Hello, my name is Linda.
It's not a blog
So I've enjoyed the welcome I've received to this hubworld. It's quite astonishing to me that this cyber place has been existing right under my nose, and I've been completely unaware of it. Already my first hub has been viewed by twenty people, and commented on by three, and I only published it a few short hours ago. I've never had twenty views in a day on my blog! It feels very positive on here, and as if there will be lots of support. I hope I can start to feel comfortable enough soon that I might be able to offer support to other new people. Next, when I get some spare minutes, I think I must look into the forums on here, and find out what I should be doing besides writing about being here! Thank you, commentors, for you lovely welcome. I hope I can manage to write hubs that you will continue to find interesting.
I think I must also read more hubs, so that I know what the etiquette is around here. I don't know whether my usual smilies are appropriate :oS, or if I should laugh out loud, lol, or if I should highlight my physical expressions of emotion between asterisks, *scratches head in mystification*. I'm sure it will all become apparent as I become more familiar with this 'place'.
But for now I will start to tell you a little about where I am in my writing process, with regards to my first draft of my first novel, and how I came to be there.
I can't remember how it started, roughly two and half years ago, but I knew that I was going to try to write a novel. I had been saying to one of my penpals for a long time that I knew I had a novel in me somewhere, and I think I may have said to myself one day 'what on Earth are you waiting for? Get it written then!'. So I started. Well, actually I didn't. I did a lot of thinking first, and started a notebook of ideas, and wrote down everything that I could think of that might be useful. Lots of lists, lots of mind maps, lots of bullet points of things to look into and bits of research to do. I didn't know it at the start, but my first idea turned out to be a mammoth one. It started off as a small and simple story about faeries, but quickly turned into an epic to rival Lord of the Rings (I mean in size, certainly not in quality!). I took an online course in creative writing which lasted a few months, and forced me to start the first draft. The course was incredibly useful, because the students were expected to write critiques of each other's work, and the criticism was always very constructive. I learned a lot about my own writing, and about how to look at the writing of others, and it was a good place to start.
After the course ended I was alone again. Hmmm. Once alone it's easy for a writer (a complete novice like myself, at any rate) to become distracted by housework, or by day time television, or by the kettle and the biscuit barrel. I spent a year writing little bits of the first draft, and redrafting the first two or three chapters over and over again. This was my first big mistake I think. I should have ploughed on and written the first draft in a few months, and then begun on the fine-toothed-combing. But I got bogged down in the minute details of my story, and of trying to force the story to go in the direction I wanted it to go. My writing, which I had been pleased and surprised to find, had been flowing and poetic, became stilted and very obviously forced. But I kept on at it, with the few spare hours that I have in a week (like anyone else, we all have other commitments, I know). Eventually, of course, I began to detest my story. I was full of insecurity about it, and I think I actually began to doubt whether it was me who had really written the first few chapters that were so good. I read those first few chapters now and marvel at them, and despair, sometimes, of ever writing anything that could match up again.
While I was in a long period of procrastination late last year, after working on my faerie story for almost two years, I stumbled across a different story. It was a little bit autobiographical, but the character I saw was not really me, she just lived in places I had lived and knew people that I had known in my childhood. I decided to put my faerie story away for a few months, to come back to it with fresh eyes and ideas. I began work on the new story. It was good. I was very pleased with it. The beginning was gripping, and I showed it to some discerning friends and they were very enthusiastic. So I carried on writing, writing, writing. I wrote pages and pages, mostly in note form, sketches of scenes and conversations. Until the work started to become unmanageable and I couldn't remember what the thread of the story was. Then I began to instill some discipline and order, and began to decorate the story with new characters, and some scenery and a little history (might that be back story?). It grew, flourished actually, and lo! I saw what I had done, and I was pleased.
This took me up until the end of July - I took about five months to draft two thirds of a book. I thought that was pretty good! I have only a few more chapters to draft, which is pretty much the most exciting part, the denouement, the reveal, the shocker, if you will. But then I hit the summer holidays. Mmm. All motivation disappeared on the nineteenth of July 2010. This is not to say that I was miserable, not in the least, because I have been having a wonderful summer of fun with my three young sons! The very little down side of this is that I have had no energy left for writing, or even thinking about writing. I was prepared for this to happen, and knew that I should use this excellent opportunity to try to recharge my brain over the six weeks. And this is what I have done. I must say that it has really worked a treat, and I am absolutely itching, with itchiness all over my skin (I hope I haven't actually contracted some nasty itchy skin thing!) to pick up my cheap biro and my cheaper still, supermarket's-own, wide-lined notepad, and begin where I left off before the glorious nineteenth. I've done some serious thinking over the last few weeks, when I have been in the shower, or when I've been drifting off to sleep at night, about the terrible flaws in my story, and about the huge overhaul that needs to be done on some very bad areas in the plot. But I'm looking forward to it all. Looking forward to getting the first draft finished, looking forward to going back to the beginning and redrafting, looking forward to redrafting again, and looking forward to nit-picking and fine-tuning. I don't know how long it will take, but I'm recharged enough now to get it done.
I am also very keen to pick up my faerie story again. I miss it, and I think this is a good sign. I think it's better than the second story. I think it's much, much better. But my plan is now to get the second story finished before I fly with the faeries again! As you will see, I'm good at making plans, not quite so good at carrying them out ... well, I do carry them out, it just takes me an awfully long time. I could make all kinds of excuses: children, tiredness, writer's block, lack of spare time; but the real reason is laziness!
Until next time :)