My wrestling article is finally finished!
(Incidentally if 90’s WWF shows are your thing then you could take a little look should you so wish )
This clears the decks for the second run through of ‘The One Who Left’. I wanted to take the time to get a little few others bits done and out of the way so I can have a good clear run at this. I’ve spent a bit of time going down the chapters in order and I’ll be posting the entire list on here with a brief run down about what happens in each in the very near future. After that it’ll be a case of deciding what stays and what goes. It’ll probably get really deep into the workings of the story and what direction it’s taking. If that’s your thing then we’re all cool but I can perfectly get with it if that sounds completely boring.
The first question I’m already tackling is the prologue. Whilst I’m not really a fan of prologues in books usually I put one in here because it was the first hint that something alien was happening. The alien itself is not named at all in the opener and it’s simply a description of his craft falling through Earth’s upper atmosphere before plunging into the sea just off the coast of Auldrigg, my fictional Scottish fishing town (you’ve no idea how many different Scottish sounding place names I had to Google until I got to one that didn’t exist in real life). The version of the prologue currently in place is pretty vague on detail of who exactly this crash landing person is because I was far more interested in keeping him in the shadows until about halfway through the book. The core of the story was the daughter’s disappearance so keeping an alien being on the sidelines for the opening parts of the story seemed to make sense.
Now I’m not so sure. Perhaps the prologue doesn’t have to be there at all but I’ll still have a crack at rewriting it with more detail on the character and why he got there.
I was driving out to the local shopping centre today to pick up some trainers for my son. On the radio there was a broadcast of interviews from the Edinburgh Book Festival. At one point, turning into the car park, I hear this exchange.
“I often feel in your books that you’re trying to evoke a world, a feeling”.
“Yes, I spent a lot of time doing that”.
“You’re also quite good with smells”.
As I’m getting out of the car I become aware I’m ranting to myself. “Isn’t that what all authors do?” I mutter.
I meet eye to eye with the old guy in the car next to me. He’s looking at me with a really confused expression. We exchange ‘Good Mornings’ and go about our day.
Chipping away, chipping away.
I’ve not been able to blast the home stretch as much as I would have liked to. There’s been the odd few hundred words here and the one hundred word chunk there. It’s okay though, I’m not feeling it as much of a battle as I was halfway through.
The last few session have got me thinking about myself at the age of thirteen or fourteen. The kid who would sit there in his room with one lamp burning until the early hours of every morning. Every single other person in the house had long since (sensibly) gone to bed and were asleep. I’d be up writing in a pad with a pen in my hand. I didn’t even have a computer or a laptop to edit anything with back then. All the stories I wrote were in ink with single words and paragraphs struck out.
I’d write whilst drinking coffee which was a recent introduction to my life. I’d done work experience in a local library and, upon turning up on the Monday morning, I’d been asked if I wanted a cup of coffee. I recall thinking that rejecting this offer might make me seem awkward so I’d agreed. Having never really had a cup of coffee in my life I wasn’t sure how I preferred it. I essentially said no to every follow up question.
So it arrived black with no sugar.
And I spent the afternoon skipping around the place filing books whilst on a caffeine buzz.
Dear reader, it has remained my one true vice.
I’d write whilst listening to late night talk radio. I loved the sense of danger and the truly strange people that would sometimes be allowed on air. With the internet today everybody who has an opinion can broadcast it within seconds. Back then you might have been speaking on the airwaves rather than tapping on Twitter. I loved how different people spoke and how the conversation flowed. Dave from Cardiff might be convinced there’s a ghost in his kitchen. Jenny from Newcastle would phone in about the aliens again.
Most of all though I’d write whilst nursing the burning desire to ‘be a writer’. At that age I was hopeful I could find a way to get a career out of making up stories. It often crossed my mind that I might have given up on that idea as I got older because it seemed so distant and more than a bit silly.
Fourteen year old me would be happy that thirty seven year old me is far from giving up. He’d be over the moon that there’s nearly a first draft of a book finished.
Every time I sit down at a keyboard I’ll have a smile for that kid.
Because one day we’ll make it.
I have yet to go back over the book in full. That process will have to wait until the end. I have however zipped back and looked at individual parts just to see how they stack up, almost like a preview of the work that’s to come.
Now I have a much clearer idea of the ending (much more than I did a year ago put it that way) I can see exactly what was going wrong with the characters when I was starting out writing them. From the point I’m at now, looking back, it makes it really easy to give them a much better starting point and to push small details that work towards that goal.
Also I’m finding that it’s only at this point, over 50,000 words in, that the book is really finding its voice. I had thought that I was going to be handling a very serious, dark story about a missing child assumed murdered. The truth about this though is that I’m not sure I have the skill to do that any kind of justice. As a result the sci-fi elements have taken over much more and the whole thing isn’t quite as doom laden as it might have turned out to be had it stayed on the original course. I’m not saying it’s now all sunshine and roses but there’s a certain dark sense of humour running through it which gives it a Scottish edge.
