After a week of pure fail, I need to get The Last Ditch back on track. I can absorb a week of nothing much fairly easily, but if it turns into two then things will start to feel like an uphill struggle.
Here we go then. As before, Monday is for a ridiculous idea that’s being written purely for my own entertainment, Tuesday to Thursday are for the current big project (a novella I want to release later this year), and Friday is all about short stories.
Set diary to ‘go’.
Back to Ridiculous Idea Monday today, and a solid little morning session before dayjobbery to clear 522 words. I like getting things done first thing if I can (and I often can’t), as it clears the evening. I can come back and do more if the urge strikes, but I can also just relax if I want to, because it’s done. At the moment I’m carving out the supporting cast of this little novelette, trying to generate quick and precise thumbnail portraits without bogging the pace down, and it feels like it’s going well. Once I’ve introduced everybody, I’m going to blow something up. Because I can.
This morning was swallowed by miscellany, including dropping the child at school and running the dog through the park. Took a sort-of tumble over a hidden root, and pulled something in my buttock and lower back, so spent the rest of the morning indulging self-pity and woe (a large part of any running regime). Later, the magnificent Better Call Saul happened, which is just a storytelling masterclass. The way in which it uses our knowledge of what’s going to happen in Breaking Bad to mess with our expectations and assumptions about what’s happening in Saul is very gently breathtaking. Checked my email before starting a final dash to get some words in before midnight, and discovered that the short story pitch I sent off last week has been accepted. This made me bouncy, and even though I’m not writing that story today I sat down at the keyboard at 11pm good to go. Battered out a very happy 690 words of novella, and now it’s time for bed.
Another 562 words on the novella, slower and more methodical this time, as I’m trying to extricate a character from a scene that doesn’t want to end even though it has served its purpose. This is a bit like wading through a river of treacle. It’s exhausting, and sticky in ways that are no fun at all.
519 words this morning, and I am free of the treacle. Thank god. That was a bit agonising. There’s nothing worse than forcing yourself to write things that you know you’re going to want to cut later, but sometimes you end up doing it just to see how things link up. Now that I know, I can go back during the first edit and pare everything back down to what is absolutely necessary.
Today is put aside for the second short story pitch I’ve been invited to submit, and it’s coming together slowly. With the deadline tomorrow (did I say I wasn’t going to leave this one to the last minute?) I have a page of things I want to do in a story, but it’s not quite a pitch yet – I’m missing a central thread to pin all of these ideas to. I’ve got the seed of the thing, but not enough yet to send this away, so I’ll have to do a bit of work on it tomorrow. Having had my previous pitch accepted earlier this week I feel like I have used up all of my luck in this regard and am finding it harder to concentrate on this new one. That’s not fair to either the story or the editor, so tomorrow I need to give myself a shake and pretend that this is the one and only.
The second short story pitch has come together, in the nick of time. That central thread I was talking about coalesced a bit, and suddenly everything else slotted into place. I was feeling a bit ambivalent yesterday, but now that there’s a structure that works I really want to write this piece – it could be enormous fun. Got it sent off about ten minutes after the deadline, so I hope the editor’s in a forgiving frame of mind. Now that the story has lit up for me I’ll be pacing until I hear back (hopefully next week some time), which will make me utterly unbearable to be around. Sorry in advance if you are a real person who has to spend time in my company in the coming days…
No pacing required! The story pitch was accepted overnight – that was a quick turnaround! Two pitch acceptances in a week make me feel like the small god of synopsising, even though I know that neither was a particularly fine example of the art. They obviously both had enough of the idea in them to catch the attentions of the respective editors, so just about did their job.
So two story ideas accepted at two different anthologies (both of which I’m really excited about), and my routine is back on track. I’ve plugged the stories into my calendar, based on writing 500 words or so every Friday, which means that my short story time is technically soaked up now until the end of October. Hopefully I’ll work faster than that, but it’s better to err on the side of caution. Now I have to go and pack for an overnight down south. Last time this happened it somehow threw my routine so badly that I got nothing written for a week, but this time I am forewarned. Fingers crossed that focuses the mind a little. In theory, a hotel room with nothing else to do should be a great place to bang out some words, but there’s also a bed there, and I am apparently an old and tired man these days.
I’ll let you know how it goes next week.
Total projects complete:
Short stories: 0