The Owls Are Not What They Seem

Bit of a random post today (and only likely of interest to fellow Twin Peaks fans, hence the title).

The Twin Peaks UK Festival ran a competition recently, to win tickets to the festival. The challenge was to write an opening scene to a hypothetical fourth season of the show. The only constraint was that it had to feature the character Windom Earle (as Kenneth Welsh is one of this year’s guests). As Windom Earle doesn’t feature in the third season at all, it was quite an interesting challenge. Also, a writing competition related to Twin Peaks? Of course I was going to enter.

Last year they ran a competition where you had to physically create a new Twin Peaks character, using parts of existing ones. My entry in that was one of the ones shortlisted, which led to the surreal moment of seeing John Pirruccello (Chad) talking about it in a Facebook video. The image itself is here (I called her Cherry):

Twin Peaks Character

This year the winners were announced more low-key. So low-key that I missed it (mostly due to the oh-so-unhelpful Facebook algorithm). I only found them recently by scrolling back through a whole load of posts. They just announced the winner and the runner up, but didn’t share the winning entries, which I thought was a shame. Neither of them were mine, but I would have loved to have seen different peoples’ interpretations.

Anyway, the main reason I wanted to write this blog post was to share my own entry. I spent quite a while on it and was quite happy with it, so it’d be a shame if only the competition judges got to read it. Granted, it’ll only really make sense to Twin Peaks fans, but hey, I know a few of those.

Am I meant to post disclaimers before posting such things? The characters aren’t mine, I’m just borrowing them, and such like? It’s been many years since I’ve shared/written anything in the fanfic arena. Anyway…

Twin Peaks Season 4 – Act One (the Chantal version)

Posted in Writing | 2 Comments

Throwing words at the page

Novel overview in Scrivener
Virtual corkboard of chapters

Yeah, my blog post comes with an image today. I updated my version of WordPress and am playing around with it, so enjoy this highly exciting screenshot of my novel in Scrivener. Yes, it starts with a death and a funeral, but I swear it’s not depressing. Mostly.

It’s somehow been another 3 months so I’m updating on my progress. I’m not really sure how it’s going – it feels like a bit of a mess at the moment. But, as the blog post title suggests, I’m persisting in throwing words at the page and hoping that I can eventually form something from them. The total word count’s now at 52,969, which isn’t massively more than a few months ago, but that’s because I’ve also been rewriting and deleting bits. Still, there’s a long way to go. I’d like to have a first draft done by the end of the year, but I’m not feeling confident in that right now. It’s taken me a full year to get it to this point, so, yeah… Longer-term, I’m seeing my 40th birthday (September next year – eep) as the goal for getting it in to a readable and shareable state. Not ‘finished’, but close enough to inflict it on people. I’d like to be able to ask some friends to read it and give me feedback at that point. It can be your birthday gift to me.

For now, I’ll just keep on with the words throwing. I’ve become quite aware that it’s currently lacking in likeable, sympathetic male characters. It’s mostly awesome female characters (yay), though it does also have some unsympathetic female characters, so that’s a kind of balance? The male characters are mostly background at the minute, though. I’m sure there’s something about art imitating life in that…

Anyway, I’m going to go write a scene where a ‘Not All Men’ bloke gets a drink thrown in his face. If nothing else, it’s quite a cathartic writing process.

Posted in Novel, Writing | 1 Comment

Novel 0.5

It’s been 3 months since my last update and the novel’s hit an interesting point. In terms of word count, I’m up to 46,187, so a comfortable half-way, if not slightly more, but in terms of plot I’m almost at the end. Bit of a problem?

I’ve been so keen to get the main plot down, that I’ve gone from A to B to C as quickly as possible, without building in much detail or nuance. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing (at least this is what I’m telling myself). The bare bones are there now, I just need to add some meat to them.

I’ve decided to use May as a month for reflecting, planning, brainstorming, structuring, and many other synonyms. I need to look at what I’ve got and what’s missing. Easier said than done. I had visions of mapping it all out on bits of paper, though also started trying to construct a spreadsheet to achieve a similar thing (as I do love a spreadsheet). I still might make use of those methods, though I’ve also downloaded a free trial of the Scrivener software and worked through the tutorial last weekend. It looks really helpful and like it should provide me with the tools to organise all my disparate thoughts; to sensibly track things like character development, themes etc.; plus view the novel at different levels of abstraction. It’s then my aim to get a full first draft done by the end of the year.

In terms of what’s there so far, I’m mostly quite pleased with it. I think. Mostly. At least some of the time. There are some good bits, or good phrases at least, I think. Writing’s fun, eh?

One thing that I have really enjoyed about the process is when I open up the document to write, I get to be surprised by reading the last part I wrote. Yes, I’ve often forgotten what I wrote just a day earlier (which is possibly concerning). On a couple of occasions I’ve been greeted by an unexpected penis (this is the only situation in which that’s actually acceptable), though other favourites have included the phrases ‘bisexual Oedipal shit’ (no, I’m not going to add any context to that) and ‘I felt like I was in a Pulp song’.

Re-reading your own work is always slightly nerve-wracking: What if it’s just really awful? But then it’s so wonderful when you’re pleasantly surprised. I re-read a short story of mine not long ago (this one, if you’re curious) and was surprised by how much I still liked it. Not that it’s as good as it could be – I feel like I’d write it better now – but again that’s a positive thing. I also spotted a typo, which bugged me, but I’m too lazy to fix it and re-upload the PDF. I should really add more short stories to the website though; I’ve got more recent ones squirreled away – I might do that soon (if they pass the re-reading test, of course).

