Onwards!

Changes come to me naturally. So much so that I wouldn’t call them changes. They’re more like progressions.

So, I’ve progressed.

For the last few years, the last eight years now that I’m thinking about, I’ve hated having things I had to do. Homework, assignments, projects; anything I wasn’t choosing to do. I didn’t like having to go anywhere either; school, collage, work. When it was in my power I often chose not to go (I went to work, I’m not that bad…ahem…)

I LOVED skipping days.

Staying at home, drinking tea, reading, painting, watching movies or episodes of a show in a row, in later years writing; it was bliss. I’d sip hot chocolate in a cafe and watch everyone who wasn’t ignoring the world walk by. I let the world move forward without me. I sat back and watched it go. I smiled and waved and laughed to myself.

Since leaving collage, and you can imagine collage and I didn’t get on too well, I’ve had the freedom I cravedl. And I have done things; things like writing books and singing in concerts and spending summers by the beach. Not a lot by any means, but it is precisely how I wanted to live.

I didn’t give myself goals with deadlines attached. I didn’t give myself anything I HAD to do. I did what I wanted, and somehow things got done that way.

Now I’m moving on from that.

Luckily I know what I want to do with my life. The main thing at least. If I didn’t know, I’d be a sad leaf on the wind instead of a happy one.

I want to write books, forever. And now it’s time for goals to that end.

But first, let me tell you the books I have so far.

A science fiction series: About Ara, a genetically advanced rebel, and Risk, the son of the man she’s fighting.

(One-liners are not my forte. You’ve got to tip-toe between secrets you don’t want to reveal and make it sound awesome at the same time. I fail.)

First book- 108k words. Finished (as in it has an ending) and edited. People have read it. I have to write new chapters two and three, rewrite two scenes, read it out loud and edit again.

Second book- The main document has 78k words, I think. Two documents have to be added, one is around 20k, the other around 30. All pieces have been read by my sisters, and read out loud and edited by me.

Third book- An assortment of scenes I couldn’t wait to write.

Prequel-Six chapters.

(You may have noticed my lack of titles. It’s a problem…this post by a fellow writer helped- http://www.imranwrites.com/2011/12/12/whats-in-a-title/)

Notebooks-About an immortal witch who decides to experience school

30k words.

The Dragon Blades (That’s a working title, is it just me or does it sound a bit shit?) –About…Um, ask again later. 

I mean, I know what it’s about. But I don’t know clearly enough to squish into a few words.

15k words.

That’s all!

So. Now that I’m charging forward, these things need deadlines and the likes, right? Right.

You may have noticed I didn’t do the whole float-through-life thing by half.

I don’t half do things.

So, goals have to be big and deadlines have to be near-impossible to meet.

This all sounds a bit new-year-resolution-ish, doesn’t it? It’s not. I’m not trying to get a head start and promises made to oneself and broken. I don’t pay enough attention to time to line things up like that. And if you wanted to do something, why would you wait until a new year? I mean, the earth’s orbit doesn’t really have a finish line and a new start.

Anyway!

The Goal.

(DUN DUN DUN)

My goal is to have the first book in the series complete, perfect, and ready to send out by the 3rd of January. Why the third? I like the number three.

‘Ready to send out’ includes the dreaded synopsis, the cover letter, and a pitch to round things off.

On the 3rd, and I’m nervous just thinking about it, I’m going to send it to three agents.

I’m taking this three thing too far I think…

But seven is my other favorite number, and there aren’t all that many agents taking sci-fi to begin with!

I was planning on waiting until the whole series was done so I’d be in complete control up until the end. But let’s face it, the process takes years anyway. And with my new-found desire to charge forward, the books will be done within…six months? A year?…I’m a deadline rookie, best not get ahead of myself.

And I’m going to blog about this venture at least three times a week everyday.

…I think I’ve lost it!

Authority

Everybody wants to be in control. Not evil-moustache-stroking control-the world, but over themselves; their time, happiness, success,  thoughts, bodies, their everything.

