Beyond my control

At just over 27000 words written in ten chapters I have a novella. There may be more that I can add, I’ll mull over the story at a distance for the next week or so, but I think that I am done. When I have returned to the keyboard and read, and re-read I delete more words than I add. Writing seems to come down to removing words rather than writing them – for me that’s the case most of the time.


A good start

Chapter one is taking on a new shape. I’ve been pulling it apart, rearranging the narrative, deleting, deleting, deleting and writing new words. The beginning is no longer the beginning. Re-reading the last draft with feedback in hand I can now see where the story starts. It’s not at the beginning but soon after it. The start of the story within the novel is an awakening, or ‘the call to adventure’ as it is written the hero’s journey story formula.


The tip of my tongue

When lost in conversation, listening, sharing ideas and swept up in the momentum of back and forth I can have moments when the thing that I want to say, to share and express, is there at the edge of my mind but no longer fully formed. It was brimming in my mind not a moment before, but then wavers beyond my focus, and I have to wait because it will return. It’s on the tip of my tongue.


The 4th draft

For the past couple of months I’ve proof read, corrected basic errors, read a few books, one being Elements of Style, and researched myths. In some respects I feel at a standstill as I integrate new information and perspectives. There’s a lot to digest.


I’m clueless

I have given my 3rd draft to a published writer and a PHD academic for feedback on how it reads, what is and isn’t clear, what they want to know more about, and any other input that they are happy to share. I’ve told them both that I have no expectation on what or how they respond to reading my work. For both, I’ve let them know that if nothing else I hope they enjoy the read.


The waiting game

Much to my surprise I’ve completed my 3rd draft. I reached this point by creating one double spaced file of my 2nd draft. I printed it, then sat with pencil in hand and read it through all in one sitting. When I was done I made a copy of the file, called it the 3rd draft, made the changes, then printed and repeated the process. With each reading I had a different focus. The first read through was for structure, consistency and punctuation errors. The next read through was with an eye on theme, imagery and any obvious doubling up of phrasing or words. The result is a file that serves as my 3rd draft.


The ugly lights

The ugly lights is what my friends and I call the house lights that are turned on at the end of the night when the party is over and it’s time to get going. A ‘good night’ is when you stay as long as you can but leave before the ugly lights come on; it’s all in the timing.


The end is near

The final chapter of the 2nd draft is almost done. Yes I’ve been dragging my feet, yes I’ve been out of my writing routine, yes I am intimidated by the idea of reaching ‘the next stage’. Completing this chapter takes me to the next step of my writing journey which is a whole new realm of the unknown.


Breathing space

Got a job, lost that job, moved house, moved to a new region, completed a couple of courses, currently doing another course to learn a new skill, learned to use a chainsaw, and still writing my novel.


I never really got it before…

I used to live in a two-storey house where I would find myself going upstairs to get something then going all the way back downstairs before I realised that I had forgotten what I intended to get. When I arrived downstairs I always had something in hand, and was glad to have it, but it wasn’t what I went all the way upstairs for. I liken writing the 2nd draft to this experience. There are parts that I have intentions for when I revisit them but once I get there other ideas crowd in, or inspiration takes over and the best of intentions get swept away in a flow of creativity.


Cataclysmic happenings

Chapter six 2nd draft is done and it wasn’t easy. When I wrote the 1st draft of chapter six I didn’t have a clear vision of the happenings in the chapter. I knew what I wanted to include as story points but not how it would play out in the writing of it. There are certain interactions, events and characters needed for the narrative to progress which are all big things storywise, what I needed to do though was write matter-o-factly to maintain a feel of progression despite events rather than cataclysmic happenings. Well, that’s what I’m going for and it remains to be seen (or read in this case) if I have captured the feel for the story that I want to tell with the words that I have written.



Writing the 2nd draft is going well. I have finished chapter four now. Chapter three before that was easy, it has been my favourite chapter to write the 1st time around and I really enjoyed revisiting it.
Chapter four was harder to work my way through, it had been a lot harder to write and I had left it half baked. This, it seems, will be the flow for writing the 2nd draft with some chapters needing a whole lot more attention than others


A numbers game

Today I completed the 2nd draft of chapter two, and I have three people reading to give me feedback which is three times more than I had for my 1st draft. The word count is dropping as I slash away superfluousness with a flurry of backspacing, and I’m now frowning half as much when I read back over what I have written.

My love of words has taken a turn from wanting to keep them all to trashing every attention stealing syllable that could distract from story, narrative, or the focus of a reader’s imagination. After many years of adding more words, more ideas, and more story it’s time now to start taking away.


Take two

I had a realisation about my first draft that came with a wave of relief – I’m done!!
I’d had in my mind that I needed to write more, two chapters perhaps, to follow the ancient tale that I’ve taken the story structure from. To do that though I’d be paying lip service to the architecture of the narrative rather than writing the story as it needs to be with the underpinning structure sitting in the background as support for what I have written. Having the storyline to keep me on track has definitely kept me from looping into creative angst where I sat paralysed within the scope of my imagination unable to write the words because I couldn’t commit to what happened next.


Handling shi(f)t

I wrote about 500 words more since I last posted. Not a lot but still it is written and I’m happy with it. The chapter that I am writing has passed on to the next part; I had found it difficult to process where I am at in the story. Initially I had planned for this to be the last chapter, but that was long ago before I could envision where my words would lead me and now I find that I will need to write another chapter or two beyond this one to tell the tale.


