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.
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.
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’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.
Three weeks off wasn’t something that I intended to happen but it did. Upon reaching the halfway point in the second rewrite I just seemed to have stopped dead and through various reasons I haven’t been able to get back to it until the last couple of days.
There have been a couple of changes that seemed small on the surface but have caused a few ripples to turn into waves throughout the wider story. It’s been a problem having to delete entire chapters from the middle of the book and rebuild them from scratch. It makes it feel a bit like walking through treacle again and this was the reason the writing shut down in the summer of 2017 during the first draft.
I’m starting to warm it up again bit by bit to avoid that complete shutdown again. It’s just about working but some chapters I’ll have to come back to later and fill out.
Usually I do entries in this block after I’ve finished a writing spell. It’s like a cool down from a long run and after spending so long trying to make stuff up it’s a bit of a relief to have a few paragraphs just writing about how the day is going.
It is getting a little bit old though. There’s only really so much I can give away when I’m writing about writing a book lest the entire story be dropped out there before time. I was thinking about writing a little bit about movies I like. Nothing greatly critical or in depth but just something to say why a particular title appeals to me and how I discovered it.
If anything it’ll give you a break from reading about me getting stressed at various chapters. I also means I can get some pictures up to brighten it up because there are not many interesting pictures I can place here to convey the writing process.
The first time I ever heard of the terms ‘Manga’ and ‘Anime’ were when I read Super Play magazine in the early 90’s. The vast majority of the magazine’s contents were about the Super Nintendo and there were certainly many magazines covering the same topic at the time. What made Super Play special though was the fact that, despite being written and made in the UK, it was designed as if it were Japanese. This was even right down to the price being in both Pounds and Yen on the front cover. Nobody in the UK used the term ‘Japanese Role Playing Game’ (or JRPG) in 1993 because nobody really knew anything about the culture. Super Play made an effort to change all that.
In between the sections of video games Super Play had regular columns about Japanese comics and animated TV series and films. Names like Appleseed and Ghost In The Shell cropped up a whole but one title seemed to be lauded as the pinnacle of anime at the time. That was when I first read about Akira. Not only was it apparently a fantastic movie but it was also constantly being lined up for video game adaptations that were either poor or didn’t turn up at all.
I don’t think I ever took steps to seek out Akira though. Japanese animation seemed a whole world away from Scotland, there were certainly no streaming services to watch it on at the time and buying it would involve importing a VHS copy that may or may not work on our current VCR set up. It bypassed me for a good few years. Eventually though it was screened as a special on Channel 4 in the very early hours of the morning. I happened to flick through channels, land on it and instantly recognise the opening bike chase scene through Neo Tokyo. I stuck around and watched the whole thing. It instantly became one of my favourite films.
I always have a theory that certain themes in films are often tackled much better by those from countries who experienced such events themselves. District 9, a film made in South Africa about aliens being segregated from humans in Johannesburg is all the more compelling as it comes from a country has seen apartheid. Akira is the story about a weapon being set off that will destroy the city and its inhabitants from a country that experienced two atomic bombs.
Directed by Katsuhiro Otomo and based on his mage series of the same name Akira tells the story of the leader of a biker gang called Kaneda trying to save his friend Tetsuo from secret government experiments that turn him into a weapon. Tokyo was bombed twenty years previously in the story and it’s very possible it may happen again. This feeling of everything being one step away from destruction feeds Akira and keeps it going right until the end.
There isn’t really a frame out of place in Akira and as I watched it in my room on a 14 inch Sony TV in 1993 I was blown away. Being made in the late 80’s meant that computer technology wasn’t really up to speed yet for something like Akira’s scope. Everything in the movie is hand drawn and painted, each individual cell and it’s all the more staggering when you see it flowing. Akira was the movie that convinced me that animation can say something and not just be the reserve of Saturday morning kid’s TV. It lead into a great appreciation of Japanese art in general. Akira tapped into my love of sci fi but put a whole other cultural spin on it. For that reason it’s a high entry in my favourite film list.
Also I never got around to buying the VHS. I did buy the DVD when it came out though. I’ll probably get the bluray as well.