March 2018 Goals

Polabooks Online (2)

In exciting news, I failed miserably in February. It seems that on the one hand I was overly optimistic and, on the other, I forgot just how short February is. But I’m still here, and it’s taken a fair bit of courage to open this site again, admit defeat, and try again.

Let’s start with the hard bit, these were my goals for February:

– Write 20,000 words of draft two. I wrote just shy of 15,000 words in February, so 3/4 of my goal. I can remember writing that goal just over a month ago, and knowing even then that it was far too optimistic, but I can’t resist a challenge. I’m not too disappointed with the outcome of this goal – I’m happy with the 15,000 words I wrote, they’re good words. (Well done words)

– Read ElmetI did read Elmet, and I enjoyed it. The real problem was that I didn’t have much to say about it. It’s such a slippery book – difficult to define, and even harder to critique with any finesse. I don’t expect to write a review of this one, I’m afraid.

– Read The Sealwoman’s Gift. I did not read this book. I am trash.

– Update this blog once a week. It is plain that this did not happen.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, it’s time to set some goals for the month ahead (although we’re already six days into it – whoops!) –

– Write 10,000 words of draft two. I hope to exceed this, but as my focus is still on quality>quantity, I want to give myself the chance to really take my time.

– Prepare for Camp NaNoWriMoAs I’m sure you’re all aware, Camp Nano is in April, and this will be my first year participating. I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to approach it – I don’t particularly want to write another 50,000 words of utter crap, but I’m definitely going to find a way to use it as a source of motivation to keep this project going.

– Read something. Anything.

– Update this blog once. Just once.

The bar is on the floor, let’s hope I don’t make a fool of myself again!

February 2018 Goals

Polabooks Online

On the 1st of January, I wrote a post which set out four writing and reading related goals. I am pleased to report that I achieved the majority of these goals, as you can see from the summary below:

– Edit the first draft of my manuscript. I read (or at least tried to read) all 72,000 words, and as you’ll know from my previous posts, the verdict was not great. I added my notes to the physical manuscript, and made a list of all the most important over-arching changes which were needed. I then took a week or so off, before I sat down and thought about what the second draft might look like, you can read more about my subsequent conclusions here.

– Read The Buried GiantI read The Buried Giant at the beginning of January, and even wrote a book review!

– Read The Wake. I confess that this is the one goal which I did not achieve. I did attempt to read The Wake, but the bastardised Old/Middle English was a little too much for me at the time. I do intend to get round to it eventually, however, so watch this space.

– Update this blog once a week. The completion of this goal is perhaps the most surprising. I set out a very vague schedule in my head at the beginning of the year, but I am incredibly proud of myself for accomplishing it. Let us hope that I can keep it up!

This is the perfect time to set out goals for February, in the hope that this 75% completion rate might hold up for a little longer.

– Write 20,000 words of draft two. I have now started the second draft of my manuscript, and I have resolved to take my time with this one. It became evident with draft one that the scenes which were best were those which I had taken my time to think about, and write without distraction. Therefore, I am going to set my sights low in terms of word limit, in the hope that I will achieve quality, rather than quantity.

– Read ElmetI purchased a signed copy of this book today, and I am intrigued by the fact that the author is a fellow medievalist. I am not aware of any medieval influences on the narrative, but I am excited to read a book which has garnered so much critical attention already, especially as a debut!

– Read The Sealwoman’s Gift. I also purchased a copy of this book today, and I am extremely excited to read it! The setting is 17th century Iceland, and (although it’s superficial) the hardback cover is absolutely stunning, so I am very excited to give this novel a go.

– Update this blog once a week. Let’s see if we can keep this up! 🙂

What are your February goals? I’d love to hear them.


Thoughts on Editing

note to self (2)

I’m only about five days and 110 pages into editing the first draft of my WIP (work-in-progress) but I’m already exhausted. Reading shit prose by itself is tiring, but the added factors of disappointment and embarrassment make reading your own shit prose somewhat more taxing.

I knew it wasn’t amazing when I was writing it. As many of you already know, my WIP was written as a part of NaNoWriMo 2017, when the daily struggle is simply getting words on the page, with absolutely no concern for their quality. It worked – I have 72,000 words to read, but I’d bet only 15,000 words (at the most) will find their way into the next draft.

It begs the question as to whether challenges like NaNoWriMo are productive. In the run up to last November, I found myself watching lots of videos and reading lots of blog posts about the pros and cons to participating. My conclusion at the time, evidently, was that taking part would be at least somewhat beneficial, and it has been. Even if zero out of 72,000 words make it into draft two, I am almost certainly a better writer for having written them, and (more importantly) for being able to recognise that they’re shit.

As sick as I am of my weak dialogue and uninspired descriptions of setting, I do feel that I am making progress. I’m around halfway through the manuscript, and already I have a notebook of new plot ideas, character arcs, and helpful suggestions like ‘be better’ and ‘no, not this’. When I initially finished the manuscript, after the first rush of ‘I did it’ settled and dissipated, I felt worried. I knew that the story needed more of just about everything, and that the plot’s structure would need a significant makeover between draft one and two. I knew changes needed to be made, but I didn’t know exactly how to make them and what devices I would use to solve the problems. Now, for the most part, I do.

My adventures in editing are far from over, and even after I finish reading the manuscript I will need to spend a significant amount of time mapping out my plot, thinking about my characters and making sure the next draft will be at least a little more successful. The going is getting tough and I can only cope with 5-10 pages at a time, but for every 5,000 words of pure bullshit, I find a sentence with some steel. Let’s hope that ratio improves somewhat in the future!