Upcoming wordplans

“Ah, ye big bollocks.”

That’s what I said when I realised I hadn’t blogged today, yet. And I’m not even Irish!

Okay, so. A quickie, anyone?

Plans for the week ahead: finish Deep Screw and release it by Sunday 3rd May. Immediately that’s done, get working on the final 12k (I hope my MS Excel spreadsheet’s prediction is correct!) of Family Jewels, to be released within…say, a fortnight? Can I do it? Hmm, only one way to find out.

I know my blog posts are a bit vanilla lately, but I’m just doing them to get into the habit of writing to a schedule/deadline again.

To come: cover art reveals, blurbs, excerpts and coming soon. And whichever 1980s rock/pop star I’m obsessing over lately. Book recommendations. Funny things I observe when I dare to go outside. Ruminations on Dairylea triangles. My thoughts on Double Stuff Oreos.

First priority: sleep. I’m going to put in a full day at this working gig tomorrow. I was going to earlier this week, but the M-word struck. No more tempting fate. Monday, the other dread M-word, the one that doesn’t rhyme with schmybrain, will be all about the mansmut.

Pip pip!

Turning over a new leaf. Again. And again…and again…

That’s another bag full of books off to a charity shop this lunchtime. I swear if I turn my back on my bookshelves, they breed and before I know it, there are another 50 paperbacks to be organised and arranged.

This downsizing is no joke.

Donating furniture, giving away clothes and soft furnishings, letting friends choose from my DVD collection (yes, I do have some, despite Thursday’s blog post about introversion and the desire for solitude!), no bother. But books? It’s like cutting off a hydra’s head. I give away one bag, two more appear in its place.

Hmm. I wonder if it’s got something to do with my bad case of literary constipation? i.e. I can’t pass a bookshop.

Wakka wakka wakka! Come on, that was funny.

Some thoughts on getting started

It’s about time I made one of these month-o’-blogging post about writing, innit?

I have the next two days — possibly three — free. All to myself. Nothing to do.

So guess what I’ll end up doing? Usually I’d say “Precisely nothing!” but I hope that’s not the case this weekend.

Have you ever heard the saying “If you want something done, ask a busy man?” I find that the more I do, the more I have time to do. The more ticks I make on my chores list. The more words I write. Productivity breeds productivity.

It’s all about momentum. Once I get started and push through the first, awkward, thousand, it becomes easier. The more I write, the more I write. The trick is to get started.

If I had just under 25k words in the bank, I could finish two books this weekend. But that’s not realistic, so I’m aiming to make noticeable headway. Finishing one book, for which I need around 10k? Doable. Maybe. In a weekend and a little extra.

I know myself, though. And time in which I have no obligations often means I do no work.

How do you motivate yourselves to just get started, then keep that momentum?

Not a people person

I have definitely come to the conclusion that I am not a people person. Actually that’s misleading; gives the impression it’s something I’ve only just discovered about myself.

It’s ironic, being a writer who doesn’t like people. Or rather, being with people in groups larger than three or four. Anything more than that tends to be “Ooh look at me, socialising. I have lots of friends!” Appearances rather than substance. There’s no intimacy there. No getting-to-know-someone properly. You’re just sharing the same space, rather than sharing anything of yourself.

And that way, people can tick the boxes. “Right, I’ve invited so-and-so; that way she can never say she doesn’t get invited anywhere. And if I make it a big social occasion, I can tick multiple boxes at once. Get a bunch of people off my list of obligations.”

To know you are an obligation rather than desired company, well…

I honestly can’t think of anything I’d rather do with my time less than waste hours with a bunch of people with whom I have little in common, who treat social invitations as a duty discharged until the next rotation of the merry-go-round.

Can I rightfully say I never get invited anywhere? No. I do. They’re just never invitations that don’t fill me with horror. Parties, dinner parties, evenings out, going clubbing, weekend shopping trips, my god, I’d rather play hide the sausage with Pennywise. I’ve even turned down a weekend in Barcelona because fucking hell, if I’m going to get wasted I’d rather be able to get a taxi home to treat my hangover, not an aeroplane.

Art galleries, museums, book shops, country walks, loafing around reading? Now you’re talking.

And all of the above makes me seem ungrateful, or bad-tempered. Possibly both.

And it’s not that. When presented with an invite that fills me with horror, I just want to get out of the situation. And the person thinks I’m anti-social. Maybe I am. Maybe it’s sociophobia. A dislike of socialising? A fear of it? I need to get out of there fast, away from the dangerous situation. I can’t wriggle out of such invites fast enough.

Large gatherings tend to be superficial. “Hello, how are you?” Instantly forgettable. People you’ll never see again, or at least you’re not bothered if you never did.

