In a few days’ time I get to go away with the day job for three weeks in the Scottish Mountains doing IT on what is little more than a construction site. Despite my proximity to Eastercon I will not be there.
There’s a lot to get ready. Longest I’ve been away with the leg is a week and that took a lot of planning. Three weeks means a lot more. And with a week to go, it’s a little manic.
As a result I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’ve already entered the time of “little writing”. That time is being used with preparation and planning. I knew it was coming and I’ve planned for it. Thieving King is in a perfect place for a break (and I ‘m really pleased that I’m finding that I’m frustrated with myself for not being able to write).
As a result of being in the Scottish Mountains and having terrible phone reception, I’m pretty much going to be uncontactable for at least week or so. If you email me or try and contact me via social media, you are unlikely to get a reply until some time in May.
However, I’ve got a ton of really interesting blog posts scheduled to go live starting around Easter Monday, so I would definitely make a point of checking those out.
New Article At Fantasy-Faction On Why Writing Is Like LEGO
In this month’s article for Fantasy-Faction I look at the links between writing and LEGO and explain why both are awesome.
It’s a fun article that seems to have gone down very well so please be sure to check it out!
Planning Geocaching Days Out At GPSTracklog
My latest article for GPSTrackLog has gone live and this month I’m showing you my method for putting together a day out caching. I cover all the things to consider and the different tools I use to make sure the day out is a success, whether I plan to just do a handful or set a new geocaching record.
Be sure to check it out!
So April got off to a slow start with a number of days off the writing. Issues with the leg have slowed me down a little the past fortnight and taken my attention elsewhere. And Storm Chasing season is just starting in the US meaning I’m glued to livestreams of an evening.
I’m also moving into the second act of this draft of Thieving King which is where things are radically different from previous drafts. This has been the point where things have broken in the past. This time they feel pretty tight, so I’m really pleased with that but I’m still haunted by ghosts of the past a little. There’s still a little fear there and I note that progress seems to really slow down as I move between acts, as if I need to think a little more carefully and spend a bit more time planning. It’s possible that I need to schedule a week break between acts with future writing projects.
But with it has come the realisation of two things – the first that this novel is a lot longer than I at first thought. Over the last year I’ve got much better at estimating my word count but it takes a half dozen chapters or so before I really get a feel for the novel’s pace and can really start to estimate. I was aiming for around 120,000 words, it’s currently on target for 200,000 words. If my experience with Black as Knight has told me anything it’s that it will drop to possibly 170,000. Still a BIG book though!
As a result I’m not going to finish this draft by Easter. To a degree that’s OK. I started a month later than planned anyway. I’ve set impossible deadlines for myself this year to see what I’m really capable of and build a much more realistic idea of the time I need to write a book. Ideally I’d like to be able to comfortably do 2 books a year. I want to get 4 novels done this year and I’m already working on my second, and that’s against a backdrop of a lot going on with work and leg and stuff. And the problem hasn’t been a ‘lack of word count’ but ‘amount of book’.
March’s word count was double that of February but as I am away with work for nearly a month from Easter, I reckon April and May’s will be very poor. Still, I planned to get no writing done at all whilst away so anything I manage will be a bonus.
Overall, I’m really pleased with the last month’s progress. I’m really testing and fine tuning my processes this year with a lot of experimentation, trial and error. It’s making the writing a lot of fun and I think I’m writing better books as a result.
So Leggedon celebrates its first anniversary this week and it’s a good time for me to look back and see all the things I’ve accomplished or experienced since
- Written first draft of one book, and half way through a third draft on another
- Lost over 100lb in weight
- Solo cached 133 finds over 28 miles with a 6” hole in my leg
- Changed my entire writing process from the ground up
- Started sword fighting
- Walked 37 miles to become one of first UK cachers to do over 200 caches on foot in a day (possible UK record)
- Launched redesigned website
- Nearly lost the leg twice
- Started Running
- Been a panelist as a ‘proper author’
- Found over 400 caches in a single 75 mile weekend (possible UK record)
- Grown a beard
Whilst I doubt that the next year will be quite as eventful I still have a lot of things planned / I want to accomplish in the year ahead.
