So, here we are again… it’s been a while! Truth be told I was a bit nervous about returning to my blog. You know what it’s like, you keep promising yourself you’ll get round to it, but the longer you leave it the less able you feel to pick it up again because you’ve left it so long! Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy…! I was also wondering what to say about my conspicuous absence and fretting over explaining my lack of literary musings over the last few months… and you know what…? It really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that here we are at the beginning of another year, and the very beginning of a brand new Chinese New Year (just say Kung Hei Fat Choi and you can pretend you’re in China and know the lingo!)… which is obviously a time for resolutions and new goals; a good time to get refocused and down to business on several important fronts, not least of which being my book.
I have to confess I’ve been pondering over the relative success of my ‘write a book in a year’ goal from last year using the Weekend Novelist’s 52 week programme. I say pondering as if I look at it from a simple did I or didn’t I perspective then the answer is no, I didn’t. However, I can honestly say that whilst TWN may have helped to develop some skills it really didn’t provide the companion guide to getting a book written in a year that it promised. I faithfully did ALL the exercises and yet somehow I don’t have a complete book yet which of course is hugely disappointing. I arrived at November last year armed with sheafs of papers, print outs, notes, scribblings, half developed chapters and sections, some fairly well-formed characters and a well constructed backdrop, all of which added up to a colossal mess that I eventually managed to bring some order to by methodically going through everything, designing my chapters, moving sections around and eventually coming up with a plan that I was happy with and could write from, and write I did, but alas my goal of completing my book in six weeks was a little over ambitious and took no account of other things, like, , a day job.
The good news whilst (in my mind) I am far from finished I am really happy with all the chapters I’ve got so far and even though it will require a few edit run throughs (I’m resisting the temptation to do that as I go along but it is hard!) once finished (oh how I love that word) I am greatly encouraged by the fact that having shown my husband the first couple of pages on my Kindle (I discovered how to transfer it onto there so I could read it like a proper book – SO COOL!) he was quite impressed! OK, so he only saw two pages, but his praise (and he’s a fiercely, refreshingly honest critic!) has snapped me back into action to the point where I now have a new writing goal plan to JFDI! No TWN, just me, my goal plan, and a keyboard (and my Kindle to help me stay motivated) and in an undisclosed timeframe, I hope a book. Happy days! I should just add that there will be no more teasers about the plot… I’ve realised that when I share bits and pieces (even talking about them) somehow causes them to lose their magic before I’ve committed them to paper… but that’s ok. I will still blog on progress and life in general mainly because it helps me and I enjoy it!
So from one goal to another goal… and in the words of C.S. Lewis (he of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe fame) “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream” to which I feel the need to add another quote by Winston Churchill… “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” I’ll go with these guys
Yes, I know, you’re wondering ‘where have I heard those words before?’, and for those of you who already know the answer, yes, it’s from Rocky Horror and that old chestnut ‘the time warp’. Unfortunately the next line is ‘madness takes its toll’, ahem, well ignoring that gem for the moment, the verse actually ends with ‘but listen closely, not for very much longer, I’ve got to keep control’.
So why am I telling you all of this? Well, it’s like this. It’s October. I don’t know how it happened exactly, but the month of September swept quietly in and gustily blew out again (we had a typhoon here last week) and all the days in between seemed to be on some sort of treadmill that just kept getting faster and faster… you know, forget fleeting, time is flying!
Which brings me to my next thought. My book, and the fact that now we are in October, November is soon to be upon us. It seems hardly possible that it is almost a year since I embarked upon this journey (yuk, sorry, bad cliche), ok let’s call it a, um, a project, yeah, a project sounds much better! Anyway, the good news is, I am done with The Weekend Novelist. Yes, my careworn TWN book and I have finally parted company and it is now firmly relegated to the shelf. I know we’ve had our differences over the last year, and I am not going to bore you with some of the many spats we’ve had just recently… ok, well maybe just little one. Having gone through all the exercises for weekends 44-49, I arrived full of cheer at weekends 50-52 a good 6 weeks ahead of schedule to be told by TWN that I have ’200 pages, 300 pages, maybe more’ of a manuscript. Now I am not sure what book they’ve been writing but it sure ain’t the one I’ve been reading! I have, as I strongly suspected I would have, a somewhat motley collection of pieces of prose, dislocated scenes and repetitive exercises that should in my opinion have been a bit more, oh, what’s the word… directive, helpful, cohesive? Anyway, the good news is we’re done, through, finished and I’m going my own way a la Frank from here on in.
