Elections, dark towers, and humans all bobbing away in the background this week, but words happened amidst them. The Last Ditch is going better than I could have hoped for. Can’t comment on the quality of what I’ve written yet, but I haven’t held to a routine this well since I lived in India. These were my diary entries last week.
Back to my strange little novelette for an evening, having worked the bank holiday, and it’s flying along with happy glee. I’m pretty sure it knows that it’s a Ridiculous Idea with little chance of ever being read. It’s doing the plot equivalent of stripping off and skipping naked round the house, safe in the knowledge that nobody is going to walk in on it. 1099 words done, and now bed.
Managed to get most of my writing done in the morning before starting dayjobbery late, with a little more added last thing at night. Besieged by constant interruptions from the BBC news app, which seems to think that any politician uttering the phrase ‘strong and stable’ is worthy of a notification. I wish they’d trouble themselves to use the rest of their words. They must have some.
Despite that, 973 of my own words added to the larger novella, which is somehow staggering into its final third.
Another 1110 words on the novella, a little before work, a little late at night. The manuscript is still very bitty at this late stage, but I’m becoming cautiously optimistic about it. All the pieces might just be here to edit into something rather good. Different anyway – the locations give it a flavour all its own.
In other news, I have discovered the BBC drama Humans (a sort of suburban Blade Runner / Westworld) and it’s ace. Working slowly through the first season, and it’s a really dense and satisfying sci-fi drama with lots to say about AI and our increasingly automated society. Also, the Dark Tower trailer dropped today. Given my love of the books I’ve been cautiously excited about the movie, but now I’m uncertain. McConaughey looks great as the Walking Man, but Elba doesn’t scan right as Roland. It’s nothing to do with his colour, which is neither here not there (though given that the books take a good look at race through a different character, and the fact that Roland is white skews into their dynamic really strongly, it will be interesting to see if that comes up). It’s more to do with that haunted vulnerability he wears. Roland in the books is a classic Stoic, an almost unknowable force of nature much of the time, and I’m not getting that from Elba. He looks fantastic as a gunslinger, but I’m not yet convinced that he’s the Gunslinger.
I hope it’s good – the books are lodged in my psyche as a storytelling touchstone, an extraordinary conceit wrapped around King’s other novels that turn dozens of unrelated books into an epic semi-linked canvas (which begin with one of the greatest, simplest first lines in fiction: “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.”). The key quote in the poster up there at the top – there are other worlds than these – long ago became my personal writing mantra.
Oh hell, please be good, film adaptation of The Dark Tower.
No words! After a long day which started early with voting in the local council elections, I finally got to my study around 10pm, sat in my beanbag with Scrivener open on my iPad, and with fell deeply and dramatically asleep.
Short story Friday, and time to submit the first of two pitches I’ve been invited to make. I’ve been pecking at the story all week in my head, but didn’t get much down on paper* until today. What I had were elements. What I was missing was the glue that would make them a story. It finally came together in my brain during dinner, so the last couple of hours of the day were spent frantically trying to make the things in my head make sense in a one page outline of the potential story. Technically, I wrote 902 words to add to my weekly total, and managed to get the pitch sent off about an hour before the deadline. I’m honestly not sure how it will scan, whether there’s enough shape to the pitch for the editor to see how the story might cook up, but it’s such a pleasure to pitch something again. Nothing to do now but sit back and wait for the editor’s decision.
While that happens, there’s that second pitch to work up. The deadline is May 20th, but I’d like it done and away next Friday, and maybe break my usual in-at-the-last-possible-moment habit. There’s no reason for these things to be as fraught as I sometimes make them.
And that was the week that was. 4084 words across three stories. On Saturday I tidied up all the bits of admin I put aside during the week, worked on my newsletter, and did some blogging.
Since I started this Last Ditch in April I’ve actually written 27,072 words of fiction, which is about a novella’s worth. Because I’m splitting my time across different projects, I’ve nothing complete to show for it yet, but that feels fine. I can see things coming together better than anything has since 2014.
Did I just jinx it?
See you next week!
Total projects complete:
Short stories: 0
*not on paper, actually – that phrase has become a synonym for doing some writing, rather than a description.