Why is it so hard to walk away?

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. :-/

Well that was fun… :-)

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…

My favourite example of ‘Show Don’t Tell’

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).