Still, on the plus side, I do at least have three acts plus a list of all the scenes and some well developed characters, and because of my peculiar penchant for organising, I’ve got them all nicely contained in a spreadsheet! Don’t worry, if that sounds a little too clinical (with overtones of madness – cue Richard O’Brien) for something that is after all a creative process that has more to do with a love of words than numbers, I promise you it isn’t. It is however, a means of control (cue Richard again). In fact it has been a life saver… as with each exercise that TWN has thrown at me, I’ve diligently (and at times, I’ll admit, grudgingly) transferred the scenes across to the spreadsheet, and derived immense satisfaction from having something that was dauntingly uncontrollable (my 24/7 imagination) licked into shape and set out in a simple reference format that is making it very easy to just write everything up as whole chapters.
Yes, you heard me correctly – I did say whole chapters, and yes that does mean that the final write up has begun. It is a bit of a lonely pastime, and one that I am not totally convinced I am suited to. But what I may lack in enjoying solitary tranquility I more than make up for in will power and determination which is exactly why a first draft of this book will be finished in (gulp!) less than 6 weeks time! Unfortunately – or maybe fortunately, who knows – I have just discovered a few old (surprisingly good) scribblings which I have decided to add in to my plans but listen closely, so the story of The Enchanted Emporium is coming to life and my characters are about to reach the exciting climax where all will be revealed (well almost all, I have to keep a few secrets back!), but even as time is fleeting, you don’t have to wait for very much longer……
I love the word moment. For such a small word it holds so much potential. You hold your breath ‘for a moment’ to hear the outcome of something important. You shout ‘just a moment’ when you dash back into the house to grab something important that you can’t leave home without (in my case, that’s normally the car keys and my credit card). We face ‘moments of truth’ all the time, when we have to make those difficult decisions that we’d really rather not but have to nonetheless, and we live, or at least we are encouraged to live ‘for the moment’. We also have ‘moments’ all the time (personally I have a lot!) when we forget things, feel a little disorientated, or just can’t think straight.
But do you also have those ‘life is good’ moments? You know, when you catch yourself looking out at the world and thinking ‘yeah, this is pretty amazing’ with a great big smile on your face? OK, so everyone around you probably looks at you like you’re stark raving bonkers but who cares, right? It’s a good feeling in that moment that no one can touch… and usually gives me goosebumps. Sometimes, moments can become momentous, the addition of three little letters makes all the difference and turns a seemingly simple moment into a historic occasion.
I’ve been lucky enough to have quite a few this week (moments that is, not momentous occasions, although maybe one or two will prove otherwise!). Anyway, if all my moments from the week add up to some sort of karmic bank balance then I think I went dangerously close to being in the red yesterday morning when a jolly troop of workmen started digging up the road at 8.30am with a pneumatic drill… the road in question being the one right outside my house. Noise aside, the reverberation shuddered right through with the force of a 100 washing machines being on full spin at the same time!
Needless to say my quiet blog time has been deferred until to now and the wonderfully peaceful sound of silence. Thank goodness for Sundays!
