Dear Railway Neighbour

It was experiment time.

My wife is a nurse so she’s been going to work during all of the Coronavirus pandemic happenings. This means that I’m at home as much as possible with our son, the dog and the cat. Without any kind of routine in place it can mean that both the humans in the house end up watching Youtube all day. In order to combat this we ended up doing a lot of work for our joint video games blog site. It’s been a lot of fun so far with us reviewing games and talking about what we’re playing during the lockdown. It has taken away from the book writing time though and I thought I’d try to get that sorted tonight.

After dinner I thought I’d sit and blast through for just one hour between 8 and 9.I didn’t set a word count or say I was going to do ‘X chapter’. I just started editing and rewriting.

I got a fair piece of it done this way and it might be good to do this going forwards if I don’t get a chance to sit and write all day.

Is this something anybody else has tried?

Cats and I.T

Ticking over again with the rewrite tonight but progress was slightly curtailed by my cat leaping up on my laptop keyboard and somehow managed to knock out my touch pad. No amount of pressing buttons could bring the thing back. As the furry idiot walked away I found myself frantically searching via my mobile as to how to get it back running again.

This berk…

I’m writing the lead up to my ending now and I’m still unsure about it. There’s a thin dividing line at the moment between just wanting to get this finished and opening up parts of it for another serious going over. I can see me certainly doing large sections of dialogue again but I currently have three characters looking out to see for strange light and a fourth who is looking around his kitchen for a weapon to use against an alien life form.

But I’m still not sure this works.

But it might be too late now.

When I Get Back From Hell Again (I’m Going To Be So Elegant).

A few months ago I found myself wishing that the world would just stop for a bit so I could find the time to get this draft of the book finished. The original March 4th deadline aim had completely gone by and progress was scrappy again.

Then the world suddenly stopped, the government told everybody to remain indoors as much as they can and my work sent me home for the next six weeks on full pay.

If I can’t get it done now then it’s really pretty hopeless isn’t it?

I’m down to the last twenty or so pages as of today anyway. Once that’s done it’ll be going through each chapter and polishing it up as far as dialogue goes and seeing if at all hangs together okay. At the moment the engine is in place, the body work has nearly done being put on top but the paintwork needs a going over.

Nearly there though.

Phantom Footsteps

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.

Hip Hop Development

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.

Pockets Of Resistance

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.

Like A New Skin Made From Old Skin That Has Barely Been Lived In

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.

Emotionally Drained

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.

To All The Districts

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.

Add The Strange Stuff

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.