June 21st, 2020 – 634 – Day ninety-seven

I hate this book. I would like to think that the reason I have raised my daily output by 20% is more me getting faster at writing and not because of some affinity to this wretched thing. The scene today totalled 1,400 words, and it is no understatement to say it may be the most horrific thing I’ve ever written. Not from a quality point of view, I feel it came out ‘rather well’, but reading it back, I feel kinda sick that I wrote that. Only gets worse from here on out.

Think I’m going to go find some funny videos and try and blank out the memory for a while. The one saving grace is I am on a current average of 5,000 words every 4 days, which means a 70 day window isn’t out of the question. To be blunt I still am tempted to marathon it in 3,000-word days and be shot of it in under a month, but I’d only make myself ill. And again, I am so done for the day. Shame it’s a work night or I’d go black it out by any means necessary. By which I mean whiskey as that’s all I have right now…

June 20th, 2020 – 633 – Day ninety-six

Late one tonight but frankly I don’t care. I’ve spent most of the evening watching funny snooker compilations and that’s far more fun and rewarding than writing WAN anyway. Yeah I will but it’s far from my priority this second. This kind of dismissive rebellion and focus o whimsy is how I intend to get through this slog. You have to find little things to brighten up the process when the topic is this grim. Thing is, normal horror I’m fine with; it’s this one character I loathe.

Anyway better get back to it. Man though, taking today slow and focusing on little fun stuff, that made a big difference.

June 19th, 2020 – 632 – Day ninety-five

Long week but only 2 hours of work left. I’m not counting that down as such, more jus glad I won’t have much to do for the next two days. I’ve now had two 1,300 word days in a row for WAN, which with what I already had in the bank brings the project to the 4,000 word mark, with all story beats in place. That’s good because I have close to zero intention of ever editing WAN. To be blunt, when it’s done I’ll upload it with a blurb that opens with ‘Don’t read this one’. Doesn’t have to be any good, just has to give context for the character.

Sad thing is, I think it might end up being good. It’s too early to tell, but the stories I wrote now seem to flow with an ease that I’ve never found before. I know how to pace, where on instinct I should put key moments and foreshadowing. Far from a master of this of course and there are plenty of clunky elements left, but it’s a little unnerving how much I feel I’ve improved in the last year, and disquieting how much of that is bleeding into WAN. I don’t know why I’ve chained two 1,300 days but perhaps that’ll be the norm for this book; that desperate to get to the end of it.

Think I need to take my mind off of all things WAN for a while. I keep debating playing Stardew Valley after work, but my attention span isn’t there for it right now. It might be, but forced dinner time kind of takes the evening away from me; I like to have flexibility, but I’m not allowed to sort my own catering. Still, not much longer and I’ll be back at the flat and in control again. It might even be closer to a month from now than a month and a half. Just have to stay sane.

June 18th, 2020 – 631 – Day ninety-four

“2,700 words out of 90,000 into writing The Wanderer and I already want to dig my eyes out with a rusty scalpel.”

This is how I described to a friend how well the story is going so far. Pacing wise plenty happens, we get a look into both our primary characters, a taste for who they are and how they work, and I don’t care because I can already tell I’m going to be miserable for the next two and a bit months. But at least this is probably from a technical stand point going to be my best book.

I’m finding now that my writing in the first draft is coming out a lot more polished than it used to. I don’t labor that, it’s kinda happened on its own as I take on board things I like from other books and start to focus in on what I want to do as a writer. My next major hurdle I think will be metaphor. I use clich├ęs – like hurdle – too much. I also have some odd experiments that don’t quite land.

For a book that I’m intending to go against the grain of ‘show don’t tell’ on, in a multitude of graphic depictions that I’m not keen to dress up in pretty bows, I do see this as a good chance to hone in on and cherry pick the best metaphors and symbolism. The Wanderer itself is quite purple in its speech, so that’s going to be where a lot of them end up I imagine.

Right I’m going to stop talking about WAN and go get my head far far away for a while. Thankfully, there’s plenty of work to do.

