Second Draft Update

Just dropping in for another update:

I had a rough ten days or so with dental agony (mostly due to a reluctance to go to the dentist…) and that but a serious dent in my productivity. My college assignments took longer than expected and in turn, my editing got pushed aside.

Eventually I manned up (i.e. I was in so much pain for so many days in a row that I couldn’t stand it any more) and went to the dentist. I got a tooth removed and have to make a few appointments in the new year to fix the rest of my face. But the great bit about it is my pain has gone away and now I’m back writing.

As a result of this sidetrack, I won’t be getting the draft finished before Christmas. However, today I passed the halfway mark and after finishing today’s chapter, I’ve edited a little over 43,000 words of the 80,000 word draft. Depending on how I feel tomorrow, I’ll be pushing by the 45,000 and who knows, maybe push hard for 50,000.

My girlfriend is staying over for the weekend and it’ll be the only time possibly that I see her between now and the new year, so it’ll be a two day hiatus from editing. I’ll have Monday night, all of Tuesday and (maybe) some of Christmas Eve to do more. All in all, I should get in a comfy position to finish it shortly after Christmas day. Although, seeing as I’m totally hooked on this novel and Christmas afternoon tends to be quiet enough, I might even pick up the pencil on the 25th…

I’m really liking how it’s all coming together and recently I gutted three chapters entirely, which removed a meaningless subplot. It’s made for some readjusting with later chapters and this can be a bit tedious, but it’s liberating (and at the time terrifying) to make such a drastic change to the manuscript. Still, it’s all the better for it!

I’m still hoping to have a third run at it finished by the time I return to college on the 19th. That’ll be when I read the edited version from start to finish and see where holes need fixing and where there’s logical inconsistencies. Really looking forward to that bit.

To anyone reading this, Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year too!

I intend to write a post on the 26th about how much I’ve read in the past year, as I did a post last year on the 26th to challenge myself. Apart from that, expected the next post between Christmas and early January to inform you of the completed second draft and its word count. As it stands, I’ve cut about 11,000 words.

Second Draft Progress

Back in April I played for the MA in Creative Writing in my college with the hope that, if I got it, I would learn how to edit my work. I got the course and it has far exceeded my expectations.

I had confidence in my ability to edit something small or an academic essay. I knew how to make a paragraph tighter and how to strike the right academic tone, but I hated (and still do) writing short stories and I no longer write academic essays. Editing my novel drafts was a daunting and near-impossible thing. Plot holes, awful writing, flat characters, lack of themes, dry subplots and many more problems bogged me down.

Fast forward to the end of my first semester, a semester that went by far too quickly for my liking, and I’ve already surpassed the goal I had for this course.

I am currently editing the draft of my novel – a draft that I wrote in a mere two weeks. I’m currently about a third of the way through it, editing it heavily on some days, lightly on others and the occasional day off to manage things. I’ve a lot of assignments to do and they’re all due by the 8th and 12th of December, so a busy week or two ahead.

But I’m coasting through this editing process and making significant strides with my manuscript. Obviously, there’s a lot of work to go, but some of it is really working out. It’s funny where it’s meant to be funny. It’s sad, isolating and frustrating where I want it to be. And the asshole characters annoy the hell out of even me, so much so that one day I flung the page against a wall because the asshole character was being such a… well, asshole.

It’s a strange feeling to witness my own writing improving at such a rapid pace. The amount of improvement I’ve had in these twelve weeks is greater than any writing I’ve had previously on my own. A course well worth the fee.

I’ll be slowing down a bit with the next week as I’ve so many assignments due, but then I aim to up the anti that little bit to get the second draft finished pre-Christmas. It’ll be my first full second draft of a novel manuscript. And that, ladies and gentleman, is a feeling most groovy.

Success!

I’m a day late to post this, but I finished the novel draft on Sunday. I finished it around 6pm too, so should have had this up!

Tauntingly, I didn’t make it past the 80k. I hit 79,875 words which is hilariously and painfully close. Still, it’s the longest thing I’ve ever written.

Happy with how the whole thing came together and itching to edit it, but will set it aside for a while yet.

The beauty of this novel is that because of it’s genre, even 50k-60k would be plenty of words, so I have lots of room for cutting and fine tuning it. It’ll be a liberating experience compared to whenever I looked at my last novel.

The plan is to edit it over my Christmas break. Then when my second semester starts up I’ll get my tutors to look at it. Edit it some more. Then send it out to ages. Whoop Whoop!

Update: Novel ProgressionS

Another little visit to update you guys on what’s going on!

