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With just a couple of days to go, you might already have met your target – whether that’s the 50k set by NaNoWriMo or a more personal target.

But if you haven’t, take a moment to think about what more you can realistically do by the end of the project and set a new target.

It might be to finish a particular chapter, or plan where the story goes next, or to reach a certain word count, whether it’s another 500 or 3000 words.  Whatever it is, own it, and acknowledge how far you’ve come this month.  My first attempt it became clear that I’d never reach 50k, so my personal target was 35k; I was really pleased to reach it because I’d never written so much in a month before.

At this point make a few notes about the direction of travel, and highlight decisions you’ve made that weren’t in the plan; and have a character list so any new recruits to the story aren’t forgotten!

Whatever you’ve achieved, be proud of yourself; so many people think about writing, or have ideas they could express on the page, but they don’t take the chance to find out what they can do.  You’ve taken that chance, and in a couple of days you’ll have time to celebrate!

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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I have finished editing the novel, finally.  Oh, to be free of it for a little while, to rest without thinking which words to cut, amend, replace. To read without wondering if I’ve used the right tone, or kept in the right voice for the character.  Birds are singing, bunnies are hopping and the deer are gracefully leaping over fallen branches, to come and see what all the music is about…

Ok, so finishing it doesn’t quite put me in the middle of a Disney cartoon, but it is a relief.  I’ve got about 87,250 words (I miscounted by 1000 before, oops!) which is a bit longer than planned, but not horribly so, and as I said before, any professional editor worth their salt will rip bits out anyway!  I cannot look at it any more for now, so it’s lucky I’ve sent it to be proofread by someone else!

Sadly, the next on my list of things to do is the first read-through of the woods novel – more editing and revising.  I could put that off and start the planning process for the third book, but to be honest, I’m a little tired of prose, and want to focus on poetry for a few days, so I’m going to do that.  I hope to finish the peace poem, tidy up the elements I identified at the reading last week, print off all finished work for my portfolio and generally make everything all neat and tidy from a poetic point of view.

I’m also now a day behind on the astrobiology quizzes, and need to catch up – but at least you can’t point and laugh that I put it first!

Looking back at The End of the (Editing) Affair part one, it’s amazing that I’ve been through so many revisions, redrafts and edits since then.  The book is really a different animal now.  Which is good – then it was a newly hatched chick, now it is a grown bird.

Hopefully not a turkey though… 😉

There isn’t much other news this week – apart from library closures or unhappy tales of the decline in reading, I haven’t seen much worth sharing – except headline news, which will be the focus of Thursday’s deferred post.  However, I have just been sent details of another poetry reading night (I think my friend is trying to get me on a roll to keep my confidence up) so I’m aiming to go that.  Maybe focussing on poetry for a few days will be a good thing!

Until next time, happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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Today was my deadline for completing the first draft of the woods novel.  So – did I beat the clock?

Yes I did.  I am really happy!

Unfortunately there’s still lots of work to be done even if I don’t have to face it straight away…

There are some issues I am aware of with this first draft. Firstly, the closer to the end I got, the more dialogue came in to speed me up! When I revisit it in February, I’ll have a fair bit to do getting that fixed – but as it started in NaNoWriMo and I’ve done nothing in the way of revisions anyway, this whole first draft is a bit uneven.  It’ll probably need some remedial planning work to flesh out some of the ideas.

I’m also – probably – trying to stretch the story too much at the end. It feels a little scrappy, as though it should have finished, and then I got another idea and just tagged it on the end, so that needs some attention.

I think once the revisions and editing get going, I’ll make the last chapter shorter, or change the order of things in the last chapter.  The second option would probably work best – there’s only one reason to do it as I have, and that’s to reintroduce a character; I could do that a different way.

Still, I got through it – whatever its limitations! Final total word count of draft one (which will probably be about 10-15,000 words shorter than a final version) =74,128.  Shorter than expected, but long enough to cover all the ideas I wanted to cover. This works for my expectations of 85,000 words in the final version, which is about right for my target audience.

So I’m having the rest of this evening off to watch something rubbish on TV for a bit, and from tomorrow I have until the end of January to complete the new scenes for the family tree book, to get it back for a second round of proofreading at the end of the month.

