Friday, 9 April 2010

First Writing Conference - Argh!

Well, here goes. I'm currently sitting on the train heading to York, going to my first ever writing conference, the Festival of Writing. I think I'll be fine when I get there, but at the moment I'm mainly trying not to think about it! I'm definitely excited, but I'm also pretty nervous. It's an amazing opportunity to meet some fantastic people in the UK writing world and get some helpful input, and I'll try to post some kind of report soon after I get back.

But that's all to come. For the next hour and a half, I'm just aiming to get some revising done. This revision is taking much longer than I'd hoped, for a number of reasons - my routines have been entirely shot to pieces lately, so time hasn't been on my side, but my process is also proving difficult.

For some reason, I'm finding that this time around - perhaps because the revisions and rewrites are just so extensive - I'm having to do a few scenes on paper and then type them up and slot them into place. Last time I was revising I did the whole thing on paper first - I marked up my existing scenes and wrote in new ones, but nothing got typed up until I'd worked through the whole manuscript. This new process is helpful, since it's giving me a much better grasp of how the whole thing fits together, but it does feel much slower and as if I'm stopping and starting a lot.

Still, I'm getting through it, although I'm itching to get this draft done so I can start playing with my new shiny plot idea. All I've let myself do is write down a couple of sentences on what the story's about, and I really just want to get on and start discovering the rest. (Ideally, I'd be doing the discovery along with the Lucy March/Lani Diane Rich workshop over at Storywonk, but unfotunately my budget needs time to recover from the Festival!)

Well, that's where I am. And since I'm now fifteen minutes further into my journey, my manuscript is now screaming for attention.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, 12 March 2010

Revisions, query letters and creativity

I'm ploughing on slowly through my edits. Well, actually, the editing itself is going pretty well, and I even feel like the synopsis is pretty good - the difficult part is the introduction and author bio I have to write. Essentially, it's a query letter, and having never actually had to do one of those before I'm struggling a bit. I have two days left to get it how I want it. Then I'll have to get it sent off, so at least then I'll be able to concentrate properly on the actual revisions. But yuk, it does feel very messed up doing this now, when I still have so much more editing to do. I know it'll be worth it for the chance to get some decent feedback, but it just seems very unnatural to be essentially writing a query letter before I've properly finished the book. Mainly because it is. And in an ideal world, I wouldn't be doing it. But hey - I covered all that pretty thoroughly in my last post. Kindly allow me to shut up, and I'll try to talk about something else.

I've been feeling a real need for other creative input in my life lately, which has mainly manifested itself in something of a book-buying binge. Financially, this isn't a great thing, but from the point of view of that whole filling-the-creative-well idea? It's fantastic. It's not that I'm feeling all that uninspired, or that I'm finding it particularly difficult to write just now, but I think it's a pre-emptive thing. It's been a while since I had an obsessive reading splurge, which is a shame, and I think if I hadn't given in to the urge I probably would have found myself running on empty pretty soon. (I may still do so, who knows - but I'm hoping not, with all the new and exciting territory I have to uncover in that pile of books.)

The only problem I'm having at the moment is that I'd bought the first two books in a series (Holly Lisle's Secret Texts trilogy) and once I'd finished those, of course, I had to have the third one. I immediately ordered it online, and it was posted on Tuesday, but it has yet to arrive. Now, I have that whole pile of other books waiting to be read, and there's a part of me that wants to just dive one of those - but I'm still very much in that particular world, and so I'm really, really hoping that the third book arrives tomorrow. If not, I guess I'll just have to try something else, because for some reason I'm seriously craving other people's writing just now. I mean, I always love to read, but at the moment, it's making me a little crazy!

The other thing I'm obsessing about just now is fantasy art. Not just looking at it - no, I want to draw it. The problem, of course, is that I can't draw, never have been able to, and so, although I am dying to pick up a pencil and start sketching, I know without the slightest doubt that the moment I do, I will be disappointed. But I think I may just have to risk it. Maybe I just need that additional outlet, even if the product of said outlet ends up heading straight for the dustbin.

What do you do to keep that creative well from running dry?

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Revising on a deadline

It has to be said - I never expected to be working to a non-self-imposed revision deadline before even attempting to get anything published. But because attending the Festival of Writing in York this April includes two meetings with agents/editors who have read through a first chapter and synopsis beforehand, I need to get those together. And I now only have three weeks left to do so.

I've been using the How to Revise Your Novel course by Holly Lisle so far, and it's been incredibly useful in highlighting problems I would almost certainly not have noticed without it, but I'm going to have to wing it a bit from this point on. I don't have enough time to put Amulet through the rest of the course, so it's time to take everything I've learned so far and start figuring out how best to use it to ensure that my first chapter is gripping and my synopsis is accurate.

There are a lot of changes that I know need to be made to strengthen the story. By necessity, I need to figure out all the intricacies of my new plot now, so that I can get my synopsis sorted. Then I need to get on with tidying up and rewriting that first scene, before working through the rest of the story. It's far from ideal and obviously if this were for a traditional query I'd be holding off on sending anything out until the story were as ready as I could make it, but under the circumstances... Well, I can't afford to miss out on the opportunity for professional feedback.

Today I've made some decent progress, writing out the scene by scene synopsis of the manuscript as it currently stands and then marking in broad strokes what needs to be kept and what needs to be cut. But there's a long way to go. So I'd better get started.

Friday, 12 February 2010

My writing space

Quite some time ago - approximately eight months ago in fact, when I first moved into this house - I promised the Wiffers some photos of my writing room. And since I am way behind in my blogging and currently trying to make my way through the rather messy world of my revisions on Amulet, this seemed like a good time to make good on my word. Well, better late than never, right?

So, here we go.

My whiteboard is on the left, with the collage for Amulet taking up most of the space. While I was working on the first draft of The Bonded, that collage was up instead. I use the part below the collage for random notes, key quotes, and change it whenever something better or more relevant comes along. On the right I keep track of my goals.

Then there's the desk, as you can see. When I'm writing, the laptop's in pride of place. Since I'm editing at the moment, there's revision notes, pens, index cards, and usually the lever arch file containing the manuscript.

And there's the view from my desk, looking out onto the park. I got lucky there.

The rest of the room consists of two bookcases, a filing cabinet and my craft drawers. And that's it really.

I like it. I'm not really at home often enough to take full advantage, of course, but when I am, it makes a pretty good writing space.

What about you? Where do you like to write?