Toasted Parmesan

Well that was a bit of an effort.

Today has been bright and sunny and I managed to get a bit of a sleep in today. The main aim was to finally haul this book over the 40,000 word mark and I’m happy to report that as of five minutes ago this was achieved. It has felt like absolutely ages.

I remember celebrating the 10,000 word count last year but I have to recollection of doing anything special about the 20k or 30k. Guiding the story for the last ten thousand words has been a slow process. Through a combination of other stuff going on and my own laziness it’s been going on since Christmas. I’m really happy about entering what could well be the final third. I think once I get to 55,000 then I should be just about okay. That feels like a decent first book length to work with.

It Is After All A Wonderful Place

As you might have noticed the book has slowed down to a pitiful grind in recent weeks. In fact I think it might well have been around a month since I last put a word towards the thing at all. This is for a multitude of reasons, some of which will actually go into the nuts and bolts of the story so have a spoiler warning for something that doesn’t even fully exist yet if that kind of thing really bothers you.

It’s mainly been down to a moment of truth between two characters. The story has turned into something of a time slip. Half of the book is set ten years previously when the young girl actually went missing in the first place and the other half concentrates on her return a decade later. It’s been a bit of an effort to separate these two time lines and sometimes certain characters can have completely different opinions of each other within a few pages because we go into a new chapter and events have taken hold in the years between. I’ve made certain lengths to not put the same characters in joining chapters for this reason but it sometimes feels like I should because it would be best for the story.

There’s also the issue of giving correct signifiers of which time frame the story is in. I have buildings that thrive in the town of 2007 then crumble in 2017. There’s a cinema in the main street that two of the characters walk past in the earlier time line, it’s an empty husk by the time the modern events occur. I’m not sure if it actually makes any kind of difference and I think I might well be running out of examples to use. With this story originally being intended as a ninety minute film with minimal locations it’s becoming quite regular that I find myself describing somewhere I’ve already given details of a few chapters before.

The chapter I’m currently writing has the male police officer receive the report of the missing girl from her Mother. The Mother is obviously panic stricken so she spends the first few pages almost babbling at him. He’s the calm one, insisting that it’s probably nothing and they’ll find her fairly quickly. It’s two obvious, opposing ideologies at play and it should work better that it currently is. Reading it back now she just comes across as hysterical and he sounds like he doesn’t care.

I was reading something about police investigations on missing people and something really stuck with me. Apparently there is always a reason why somebody goes missing. Nobody just vanishes without a reason. The first thing investigators do rather than go out physically looking for the person in question is search their home/room/office/car so try and find something that would lead them to run away. With this in mind I have the police officer insisting on searching this girl’s room rather than go down to the harbour where she was last seen. Her Mother cannot see the point in all of this and protests as such.

But then the issues come up of what exactly would he find there? This girl has gone down to the beach, found an alien life form, had an alien parasite placed on her and then given back after ten years underwater. There’s really nothing he could possibly turn up under her bed that would lead to this conclusion.  This begs the question of what the point of this part of the story is. I’ve written about 500-600 words on that chapter, looked at what I had so far and wanted to delete the whole thing. It’s the first time I’ve felt that way about anything I’ve written towards this story.

If I’m getting rid of this thread then I’ve found it really hard to think of what to replace it with. Do I just have them go down to the beach and scrap the more ‘realistic’ aspect of a police investigation? Would the mother refuse police help if she thought it wasn’t really going anywhere? Is it possible to make him come across as calm without making it sound like he doesn’t actually care about what happens to this girl?  There’s a certain level of inconsistency at the moment as to why these characters are doing what they are doing which is undermining the whole thing.

Wider ranging questions have been brought up regarding the story also. Why exactly has the Mother come back ten years later? Does she seek closure? Does she seriously expect to find her daughter in the town she left? Is she chasing a much happier time in her life? Is she driven by a wish to change what happened in the aftermath of this event? When reading back the text so far she seems like she herself doesn’t truly know and it makes her sound less of a fully rounded character and more of a floating emotion minus heft and weight.

