So what was that? Eight months? Quite a siesta, even for me, so what happened?
I had a really good Christmas, writing-wise. Lots of stuff I was really happy with. I wrote a couple of shorts and a started work on a sequel to Regarding Avalon. Early mornings and late nights.
And I missed Christmas 🙁
Not of all of it (I watched a lot of telly) but I did miss the important parts (the family stuff) and I think a lot of that was down to the early mornings and late nights hammering at this very keyboard. I guess when you’re working full-time, you tend to use the holiday to make as much headway as you can, instead of actually taking a holiday.
I decided that while intensity was a good thing, I needed to get away from the screen and do something else for a while: focus on family, get the real career moving again. Just do more stuff basically, and get out of the mindset that dedication ≠ 24/7 in front of a screen (it shouldn’t for any job, really).
So I took some time off from writing about artificial life so I could try some of the real thing. And the most surprising thing I discovered was that it’s a lot harder not to write than I thought.
I’m not kidding; it takes real discipline. :-/
Fifty thousand words in thirty days.
Pretty intense, but just what I needed; life was starting to get in the way of the writing to a certain extent and I think I was starting to forget how much I enjoyed it. Not just the construction of the story, but all the little tweaking that goes with it. Some days I can churn out a few thousand words by six in the morning, and others I’ll spend pondering over a single sentence, chipping away at it for hours until I’d eventually arrive back where I started (is there such a thing as literary OCD?)
So, did I hit the target? Not exactly. Turns out there were forty-six thousand words left until the end of the book. But this is where the really hard work starts: it needs polishing, editing, polishing again, copy-editing… so that’s Christmas and January all booked up 🙂
And I still don’t have a title…
I’ve always been told that the very best writers ‘show don’t tell’. Not sure if this is always true but I’m happy to believe that it covers a good ninety per cent of the cases, so it’s something I always try to keep in mind in prose and poetry. And personally, I don’t think there’s anything more dull than a book that lays out every single detail in a litany of absolutes.
Anyway, as it turns out, my favourite example of ‘Show Don’t Tell’ doesn’t come from a book; it comes from a tv series: Boardwalk Empire – the opening credits to be precise. From the moment you watch the opener you know you’re in for something a little bit special. What I really love about this sequence is how it tells you everything you need to know about the world of Enoch Thompson, just by watching him watch the sea:
Even the way he steps away from the ocean with dry shoes demonstrates that, in his world at least, Enoch Thompson is untouchable.
Well worth a watch (the whole thing, not just the credits).