Instead of taking control and wielding it, it’s relinquished. It’s given away.

Time is surrendered with a martyr’s sigh to the million things you have to do.

Happiness slips into the hands of another.

Success is sealed into an envelope and sent away with crossed fingers.

Thoughts are thrown to the wind, to be tossed about by whichever gust takes them.

Bodies are laid at the feet of sickness, injury, addiction, laziness.

The idea of holding onto authority is on my mind for a few reasons. The one I’m going to share with you is to do with sending my book out.

I’ve decided to look for an agent simply because I want to. I think my books are good enough. They’re books I’d love to read. And so I’d like other people to read them.

I’ve said before that I’m not writing to be published, and I hold to that. If a prophet appeared before me and told me I’d never get published, I’d write anyway…with all the freedom that comes with knowing I am, in fact, writing in a bubble and it is one hundred percent for me.

When I think about my story excitement stirs. My mind opens out so it can hold the world, my world. The scale of it is a little daunting, but when calmness settles it’s a perfect fit. It’s somewhere even I can get lost in sometimes.

When I think about my books I’m the sound of a knife-sharpener against a blade, I’m the quiet focus before a fight, I’m the child on a bed of grass who owns the castles in the sky. I’m everything I can be.

So what if I fail?

What if the belief in my books, in myself, gets sealed into an envelope along with the carefully crafted pages carrying my streams of words and is sent away? And what if a sea of rejections comes back?

The thing is, I don’t usually relinquish control. I’m selfish, self-centred, self-absorbed, and entirely under my own authority. My time is my own, I give it when I choose to. I hold my own happiness. I’m in charge of my own success. I let my thoughts blow where they will; luckily they deal with dark places quickly.  As for my body, I’m pretty lucky there too. But maybe it’s not luck, maybe it’s authority. It’s like a circle; when you’re in control of something, you don’t need to enforce it.

I’m going to hold on to this powerful thing called self-belief, and ask again- so what if I fail? I’ve created a world. I’ve created characters who will stay with me for a very long time, possibly forever. I’ve already succeeded.

What it means when a girl calls you a Tool.

Sit down.

If you are thinking about it, then you’re not a tool. You’re not a tool in the way your mother might tell you you’re not stupid, you just did something stupid.

If you’re thinking about it, you should probably sit down. Because this will be a different type of thinking. A foreign type. The type of thinking that females do without thinking.

You’ve done something toolish, and you need to figure out what.

So why didn’t she say ‘You’ve done something toolish’ then?

Because where’s the kick in that? Where’s the bite. The sting. Where’s the slight bit of hurt that might make you ponder. And from her point of view, where’s the satisfaction?

‘Tool’ encapsulates all manner of male failings, short of anything requiring an arrest, a divorce, a break-up*, or a simple parting of ways*.

Being called a tool is like being called a man. An ordinary, flesh and blood with a standard side of toolishness man. Not the type of man she read about in books or saw on a big screen.

What is that flutter? Is that an emotion? Anger? Indignation? Frustration? Fear of inadequacy? Are you comforting your with the giant hole you see in her logic?

What about the women in books and movies?

There is a fundamental reason why this supposed hole shrinks and closes.

Men aren’t dreamers the way women are. They won’t sigh at the end of a book, or go teary-eyed during a movie. They don’t imagine their lives making epic tales, complete with a leading main character. They won’t dream of finding someone to rival the heroes living between pages or curled on a film roll. Well, maybe they will dream. But they won’t expect it.

Women will.

You’ve been called a tool because you failed her. Yes yes, but how? What did you do?

DO NOT ASK THAT.

Asking will result in a death glare. Or a death smile and the dreaded ‘Nothing’.

If you’re wondering what they mean, it’s that your failing is so screamingly obvious that she cannot comprehend you not hearing it. Inside, she’d question your status as a creature with higher brain function.