Wow – I did it!  Neo-NaNo is working 😉

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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I am much happier writing to deadlines but I think this time I may have cut it a little fine to get to 85,000 words.  With about an hour more writing to get done tonight, and five days to my deadline, I am on about 67,000 words of the second novel.  I reckon I can get another 1000 or so in before I give up tonight, but I don’t think I’ll get to my target for today.

But…

I don’t think I need to!  I reckon after today I need to write about 10,000 words and I’ll be done – the story has suddenly progressed, not sure how it happened but I’ll go with it, and I’ve got the characters about to walk into the second-to-last major scene. I want to leave them at a point where I can write the scene in full tomorrow.  After that scene, there’s a short but important narrative scene and then the last big scene where they travel to a key place.  After that it’s basically closing down the story.

All that sounds a lot but with about 3,5000-4,000 words for most key scenes that should work well – don’t forget this is a first draft, those scenes will get longer when I revise the pages but for now it’s a case of getting the story down: a lot of descriptive elements come in the second draft I write.

So I am desperately writing on, in the hope that it all comes together before I question the ideas too much – that’s a terrible thing to do at this point, even if you don’t like editing!  Being stuck in the same scene for days on end because you wonder if it is working as you think it should is gruelling, to say the least.

I do enjoy this last stretch of writing – I did with the family tree novel too – because by now I’m excited about it being finished.  When you can practically see the flow of words that’s needed to get from where you are to where you are going, it feels like you’ve achieved something amazing (even though when you re-read it, you will be annoyed with all the silly mistakes!).

So any writers out there, who are languishing in the early stages of the tale you want to write – just keep plodding on, keep pushing yourself to do a little more, because getting the first draft done is like magic.  It truly changes your perception of yourself as a writer.

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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Back in the mists of time (well, last November) I set myself a number of targets for December.

I completed two in their entirety – the ‘Codename Wedding Belles’ poem and the proof-reading amendments for the family tree novel. Woo hoo!

The other two I didn’t do as much as I’d hoped.  With regards to notes, I have a few thoughts and ideas jotted in various places, but I need to pull it all together and expand on the key ideas, which I will do over the next couple of weeks.  The other thing was the woods novel, which has limped onwards very slowly.

But December is gone, and now I have to think about January’s targets: to finish the woods novel first draft by 15 January and to finish revising the family tree novel (ie writing new scenes)  by 31 January.

In other words, welcome to neo-NaNo.

Part one  is all about the woods novel.  I’m making this really hard for myself, because I’m already behind where I should be, but basically I need get to about 85,000 words in less than a fortnight.  I think that’s where the book ends – if it ends before, of course I’ll aim to finish!  If it continues to expand beyond that, I’ll have to revise my position.  I’m not going to worry about ongoing targets per day – in between now and then I have a hen do, a shopping expedition, my cousin and her partner tying the knot (I am reading the poem and am in the order of service – eek!) – so I’m going to look at targets for periods of time instead.

My first target date is 5 January, by when I want to be on 62,000 words.  By the 10 January, I need to reach 73,000 words, and by 15  January on 85,000 words.  We shall see – it’s not impossible to do the words, but as you know I dislike editing as a general rule, so I don’t like to just throw words on the page.  I can cope with +/- 1000 but any more than that and it’ll all go horribly wrong…

Part two is all about the family tree novel.  As there’s fewer words to add, but the piece is at a higher level of editing, it’ll probably take a few days to get the new writing done and edited.  After that, I’ll re-read the whole thing, then send it back to my proofreader for another review.  She’ll get it by 1 February at the latest – I just want to get that one out into the big wide world as soon as I can.  I’m going to have to spend some time looking at publishers, at those which require contact through agents and those that will accept manuscripts sent directly, plus identify possible agents and see what comes of it all.  I really think the book can make it: even though I’m sure a professional editor will go through it with a big red pen, I think it has enough charm and warmth to survive.

And I think I’m strong enough to cope even if it isn’t picked up.  Rejection isn’t nice, of course it isn’t, but it’s not personal.  It doesn’t even mean your work isn’t good; just that it isn’t what they are looking for/what they can market.

Remember that books like Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and The Help were rejected time and time again – publishers don’t always think the way a reader might!