The more people I’m with, the more energy I feel being sucked out of me. Then I become resentful, and that’s what makes me appear moody. It comes from a need to recharge my batteries, to be left alone.

Here’s a blog post from July 2013, entitled Not shy, just introverted, in which I recommend the book Quiet by Susan Cain, and link to a few articles on introversion.

Good Lord, I know this will sound like the world’s whingiest whinge, but when someone invites me to a ‘thing’ and the thought of accepting makes me wish I had a fucking migraine as an easy excuse for not attending, I wonder, “Do you really know me at all? Why are you inviting me to this people-filled slaughterhouse of social niceties?”

It’s like inviting someone to take a meal of something to which you know they’re allergic, while reasoning, “Oh, they’ll be okay. If they just force themselves to eat it, eventually they’ll feel better.”

No. No they won’t. And no I won’t. If I force myself to attend a social event where I’m expected to be ‘on’ and sparkly and conversational, I won’t eventually get used to it. I’ll end up enucleating myself with a dessert spoon and running through a plate glass window just to distract myself from the mind-numbing tedium of…of…making friends.

Nope. I’d much rather be in very small groups, with other like-minded people who have similar interests. You know, books. Writing. The world’s most prolific serial killers. Not eating establishments and licensed premises where people go solely to lose their inhibitions and very possibly their clothes.

I prefer to write about people, because that way, I’m in control. And if I get tired, it’s much easier to shut down the Chromebook than it is to explain to people why I’m going all taxi home, early bath.

Again. ;)

How am I still awake?

I have been awake since half past two this morning.

That’s nearly eighteen hours.*

Which is why this is going to be a very short blog post.

I have no idea how I got through work today without making any major mistakes, but I did. I bought two Jean Plaidy novels and an old Danielle Steel (shut up; it’s nostalgia) in town after work, then came home. I did no fictioneering because sleepy.

Goodnight, will blog you all again tomorrow, can’t keep my eyes open, blah blah.

PS: Oh, but real-life stuff happening soon, which gives me an artificial deadline for Deep Screw and Family Jewels and possibly, although don’t hold your breath, making headway on another project after that. Okay definitely goodnight now bye.

*Twenty. I think. Oh, shut up. I told you I was tired.

This blog post will probably bore you to death

Fifth bloggy day in a row, so I’m one sixth of the way through my “Can Scarlett blog for thirty consecutive days?” challenge. Came straight home after work to see to the chores I couldn’t manage yesterday – I’m bloody knackered after a migraine and having to get up early this morning, but at least my passage has been hoovered to within an inch of its life. Heh.

(No, I’m not pulling a Gwynnie. I mean I vacuumed my hallway.)

The manuscript I’m working on right now (still Deep Screw) has reached 22,196 words. Terrible for the amount of time I’ve been working on it, or should I say, staring at my computer wondering why the damn thing won’t write itself, but a respectable length (hurr hurr) and worthy of being called a novella rather than a short story, I think.

So that’s my plan for now – keep working on that for as long as I can stay awake, and not get any more migraines ever, if at all possible.

A woman can dream, right?

Feelin’ Shaky

I had planned to spend most of today writing – or at least from nine to noon, break for lunch, then from one to four. So six hours at the Chromebook, get a good few thousand words done. Then what happened? A bloody migraine is what happened.

It wasn’t one of those pain migraines, but a constantly-on-the-point-of-throwing-up migraines. It’s a bloody miracle I’m even out of bed (it’s twenty to nine in the evening as I write this) but I am. All I’ve had to eat today has been a couple of slices of toast and some boiled sweets. (That’s hard candy, for the benefit of any North Americans reading.)

ShakinStevensCollectionI’m still feeling shaky, and this is where the incredibly bad pun of the title comes in – note I’ve capitalised ‘Shaky’. Why? Because, to cheer myself up, I’ve just bought and downloaded Shakin’ Stevens – The Collection. I might have got next to bugger all writing done today, but I’m still determined to find out what’s behind the Green Door.

He were the Welsh Elvis, you know.

Despicable (but glittery) smut

Yesterday I went into town to buy new trainers. Did I come back with trainers? Yes, two pairs. I also came back with Kazuo Ishiguro’s latest novel The Buried Giant (well, it would be rude not to) and some bits and bobs to, er…aid me in my quest to write moar wurdz.

Okay, okay, I bought a Despicable Me minions notebook and some glittery gel pens from a discount shop in town.

Et voila!
Minions notebook
And here’s what I’ll be writing in this notebook with:
Glittery pens
Shut your faceholes; they work. Or at least, I did yesterday because I wrote nearly 1,000 words longhand. Might not seem like much, but I was busy for most of the day and wrote in snatches (heh) of ten minutes here and there. I didn’t know how much I’d written until I’d typed it up in the evening. I filled five pages of the notebook and guesstimated at around 600 words but no, it was half as much again. So that was a nice surprise.

