2016, and writing one word after the other

Ho, boy. It’s been a long time since I published something on this blog. Or maybe it hasn’t, and I just feel that way since there were so many things happening? Preparations for the holidays are always somewhat erratic, and I am finding myself more and more excited to go back to Norway in half a year.

I started writing more too. A tiny part-time job as a content writer is pushing me to write tiny articles every week. Even if this has nothing to do with my hopes as an aspiring writer, I am hoping it will still keep the writing muscles somewhat active. They felt a little dead after I finished My Friend Lucy this summer. I just didn’t know what to do next. Even better, this job is online and can be brought along wherever there is a computer and a wifi connection.

My partner and I threw romance ideas back and forth, but none of them really stuck. It wasn’t the type of story I wanted to write. But what did I want to write?

It’s been churning at the back of my head for at least a solid year in one form or another. It’s just that I’m afraid of messing the story up, so I’ve put off writing it just because I wanted to be a better writer by the time I tried to tackle this story, which felt important and promising in my head. My problem was trying to write other stories when the story I really wanted to write was right down there at the back of my head, poking me with sharp sticks and demanding attention.

I yielded. For the past week and a half, I have been thoroughly enjoying plotting, planning and pondering characters and plot points in my little narrow-lined moleskine(the regular wide lined writing books of most brands get no love from me) in between holiday get-togethers and cookies, nut roast and homemade caramels. I hope it will be good, and that I will be able to write it.

Just as I was grieving over how slowly I put words to page, with encouraging texts like “write 5k per hour!” and other major achievements, we got the gem of a book from prolific mastermind Neil Gaiman. The View from the Cheap Seats was a welcome tonic to all the encouragement of writing faster, better and more. His own anecdotes of “Just putting one word after another” was strangely encouraging, and as I sat there with the white page in front of me, I decided to do just that.

Oh, what a change it was! From banging my head at any brief pause in a writing session, I could sit down, relax and just write in a leisurely and thoroughly enjoyable pace. The small session in the cold basement of a Norwegian home suddenly became filled with joy of writing again, rather than being yet another chore I set myself to try to write out the stories I would tell myself in my head.

My new kindle tells me that I am not even 20 % of the way through Gaiman’s new tome of non-fiction, but it has already given me tons of encouragement. Plus, series of shorter writing is really practical when there are family members and friends wanting attention east and west, and you only manage to squirrel away for a handful of minutes to read most days.

Happy holidays, god jul, and here’s to looking forward to a whole new year!

My Friend Lucy for free!

My Friend Lucy for free!

Sitting on the airport on my way back to London seems as good a time as any to update my blog.

It’s been a strange week. More eventful than can be really called desirable, yet at the same time it has been nice. Warm, sunny most days with cotton candy clouds, and with a reasonably loose time table.

Now it’s back to the grey city with its dusty air and controlled parks.

But on the other side of things, I decided to run a free book campaign!

To increase publicity I’ve put My Friend Lucy up on Amazon (UK and US, for instance)  for free for the next couple of days. I’m hoping for maybe a review or two, but just getting the story out there for others to read is both exciting and nerve-wrecking at the same time.

The offer ends on August 8th, so grab a copy while you can!

My Friend Lucy

My Friend Lucy

After much faffing about, the book is finally here!

I must admit, it is a strange feeling seeing it up and about on Amazon, stretching its legs and laying open for feedback and critique.

It is a small book. Not a full size novel by far, at its modest 24 000 words. Never the less, I hope people will find it a cute book. My love and only beta-reader complained that I had been aiming for his tear ducts towards the end. That seems a good review, and I shall unabashedly smother it on my blog.

My Friend Lucy cover

My Friend Lucy is a story about a young girl named Alice Green. Her parents work in a zoo, and Alice basically grows up inside. She feels at home in ponytails and overalls, and is not afraid of mucking out after the goats.

Her life changes suddenly when Lucy, an orphaned baby bonobo, enters their idyllic life in the zoo. The two become fast friends, and as they grow up together, Alice slowly starts to question some of  the truths she has grown up with. Lucy is clever, beyond what would be expected from an animal. Should she be kept in a cage?

Truth be told, I have absolutely no idea what to expect in publishing this online. I hope someone will like it. If I’m lucky, someone might even leave a review.

Here’s to trying not to check the stats every day.

The woes of self-publishing

I can’t paint.

I’ve never been able to pain. I can draw to some degree, but painting? Nuh-uh.

So from where I’m sitting, the only thing stopping My Friend Lucy from being published is a decent cover.

