This was my grand plan back in May this year:
"...to finish the novel I've been working on for about 8 years over a period of 5 months! All of the planning, plotting and preparation is over, it's time to just get down and write the blighter! Hopefully along the way I’ll be able to pass on some tips for other first-time writers as I discover them myself! So with a working title of Moon Crater, this is my week-to-week experience of its creation to complete-draft stage..."
When I look at my writing output over the past year, I often find myself thinking back to when I was interviewed for the MA course in Creative Writing I did a few years ago. The head tutor asked if I was prepared to “Write in your lunch breaks and any spare five minutes you have like other struggling writers?” At the time I said I was, but during the time of that course and for a little while after, I have to admit that I wasn't that kind of writer. I was more of a "fairweather artist" - liking to look like I was a writer but actually not really getting down to putting pen to paper or fingertips to keyboard on a regular basis....
Well, whether I was prepared or not this year, I’ve actually turned that lazy routine around and found my writing life is suddenly very much the kind where I crave every spare five minutes, be it in lunch breaks, on the train or even as a passenger in the car as my wife drives. I scribble away frantically at any ideas that have been lurking in my mind for the stories I want to write (always in a notebook - never Post-Its or scraps of paper - see here for my reasoning for this! (And I definitely wouldn't have my writing life any other way, incidentally!) After taking the decision
back in April this year to commit myself to five long months of a "Big Write-Up" to force myself to get the first draft of Moon Crater completed, all I can say is that there's been ups and downs, times I haven't written very much but others when I've literally needed to stop the clocks so I had time to write everything down I wanted to, and now at the back end of those five months, having achieved what I set out to do, I'm ready for Draft # 2…" (and of course the search for an agent!)
But what else have I learned from these past five intensive months of "focus writing"? Well, for one, making sure each week I set out a short list of "3 things I'd achieved" (they were never intended as a way to "brag" about what I'd done, you understand, but rather they...) helped to make me be proud and keep me going. As well as this, setting down what I'd read each week and also my "other writing news" kept my writing fresh and varied, but above all, crucially kept my going - that's the key - to keep going, just keep going... Divulging slightly a few years ago I was in Florence and we went in to see the David statue. What impressed me most wasn't the finished version but Michaelangelo's "rough drafts" which lined the hall toward David himself. They really brought home to me the need to practise and hone your work, whatever kind of artist you are, and to keep chipping away no matter how lacking in enthusiasm or in inspiration you may be.
I feel exhausted after these past five months but what I will definitely miss is the thrill of writing and creating something completely new out of thin air for the first time (even though I had planned each chapter out, as I've said during the Big Write-Up posts, I experienced real times of creative inspiration and "synergy" from the joining of my "planned" work and my raw fervour just to simply write). I do have to keep my eye firmly on the prize though, as they say, and go onward to the second draft in early 2008 (yes, I know I keep banging on about it, but it's as much to keep me going as anything - that's another thing I hoped to learn from the outset from May - "make promises on the blog to yourself primarily but also the readers, and it'll motivate you" - so I'm endeavouring to carry that on into the new year with the redraft). The very end, still, a lot of times seems so far away even though I'm so close, but when I look back at a year ago and where I was then with Moon Crater, it makes me grin to realise how far I can potentially advance in a year and so this first part of my "Year of Fear" starting in May this year has definitely been a success!
Some small practical things which I am taking away from this five-month stint for my future blogging is that I'm going to launch a new "What I'm currently reading" section in the right-hand sidebar as well as maintaining the "current news" section which has already appeared in the sidebar this last month or so... I've just found that I've quite enjoyed setting down my current reading tastes as well as my news as it happens, so carrying it on will hopefully add a fresh dimension to this blog journal as it enters its second full year of being in existence early in 2008.
And so the story continues… I need something completely (well not completely!) different to do for a little while – and that’s why the year was planned out from the beginning so that my Moon Crater Adventures spin-off stories would zoom in once the first draft was complete… There’s also the final two of my 2007 Coming Soon stories to polish off and other things too, like pick "real" writers' brains about the big bad world of publishing – GP Taylor said last year that he’d be willing to talk to me over the phone to offer advice and I’ve not taken him up on the offer yet (he’s a lot busier these days what with a film being made of his first novel - NB requires Flash to view the site) . ..
If you want to retrace my five-month
"Big Write-Up" from the beginning of May
this year, by the way,
Next time: It's a return to me writing "feature" posts about aspects of writing I find interesting and relevant to my creation of Moon Crater - first up is a long overdue report on my Live Theatre Interview from June this year (remember, I'm third from the bottom in left-hand column!)
And finally... Here's the last two "key words" to unlock the mysterious “restricted” page of my official website – when you do work out the wordsearch conundrum, I promise you'll know more about the story of Moon Crater than you ever did before...
* The final Moon Crater key words this week:
"Orion" & "Zip"