You have to know. You have to figure it out. At the very least, you have to really think about it.

If you care, that is.

If you don’t, don’t be silly;she knows. She might not want to accept it, simply because she’s content to let things continue, but she does know. She won’t be surprised by the ending.

And following that, she’s not surprised that you’re toolish.

So why all the fuss?

Because she wants you to not be.

She wants you to never fail her. To be someone she can be proud of and satisfied with. She wants you to care about her enough to not be toolish. Because if you care about her, you think about her, and if you think about her, you don’t fail.

So what qualifies as a failure?

Now that you’re sitting down thinking about this, one would hope you’ve thought of some things. I’m sure they’re the obvious, clichéd things which I’m not going to mention.

I will, however, tell you that the tiniest of things can equal a fail. The smallest of blunders. Inactions that just slipped through the spaces between your outside life and your life with her.

They are so small, I’m sorry to say that you won’t see them when you put your memories on rewind to search. To you, they were nothing. They don’t count. And why would you remember something that was nothing. But to her, they exposed inattention.

So, what? She wants attention 24/7?

Not exactly.

She wants you to want to give her your full attention all the time. And ideally, to actually give it when you can. Not after everything else, when there’s nothing left. First. In between. During if possible, and after.

So I’ve basically told you that you are inherently toolish and you’ll never be able to figure out what you did that was toolish.

All you can do is hope she forgets, or wear a cup and ask her.

*On-going toolishness will result in this.

To stressed-out writers

Remember when you got that one idea that would fill a book?

Remember when you relished the thought of writing the story that stretched out in front of you?

Remember when you were excited about the unknown twists and turns?

Remember when writing five-thousand words was an achievement?

Remember when your own scene made your heart race?

Remember when you read out loud and liked what you heard?

Remember when you had an epiphany that breathed more life into your story?

Remember when you looked through the eyes of whichever character had the best view?

Remember when you met the rewriting challenge with gusto?

Remember when you smiled as you edited, happy to be leaving better writing in your wake?

Remember when you were asked about your book and you didn’t care that it would take hours to explain?

Remember when you believed you could be published?

Remember when you imagined seeing your book on shelves?

Remember when you dreamt about turning real pages and seeing your words flash by?

