Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Day 2 of Kate's crazy novel challenge - and a question about speed-writing

OK, so far I'm at 6,016 words and still enjoying it. The test will come at 10K which is where the whole 'oh, this really is becoming harder work' moment usually hits.

In the comments section, Captain Black said: I can't speak from experience, never having tried NaNoWriMo, but from what I've seen so far, I don't think I'm a believer. I'm sure it's great writing exercise but other than that I don't see how anything that's essentially rushed is likely to be good enough to publish. I speak for myself, of course, as I have little natural talent and have to work very hard at my writing.I draw a parallel between this sort of thing and speed rock climbing. Getting to the top is the challenge but doing it faster at the risk of safety seems pointless.Is there some other external driving force behind your speed-writing challenge, or is it just for fun? In any case, I wish you good luck with it.

I found this a very interesting post, and I wondered what others thought? I know that for me, though I do enjoy the writing, it's the ideas that motivate me, the chance to explore and grow something from a tiny 'what if' moment. So I want to maximise the burst of enthusiasm that goes with beginning a new project...

In terms of 'publishability', I do edit a great deal after a fast first draft, but I am not sure that I edit significantly more than I would after a slow first draft. I've never tried to write a novel - even a short one, more of a novella, I guess - in a fortnight before and I admit it is bonkers, but in answer to the Captain's question about whether there's an external driving force, well, yes, there are severak:

1. I've had this idea for ages, it's quite high concept, I want to do it in case someone else thinks of it.

2. I am trying several new things for me with this project - I am usually a serious planner, but this time I am writing in very short chapters and seeing where the story takes me. It's very much an experiment to see whether that method might work or whether it will tie me in knots. Likewise, writing YA fiction is new, but I believe this idea absolutely fits that age group, and I'd like to see whether I have it in me to carry it off. Finally, the story itself is very different in tone: it does not have the 'happy-ish ever after or at least for now' ending that most of my adult fiction has.

3. For the reasons in 2. above, I want to get as far as I can as fast as I can, to see whether it's working. Basically, I have an income from my adult books that I wouldn't want to jeopardise by focusing on something speculative for too long... I have, in a slightly 'management training' David Brent-esque way, a whiteboard with my year's projects on it. My novels under contract are A category, i.e. the priority, and then I give myself a B category to run alongside the A stuff - B projects have the potential either to challenge me, or bring income, or both, and they're to be done when I'm waiting for edits to be returned, or if I am not too exhausted by meeting the day's word count for the current A project. So this is a B... (I also have a C stream, and that's for any mulling time OR for when I am very cheesed off with both A & B projects). C stream projects don't tend to progress very fast...

4. And the time limit is because in two weeks I have a set of proofs and a set of copy edits for two separate books coming home to roost, and they are top priority, as they're for books out in October and November. So if I can get Project B well underway by then, all the better.

How do YOU juggle different projects? Or am I alone in wanting to write lots of different things at the same time?

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A challenge to myself

Can I write a novel in two weeks?

Not a full length novel, I hasten to add, but an idea that has been bubbling away somewhere in the recesses of my brain for a year or more. It's more of a dark YA idea, very different to what I usually write, and it would probably end up at around 50,000 words, a NaNoWriMo kind of novel. To be honest, I probably need to get it out of my system, whether it ever has a hope of publication or not.

But two weeks?

Today I started it and managed 3646 words, in wonderfully short, snappy chapters. My calculator tells me that if I write that many words for 14 days, then I will get to 51,000 words.

Hmmm. I might run a sweepstake with myself.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Broadbanded in Barcelona

OK. You may have noticed I've been gone for a while. But now I am back online, wirelessed up and ready to go.

Where to begin? Well, we’re living in Barcelona! I don’t know how long for, exactly, so it’s not exactly emigration (can you emigrate if it’s only two hours’ flight away?) but it is very exciting indeed.

Things went like this: boyfriend’s job ceased to exist due to recession. He’s never been to uni, or had a gap year, fancied trying something different, and I am very lucky that I can work from anywhere. We had been to Barcelona several times, loved it, know people out here, liked the idea of sunshine and tapas and a break from gloomy headlines…

And here we are. In the last six weeks, we’ve had our challenges, including facing imminent homelessness due to extreme trickiness of finding a good place for us and the teenaged cat (yes, we couldn’t bear to leave her in the UK). Said cat has also suffered catastrophic allergy to Frontline, needing treatment by possibly the best-looking vet/vet nurse duo in the world. Honestly, if I was a Mills & Boon writer, I would have had my next story there now. After enduring an Iberia flight sitting in a basket on my lap (actually the flight was fine, though being pounced on at Heathrow security in case she was a bomb cat was alarming), and living in a pet-friendly hotel, we hoped she would settle. Alas, no. Frontline made all her neck hair fall out and she is now locked into a self-harming cycle of ‘skin heals/skin itches/cat must scratch with back legs’ that would probably justify a series of misery memoirs if she was human. But she’s still here and seems to be enjoying herself otherwise.

We have both embarked on Spanish courses (me and boyf, not me and cat) and though it’s humiliating being trumped by fifteen-year-olds with better recall, we’re getting there slowly. I love languages, but it’s much harder now than it was when I was at school. Also tricky as the main language of Barcelona isn’t Castilian, but Catalan, a kind of wild combo of French, Spanish and other fab words with lots of Xs in them.

Oh, and the admin is a challenge, but a good challenge – the other day I had to return a parcel to amazon (don’t get me started, but I will never buy an Acer computer again, as it failed within 20 hours of receipt) and the Post Office conversation was worthy of Basil Fawlty. Then again, the sense of achievement at getting my Foreigner’s Number was very significant indeed.

We have also (so far) survived the ordeal by Possessed Washing Machine (think Stephen King). Said washer seems desperate to escape, so last weekend it walked across the terrace, and in its bid for freedom, flooded everywhere, fell flat on its face and almost electrocuted boyf. It never walks when we’re watching, of course, so we now take a glass of vino tinto in there for the whole cycle, just in case…surprisingly relaxing. The Zen of Laundry.

We now have a lovely temporary apartment in el Born, the most gorgeous part of the city (in my opinion), right opposite a market built in 1876, which is absolutely inspirational.

In other news:

  • I didn’t win the Melissa Nathan award, but I had a fab time as a short-listee and got the most gorgeous runner-up trophy.
  • We’re currently planning the next New Romantics event, a panel plus a short course at the Guildford Festival, and I will post details when it's all confirmed.
  • The New Romantics are also now on Twitter!
  • Secret Shopper Unwrapped is all done and dusted, and due out on October 1, which is also Super Thursday. Apparently that’s the day all the books by the Big Guns of fiction come out too, so I do hope it doesn’t get trampled in the rush, as it’s apparently quite good, according to my editor and agent!
  • I’m also considering running writing weekends out here in Barcelona, as the place is so inspirational and flights so incredibly reasonable – if it’s something you might fancy, then do please leave a comment, it’d be good to know what level of interest there might be…
  • I’m also going to be teaching a sequel to the Head over Heels course at Kingston University in March 2010, with all new material and lots of time for workshopping and feedback. More info soon.

Anyway, that’s me for now. I will be posting much more often, because we have broadband again, hoorah! Coming soon: the challenge of rewriting my first novel for re-publication (Old School Ties, the Director’s Cut), plus other tales from the city of tapas and tasty vets.

Hasta pronto!

Kate x