So back to my ‘moments’. OK, so first up, I went to the ballet last Sunday to see Swan Lake. I’d forgotten how amazing dance can be in telling a story, it was beyond mesmerising. It was stunning to the point of moving… there were a lot of tissues being discreetly passed around and eyes being subtly dabbed at the end let me tell you – the dramatic portrayal of the story was THAT good. Sniff…
Next up, we had a big meeting at work for all staff this week, which involved complex logistical links via video with other offices across Asia and a lot of work for the senior company figure who was presenting… anyway, long story short, everything went really well, but what gave me goosebumps was watching the audience drink in a short video clip that featured some inspirational words set to music and then hearing the senior figure speak. It was electric. It reminded me why I like doing what I do, writing speeches, writing articles, writing anything that moves people, that gives them ‘a moment’… I love it, I love the impact and I love the fact that people might think differently about things as a result.
Which leads me neatly on to my next ‘moment’. Out for dinner on Friday with some close friends I was chatting to a teacher from the UK. As we talked and moaned about the current situation in the UK and compared it to the rest of the world, she recounted how she had taken several parties of students abroad to the Gambia and to India. The bit that gave me goosebumps listening to her though was the fact that having taken these inner city students from in many cases impoverished backgrounds (but by third world standards, incredibly privileged) to countries where just surviving from day to day is a challenge, the kids came back changed. Changed, humbled and with a new outlook on life. That’s the bit I love. Again with the change bit, but a change, I am sure in the majority of cases, for the better. What a fantastic legacy and what an amazing opportunity for those students.
Needless to say, all these ‘moments’ just kept bringing me back to my book. So here I am with a clear Sunday afternoon ahead of me to spend writing my last Act. I know I have lots of moments already built in so I am feeling quite inspired to write more in to the ending… after all this is why I write. I want to change the world. Oops, rewind! Er, did I just say I want to change the world!? Rather a lofty ambition that! All I can say in response to that incredibly idealistic aspiration is this… a very short story that I heard a long time ago on a leadership development course and that really resonated with me (yes, even more than yesterday’s pneumatic drill did!). I apologise in advance if I’ve blogged about it before, but some things are just too good not to repeat.
Basically, the story goes like this… it’s early morning and a little girl is walking along the beach holding hands with her father. There’s been a huge storm the night before and although the sky is still a little overcast, the sun is rapidly burning the clouds away bringing with it the promise of a scorching hot summer’s day. As they walk further along the beach they come across a few starfish, then a few more, then literally hundreds upon hundreds of starfish that have been uprooted from their normal shelters by the ferocity of the storm and catapulted onto the shore to face the blazing sunshine that will kill them. Aghast at the fate the starfish are facing, the little girl starts carefully picking them up one by one and putting them back into the water, calling for her father to help her. Her father looks at her with a seasoned smile and says ‘there’s too many of them, you can’t possibly make a difference’, to which the little girl replies (continuing to place one starfish back in the water after another) ‘I know, but look, it’s made a difference to that one, and that one, and that one…’.
Sigh.. that story gets me every time. I love it. I want to be like that little girl – making a difference however large or small, just making a difference somehow. Just like the ballet dancers, just like the work video and just like the experience those students had.
I’ve got a bit, ok, a lot, of work to do, but if I can make the moments in my book real for children so that it makes them think that the impossible is possible then that could just be something momentous. I have goosebumps all over again…
Remember that really annoying song from the 80s? The one performed by people with long hair that you just couldn’t escape and once you’d heard you couldn’t get it out of your head? Well that’s where I’m at (minus the long hair) with my book. Quite topical too I feel considering all the rioting in the UK this week I feel!
Anyway, so my computer’s having a few issues this morning. It doesn’t want to open pages for me, doesn’t want to recognise my keystrokes and certainly doesn’t want to open new programmes. I know exactly how it feels.
Staying up until 3am last night or rather this morning seemed like a good idea at the time… doesn’t it always?! When the wine is flowing and you have good conversation anything is possible!
This morning is a slightly different matter altogether. I sit here with coffee in hand, two pieces of toast and marmite later (YUM!) still pondering what else I can devour to quench my post drinking munchies!
So apart from last night’s minor hiccough (I know, I think it is a strange way to spell something that’s pronounced hiccup too, but there you go) that saw rather a few glasses of wine disappear I have been pretty good on the get fit front this week. Two swims (soooo happy to be back swimming) and one yoga session, which I am still aching from!
