Codename Dashboard

It feels a little bit like cheating because I’ve just been moving around huge chunks of paragraphs to try and get them in some kind of logical order. The first couple of chapters have an overall rewrite on them but I haven’t tinkered with the rest of them that much (although in many cases it’s really obvious what I need to do with them). Even after all this though I don’t feel as pent up on the March 4th date as I did a few weeks ago. It would probably have been impossible to meet that considering I’d be demolishing vast parts of the book and rewriting them again.

The good news is that’s off from around my neck. The bad news is that there’s still a fair bit of work to do. I do feel now however that it’s much clearer as to where this needs to go. The time bending side of the story that features two time lines ten years apart being told side by side is a bit of a risk but without it the book would feel a bit bland and toneless. It’s important this works.

As a celebration of sorts though I’ll let you read something that’s now been left on the cutting room floor in the shape of an entire chapter. It will have spelling mistakes in it, it will read horribly and it might not make sense but I’m not going back to correct any of it as it’s been sliced out. It’s part of Jamie the police officer’s investigation around the locals as to who may know anything about this young girl’s disappearance. As a result of searching through her emails and chat history on the family computer (with permission) he finds the name of a young lad from her class in there. He goes around to the house to ask questions in front of the boy’s unimpressed father. Quite simply it’s an investigation that the reader knows won’t come up with anything due to the events of ten years later hence it’s rather pointless in retrospect.

The cups of coffee arranged on the table had begun to turn cold. Jamie had recognised the boy in front of him as one of the kids he’d picked up for petty vandalism a few months ago. Back then he had been all mouth, gobbing off with ‘Pigs’ this and ‘Filth’ that, now that the police had actually come to his home and started to as him questions he’d reverted back to being a scared teenager in that awkward time of being neither child or adult.

“Will this take much longer?” asked the boy’s father who was sat next to him on the sofa opposite. Jamie drummed his fingers across his pad of notes. “It’s just a couple of questions, nothing really to worry about?”. Jamie had phoned ahead, told them a quick outline of why he wanted to stop by and to make sure their son would be in the house. His father had agreed to it all but still sat there with a vest on tapping his feet on the floor. Jamie had noticed the fishing rods by the front door on the way in, perhaps the hope was that he’d go away quickly so they could be put to use.

“Does the name Anne mean anything to you?” Jamie questioned whilst flicking through his notes.

The boy screwed up his forehead and raised his top lip before letting forth a curt “Eh?”.

Father looked sharply at son.

“What’s that grunting supposed to mean? Answer the question properly”.

The boy looked down at the floor.

“Pardon, sorry” he mumbled.

Jamie felt he’d have to give a few more pointers.

“She’s gone missing from her home, some of her emails mention you, she’s in your class”

“Aye”.

That was all he got back.

Jamie prodded a little bit more.

“Do you know where she went?”

The boy jolted upwards, almost levatating off the furniture.

“I haven’t killed her!”.

Jamie felt himself physically moving backwards in his chair. For a short few seconds it seemed like the kid had become a small demon and was about to launch himself across the room. Whatever had possessed him was short lived as he soon sat back down. The courage has risen to the surface before fading into the atmopshere.

He fixed the kid a look, the same look he had given when he had lifted him for spray painting the wall opposite the book maker’s shop. He’d just about managed to scrawl ‘Pigs come catch me’ in sizable lettering across the wall. Sadly for him the ‘pigs’ had come and got him and he hadn’t been best pleased about it.

“Nobody said anything about anybody killing her”.

“But she’s away and you haven’t found her yet”.

“Doesn’t mean she’d dead though”.

The boy shrunk back into the couch, his father fixed him a look trying to silently convince him to not go down the route of mentioning death. Jamie once again had to get to the point.

“She had emails on her laptop that mentioned you by name, how close were you exactly?”.

The boy looked towards his Father, he received a nod and drew a deep breath.

“She sits opposite me in maths”.

“So…” Jamie continued “…did you talk much because she seems to know you”.

“We’ve spoke a few times, she came to watch our football team play a couple of times”.

