The Start (And Changes to the Blog)

In approximately six hours time I’m getting up to head into college for the first day of my MA in Creative Writing. It starts with an introductory session and then they were unclear if classes will proceed for the remainder of the day or not, so I’m going to be taking it as it comes.

The next twelve months or so (my final piece is due in August 7th) will be dedicated to writing. It’s my hope to come out of this course with a much better grip on editing, as well as an improvement on my sense of voice, along with all the other techniques and wonder they will help us develop. I’ll be taking full advantage of the help on offer so that I’ll have one of my novels entirely finished by the end of it, final edited draft and all. Ideally, I want to get a novel to that stage by March, but we’ll see how it turns out with the workload for the course.

The one problem with this course is that as an MA, it’ll be very time consuming. One of my tutors from last year did this course and she said that a lot of people had to stop working their job for the year. While I’m currently unemployed (apart from the 5-week work stints with the college job), I want to make and save money as much as I can. So I’ll hopefully be able to find some part time work or some means to earn a bit of cash on the side. I’ll be investing more time into since I’ve earned money from it so far, albeit not that much at all. A massive $16, to be precise.

I’ll be dedicating a lot of my time to these things, using the spare time around it to fit in my football and time with my girlfriend. It’s going to be a heck of a busy year!

I’m going to continue daily posts on my progress on this blog, but now it’ll be more than just about my writing. It’ll be about my overall progress throughout the year and things I’ve learned (writing, working, life, money, and so on). Hopefully it’ll prove more interesting for you guys!

Now I must try get some sleep as it’s 1am and I’m up at 7… I’m quite excited though now that it’s so close, so it’ll be hard to settle. Here’s hoping this is the start to what I’ve always wanted!

End of the Run, Start of Another

Well, it went a good while, but my streak has ended. I hit 26 consecutive days of hitting my writing goal (discounting the days that made it impossible to write) and I’ve officially hit a block.

A personal issue arose this week, nothing major but enough to cause a stagger. It’s turned into the much needed resting point though after a lot of hard work and on Monday it’ll start all over again because that’s when my college course FINALLY starts back.

Coincidentally, this happened at the exact time that I wrote myself into a corner, so the time away has actually helped work around it. And by work around it, I mean avoid it… Despite my aim to not do it, I’m going to jump forward in the draft and leave out a bit of the story until a later point. It’s not a massive skip though; at most it’s a jump of a chapter and a half. It should propel me out of the stump and set me flying again.

I’m not sure how this will work with my course, since I don’t really know what its layout is or how heavy the workload is, so my updates for the next days (apart from tomorrow) might actually be interesting to read!

I’m equally itching and dreading to start my course. I’ve no idea what the expected standard is. As of yet, I’ve still never finished anything (edits included). I’ve never even fully finished a short story. I also am yet to enter any sort of writing competition or submit anything to a paper/magazine/etc. So in many ways my writing has been untested and I’ve no idea where my level is at, so I’m heading in feeling quite vulnerable. Okay… incredibly vulnerable.

Still, the year is all about making me a better writer, so I’ll be diving into it and learning as much as I can. But oh me oh my am I terrified!

Day 26: A Good ‘Un

Yesterday in my post I mentioned that I’m still aiming for 1,000 with my goals but I’d be happy with 1,300 for the next three days as that’ll end me on 50,000 for the start of the weekend. Well, today I got a little over 1,300 – success!

The characters and plot are starting to really take shape and over the last 24 hours I’ve learned a lot more about the novel’s themes and the likes. It’s a really interesting process because I started this novel off of a creepy idea and I just ran with it, based off of two pages of notes that I did up at 4am. This is quite the contrast from my last thriller, which had at least a year (two I think, can’t fully remember) of development in my mind.

I’m not saying that this way is better or worse, but it’s certainly a cool experience to learn so much with the first draft. I learned a lot whilst writing the draft for the last thriller, but I think having such a blank canvas as I do with this one allows for an even greater freedom. It also means I’ve a nicer starting point for editing as I know a lot of bits that need to be weaved in – e.g. my main character is a cripple and that’s forgotten from Chapter Two onward. I realised this towards the end of Chapter Two and thought I’d just keep going without him being a cripple, as it’d just slow the pacing down (pardon the pun…). I can thread it in during the edits as it’s essential to the story, but having to pause to work in his difficulty in movement every time there’s action would certainly make my writing speed a lot slower!

I still don’t know how long this is going to end up being, but it’s safe to say it’ll be my longest piece yet. It’s usually clear when you get to the last 15,000 words of a draft because it’s the conclusion-ey piece of the story. I’m quite a way off from that. If I were to take a guess, I think this’ll hit about 85,000-90,000 words. I don’t know the ending yet (usually that’s where I start!) so it’s hard to know. I have the penultimate moment planned and it is gooooooooood! Will just have to see where it goes from there.

Tomorrow I’ve got another work shift and then football training, so it’ll be late home with a lot of exhaustion and a nice writing challenge ahead of me. Hi-Ho Silver, away!