On the book front, well, er, not so good a report I’m afraid. I did get up early (honest, I really did!), but the time I set aside for me and The Enchanted Emporium and Jemima to catch up got utterly usurped by work – proper work, you know the stuff they pay you to do? So no time. That sounds like such a lame excuse doesn’t it!? Well excuse or not, that was the nature of the week just gone… when the financial markets went crazy after the US got downgraded, my Sunday (aka my designated writing day last weekend) disappeared in a flurry of frenetic activity as everyone scrambled to implement the planned response… yeah, so that would be my Sunday gone, followed by my writing time, followed by a week of craziness.
So, here I am, Saturday morning, surprisingly awake and alert (although I am far from functioning on all cylinders) considering the late night I had, but I am pleased to tell you that the coffee and toast is having the desired recuperative effect.
Anyway, the book. Sigh… I’ve got myself to the end, well to the beginning of the end if you see what I mean.
My trusty companion on this yearlong journey (well, companion anyway, trusty is probably giving it too much credence) The Weekend Novelist (TWN) did make me laugh when I read through what weekends 44-49 are meant to cover. It starts with this ‘Act Three is the End. There is no going back from here.’ Hmmm… you think!? OK, so leaving the sarcasm aside (sorry, I’m tired and maybe just the teensiest but cranky!), TWN tells me that Act Three is where I bring back objects from Plan B (crikey that was a loooong time ago – weekends 15-20 to be precise), and can anyone remember did we ever discover what Plan A was? OK, sorry, I deviate. Plan B. Right. So, Act Three is about resolution. It’s about gathering your characters together for the final showdown.
TWN has helpfully given a recap of story structures, which in my humble opinion would have been a whole lot more use at the beginning of the book but there you go as I need to ‘refocus on the shape’ of my plot. Easy. No worries. Fine and dandy. I just have to follow the TWN’s exercises which include writing up my climax using the ‘down the page’ technique, writing an approach to the climax, writing the threshold crossing scene from Act Two to Act Three, creating a chain of events connecting Plot Point 1 (I am trying to remember what that was too!) with the climax, making a list of scenes for Act Three and then writing the scenes. Much the same as I did for putting together Act Two then. Then I’m done. Well, almost. Obviously there’s the small matter of going back to the beginning and writing all the scenes up. Then I’ll have my book. Done. Finished. Completed. Then the editing can begin. Let the final countdown begin! Na na na naaa, na na na na naaaa….
It’s Friday, it’s 6.06am and it’s blog time!
Funnily enough, I wasn’t intending to get up and do a post this morning, but seeing as I woke up just before my alarm went off (as I seem to tend to do generally), I kind of came to and thought time to get up and do some writing! I was actually going to get on with the book but I felt drawn to blog and divest myself of all those random thoughts that have accumulated in my brain since we last spoke.
Talking of random thoughts, I have to admit I was also motivated to rise and shine by my husband… not because he was wide and awake and encouraging, not because he was snoring too loudly, but because he was dreaming, and dreaming loudly. I know, you’re curious now, how can someone dream loudly? By talking in their sleep. Actually I rather like it, I find it very endearing, and rather naughtily I sometimes, just sometimes, try and join in the fun by attempting a gentle dream conversation with him, which to my great delight occasionally works but more often than not results in him waking up and looking at ME like I’m mad for asking him a strange question like ‘who did you say put Ribena in the kettle?!’ OK, so I made that one up, but you get the gist . I didn’t bother attempting to engage in dream dialogue this morning as I was too intent on getting up, although I am still curious as to who he was dreaming we were having dinner with as I heard him telling someone to choose the best wine as they were much better at it and to make sure it wasn’t Chardonnay as Trina isn’t keen on it’… I have to say I was impressed that even in his dreams he remembers what wines I like and don’t like My reverie was interrupted as I got up though as he followed this comment with ‘so you’ve got both legs working now then?’…! I can’t wait to find out what that was about!
