I seem to have the Post NaNo Greens. It’s as if my Go Valve is jammed open, I can’t stop looking for ways to keep the feeling of creative bounty alive. I haven’t had quite this level of enthusiasm for the everything of writing since achieving my M.Litt. I loved it all then, right down to sharpening my pencils, and never wanted to stop. When my dissertation supervisor said he’d be surprised if I didn’t have a book out within ten years I was delighted, I would work and work and work to get that book written. I would not disappoint him.
Then life happened. The marriage I’d been frantically trying to hold together imploded. I had to take as much work as I could get, and ended up tutoring several university courses, and running creative writing workshops for the Council in two separate towns. Writing gave way to surviving. But now everything has changed: I have a new, infinitely supportive husband, I don’t have a job, and I’ve got my mojo back. I feel I ought to capitalise on all this, it would be nuts to lose my gains, again. So I’m working on a plan to:
•Edit and redraft the novel to make it publishable.
•Keep writing so that I don’t let slip again the skill of sitting down every day and honing my craft (is that a skill or merely a habit?).
•Search out suitable publishing opportunities, and share those opportunities with other writers – I’ve always found hoarding rather vulgar, and pointless.
•I’d also like to get some grant funding so I can do the research my novel needs, which will involve some travel.
•And, I do want to create an income so my poor new husband doesn’t have to keep paying for my biscuit habit, and so I don’t have to spend hours staring at funding application forms.
The ink cartridges for my printer finally arrived. I now just need to coax the printer into printing the whole draft – it gave up after 80 pages saying the paper wasn’t suitable for the job – so the editing process is about to begin.
To keep writing during this time I thought I’d do the short story a week challenge. Just by myself, but I’ll follow Ray Bradbury’s format:
Monday: decide on an idea/premise for the story; outline it, sketch out the characters etc, and identify the key points/main conflict. I reckon I’ll do this by writing a log line (or several until I get it right).
Tuesday: draft the opening scene: establish the key characters and setting, and define the conflict and motives.
Wednesday: draft the main body of the story: build the tension, ensure the conflict is three dimensional. Get to the climax.
Thursday: draft the resolution: pull all the elements together – consequences. Conclude.
Sunday: Revise and submit.
An important part of this practise is submitting the story. I assume that’s to ensure you don’t just dash off any old crap, and feel you’re done. That won’t get your craft honed. I know I won’t have the time or energy to submit to magazines, so I’ll just publish them here on Monday mornings. Don’t worry, I won’t expect you to say anything about them.
In order not to get myself in a pickle with my fiction I’ll write these stories about the characters in the novel. I reckon this will not only keep me focussed on the book, rather than distract me from it, it will also help me get to know the secondary characters better and, therefore, make them three dimensional.
As for looking out for opportunities, and trying to get some funding, I guess that will involve a lot of googling. I’ll let you know how that goes…
Meanwhile, to pay for the biscuits and other sundries, I’ve decided to run a few workshops again. There was a time when I was running so many I lost sight of my own writing, so I stopped to get my breath, and never resumed. It’s time to resume now, not least because they were great fun to do, and teaching is a good way to learn because it involves examining all the elements of your subject in order to be able to explain it clearly. It can be exhausting, yes, but it’s a real joy to see students make work they’re proud of. I’ll start with a short course, I’m thinking six weeks, and see how it goes. I’ll let you know how I get on with designing the course as I work it out. I suspect my first step will be to venture into the loft where all my archives are. Luckily I don’t have a problem with spiders
It feels like I’ve reached a new chapter in the story of my life, I want to populate it with happy, positive people, which, in the current political climate may be a big ask, but not an impossible one.
P.S. sorry about the intrusive pop up that will have burst onto your screen when you came here, it shouldn’t happen again. I’m in the process of following one of those ‘How to Make it as a Writer’ things that proliferate on the internet. Just to see how it works. That’s another thing I’ll share here. So far, so odd!