So last weekend I wrote 18,412 words on the novel.
I also found time to go for a run twice, watch TV, write a 800 word blog post (pushing words written for weekend over 19,000), edit another article and start playing World of Warcraft again… amongst other things.
And you want to know the kicker? I don’t think I was anywhere as productive as I could have been.
So I can here you all ask, just how is this even possible?
Well, here’s the secret.
Work is progressing with Thieving King but I’ve found it more difficult than I thought.
Part of this is because I’ve trod these chapters before. Whilst the tone and the attitude of some of the characters has altered slightly in this revision, at this stage it’s still very subtle. And so those chapters are haunted by ghosts of the past.
There’s a lot of fear here. Thieving King was originally the second half of Four Realms and so it shares a lot of the same structure. In the past few weeks I’ve realised just how complicated that structure is. In some ways it’s no wonder the first book took as long as it took to write because from where I stand now this feels like an incredibly complicated novel.
And so somewhere in the back of my head is a worry that something will still fail as I move into the next act of this draft. I hope not. One of the things this draft does is remove some of the darker elements that constantly punched you in the gut for ones that are a little more finessed and hopefully whilst they don’t hit as hard, they kinda hurt more.
But I’ve yet to settle into this novel. I’m very nervous about it on so many levels and it’s only as I now take it in subtly different directions to previous drafts that I find myself relaxing a bit more and enjoying the process.
Still I worry something will derail me, so there’s still this sense of blind panic of getting this draft done.
Even with real life getting in the way the last couple of weeks I’ve still made solid progress. I should hit 20,000 words tonight. That’s not bad considering everything and I’ve got a couple of big writing weekends coming up where I hope to really pile on the words.
Hopefully as I transition into act two of the novel it’ll get a little easier but it’s surprising how each novel you write throws up its own set of unique challenges.
New Fantasy-Faction Article On Upping Your Word Count
My latest article has gone live over at Fantasy-Faction, looking at 10 ways to up your word count. I was a little nervous about reaction to this article because I don’t typically like putting myself into articles for the site. All I could imagine is a load of fellow writers shouting “just who does he think he is?” at the screen. However, I thought it lost something in a later redraft by making it more neutral, so left the anecdotal vibe in. It seems to have got a lot of positive response so I’m a little relieved.
This is just another example of how you should always try and push yourself as a writer no matter what you do. Sometimes risks don’t pay off, but in this case, it seems like it did.
My writing has really suffered this week. I’m not sure whether it’s because this is a 3rd draft going over the same stuff, or there are hidden nerves because of problems with previous drafts or because I’ve actually suffered this week.
Last Sunday saw me take on my biggest geocaching challenge yet, and as far as big challenges go, this one was totally unprecedented.
If there’s one thing that’s more difficult than planning a novel, it’s taking an existing plan and reworking it.
I’ve talked about the issues I had with the first two drafts of The Thieving King and the plan for February was to take the plot of the novel, gut it and rebuild it. That’s hard to do, partly because you have to kill a lot of darlings and secondly because you have to judge what good stuff you’re wanting to get rid of because it now feels old, and which old stuff you want to keep for sentimental reasons.
In short, it’s tough and there’s been plenty of times when I’ve asked myself “is this still an awesome book?” I’ve worried when I didn’t feel as excited about it as Black as Knight but I’ve come to realise that’s simply because parts of this novel have gone back years to when it was originally the second half of The Four Realms and the whole first book called The Thieving King.
So I’m going into this draft with some nerves. Some subplots have gone and it looks like one favourite character I was really hoping to bring back isn’t going to make an appearance in this book (which I’m very sad about). Some new characters have gone through major changes but the main story has not changed.
I think all the Point of View characters now go through really strong character arcs, and the only thing now needed is some kick ass writing to get this draft done. It’s going to be interesting to see just how quick I write it. Seeing as I already have the next novel I want to write pencilled in for June / July, I really need to get motoring.
I’m still wondering when I’m going to get time to edit all these novels!