I love love love these waking moments. I know I’ve said it before but there is something just totally magical about the night turning into day time and day to night times of the day. The morning especially… the sun’s now up here and casting a beautiful golden orangey pink glow everywhere that somehow makes everything and anything seem possible again. No wonder the ancient Egyptians worshipped it…
Anyway, enough ruminations for now and on to other things! After an amusing (although it wasn’t at the time) start to the week which saw me bang my funny bone on the wardrobe door as I was putting a hangar back in it (getting ready for work) causing me to drop the hangar which somehow clocked me on the head and grazed my lips on its downward descent. Nursing my elbow as we left the house I noticed that the hangar had obviously picked up some of my lipstick when it clonked me which it had deposited on my clean on top. As if that wasn’t bad enough, during my examination of said top as I tottered in my high heels across to the car I felt my right foot tread down on something soft and squidgy… yep it was a present from one of the neighbourhood dogs. The air was a bit blue for a while, as you can imagine!
Been a busy week at work (isn’t it always?) but I’ve managed the gym twice this week, or at least I will have after today, which is cool. What a difference it makes! It is sooo great to fit it in during a lunch hour! I love it!
So, to the book. I have good news. I have got to the end of Act Two! I have listed out my scenes, written them, built my subplots (I think, although they made need a little help in the editing and rewriting when I come to that), made it to my midpoint and plot point 2 and dipped into character rituals to add more spice. Oh yeah and I saved my work (as the TWN advises me to do… DER!). It’s ok, I think. I like it at least so that’s what counts right? It’s been a bit of a struggle to fit everything in, and in fact, a lot has come out but other things have changed around so that they make a better story. The hardest bit (for me anyway) is the plant and payoff bits… I keep thinking of things I need to go back and weave in earlier in the story for them to make sense later and help move the plot along. I need to come up with a way of capturing them as I think of them (which inevitably is now later in the book as I’m wading through Act Two and shortly Act Three) so that when I come to do my editing (god how I look forward to that day!) I can pop them in. I know it sounds simple, but trust me it isn’t, especially when I seem to have so many things going on – maybe that’s the problem, I need to take more out… but then my subplots won’t be so good and intriguing. Arrggghh! Deep sighs… the frustrations of being a write eh? Still better to have too much than not enough I guess!
Anyway, all this means I am now on the final stretch… GULP! Weekends 44-49 beckon me. I have to get Jemima and her new found friends and enemies to the climax of the book, making sure that ‘each event has a large action that connects to earlier parts of the book’ (TWN again). I also have to make a list of scenes again and then, of course, write them. No worries. sounds easy eh? Well, we’ll see. I do already know what happens at the end, but I suspect (as with much of the rest of the book) that as I come to give it more shape and depth it will (I hope) develop, grow and change to become something even more magical… a bit like the sun rising on a landscape and slowly lighting it up. Aaaahhh…
Sorry, bad cliche, I know. Couldn’t resist a moment of sickly sweet prose there. I promise those are reserved solely for my musings and random thoughts on this blog! OK, so it’s almost time to get ready for work… so I’d better go wake my husband up out of his blissful sleep talking dream state (do love that about him) and get the coffee going. I was about to say that I hope the end of the week isn’t quite so dramatic, no, traumatic (!) as the start but I don’t want to tempt fate. Suffice to say, it’s Friday, it’s almost the weekend, and that means long lay ins and even longer spells of writing for me. YAY!!!
It wasn’t exactly my intention to be up quite this early today… the sun isn’t even up yet and it is a Sunday morning. However owing to a combination factors (late night Friday, hangover Saturday, early bed Saturday night and intermittent snoring by my better half) I find myself grudgingly awake, albeit a little sleepy eyed, so no excuses, it’s blog time. Then book time.