Remember when you wrote with reckless abandon?

~~~~~~~~

Remember when the placement of a comma wasn’t pivotal?

Remember when your beginning wasn’t the be all and end all?

Remember when you didn’t know the odds of commercial success?

Remember when you didn’t analysis your characters’ every word?

Remember when you didn’t tear appear your plot looking for weak spots?

Remember when not writing was not a big deal?

Remember when you didn’t know the rules?

Remember when you didn’t care about anything other than your characters?

Remember when you didn’t ask yourself what the point of the scene was?

Remember when you didn’t mind using adverbs?

Remember when you didn’t know that you had to have a ‘voice’?

Remember when having to have a ‘voice’ in your writing sounded a bit peculiar?

Remember when you didn’t think ‘Is this good enough?’?

Remember when you didn’t think ‘This is shit.’?

Remember when it didn’t feel like a chore?

Try forgetting.

Natural writer

I’m not a natural writer.

Writing is not my ‘talent’. I didn’t make up stories as a child. I didn’t thrive in English class. I didn’t notice the words in books.

So how is it I’m nearly finished my second book?

I’m a natural imaginer.

Ideas are tenacious. Have you ever tried to ignore an idea? They don’t like it, let me tell you. They poke at you. They sneak up on other thoughts. They grow in the corners of your mind. And one way or another, they’re going to get out.

When ideas build up into scenes you’re really screwed.

So one night I had a fully formed scene in my head. At first I imaged it out like a scene from a movie. Then, I imagined it out in words.

I opened my eyes to my dark bedroom. I had to write the words. I had to save them, preserve them. If I didn’t they’d slip away.

I turned on my reading light.

The wooden floor was cold when I got out of bed. I didn’t care. I went to my wardrobe and pulled out an A5 notebook I had made years before.

To be honest, I’ve not idea how I made it.

Pen.

Sketching pencils aplenty. But a pen? I had to search. I was getting irritated. My masterful words would fade into oblivion for the want of a pen. Things were bad.

Meltdown averted, I located a humble plastic ballpoint. It was in a dust bunny under my bed.

Anyway.

I sprawled out, half my face mushed into my pillow, and wrote the scene with a reckless-writing-abandon I now long for. With the scene finished, I went to sleep happy.

And I woke up excited.

That first scene was finished, but I forgot to shout ‘CUT’ to its characters.

That was twenty-nine months ago. Since then there hasn’t been a single night where my imagination rested.

And I have little choice but to write.

Light Rain

‘Is it raining?’

Look out the fricking window and see.

Leans to follow my mental retort. ‘Tsk, it’s raining.’

Is it.

‘And it was so nice this morning, could have been summer.’

I know, I was here too.

‘Now look, it’s like winter out there. Ugh!’

Fifty years later and rain is still noteworthy. Wow.

Moves closer to the window and looks up at the sky.

‘Has it been like that long?’

Keep staring at the clouds, they might tell you.

‘I don’t know,’ I say, glancing out the window to pretend I’m a nice, engaged person. I haven’t been staring out the window keeping tabs.

‘I wonder will it stop…’

Nope, never. Build an ark. Now.

‘Hmmm,’ I reply. I wonder.

‘In a bad mood today?’

I make eye-contact. Smile.

‘Nope! I don’t mind bad weather!’ I live in Ireland. I carry an umbrella.

Looks at me like I’m one of those weird ones.

‘Really?’ Laughs gratingly.

‘Yep.’

‘I think it’s easing off. I’ll make a dash.’

Yes, run! Run for your life!

Mumble, ‘Ok then.’ Mutter, mumble, ‘see you then.’ Mutter, mumble, pats around for keys, mumble, ‘ok then, bye.’

‘Bye!’

Sighs in relief.  Volume of rain doubles. Teehee

Things I do when I have writer’s block

  1. Obstinately try to get through it (= staring idly at the screen, hands poised over the keyboard.)
  2. Read what I’ve written from at least seven pages back.
  3. Jump ahead to a scene I know I can actually write.
  4. Reorganise my numerous book-related files.
  5. Sulk.
  6. Make hot chocolate while singing. (Night-time + no one around = added bonus)
  7. Blare a bitta Beyonce and dance like a crazy woman. (My sisters sometimes think I’m moving furniture or repeatedly leaping off my bed.)
  8. Listen to mopey music*.  (Recommended for use with number 5.)
  9. Lie in the dark, in silence, under the covers, and imagine scenes from my book.
  10. Abandon ship and work on another book.
  11. Read a new book. Oddly enough, I find my younger sister’s YA fantasy novels ideal in this situation.
  12. Reread and old favourite. Most often it’s Pride and Prejudice.
  13. Draw my characters.
  14. Go wild with acrylic paint. (Rarely resulting in a work of art, but still.)
  15. Prettify myself and go people-watching/ shopping. Friends optional.
  16. Sprawl on the couch and watch a movie or an episode or ten of one of  my shows**.

 

 

*Songs may include At My Most Beautiful-REM, Samson and The Call-Regina Spektor, Stop Crying Your Eyes Out-Oasis, Jar of Hearts-Christina Perri,The Reason-Hoobastank, Fix You-ColdplayChasing Cars-Snow Patrol. (I realise these are not overly mopey, but they’re not exactly Shiny Happy People now are they?)

 

** Shows may include Vampire Diaries (Stefan or Damon, I just don’t know! Both?), Bones (Season 7 Promo had me crying with laughter), Criminal minds (Now that JJ and Prentis are back), Supernatural (Season 7 is disappointing me so far, as much as it pains me to say. CASTIEL! :o), Terra Nova (New show…rawr.)