June 17th, 2020 – 630 – Day ninety-three

Work is keeping my mind off of what I have to do tomorrow. The only way I have to describe how I’m feeling at the moment would be ‘anti-Christmas’, a feeling of such revulsion, an absence of any sentimentality or comfort so profound that I am fighting an urge to redact this book from the canon. It’s not the first time I’ve debated doing that to The Wanderer, both the book and the character. But, there is ugliness to life, real and fictional, and making my peace with my demons is the only way I’ll overcome them. It’s been, a while, since a book was one of mine.

There are 1,400 words already typed up of the story, and I have some 7,000~ in a journal at my flat I am about to collect. With the success of TFS as a book skipping the handwritten step, I have decided to move over almost entirely to this. The one known exception to this will be The Way Out, which I’ve owned the journal for since about 2015, and want to hand write so that my core trilogy all has that treatment. In a similar vein, The End of the Line if I can find the right journal will get the same process. Who knows what my mindset will be by then though. It’s possible I’ll decide after TWO – abbreviation not the number – I don’t want to do any handwritten books anymore.

I guess we’ll see. Even the walk to collect this wretched journal is filling me with anxiety. I guess to anyone outside my head that will sound silly. After all, why have such rancid feelings towards a book I haven’t even written yet? Guess all I can say to that, is a story doesn’t have to be ‘written down’ to exist, and to eat into you.

June 16th, 2020 – 629 – Day ninety-two

So um, a lot happened since I posted yesterday. After I returned to work, went on my evening walk and had dinner, I guess I got struck by inspiration. So I sat down and, well, finished writing The First Stroke. Final word count came in at 90,400 words. That has since dipped by some 800 words as I start to do continuity and preparation edits before I shove it in a drawer for a few months, but damn, it feels good to turn out novels in less than 80 days a pop. I mean, yes, that isn’t including the incubation time, the lengthly edits – that I still need to do to VOL, WHT and TSS as well, and all the other guff, but 77 days for a first draft is sweet. I’ll likely spend the next two days on getting the house in order, but even then 79 for a novel ain’t half bad.

It’s a cry short of the 30 days of NaNoWriMo, even if that is for only 50K when doing the traditional version. I’m torn on if I want to do that this year or not if only because I’m so knackered from the virus that the additional stress alongside whatever novel I write at that time might be a push. That said, I do have a standalone novel – Amexit – that I’m super tempted to do a rush draft of. That is a working title as there is another book with a similar name, albeit nonfiction. The term isn’t a new one so that’s not suprising, but so far as I can tell, my proposed take on it is. It’s whether writing another novel alongside The Wanderer will make the latter easier, or twice as hard.

Not an issue for today. For now it’s back to work, then to walk, and then I’ll see where my head is at after perhaps a few more evening edits. It’s a nice thought that when asked “what did you do in quarantine?” I can say “kept working, looked after elderly relatives, wrote a new novel from scratch and got into fitness”. I just hope the latter part sticks…

June 15th, 2020 – 628 – Day ninety-one

Thirty-eight days to go, assuming the plan doesn’t change again. Considering the plan for what was happening with me changed five times in the same week at one point I wouldn’t hold myself to that, but going on that basis I should expect my last day before moving back to the flat to be August 1st. That means that in theory, when my little secondary counter above hits one-hundred-and-thirty, I should be back at the flat. With luck, I’ll be swan songing the counter altogether before it hits 170. If there’s a second wave then, who knows.

It’s important to understand it’s not that I’m eager not to be living with my grandparents anymore. They have been great to me during my stay here and I hope I’ve been of some help or a decent distraction. There is no escaping however the fact that I like to be on my own. I pay through the nose on rent for a nice big flat by myself, and it will be nice to have space at long last. It’ll also be nice to not be spending 80% of my income on a home I don’t get to live in. From there I have just over a week of holiday I never unbooked, and it’s no understatement to say I need that badly.

