Sunday, 18 October 2009

Where I am now...

I am better than I was.

As some of you might know, I've had a shitty few months. Ongoing problems with a tooth, a chest infection that may or may not have been swine flu, an unusable bathroom for weeks, and very sadly my Nan passed away.

I suppose that sometimes strife doesn't line up in an orderly queue, sometimes it just shouts "BUNDLE!" and lets rip. The good news is, I feel like I have, to some extent, come out of the other side now. Although my chest is still a little weak and I have a very sensitive gag reflex now, I'm over the mystery flu. We now have a bathroom with an actual door and sink (you don't realise how important a toilet door is until you don't have one for weeks). We've had my Nan's funeral, which was as difficult and painful as you would expect, and there will be more pain to come as the house where I grew up in is emptied of all the things that made it home, and is sold; but you take the memories that you can and you soldier on, always the walking wounded.

The tooth that was lingering on has been removed. Hoo-fucking-ray! The horrible thing about that was the waiting for the appointment; even when I was feeling myself again, and relatively happy, always at the back of my mind was the tooth problem, sucking away any ability to relax. Now it's sorted, it is genuinely like a black cloud has stopped hanging over my head, and has gone off to bother Charlie Brown or Calvin or someone.

So I am better than I was. :) A side effect of the crap of the last few months has been that my writing has taken a serious knock. I can't concentrate when I'm anxious, and a number of problems with A Boy of Blood and Clay that I had been trying to write around suddenly became insurmountable, and I lost my way with the book. Shitsticks. I forced myself to write for a while, and stopped again when I realised I was hating it, hating the characters, and hating the story. The problem is longwinded, but the short version is this; with Bad Apple Bone, I had the main character in my head for some time, years even, before I started writing. I might not have known the plot, but I had a good idea of what Noon was like. With A Boy of Blood and Clay, I did the briefest of outlines and character sketches, and then threw myself into it, assuming I'd be able to make it up as I went; after all, it had worked with the last book.

It turns out, that was a slightly silly idea.

So I've put A Boy of Blood and Clay to one side for a while. I don't know the characters well enough, and it needs a hell of a lot more research before I can get the story into the shape I wanted in the first place. I'll come back to it (if only because I've written 63,000 words of the bugger already!) and Mike and Faye and Gushel and the terrible Eustace Cream will certainly get an end to their stories one day.

In other news, NaNoWriMo is two weeks away! I had a great time last year writing Bird and Tower, and I can't wait to do it all again- this time with more planning and research, obviously. ;) More about that on the next blog post.


  1. Bundle!

    Despite the sentiment, that made me smile as I know exactly what you mean by that and the image was quite an amusing one.

    I'm sorry that things have been so shit for you lately. I know of the various problems you've had and I must say, you have coped really well with them as I didn't know they were affecting you as much as they have.

    I'm glad you have a focus on your writing now with NaNoWriMo and I hope it has the desired effect.

    And I'm loving your character names - especially Eustace Cream!

    Fight on, sister! (Or something).

  2. Thanks missus! I'm glad you like Eustace Cream; I named him for a serial killer that lived round this way- Dr Cream, the Lambeth Poisoner. ;)

    Going out for booze ups with you lot has been a great help with all my recent crap; plasticine willies and ghost buses have been good distractions from my woes!

  3. Glad you're over the bleh hump and entering the other side. I know what a pain writing can be as I have started and stopped a fair number of times. Speaking of, The Walking Wounded is a great title for a novel, though one that may be notoriously linked to its readers committing suicide.

    Sorry for both you and Marty for the gag reflex problem ;)

  4. Sorry to hear about all your troubles recently - sounds like you've had a real time of it, but well done for battling through. Getting back into your old familiar routines after a bad period will feel really good.

    I know we've talked about outlines and things on Twitter, but you make an interesting point about Bad Apple Bone and A Boy of Blood and Clay - BAB was in your head for years, but ABOBAC (I think I love that acronym!) is brand new and is therefore suffering from the "difficult second album" thing.

    I think the key is work on outling more, like you said, but us writers also need to remember that if we're going to get anywhere, we need to produce new content several times a year. This means that after that first book that has been living in our imaginations for years, everything that follows will be new (I suspect that most people only have one properly formed story to start with rather than several).

    While you are fixing ABOBAC, take some time to note down ideas and threads for future books (not just book 3, but books 4, 5 and 6). While you're working on ABOBAC and then NaNoWriMo, your subconscious will be filling in the storylines for the future books for you. So when you come to outline those next year, the year after, and the year after, you'll be surprised at how much is already formed and in logical order.

  5. That's great advice Adam, thank you. I also think it's important to keep the future projects in your mind because when you're struggling with the difficult second album, because it gives you something new to look forward to. ;)

    And happily, after ABOBAC and the Nano novel, I think I have a vague idea what might be coming next.

  6. Obviously I "met" you mere hours ago but I had to recover from the "Oh poor Babe!" reflex long enough to read the rest of the post.
    63,000 words is a long way into the process and if you feel the need to park it and pick it up later then go for it. They say most writers don't publish their first novel until a long way into their writing career - you are just settling into that well worn path.
    Good Luck with NaMoWriMo!
    Elaine - Aleanbh

  7. Hey thank you, and thanks for commenting. :) I'm raring to go with NaNo so I'm hoping that it will give my writing routine the giant kick up the arse it is in need of. May you have a fabulous NaNo too!