Writing Daze

October 2, 2009 at 5:41 am (Writing Ranting) (, , , )

Today is Friday, roughly halfway through school holidays. While I usually have at least an hour or so of work even in holiday weeks, this week I’ve had nothing. Nada. No-one.

This is sort of good, because it means there’s a lot less in my life to cause daily panic. On the other hand, an entire week of sitting looking at my carpet isn’t good for me either.

So I decided to double my writing quote this week – bringing it to forty hours. It’s been dreamy. On Monday I spent eight hours working on ONE CHAPTER. Is there anything more wonderful?

I’ve been craving some novel-editing work for a while, but knew I didn’t have the headspace for it. As a general rule, the longer I take to edit a small amount of work, the better my writing is going.

I’m running low on steam today, but right now I’m in my 36th hour, so the fact that I have any steam at all is remarkable. Today I’ll finish the chapter I’m on and do one more, then stop – probably until next Wednesday. That way, I’ll have built up plenty of enthusiasm just in time for the climax and end of the book. I have a bit of work on Monday and Tuesday, so I’ll work on short stories those days.

Today I also launched “Daylight” – my twitter tale mocking “Twilight” (and all emos*). I bet it’s more popular than “Worse Things Happen at Sea”, because it’s pure, unadulterated humour.

Altogether, a good week. And I’ve saved up a week’s worth of writing quota for when my husband and I visit China next year.

*An emo is basically a person who is proud of being depressed. It’s a recently-developed and HIGHLY unpopular subgroup.

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Which person am I?

June 28, 2009 at 11:05 pm (Writing Ranting) (, )

In the year 2000, I wrote my first book for children (before that it was all young adults). I was advised that children’s writing should be in third person, so I did that (despite the fact that I’m much, much better at first person). That book is now a trilogy – in fact the second book was originally written in first person, then I changed it to third person.

The second book has been giving me trouble for a while. It has some brilliant bits, but just doesn’t seem to work overall. I looked at the first chapter over the weekend (after realising I needed to write several more ‘training’ scenes into the fart book) and hated it.

So I’ve decided to rewrite the second book – in first person (which I now know children are perfectly fine with). This will not only end up a better book (because first person is something I’ve always done well), but it’ll make it a lot fresher for me to work with. I don’t think anything big will change – I’ll be looking at the original as I go along – but hopefully this will fix it. Of course this also means I’ll most likely have to change the (perfectly adequate) first and third books too.

Best not to think about that.

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Staplegunning the plot

June 26, 2009 at 7:22 am (Writing Ranting) ()

Ben pointed out that the fart book I wrote contained (a) farting, and (b) romance – which don’t suit the same age group.¬† After questioning several of my students (between 8 and 14 years of age) it was clear that he was right.

My problem wasn’t that the romance didn’t suit the age group (8-12) that I was going for, but that the farts didn’t suit them (my two eight-year olds laugh uproariously at the word “bum” but my 11-year old thinks the book is dumb). So the romance (second-biggest plot) is gone – the girl in question is entirely deleted. I’m left with a much shorter book (which is necessary for the younger age) and a lot of holes that need to be staplegunned together.

It took me several days to deal with having written a “book” that will be about 7000 words (50,000 is a short book). I’m over that concept now, but struggling to get my head around the “new” book. I sit at my computer with the file open, and my body instinctively twists away so I’m not looking at it (then I go and write a blog entry ūüôā¬† ).

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June 10, 2009 at 12:45 am (Writing Ranting) (, )

As is obvious from the last entry, I’m one of those people who gets high on early drafts, and somewhat carried away (“This is brilliant! I’ll make millions!”)

The crit group has given me a little more on “Farting my ABCs”. There are extra words and phrases, some grammar issues, and “more depth would be good”. The extra words and phrases are what the long breaks are for – so I can actually SEE them. But these aren’t major flaws – or difficult to fix, given my usual editing process.

At the moment I’m also editing “The Monster Apprentice” – the first book in my kids’ trilogy. I’m so impressed with myself over “Farting my ABCs” that “The Monster Apprentice” feels dull. I’m thinking about throwing away the whole¬† trilogy. But as I type that, I know it’s silly. Not because of the hundreds of hours I’ve spent working on it, but because of the way publishers react to it. Clearly there’s something worth reading in there, I just can’t see it today.

My super-critical friend has read “Farting” and says he’ll probably send me his notes today. How exciting! (I decided I needed to be brought down, and that should work neatly. I also figured¬†two large non-editing gaps should be enough; one after this round and one when it’s at a professional assessor).

Some years ago, I was delighted¬†to find out Douglas Adams was dead. I knew he was brilliant; way more brilliant than me – and it was depressing how much more brilliant he was. But when I discovered he was dead, I realised he couldn’t ever get any better – and I could.

Right now I am reading Cassandra Clare’s “Mortal Intruments” series (the first book is “City of Bones”). She is everything I was to be as a writer – funny, scary, intriguing, intelligent. I love her characters and hate her guts ūüôā

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Sweet, sweet vanity

June 7, 2009 at 1:42 pm (Writing Ranting) (, , , )

On Friday I finished my eleventh book. (I’ve thrown five away, and most of the rest are set in the same fantasy world – Rahana.)

This book is different. This book isn’t about love, heroism, or even imagination or wonder. It’s about farts.

It’s short – I didn’t think my mojo was up to much – barely over 10,000 words (which is quite normal for the 8-12 age range). It’s humour – which made me a little nervous (humour is usually hard to write, especially consistently over a whole book/whole readership), but I’ve sold several humour short stories, so it wasn’t too big a leap.

I’ve tested¬†chapter one¬†on two eight-year olds I tutor (one reluctant reader and one dyslexic). They both found it funny, and chose to continue reading¬†my book¬†over reading other books (which have pictures). That bodes VERY well. I left chapters two and three with¬†the first¬†eight-year old, and left chapters 1-3 with an eleven-year old (a perfectly-good reader). I’m curious to see whether they actually read them. If they do, I’ll be seriously. . . surprised.


I’ve also sent the first three chapters to an online critique group. The four or five people who commented were overwhelmingly positive. I just posted the rest of it, and a sixth person described¬†the whole thing¬†as “Brilliant, with a few minor grammar issues”. My conclusion is that either it’s a great leap forward in my writing (particularly regarding marketability, which is the main thing), or the critique group is rubbish. I’m fairly sure it’s the latter.

But what if this is it? What if I sell it to a major publisher first go? What if it actually sells well?

I’m so puffed up with the crit group’s flattery that I feel like sending it off quickly. That’s dumb. What I should do is:

1. get comments from the crit group for a week or two

2. make those changes

3. give it a “final” go-through

4. leave it for one or two months

5. edit again

6. get my real-life friends to critique it (one of whom once told me Рincredibly apologetically Рthat a book of mine had no good points whatsoever. It was then nearly published by a really big publisher, who clearly has lower standards).

7. re-edit

8. send it to a pro crit agency

9. edit again, and if I have to make big changes I should leave it for another month or two before another “final” edit

10. THEN send it to a publisher.

But for now, visions of mass publication are dancing in my head.

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