If there is one advantage to the total collapse of my mental health in the last three months, it’s that being in this dark place is, in a sick way, the perfect place to be for writing The Wanderer. After all with my mood at its lowest place since my years at Sussex University the project can’t push me further down. At least I hope that’s the case or I am in for a world of pain writing that thing. Still, it’ll be a weight off my shoulders when that book is at long last in the rear-view mirror.

Apologies this has been a bit of a self-pitying post, but as much as letting off steam in my journal helps, it’s nice in a way to put these feelings on record, so that I have at least got something to point to and say ‘I was not ok’ and not feel like I’m making that up after the fact. Still, with all my 1K duties done before 1pm, a good row under my belt and a large number of work done with plenty of time to spare for more before I clock off tonight, I do feel a pinch in control. These are the days you have to cling to.

June 14th, 2020 – 627 – Day ninety

The last half week of writing has been a weird experience. I had an ending in mind for the story, and said ending fell into place as I’d hoped, but I then found that I didn’t want to have my protagonist face up to her foe in quite such a direct fashion. To clarify, I am so out of practice writing anything of the genre that TFS secretly is all the long that I am going to need to rewrite huge swathes of the story, not just the ending. But I do need to ratchet up the subtlty a little bit.

Even so and despite cuting some 500 words the other day, TFS at the 85K mark. That’s a good place to be in the climatic scenes. They say 90K-100K is getting into the ‘maybe not for a first time writer’ territory, so I like to stick to high 80s and low 90s where possible. Ignore that WHT is 110K I haven’t edited it yet…

Speaking of, I need to go through VOL and WHT and rip both apart, and I keep putting off doing so. It’s not from some dislike of editing, I think I’m just that burned out at the moment that I haven’t gotten around to it. This week ahead is going to be at least as busy as the last one so I do not imagine I’ll be in editing mode for a while. That said, I will likely do a ton of editing during WAN if only as a pallette cleanser from that horrific story.

I’m getting a lot more tired at the moment. I know a calorie defecit is part of that but I also know that it’s lethargy from being contained in this house. As I didn’t end up moving back to the flat I am in a weird limbo at the moment. Best I can do is keep trying to get early nights and keep my head on straight. And do more rowing.

June 13th, 2020 – 626 – Day eighty-nine

Not gonna lie, I’ve had quite a lot to drink at this point. I don’t think I realised quite how much stress I’d been bottling up until I hit the third beer, and after that it was a bit of a slippery slope. It’s a good thing I am able to compartmentalise inerbriation enough to write this blog, and for that matter target today, because I was so stressed I only write target after my vision started to go funny.

If this is not a tyestiment to ‘the first draft is meant to be bad’, then I think presenting one is beyond me. I am writing the big reveal of my ‘big-bad’ in layman’s terms, and I did it whilst my head spun like a dradel. Is it my best work? Heck no, I’d wager it’s the worst drivel I’ve written in years, though I c an’t read it properly so it’s hard to tell. But it’s in the can, it’s a lump of marble I can sculpt later. Saying that, as I wrap up the story it’s best I don’t make a habit of this.

Right imma go lie down.

June 12th, 2020 – 625 – Day eighty-eight

I’m so glad it’s the weekend. The bad news is I haven’t rowed in two days, but the good news is it’s the weekend and it’s not like it’s going anywhere or I’m overeating. I had a good day overall by ploughing through some key tasks and just getting stuff done, but also I got my phone reconnected!

That takes some explaining: my phone got cut off when O2 wouldn’t take my money last month, and I’ve been trying ever since to get them to do so. Then the other day I found that they reverted my card details they hold to my old address. Not sure how that screwed up the direct debit, but who cares I have internet back! And that led to an interesting experiment.

I wrote target on my walk. It ate my whole battery and was far from the most fun I’ve had on a walk, but it helped me to not lose productivity in that time. I think from now on, if I haven’t hit target by my walk, I should write while I walk. If nothing else it’s an incentive not to be lazy and leave it so darn late. Time for a beer and some Business Blaze. Ciao.