It’s 11:59 AM on a Sunday morning. I have coffee, a computer, and I’ve successfully written my 500+ words for the day by firing up Shifty Silas, my laptop, immediately after waking up. Admittedly, this wasn’t that long ago. Sunday has become the designated day of sleeping-the-fuck-in, which is especially important now that my week is filled with early mornings.
Sunday is also the seven day mark for the new writing routine, so I’m taking this as an opportunity to review the results.
I started the new writing routine because I’d promised my writing group that I’d submit something by August 6th. At the time that probably seemed a long way away, but I actually cruised through the draft zero of the story during the week and put together a readable first draft during write-club yesterday.
The result, Truths and Consequences (working title), sits at about 2,800 lightly revised and edited words in the current draft. I had about 270 of those pre-written and sitting in a notebook, so call it 2,500 words produced and rewritten in the space of a week. I’ll be mailing it off to my critique group this evening after another light spell-check and edit.
It’s entirely possible Truths or Consequences will never see the light of day after that, depending on what the group says. It’s very much a warm-up story, something to get me back into the swing of writing, and as such it covers a lot of ground I’ve already covered as a writer without, necessarily, saying anything new. Unless it does, and I’m just too close to see it at the moment. I’ll be interested to see what my writing group says, and how I feel about the story afterwards.
The next story off the rank is Wanton (working title), which is looking like it’ll be a novelette length detective story set in the same cyberpunkish world as an old story of mine, Clockwork, Patchwork, and Ravens.
So far I’ve clocked up 3,009 words on the zero draft for Wanton, but my records tell me that I’ve also obliterated and rewritten another 900 or so words in the draft after I stopped throwing scenes at the story to see what sticked and started to have an idea about the plot. I’m aiming to land this story at 10 to 15,000 words, which will mean there’s going to be a considerable amount of sturm-und-drang while I try to figure out what the fuck I’ll do with it.
It seems the market for longer fiction, even stuff hovering at the six to seven thousand word mark that I tend to prefer, has evaporated since I last submitted stories to publishers. Going by my self-imposed deadlines I’ve got ’til August 20th to polish this and get it sent out somewhere. It’ll be an interesting test of the process to see if I can get that done.
Still, if drafting Truths or Consequences was like pulling teeth (and it was), Wanton has been comparatively easy and fun. I looked up during write-club yesterday and realised that I’d remembered how to write in scenes. I discovered last night that I’d remembered how to plot. Both of these make life way easier, at least until I hit the final quarter of the story.
And since you’ve made it all the way down to this point and endured me waffling on about the writing, here’s part of the WIP for your reading pleasure:
Most sane people don’t hit Shattered Knee Lane after dark. The short, dog-leg alleyway had been K-boy territory for over a year, and there were three generations of Kaiju-kids who made sure the narrow stretch earned its nickname. Imagine sixty or seventy-sumo wrestlers hooked on gene-morphs laced with a whose-who of the animal kingdom; cocktails that blended DNA from Rhinos, Elephants, and komodo dragons and god knows what fucking else. They recruited ’em big and the recruits got bigger. Uglier, too, with a mood to match.
Wanton and me, we aren’t sane, not in the conventional sense. Accumulating favours is the nature of our business, so there’s usually a friendly face in most of the gangs that aren’t bat-shit crazy. We fronted up to the mouth of Shattered Knee and I let Wanton do the talking. He was bigger, broad-shouldered, and the K-Boys were still misogynist pricks. The whole damn gang was very no-girls-allowed, especially the fuckers they had working sentry. One of them kept looking me over, stroking the bone-spurs jutting out of his lip. I couldn’t tell if he wanted to eat me or fuck me, and I doubted either would be a pleasant experience. I lifted my jacket, showed him the forty-five. That seemed to calm him down.
So, all in all, I’m pretty happy with the results of the new system. Aiming for 500 words has frequently netted me more than that – I’m averaging around 750 words a day – and I like the feeling of getting stuff done. I’m particularly pleased that the inimitable Angela Slatter reminded me that revising didn’t need to take as long as I remembered it taking, particularly on shorter works. I probably would have sat on the first story draft for a week if it hadn’t been for that.
The coming week, of course, will be the real test: I start four months of full-time employment at the QWC, which means I’ll lose my Wednesday writing day, and a whole bunch of non-writing, non-work activities have suddenly come back on my radar. Part of the logic behind using mornings was to keep me from cannibalising writing-time for gaming time/movie time/hanging out time in the evenings, so fingers crossed it’ll still work.
Now, though, I’m off to get some lunch and pick up groceries for dinner. Writing all morning builds up an appetite.