The current word count is halfway towards what I consider the finish line to be (as far as a first draft goes, they’ll be a heck of a lot of editing to do once I get there). I’m spending a lot of time looking back at what I have so far and wondering if it’s actually a worthwhile investment of time. All kinds of doubts have crept in and are starting to take root. This fundamental disconnect between two main characters is not helping matters.

There’s a way back in there somewhere and I’m glad in a way to have had some time away from it so I can view it from a much wider angle but time is ticking onwards. I started the book in March 2017 just before the clocks went forwards. Now I’m here, in October, with the clocks about to go back again and at the stage when I really thought I’d have a full draft by now. There’s a long winter ahead.


My parents have taken my son and his cousin away for the day today so after doing some cleaning around the house this morning I’ve been able to sit down with the book today and get some more of it done.

In fact about ten minutes ago I broke the 30,000 word barrier. I am oddly happy about this. Yes, the story is wobbling in places and I really need to go back and clean up major parts of it but the main thing is that I reckon I’m about halfway there. I’ve tried to drop the obsession with having a finishing wordcount over the last few weeks. When I first started back in March I was aiming at 75,000 for the only reason that the number seemed like a ‘proper book’ number of words. As I’ve gone on I’ve remembered that this is an idea originally designed for a 90 minute film and so therefore I might be better aiming for a bit less than that so as to not end up stretching the story out. One of my favourite books is Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy and that clocks in a 55,000. It’s a fairly concise and great story because of it so that makes me a whole lot more confident in the long run.

With the pressure off a little in that regard I’m writing whilst feeling I can be far quicker with the story and not have to pad just to get more words in. As such it’s possibly reading a bit better.

In the meantime I’m going to make a burger to celebrate.

All Things Legendary

I went for lunch with a work colleague yesterday and happened upon this poster in the bookshop we passed by.


I’ve never been to Fisher Street Galleries before yet I know where Fisher Street is so that’s not a big problem. I work during the day most Mondays in Carlisle so it would be fairly easy to just take a change of clothes, grab something to eat somewhere and pitch up at 7pm. My car parking permit runs 24 hours so that’s not really a problem either.

The £35 is affordable.

I’m not sure if they’d want me turning up with half a novel written and a few notes though. I’m liking it from the perspective of meeting other writers for a five weeks spell. The last time I did something similar to this was when I was in school years ago (I think I was about 17-18) and it was something of a disaster. Obviously I’m a grizzled 36 year old now with stubble and everything.

I’m currently mulling this one over.

Yiga Clan

I seem to have one character who I wanted to have a laid back personality but this seems to have made him come across as a complete arse due to the circumstances involved in the story.  Sadly he’s one of the main ones and the person he’s being a complete dick to is the other main character.

I have the Mother is the missing girl fresh from discovering her daughter has not returned home one evening alerting the local police officer in this sleepy Scottish village. She’s obviously in a major panic but he insists on taking her to the station so she can give him more information. I suppose the idea is that he takes his job seriously but hasn’t really ever had to deal with missing children in his career so far. Reading it back though it seems like he’s blindly following protocol until the mother actively speaks up and accuses him of wasting time.

When I was planning this story I originally tried to add in a suggestion that it was the police officer that killed the child. I almost wanted that to be the red herring for most of the story but then it dawned on me that I wasn’t writing a murder mystery so this whole thing was completely unnecessary and that aspect was dumped quickly not long afterwards. He’s therefore gone from possible killer to guy who means well but whose intentions are sometimes misplaced really quickly.

The difference between the two gives a certain tension to a scene but there’s still currently something really ‘off’ about the relationship between my two main characters.

Still, another 1000 words down today.

Spitting Rainbows

Speeding past the 27,000 word marker and feeling that I’ll probably be around halfway once the 30k marker goes past so not that long. I started this whole thing in early March 2017 thinking we’d be looking at getting a first working manuscript in about six months. This original plan also had a target word count of 75k. If I hadn’t revised that slightly I’d now have about a month to write 55,000 words.

I would currently be going completely round the twist.

I’m also noticing that the book is split down the middle as far as quality goes. When I write about the strange stuff, the aliens, the other worlds, the shifts in time then I think I’m doing okay. When I write about the ordinary events of a tourist town in Scotland then it comes across as really dull. I could really do with ironing this out.