It looks like it will be another stunning sunrise today – there’s a gorgeous orangey gold hue rising up from behind the mountains that gives them this mystical outline that is just incredible and invites adventure. As the halo like glow around the mountains increases in colour to a deeper hot orange, the daylight tickles the water and reflects the colours to make merry ripples that glint and glisten like millions of rubies just laying on the surface. Seriously, it’s breathtaking to watch. I hate the word awesome with its new found fame in the American vernacular, but it is an apt word to describe the view from my lounge… especially if you say it with an English accent and add the ‘simply’ before it. Somehow makes it less banal and more descriptive don’t you think? So with this morning’s sunrise duly noted and enjoyed I can now return to the tasks at hand, blog and book.
But first a little taster of what the rest of the landscape has looked like for me this week. I finally joined a gym, and yes I have already used it – albeit under pressure – when asked when I wanted the membership to start I said next week please (give myself time to psyche myself up for the challenge I thought) to which the membership lady (called Moon!) brusquely but nicely replied ‘next week, why not start tomorrow, don’t put it off!’. 15 mins later I was a member of the gym. Had there been a class I could have attended that lunchtime I think Moon would have whisked me in there quicker than I could have said ‘warm up’ but fortunately the class had already started so I was spared for the day. The next day however I rediscovered the art of making your lunch hour go further by getting away from your desk, and I went for a swim (first time in like, oh, a year… or more maybe) and Thursday I went to a yoga class. I’ll be frank with you, the combination nearly rendered me incapable of moving when I woke up on Friday. Simple tasks like lifting a cup of coffee or reaching for a pen resulted in a sharp reminder of my exercise efforts and the fact that I am woefully out of condition! Suffice to say I gave myself a break from exercise on Friday (I had lunch plans anyway) and probably undid all the good work by going out for a few drinks (ok, maybe more than a few) on Friday night. Sigh… ah well, one step at a time eh?
Alas I haven’t done any early morning musings for the book this week, as despite making a few early starts, they have all been purely for work so no opportunity to sneak in a blog post or a little writing time. I was up early enough to grab a seat on the MTR the whole way through to Central one morning though, so that did give me the chance to at least do a bit of scribbling, plus in the absence of a seat, I have become quite adept at finding something firm to hold onto (no tittering, please, it’s only just 6am) then closing my eyes to shut out the bustling masses and popping into Jemima’s life to see what’s happening. Coffee in hand I then generally arrive at work brimming with so many ideas and plot updates that I have to spend the first 10 mins at work jotting them all down so I don’t forget. I think I must have filled about 6 or 7 pages worth this week alone.
I had a very (and I mean VERY to the point of practically non-existent) half hearted attempt yesterday at getting down some thoughts for the book, which mainly consisted of placing my laptop on my lap and staring at it for 10 mins, typing in about 4 paragraphs (the post exercise aches having eased considerably) before giving into the inevitable fried egg sandwich to aid the hangover recovery process and taking to the couch to watch a movie or three. Actually I discovered a TV series called The Event (free to view and on demand so even better) which was easy viewing fodder. The nicest part of yesterday though was after having ventured out to retrieve some dry cleaning and stock up on meatballs from Ikea (random, I know, but they’re so yum and sooo easy to cook when you get home plus my freezer was feeling lost without a couple of packets to look after) we retired to our roof with a large G&T (ice and a slice included of course) and laid on our sun loungers to look at the night sky. Ha, maybe they should be renamed moon loungers when you use them at night, anyway, there wasn’t a moon but, there were a LOT of twinkling, blinking, shining stars out as it was a beautifully clear night and I even saw a few shooting ones! Awesome (oops, sorry for repeating the dreadful word, but again please pronounce withEnglish decorum, you can add the word ‘quite’ this time if you’d prefer). Anyway, after losing in a competition to my husband to count the number of stars we could see (he saw tons more than I did) we both gave up when we got to about 132 and resumed our sipping of our G&Ts – before I started dozing off and headed for bed. I know, ever the romantic me eh!?
