Friday, February 17, 2006

2 weeks to go

It's two weeks today that I need to hand in chapter one of my novel. 14 days. That includes 2 weekends, one of which is likely to be blitzed because I'm decorating and sorting out the house at the moment.

There will be a way through.

Trouble is I've not yet written a word. Not one. My previous joy (two posts ago) on how I've worked out the plot for my novel has now disintegrated, my confidence has dipped hugely in it. It sounds like a love story? Did I really want to write a love story? OK so it's a weird kind of love but I really don't want to have it turn into a piece of chick lit.

Let me say at this stage that there's nothing wrong with a good drop of chick lit, I read bits myself (Jane Green?). I read all sorts of things very deliberately. but I just hadn't envisaged myself writing something like that.

I guess there's no point angsting. Though the synopsis currently might read like a bit of a fractured romance, the actual piece shouldn't be quite so love oriented. It's about people. If I don't want it to be a romance, it won't turn into a romance, right?

I'm looking at this so entirely in the abstract at the moment. I have a synopsis, I have a plot line-through, I've planned out some elements of the plot in detail, I've worked out the peril and the actions and reactions ... so I'm being very structural right now. Next step: pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard.

Course, sitting here writing this blog entry I'm thinking: this desk is crap for writing at. I need a new desk. And also this keyboard is a bit worn, I need a new one. Can't possibly write anything until I've got a new desk and a new keyboard. Oh and possibly a new chair. FYI: I bought a new desk, new chair and new keyboard this time last year. I didn't like them pretty much as soon as I installed them; health and safety would go nuts. The desk is too high, means you hold yourself at a funny angle and - yes Gimpy - it means my elbow is almost constantly rubbing up against the edge of said desk causing that constant pressure that can bring on arthritis attacks. Gout if you like. Won't mention gout but it's now a writing issue. Fucking gout, who the hell else gets gout. It's a kidney problem, that's what causes it in case you aren't aware. Crap. Why do I have to suddenly get a kidney problem.

Anyhoo ... 2 weeks left. I need to start. Where do I start. How do I introduce the character? What's the style?

I'm thinking seriously about doing that fashionable thing of one chapter written from one perspective, and another written from another. But I really don't know. Do I do it third person? Third person restricted or third person omnipitant? I'm thinking maybe third person ... but perhaps two x first person. I am also trying to work out what other themes should be in there, what the characters like to do when they're not engaging with plot pursual as such. God I'm talking so abstract ... I don't even really think in these terms it's just I don't know how else to express it simply on this blog.

And the other question is ... why am I writing a blog entry when I could be writing the novel? Novel. Damon's novel. Feels odd saying that. Bit wanky. Why should Damon have a novel? Why does he deserve a novel attached to his name? Weird. Feels odd. Sad aspirationalism or something. Like I'll ever finish a novel and it'll be any good.

I still haven't learnt how to pace a plot / novel. Just any thoughts on that would be useful right now. Not necessarily direction, or instruction, more just hearing what people have got to say about it. Other peoples' experiences.

This keyboard is sticky and clunky and needs replacing. Anyone else get through keyboards as quickly as I do? Approx one every 9 months. I'm a touch typist, I use it a lot but don't hammer it.

Going. Way too early. My insomnia is making me wake at 3:30am this week. I'm sleeping again between 6pm and 7pm and then having a proper sleep at 10:30pm.


The Goldfish said...

I think the important thing to bear in mind at this stage is that if you do complete the thing for publication, your final first chapter is unlikely to resemble the thing you need to hand it in two weeks time.

So just write it, and don't worry about the wider implications of genre and whether Damon deserves a novel and so on - of course you want it to be good if you're going to have to have it read out or have it assessed in some other way, but that's all you need to worry about at this stage.

Just write. Open your Word Processor and don't close it until you've written at least five hundred words - that's hardly anything - you managed over 700 with that blog entry. Once you'd done that, the next five hundred words will be a damnsite easier.

I would however, avoid trying to do anything "clever" like writing the book from several points of view. Yeah it is fashionable, but it is extremely hard to pull off - I can only think of one example of a book I have read in that style that actually worked and was completely convincing. But that may be a matter of taste.

BloggingMone said...

Damon should have a novel, because Damon WANTS a novel - as simple as that!
As for the rest, a agree with goldfish. Not that I have written a novel so far, but I have to write lengthy articles and papers once in while and I know it is difficult to just pull yourself together and get started.
It is a good idea to make writing a kind of treat for yourself. Make yourself a decent cup of tea or coffee, bake some olives or whatever you fancy and make yourself comfortable. And then just have a go. the first chapter will not be published tomorrow and there is time enough to change it until you really like it. If it isn't perfect, it can only help to learn from mistakes.
Have a go, we can't wait to hear about the results ;-)
Oh...before I forget: I have tendinitis in both arms and my elbows are a nuisance. I bought myself a jelly cushion which can be put in front of the keyboard. It really helps to keep your arms in good position and to avoid contact with the hard surface of a writing desk.

Katie said...


I remember being quite startled when - last summer - my novelling mentor, a proper writer herself, said to someone we were chatting to:

"Have you read any of Kate's novel?"

I came over quite dizzy. Kate's novel. My god. I have a novel. It's not finished yet, but someone else is speaking about it as if it is a real novel that really exists and someone else - who is neither me, my mother, nor my indulgent mentor - might want to *read* that novel. My god.

I think that was the moment it shifted in my mind from being a theoretical concept to an actual, real novel, albeit an unfunished one.

And it was quite a headrush.

You have got to write. If you desk is uncomfortable, do not write at your desk. There aren't laws about these things! There's not a coffee shop in Brighton I haven't graced with my writerly presence. Once I went and sat in the park opposite my flat and just wrote, in the mud and the drizzle, because the flat was driving me insane.

Turn your mobile off. If you don't like doing that 'for no reason', go to the local library where you have to turn your phone of.

Just write, and see what happens. What comes out may bear no relationship to the neat proposal you wrote. That's just part of the fun.

Charlesdawson said...

damon, just dive in and write anything, to get yourself started. These people are right. Once you have cracked the first sentences, words will start to flow, and your confidence will rebuild itself accordingly.

jfsouthpaw said...

Just lost the post I spent ages writing.

Write something. It won't be perfect, nor will your writing conditions - these are good things.

I have found some recipes using foods good for kidneys, if you're interested. Will post more about them on the relevant thread below when I've time.