Because generally we Scots have a morbid outlook on life.
It’s been a few days since I managed to get anything on the book done so I sat down tonight to get things moving again In the end I was only able to do 200 words but that’s far better than nothing. I’ve actually spent most of this week doing a writing job for a games website called Orange Bison. They gave me Sundered to review. You can give it a bit of a read here if you like. I’ll be doing something each week for them for the near future.
When looking back at the last few months and the progress on the book attached to that I’ve come to the conclusion that I write with more frequency and intensity when things might not be so hot in other aspects of my life. My day job at the moment seems to be going through many changes and is hitting the busiest time of the year. Over the last few months I think I’ve battered through about 20,000 words and to be nearing the finish line is something that I really didn’t think was going to happen around Christmas last year. At that stage I was lucky to get anything done and the whole project just seemed destined to be abandoned. I’m not sure I’m quite at the level where I need life adversity to help the creative process but I do think it perhaps helps.
Something struck me today when I was adding to the word count. A whole lot of stuff that’s gone into this so far is sub par first draft stuff and it’s often been a bit of a slog getting through it all knowing that it’s pretty rubbish. Whilst there’s always the idea that I’m going to go back and sharpen up everything later there is still that whole quagmire to get through.
What struck me today though is that it’s like painting a picture but this part is just the pencil outline. Whilst it might have the feel of an image when this part is done it’ll still need shade and colour added to make it presentable.
I’m not sure why but it made me feel far better about the whole thing.
As of today I’m 45,000 words in so around 10,000 left to go. With the ending rapidly speeding into view I’ve had a lot to think about. This in turn has an effect on a lot of the early chapters that I was writing over a year ago. For now the story seems to be rounding off quite well.
Another 1000 words today.
To be honest I’ve probably done more this week as far as word count goes than I did in the entire month before. Now that I’m over the middle section and can now see the ending looming over the horizon it’s much easier to work towards that.
I have to admit though that I only seem to have written notes for nineteen chapters back when I last tried to salvage this process a few months ago. Having completely lost that notebook until now I find myself writing chapter twenty eight. I still have no idea how this has happened.
When this first draft is complete there will be all kinds of hellish editing to do.
I haven’t had a chance recently to sit down and write for an entire day. There have been written reports about wrestling to do and podcasts to prepare for. Pretty much all the stuff I do to give me a break from writing a book has taken over. I seem to have spent time writing a book to give me a break from watching and writing about wrestling. Strange how this pans out sometimes.
It was late on the other night and the rest of my family had all gone upstairs up to bed. I started my computer thinking I wouldn’t be able to write anything. ‘Even if I get a couple of paragraphs done then it’s a win’ I thought to myself. In the end I managed to get around 700 words done in about half an hour which was a surprise even to myself. It meant I was able to fit in a couple of hours gaming before bed so it was a positive result all round.
We’re closing in on the 40,000 mark, the final aim is 55,000. This middle part has probably been one of the hardest parts of written work I’ve ever done.
As if by some strange miracle I actually managed to get to work on the book before 10am this morning so had a good blast at it for a couple of hours. I’ll need to go and wash the breakfast dishes eventually but I’m now over 34,000 words. At around the 25,000 mark I was thinking this story might peg out before the 55-60,000 I wanted to get to. Now, with about 20,000 to go, I’m worried I won’t be able to wrap it up in time. It’s a much happier problem to have though.
I’m becoming more and more concerned with how I’m handling time shifts in the story. It’s very much a 50/50 split between the events of ten years previous and the girl’s initial disappearance and what happens after her return. It’s sometimes feels hard to piece all this together without seeming like it’s terribly confusing being as it features the same characters. I’m finding myself laying down markers with scenery and parts of the actual town itself changing. Heck knows if this is working or not.
But progress is good and I’m feeling a ton better about it than I was even a month ago.
The characters are beginning to morph.
Even after all the notes I made this time last year about each and every character in this thing I’m finding that the more I write the more they’re changing. A good example would be the girl who actually goes missing.
Originally, throughout all the planning stages, this character was always ten years old. It seemed like a good number and it was actually the age that my son was at the time. As a result of that it seemed really easy to write. As I’ve got further along the word count though I’ve realised that her actions and mannerisms seem to make her that little bit older. One of the main police investigations into her vanishing is the theory that she’s gone off to meet a boy against her Mother’s wishes. Ten years old would seem rather young for this sort of thing to happen, fourteen would make a lot more sense.
So I’m keeping going for the meantime but it’s painfully obvious in the structure currently that her character has altered halfway through. It’ll end up being one of the main things I’ll be smoothing out when the time comes for rewrites.
We stand at 33500 words.