The things that make up reality

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been inching my way through the current chapter stitching together a transition between who my protagonist was and who they are becoming with a changing landscape that reflects their changed state of mind. The landscape is the same … but different. The person likewise is the same, but different. It’s more than perspective because there is real change and this has been part of the challenge of writing this chapter for me. I want to demonstrate change in such a way that it’s subtle rather that having a sharp shift in reality.


The next chapter

ve reached the next chapter. It’s such a big statement for me to make, I’m nearing the end of the first draft, the protagonist is closer to the end of their journey, change is recognised and letting go of what was is in play. This all applies to my creative process as much as to the narrative itself. I’m reflecting on what I’ve written, what has happened and how I got from there to here with the objective now being how to tie it all together.
How do I want it to end?


Themes, imagery and the spaces in between

I have to read back over and made a few adjustments but I’m nearly done with another chapter. It was a good chapter to write with some ideas that I’d thought about a lot but never written previously. There was some back and forth of ideas that I’d not considered that happened as the words appeared.
A main scene in the chapter belongs to three characters which had me thinking and writing in such a way that I hadn’t before. The writing of it took this three handed scene in a direction that I’d not considered causing me to create gaps that I filled after rereading then rereading again to make further adjustments and fill in those gaps.


Back in the saddle again

Well I’m back in the saddle again and can’t get the song out of my head (The Gene Autry version not the Aerosmith version).
For over a month now I’ve had plans to write, to get writing and to keep on writing but life got in the way. Nevertheless I followed through tonight and got another 1000 words written.
When I revisited where I had left off I was surprised to find that I had written more than I remembered, and I was happy with what I read over before I started writing again. The flow that I had been in when I wrote before had been good and the ‘all downhill from here’ feeling came back along with a satisfied smile.


Crowded thoughts

ere is the buzz of humanity all around going about their lives while standing shoulder to shoulder. I miss crowds. To get the feel of it I really had to stretch my mind back to think of different experiences I’ve had in life where there has been a large, busy crowd caught up in the everydayness of life with everyday worries.
The crowd served as an essential element, a character made up of endless characters if you like, that provided contrast and a point of comparison between the masses and the individual.


From telling to showing and beyond

f chapters was nine in total, I now expect to write eleven at least, perhaps more. The extra breathing space that I was looking for in the process of writing and the clearer vision of the story that I’m telling, I have found in doing the work. More time and focus would be even better but hey, I’m just learning when it comes to writing a book.
Chapter eight is coming into view along with strengthening themes. With the conclusion of the novel coming into sight the story ground that has been covered is marked with the imprints of themes that have emerged in the wake of the protagonist’s movement throughout. Factoring in the themes that over arc the narrative was one of the considerations that I circled over in my mind for years. I wanted to figure out how to do justice to the themes and how to capture these ideas with imagery; when sitting down to write I’d get hung up on an idealised version of the outcome. Working through each chapter in turn, as I have for this first draft, has taken away the frozen moments where I sat awaiting the perfect words that would serve the story on every level from telling to showing and beyond.



my mind that lacked the narrative articulation of some previous parts that I’ve worked through. Up until this chapter the protagonist has been experiencing gradual growth and development within themselves, and has been unaware of the fundamental change that this causes within them. Chapter seven is the character becoming aware of the change that is happening and recognising that they can make choices to participate in this change. I’m trying to capture the realisation that I expect everyone goes through at some point when they understand that something big is happening within them that they can’t explain or reference but only observe as a point of change.
I have found this difficult to write; when I tried to push through by writing more and more I became frustrated so I stepped back from the keyboard and took a lot of long walks where time and space allowed me to think through what the actual point of this chapter is. This chapter has caused me to stop and take stock of where I’m at and where I’m heading story-wise. The long walks have served their purpose by providing perspective. I walk and observe the world around me, myself within it, nature, the ‘vibe’ and step back from my thoughts to make room for what is beyond thought. I’ve managed to get out of my head by literally walking away from overthinking. This has facilitated descriptive writing that I have used to ‘set the scene’, provided real-time perspectives on people to consider when writing character, and been helpful for processing the world through new eyes which I require of my protagonist to demonstrate transformation.


A cohesive tale of players

The character that I have introduced into the story in chapter seven is like none my protagonist has ever met before. This character is legendary, mysterious, formidable; they leave an impression on all who they meet. Few have ever met this character in the land that I am writing, but they have heard of, or know stories about their exploits in the world. For these reasons and more I need to write the character into the story beyond simply being relative to the narrative playing out for the protagonist. This character deserves to be more than a reference point to carry the weight of who they are beyond the chapter and into the time when the story is alive.
about the players in the tale that I am telling, I’d considered using these before but poo pooed the idea. That idea has been reignited with this new perspective that is emerging with the body of work and the development of my creative process along with it.


Unknown Territory

ogress, I’m not as concerned about getting this or that part ‘right’ or ‘correct’ according to some plan that I thought that I needed to get work done.
It’s all been stripped back to get it out and get it done. Working in this way I’ve begun to make notes in my writing by highlighting sections to revisit and expand. Also I’ve put points at the beginning of the chapter files to refer to regarding themes, imagery and any other parts to remember.


