12 Days Later

Number 12It’s been twelve days since I completed my novel.

In that time I have ridden a roller coaster of amazement and joy served with a side of absolute bewilderment at having finished, and the adrenalin burn out that came afterward with the yawning black hole that desperately wanted to swallow me. I’ve felt utterly lost, adrift, and thought I might never again be able to front up to the page (how is it possible that I can feel that way after achieving something I said I’d never do – write a novel?!) I’ve missed my characters with a bone aching longing that had me (almost) returning to the page to begin a second draft — but held off! It’s only in the last few days that I realised I managed to write my first novel before I turned 40 (not that it was the intention when I set out to write).

I’ve walked the puppy on the cusp of the suburb turning into Schwlatzmas-land with all the lights, at all hours of the evening: at midnight to the dulcet beats of homemade reggae rolling down off the hills at Holland Park and early enough to smell the lingering deliciousness of other people’s dinner. And the most telling bit of it all (other than some random poetry downloads) all the voices in my head have been quiet.

POET-TRY

I’ve written poetry (add one ‘almost-hangover’ from too much sangria, Nik Perring‘s Not So Perfect, a loose end of a Sunday afternoon, a random conversation with Adam Byatt and observe part of your brain break and poetry pour out). Two of those poems been through the critiquing process. If you think it hurts to have your short stories or novel critiqued, have a crack at someone tearing lovingly through your poetry! I’ve also attended my first Speed Poets to support Stacey in her first public reading (she was awesome!)

BETWEEN MINUTES

I’ve had a bunch of conversations with people about Between Minutes since I finished, all of which astound in the support and interest the novel garners (and the fear that comes with the fact I will never artfully articulate it on the page to make up for the blab-factor in person). These conversations have ranged from support at the end of the process to find a publisher and/or an agent, and other conversations with have accidentally broadened my understanding of the characters and their interplay.

SCHMINGLING-DINGLE-DOO

I’ve schmingled the QWC Christmas party and again, missed the hangover bullet. Had impromptu writerly drinks at The Fox on a Sunday afternoon (oh how I miss Sunday sessions – they are the perfect antidote for Sunday Melancholia!). Met with Helen to move forward my next part of The Gold Coast anthology amid chatter, coffee and good food (the best way to work). There have also been important and frivolous conversations in Stacey’s kitchen.

RETURN OF THE BIRTH BUNK

BirthpunkAt Dave’s Christmas party a bunch of his co-workers were asking me about my writing (the blush-worthy moment when someone says: So I hear you published a book? What’s with that?) I somehow got to talking about how I was going to write birthpunk and several really interesting conversations came out of it. Most of which ended with “You have to write this. I want to read it now!” So I knew the tide was turning and I was fighting a losing battle by trying to run away from it.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to catch up with Lois Spangler, not once but twice. The breakfast catch made my brain ‘splode with possibilities: a stage play of Between Minutes, additional novellas for Elyora, a grindhouse style script for Elyora but, most importantly, the undeniable push forward to finish the first birthpunk novella.

Lois has very graciously and generously offered to look at it when it is finished. I believe the date for ‘submission’ is mid-to late January. Knowing the pace with which I can knock out words, that won’t be a problem. My new creative year begins on the 31st January so it’s all keeping to original time frames written down in late September. With the extra bit of time – I might even get a second draft revision done on it.

My head is finally in a place where I think I can write for fun, rather than for intent. With Between Minutes behind me (for now) I have the confidence to tackle the ‘big project’. And with a new opening I think I can quickly gain the momentum needed to move the story where it needs to go (which has been the problem to date – I’ve been writing the end of one of the other novellas in the cycle!)

So I guess this is my way of saying after a mini break I’m ready to start again, and that’s a good thing.

Day Five #nanowrimo

IMG_6168Words for the day: 2190 (just shy of the 2500 target for today)
T-shirt: Plot Machine (NaNo 2009 official tee)
Best song vibe: “The Power of Love” Frankie Goes to Hollywood (1984)

“He looked up expecting her to be standing there, weirded out at the thought she might be and not exactly relieved when she wasn’t.”

Day Five and almost 18,000 words. Phwoar!

Today was reward day. I decided on the weekend when I hit 15,000 I would treat myself to a massage. So I’ve been working my way toward that. And didn’t my body need it? When I’m done here I’m off to sink into a warm salt bath to ease the pain. Plan is to try and organise a write in-cum-massage afternoon here, either the weekend the middle of NaNo or the final day.

This morning I fronted up to the coffee shop where Christian and Tabitha were scheduled to meet for their first face-to-face in months and I found myself choking up as Christian saw Tabitha bruised and beaten. The conversation didn’t quite go the way I expected it to go, so Christian will be stepping out of the shadows in the 11th hour to get things back to get them both into Dalhousie for the close of the First Act.