So, to the book. Well, despite my horological protestations, it seems my daydreaming moments on the MTR have proved quite helpful as I’m looking at what I’ve got down in preparation for a few hours of writing today and I have to say everything’s looking pretty good for Act Two now. It meant a bit of playing around with Act One (again, groan) but I am happy with the results and interested to see how Act Three will turn out as a result.
So, today is all about finishing off weekends 34-43. I have the list of scenes, I have subplots (which in my humble opinion are not bad), I’ve got my midpoint (it’s a cracker… sooo glad I rescued it from being the Act One climax) and now I just need to get to ‘Plot Point 2′. You remember Plot Point 2 right? It concerns ‘a dramatic reversal to end Act 2 and begin Act 3, which is about confrontation and resolution’. Think ship sinking in Titanic (the midpoint being when it struck the iceberg). So basically, it’s usually either the moment where the hero/ heroine has had enough and finally faces off the to Antagonist or it’s the low-point for from which they must bounce back to overcome the odds in Act 3.
No pressure then.
At this point in time, I have NO idea what that looks like. OK, so that’s not strictly true… I suppose I have a vague sort of loose scene floating around in my head and I know where the story is headed, so I guess I will just have to go with that. I have to say a lot of this writing lark comes from just feeling your way through stuff which means I seriously have to pack my editorial organising left brain away and ignore it, which let me tell you is easier said than done! Although having said that, over the course of writing this post, which is, as you can see, a little shorter and sweeter than my normal ramblings, I’ve managed to faff about with toast, coffee (second cup just about to be made), surfing for plot point two info and illustrative examples (for me as much as for you!), and two left brain/ right brain tests (one of which said I was completely left brain dominant and one which said I was right brain dominant – go figure!). Given my propensity for day dreaming and general faffability, I am think the latter was probably more correct… Either that or I am losing the plot completely, pardoning the pun!
Anyway, all this musing is not going to get my book written so it’s back to my scenes (and my own little stars in the shape of my characters) and my plotting for the end of Act Two. Let’s see what ‘awesome’ things I can get them to do. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store for Jemima as she heads into Act Three especially. Which brings me straight back to exercise and the task of getting my right brain back in training (along with the rest of my body) to dream its way through all manner of work outs to see what the day brings for Jemima and her friends… more coffee anyone?
I spent yesterday afternoon on a call about the Eurozone debt crisis (which I have to say was interesting and enlightening, not my normal fodder to accompany an afternoon cup of tea but fascinating nonetheless), during which I managed to organise my printed work into files. They were already nicely divided up amongst coloured plastic files with labels on, but it was such a drag having to flick through them to find the file I needed that I decided drastic action was needed. I sought out the stationary cupboard man and managed to gain access into the inner sanctum. What an utter treasure trove! In addition to amassing a wedge of hanging files I also came away with post-its, pens, paper clips, staples, highlighters and all manner of totally unnecessary bits and bobs that I didn’t need, but were just irresistible! Sigh… (that was me sighing just at the memory!)
Anyway, so I am organised at work and yes I do still alphabetise (that sounds like an incredibly American word doesn’t it? I came across another word this week which I am studiously trying to avoid using – ‘socialise’ – ugh!) my DVDs and CDs… does that make me over organised? Can there be such a thing?