Eye-roll, sigh, swear at the computer, repeat

My Pollyanna gene is failing to have an affect on the rest of my physiology. Usually it over-rides or at least ambushes any Cassandra-esque tendencies, but not this week. I have fallen off the writing wagon with a spectacular crash. There’s been bumps and dips in the road caused by outside forces. The biggest roadblock has been technology – my computer keeps freezing and I lose the flow, then I get side-tracked searching for a solution that eats up my writing time. MS word has become obsolete demanding payment, which was bound to happen, but before I fully grasped this I tried to make it all work. Poor Billy G must need some extra change to pay for his divorce, I’m sure he can sort it out without my funds. Thankfully I’ve come to realise that Libre office is a writer’s best friend.


Herding cats

toryline toward the chapter completion. Each baby step is monumental though, each step is a new action, another happening, a story point that pushes the action forward. I have written parts for this chapter in the past, but they are rough sketches of the action that I’m fleshing out as I go by combining what I have already written with new writing.
The slow pace feels tedious but at the same time writing in the new parts is fun. Characters are unfolding in ways that I hadn’t planned with the birth of new personalities in the midst of the narrative. Along with the characters and the action the protagonist is also changing and growing through points of reflection. To integrate this I’ve covered ground in the story having the protagonist journey through the landscape as they journey into themselves. The writing of these parts took some time with the combining of these two events into one.


One day at a time

Chapter six is coming along nicely with the story shedding the extra story points that don’t serve it. When planning the chapters I had added points that I thought needed to be there to make sense of the world that I’m creating but in the writing of it they are overkill. I did the planning before I wrote my protagonist into the story and before I began writing regularly. The bits and pieces that I wrote before only glimpsed at who my protagonist has revealed themself to be. With this the story has become a bit player rather than the star, the story is settling in with the rest of the piece as I progress.
While writing chapter six I kept dwelling on chapter five. It was really bugging me because I knew that I hadn’t included at least two crucial parts of the story that will be relevant in later chapters, and to the climax of the novel. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about why these two unwritten parts are important and how to best use them. Listening to music has helped, especially music with lyrics because it speaks to what’s on my mind and inspires my thinking with a fresh perspective. So, with a new take on my self-made story development dilemma, I had a few aha moments that have helped to shape how I will integrate these two parts of chapter five. I want to have fun with them, so I’ll double back after the first draft of chapter six is completed to clean up chapter five with additions. Also, it made sense to move the end of chapter five and make it the beginning of chapter six; it reads better.


Another 1000

character to create some depth to the action and I’m messing with the sequence of events a bit from what I originally planned. The way that it’s coming along I think that I will be able to integrate some of what I think needs to be added to chapter five. I’ve put chapter five on the back burner, but it keeps coming to mind with thoughts about if I should expand it to be two chapters making it chapters five and six and taking my proposed chapter total to ten chapters rather than the original nine chapters. These thoughts about chapter five haven’t stood in the way of me progressing they have actually enhanced the writing of chapter six with more consideration about theme and imagery and prompted me to write notes for previous chapters to work in when I go back to do second drafts.
The further into the story I get the more I realise what I couldn’t have known when I was starting out. The saying ‘a story writes itself’ is making more and more sense to me as I progress.


In the flow

For chapter six I’ve written just over 800 words that I’m really happy with. It only took about an hour or so of writing to get them out and get them down, but it took nearly two weeks of thinking about it before that. Also, before I began to write I added to notes for the chapter development, revisited the chapter notes to the previous chapter and began a new file to charter the theme, imagery, and character development of the protagonist throughout all chapters. All that along with the angst that accompanies bouts of not writing, the guilt that underpins it and the self-involved dramatization of sense of purpose. My mind has been busy even if my hands haven’t been busy banging out the words on my keyboard.
Introspection has been a necessary evil to keep my headspace aligned with the protagonist as they too have been traversing their sense of self and coming to terms with their progress through life. My navel-gazing then has been of value in this respect. At the top of my list for honouring my process and progress is to mindfully observe myself, where I’m at and how I can integrate my human experience best into my creative experience.


Achieving the improbable

At just under 5000 words I’ve finished my first draft of chapter five. It was a doozy. It had me nearly whipped a few times, but I nailed it, I’m done, it’s in the can. For now anyway. Chapter five is my problem child, or chapter as the case may be. It will need more attention than the other chapters I’ve finished the first draft for so far. Chapter five raises the stacks for my protagonist taking the narrative in a new direction, and for the first time in the story a direction with no destination in mind for the protagonist. That makes chapter five more than a turning point but a marker for development of person and tale being told. This chapter holds story elements that many will be familiar with so I want to honour what the many and varied may identify with within it while also taking the ideals within and discarding them in favour of simple storytelling about a person trying to find their place in the world.
The origin story that I have based the story on is an epic tale but I’ve reassigned the big happenings to short time spans giving it what I hope is a whimsical and fantastical feel. I’ll have to see how it reads when done in full and until then keep pushing forwards.


