Saturday, 15 December 2012

Characters on the loose

It’s been cold and frosty or cold and wet, so not much walking this week. Trying to focus on the writing and preparing for Christmas so I haven’t had the camera out much either.

The writing is going fairly well, by which I mean I don’t hate it at the moment but I was premature in thinking I’d finished the draft. Glad to say I’m back over 80,000 words again and going strong.

I've been thinking a lot about my characters. I met a poet friend for coffee recently and we had a discussion on whether you create characters or they create themselves. I tend towards the later. I’m sure mine have been conspiring to lead me down blind alleys but I think I’m beginning to get the measure of them now.

A while back I was rereading Flann O’Brien. My favourite work had always been the wonderfully surreal The Third Policeman but since attempting a novel for myself I've begun to really appreciate At Swim-Two-Birds. In it, O’Brien takes the idea of characters leading lives of their own to absurd lengths. It’s novel about a man (the unnamed narrator) writing a novel about a man (Dermot Trellis) writing a novel. Trellis’s characters, however, rebel and plot against their creator while he sleeps. They then set off on a quest to find Trellis’s son (the product of an unholy union between Trellis and one of his characters). The son is then commissioned to write a novel in which the hideous Trellis is captured, tortured and tried so they can be rid of him.

Fortunately my characters aren’t quite so mutinous or I don't think they are, though I have found myself nodding off in the afternoon once or twice recently. However if you happen to see some people in Victorian dress wandering about looking lost, they might belong to me. Tell them I’d love to give them all happy lives but that would make for dull fiction.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

This week’s excuse…

I finished the 80,000+ word draft of my novel but I knew even as I was writing it that I was unhappy with one of the plot threads. The denouement was overly complicated and involved one character explaining the whole thing to another. Never a good thing except in Agatha Christie novels. Then it came to me what I should do, the clues were there for the most part and even though I was the author I hadn’t seen them. So it needs a bit of a rewrite, but nothing too major. Must buckle down and get it out there. I’m rapidly running out of excuses.

Thinking time consisted of a walk into Leicester City Centre. It takes about an hour and a half from my house but sadly the route passes through the less than idyllic Frog Island area of Leicester. The old factory building (top two pictures and bottom right) looks as though it’s in the process of being demolished but in fact it’s been in that state since vandals broke in and set fire to it in 2011. This, alas, seems to be the fate of too many of the old Victorian factories in Leicester. It’s soul destroying.

However, close by in High Cross Street stands All Saints Church which has a charming clock above one of its doors. The church was left stranded when they built the inner ring road and is no longer used for worship. Perhaps though the surrounding area will be sympathetically developed in the near future and the church will find itself in good company again.

I took these photos at noon just as the little men were hammering on their bells. I wander how often they manage to make themselves heard above the noise of the traffic.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Getting it finished

November is over and a collective sigh of relief is going up around the world. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is over for another year. Anyone who manages to produce the required 50,000 words in 30 days deserves a well-earned pat on the back but if the novel is half decent then NaNoWriMo is just the beginning. The real work starts now.

I completed NaNoWriMo a couple of years ago and I’m still working on the rewrite. I’m almost there or to be more precise the first draft is almost there and it bears very little resemblance to the NaNoWriMo version.

With the support and encouragement of my writing group, I’ve been urged to get it finished. They’ve heard some of the chapters and on the whole they’ve been reasonably positive but no one’s read it through from beginning to end. A part of me doesn’t want them to. It’s a pretty scary prospect and I'm prepared to go to great lengths put the moment off. An edit here, a rewrite there. It's all just excuses. What I need is to hear what people think of the piece as a whole. Does it hang together? Does it even make sense? There’s only one way to find out and as I said it’s a scary prospect.

A few of us are in a similar position, that is trying to finish a major work, and we do our best to keep each other going. November, being NaNoWriMo and a month of furious writing activity, has spurred us on to get finished – the next artificial deadline being 31st December. After that we’re into making writing resolutions for the new-year! 

Took some time out last week to walk round Beacon Hill in Leicestershire, pictures below. Is it just me or can anyone else see a dog’s head in the rock formation?