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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Today I was due to start working again, and sorting out a plan of action took – well, not very long at all, actually.

I worked on the family tree novel and ignored everything else.

It was an easy decision really: I’ve accepted that I won’t get to the word count target I’d planned for December, so rather than not meet both targets, I want to get as far as I can with the editing.  Funnily enough, this editing isn’t as bad as usual: I don’t know if that’s because I’ve had a break, or because there’s less of it, or because it’s focussed – but I do know it’s going much better and less painfully than usual.

It’s quite fitting as well – the action in the novel starts on New Year’s Eve, so working on it now feels right, as though it’s a good sign.  As I said a couple of weeks ago, I’ve done the basic typo/grammar tidying so now I’m correcting issues – jumps in the story, language that doesn’t fit a character, incorrect descriptions.  I’ve done the first re-read today and the second will go on tomorrow – I don’t have the whole day so I’ll just see how far I get.

As much of what is left is writing additional pieces I’m satisfied that it can be done through January.

I haven’t completely given up on the other story though – since my last post I’ve added another few hundred words, and nearly finished a really tricky, time-consuming scene (which is the bulk of a chapter) so it’s getting there, slowly but surely.  From Tuesday I’ll be on mini-NaNo to get my word count up by the end of January.

Changing my holiday week really did scupper my chance to meet those original targets, because in effect I had 2 weeks instead of one out of December.  Still – my failure to write then was so evident that it made sense not to waste the writing week.  The most important thing now is not to miss the January deadlines!

You know that saying about falling off a horse and getting straight back on? Well, writing’s a bit like that for me – if I don’t meet my targets or I have a poor week, I have to just keep working away to get back to it, otherwise it’ll never happen and I’ll lose out on all the joy it gives me.  I don’t want that!

In other news – it’s nearly 2013 already: I can’t believe how fast this year has passed.  There was no Mayan End of the World on 21.12.2012, which was good.  Now I have to make resolutions for the next 12 months – I can’t remember what I said last year so I’m not sure it’ll be very useful, but at least I’ll have tried…

I’d like to say to you all, have a happy and healthy 2013 and I hope your creative muse helps you tell the stories/sing the songs/paint the pictures you hope for.  I’ll be back on the 1st January 2013 updating you on my mini NaNo – but it won’t be an early start!

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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I have noticed that I often look at the clock on my computer at the same time -1.13. When I say often I don’t mean every day, but I do tend to glance across and see 1.13 more regularly than you would imagine could happen randomly. Maybe three or four times in the last couple of weeks.  Coincidence? Perhaps – it’s a time that has personal significance but it’s also a time when I seem to write well.

There are all sorts of odd things that happen, from saying the same sentences at the same time as someone else, to hearing an old song on the radio that you were singing earlier, or someone calling you when you have the phone in your hand to call them.  A newer one for me is finding a blog post about the subject I just wrote about/am just about to write about, on one of the blogs I follow.

I find coincidences satisfying, as though they prove we are all linked in some cosmic way.

I’ve been fascinated by these strange little quirks of the universe for a long time, so it was inevitable that there would be some reference to it in my writing at some point. A lot of the current woods storyline is about the line that the two characters are drawing between coincidence and messages. When they look at the same situation, one will look for the most reasoned,logical option, and one will look for the option that somehow links her to outside forces – spiritual, mystical, beyond the grave.

It’s a bit like the old Mulder and Scully relationship!

In other news – I have completed the ‘codename Wedding Belles’ poem for my cousin and her partner, so can tick that off the to-do list.  The other jobs are progressing but not complete yet, but I’ve only done about 5,000 extra words for the woods novel so have to get stuck into that this coming week as from 24 December – 1 January I only have one day free to write without interruption.

Also – I had my last book club of the year this week, and it was a planning one for next year.  We have decided that we are leaving ‘classics’ in the past and will focus on more modern stories – and one person has even thought about tying the books in to my writing so I could use them as research, which is a fab idea.

And finally – I have shared my book with someone with no intention other than to let them read it.  For fun.  No requirement for editing/proofreading (they got the pre-proofed version), or feedback.  Wow – any writers out there waiting to take that last step of sharing, do it – it’s more nerve-jangling thinking about it than it is to actually let go!

Happy writing

EJ

🙂

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