“Did you invite her there?”.

“I might have mentioned we were playing and she came down for that”.

“Did you speak to her online?”.

“A couple of times”.

“Did she mention anything about wanting to leave here?”.

The Boy shrugged his shoulders.

“She said she was bored of this place a couple of times”.

Jamie furiously scribbled on his pad.

“Enough to want to leave on her own?”

The boy just shook his head. Jamie took a sip of the tea that had been made for him even though it was tepid now.

The Father stepped in.

“You going to be much longer, the wee guy’s getting stressed out here, if you’re going to blame him for anything then get started now”.

“I can assure you that nobody is blaming him for anything at the moment” sad Jamie being as formal as he possibly could “I’m only making enquiries for possible leads”.

“Well he’s done nothing so there’s nothing to get”.

His eyes were wide, full of panic. Jamie didn’t recognise the father but soon summised that he’d probably had a few meetings with law enforcement in the past. Anybody who got this defensive usually did.

Jamie felt it was probably time to leave. The thought that he was currently agravating a child came to mind. Also, getting into an alteracation with his Father wasn’t exactly high on his agenda. Jamie rose up from the chair.

“Well I won’t keep you anymore then”.

The Father sprang up from his chair and almost shoved Jamie out of the way in order to get to the front door. The boy got up as well in order to follow them until stopped in his track by his Father.

“You stop there son, I’ll just see the officer out”.

The boys shoulders hunched again and he threw himself down on the soft furnishings. The door was closed on him.

The front door was flung open and the cold wind blew through the dark hallway. The Father looked behind Jamie as if to check that his son hadn’t followed.

“Just let me tell you one thing here officer” he said whilst pointing “My son wouldnt be involved with that lass so you’re in the wrong here”.

“But he just said they’ve sent each other messages” Jamie protested.

“Maybe so but that means absolutely nothing”.

Jamie put his hat back on and straightened his jacket.

“I may well be back” he said as he crossed the threshold.

“Don’t be in a hurry” were the words spoken as the door slammed behind him.

Jamie found himself standing in the street wondering what crime exactly this gent had been lifted for in the past. Probably something assualt related, certainly with alcohol involved alongside resisting arrest. His mind then switched back to the problem at hand. He had no leads, not much information and time was going fast. It was time to upgrade the search.

Drinking From The Cauldron

February 4th, 23 months writing the book. My goal of getting a workable second draft up and running by the two year mark has slipped a little due to a lack of progress in the last week or so.

Looking back over the last few weeks I’ve noticed that I’m spending a lot of time tweaking chapters, sometimes getting tiny details sorted out before moving on. In effect I’m taking a chapter and rewriting it two or three times. Whilst it’s good to make sure its working okay it does mean I’m making slow progress.

So I had a new idea. For the initial run I’m concentrating on chapter order and getting the overall structure right. Once I’ve got that locked down then I’ll start to go chapter by chapter and sharpen it all up.

It feels a little bit like cheating but it means I’ll be okay for March 4th.

Moderate Elemental Powers

Eleven chapters down, many of them with extra notes at the side in red font to give me a later heads up about bits that will need fixing. It’s full of things like “Would actual humans talk like this?” and “She was damp in the first draft, now she’s completely dry”.

Context is everything.

Whilst it’s not readable to the outside world at this time there are fleeting lines and maybe a couple of paragraphs when it reads like I really want it to. It’s descriptive, it’s darkly comic and it buzzes along.

Then it slips back into the same old and dull formula.

But those small moments are the charm.

Code Wheels

I’ve mentioned before how much this book sometimes suffers a bit from originally being written as a film script. It’s hit home how much this can be the case with Chapter 9.

As I’ve rewritten parts of this Anne, the missing girl in the story, starts aboard the alien craft before getting out, going back to her house which has jumped ten years into the future as far as she’s concerned and then she goes off to find the police officer. On film, where the idea of a scene can be put across fairly quickly, moving through three different areas would seem fine but writing this all down makes it feel stretched out beyond all belief.

