Monday, 30 November 2009

The Final Countdown

It is almost finished - I'm almost finished!

My first attempt at the Write a Novel in the Month of November (Nano) has been an experience that I will definitely repeat.

I hadn't contemplated trying Nano until one of my writer Facebook friends suggested this was a great way to clean up lurking WIPs. I have loads of those. I mentioned in a previous post that the Nano novel I am writing is something masquerading as a short story. In that previous post I said I was hand writing the story and would type it up when I had the time. That is still the case, I have continued to write almost every day although I have to admit that I didn't take full advantage of the support offered from the website set up to help all the participants in this challenge.

So how did I fair in this gruelling challenge? It was tough especially because I continued to edit my other WIP novel. I have never written so much in my life before (and my house has never been so dirty). I have over 17,000 words on my hard drive and I calculate another 13,000 in the two note books I filled over the month. I still haven't finished the story even though I know most of the plot.

OK, so it isn't the 50,000 words the challenge set, but 30,000 is still a good shout and I will continue to write the same volume each day and hope to have the first draft finished by Christmas.

This process has been a real revelation to me. I normally take two years to write a first draft and here I am with the potential of a two month draft. I can't wait to start the edits.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

My Silver Darlings

Many years ago, when I was a fledgling writer I took a trip with a Glasgow writing group to Pittenweem in Fife. This was strange for me, being a Fifer who had spent many holidays on this fishing coast, but it was an excuse for a trip back in time and some free time to write. The purpose of the trip was to pick up on any inspiration the Pittenweem Arts Festival had to offer. There was so much on offer that my poor senses were bombarded so I took myself off, on my own, to the harbour wall and the experience of the sea. While I sat on the wall I composed the poem Cut Fingers based on the history of fishermen’s knitting which has long been a passion of mine.

But the poem didn’t tell the whole story. A year later I joined a writing class and wrote a short story using the same title and the same subject. I knew the story idea was good but my writing skills were poor. I put the story in a drawer and bided my time.

Last year The Scottish Association of Writers (SAW) held a competition with a theme of Homecoming. I took the original story, which was written in the third person, and rewrote it entirely, this time in the first person.

The story was commended in the SAW event but has since gone on to win Second Prize in the Bournemouth Short Story Competition 2009.

A good lesson in hoarding.

To read Cut Fingers click here

Seaside Inspiration

While updating the website with some of my more successful pieces of writing, one thing has occurred to me – the sea plays an important part in my writing.

Monday, 16 November 2009

National Novel Writing Month - A good excuse

I always said would never do it, but I have to admit I have succumbed to the National Novel Writing Month (nicknamed Nano). For one month only I am expected to shove all other commitments to the edge of the desk (if I can find it)and write, write, write. The reason I decided to do this was to give myself a break from editing my second novel, The Incomers.

The Mongrel, a short story I wrote about two years ago has been gnawing at my bones. It always was a novel, but being a fantasy story I could never see myself writing it. I reckoned if I could do it in a month then I could purge it from my system once and for all.

I thought the process would be tedious and distracting. It's not. I am hooked.

The website that monitors the project, lays on advice and offers facilities for writing buddies to give encouragement, but I am not into that. Writers are also expected to log their word count as they go on. By the end of November the total words logged should be 50,000. So far I have logged 7500, but these are only the words I have managed to type. I have written many more.

The process I use is to write every morning, at least 6 A5 pages; no editing, no reading back. The plan is to type them up when I have time, but unfortunately I am not good at ditching my other commitments and have lagged behind with the typing. Does it matter? I reckon I have about another 15,000 words hand written in a notebook, which is incredible; I have never written so much in such a short time before. And the story is so alive in my head, I think I might use this method for first draft from now on. This is the third week and I know I will stick in and work with my own wee process. Maybe by the end of next week I will be done with the story.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Blog, Blog, Blog, Blog

I am chilled, I worked hard today and was rewarded with a prize.

Today I was delighted to receive a Lovely Blog Award from my writing friend, Rosemary Gemmell. When I first joined the writing group Erskine Writers, Rosemary was one of the first people there to make me feel welcome. Rosemary is a fine writer of fiction and articles and is tireless in her work; I am always a little in awe of her productivity. Her blog is a tasteful reflection of her gentle personality and a showcase for her writing. I am honoured to receive the award from her.

The rules of the award are that you should:

1) Accept the award, and don’t forget to post a link back to the awarding person.
2) Pass the award on.
3) Notify the award winners.

The two blogs I would like to give the award to are both children of Misha Somerville. I first found Misha's blog Red Light Ray when I bought his exceptional book Bamako Boom Boom and started to learn the whistle. This is a blog that makes me think.

I have now discovered his other blog High-8. High-8 acts as a vicarious feed for my adrenalin need - check it out. It has some stunning photos of Scotland and offers accessible alternative adventure outside of the munro bagging circuit.

There is an uncanny coincidence about the new project I started yesterday for National Novel Writing Month (there - I've announced it, now I'll have to do it)and the High-8 blog. I am writing something set in the future but I wanted some old traditional Gaelic names for my characters, the main character was originally called Solie but I decided, after a read through an old Celtic Review, to change his name to Somhairle, a name I had never heard before. About one hour after making this change I discovered that the co author of High-8 is called Somhairle Macdonald. Spooky eh?

Loch Ossian, a photo stolen from a WIP Lovely Blog

I would have liked to also award the blog prize to Colin for his photography blog but it is in bits at the moment so you will have to settle for one of the photos I stole years ago and have used here and there ever since - he doesn't seem to mind too much.

PS I wish the award had been called something other than Lovely - I hate the word although I have been known to use it occasionally in this blog!