Posted in Novel, Writing | 2 Comments

Bribing myself to write

It’s been 3 months since my last novel-writing update, so here’s a new one…

My writing-frequency slowed down in the run up to Christmas. And by ‘slowed down’ I mean stopped. I don’t think I wrote much in December at all. I was generally tired and lacking in motivation, plus I just felt like I wasn’t really engaging with the novel properly. Thankfully, the Christmas break worked wonders. Whether it was the almost-2-weeks off work (sooooo nice), or the psychological fresh start that is New Year, or probably both, I’m back into the swing of things now and I’ve met all of my writing targets so far this year. *Has mini celebration*

One thing that’s possibly helped is that I’ve changed my targets. Rather than 300 words every day, I’m now aiming for 500 words on only 3 days a week. Yes, it’s less words overall, but I’m finding it much more achievable. Trying to write every day, whilst a great idea and totally admirable of those that can manage it, is too much pressure on my limited self-motivation. It’s too easy to miss a day because I just don’t feel up to it, then to not bother the next day either, as hey, I’ve already missed one day, then for it to suddenly become a whole month. Whereas 3 days out of 7 feels manageable. The specific days being Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Why these specific days? Well, as well as reducing the number of days and overall word count, I’ve also started bribing myself (as you have probably gathered from the title of the blog post). Lots of articles online say that you should motivate yourself to write by rewarding yourself with something afterwards, but that it has to be something you really want and which you won’t just have regardless. Trying to think of something suitable was difficult. The obvious choice for me was alcohol! So, if I write the 500 words I can treat myself to a drink and if I don’t I can’t. It’s kinda win/win as either I get to have a tasty beverage (plus words get written), or my liver gets a rest for the evening! My choice of days might now potentially make sense? There was no point in choosing Friday, Saturday or Sunday, as I’m going to have a drink on those days regardless, plus I already set aside Tuesday as an alcohol free day (unless going out somewhere!), so there’d be no incentive there either. I’ve only been doing this for 3 weeks so far, but it’s working well. Fingers crossed it continues. I’ll let you know at my next update in April!

How much progress have I actually made in the last 3 months (despite the December dirth)? Well, my current word count is 30,460. Not quite the ‘half a novel’ I was hoping to have, though maybe not far off it. In terms of overall length, I read online somewhere, years ago, that novels are around 100,000 words, so that’s the figure I’ve had in my head as the goal to aim for. However, a fresh Google search this week has informed me that most are between about 80,000 – 100,000 and that the ‘sweet spot for editors’ (according to one particular article, by an editor) is to keep it under 90,000. I’m therefore adjusting the goal in my head to about 80,000 – 85,000 words. Yes, that means I’m still not halfway, but I’m suddenly much closer to it than I’d thought I was. Yay! A bit of a relief, to be honest, as plot-wise I’d say I’m probably around half way through.

At the start of the year, when thinking about goals to set myself (as I prefer that to resolutions, even if it’s arguably semantics), I considered a number of things, including finishing off the A-Z Music blogging that I started many years ago. I would still like to do that at some point, but as I’ve started packing my CDs in hopeful optimism of moving house, it didn’t seem like the right time. Rather than have a whole daunting list, I’ve gone for just 2 big goals for the year: Finish the first draft of this novel and buy a flat. Surprisingly, the first of those is currently seeming the more likely to happen! The housing market seems pretty quiet at the moment, I think partly/largely due to uncertainty around Brexit, so I’ve not even found anything I’ve wanted to view yet. Plus the whole Brexit thing makes me cautious too – am I better off waiting until after it happens (if it happens), in case property prices drop and I can get more for my money? Or could it mean that banks become less willing to lend and I’d struggle to get a mortgage? Not that those are major issues in the grand scheme of potential Brexit-effects, but hey, this is all probably for some other blog post (one that I’m not actually going to write as it would just be very ranty and include screams of ‘whyyyyyyy???????’

For now I’ll just keep bribing myself with booze. Seems like as good a plan as any.

Posted in Novel, Writing | 1 Comment

Top 50 Albums of 2018

It wouldn’t be December without me compiling my list of my favourite albums of the year.

This year’s list is a top 50 and can be found here.

Posted in Music | 1 Comment

2018 Film Challenge Chart

I’ve ranked the 49 films I watched as part of this challenge; from least favourite to favourite. Some I will definitely watch again and others I definitely won’t!

49. 9 Songs
48. Cashback
47. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
46. Transcendence
45. Live Flesh
44. Mr Morgan’s Last Love
43. 45 Years
42. Pi
41. Breaking The Waves

40. Memories Of Murder
39. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith
38. The Fountain
37. Patagonia
36. Y Tu Mama Tambien
35. Enter The Void
34. Fast Food Nation
33. The Rules Of Attraction
32. Talk To Her
31. All About My Mother

30. Mao’s Last Dancer
29. The Graduate
28. What We Do In The Shadows
27. Magnolia
26. Human Traffic
25. Strictly Ballroom
24. Paterson
23. God Help The Girl
22. Anomalisa
21. Secretary

20. Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down
19. Dogville
18. Zodiac
17. Stuck In Love
16. Fargo
15. Blue Is The Warmest Colour
14. Man In An Orange Shirt
13. MicMacs
12. 10 Cloverfield Lane
11. Wild At Heart

10. Bad Education

9. Burn After Reading

8. I Heart Huckabees

7. Cabaret

6. Interstellar

5. The Handmaiden

4. Nocturnal Animals

3. Ex Machina

2. The Skin I Live In

1. Dancer In The Dark

Posted in Films | 2 Comments