Draining the swamp

I’ve waded through the soggy marshland of pretty words from times past to copy, paste and delete another 1000 or so. The word count is nearing 3000 words that are keepers for the first draft of chapter five with the backlog that I’m squelching through whittled down to 12500 words. At times I’m overwhelmed by the excess that I’ve written over the years and the task that this has created in the present. Words have bogged me down and I’m swamped, but enough with that metaphor…
As I work through the characters are transforming from who I thought they were with revealing glimpses at who they may become as the story unfolds. I’ve found heartache and hidden motivations; I’ve stumbled into broken dreams and disillusions; it’s been very revealing. The words that I’d originally crafted into fragments of narrative came together to reveal a different story that has left me curious about my characters. They are a fragile bunch who are all wrapped up in their own perceptions, wanting to be heard, wanting to be loved, wanting to be happy.


Beyond words

The jumble of words that I had written over the past few years had confused me enough to need a timeout. Time to reflect, time to reassess, time to understand what I was trying to achieve with the parts of chapter five that I had written with large gaps in between each writing session. The gaps in time are very obvious with a different feel to each piece. How to best use what I had and decipher something coherent was very challenging and I didn’t know how to get started.
Then I had an epiphany. I went to one of my storytelling happy places, a place beyond words, beyond characters, beyond setting and out of structure. A place that I enthusiastically discuss with any who will geek out with me about a book read or film watched, or even a painting. Symbolism! Words are secondary to what we can convey without them. It took me a while to shake off the cycling over of ideas and words that I had written down to go beyond to what it’s all about.


Writing in reverse

Chapter five, first draft has had me muddling through and scratching my head so far. This chapter includes events that cause my protagonist to step into the unknown with no direction in mind. Previously the risks that they took were aimed at an outcome but within chapter five things do not work out, direction is lost, and rational thinking gives way to emotion. How this plays out is what I have to decide. When rationality is lost that does not necessarily mean that someone is irrational, when emotions drive a decision that does not mean that the decision is illogical. Tempering reason and emotion into human expression is the tricky part here. The turning of events that this chapter culminates in effects a few of the characters including the protagonist so I have a situation to realise that involves diverse motivations.


Slow and steady is the winning pace!

My role has changed from writer to editor with over 16000 words written towards the chapter that I’m working on. With a 5000 word wordcount being my goal for each chapter I have quite a bit of work to do. This large word count  of 16000 words has been accumulated over the past 10 plus years, it is not in order, is not all in the same mood or tone, or even following exactly the same narrative. I expect to throw away a lot of sections, some I may use in the preceding or following chapters. Sifting through this collection of pieces that make up the chapter content to date has been a big task.
Reading through my past writing I have read sections I’d forgotten that I’d written, which has been a nice surprise at times. The volume of words read together capture my changing attitude towards, and hopes for, the novel over the years that I have been writing it.


Chapter four first draft ✔️

It reads well, I made the transition that I wanted to in the narrative taking my protagonist on a journey of physical struggle that confirms their mental resolve to keep going in the direction that they chose. Chapter four took the protagonist on a journey through the world where they travelled alone creating a parallel inward journey.
Other characters need to be introduced now. Chapter four had the introduction of one new character, but it was a meeting of few words. Chapter five will have the introduction of some major players in the narrative moving forward into the story, so chapter four was just a warmup exercise of what chapter five will present as challenges.


A wee epiphany

I dropped the ball there for a few days but not for lack of trying to keep it in play. No excuses, just the facts, I’ve been busy with other things. Time for writing has become sparse, it is not non-existent though. I have written, I’ve crossed the halfway mark in chapter four nearing 3000 words. The pressure of less time made my last sitting to write seem easier than the ones before. In the meantime my challenges writing this chapter have been playing on my mind causing me to have a wee epiphany. I kept cycling over in my mind where I was up to and what I had written and kept thinking that I had missed something. Then it came to me. Motivation, my protagonist’s drive that is beyond words. The unspoken subtext, thoughts, comparisons, and the self-referencing that all of us experience that forces our hand in life. Why does anybody do anything? Because they can is a likely answer but there are many other unfathomable reasons as to why choices are made. Personal, subconscious and determined by an individual’s origins.
With this in mind I went back over what I had written in chapter four to date and added symbolism, imagery and small happenings that addressed ‘the why’ or motivation in an indirect way. The subtext is as important as the text.


I don’t know anything

A new character is about to be introduced into the story. This character is one that I have been musing over for a long time. I feel like I know them, and I don’t like this character very much. Approaching this section feels like preparing to go and spend time with people that I don’t particularly like, part of me has switched off to prepare for the experience. I’m trying not to have a fixed mindset and to be open-minded, to let go of pre-conceived notions; it’s difficult. My response is emotional, it’s deep-seated and I just have to get over it and shake it off.
As much as I can I want to write whole characters that have depth. My characters don’t always have a lot of time on the page so capturing an authenticity of character when they are introduced into the story is important. People and characters don’t have to be likeable to be of value and being hard to like does not make someone a bad person. I’ll press through to let my character be who and what they will using the world around me to observe and hopefully learn from watching without expectation or judgement.


