Books!

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The image is pinched from the Goodreads website.

If you have an interest in books, Goodreads is a good place to go and find out what is going on.

As the year turned, the site sent me an automated mail. It was asking me how many books I was going to read this year. Not something that I have ever thought about before.

“50” I typed confidently.

“50?” People were incredulous.

“Are you counting menus?”

“You are supposed to read every word, you know.”

A witty lot my Facebook friends.

I suspect that I will comfortably get through a hundred in a year. Once I get into a book, I can finish it in a sitting or two. Offer me the TV or a book and I’ll take the book every time.

Predominantly I read on my Kindle. I had resisted this device, absolutely convinced of my love for the physical manifestation of a book. I still do buy the odd book. Non-fiction especially. The Kindle however is a marvel. On holiday I can have thirty novels, all in my back pocket. Should I run out, I can find some wifi and buy thirty more. Its easy, convenient and cheaper. I am a convert.

Reading is a double-edged sword for me. I enjoy reading ‘as a writer’, where I am mindful of the craft that the author has put into the words.

However, I also get intimidated. When I find myself at the end of a novel, taken there on a page-turning rush, I doubt whether I might ever enthuse a reader in quite the same way.

Now, got to rush, time for a couple of chapters before lunch.

 

Editing

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That is the Danube flowing between Buda and Pest.

I have two first drafts. Catchily titled “Sean 1” and “Sean 2”. The first was completed in a burst of writing in October. The second is my NaNoWriMo novel; blitzed out entirely in November.

I suspect that they are both quite crap. I am reassured that this is almost invariably the case and that the real work comes, not in producing a first draft, but in editing and rewriting until that draft becomes a polished bit of writing.

I have had a couple of weeks off and Sean 1 was done and dusted a month and a half ago. I have some distance. I feel ready to think about some editing.

I have been taking a course in editing with the fantastic Anne Rainbow. Well worth looking at her site for information on Scrivener (excellent software to write on) and Red Pen Training (Anne’s approach to editing).

The first question that I need to address is:

“Do I have two first drafts or, two halves of one first draft?”

I had intended to pose this question here in the blog, on twitter tonight at #writingchat, and by email to Anne. However, in looking out the photo above and writing this post, I arrived at the answer all on my own.

Buda and Pest were born as separate cities. As more and more bridges were built across the Danube, they became interdependent, until at last they came to be known as Budapest. So it is with Sean 1 and 2.

Right now, I have a big chunky first draft that needs some pruning.

Time to get to work.

Winner!

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On the first of November, I set out on a challenge to write 50,000 words of a first draft. All of the writing had to be done in the calendar month of November.

Today, the 24th of November, I validated my novel through the NaNoWriMo website and have been officially declared a Winner.

Officially, a Winner has a validated word count of 50,000 words or more.

In reality, the challenge is all about learning one’s own possibilities. A winner is one who can develop a daily writing habit. A winner is one who can sit before a blank screen with a blank brain and still churn out words.

Writing is hard work and graft. Just like any other human endeavour, a winner is one who has realised that perspiration and perseverance are as important, if not more important, than inspiration.

Now, I have two first drafts. I am going to complete a couple of tasks on the one that I have just finished, then print it and put it in a drawer with its predecessor. I have some corporate bits and pieces to keep me busy for a while and I will come back to the first drafts after Christmas.

I am going to catch up with some reading, some blogging and some chores around the house.

First though, I’m going to have another glass of wine.

Perseverance

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Hello there. It’s been a while.

I have been a busy, busy boy.

I am writing this on November 17th.

Just over half way through National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo for short.

Simple concept, write 50,000 words of a novel in a month.

As of right now my count stands at 37,671 words. Ahead of target.

I have learned a lot of things about writing in these few days, which I will undoubtedly share when the month is over. For the moment though, I have this:

Perseverance. Writing is about perseverance.

To write a novel requires nothing more than perseverance. To write a good one? That, I suspect, takes a little more, but to get to a good one, you need a first draft – and a first draft takes…you’ve got it; perseverance.

I began the challenge believing that it was all about the novel. Now halfway through, I realise that the challenge is about the practice of writing.

Creative muse? Pah! If and when the muse turns up, I am sure it’s fabulous. Most of the time however its just me and the keyboard (oh and the dog of course).

I’m off to persevere for a bit.

First draft party!

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First draft of ‘Sean 1’ is nearly complete.

I have been toiling away, determined to finish the first draft of my first novel by the end of October. It is Saturday the 24th and I am a chapter and a half away. With a fair wind, I will declare the first draft done by the end of the weekend.

