Writing from Experience

I’m  working on sending a submission to Horror Tree under the  headline Ghosts on Drugs. A nasty bout of depression which stole my motivation, which meant I missed the deadline for my novel. The computer is a bit of a scary place now, it’s a place where I fail to write my novel. My laptop is fine. It doesn’t judge me. I’ve not taken a lot of drugs…

I’ve not taken a lot of drugs…actually, that’s not quite right. I have not taken many drugs which were not prescribed . For the past three or four years, I have taken medication every day. 150mg Sertraline in the morning and zopiclone to help me sleep. Eating the right amount of food and recovering some form of mental stability has meant I’ve weaned myself off the zopiclone. Oh and let’s not forget the Symbicort and salbutamol for my Asthma.

The dreaded message came with my latest lot of subscriptions Please make an appointment with GP for medication Review. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, but it sure as hell hit me like one. Right now I’m avoiding the whole thing until after my driving test.

back to the story, if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time you’ll be aware that I suffer from depression, anxiety alongside an eating disorder.  For my ghosts on drugs submission, I will enter the mind of a protagonist who is struggling with depression.

Should I be writing things that could be potentially triggering? It’s great to promote understanding  but I know it can also send those suffering from similar conditions into a downward spiral. It feels wrong shying away from such issues. I am not writing in any gratuitous way, simply writing from a point of view of a girl who is depressed. The point of view I know best! One thing I can say is that the first line in my story lays out the premise of my story.

By the time I realized I was off my meds I’d already been dead for a week.

 

Today’s word count: 685

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Getting My Writing Mojo Back

Whether it’s a tempory high or a sign that this current  haze of anxiety and depression is passing, my motivation is back with a vengeance.  There are lists upon lists of things I want to write, make and fix.

One terrifying task looming on the horizon is the dreaded driving test.  I am straddling the line between avoidance and obsessively worrying.

It’s been nearly a month since I wrote a post for this blog. In that time I have written a little but have mostly spent time planning and honing my skills with sentence structures and narrative arcs.

Back in May, I wrote a piece of Flash Fiction for Winchester Writers’ Prize. I had no luck with the competition  but I’m relatively happy with it and decided to share it with you lovely people. The prize offered adjudication for an extra charge. I haven’t done any editing since the adjudication, though i do think the feedback is useful. I’ll include it at the bottom. Let me know what you think.

Court shoes cling with tacky insistence to rotting floorboards. Each breath brings the dank scent of mold. My toe catches on a bottle. It’s chime echoes about the hall a mockery of the music that once played. It comes to jarring halt against a piece of wood, blocking the stairway to the stage. One shaft of light reaches the raised platform. The glass ceiling all but boarded over,
‘What have they done to you?’ I place one gloved hand on the board. A sharp pain stabs my palm. A spot of blood pools about the splinter, staining white gloves.
‘Perfect. Just bloody perfect,’
A scraping noise resounds, I lift my head to see a girl skating towards the stage.
‘Were you talking to y’self? Only mad people talk to themselves’
‘Nonsense.’ I say pulling the splinter free.
‘S’what I heard,’ she shrugs and skates up the plyboard onto the stage.
‘Do your parents know you are here?’ The girl slides back down and circles me on her heels.
‘They split a year ago. Dad’s workin’ and Mum’s moved away,’ she scuffs the floor ‘It’s the only place I got to skate.’
‘It was an ice rink when i was young. Dottie and I would dance by candle light the stars and moon shining down upon us.’ I look up to the boarded ceiling ‘all the magic’s gone now she’s dead.’ I push back the pain in my throat. ‘You don’t want to hear stories from an old lady.’
‘I don’t mind.’
I look her up and down, she seems genuinely curious.
‘If that’s the case I have something to show you. Here help me move this’ the board moved easily with her help. I bend low, my light blue skirt skimming the floor. I pry open a floorboard, my gloves growing messy with sticky dust. The tin box stils, just where Dottie and I left it. I open it, inside lies a photograph and two pairs of leather ice skates.
‘This is Dottie.’ I says pointing to the woman on the left, laughter lines crease her eyes and curls fly forward on a gust of wind. A younger version of myself stares at Dottie, besotted.
‘You miss her’ the girl says, it’s not a question. ‘I miss my mum too, we used to skate here, when it was a roller disco.’ I press the photograph into my pocket and pull out the blades.
‘Watcha doin?’ The girl asks as I prop myself against the wall and pull on a pair of ice skates.
‘Here put these on.’ I toss the other pair to her
‘There’s no ice.’
‘Isn’t there?’
The boards covering the windows slip away. Crystal clear light refracts onto white ice. The stage fills with ghostly musicians.
‘The magic never left this place after all.’
The girl slips and I skate to her side placing a firm arm under her back.
‘How did you-?’
‘I’m going to teach you how to really skate.’

  • The University of Winchester Writers’ Festival added a note.

    Note: The interaction between the old woman and the girl is moving in parts – I believe the girl is genuinely interested at the end. The piece is unnecessarily confusing however — knowing where they are, that the narrator is an old woman, would improve the immediacy of the story. Be careful of grammatical mistakes — they also make the story difficult to comprehend. But some nice work here.

 

Today’s Wordcount: 475

p.s Grammar is a super difficult thing for me, dyslexia is a bitch

words words words words words….