Creating reality one question at a time

The narrative in the part of chapter four that I’m writing is sparse. The section is based on a folklore tale that has lots of sketchy detail and imagery that is far from reality. How much weight in reality my novel has is something that I have struggled with in the past. It has previously tripped me up and stopped me from getting into writing. What is reality anyway? How “real” does a story need to be? Is truth stranger than fiction? In reality people believe in ghosts, some cultures honour their ancestors as if they still live, and people build their beliefs and values on things that they cannot see, touch or experience. When is something far-fetched? Does it matter? Can I write questions forever without ever answering any of them? All these questions and more plagued me for a long time but then I came to accept that none of the questions have to matter.
The world is made up of individuals who have unique experiences and are able to identify with others based on the shared experience of the human condition. That is my understanding and logic of what reality is, and based on it I no longer struggled over the idea of reality within the context of my novel and writing my novel began. I need to be clear about what I’m writing and not lost in the peripheral variables of the unknown.


From one place to another

Writing about landscapes… how they change, what’s different about them, what’s the same about them, how they connect and morph from one to the other. What lives there, how does life survive, how much imagery is needed to reveal the place, what details create a vista for the reader… there is a few considerations. There’s so much to consider when writing about places yet there seems to be so few words to describe these same, but different elements now that I’m getting into it. Traversing different landscapes with a feel for how they connect to one another takes a lot of focus. It’s left me contemplating what makes a place.
Chapter four takes my protagonist through a changing landscape into a harsh one and then onto a new land that is unknown. These places serve a purpose symbolically relating to the folklore tale as well as being the places where the story happens. In writing about them I want to capture what each place means as well as what each place is, which is tricky at times. The challenge is to not overwrite things for the sake of writing in what I want to convey thematically along with what is happening. As a solution I’ll write less and let some of the underlying points of story that I hoped to touch on slip by lightly with little emphasis on them. Making a point of every little thing will come across as heavy-handed if the reasoning is not clear to the reader; it may even come across as just plain confusing.


The big to-do

A checklist has helped me to keep on track so far and I’ve written another 500 words for chapter four. When I got going it flowed but the going’s slow working through sections of story to integrate past writing with new. In this chapter I want to capture a new world and show my protagonist’s ability to change and grow with the world around them. To show how they roll with the punches and survive in the unknown without a helping hand; this chapter serves as a coming-of-age period in some respects.
Writing over the past few days with no clear vision in mind about what exactly I would write started to be a chore and I became intimidated by the idea of writing. I shouldn’t have been though. I overcame this by breaking the work into sections to write about in turn which made writing manageable for me. Navigating to this point has established a clear working model for me to write my novel. The next few chapters will benefit from the knowledge that I’ve gained about writing a WIP. The current chapter covers time progressively in a more precise way than preceding chapters, and chapters five and six introduce more characters. Continuing through with consistency requires me to keep breaking down the story into manageable parts with time to reflect, research, and then write.


Feeling confused and researching camels

It’s been slow going this week. Getting started has been a challenge for me with lots of distractions and an unclear vision in my mind of what’s next. I wrote 500 words to kick off chapter 4 and begin my protagonists’ journey through the chapter, but I’ve faltered there. This chapter is an introspective chapter for my protagonist, for me to capture this I need to have clear symbolism and connecting elements travelling through the undercurrent of my writing to bring it all together. What the chapter ‘needs’ though I really can’t determine until I get into the writing; I have to get writing. The clear vision that carried me through chapter three though isn’t available to me for this chapter; chapter three was more directly based on a folklore tale whereas with chapter four I’m using very little of that approach.
Chapter four only gives a nod to the folklore tale leaving me to navigate the tale and integrate my own writing in as I go. Along with this I’ve also written over 5000 words in previous writing bouts towards this section, so I’m reading and sifting and cataloguing in my mind what to do, where to put parts and how to proceed.


Taking my time

At almost 4000 I’ve finished the first draft of chapter three. I’m on fire and trying not to jinx myself with reality checks about if this is sustainable. The pattern of going back to the folklore tale when I reach the next ‘bit’, along with time to think through where I’m at and visualise the happenings is really working for me. Writing this chapter was enjoyable; I had fun and think that I managed to include a tongue-in-cheek sense of fun in the writing of it. Internet use has stayed at a minimum also. I’ve gotten so much written in the last few days.
For the rest of the week I will have to step back a bit from this pattern, I have work to do, people relying on me and life in general to attend to. Working the way I have been has taken me out of any constructive patterns in my everyday life but that seems to be the payoff that I need to make. When my protagonist gains some ground, I tend to lose some and vice versa.


Goodbye chapter two

I finished the first draft of chapter two. It’s done, I sent it to my reader, it’s shorter than I intended at 3700 words or so but to write anymore would have been unnecessary. The story rolled on giving me the sensation of it writing itself which is an expression that I’ve heard but never experienced firsthand. Next, I want to dive into chapter three. Most of chapter three is clear in my head but I do need to tidy up some details with reading and research before I get lost in the words. Chapter three will introduce another new character, and like chapter two will also be fresh writing with nothing previously written towards it. Whether it flows as easily as chapter two remains to be seen, if it happens though I welcome the happy buzz that I’ve gotten from polishing off chapter two’s first draft.
Finishing chapter two so quickly has surprised me, but I have had more time to focus because I’ve had my internet off for most of the week. Every time that I used the internet in the past week, I intentionally turned it on then turned it off when I was done, and I’ve had more headspace and focus because of this.


