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

2018 Film Challenge: 49. Cashback

It was the final film on the list, so I’d love to say that it ended things on a high, but it really didn’t. I downloaded the film after it came up on some kind of online list – weirdest films, or something like that (probably this one, actually, as I’ve now watched a lot of those!). It sounded interesting and it’s somehow got a decent rating on iMDb, so I was expecting something pretty good. I was hugely disappointed. There are a few interesting ideas in it, which could have made for a good film if done entirely differently! The tone of it is really confused – it sometimes seemed like it was trying to be artsy and thought-provoking, but then bits of it were completely facile and slapstick. There’s also a disturbing level of misogyny running through it, which was possibly less jarring back in 2006, but makes for a decidedly uncomfortable watch now. I did briefly think that this might be intentional, but that optimism didn’t last long.

Here are the thoughts I had whilst watching it:

  • It’s whats-her-name from Eastenders
  • Why would you ask that??
  • Emilia Fox!
  • Ugh, I thought he seemed like a creepy dude
  • I’m not really taking to him as a protagonist
  • Ha ha ha, I’ll never look at those shampoos in the same way
  • It’s all gone a bit Wild Ones music video
  • Hmm, bit creepy
  • OK, yeah, definitely creepy. I guess we’re not meant to like the protagonist. At least I hope we’re not.
  • Is that the guy from Teachers? *checks* Yes!
  • There are uncomfortable levels of misogyny in this film. It feels like it should be an older film than it actually is.
  • Ughhhhh, how and why did I read positive reviews of this? I hope it gets better.
  • Ah, the extent to which I don’t care about this football game. Am I meant to care? They’re all awful people.
  • Is a monster going to get him? Fingers crossed.
  • X-Filesy music
  • Ooh, OK that was kinda intriguing
  • Did they need permission from Sainsbury’s to make this film? Because it doesn’t paint them in a good light.
  • I wish I could speed time up so that this film had finished already
  • It’s him! From Fringe!
  • Of course that’s what’s happened
  • This film’s ridiculous
  • I’m not sure if that’s flattering or hella-creepy. I think more the latter.
  • Disappointing choice as a final film

As I have a love of lists and charts, I’m going to be ranking these 49 films by personal level of preference. I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say that this film won’t be high on the list! I’ll be posting the list on here tomorrow. Then on Wednesday I’m planning to post my Top 50 Albums of the year! Mmmm lists.

Posted in Films | 3 Comments

2018 Film Challenge: 48. Human Traffic

I watched this years ago, prior to Danny Dyer becoming well known and prior to living in Cardiff, so it was great to watch it again with those things being different. I’d forgotten how funny and quirky it is. Enjoyed it.

Here are the thoughts I had whilst watching it:

  • Ickle Dyer
  • So ’90s
  • I like Lulu
  • Cardiff!!
  • That’s one pink room
  • Blue Velvet and Clerks posters. Nice.
  • Bill Hicks!
  • Peter Andre? Ha ha ha.
  • OMG it’s Andrew Lincoln!!
  • Ha ha ha ha ha
  • OMG, those dummies! That was a weird trend.
  • OMG, it’s Richard Coyle!! I feel like Jack Davenport needs to turn up now and complete the Coupling / This Life connection.
  • I’d not remembered this film being quite so quirky and weird. Like that though.
  • Howard Marks!! Amazing.
  • I just checked the cast list on IMDb and I apparently didn’t spot Ninjah earlier in the film. For shame! Bad Cardiffian.
  • I like that Reality is Jo Brand
  • Oh, no no no
  • Oh yeah, they were still building the Millennium Stadium
  • Danny Dyer’s just down the road from me! Except 19 years ago when I wasn’t here.
  • That’s the quietest I’ve ever seen St Mary’s Street! Well, technically High Street, I guess, but still.
Posted in Films | 2 Comments