So, Charlotte, how’s the novel going?

May 4, 2011 § 18 Comments

I have no blog posts prepared. Nothing saved, nothing drafted. Nothing.

Reprehensible, I know. But in my defence, this is because I am working flat out on Ye Olde Novel Project now (so termed because it’s been going since last December and nearly six months is feeling like a long, long time). I’m writing at least 3000 words every morning. Around that I’m finishing up the final assignment for the study course I’m on, working on the story for an upcoming fantasy webcomic (more on that soon), designing clothes and making the damn things too, creating a Regency costume, trying to read more and (as of this week) planning my move overseas in July.

My brain feels like a burnt-out car engine.

That being the case, there isn’t a lot of creative juice left for Blogville. Quite a few people have been kind enough to ask how Ye Olde  Novel Project is going, however, so I figured I’d half-cheat and answer that question here today.

Update #1: I’ve been telling people I’m two-thirds of the way through for about the last two months.

This is because I have been about two-thirds of the way through for the last two months. I have broken all my solemnly-vowed precepts about not going back and editing/re-writing while the draft is still incomplete. To be fair to my poor guilt-ridden self, this is because I suffered a flash of inspiration about a character (a major character) that had been eluding me for many a long week. This was great, except that I couldn’t continue writing about this character without going back and working her story through from the beginning.

So, I decide to accept this. I wrote some new opening chapters while I was at it, copied everything hand-written onto the computer (and rewrote about 75% of it) and inevitably edited up a bunch of the other stuff too. As of this week I’ve caught up with myself. I’m now finally getting started on writing the last bit, which ought to be around 40k words but hey, who knows at this point.

On the one hand I’m annoyed that this happened, as it feels like it cast about eighty spanners into the works (that’s wrenches, for you American folks). On the other hand, it means quite a bit of the inevitable rewriting and editing I’d have to do later is already done, so I can hope for a slightly shorter editing process to make up for it.

Lesson: Rules exist to be broken, even the ones you Solemnly Swear you will Live By For Eternity.

Update #2: I have no idea what I’m writing anymore.

I mean, I do. It’s a work of fantasy. I could even narrow that down to, say, high fantasy, because there are heroes and villains and something vaguely approaching an Epic Quest (sort of), there’s some magic floating about and world-rearranging events going on.

There’s also a mystery happening, some elements of the thriller, strong elements of the romance and at this point I’m having terrific fun writing the weirdest things I can come up with and I don’t think there’s a box for that at all.  Writing a synopsis and trying to stick a label on it is going to be hell. And don’t even get me started on the problem of picking a title.

Lesson: Um, genre is for pansies?

Update #3: I’ve been having fun making up a lot of weird animal species. Today I was sewing and I started musing on what a stuffed toy olifer would look like. Purple and grey striped hide, long nose, fat body. Could be cute. I was tempted to make a pattern for it right then and there. Impulses like these will have to be ruthlessly stamped on if I’m going to reach the end of the draft at all.

Instead, I’m turning it into an Incentive Programme. When I reach the end of the draft, I get to make a whole crew of stuffed toy animals. And I am allowed to post them all here. It will be part of the after-draft party (this is like a one-person wrap party for writers).

Lesson: Try not to have the attention span of a butterfly. No, you can’t make a butterfly plushie either.

Update #4: I have consumed about a ton of chocolate and approximately eighty-five gallons of tea during the writing of this novel. Fun fact.

Lesson: Try to stop eating chocolate or you’ll weigh about 300 pounds by the end of the edit. There’s a good girl.

Update #5: Novel-writing is definitely the most gruelling process I’ve put myself through. It goes on week after endless week and I feel at this moment like I’ll never get to the end.

But somehow, I love it to death.

Lesson: Maybe I can do this after all.

Update #6: OH YES this is an important one. I have a cover artist.

Not just any cover artist but a seriously damn good one. It’s one of those pieces of serendipity that sometimes happen. I won’t say any more about this yet because in due course there’ll be a flurry of blog posts about this and related topics. THERE’LL BE COLOUR. Oh yes.

Lesson: Good things happen sometimes. No, really. They do.

Update #7: When I get a panic on I start listening to ‘City’ by Sara Bareilles. I’ve listened to it about eighteen times a day for the past week, and it’s still the most seriously beautiful song in existence.