On a roll

3000 words in two days, I think that I’m on a roll! My aim is for 5000 words per chapter, so in two days I’ve written over half of the first draft of chapter two.
I’ve been getting to know my protagonist as they begin their journey. The sketchy ideas I had in mind are gaining clarity with each word that I write. I focused on one key question – who are any of us without other people?
There’s only so far that any one person can go alone before limitations and lack of perception stand in their way. That’s the pivotal point that I’ve addressed in chapter two. My protagonist has gone into the world not knowing anyone, not knowing their way or their options. My protagonist is alone for the first time but all the while coming to terms with the fact that they always have been alone.


Chapter two begins

The groundwork has been established for chapter two, my protagonist is in forward motion and things are happening in my fictional world. It was difficult to get going and I did dither.
For the past week I’ve been shuffling through the chronology of my story in my head disagreeing with my decisions, disputing myself, and trying not to have reason-based conversations with myself out loud so I don’t appear cra cra… I was repeatedly cycling over points contemplating on how to best proceed with different scenarios in mind. I went back to the beginning in the end which helped me to reassess why I had made the choices about the narrative that I had long ago. This was all helpful, but gradually my process descended into a procrastination exercise.
Recognising this I came at it from a different angle and launched into research of the original folklore tale that I am using as the bones of the novel; this was very helpful. I was able to step out of my head and get off the merry-go-round of maybes that was plaguing my progress. I still have some more reading to do to solidify the direction that I’ve chosen to go in, but I was inspired to write before I could complete all of the reading that I’d assigned myself.


Into the unknown

What will happen next? No matter what I’m doing my story remains present in my mind like a demanding child pestering me for attention asking what next, or which way. I’ve hesitated at starting on chapter two, I had to revisit the structure of the chapters that I’d laid out before I began the first draft of chapter one. The direction that chapter one took me in with the narrative structure has caused me to now go back and consider reshuffling the order of some of the chapters.

All of this is consuming my thoughts, I want to get back to writing.


Tense about tense

I’ve managed to delete about 500 words to bring the chapter one word count below 5,000 words. It feels good to have done it, it was easier to delete words than I thought it would be, and it highlighted the story by removing what served only as fluff. Reading through to cull words and sentences as a task though was a challenging exercise because it was difficult to be mindful of the flow at the same time. There are sections that need more attention regarding the flow of the story. Less is more is a great rule that can serve to bring what’s important into the foreground. I want the story to speak to the imagination and carry the reader along effortlessly. Whether I can do this or not will be in the reading of it by another which is the next step when I put this first draft of chapter one aside.

Time has been eaten away so easily when I have read back through my work. It was a worthwhile exercise; I have rewritten some sentences to better convey the story and without these read-throughs I wouldn’t have managed to do that.


Too many words

I’ve sifted through all of the sections that I had in my chapter one file, edited them in together and created a flow of narrative with them.

The feel of it is makeshift at best but it serves its purpose to take the fragments of story that I’ve been writing and bring them together as one. If a simile could be applied, it would be like a broken vase hastily glued together to resemble the vase it once was. I can see the shape more clearly now of the story that I’ve only had glimpses of in my mind for so long. It has surprised me how much of the story I hadn’t included when I had written in fits and starts because it makes sense to me to write the narrative in the way that I have now.

My aim has been to make each chapter a tidy 5000 words. I’m currently over 5000 words and haven’t finished the chapter. I’ve written all the way to the end of the chapter but provided no segue to the next chapter so I have some more to write before I can leave chapter one behind. With all of this in mind I think that my word count will be closer to 6000 words, I am expecting to edit heavily when I do a serious second draft though.


Making progress

It’s turned out to be really fun writing today taking an adventure back through ground already covered. I had the sensation of reminiscing through an old photo album with memories coming alive and new insights with what I know now. I covered a lot of ground connecting words written at different times in different places from prompts over the years. The outcome was good, the work I’ve put in previously is useful, and I’m pleased. When I’d read back over it in the past the disconnection between pieces had bothered me, I’d wondered if I’d wasted a lot of time on words that don’t matter. The tone is different in some, others have a different narrative POV, while other parts were written in a different tense. Over the years I had written whatever I had felt like writing at the time, or with whatever method I was teaching for the session, with no regard for the larger piece coming together. Of course I can’t use all these as they were written, but I have been surprised how I can marry together words written in very different pieces.

Restructuring sections into new writing creates a depth that I would’ve had to contemplate for longer if writing only fresh words now. There are parts that I had forgotten that I’d written and other parts that I’d written more than once, which provide a variety of perspectives on scenes, reactions, motivations and story.


Notes from an idealist

Well today has been a real test for my focus and progress. I’ve had good news and bad which has distracted me in ways that I found difficult to navigate. Life rose up in my face demanding my attention and time just when I had committed to getting down to some writing. The decision to write today was difficult because yesterday gave me a preview of the day I had today in some respects, I was already distracted, then more happened. Writing about real world obstacles here is unavoidable if I am to authentically document my creative process, because the real world can and does get in the way of anything and everything, not only the task of writing.

I had to take a different approach to my process without the luxury of a block of time. For an hour early in the day I wrote around a piece written a while ago, anchoring it into the sea of words that I am accumulating. Then life happened. Later I returned to copy and paste sections into place to edit in when my focus is better; continuing from there tomorrow is the plan.


