Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Procrastinators (Not Very) Anonymous

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first.
Blaise Pascal

Word count: 11,017

OK. So I have made a start on Book 6. Actually, I started book 6 late last year, got just under 10,000 words in the can, and then decided to work on Book 5 instead.

Book 5 was relatively simple structually, the story of one woman, told in the first person, with none of what I call my 'twiddly bits.' If you've ever read any of my books, the twiddly bits are the flashbacks or the alternative storylines involving other characters, or the quotations from other texts (the mottos from the Brownie and Guide annuals in Brown Owl's Guide to Life), or flashbacks (as in Brown Owl but also the strange, coma-related flashbacks to the scary Cold War obsessed 1980s in The Self-Preservation Society).

I enjoyed the simplicity of Book 5. But Book 6 is another one of my twiddly ones, featuring the stories of three different women, each contributing first person chapters. The women work together so as well as their personal stories, they attend the same events and experience some of the same incidents. In the past, I've really paid the price at editing stage for my ambitions to include these twiddles, and so this time round I am being tough with myself. I have created a grid to plot which chapters and events are narrated by which woman. I have worked hard on their speech 'tics' and view of life, so that the first person narratives will feel convincingly different. I have played around with their stories so that each has dramas and crises and problems to resolve.

Now I just have to write the bloody thing. And my bottle's gone.

Well, I don't think my bottle has disappeared. But today, having finished the Grid yesterday, I am finding ANYTHING more appealing than writing Chapter 5 (which is where I am picking up from last year's work). So far I have:

  • replaced a winter duvet with a summer one;
  • stripped the bed;
  • hand-washed the thing that keeps the bed together;
  • machine-washed three pillows (it is evidence of my lack of domestic goddess-ery that I didn't know you COULD machine-wash pillows but how lovely they are now!);
  • put the old duvet in one of those bags that you then vacuum-shrink, so your duvet resembles boil-in-the-bag cod in parsley sauce;
  • put everything out to dry;
  • joined Facebook (hours of potential time-wasting there).

I may even do some ironing.

That's how serious this is. So, anyway, I am going to add Book 6 to my Novel Race bar and see if that helps. You never know.

We also have a new Racer, another Kate, so welcome. Did you know you could wash pillows?

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Blogger liz fenwick said...

Yes, I knew you could wash pillows but then I have three kids!!!!

Try the twenty minute timer and write for twenty minutes only and she what happens!

12:47 pm  
Blogger B.E. Sanderson said...

Didn't know you could wash pillows. I need to try that!

Welcome to the race, Kate2. And thanks for stopping by my blog the other day. =o)

Here's a suggestion - Sneak up on it from behind. Just outline the hated chapter, and then skip over to write Chapter 6. Sometimes that helps get past a particularly bratty bit of the story.

1:27 pm  
Blogger CTaylor said...

Nope - didn't know about the pillows. Thanks for that!

Sorry to hear you're struggling to get going with your novel but, to be honest, I'm really impressed that you're starting a new novel so soon after completing the last one. You're a novel-writing machine! Wish I had your stamina!

1:49 pm  
Blogger Amanda Mann said...

Pillows, yes, but oooh vacuum bags don't get me going.... I've just written a piece on them and got totally involved, even thought about becoming a franchiseee.

I bought Self Preservation Soc today, non bumpy cover in Twickers Waterstones, took a proper lunch break to tuck in, very much enjoying it already.

3:18 pm  
Blogger Lazy Perfectionista said...

Ah Facebook - the procrastinator's paradise! There's probably a special procrastination group you can join and have a discussion about your favourite techniques to waste oodles of time...

3:22 pm  
Anonymous rivergirlie said...

totally off topic - haha! just got your book. will start reading tonight. can't wait

4:16 pm  
Blogger Working Mum said...

My goodness. I had noooooo idea you could wash pillows! Must go and do mine now ...

10:18 pm  
Blogger Nichola said...

Wash pillows? Interesting idea...

Kate, if I re-start a piece of work that I've been sitting on for a while, I usually type or write out the whole thing from the beginning again, so I can pick up the threads of the story...depends on how many words you already have!

Facebook...must go check it out...

10:57 pm  
Blogger Kate said...

Ha, yes 'bed maintenance' is one of the perfect procrastinators' tools.

I also wash my pillows, but I've washed them so much that they're all lumpy now.

Sadly, I have joined Facebook too.. a couple of weeks ago, and its already started sapping my book writing time.

Dont fear, all novel racers out there, I've got eight pillows that I wash and rotate so there isn't a chance in hell I'll finish writing my book(s) before you!

(sadly I must confess that Big Brother is now my number one time-sapper!)

12:39 am  
Anonymous Ella said...

Hello there. I am not one of the novel racers but I probably should be. I have a question for any of you who is willing to answer. I have a little over 90,000 words of my first novel written. I foolishly wrote bits and pieces of it as the ideas struck me and now I am faced with the hideous task of putting it all together into some sort of chronological order before finishing it. There is so much of it that I'm having a hard time seeing the forest for the trees. Any tips on how to organize a huge pile of 'scenes'. Just when I think I've thought of some brilliant method I get completely overwhelmed. Does anyone else write completely out of sequence and have to do this too? Thanks for the inspiration.

6:01 am  
Blogger Jane Henry said...

Procrastination is my middle name. I thought I'd have sooo much more time to write when the kids went to school.
So far this week I've managed:

two blog posts about my holiday.
A little bit of editing work.
A lot of house tidying/washing
A four mile run yesterday, followed by birthday lunch with mil.
A half an hour swim this morning, followed by far too long coffee then trip to one school to give child missing book bag and another school with forms for new school starting in Sept.

It' half way through the week. Halfway through my working day, and so far I have achieved...

I'm halfway through chapter six too.

Maybe, there's a connection???

11:39 am  
Blogger Bernardine Kennedy said...

Oh I knew you could wash pillows I just don't. I buy cheap pillows/duvets/bedding and when they might need washing I throw them away! Just bought a kingsize duvet set from tesco for £8.94. See? disposable!
same with saucepans... burn em throw em!

Must get myself back into the race, I've been working away but got out of touch.
Can you help me how put the new racers on my blog??
Yes I know, I'm useless!

6:58 pm  
Blogger DOT said...

I once started a book called The Great Procrastinator but only got as far as the title -dunno what went wrong - pillows probably.

12:48 pm  
Blogger hesitant scribe said...

Hi everyone... I've been hiding away a bit 'cos I've been procrastinating so much I'm on guilt overload. What a relief to finally log in to find everyone talking about washing pillows!

This week I have;
- not washed any pillows!
- watched Big Brother even though I swore I wouldn't this time.
- planned and taught 3 classes
- been to aqua aerobics twice
- had 3 riding lessons (need to write a best seller to cover the costs of this new hobby!)
- ordered a copy of Caroline's book

Careful readers may note that I have done no writing whatsoever. I duly hang my head in shame.

Welcome to any newcomers who I haven't yet added to my blog roll 'cos I'm so rude - apologies. I look forward to watching your word counts race on ahead as I stare at an empty screen. Kate - I keep losing my bottle over and over again! Take heart in the knowledge that you are already brilliant! :)

6:46 pm  
Anonymous jill mansell said...

Hi Ella,
I don't write scenes out of sequence but I write plot ideas out of sequence and then fit them onto timelines. How about writing a precis of each of your scenes on post-it notes, then drawing out a long timeline (I use several sheets of A4 paper sellotaped together end to end)
and sticking the post-its along it until they're in the right order?
Organising myself with a time-line has really helped me since I discovered it. Hope it helps you too!

12:14 am  

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