Since I moved house I’m no longer within walking distance from my parent’s house. My Dad and I used to meet each other for a morning coffee once a week but recently we haven’t had the chance until today. As my Dad’s car pulls up into the car park of the local Distillery cafe he waves a magazine in the front window. I can just about see that it’s Dumfries and Galloway Life magazine, a local publication covering events in the near vicinity. I have no clue as to why he’s brought it along though.
Turns out it was this…
Turns out it’s a story about ghost sightings in Gretna written by my good friends Mostly Ghostly. I had no clue they were going to mention me and seeing the word ‘writer’ before my name in a magazine is certainly a buzz.
Probably time to live up to that.
I haven’t really found somewhere to write in the new house yet. At the moment I’m sat at the kitchen table which is very much a similar idea to the breakfast bar in the old place. There’s a sunroom next door but, being January and about 3c outside, that’s not the most comfortable place to sit right now.
I opened up the file for the book today for the first time in what seemed like weeks. Word tells me that the last time I did anything with it was October 20th last year. Even the small bubble on the sidebar that usually takes me straight to the point when I had stopped before had given up. I was back at page one, chapter one having to scroll down to find it. November was taking up with house moving, December was Christmas and some vague sense of normality has returned in time for mid January. My writing momentum has been shot though and trying to get started today proved something of a nightmare.
There isn’t that much further to go though and this version of the book will be done.
I haven’t vanished to be never seen again. I have done something that feels like that by moving house. We’ve been in the new place for about four weeks now and most of the boxes are away but some remain resolute in the corner of the spare room.
Our old house was on the market since March so the need to find a buyer has been hanging around all that time. I’m very glad to see the back of it.
No sooner did we have something resembling order of things then Christmas had to be prepared for. Writing has been pushed aside for a while. I’ve also yet to pick somewhere in the new place to sit and write. The previous house just had a view of the surrounding homes, this one has a hill at the back where the sun sets.
In the new year we resume.
Morag has been too compliant.
It’s taken me weeks to rewrite this chapter. Perhaps it’s because writing opportunities have been a little bit limited recently with a house move imminent. Maybe it’s the fact that this was the chapter where Mother and Daughter meet again for the first time in a decade and it was always going to be emotionally heavy. I think I spent a lot of time running from this one, unsure of where to go with it and what to do once I got there.
In the first draft Anne (the daughter) found her Mother Morag in staying in the local bed and breakfast. I had a lovely scene in which, after the initial shock, they bonded together like nothing had happened and went on the merry way to finding our police officer and telling him that everything is okay now thank youverymuchthere’sreallynoproblem.
This is of course trash. Grade A, stinking trash.
Morag’s entire character just whisps along with everything placed before her and this exchange just underlined such behaviour. She runs away from the town in the first place because she feels everybody has turned against her and only returns when she assumes most of the residents will be senile or dead. Bar one scene in which she punches the first person to suggest she killed her own daughter Morag displays nothing of any kind of backbone.
So here’s the first major plot change in this draft. Rather than skip off out of the breakfast room of a fishing town B&B Morag does not believe the girl in front of her is her daughter. I’m building it up to the moment with some nice daytime soap opera stuff and then breaking it at the last possible second before ending the chapter there.
And by the gods it felt good.
Anybody else find that time seems to shift much faster when they’re trying to write?
After going to the supermarket this morning to get some food shopping I’ve been sat in my kitchen since around 11am trying to get some more of the book rewrite done. It’s 4pm now and I cannot really fathom where that time has gone. I’m consoling myself with the fact that the small progress bar down the side of the screen is firmly at the 75-80% mark. It’s getting done, just not maybe that fast.
I think one of the main methods I’m using right now is to keep another tab open alongside the text file of the book so I can flit to that and write something else if I feel progress is grinding. Today the reserve writing project was a game review so I’ve been darting back and forth between ‘aliens in Scotland’ and ‘The Legend Of Zelda’. Oddly it works okay.
Scanning down my Twitter feed (@cripleh if you’re interested) I see that’s it’s just over one year since I started this rewrite of the book. I reached the middle of Chapter 27 today, there are 36 in total and I’m thinking we’re on the home stretch.
The home stretch of this lap anyway.