At this point, I am fairly certain I will not manage to get my first 15,000 words off by the end of the month. I’ve been revising scenes since around 3.30 this afternoon and completed two scenes. On any ordinary day, this would be fantastic, but I am  still only on 3897 fully revised words. I’ve managed to smash together my very early drafts and later revisions to get a nicely rounded introduction. It’s turning out pretty well but there just isn’t enough time to thread together all the scenes.

To complete the required amount I will now have to revise 2200 words per day. I will be working two out of the five days.

Today’s total word count: 3126

Today’s revised word count: 873

Another Scene Done

Both today and yesterday I managed to write a scene. It’s nice to know I can actually sit down and write, of a day. However, I still need to get 12,000 more words revised by the end of the month, including the final draft of my synopsis. In order to get this draft finished, I will need to write 2000 words every day.

Do-able but not likely

wish me luck x

Today’s Word count: 703

A Good Writing Day

All the hard work planning the other day paid off. today I had the house to myself and decided to have a writing day.

I have managed to write three and a half scenes today. 🙂 It feels really  good to have a proper writing day. there’s a vague possibility I will actually get my novel to a satisfactory level to send off at the end of the month. Well, the first 15,000 words anyway.

I think i may well give my brain a break for the rest of the day and do a little bit of simple sewing.

If anyone’s interested, it’s the Yeovil Literary  Prize.

Today’s word count: 2030

 

 

Fun with templates

I’m a big fan of Scrivener, I’ve been using it to write for about a year but only recently discovered how much fun I can have  with templates. If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know I’ve been working on getting my novel ready to be sent off to a couple of competitions at the end of the month.

I’ve got my synopsis somewhere close to where I want it and now I’m working on the first 10,000/15,000 words of the novel. I very much like all the words in my first few chapters, however not all of them are necessary or particularly relevant. Luckily for me, Lady Writer has provided a scrivener template which I can follow. I’ve written a short sentence for each chapter and I feel like I need to get to the action a bit sooner.  I never thought I would be excited to cut words but I’m a sucker for a good plan.

You guys should definitely check out this yummy spreadsheet.

Today’s word count: around 300

My synopsis is falling into place

I think I’ve managed to craft some sort of synopsis. It makes a lot more sense than any previous drafts. Ideally I’d finish this revision of my novel before trying to get this done. However, as I want to send off my novel for a couple of competitions at the end of the month, it’s just not possible. The requirements are the first few chapters and a synopsis.

It is no longer in sticky note form but written down in my current novel notebook. I find I like hand writing plans, it takes more time and gives me more time to think about what I’m putting down.

I’ll be at the shop for the next couple of days so probably won’t get much writing done. I will be bringing a few notebooks about with me

Today’s word count: 350

No Synopsis, but a Hero’s Journey

Once upon a time, I used to think authors sprung into life fully formed. They produced a novel without advice or influence from another living being. In my teens, I was steadfastly stubborn. I did not want books or official teaching on writing. I assumed it would somehow cheapen the ‘magical’ experience of writing a novel. I wasn’t the smartest of teenagers. Looking back on it now it was probably my crippling insecurities masquerading  as pride.

I now hold strong to the belief that being confined by a structure breeds rebellion and therefore, creativity.

I still think my most intricate and creative work comes from free-writing, but I am no longer ashamed to say I need help to structure that creativity into something that can be understood.

I was first introduced to the concept of the Hero’s Journey, or the Monomyth, at university, I began researching Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero with a thousand faces for an essay and came back to it for my dissertation. My dissertation centred around Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. A piece I happened to be very high on painkillers whilst writing. They were for a slipped disk, not recreation, but it did give me a unique perspective. I was thankful for Vogler’s  slightly less dense text Writer’s journey: Mythic structure for writers.

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To get back to my original point, if there was one, I found this spectacular website, Better Novel Project, run by the ingenious Christine. She   takes the essence of the Heroes Journey and shows how Twilight, Harry Potter and The Hunger Games all adhere to it.

Teenage me would have scoffed at the idea but present me is absolutely delighted. I’ll not waste time with my current novel as I am revising it now. However this simple, if highly detailed, template will make plotting out future novels something akin to painting by numbers. I have no trouble creating worlds, and I sometimes forget the characters in my novels aren’t real. Structure is my issue.

I discovered this website  whilst skilfully avoiding writing my synopsis. I did, however, find a few promising pages to help me write the synopsis. I then spent far too long copying and pasting the articles into Scrivener and formatting them with gaps for my own word.

I’m itching to start a new novel, or more accurately, return to a very rough draft. Being ill for the past couple of days and doing absolutely nothing has given me fresh creative enthusiasm. However, I must get back to this synopsis. I’m trying to get it done because there are a couple of competitions coming up which require a synopsis and the first 15,000 words or so of the novel. Competitions feel a lot less scary than agents.

Here’s the useful links I found for writing a synopsis

How to write a synopsis By Glen C. Strathy

How to write a 1-page synopsis by Susan Dennard 

The anatomy of a short Synopsis by Christine Fonseca 

I have a pseudonym!

…am I supposed to keep that a secret?

 I have now sent off my Flash Fiction to Writers’ Forum, after changing it to the first person (see yesterday’s post). While I was at it I figured I may as well send the piece off to  the Winchester Writers’ Festival Writing Competition.  They required a pseudonym.  I had a lot of fun thinking of names for myself. I finally settled on Hester Jones.  I have somewhat fallen in love with the name Hester. I imagine she is around 5,2″ with lots of freckles, Her hair is mousy brown and it hangs just below her chin. She wears sensible shoes and thick socks. Though she is small she is not meek. I think I will like being Hester Jones.