Holy moly writing fest, Batman!

So it’s holy because, well, Easter, and there’s also been a ton of writing in the past few days. I am still healing from surgery but it’s going great, and am back at work, attending art class, and gaming nights round friends’ houses once again.

I lost the urge to write when I was stuck at home gaming on me tod, but then something interesting happened. I have been trying to write this time-travel short story for ages, and was getting hung up over the dénouement and the plot threads, when I played a videogame that pretty much used one of the story options I had (hint: it’s Fallout 4). And man, did it make me angry! Not because they used it instead of me, but because they managed to make me so caught up in the story that I properly took on the feelings of the main character. And main character was heartbroken, in denial, angry, and so was I. It fired me up to finish my time travel story, and I used one of the other story options instead (the depressing option instead of the anger-inducing option – not that either of them are that much better from each other, but hopefully will make people feel some kind of strong emotion). Nine thousand words later and the story’s submitted to an anthology. I wonder if it will get in.

But even if not, I feel pretty driven again.

This week art classes are back on, as is writing group, and we’re doing something pretty excited for the latter – I’ll be using my graphic design skills to assist the group in doing an on-the-fly cover design. Many of us in the group are interested in self-publishing at some point, so why not use a field of specialisation I already have to help them out? Plus it’ll be mega fun to experiment as a group and see what we come up with. I have no idea what the story we’ll be using as a basis will be, but I do know it’ll be something original from one of the members!

Finally, the Bath Novel Award deadline is coming up. I got my edits of City of Dis back from my old editor, so I’m polishing that to send in, and will probably send in Trees in November too if I feel I can get the writing quality up to scratch.

I may have to go and eat a ton of chocolate eggs now, because I ended up with far too many.

On Sadness Fuelling Creativity

It’s not been a great week. I’ve been seeking distractions for much of it, and some of those distractions have ended up becoming good things in themselves, but still the sadness remains when they peter out and it’s time to go home.

So I am sitting here at midday, drinking whisky far too early, because I’m caught between needing to not think, and needing to get it all out through my writing. Long story short, there are people I love who are in pain and not getting the help they need, and I don’t want to lose them.

I just keep thinking if I could write and make others feel something, maybe my loved ones would end up getting the help they need, maybe the propaganda would shift enough to cause change.

I feel hollow.

But there’s nothing I can do but keep on trying. So this week I’ve been forcing endorphins into my system by going to the gym, putting myself in a mental state where I’m able to keep going and keep creating things, and hopefully change things. It’s painful: with my own illness (EDS) I have a few extra obstacles to get over (this week’s stellar one was dislocating my middle finger, which makes writing hard, and which really reminds me I need to invest in a frogpad). The good thing about being where I am now is that I can actually afford these modifications. Others can’t. Anyway.

On Thursday evening I attended my first proper meetup with the Oslo Writer’s League (the OWLs). It was a fantastic evening, and aside from also being another thing to increase my endorphin levels, it was productive and I ended up making new friends. There were so many lovely people there, and so much good, in-depth discussion on various things. Also, turns out I already met one of the members (kind of) at a backstage event when prog guitarist Steve Hackett came to Oslo last year!

The other nice thing that happened this week is I finally received my proof copy of the story I wrote for my little sister Cara. This was meant to be her Christmas present but ended up a little delayed, and due to shipping problems, her final copy arrived in England before my proof one arrived in Norway. But the important thing is, it came out the printing process looking great, and I’ll probably write a separate thing on that.

Other nice things: it’s been cold and snowing a lot, and I love extreme weather. To top that off, the book I got in the writer’s club jackpot was about the first Western man to climb Mount Everest, so totally up my street. And another friend of mine is writing again with enthusiasm, so I’m watching her progress on her awesome fantasy story with great interest!

Behind all of this I’m trying to ignore the scratching dark tones, and get on with my writing. Considering the bad news of this week, which I’m not going into in any detail, I have not been able to handle writing City of Dis. So Nimbus edits is what we’re on. I’m 28k words in to editing, which is not bad, but god, do I just have to keep going.

I will make a fucking difference. For her sake, for all their sakes.

November begins

And so does my writing. For the remainder of this month, I will be partaking in NaNoWriMo, and for the first time in years. I’m feeling more enthused than usual about this, largely because of my writing network having expanded – I am now in touch with a lot of writers who are serious about what they’re doing, and it lends me a lot of motivation to take myself as seriously as I wish to become.

So this month I’m using to finish up Trees in November and City of Dis. It’s the perfect month, as both those stories are terribly depressing. November’s good for that. I’m only about 20k into Trees, but am much further into City of Dis, so that’s coming first. If I can get first drafts for both by the end of the month, it would be fantastic!

After Sunday I’m already off to a good start with 4k in the bag, bringing City of Dis to a total of 60k words – almost enough for a first novel – and I’m especially happy that I’ve tackled some tricky scenes from the point of view of a rather unpleasant character. I’ve had real trouble trying to connect and make that character sound natural, because there’s so little in the way he thinks that I can emulate genuinely. But last night I got some great scenes down (well, I say ‘great’, but the truth of that will become apparent in the later editing…). I’m feeling positive about tonight’s writing. With a bit of focus and application, I might actually beat this year’s NaNo challenge!

If anyone’s on the NaNo site, why not add me? My author page

A rejection and a promise.

A while back I entered the MsLexia First Novel competition for the first time. I’ve known about this competition for years, but never bucked up to do it. And it was a real heart-sinking feeling to get the rejection letter, because I had been feeling incredibly confident about entering City of Dis.

But every cloud is not without a silver lining, and I did get a nice rejection letter with a view of overall trends in this year’s submissions, which is useful if only for the fact that it makes it easier to forecast what kind of approach I should take towards future submission cover letters and the like. In addition, there were some nice comments about the quality of writing in the genre I wrote (dystopian) although I’m worried they may have mistaken my first 5000 words for YA, which the novel is not, as the content is far too adult in nature.

So: I’m checking off the bonus points for writing quality, and the bonus points for starting the dystopian adventure straight in the middle of the action, which the judges seemed to like.

I am interested to see who won the competition, as it would be good to compare their work with my own and see what I can learn from it.

And regarding MsLexia itself, it’s the first rejection that’s left me feeling this positive. I’m potentially going to be subscribing to the magazine as it seems to be a good place to nurture confidence.

My current peak of confidence might just be a case of good timing, however. I’m feeling stronger than usual after letting a friend read the first chapter last weekend. Her review was positive, and she wants to read more. So I just have to keep trucking, and will be using NaNoWriMo as a creative space to get some serious editing done.