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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Not much rewriting done over the last few days. This is mainly due to the sudden realisation that Christmas is upon us and I hadn’t started any shopping yet. Rather than staring at Word I’ve instead been online shopping. I might be able to fit a little bit in tonight if I can tick some more people off my list of ‘to buy for’.
In the meantime though I thought, seeing as it got rejected, I’d put up the 500 words personal statement that I wrote to apply for the mentorship scheme. Was it far too over the top? Was the metaphor strained and not really needed in the first place? Did I come across like a raving mad man? Dear reader, all these questions are for you to reach your own conclusions on.
It’s almost like the feeling of accidentally getting off the train at the station one stop before the one you intended. You know where you want to be, you’re on the right line to get there but you’ve somehow ended up in a place that wasn’t part of the original plan.
I was fourteen when I decided I wanted to be a writer. During a meeting with the careers advisor at Annan Academy I’d brought it up as a possibility and was quickly told that there wasn’t much call for that in Dumfries and Galloway’ before being handed leaflets about working in Chapelcross Power Station.
I didn’t give up.
I left school and went to study Media Production at Carlisle College of Art and Design (later renamed Cumbria Institute of the Arts). Whilst there I wrote short films and held screenings in local venues due to a lack of YouTube at the time. My final project on the degree course was a film about a self-help group who meet over the internet. It was nominated for an award in 2004 from the Royal Television Society. It did not win.
I didn’t give up.
Upon graduation and realising that fame and fortune wasn’t coming to me the instant I left college I got a job working in an opticians.What I thought was going to be a line of work I’d be doing for about six months has ended up being thirteen years. Whilst ordering contact lenses and measuring varifocals during the day I have continued to write at night. Projects done during this time have included a short play which was performed in a theatre bar in Carlisle and a short film that was screened around Europe including at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013.
I haven’t given up.
My latest project in a science fiction book based in smalltown Scotland (being from Gretna I have a fair bit of experience in small town Scotland). Beginning in March 2017 I’m now onto a second rewrite. This is also the first time I’ve ever tried to write a book. A mentorship would enable me to work towards getting the book into a far more presentable state. I would certainly benefit from the guidance and advice on offer so I could move further towards completion and then publication. Having spent all this time working onit alone it would be great to get another angle on my work so far.
All of this would hopefully help me move further down the line and off the station I seem to have found myself at in the last few years.