Lesson:  Music is a blessing.

Update #8: When one’s head feels on the verge of explosion, there’s nothing like air and sunlight and swarming insects to rejuvenate the mental processes. In the midst of the chaos of Chapter Twenty-Two I took a walk. Here is the bluebell knoll I paused to admire.

And here is the horse that tried to eat me for the apples I was carrying:

Lesson: Never carry apples when visiting horses. No, not even if you’re only planning to pass them from a distance of a hundred yards. They can smell apples from the other side of the city.

That’s it for this week. If you’re looking for me, I’ll be in my tower, right at the top, behind the locked-and-double-barred door. Inside there’ll be a computer, a treasure chest full of chocolate, a magic self-filling teapot, and me.

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§ 18 Responses to So, Charlotte, how’s the novel going?

  • Two months to finish it then.

    You can do that easily –just stay away from the faux fur.

    • Charlotte says:

      Got it. Step away from the faux fur, and don’t even think about getting cosy with the polyester stuffing. Thanks, Mr. Muse!

      Hoping for two months to finish, indeed. Onward! Thanks for the comment.

  • Hi Charlotte –

    You really have your hands full with your studies, blogging, and writing a novel. And you’re dedicated to all, it sounds like. Very nice!

    I have a suggestion when blog topics become difficult for you to come up with (or is it a time factor issue?). After you write your 3,000 words in the morning, maybe scribble out a blog on things that moved you while you wrote; your thoughts, feelings, giggles, tears, ect. Just a thought, ma’am!

    And if you’re feeling like some stress relief, I have posted humorous blogs on my site; a good giggle can give any writer a little break from the stress. Try my blogs: “4 ways a guy knows his first kiss with a girl, will be his last kiss with her”….”Trouser Mouse” …. “My Wedding Day Bliss” … and “Grandma’s teeth in the bathroom had eyes.”

    Relax and Keep Writing 😉 Happy Wednesday to you. 🙂

    • Charlotte says:

      Thanks for the comments, Charlie. About the blogs it’s a bit of both. I keep a list of topics for when I’m low on the inspiration, but sometimes none of them grab me. On other occasions I just lack the energy to do the topic some justice. The latter’s been my problem this week. Thanks for the ideas and notes, I’ll keep them in mind.

  • Charlotte,

    Really enjoyed today’s post. I had a ball writing my novel, and though I am sorting through it again (even after I’ve turned it in as a thesis just to get it right), I am enjoying this process. Who knows what will happen, but you are quite right when you call it grueling. It is, but in a sick, twisted way, it’s one of the best processes I’ve experienced. I’m please you feel the same way.

    I also loved that you had a character “epiphany.” It is a double-edged sword, but once you start rewriting and picking at it, there’s such a sense of relief. It happened to me as I crafted my ending. Had one planned, then switched it last minute. Had to go back and rework previous sections. Ahhh….the pain…the glory.

    Keep at it! You can do it! (Just have another piece of chocolate).

    • Charlotte says:

      Hi Steph, glad you enjoyed the post even if it was, admittedly, less considered than some… Now, that’s interesting that you’re still working on it. Not that I think it’s a bad thing, but I have a feeling it’s going to be virtually impossible to be completely happy with something so huge. There’ll always be something else that could be improved.

      Relief… yes, I see what you mean there. I was glad in the end that I rewrote the character, because I completely love the new her and she’s a blast to write about. I think it’s rejuvenated that part of the story, and it stopped it from nagging in the back of my mind… Interesting about your ending. Having to sacrifice parts that you liked in favour of something better – like a better ending – is hard, no doubt, but worth it.

      Thanks for the encouragement!

  • Christopher says:

    As ever, great post. I’m looking forward to reading your book when it’s finished.

    • Charlotte says:

      Hi Christopher, thanks! That’s both encouraging and mildly terrifying, but then, the notion of anybody reading the Finished Product is both exciting and pretty horrific. I think maybe I’m looking forward to the days when it all becomes old hat (does that ever happen?).

  • opheliajasmin says:

    I’ve found that rewriting and editing as I go leads the narrative in all sorts of directions that it wouldn’t otherwise have gone – and usually for the better. You could see it as part of your natural creative process and know that you are moving forward in more ways than your word count. Oh, but 3,000 words every morning is great! I’m so impressed by that.

