Friday, June 08, 2007

Coffee Break 21

Drama is life with the dull bits left out.
Alfred Hitchcock

Word Count:12,765

Have made a bit of progress with Novel 6 this week, though due to frenzied pillow-washing, not as much as I might have done. Character 3 of my 3 first-person POVs is giving me some trouble as she's the least sympathetic - snobbish, lonely, grieving and sarcastic - and I can't decide how far to go with this...I know it's only a 1st draft etc but even so I'd like to get the tone right.

I was also lucky enough to get a place on the the BBC/Script Factory Wireless and Boundless information day yesterday, all about what BBC Radio producers and commissioners are looking for. Very interesting: we listened to some wonderful clips using sound to create terrific new worlds - and also heard that 'talking animals' are, sadly, not top of the list for new commissions.

And, as always happens when I attend these things, I came away with loads of ideas. The trouble with radio is that, though the BBC really do want to encourage new writers and new 'voices', it's just as insanely competitive as every other part of the writing world. So the choice is whether to focus on the things I know will definitely pay me - the novels - or whether to branch out and take a risk creatively. I am so lucky now in that I do have some 'development time' built into my schedule to allow me to experiment and I do think that after four years of working full-time AND writing, I should allow myself some gambling/play-time even if it doesn't lead to paid work. The more writing I do, the more the transferability of skills but more specifically stories becomes clear to me - work I've done on the characters for a radio play can be used in a short story if the play goes nowhere. Nothing is wasted...

I must admit I am suffering a teeny bit of PPD at the moment. It feels like I am starting the climb up Manuscript Mountain again, and one always worries that the book won't live up to what I've done before. I think playing with radio might be my way out! was your writing week?

I've had a couple of emails lately from Novel Racers about the organisation overall of the Race and I'd like your opinions, please. When I set up the race with Lucy Diamond, we never imagined it would grow so big. It is always going to stay a very fluid group of people, but the commenters have asked whether there should be an expectation that writers who aren't involved in any way (i.e. don't come to coffee morning for months, don't comment on other blogs, don't post any links to the other racers) should perhaps declare themselves out of the race?

What do you think? I definitely don't want to lay down rules (apart from anything else, I'd hate to administer them, I really have no organisational skills whatsoever!), but should I amend the Rules of the Game a little to say, gently, that we all appreciate mutual support and that there is an expectation of some participation, depending on the free time each racer has (which, in many cases I know, is very little).

All views much appreciated...

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Blogger Rowan Coleman said...

Oh Kate! I so sympathise with the tricky sixth book issues! I too have them, especially the feeling that it isn't going to be as good as other books. I try to remind myself that I've felt like that with all of my books so and there is (or has been so far!) that corner you turn when suddenly it all just comes together. One of my main chacacter borders on unsympathetic too, but I understand why she is the way she is so hopefully the reader will too. As for the novel race I'm new so I bow to the majority on the rules!

10:47 am  
Blogger leatherdykeuk said...

I'm stuck at the moment. Too many ideas in my head that I can't pin down into a coherent synopsis. Novel 6 has stalled because I think there's too much going on in it.

Sadly, I'm also one of the people that doesn't often comment on the other blogs.

11:49 am  
Blogger liz fenwick said...

Sympathies Kate. You will find our way throug though :-)

My writing this week ....nil. Too many others things like move interferring but I am hoping that the down time has helped me work out a few of the plotting issues in the rewrite. i just wish I had more time!

On a writerly note I attend the Melissa Nathan Award Comedy Romance MasterClass last night which was superb. For those interested I have written a fairly lengthy blog post about it.

Re the race......I think the links should be essential. Posting is great as its support but some people don't have time. Regular visits to coffee should be encouraged. Just my views for what they are worth. Rachel you may not visit blogs as frequently but you do come to the coffees :-)

11:56 am  
Blogger JJ said...

Hi Kate
Sorry you're feeling a bit down. It must be tough after all the excitment to start all over again. I'm looking forward to purchasing a copy of Yhe Self Preservation Society on my trip to the UK next week.

That's my excuse for not doing much writing. I am doing lots of reading, which i think must count as research?

Oooh rules. Mmmm, I find I visit the same blogs mostly, and then other people intermittantly. I guess blogging is a bit like a real relationship: you get what you put in. Not everyone's blog is interesting to everyone so it is hard to force people to comment everywhere. And, as you say, it's got so big.

It seems odd to me for people who aren't blogging, aren't coming to coffee and aren't really involved in any mutual support to continue to think themselves part of it still.

I am still committed and so grateful to those that are supporting me and I hope that my support back is helpful to them too.

In essence, then Kate, I dunno!

12:14 pm  
Blogger Jane Henry said...

hullo kate,

I have managed to incrementally increase my words this week to nearly 20000, but I think it's all crap. Am suffering BADLY from second book itis....

I agree about nothing being wasted, though Kate, and I think experimenting is essential for a writer. Your brand of fiction may become unpopular, but if you can diversify then it won't matter.

Not that I can see your brand of fiction becoming unpopular. I have just finished the Self Preservation Society and I LOVED it... I was genuinely sorry to get to the end. Am sure book 6 is better still!