Last week I had my mid term ‘break’ for college. I say ‘break’ because I used that entire week to get a serious portion of a novel first draft out of the way. Taking my tutors’ advice on board, I’m starting a new novel to apply what we’ve learned a lot easier than trying to flog a dead horse (i.e. an old novel).

Of the seven days off, I wrote on six of them. The Saturday was marred by a football match that took up 9am-6pm and left me exhausted and degraded (we lost miserably!), so no writing was happening.

In those seven days, the highest word count for a single day was 12,656 on the second day. The lowest (not including Saturday) was 5,018 on the fourth day. So as you can guess, it was quite the productive week! I got just over 50,000 words of the draft done in that week alone.

This week has been a bit slower because classes started back up and as a result of both them and the hours of traveling to/from them, I’m quite shattered. I also spent a few nights in my girlfriend’s house in an entirely different county, which meant that I didn’t get much time to work on it. So far I’ve 5,000 done between two days of this week.

I’ve class tomorrow so not sure how much I’ll get done, so whatever I do I’m happy with. Then it’s a serious weekend session to hopefully either get it finished or get it damn close. I’m looking for 15,000+ between Saturday and Sunday.

The novel is definitely going to end up my longest piece to date and I estimate it to come in around the 80,000 mark. Exciting stuff! I’ll finally have a draft that I can actually cut from, rather than fearing it’s already too thin to work. And as I’m writing a YA Fantasy, I could really get away with 50,000-100,000. So I’ve plenty of words to cut!

I’ll pop in whenever the draft gets finished (hopefully Sunday) to let you know the final tally. Stay frosty!

Touching Base

So it’s nearly a month since I’ve posted here… wowzers! Time really is flying lately. Here’s a quick update and how everything’s going:

  • I’m nearly halfway through my first semester (already?!) of my MA and it’s by far the greatest thing I’ve done so far in my life. I’ve learned so much already and my writing has already improved by leaps and bounds. I also now have tools to actually edit something.
  • And to celebrate this new ability to edit, I’m starting something new! For one of my modules we have to submit the opening chapter of a new novel. I’m taking advantage of the opportunity (and inspiration of the year) to revisit and old YA Fantasy story and finally get it down. It’s one that’s stuck with me for four years and had three starts so far, each time stumbling around the 20k mark due to time constraints and something not clicking. Taking what I’ve learned so far, I finally found the missing ingredient.
  • I’m also currently planning and rejigging a short story to enter into a competition or two within the next few months. It’ll be accompanied by poem(s) which I’ll be getting one of my tutors to help me with.
  • It’s my birthday soon, so I’ll be getting another chilled out day with my girlfriend to keep me breathing. The course is so incredibly intense that I’m running on blind energy at this point.
  • After this new week I’ll have a ‘reading week’ which may or may not count as a break. Sometimes they like packing on extra work for this week, as it’s a week without classes. If that’s the case I’ll be super busy. If they give us the week off to catch up and such, I’m capitalizing on it to thump out a big chunk of the novel’s first draft. If I’m free of new assignments, I’ll be setting the ambitious goal of 40k for that one week.

That’s the majority of news that comes to mind. Lots going on outside of it, but that’d be the more interesting stuff! I’ll probably post again after that reading week to let you guys know how I got on, then disappear until the Christmas break!

Hope you’re all doing swell and enjoying yourselves. I still get random views most days, so if anyone is coming back in hope of a post and leaving disappointed… sorry! And thanks for coming back in hope! When this year is over I’ll be back for good. And I’ll probably be posting weekly when I get my Christmas break, so keep those eyes peeled!

More Than Expected

I’m into the second week of my Creative Writing MA course and it’s a hell of a lot more intense than I anticipated. I’d heard that a lot of people struggle to maintain a full time job on top of it (which I don’t have), but I hoped that was just a general saying.

Nope.

I only have four classes a week (plus a peer workshop) and yet I’m packed with work. Reading, writing, critiquing, planning, and more… I’m certainly run off my feet. And on top of that I’ve got football and part time work, which is taking up all my free time at the minute.

In saying that, I’m by no means upset by this. I’m loving the course despite my exhaustion. It’s great to look forward to my classes and to enjoy doing all of the work. The only thing is that I need to figure out how to squeeze in my own writing around all this. Since starting I haven’t worked on my novel, but I’m hoping that next week that’ll get back on track.

Blogging, as you’ve seen, will be very infrequent, but I’ll update when I can!

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 Fiverr.com 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!