When I was eighteen years old, I wrote a novel longhand. It took me exactly six months – from the first of October 1994 to the 31st March 1995. It was unutterable shite, but the point is, I did it. I had no idea what I was doing; all I had was an unshakeable belief that I could do this. I never, not for one second, doubted my ability to get to The End. In the first fortnight I wrote ten pages of narrow-ruled A4 every day, so twenty sides. I think that’s roughly 5k words a day for a fortnight. Longhand.

No, I didn’t have any friends, nor any sort of social life. And it took me the remainder of that six month period to get to the end of the book, and despite the quality of my writing (shite) I’m proud of myself for doing it.

I just hope that these days, the only ‘Despicable’ thing about my writing is the minion on the cover of my notebook!

In which I use the word ‘brainvomit’, ’cause I’m classy like that

So, I had an idea. Whether or not it’s a good one remains to be seen! I’m going to try blogging every day for thirty days (this counts as post #2 as I blogged yesterday) to get myself into a routine of writing. No, it’s not fiction and it won’t earn me any money, but it’ll get my fingers moving.

There will of course be writing-related posts, possible excerpts of stuff I write in the coming month, ranting about the upcoming General Election (which makes me want to write army-pr0n called General Erection) and more than likely, “I don’t know what to blog about!” whining.

As I don’t earn money for blogging, or expect many people to be hanging on the edge of their seats waiting for the next installment (although you never know), the pressure’s off. This isn’t a story, it’s just a blog. It doesn’t have to have a storyline or a cover.

Let the brainvomit commence!

My book, his book, Chromebook

Again, it’s been ages since I blogged. I can’t say I’ve done anything much creatively speaking. This blog post by Lola Carson (and my comment on it) may go some way towards explaining my state of mind right now. I don’t want to piggyback her post, but she said a lot that resonated with me, so I’ll just say her post’s great, go read it. (Not that anxiety is great, but the discussion of it is.)

My problem occurs during the actual writing process. I get gripped by anxiety, and I have no idea what it is I’m anxious about

…When I’m struggling to write, it’s not writer’s block. I know what I need to be writing, I just can’t.

The War of ArtUnlike Lola (because we is all different, innit), I have a fair old idea about where my anxiety comes from, but it’s a process I’m still working through. A book I read recently has been a great support and help; many of you may already be familiar with it: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It’s a little too New-Agey for some, but that’s exactly the kind of thing I’m into, so I spent a good few hours pointing at my Kindle and saying, “That’s me! He wrote that for me!” It’s great when that happens, and it was definitely the right time in my life for me to read this book. I’d thoroughly recommend it if you’re the sort of writer (or a worker in any creative medium) who’d say “I’m not blocked because I know what needs to be done; I’m just not motivated enough for whatever reason to do the work.

Amazon US – KindlePaperback
Amazon UK – KindlePaperback

I’m actually thinking of buying the book in paperback as well, and it’s not very often I’ll buy a book in two formats and keep both. (Sometimes I’ll buy a Kindle book if it’s on sale, and give my print copy to a friend or a charity shop. I’m a minimalist and ever-conscious of space-saving and ridding my home of anything that could be referred to as clutter or even simply ‘stuff’.) The last time I did that was with Julian Barnes’s The Sense of an Ending, I think. Another marvellous book. But it’s about suicide, so a bit gloomy for this present discussion!

Anyhoo, The War of Art is superb and I’d thoroughly recommend it, if you’re not averse to talk of angels and resistance, both of which are terms that work for me. :)

As mentioned above, writer’s block is not the problem; anxiety connected to other stuff is. Other stuff being…what comes after I finish a book. Ideas are all around me. But this morning, I had a character, a situation, pop into my head…and I thought, this would be great in a book. So recognising that life is all around me and all of it is inspiration and material and bookmeats, that’s not the problem. It never has been. All I feel comfortable saying at this point is “Okay, I’ve written a book…so now what?” can so easily become “I want to know the ‘now what’ before I finish the book.” Basically, a desire to see into the future. Predict my manuscript’s fortune.

Which isn’t gonna happen. (Ironically, itself a prediction.) Time is linear and only goes in one direction (for the purposes of this blog post anyway; I am not Albert Einstein or Stephen Hawking). If I want to find out what’ll happen after I finish a book, first, I have to…finish a book.

A book which will be completed on my shiny new Chromebook, too. I treated myself recently. Not that I need a new tech-toy; who does? But let me tell you, the fact it’s instantly-on makes it far superior to my shitty, years-old Vista laptop and even my slightly-less-slow XP netbook. Another recommendation.

But the book is cheaper. So buy that first. :D