Don't quite know what to do about the racers issue... I think people do usually fall by the wayside naturally with these kinds of things. And blogging is time consuming.

Am trying to limit myself to looking at blogs once a week (and failing) but Friday coffee mornings helps focus!

12:34 pm  
Blogger ChrisH said...

Hi everyone. Mea culpa. I haven't made a particularly magnificent contribution to the novel racers. I've had a bad week on the home front but, hey, that's life, but what's really crippling me is waiting to hear the verdict on Novel 1 - it's almost four months now, three weeks since I heard it would be looked at 'very shortly'. I do dip in to other racers but have been a bit unsure of who is still in the running. Needless to say progress on Novel 2 is slow - only 5000 words but I honestly don't feel like giving it my all until I know whether or not I'm proceeding in the right direction. I think that's a'must try harder' all the way round for me! Hope everyone has a better week!

1:00 pm  
Blogger Rowan Coleman said...

Chris tell your publishers to get a move on! Have you chased them or got your agent to? It's not fair to leave you hanging like that. If I were you I'd ask them at least for an overview on how they feel so that you can move on and feel better while your waiting for detailed feed back. Maybe you have but it's poor if they haven't got back to you. Am full of indignant rage on your behalf! Rx

1:23 pm  
Blogger NoviceNovelist said...

Hi Kate and novel racers - I am pleased to say that after several weeks of inactivity, loss of focus, heavy work schedule etc my first novel is finally moving again. I'm up to 65,000 words and think it will be about 82,000 and I AM (capitals for myself!!!) going to have a first draft done by the end of June. It's really exciting to have some energy around my writing again - toooo depressing when it goes a bit stale or you can't get to it for a while and you come back to it and the connection has been lost.

I visit 2-3 other blogs fairly regularly because I really relate to and enjoy what they are blogging about. I'm sure there are other blogs that I would also love but time is a precious commodity. Kate you've done a great thing here with your blog - it's been a writing lifeline at times - It may just be too complicated to create new rules and maybe we just have to accept it for what it is (a wonderful meeting place) and accept that everyone will use it differantly - or not at all in some cases. Maybe new rules are something to think about for Novel Race - Mark 2!!!!

Best wishes for Book 6

1:31 pm  
Blogger Helen said...

Now my first interview in a long time is over I can say I've had a great week. I'm still only getting 5000 words or so written every week, but steadily my word counter is going up and I'm getting to a really juicy part of my story. I'm having a day off today and went for a swim - having an idea for a third(!) novel in the process. I might even write it before my current 2nd one. I feel it would be a great one to get my teeth into.

In terms of the racing rules I have to say I'm pretty relaxed about the whole thing. There are a few people I notice that don't come to coffee or comment on each others posts or even update their own blogs. But maybe they are just having a wobble at the moment and are lurking in the background. I would like to think we would be there for them when they return.

On a personal note I have gained so much from being a 'racer'. I have got to a part in my book I never dreamed to reach, never mind thinking about no.s 2 and 3. I love to hear about how everyone else is getting on from those who are published, unpublished and soon to be published it is a great source of motivation and inspiration for me. I actually feel like a writer now.

2:08 pm  
Blogger Caroline said...

Oh oh oh. I feel bad now - I am struggling to keep up with all the blogs. But I am trying.

The novel racers is/was a fantastic idea and I have met so many fabulous people as a result. And the support - well the support is beyond words. Some of you are even comin gto my launch next week!

My novel comes out next friday and I am spinning at the moment. Round and round and round. But I am still here and still offering support. just haven't made it all the way down all of the blogs ...yet.


2:43 pm  
Blogger Lucy Diamond said...

Hello everyone,

It's nice to be here again even though I still haven't moved house (sigh). But I came back to the novel today for the first time in weeks and actually made a tiny bit of progress, which felt good. I'm up to 75,000 words now so the end is getting nearer.

Sorry you are having a struggle, Kate. The radio day sounded like a great distraction in the meantime!

2:44 pm  
Blogger B.E. Sanderson said...

:hugs: Kate. I hate it when things get sticky with a book.

I'm sorry to say I haven't been as focused on looking at other racers' blogs as I should be. But I stop by this blog everyday. I think if a racer doesn't bother to stop by and comment at least once in a while, doesn't have the link list somewhere on their blog, and doesn't ever stop by other racers blogs, they should take it upon themselves to step down. Heck, I almost stepped down a few weeks ago because I wasn't writing very much. I'm better now. =o)

I know life intrudes on the race, but a comment every now and then takes a couple minutes. Everyone has a couple minutes for a quick "Hi". Don't they?

2:55 pm  
Blogger Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Kate, does that character need a redeeming feature or two - or a good reason why she's like she is that will come to light somewhere down the line?