Day 25: The Beast Was Unleashed

I surpassed my goal by a little over 300 words today and while that’s no monumental amount, the means by which I did it were quite confidence-boosting and pleasing.

I ambled to the 600-word mark at a fairly standard pace, maybe working a tiny bit above my average speed. Then I took a break to get a drink and waste away a few minutes on practically nothing. When I came back, the last thing I expected was to smash out 700+ words in under ten minutes. But that’s what happened!

It was quite a nice moment in the novel when my character releases all the built up tension and essentially goes on a rant about his horrendous, blocked off past. It meant that I could just let loose and let it all stream out. This was aided by indulging with some sloppy writing and using ‘countenance’ four times in as many paragraphs (it’s my favourite word in the history of words!).

Today’s session has put me just past 46,000 words and this means that I’ll definitely be beyond 50,000 by the time my course starts. Huzzah!

I’ve also finally returned to the world of reading, having abandoned books for the last few weeks. During my last reading spell I somehow pulled a muscle in my leg by turning at an awkward angle in bed and as a result I missed a couple of weeks from football and was in all round discomfort. This resulted in a bit of a hatred for the little divils but now I seem to have forgiven them. I’m working my way through the Edgar Allan Poe short story book that I bought before, first on the list is The Gold Bug.

Although I’m in work every day for the rest of the week and won’t get home until late, I intend to give myself a bit of a push and hopefully I’ll be able to get to 50,000 by the end of Friday. (It’s only about 1,300 a day so it’s by no means a massive leap.)

If I manage this I’m going to set myself the thoroughly ambitious challenge of 10,000 words between Saturday and Sunday. I’d love to hit 15,000 but with my football match on Saturday I won’t have the time. Hopefully I can end it on an extreme high before starting my course!

Day 24: Hey Hey, Almost Halfway!

I left it late today due to enjoying my day off as long as possible before having to do some actual work. And then, despite the fact that it started with a bit of rambling, I got to the goal.

I’m just under 300 words from 45,000 words in total and that’ll most likely be the halfway mark (if not beyond it) for this first draft. Pretty nice marker to hit!

For the next four days I’m working in college, which means I’m doing a lot of traveling and working and have a lot less free time. On top of that I have training tomorrow and Thursday, which eats even further into my time. So it’s going to be a tiring week that pushes me that bit extra for these goals, but I’m feeling confident going into it. If anything, tomorrow will be the hardest day.

And on that note, I’m off to enjoy the rest of my night (not long left) until I get into the busy, busy days!

Day 23: Got There Eventually

I ended up granting myself two extra days off than what I’d planned because this week had been so hectic. But now I’m graduated and back to work and the football season has started, so my life is going back to a busy routine instead of many new things starting all at once.

Speaking of new things starting, it turns out that my Creative Writing MA doesn’t actually start tomorrow as I’d thought. During the week they sent out an email that said it starts on January 15th. I’m mostly disappointed about this as I’m itching to start and even while I’m making progress with this novel’s draft, my writing confidence is fluctuating. I doubt I’ll ever shake the “why are you wasting so much time writing?” and the “are you even any good?” questions, but it’d be nice to build up a bit more confidence with outside opinions. (Or get my confidence shattered, we’ll have to see how the course goes…)

In saying that, it’s nice as well because it means I get an extra week to work on this novel before I get my focus stretched. I’ll be trying to get the draft done quickly as combining it with my MA writing will be time consuming, so an extra week is very convenient. I should get to about 50,000 by the time my MA starts. I’m still aiming for 1,000 a day but I’m going to try starting early in the day so I can keep going if there’s momentum, maybe get lucky and get it closer to 2,000 a day.

The writing was very slow for my first day back. It was one of those days where I didn’t get stuck but it still move slowly. Easily distracted and churning my sentences out at a slow pace due to rustiness, but I still got to my goal and I’m going to do a little bit more before I leave it for the day. I’m at the end of this chapter so I might as well.

Hope you all had a pleasant and enjoyable week. Toodles!

Day 22: Change in Pace

It was a tough day to start because I had written myself into a corner. I was at the end of Chapter Thirteen with no way to finish it and no idea how Chapter Fourteen would start, or what it was going to be about. All of a sudden I had a revelation out of nowhere and was racing away with Chapter Fourteen.

The plot took a nasty turn for the main character and propelled me away from the corner I’d written myself into. It was one of those beautiful moments in writing that reminds me why I love the process! With a tiring week ahead of me that’ll take a cut out of my writing, this was the perfect time for a enthusiasm booster like that.

It resulted in me exceeding my goal by a few hundred words too. I’m now over 120 pages and 41,000 words. I’ve only got three more writing days this week (missing three because of graduation and the aftermath days, unfortunately) so I’ll end the week just short of 45,000 and a little over 130 words. Then it’s into the college course and a year of rocket launching my writing experience.

In other news, I’m back to work tomorrow for another five week campaign in college. I’m doing the same thing again, calling graduates to raise funds for scholarships. This is my third campaign so I’m very comfortable with it now and it’s pretty cool because all the new people turn to me and some of the other returning callers for advice and guidance. Takes a lot of the pressure off!