I might do a post soon giving examples just so you can see what I mean.

Tree Surgery In The Sun

Yes, I’d say knocking off the Facebook and Twitter links on my taskbar after many months of them being there has certainly been a very positive step. The problem I had was that I would probably get a tiny chunk of 100 words done, find it really easy to snap back to Chrome, click on Facebook, watch a video of a cat trying to balance on a dog’s head, go onto Twitter and find that people are moaning about Doctor Who again before going back to repeat this process a few times over. I’d usually finally give up once 500 words had been put down of an evening.

Social media is a fine thing but it doesn’t half suck up time and kill productivity. Part of me is considering leaving both of them alone for a while. At least with Instagram I need to be on my phone for it so I’m usually out and about anyway when I need to open that.

As a result of knocking this on the head I’ve managed to get 2000 words done today. Yes, two thousand! This might not seem like much to most but it’s actually the most productive day as far as word count goes on this book I’ve had since starting the whole thing in early March.

I have hit a little bit of a crossroads for today though. Part of me wants to carry on and maybe even make it 3000. The other half of me wants to jack it in for the day and watch some wrestling tonight and not feel guilty about doing so.

It’s 5:30pm here now, my dinner is in the oven so I’ll probably have to make a call on that soon.

Small Improvement

A very short note to say that I’ve discovered something that seems to have helped me with my word rate over the last hour or so.

I’ve removed the Facebook and Twitter tabs from the bookmark bar on my browser.

It’s a small thing but it’s made a massive difference.

I’m aware this sounds like the most obvious thing.

Thank You Eddie

All writers have faced some kind of struggle as they face getting book, script, poem, play or comic off the ground. The process of making an idea in the head into something an audience can see, read or hear is littered with many obstacles. As the saying goes, if it were easy then everybody would do it.

If you haven’t been reading this blog for long then you might be unaware of a couple of details. Firstly, I am not a professional writer. At no point have I made a dime out of writing despite that being the aim for the future. I have written a short film that was shown in festivals around Europe, I have written feature film scripts that were never picked up and I have penned a play that was performed locally. At no point during any of this has any cash come my way.  I am not after multi millions pouring into the account every month. I have no desire to drive a flash car or have a swimming pool. If I could make a comfortable living just making stuff up with words then I’d be a happy man. Currently though I’m in the position when the day job of working in an opticians gains me a pay cheque at the end of the month. Writing is, at this moment in time, something I do for kicks.

On very odd occasions I often think about just jacking in this whole process of piling up word counts and just get on with ‘real life’. A certain sensation of all this being a monumental waste of time starts eating at me.

Then I usually get something brought to my attention that completely reminds me of why I’m still trying to do this. My interest in professional wrestling meant that this video of Eddie Dennis popped up in my timeline when it was released onto the internet a couple of weeks back. Until then Eddie was a headteacher for the most part and a part time wrestler. Now he’s making the brave decision to quit teaching and become a wrestler full time.

Here’s the video in full so you can see what it’s all about.

I have to admit that I haven’t seen Eddie Dennis wrestle (although I’m looking to change that soon) but I instantly found a common theme in this video. Even if you have no interest in wrestling at all the story of one man leaving behind his usual job for a shot at something he’s been dreaming about for years still has an impact.

So a quick thank you to Eddie Dennis. You might not have realised it but a wrestler from Wales has certainly provided help and inspiration to a writer from the South of Scotland.

You can actually read all about Eddie’s journey over on his own WordPress blog right here.

I wish him the very best of luck.

A Contraption Of Light Tubes

It’s a frustrating thing when you get through one chapter and everything is going smoothly and with pace. You close the computer down for the night thinking that the next day will see you pick up from exactly the same point and bomb away exactly as you were.

Then, the next day, you get about four words in and think to yourself ‘What exactly were these two characters doing again?”.

Then everything falls to bits.

Any others writers out there sometimes find that they’re struggling for an ‘exit’ out of a chapter? Currently I have two characters just waffling on whilst eating scrambled eggs in an American diner that happens to be situated in a Scottish town.

I’ve perhaps overdone this one.