But when attempts look like this,

hands_wip

and this,

A&L.jpeg

You might see why such an endeavour is a tad more difficult than I would have liked.

But persistence is usually rewarded, isn’t it?

Onwards to the next draft!

Getting started

Ever since I tried to rekindle my love for writing, my weaving hobby temporarily suspended due to moving for the next few years, I have been reading and listening to podcasts about how other people write.

I find it utterly fascinating, and I pick up some great tips along the way (my favourite at present being Writing Excuses).

As I finished the most recent edit of My Friend Lucy and sent it off to my partner for feedback, I’ve been somewhat in a slump. I had no idea what to write next, no idea, no project, no essence. I had been so absorbed in My Friend Lucy that I avoided new ideas, devoting myself fully to the project to finish it within the time frame of this summer.

And I’ve been listening to podcasts.

On one particular podcast, they discussed ideas and how they wrote (I might be mixing several podcasts). Some talked about how they just got a funny idea, others how they had a beginning or an end or both, while others still plotted furiously before even writing a sentence of their story.

I should probably plot more myself, it would save me a lot of grief and four rewrites before I finally found my ending.

But with this slight slump, I tried to think about how I used to write. How did I start?

Idea driven for sure, right?

Or was it an beginning to end discovery writer (I know I have tended to be a discovery writer, but mostly because I’ve been too lazy to plot most stories out properly).

As I thought, and wondered, and berated myself for not coming up with an idea to fill my time while waiting, it came in late one night and punched me in the gut.

It was an idea all right, but it was just a moment. A fleeting moment in the middle of a story I do not yet know. One of those emotional, gut-wrenching moments that takes your breath away.

And I realised that My Friend Lucy had been the same way. I had neither the beginning nor the end when I started shaping the idea, and both were heavily edited when I finally got down to it.

But there is one scene in that story that has not changed in essence since the conception of the idea. It was the moment that made me hook on to the project in the first place.

So, after many days of frustration, I finally got punched in the gut with a moment of a story that is absolutely worthy of pursuit. It clutched to the back of my mind for the rest of the day and is still lingering, demanding attention.

It’ll need a home, a world, a magic system, a set of characters, a setting, a plot. In short, I need the rest of the story.

I guess I’ll be kept busy after all.

My Friend Lucy, cover sketch and goals

My Friend Lucy, cover sketch and goals

This post is a rather intimidating one. The first WIP post with regards to my modest novelette. As the title implies, the working title is “My Friend Lucy”.

It is a short story/novelette landing on about 25 000 words about a young girl who spends a lot of her time in a zoo. One day, they adopt a young bonobo (pymgmy chimpanzee) who had been confiscated from customs, and the two become fast friends. Stuff happens. Lessons are learned.

I have been wrestling with several things with this story lately. I thought the first draft was the difficult bit, but it turns out (as I should have expected) that I also struggle a whole lot with trying to polish the final draft. This is always something I have struggled with.

Rough and ready sketches, crafts and ideas I am perfectly fine with. But getting down to the nitty gritty details in everything? I’ve got an awesome general idea of what my dream house might approximately, roughly, maybe look like. But actual details? Not my forte, let me tell you.

So about halfway through editing the draft, I tried struggling with the cover, which again, is a brilliant idea in my head, but actually realising it? Yeah, that’s where I hit a wall. I’ve made some sketches, as you can see above. But from there to cover art? Whoo boy.

Luckily, I am almost unspeakably blessed with a partner who, doesn’t just write himself, but also has far better illustrator skills than I do. He has agreed to have a look at my messy mass of tangled ideas and try to pull something better out of all of it.

Now just to find a style he can work from, and perhaps we’ll see a far better WIP on this blog towards the end of summer!

It is my goal to finish this draft before my gardening contract in the Arctic ends in July. Please wish me luck!

Babysteps

Babysteps

Writing is difficult.

Or rather, writing stories is difficult.

Blog posts or short comments and articles have always been relatively easy for me to write, but stories are different.

Stories take a lot of time, and patient persistence.

There is a story I have been tinkering with for almost over a year now, although I have been trying to write it for less than six months. It’s only a short, little story, but I really want it to be the right story. The story it wants to be.

Which has led me to endless mental gymnastics and three very different drafts. In a mix  of outlining and discovery writing, I’m trying to find the story hidden somewhere in my head, and each draft has teased out a little more.

But I did finish the third draft this weekend, and it is finally starting to feel as if the skeleton of the story is taking shape. Slowly, but surely.

I wonder how many more drafts it will take until I find it.