    • Charlotte says:

      Hi Ophelia, thanks for visiting. That’s a very good point; thinking about it, I included a lot of new things that I really like as part of the overhaul. Some of those things are now influencing the later parts of the story and generating a new string of ideas. It’s unquestionably a different (and I hope, better) story as a result of those two months spent re-writing in the middle. Even if it did decimate my otherwise brilliant (read: well-intentioned but apparently flawed) Master Plan.

      And thanks… here I am in the middle of the morning Not Writing. I’d better get on with it if I’m going to make 3k again today.

  • DarcKnyt says:

    I’m glad to know you’re well and happy, and writing, writing, writing.

    Thanks for the updates. Good to hear from you again.

    Oh, and that Tower of yours? Make sure there’s a power plug too. Don’t ask how I know that.

    • Charlotte says:

      Hi Darc, thank you for dropping by! Thanks for the tip. I was hoping to get away with it on the grounds of ‘It works because it’s magic’. There’s a long and glorious tradition behind that explanation. However, I suppose this really is the real world, isn’t it?

  • mjcache says:

    For someone who is stretched thin in many a creative area and attests to not having much left for the blog… you produced a highly entertaining and informative blog post.
    Going back and revising your work, the 80 spanners in the works (I laughed out loud) is going to make your work so much better; I am really looking forward to your finished work.
    Keep up the good work.

    • Charlotte says:

      Ha, thanks MJ! Glad you enjoyed it. I think you’re right; I already feel that the revisions have improved it tenfold (or eightyfold?). Now onward to the end! Thanks for the encouragement 🙂

  • Jessica S says:

    LOL! Your blog post really cracked me up at a few places!

    Your updates number two and three REALLY made me want to read your novel. So, don’t worry about your blog–just get back to work! Hehe.

    Also, in regards to the horse comment, I’ve decided the apples I buy at the store must be no good to eat. Out of the eight horses I’ve had (counting the ones with me now and the ones on my parent’s farm), absolutely NONE (zero, zilch, notta)–not ONE will eat a stinkin’ apple. Even if I cut it up into tiny pieces (I know they can’t eat the seeds). They won’t even eat carrots. I don’t know why, but this really drives me batty. LOL

    Okay, enough of my chatter… 🙂

    • Charlotte says:

      Hi Jessica, thanks for the kind words! I’m a little bit intrigued that updates #2 and #3 are actually arousing curiosity. Interesting. I’ll take note of that for when it’s time to think about synopses and suchlike.

      Can’t say I’ve ever known a horse that would turn down an apple. Carrots, maybe, but apples seem to be like chocolate mixed with heaven to horses. I think you should definitely have a word with that store. I reckon they’re flogging you plastic apples.

      Either that or you’ve a small herd of snooty boarding-school-bred horses with double-barrelled names. They only eat food that comes from the food courts at Harrods or Fortnum & Masons. Try offering them a menu of rare-breed, gourmet apples and purple heritage carrots.

  • Fiona says:

    Charlotte – thanks for dropping by and for this very entertaining read.

    I found the closer I got towards the end of my novel the more I wanted to write, I was writing 3000 – 5000 words a day.

    Several years ago when I was at uni the thought of being able to write a 1500 word essay was daunting, how silly that seems now. I find the busier you are and the more additional writing you’re doing (study, blogs etc) the better the creative juices flow.

    Good luck with the last stretch and I’ll be back to view the stuffed animals at the ‘after draft’ party

    • Charlotte says:

      Hi Fiona, thanks for making a return visit. I’ve found the same thing with nearing the end – it’s so close I can taste it, and I can’t wait to see it finished. It’s becoming exhausting trying to plough through those last couple of tens of thousands!

      Haha, how true. Only last year I was a bit nonplussed at the prospect of a 5000 word dissertation (granted, it was academic writing which is different, but still. The number seemed pretty high). Now I write that much in two days.

      Writing habits do undoubtedly help, especially when you realise you can knock out 1000 words in half an hour if you’re focused. Blogging’s helped keep me on track.

      Thanks for RSVPing for the party. It’ll be colourful 😉

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