Telling the tale and showing the story

I’ve spent time blending showing and telling to bring together the tale and the story. The tale being the telling, somewhat like a fairy tale but more as an idea than stylistically. The showing highlights parts of the tale bringing the story to life and shining a spotlight on the working parts of the narrative where things shift and change. The piece covers a lot of time but the folklore tale that I’m referencing doesn’t specify over what amount of time things took place, so I’m inclined to do the same which is why I am dabbling with showing in much the same way. Also the folklore tale exists in more than one culture and time in prehistory, so it has more than one telling of it. I’m working this in as well by integrating the tales in one narrative to stitch together the parts in such a way that it suits me. Referencing stories told by different peoples makes for an interesting exercise in establishing motives with more fodder to play with to stitch it all into one tale, even without this I would have been guessing at motivation to some extent.

Over the past couple of days I created a bridging section to bring my protagonist closer to the next stage of the story. I still have some events to write before moving on, but I needed to create access to this with character and story development. Some of the parts that I had written previously were stand alone leaving them disjointed within the running narrative that I’m writing. It took some time to think through the connecting section to make it all one story but a bit of story tetris can be fun.


Keeping an eye on the wordcount

The working model of my novel is broken into 9 chapters that I plan to make approximately 5000 words each. This may change as I progress, but I like the breakdown of story parts and piecing together of the protagonist’s journey into the sections that I’ve mapped so far. Writing the first chapter is slow progress with the establishment of so many things that will carry through until the end of the novel. If I get this right, then it will give my work substance, and allow for characters that have depth and dimension. If I get this right, I will craft a story that I’m happy with. I want to write something that other people will enjoy but bottom line – I want to be happy with it.
The research that I’m working in, to lay the foundations for the overarching story, has caused me to go back and write in some more where I had moved on from last week. Again I have cut and pasted, re-written and shuffled around the order of paragraphs. Another thing that I’ve done quite a bit of is take sentences from paragraphs and put them elsewhere to give another paragraph more connection to the storyline. I’m starting to like this process and flag parts in my mind as I write in new sections that at times don’t quite fit yet. Going back I often find that I have found the perfect spot for parts that I wasn’t certain of moving from where I had created them in the storyline, and it works well.


Research and writing

The pace of writing has slowed down but not the pace of the process. To continue writing with a flow I need to sort out theme and symbolism to carry through the piece, and to give myself a heads-up for clarity moving forward. It’s not that every little part of the novel has to be planned in advance, but I do need a clear direction to head in.

Writing with a flow again is in sight but I’m not quite there yet. I’m keen to get back to it but each time I sit to write I think about another ‘bit’ that I need to research because it directly relates from where I’m at and to where I’m going. When I have a clear view of what I’m writing I do it calmly and get a lot done, when I have a vague idea I get muddled and can’t focus because my mind gets lost in the what ifs and what abouts that I might work in later. I work better moving forward with as clear a vision as I can get sorted in my mind.


Balance, routine and going with the flow

Taking time away from the spurt of writing that I had done provided perspective on where I’m at. Reading back over what I had done in the space of a short week left me feeling good about my work. It was difficult to keep up the pace that I had been working at, it wasn’t sustainable for keeping in mind the big picture of what I’m doing. No doubt though, it was good to get through a chunk of writing – I got a lot of work done in those few days. It’ll have to be refined and edited further but it’s good for now, and because I got so much done, I can see better what I’m establishing in regard to both the project and process.

It was difficult to come to terms with the gap that I created by stopping for a few days. I felt like a failure but realise that I should leave the drama for the novel and accept that I can only keep up an intensity like that for stretches of a few days. Working like that had my mind swimming in words, and images, and ideas, and I was too close to everything to see clearly what I was doing. It had to stop, at least for some breathing space. Returning with fresh eyes was an intimidating idea because I’d stepped away when I was no longer able to see where I was at so when I stepped back in again to pick up where I left off, I expected to be disappointed.


Chapter none and pondering humour

If I was drawing a picture instead of writing a novel then this wouldn’t even be the sketching stage. This would be me in kindergarten with crayons drawing a house and a tree and scrawling my name in the corner for placement on the fridge at the end of the day. Yep, I’m writing with training wheels, it’s helpful for me to accept this to push aside any angst over what I think I should be doing as opposed to what I am doing.

I’m making progress with slow and certain steps. When writing the page is as jumbled as the thoughts in my head, thoughts that are the story in fragments. Pressing through to create some clarity in the form is an unrelenting task. That’s fine though, I’ve accepted that it’s not something that will just fall into place. I have to keep going slowly.


Word scavenger powers activated

Reminding myself of the progress that I’m making is a great motivator. Being real about the fact that progress is about throwing away words as much as it is about keeping them helps to keep my focus on the story and not on the word count. Writing with brevity is a skill that I covet so I feel good about deleting as I go. I have copies of all work that I’ve written saved and filed away elsewhere so nothing is ever lost, it’s just not on the page that’s my workspace.

The story bones are good in the extra writing I found. For the rest of the day I’ll switch up my roll from storyteller to scavenger and pick away at those bones seeking out the juicy marrow of the story. I’m better equipped to do this now than I was a week or more ago when I was still solidifying style and voice in my mind. Inevitably with this new find I will go back yet again to where I have spent the week already to potentially edit in more past work. *sigh

I spent the last day or so tinkering away at what I’ve pieced together all the while thinking that there’s more that I’ve written on this section somewhere in my saved files. Searching through past writing I found what I was looking for this morning. The timing has worked well, if I had found it sooner it would have bent my brain trying to process the repeat writing I have of story parts along with the different angles I’ve taken on scenes, and the varied tone I’ve applied over the years.