I’m getting back to the parts I patched together though. The chucked in, nonsense, half baked stuff that is really just there as a place holder until something better comes along. Now is the time for that ‘something better’ and it involves a lot of rewiring. It’s a tough thing because now I’m reading parts back and asking myself if I’d be happy reading this out aloud in front of people. I have an odd dream of being at a book event, one of those ‘Meet The Author’ things and being asked to read a section to the gathered audience. Currently there isn’t really a stretch in the book that I could do that with confidence. I’m aiming to sort that out on the next spin around though. This turn is all about getting the plot in the right order and the right pace. All the colour comes next and then we might have something approaching a readable story.
The aim is to have this run through done by Christmas and then possibly have the next finished by March 2020 which would mark three years since I started it.
I think I’m starting to go back over all the bits in the book that I patched over the first time around. There’s also he recurring problem of this story originally being thought out as a low budget film. I’m still using the same four or five real world location and not really appreciating that I can go absolutely anywhere when I’m just writing it as a book.
A fine example was today’s chapter in which my missing girl, who has returned to her home town after ten years, is trying to track down her Mother. In this first run through I’ve had her bumping into a random character who isn’t named and is never seen again. All he ends up doing is telling her where her Mother might be. It’s awful, clunky and seriously needed to be chopped out.
Considering she has something of a alien power about her now I’ve made her warp through memories of some distant planet just before it is destroyed completely before she is able to find her Mother by having a natural link to her regardless. It’s a chance to put in all the strange stuff I wanted to and to move away from the ‘real world’ descriptions that have been in there a fair bit now.
I’ve discovered I really like going crazy with the mad alien stuff.
As a side note I’ll hopefully get this draft done by Christmas. It seems strange to be talking about the end of the year in September though.
I’m still thinking about other, smaller writing projects I could do after completing this draft of the book. One of the slightly more off the wall ideas was wanting to do some live poetry. Perhaps it was a reaction to spending the last two and a half years just working on a book alone that makes me want to do shorter writing passages and perform them to get a real time audience reaction. Whatever the reason it went down on the list I made during the glitch I was having last month.
The slight problem is that I’ve always been terrible at poetry. This is something I’ll certainly have to overcome.
I’ll go on Youtube and just type the word ‘poetry’ and it comes up with some wonderful examples of the craft which are all very thought provoking and good to listen to. Anything I try and write never seems to get beyond the ;thrown together words’ part.
There’s a spoken word night every month in Dumfries at The Stove Network which might be a good idea to do. This might only be a viable option if I’m actually able to write something I’m happy with though.
Which may take a while.
There’s a feature on Microsoft Word that has become something of my nemesis. It’s the marker that pops up when you restart a document and it asks you if you want to go back to where you left off. Usually it gives the date when you last touched it. This morning this confirmed I hadn’t done anything with the book since July 3rd.
So cheers for that.
I did manage to get two chapters down today though but not quite to the levels of which I’m happy with it. One of my characters seems to suddenly be behaving the opposite way to how he’s been operating from the start. My police officer has a house that’s a bit of a mess, I’ve gone into plenty detail describing how his kitchen isn’t in the least bit organised. As part of the story though he’s put on his uniform and is being a stickler for procedure. I can’t decide if this is okay or not. I’m running with the fact that there will be plenty of people who will be organised in their jobs but a complete mess at home.
At least for now.
It was going fairly well. At one point in the first week of July I was rewriting a chapter each day. Then I got into a complete funk for a few days in which I wasn’t in the mood for anything other than watching Chill With Bob Ross with the lights off. Battling through this book was off the agenda because it felt exactly that, an uphill battle with no guarantee of anything at the end of it. Whatever it was it gnawed a big hole in my confidence.
I bought more notepads the other day. I probably didn’t need anymore but I wanted to write some stuff in my biggest notepad and found some written stuff from around 2009. It was a ten year echo from what felt like another dimension. There were notes about sending emails to people I can no longer recall, scripts that were dead ended long ago and half finished character profiles. I didn’t want to write anything else in that book as it just felt like adding to previous failures. A fresh one has a better outlook.
I’m thinking I might start working on a couple of short stories just to have an outlet that won’t be a massive fifty thousand word mess. It might prove to be a stupid idea in the long term as it’ll take even longer to get the book done but when was I ever in a rush?