I am thinking that I might throw a party.

It would be quite a small party; just the dog and I, probably.

To anyone else, it’s not really a big deal. I will print off the draft, put it into a file and then hide it in a drawer. Not really cause for a party is it?

The dog and I know different. The dog and I have sat staring at the screen together, fighting the urge to get on Facebook and watch cats driving cars. The dog and I have argued about whether Sean should eat breakfast or have a shower. (Actually, I am not sure that the dog has contributed much to these arguments, but they have definitely happened.)

All the smart people say that a break is essential before unleashing the inner editor, so into the drawer it will go.

For the statisticians, Sean 1 stands at 51,000 words or so at the moment.

What’s next?

As you may remember, I am throwing myself into ‘Sean 2’. The aim is the write the first draft of the second novel in the calendar month of November.

As a consequence of all this industry, the blog has been a bit quiet.

What do you think of the new look? I’m having trouble posting photos right now, but I am sure that the Tech team will sort me out soon enough.

The idea is that you can use the box top right called ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ to search by category and therefore only read posts on things that interest you.

Let me know what you think of it.

‘Sean 1’ has taken 8 months. I am putting aside 1 month for ‘Sean 2.’

To quote a friend, “How bad could it be?”

Novel Challenge? Bring it on.

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I am taking on the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge to produce a 50,000 word first draft in November.

As a warm up, I am completing a draft for Novel number 1 in October.

If all goes to plan then at the end of November, I will have two novels in draft form.

At the time of writing, the word count on Novel number 1 stands at 40,701.

As you may gather, I am feeling ever so slightly pleased with myself.

All right, I am feeling very smug and unbearably cocky.

This, of course, is a harbinger of impending doom.

But I am ready for whatever challenge is coming my way.

It turns out, that writing lots of words can actually be quite easy.

The trick is to banish one’s internal editor to the naughty step. He is not allowed back in my head until the two drafts are completed.

It is incredibly liberating to just let the words flow with scant regard for quality.

In effect, I am probably writing drivel.

I daresay that the editing will be quite a challenge when the time comes, but I have a secret weapon.

My own personal “Editing Jedi” who is teaching me the ways of The Force.

It’s more of the ‘Red Pen’ than The Force, but it’s equally powerful and well worth a look if you are learning to write effectively.

 

Did I mention I was writing a novel?

NaNoWriMoOn the 22nd February 2015, I started this blog.

I hoped to use it to record a journey from “I would like to write a book” to “I have written a book.”

I might also post the odd observation about the world in general.

This is post fifty-four.

So, fifty three posts in 7 months or so. Just under two a week.

Hardly prolific, but not bad, I reckon.

I have dribbled on about politics, IT struggles and even blogged from A to Z in a month.

This will be the twentieth post that has the category ‘Writing’ attached to it.

The novel got started at around the same time as the blog. By the ninth of March, thirteen thousand five hundred words were in the bag. I had set myself a minimum of five hundred words per working day and was going at almost twice that pace. Easy this novel writing.

I thought I might take a day or two off.

By the twelfth of July, I still had 13,500 words in the bag. Four months gone. Disappeared in a puff of smoke.

Time to get the shoulder to the wheel again. On the seventeenth of July, the word count stood at 18,782.

What had I learned?

Firstly, time flies when you are avoiding novel writing.

Secondly, one thousand words per working day was not exactly a stretch. If I could write ten words, I seemingly had no problem writing a thousand.

On the twenty eighth of September, the word count STILL stood at 18,782.

Somehow, I had mislaid another two and a bit months.

Seven months after becoming a self-proclaimed writer, I had actually produced 18,782 words or an average of 125 words per working day.

The really striking thing was that actual days spent on the novel was eighteen, at an average of 1043 per day.

If I am going to actually produce any novels, then I need to focus on those first ten words of each day.

This led me to NaNoWriMo, which is possibly the worst acronym type thing in history.

That such a cumbersome lump of letters was produced by cooperative of writers is a beautiful irony.

It stands for National Novel Writing Month.

Without going all technical on you, a bunch of lunatic writers commit to producing a 50,000 word draft entirely in the month of November.

It’s not strictly policed, there is no prize and you don’t actually have to pay anything.

There is a large internet forum and more localised writing groups.

Here the lunatics can whine, laugh, cry, rant or even have constructive conversations and offer each other support.

That’s about it.

“The very thing for me!”