Reminding myself of the progress that I’m making is a great motivator. Being real about the fact that progress is about throwing away words as much as it is about keeping them helps to keep my focus on the story and not on the word count. Writing with brevity is a skill that I covet so I feel good about deleting as I go. I have copies of all work that I’ve written saved and filed away elsewhere so nothing is ever lost, it’s just not on the page that’s my workspace.


Embracing the process

First thing when I wake up I am writing. Today before I began I took some time to reflect on where I’m at, how it’s going and what I am doing.

Writing the first chapter with a purposeful patience isn’t easy but I’m happy with my progress at adopting this approach. There’s so much to address at the beginning with setting, character, themes, foreshadowing and tone. I want to include everything but in a spare way that introduces a time, place, world, and people without overwhelming the story itself.

Starting at the beginning of my story as I am gives some back story to the protagonist. To start the protagonist is a child, just for a few pages; those pages are shaping up nicely, childhood will hopefully be left behind very soon.

I’m cutting, pasting and rearranging so many words that it feels more like a game of scrabble than writing a novel. When all the juggling of word placement settles though I manage to experience those sweet spots where it flows and everything seems just right – then though, I realise that I need to squeeze a bit in between two paragraphs that I have run together and so the cycle continues…


Fits and starts

Piecing together what I have written, am writing, researching, past research and the occasional pinch of flow is rewiring my brain. So far it’s a good thing. I certainly have lost time with the focus that I’m applying.

My story is being fleshed out and rearranged every time I pause to read again what I am crafting. I stop and read aloud – yes that’s a thing if you didn’t know it, it’s a great technique for removing your focus from writer/editor mode to just listen to what is there with fresh ears. The trick is don’t stop, don’t edit, just read. To read through without disruption and truly hear the flow and narrative I read it over first to check for anything that will trip me up and steal my focus. Once I’m able to read it without being distracted by words, commas, sentence structure, narrative glitches, etc, I read aloud in one uninterrupted go.

I feel like I’m running on the spot but recognise that editing past sections that I’ve written into new work is enriching the story as I continue. Some of the past sections that I’m working into the new were written years ago and it’s surprised me how much I’ve ended up pulling them apart to slot them in amongst the new words, sometimes sentence by sentence.


Refining my how-to

I backup my writing in 2 locations but yesterday after much writing I couldn’t open files in either location. It was a scary half hour as I rallied myself to not succumb to angry monkey mentality and begin smashing my keyboard with my fists in frustration. There were almost tears but I got a grip and pushed through mustering patience inexplicably. I tried and tried again and eventually my computer cooperated restoring from the recent files on my version of MS word – who knew that MS could be helpful and not just creepy!!!

Having passed that hurdle I am moving forward now with another level of file management. I am making a separate file for each chapter to keep the content minimal. I will keep a working copy in 2 locations. I will breathe, take my time and always include extra time for ‘computer speed’ or downtime as some know it.

Creating a timeline for writing is not as easy as sitting down to write, even if I write by hand I still have to type it up sooner or later. Writing is never just writing. With this in mind I’ll work at breaking my time into blocks and timing my writing sessions with a minimum timeframe but never maximum so I can write for as long as I’m able, and to my heart’s content.


Where to start

I’m starting at the beginning.

I’ve started at the beginning of my story many times shifting the starting point and pondering the origin story – what it is, how to tell it, where and how does it start…

Imagery is important to me, I’m a visual writer often writing what I see in my mind and doing my best to document that vision as I tell the story. Sharing what I see is my story telling method which makes me a sucker for descriptive writing. Using the images that I have in mind also makes the narrative sketchy with gaps at times and at times caught up with too much thought around details that I question as necessary.

With my writing to date I have created a word document where I have pasted my work in order as best I can. I’ve done 3 things with this file for navigating my work to date.


Paving the road

For the past 10 years I’ve been writing a novel off and on, and now is the time to get it done.

When I couldn’t find a writing buddy to establish a writing habit with, I began teaching. In each session I would write with the group mostly writing toward my novel in an unplanned way to just get it down and get it out. That worked for creating content but not for finishing the task.

Of all the writing I’ve done over the years toward this I have written approximately 20 000 words that I could use so far, of these I’ll most likely throw up to a quarter away. Writing is after all knowing which words to keep and largely about writing down words then throwing them away to craft a piece with the best that you have, much like a carving a sculpture from marble. Words are the raw material, they are beautiful with qualities all their own, but we can’t use them all, some must be thrown away.


The journey begins

The journey of my novel and the creative process of writing it will be documented here as I regularly set my intentions, structure the narrative, craft the characters, detail the settings, integrate the symbolism and detail my process. My intention is to document the creative process sharing online what would be shared in person within a writer’s group.

To begin I will revisit what I have written to date to identify gaps. The narrative is taken from an ancient tale, I did this intentionally to take away from the angst of deciding what happens to my characters. This has worked well for writing the main story parts, but I have found myself cycling over and rewriting them rather than pressing forward and claiming the story for myself beyond this.

Fear is also a factor that stands in my way but I’m ready to stand firm and shove it aside to progress with this piece and make it my own.