It’s official, I like to have things ‘in order’, or do silly things like making sure that whatever time I set my alarm for, the numbers always add up to 6 (yeah, I know weird huh – goodness only knows where that little foible came from!). Over the years I’ve done countless personality questionnaires and stuff (I love them!) the most recent fun one I did told me I was a big thinker. Cool eh! One told me I was an extrovert (no kidding!), but one of the best ones I ever did was a colour one – I was yellow which made me a motivating inspiring type I like! I can still recall the tutor going through the report with me and saying “you’re a bit of a WYSIWIG aren’t you?” On seeing my blank look she explained to me this was ‘what you see is what you get’ which at the time I thought was a little shallow, and felt a little affronted by such a flimsy description of my personality, thinking ‘there’s a lot more to me than what people see’. Well, yes, maybe there is, but actually, I’ve come to realise I am in fact a pretty open person and (OCD issues aside) generally speaking I’m me, organised and creative, imaginative and logical and a lot more (honest!)… all of which I can see reflected in my book and all of which have shaped the way I’ve approached the book – with a need to get all my creative thoughts down and organise them into something meaningful…
But everyone apparently has their own little foibles! I tell you, my daily trips on the MTR are an absolute treat in terms of people watching… and I LOVE people watching! I sat next to someone last night who literally couldn’t sit still. He wasn’t fidgeting as such, he was just, well, very OCD I think! First he got his phone out, then he out it away again, only to bring it out at least 20 more times (I lost count after that) in the space of like 2 minutes… always replacing it in the same little pocket on his bag and doing the clip up. I mean, there’s checking your phone and then there’s obsessing about someone calling you right!? Anyway, as if that wasn’t irritating enough, in between the phone thing he would tuck his hair behind his left ear, then his right ear and then his left ear again before flicking it out of his eyes and then delving back into his bag to start the phone thing again. You get the picture! Come his stop to get off, the phone and the hair were given a rest (finally!) only be to be replaced by him thrumping a tag on his bag against the bag’s handle (which was surprisingly and annoyingly quite loud!) and alternately jigging his knees up and down. I was exhausted just watching him and heaved a huge sigh of relief when at long last he exited the train!
Anyway, I may not be that bad, but I have become a bit OC about my book. I have been carrying it around with me, well all the various pieces of it, everyday and practically every spare moment has been taken up with it. Although spare time this week has been a bit thin on the ground, I’ve still whipped it out at every opportunity and just immersed myself in Necwishter’s murky goings on and uncovering the secret of the Enchanted Emporium.
So, where am I actually up to? Well, I am working my way through weekends 34-43 at the moment which is all about getting Act 2 sorted. It’s been a bit of a long process this bit, but I think we’re getting there now… I’m sure no one else has chopped and changed their story around so much as I have these last few weeks. When I think back to how I was going to start it off… well suffice to say it would been a bit like taking off for the Seychelles or somewhere equally exotic and landing in the Isle of Wight (no disrespect, but it ain’t the Seychelles) i.e. I had a great start but poor old Jemima had nowhere to really go after it. So…. now the start is incorporated into Act One and is a much better set up for Act Two which now leads to a great midpoint (originally my Act One climax) which kicks off all manner of actions that have my heroine and her trust companions hurtling towards a major showdown with Malvekeer.
My task for this weekend (according to my TWN guide) is to make ‘back story connections’, do a ‘list of scenes’ for both halves of Act Two, then ‘write the scenes’ and ‘build those subplots’ all of which is rounded off with the prudent advice of ‘saving your work’.. der!
Fortunately, my slightly over organised and over eager brain has already pretty much done the back story bit… I just couldn’t help myself! I was so worried I was going to miss a few tricks and what writers call ‘plants and payoffs’ (get me eh!? I almost sound like I know what I’m on about) that as I drafted out my scenes for Act One (yes, in a spreadsheet) I added a column for ‘questions to be answered’ which of course, gives me the material for Act Two. Yay! See, being organised and methodical can be good!
Anyway, Act Two is pretty much formed in my head and on paper now, although I am not sure what the TWN is on about when it talks about writing ‘scenes from my storyboards’, not come across those before I don’t think. Well, not in relation to the book writing. God I wish they had an index for the book – authors and publishers take note – an index would be VERY helpful, as would a glossary! So, storyboards aside, Act Two is about to take shape properly and become more than just a figment of my imagination – or indeed my neurotic organisational tendencies – and come alive. Which means switching off my editorial, organising left side of my brain for a while and switching on my right side creative brain… and yes that does sound awfully like a split personality! I assure you it’s not, at least I don’t think it is! More to do with organising (back to that again!) your thoughts and making them work for you, so to anyone who ever said I was mad, quirky, over enthusiastic, (I got turned down for a job once on that excuse!), then you know what, yep, that’s me!
What can I tell you… WYSIWYG