First time ever updating this blog from a University of Sussex library PC. That feels significant for a few reasons, not least of which is that I forgot how awkward using a mesh keyboard like this was. I really need to remember to bring the cable for my Vortex Core 40 and not just the keyboard itself. Also a phone charger. Look I never said I was smart ok? Ok maybe I claimed I was smart so that I could go back to uni, but INT and WIS are tracked by different stats for a reason.
I bit the bullet and deleted 2K of TEL today, meaning on paper it got just over 1K shorter instead of longer today. I would feel bad, but then I have 25 days after today to finish the first draft and a 99K first draft is still a respectable finishing line. I was 100% right to cut the 2,000 words too because the more I read them, the more I realised the conflict of that chapter was one better implied in the background, and that I needed to embed it more across the whole story, not just in one place. I have a bad habit of doing that, but in my defence, it’s got a lot to do with how I go about finding the theme for a work. Since I may as well share, here’s how I go about doing that:
Every scene in a book needs to have conflict. Bad writers – a term I am loathe to use but willing to use here for one specific subset of the community – think that the idea every scene needs conflict is dumb, because what about chill scenes, what about comfort fiction, what about closing images? The thing is, conflict not only does not mean literal fighting, it also can be ultra subtle, and can take the form of reconciling two ideas rather than just having them bounce off of one another. For example, in a chill scene, the conflict is in context, having a more relaxed pace against the backdrop of what came before or you foreshadow hence, and comes from a place of respite vs the inevitable pace of the story. Comfort fiction – which I adore and need to write more of – has in my opinion the best conflict of all: those which reconcile with the ease of a knife through butter. No drama, no stress, it’s wish fulfilment of ‘why couldn’t conflicts in my own life be so simple?’ And the closing image? That’s all about conflict, whether it’s the character reconciling what was with what now stands – think Hobbits returning to the Shire at the end of the LotR trilogy – or their need to both have closure on what now passed, and what lies ahead in their next foreshadowed adventure. And of course, the closing image is in conflict with the opening image, their contrast a conundrum the interested reader must reconcile to decide what the characters, and they themselves learned from the journey.
The only thing that might beat out comfort fiction as my future endeavours – aside from academic writing – is that I am super keen to not only work on these planned pair of webnovels, but also on a stage play that listening to the Infinite Monkey Cage the other day relit in my brain. And, well I would also potentially be able to interest some dramatic types at the university if I did that, given they could have the script royalty-free.
It’s raining heavily outside. Sitting here, in the library, listening to the cascading water on the glass above, the roil of wind and the song of the gutters like a busy stream, I’m not sure there is anywhere in the world I would rather be right now than where I sit now. I think, it’s finally sinking in. This is my life now. Somehow, by some crazy dumb luck, the encouragement of great friends and family, and despite on paper being the kind of person the Pandemic should have destroyed, I have a whole new life ahead. This is what being at peace feels like. And while this too shall pass one day, I’m glad I get to saviour this moment with you, my imaginary readers. It’s been a wild few years, and the next few will be even more so. I hope you decide to come along for the ride.