The obvious answer is to just do what I’ve done before and split the chapters. My chapter count is already pretty high thought and it would probably leave what feels like two half chapters rather than full ones.

This first rerun of the book feels more like sorting out overall structural issues than actually fixing words.

Experienced In The Supernatural.

There’s a chance I’ve mentioned this before on this blog but I often get the feeling when watching a movie or reading a book that I’m wasting time. Not that whatever you might be reading or watching at the time is poor but more that I should be getting on with my own stuff. How can I possibly be gaining ground in my own work if I’m spending time reading somebody else’s?

It’s annoying as hell because it’s an internal reaction I have that makes zero sense under any kind of scrutiny. As a result though it’s rare that I get into a book fully. A few days ago however I bought a book with a token I was gifted at Christmas.

I have never read any Stephen King books. I’ve seen The Shining movie (which King fell out with Kubrick during production of) but I’m not into horror generally. I wondered how a book could be scary, I actually thought that King wasn’t going to be that great.

I’m four chapters in and he’s really bloody good isn’t he? Each character is so well defined in the opening couple of chapters and the story has been brilliant from the get go. I’m actually damned jealous in how he makes this look so easy. It’s uncommon for a book to truly ‘click’ with me this early and I think the last one was Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

Maybe I can put this down as research then I won’t beat myself up about just chilling with a book.

Also, why I didn’t call this blog entry ‘All Work And No Play Makes Cam A Dull Boy’ escapes me.

Back To The Party

Oh man.

I seem to have made the drastic mistake of leaving the rewrite mid chapter back in November. As such I’ve spent the last hour looking between the old and new file and wondering where I kick off again. I seem to have departed the whole thing for Christmas around about the time a young girl gets hauled into the sea by an alien.

This was not a good idea at all.

The section of the book describing all of this in the first draft is wonky. I seem to spend too much time describing the same thing over and over so it’ll need cleaned up afterwards. I had to write a fair chunk of it off the top of my head this afternoon so it reads okay…ish. It’s probably not as good as a pivotal part of the book should be.

The March 4th 2019 two year anniversary date for a complete second rewrite might still be on though.

Pittenweem Harbour in Fife, Scotland. Pretty much the template for the harbour area in my fictional town. Just imagine an alien living under the water.

NewYear.exe

Progress on the book this December has ground to a halt. It’s not something I’m deeply concerned about as the run up to Christmas has been organising gifts and various other bits. The same thing occured last year but that was a stretch from around October to the following March of nothing much getting done. As long as this current black out doesn’t go that long then we’ll be okay.

2018 was a strange year in that I didn’t really ‘finish’ any writing project. Whilst the first draft of ‘The One Who Left’ was finally done it’s in no readable state right now to anybody bar me. From the point of view of creating stuff for consumption it didn’t quite reach there this year.

But the better news from this year was podcasts. I’m involved in the pro wrestling podcast The Conquistabores and it’s genuinely a fantastic feeling to be talking about old wrestling events with my co-hosts.

Then came The Polis Box.

I first heard of the Doctor Who podcast from up North in that Edinburgh when a link to a near empty WordPress blog popped up on Twitter. The first episode went up inviting people to send in evidence fir or against the particular Who story they were covering at the time. I started sending them tweets mainly to get the kick of having my name read out. Tweets led to emailed options which then turned into recording audio files for them to drop into the show.

Then, in February this year, Lee messaged me asking if I wanted to be part of the podcast full time. So it came to pass that I got the train from Lockerbie to Edinburgh in March to block record three episodes. Dave and Lee were both fantastic company and very welcoming to the awkward Gretna boy who was confused by the big smoke. I went back for more in June and there are more around the corner.

Podcasts are great fun. If somebody could just pay me to talk into a microphone then that would be cool.

The biggest 2019 aim is to get this book done and out there. If I can get a second draft done by March 4th then it’ll mark two years since I wrote the first words on it. That would seem like good timing.

If you’ve been reading this blog since the start in 2012 or if you’ve jumped on in 2017 I wish you all the best for 2019. I don’t often put photos on this blog (bit difficult when it’s about writing) so have a failed selfie with my cat.