Progress Report, Novels and Asian films

The last month or so has been busy…and it hasn’t. Not much short fiction writing – barely at all in fact. But I do have a few things coming up. I’ve got another story from Science Fiction World that’s been reprinted and translated – I should be getting my copies any day now. I’ve also got an article coming up at Tor.com, which should be launching in a few days.

But novels are what’s important to me right now. Even if the world gets destroyed and the Earth smashed to oblivion within the next four years (you can read into that subtext however you like) and I never get a novel on the shelf I’m still going to focus on them because I enjoy writing them the most. I’ve got one that beta readers are tearing into right about now (already got some fantastic feedback from some. Seriously, you need beta readers. Full stop.) but I’m also planning my next one. Outlining was one of the best things I ever did, but I still pantstied a lot of the way and it cost me.

So I’m going to be planning my next one pretty soon. Can’t say much more than that, but it’s my dream novel and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into it.

In other news, besides finishing and very much enjoying Deus Ex: Mankind Divided¬†and watching the fantastic¬†Westworld,¬†I’m heading off to the Japanese Film festival. There’s some great showings and of course I couldn’t catch them all. But here’s what I am seeing:

After the Storm
Hime-Anole
The Top Secret: Murder in Mind
The Sun
Creepy
The Inerasable
Erased

I’ve already seen the opening film, After the Storm. It’s a slow burner, slice-of-life film that I was happy to see once, but wouldn’t do so again.

I spent the first fourty-five minutes waiting for something to happen, but nothing really did and by the time I realized that the film wasn’t about a moving, cohesive plot but a quiet character study it was almost over. The script could have used some serious tightening, but overall I enjoyed the fact that I’d seen it and could move on. I tend to do that with a lot of films – I’ll sit through one even if I don’t love it because it’s only two hours of my life and I can strike it from the list afterwards, and it’s great to soak up a diverse film list, even if you don’t always love the experience. Can’t do the same with novels, games or TV shows, but I can devote two hours to a film if I need to.

Anyway, it’s back to novel editing and planning right now. I’m seeing Murder in Mind later today and getting ramen with some mates beforehand (c’mon, you need the whole experience to enjoy yourself to the hilt), but if you’re lucky enough to have a foreign film fest playing near you I suggest you see what’s on tap. There’s some rare gems in there.

The Novel is DONE

It’s done. 123,566 words and I typed THE END on my space opera noir novel.

After 91 days, it’s finally, finally done.

It was done last Thursday, but I’d written 6,000 words that night and I didn’t want to see another keyboard for a weekend at least. But now I’m happy to announce that it’s done and finished.

The first draft, that is. It’s going to take a mountain of effort to unscramble that mess and knock it into something resembling a coherent narrative.

But it’s done.

I feel like Uma Thurman from Kill Bill, standing above the restaurant dojo of Crippling Self Doubt and seeing all the defeated brain weasels on the bloody floor and saying, “All your words are belong to me”.

I wrote everyday for over three months. Every single day. Even the day where I had a ten-hour shift and went out in the evening, even if it was 100 words before collapsing asleep. I kept chiseling away to get the end result.

I absolutely love this novel. After my last project burned me out I had to write exactly what I wanted to write. Genre tends or hot-off-the-press type work be damned. I wanted to take a shot at writing a murder mystery in the deepest reaches of space, with a strong sense of space opera exuberance, and I did.

My plan is to write up a sketchy synopsis of the novel, as well as a detailed list of things that need to be fixed. But I’ll be taking a bit of a break. After a few weeks I’ll try my hand at a short or two, polish up an ugly draft that I’ve got sitting around, maybe do some nonfiction, and then it’s time for revision. A lot of revision.

But for now, I need to clear my mind and take a mini-holiday. After writing almost 125k in 91 days, I think I’ve earned it.

And I’m going to try my best not to think about just how much it sucks and needs work. Wish me luck!

 

Words and words and words, starting a new project

For those of you who’ve been following my tweets recently, I’m neck deep in a new project. Not a new short story, a new novel. I finished my YA epic Slavic fantasy about a month back. I took a short break before thinking about what I was going to do next. I didn’t want to jump into edits straight away – me and my YA fantasy didn’t have a very good relationship in the last third of the book. We needed, need, time away from each other. In a couple of months I’ll come back and start hacking away at it with an axe.

But until then I needed something else. I’ve had this idea boiling in the basement of my skull for quite some time, but didn’t have the backstory to support it. I took a few days to flesh it out, do some outlining, then threw myself into writing. No side projects, no short stories, no editing. Nothing. Just words words words.

I stated that book two and a half weeks ago, about 18 days. Right now it’s sitting at 19,000 words. That’s my part time job at the moment. Butt in chair, pouring my mind on the keyboard and screen. No inspiration quotes, no #amwriting hashtags on twitter, no in-the-zone yoga mind experiments.

Just black words on white paper.

My minimum target is 1,000 words per day, not including plot outlining, world-building, and running off to jot down some cool idea. And so far I’m not doing too badly. I know where my characters are going, where they’ve come from, and (most) of the world around them. I can’t say much about the project, but it’s a space opera crossed with a murder mystery. It’s not YA either, my first adult book since my first rubbish attempt at writing a SF/F when I was in highschool.

I’m not thinking about how to sell it, how to pitch it, if the current market is good for it, nothing. I’m just having fun and getting that work down. It’s hard sometimes, and I hate every sodding word on the sodding page, but I’m doing it. It’s going to be one ugly half-breed when it’s done (coming from a half-breed), but it’ll be done.

One of the worst things I ever did was let my YA fantasy sit and rot for whole months at a time over a stretch of one year and three months while I was finishing university. It grew old and stale, and even now it’s in desperate need of a scrub up and tweaking. So I’m not making that mistake here. I’m living and breathing this world and this world alone, and it’s pouring out of me fast.

By this time next week I hope to be at 26,000 words, perhaps a little more. By the time this is over my fingers are going to be worn down to the bone and my brain having gone through a deep fat fryer, but no one said this job was meant to be easy.

‘Until then….

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