Re the novel racers: I'm with B.E. and Liz, I think the links at least should be essential - otherwise some people are getting linked by lots of others for no good reason that I can see (could this be their motivation for joining, wonders my nasty suspicious little mind?). Obviously we can't MAKE people put the links up, but we could encourage it. I also agree with Jane that people will fall by the wayside naturally - but how do we know they have fallen if they don't tell us? It's great that the race is gathering so much momentum, and I love being a part of it, but my sidebar is getting verrrrrry loooooong! I try to get round everyone at least once a week, but it's getting more and more difficult to do that. So maybe now and again, say every six months or so, we could do some kind of round-up? I don't want to put a huge administrative load on to you, Kate, but I'm sure if you asked for a volunteer here you'd find someone who would be willing to zip round everyone's blog leaving comments along the lines of 'if you still want to be part of the novel racers, please leave a comment on Wordgirl's blog in the next week or so'. Then it would only be those who commented, or were on a stated blogbreak like Lucy is at the moment, who stayed in the race. And it could be made clear that people could rejoin at a later date if they wanted to. If we took turns doing this it would only fall to each of us once every 15 years or so! And on that basis, if others think this is a good idea, I wouldn't mind doing the first round-up as I'm due to pay some visits anyway.

4:02 pm  
Blogger CTaylor said...

The BBC thing sounds wonderful Kate. I'm sure you'll have every success with writing for radio.

Regarding the race I have noticed that some racers haven't blogged or commented for several months (and haven't explained why - unlike Lucy Diamond) so maybe they could be emailed to ask if they're still part of the race? I love reading everyone's blogs and the comments I receive on my blog are HUGELY appreciated (particularly when I'm having a nasty wobble). I'd be quite lost without the novel racers.

5:39 pm  
Blogger Jen said...

Ooh, how I'd love to do a course with the BBC - I was reading about one they're running for scriptwriters too but, as I'm unpublished, am not eligible to apply...

I'm feeling terrible about my crappily slow progress... I think I just need to immerse myself in it this weekend and remind myself what it's all about. I was brave enough to put the first 3,000 words on my blog and that kind of took the 'oh, God, it's too awful for anyone to read' pressure off, which is good (if surprising - I thought it would be more scary!)

I feel ashamed to show my face here each week, to be honest... :(

Must do better.

(I know what you mean about your Character 3 - I have a similar character - I think I may have to make some of her snippy comments funny, even if she doesn't realise what she's saying?)

6:04 pm  
Blogger Lucy Diamond said...

Sorry, I forgot to write anything about 'the rules' - I'm glad I didn't though because Zinnia has left a perfect comment about it! ;)
I think this all makes good sense. Well said, that blogger!

6:34 pm  
Blogger Nichola said...

There are blogs I visit more often than others but I have all the racers on my sidebar - as Zinnia said, it gets very long!

Novel coming along slowly, although I haven't yet updated my progress meter.

I'm awake at half four in the morning after sleeping off the worst migraine I've had in ages...well at least I managed to get to sleep at all!

Also I just finished TSPS, Kate and enjoyed it very much. Trouble is, you finish a book you enjoy and have to wait what feels like ages before the next one's out!


4:42 am  
Blogger sheepish said...

Hi everyone, sorry I'm late this week but a friend with a crisis took up all my time yesterday. I haven't added anything to my WIP this week so it can only get better.
As regards the Racers, I have found it really great to have met so many like minded people, it has felt a bit lonely from a creative point of view living in France so the Novel Race has helped me enormously. I confess to no list on my blog at the moment but thats because I lost it and haven't managed to get it back yet. Must try harder on that front.But I do hope the Racers will continue with whatever "rules".
Supporting creativity should be rule no. 1.

7:27 am  
Anonymous Jessica said...

Oh sorry, I meant to declare myself out of this a while ago, just because of time commitments, and forgot. I do apologise. I'm not writing novel at the moment, but did finish the non-fiction book I was working on when I joined this, and a couple of children's books as well.

10:29 am  
Blogger A. Writer said...

Hey Kate!

Good luck with book6!

I know I don't visit every coffee morning but I do make a point to visit everyone's blogs and comment on them.

The support I've got from the Novel Racers has helped me no end. I was ready to give up completely a few weeks ago but the comments I got, helped me get over the 'wobble' and I'm back writing!

I'm so grateful for that!

Keep up the good work everyone!

7:41 pm  
Blogger Kevin said...

Completely missed Friday again. What is with my calendar? It keeps skipping ahead to Saturday and I'm left wondering where the day went.

Took all of a day off after getting To Ride the Chimera in the mail. While awaiting editorial rewrite notes, I gave four short stories that had been rejected while I was noveling a quick check (found two spelling errors and a repeated sentence) then sent them back out to do their part toward paying the mortgage. Then I started work on a short story I'm contracted to deliver (checks calendar) in about three days. After that I will be taking on one of three projects I'm considering.

Assuming I remember next Friday exists, I'll let you guys know what I'm up to.

8:41 pm  
Anonymous Jacqui Lofthouse said...

Hello Kate and All,

Do feel free take me off the roll-call and the racers as I don't have time to contribute at the moment and I'm not blogging either, my deadline being so tight. I don't really consider myself a member, but love to you all and good luck!


4:27 pm  
Blogger The TV Controller said...

'Talking Animals' are definitely on my hot list of commissioning priorities. Kate get your people to get my people to get something in the diary. Now! We're going to be rich.....

9:40 pm  

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