. In the name of odious self-congratulation, that's a 65,500-word novel in a few hours over 13 days.

It needs at least one polish before I send it out to betas, and I'm not sure the first act doesn't need a bit of rocket fuel, but overall I'm pleased with the book. It's more complicated than everything else I've written, it's the first novel I've written from a detailed and thorough outline (which helped a lot, despite the fact that I deviated from the outline to the tune of 10-15,000 words), and I think the good bits are the best stuff I've yet written.

Writing at this level of intensity has been a weird experience, though. Sort of like NaNoWriMo, but without the camaraderie and support. It made good training for NaNo (I'll be writing the third book of the trilogy, 'Don't Fear The Reaper', for NaNo this year, and hoping to finish in even fewer days), but it was a brutal and life-consuming thing. I did manage to fulfil my obligations to my band, and complete Mariokart Wii, but that's about it. No blogging (I still haven't accepted my blog award from Kathleen Doyle - I'll get to it in the next few days, I swear!). No time with friends; even my housemates haven't seen a lot of me. I didn't even know there was rioting going on until last night (eerily, I burnt down half the city of Cohlin in the finale of 'Some Kind of Angel', and half a dozen hours later London was burning... Good job correlation doesn't imply causality, too, 'cuz there's lots of fire planned for 'Don't Fear the Reaper').

Would I do it again, NaNo notwithstanding? It would depend on the circumstances. This happened because I had a 2-week spell where I've been in Liverpool between two 1-week spells of house-sitting for my parents. I used the first of those to sort out and finish my outline, and I'm going home tomorrow to start my editing (maybe after a couple more days' rest). I knew I wouldn't be doing much socialising in this period anyway; I don't have much of a social life and a few of my friends are away at the moment. I haven't really had much in the way of obligations, apart from the band. It was a good time to write and, even when the going was tough, I enjoyed it a lot. I like to focus really tightly when I'm working, to the point of spending every waking hour (apart from Mariokart time) thinking about it.

So yes, I'd do it again, but only as long as I'm still a hopeless shut-in ;)

What have I learned from the experience? Mainly I've learned how to tell when not to write. In the first few days of the marathon, there was a really hot spell and during the early afternoon (which is usually when I finish getting up in the 'morning') it was just too hot for me to concentrate. There were also a couple of days where I was just too agitated about something or too interested in something else to concentrate on writing, and for the first time I was able to spot that in time to stop trying to write before I got frustrated.

I also learned that I need to follow my very first instinct when it comes to picking music to listen to. If I get an inkling I might like to hear some particular song, I need to switch to that song AT THAT MOMENT, with a playlist by similar artists. It doesn't really matter whether they suit the mood of the writing, though up-tempo music is better than miserable stuff (of which I have a lot). The important thing is to be comfortable with my audio environment.

I learned with a new force just how much of an influence Patrick Rothfuss is on me. I read 'The Wise Man's Fear' while I was plugging through the middle of 'Some Kind of Angel', and I'm not sure I'd have kept going otherwise. It's a wonderful book, but more importantly there's an irrepressible joy to the language Rothfuss uses. 'The Name of the Wind' powered significant parts of 'Heaven Can Wait' in the same sort of way. I guess when it comes to November, I'll just have to re-read them both. Or go to Wisconsin and steal the text of the next book...

That's about it, I think. I'm still waiting on Dustin Ashe's recovery for my 'Heaven Can Wait' cover, so the book is still delayed. Please direct all your support & well-wishes to Dustin and all your hate mail to whatever hit him.

In the meantime, I dug out my first novel, 'Bad Romance', and had a look over it today, and it felt pretty good. Weird, and I can't judge how other people will respond to it, but I'll see if I can't find some peeps to have a look at it for me and see about putting it out there, maybe using Smashwords' choose-your-own-price feature. It's contemporary, sort-of-literary romance with some philosophical meandering about the nature of art, if you're interested.

Hopefully I'll be blogging a bit more between now and November. See you soon!

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