I guess though, this puts Tabitha truly out on her own (isn’t that part of the Hero/Virgin’s journey?) She has to decide to go regardless.

Today was the first day I didn’t quite meet my projected daily target. Truth be told, I could sit here for another 15 minutes and bash out the last remaining words but I’m already a grumpy shit and sleep beckons (so does the bath!)

Tomorrow I have my first Writer’s Surgery mentors meeting at the QWC so best I be bright and chirpy. So without further ado, today’s extract.

* * *

“I asked you once when it ended,” she hissed when they stood face-to-face beside the table. “And you said it ended when it ended. You sounded fucking philosophical.”

“Tabitha.”

“Guess it ends here, now, in a fucking café, with a fucking audience.” She turned and glared at those looking at them.

“Tabitha.”

“Go home, Christian.”

“Tabitha.”

“Fuck you.”

And let her go. Her defeated shoulders burnt into his memory. And the way the wind  caught her hair up so it looked as though she was caught in auburn tentacles. He picked up the partially soaked slip of paper, with her precise handwriting on it.

Saturday, April 7th 11:38pm

Joshie had told him, as his small body huddled close to him in the racing car bed, with a tiny shaking voice that barely fought back the dark, that the clock had eaten the woman on his phone. Sitting there, clutching the stained paper, her last memento, he knew something far more sinister, and real, had stolen her away. And he had let it.

NaNo Bound

nanowrimo2It’s time. Time to return to the madness that is the National Novel Writing Month.

Last year I had spent most of the year writing and had just completed the final edits on Elyora/River of Bones and didn’t feel NaNo was the thing for me. I also spent the first ten days travelling and I just wanted to enjoy the time away. In 2011, NaNo was the straw that broke the camel’s back (so to speak). When I had to concede I just couldn’t write and I pulled the pin less than half way through it was like pulling the pin on a hand grenade and I imploded. It was the start of the second serious bout of depression I suffered through in 2011.

Ironically, what I wrote in the year I didn’t ‘win’ provided the only published work from a NaNo adventure to date. A section of the opening story in Seeker Lover Keeper became the vignette ‘Intersected’ published in the first issue of Vine Leaves Literary Journal.

In 2013

So this year, I’d been toying for a bit as to what November would hold for me. Would I? Wouldn’t I? It was seeing that Rus Vanwestervelt was planning on doing it, that pushed me over the line. I needed a writing buddy. Someone I could confide the dark corners of the story to. Someone I know who will be an awesome inspiration. And that’s Rus and more.

The plan is to write a novella length adaptation of my steampunk romance ‘Between Minutes’. From my NaNo pages:

A passionate love affair.
An impossible house.
The opportunity of a life time.

The six-week creative programme offered at “Dalhousie” is like no other in the world. Tabitha’s offer of a place in the programme is the opportunity she and her secret lover, Christian, have dreamed of. A chance to escape into a Bohemia of naked passion for music, words and each other, where the pressures and frustrations of their suburban lives have no place.

But Bohemia has its limitations. The claustrophobia of the house and it’s Victorian workings, fuelled by Christian’s obsession with the future, Tabitha’s entrenchment in the past and the competing motivations of the other residents, threaten to unhinge their sanity and commitment to each other.

When Tabitha is called to honour the undefined debt in her contract, the cost of the residency will be more than a minute of their mundane existence on the outside.

Born between the promise of mad machines and crumpled sheets, “Between Minutes” is a dark, erotic meta-steampunk novella of cognitive dissonance.

It’s not a perfect little (*cough*) blurb but it is a start. I haven’t yet decided if I will go toward the romance, happily ever after bent, or the darker horror version. The original short story walks the path between the two.

Ready, Set…

With less than half an hour until kick off I am happy to say I have:

  • an extensive playlist of early 80’s music (it all started with a single Kids in the Kitchen song!)
  • a tidy writing space
  • the relevant bits of the original story (and it’s plethora of earlier drafts) printed off
  • ‘What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew’ bought and loaded onto my Sony

And the best bit of all, this close to things starting… the characters have begun to talk. I always imagined it beginning with Tabitha talking with her closest friend Mish and that’s where I’ll be beginning tonight.

Throughout November I will be snapping a photo a day, noting the tshirt d’jour (sadly I don’t have 30 different ones but it will be close!) and hopefully putting up a snippet of work.

The plan is to write every day, in the morning. I know it is possible.

Do I want the 50,000 words? Well yeah, that would be nice but more important to me is a completed novella. I am aiming for 30,000. It may end up at 40,000. It may go all the way to 50,000. Anything is possible. If I finish with words to spare I will jump back in to my birthpunk novella.

Now… time to go boil the kettle, do a dozen start jumps and wake myself up, ready to put the opening pages down before bed tonight.