I immediately signed myself up as a NaNoWriMo lunatic.

The thing is, I can’t really use my current draft. It really needs to be a new one.

In actual fact, there is nothing at all to stop me from doing what I like, but it seems silly to sign up and then not follow the rules.

Fear not – I came up with a solution.

“I’ll finish the draft for the first novel in October, then do the second novel as my NaNoWriMo draft. Perfect!”

This stroke of genius hit me on the 28th of September.

Allow me to summarise.

Each November writers the world over get involved in trying to produce 50,000 word drafts of their novel. Many succeed. Many fail. Many go slightly mad trying.

In order to ‘do it properly’, I have decided to, in effect, do it twice.

Once in October to finish the draft of my first novel and then again in November to finish a draft of my second.

I really need to have a good look at my reasoning process. Something is seriously wrong there.

And yet…

The word count on Novel 1 now stands at 31,037

So, if you’ll excuse me I have to dash.

I’m writing two novels you see.

Writing Again

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Patient things, characters.

Three months I had been away, charging about doing this and that.

Doing anything but writing.

I return to my manuscript and there he is, just where I left him.

I refer to the hero of my novel, Sean.

Given that I had left him in a bar chatting up a very attractive girl, its not really surprising that he was in no rush to move on.

I have posted elsewhere that I simply was busy and that this is why I was neglecting young Sean and not writing. It is true, there has been a lot on.

However, as Sean moved us forward on Monday, I came to realise that I might be a bit shy.

No, seriously.

You see, things in the bar were going well. Sean was ‘in’. All things being equal, Sean was going to get some bedroom action with Natalia.

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The Hard Rock Cafe Budapest – Photo Courtesy of Edith Medcalf.

I wrote a post on writing sex before.

I did, in fact, leave Sean and Natalia to it. He seemed pretty confident that he knew what he was doing. They went off to his room, I went off to mine and we all got together in the morning and moved on.

How very grown up of us.

Once again, life is throwing things at me, but this time, I am reluctant to leave Sean. I am anxious to learn where we are off to next, what we are going to get up to, what new people we are going to meet.

I am enjoying this writing lark.

Ben Adams. Living the Dream – Writing

 

An Author’s Life

The link above will take you to the blog of Ben Adams, a very dear friend of mine.

Well actually, not a very dear friend. We have never actually met.

Ben Adams

Dashingly handsome though isn’t he?

I stole the picture from his website – so he is doubtless lining up a cohort of solicitors to take me for every penny I’ve got.

We might have swapped the odd blog comment, or even twatted each other – sorry, I think that should read “tweeted each other” – but Ben is fast becoming a mentor to me.

He has done it, you see. He has written a book and published it. I know he has actually sold some, because I bought one. Counting his Mum and the ones he bought himself, he must be in double figures now at least.

Don’t tell anyone – but it is actually pretty good. Buy the Kindle version here

A couple of months ago, Ben took the huge step of resigning a perfectly good job to focus on being a writer.

Nutter.

He is soon to publish another novel! That will put him ahead of Harper Lee in terms of output at least.

How envious am I?

He’s living the dream. He is writing. He has all the time in the world to sit there and write – to immerse himself in his characters, writing darlings, WRITING!

Whereas I, I, …. I, …oh wait a minute….I’m not working much either am I?

What he is doing, is knuckling down, eliminating excuses and making time to do what he wants to do – Writing.

He has established a routine and got on with it.

Hmmm…

Must dash – I have a novel to write!

I’m Back

Stuart Lennon. Abbots Ann, Hampshire. April 21st 2015. Copyright Warren James Palmer. www.wjpphoto.co.uk 044 1264 848 056
Stuart Lennon. Abbots Ann, Hampshire. April 21st 2015. Copyright Warren James Palmer. www.wjpphoto.co.uk 044 1264 848 056

Me again! Hello there. How have you all been? Or perhaps that should read how have you both been? I’m back.

I have been a busy busy boy. My Mum is now living around the corner, which is great; and I have access to a lovely place in Cyprus.

I have played a fair amount of golf – burned some meat in the name of the British summer and even kept the garden quite tidy.

Life is good.

On the corporate front, I’m looking after a couple of clients AML and CTF needs, which is keeping my hand in and provides a welcome trickle of revenue.

I even have appointments set up to review acquisition opportunities with my business partner. Look out World of Commerce – we’re on our way back.

What I have not been doing, is very much writing or communicating on social media.

Procrastination? One of those things?

A bit of both, I suspect.

But now…I’m back.