26 May 2011

From a serial writer's diary

Don't believe anyone who tells you writing is easy. Not true. It's bloody hard work, you need the stamina of a triple marathon runner, a gigathon runner. I never run. If it wasn't for the fact that I cramp up if I sit in my office chair too long, I would just sit there until I became part of the chair. I do have to go for walks in the park to stretch my legs and clear my head. I write so much, my fingers swell up - I could go on until boredom killed me. Mostly I don't pay much attention to these things. I have a chiropractor to take care of that. But I do believe it's important to stay in shape - although not marathon shape - otherwise the body gets exhausted before the mind. And the mind could use some fresh air too. So long walks it is ...
Why am I complaining about this?
I've just started Book Four of my new series. This is hard work! There's the research to keep track of, there's the different story lines to keep apart and alive, and I also have to keep developing my characters.
This is very much like writing a soap opera for TV, one of those long winded ones, where it takes eight episodes for a woman to change her clothes. Book Three in my series covers three days in mid-July – in 40.000 words.
In book four I hope to take the story to August. It's just that things happens, and I have to run with it. And some times that means using half the book on one day.
Normally one of these books takes me about two months to write. This time I'm going to see if I can manage in a month and a half. I want to finish as many books as possible before the series gets published. Usually there should be at least 7 books before the first is published. I'd like to have 8. I had this lovely plan in December. It was so neat and clear, full of deadlines and dates, and if I had followed it, I would have been finished with Book Five now, instead of starting Book Four. But life happens, and sometimes other projects interfere, and there I am. But I'm determined to make up for lost time. So this book should be finished by the end of June. That's my intention and I'm sticking with it. I even made a brand new plan!

13 May 2011

The Writer in Conversation with the Writer - part two ...

Creative Me is hurting. She's throwing her arms up in the air, moaning her suffering, and pacing back and forth. The computer is forgotten, except for some scowls to it ever so often, the inspiring tea cup is gathering dust and no matter what Sensible Me, says, it's just not working.

- I hate him! She exclaims, once again throwing her arms in the air. - How can he do this to me? To ME!
The He in question is not a romantic him. It's an Editor.
- I'm sure he does this to loads of writers. Sensible Me tries to put oil on boiling water, or was it water on boiling oil? It has no effect either way.
- I am not like loads of writers! Creative Me shrieks. - I am Me! I deserve better than this ... than this hack, butchering my work. He doesn't understand me! Ha! Don't think that I will ever forget this!
Creative Me has now hurled herself on the sofa, one arm thrown over her face. A few sobs once in a while completes the effect. Sensible Me sighs patiently. - Look, it's not like he told you the manuscript was crap. Because he didn't, you know.
- He might as well. He said no, didn't he? Editors! Ha! What do they know?
Sensible Me knows better than to laugh at the Drama. She doesn't want to put fire to the ... eh ... oil. - He said there was things about it he liked. Like the conflict and the time period, and some of the characters.
- He said ... he said ... Creative Me can barely speak from the horror. - He said I have to rewrite the entire book!
Sensible Me can't hide a smile. - I told you so, she says, all smugness and triumph in her voice. - I told you it needed far more work.
- But it's 410 pages long! I've worked on it for ages. Are they never satisfied?
- Why don't you just go on with it? Read the manuscript, take out the bad parts, and put in the good parts? You're so good at that.
Creative Me peeks through her fingers. - I am?
- Oh, yes. Sensible Me wants to hit her over the head with a poker, but smiles instead. She knows only too well that she can't do it by herself. - Listen, I'll do the cutting and pasting, and you write the new stuff. It'll be fun.
- No! It's boring! Why can't he just love it? Hm? Is that too much to ask? Hm? Why doesn't he write a book and I can trash that?
The though pleaser her so much she sits up in the sofa. - I could twitter about it, and put it out on Facebook, and I could blog about it, and it will all be about how horrible, horrible he is. Ha!
- Or maybe we should just rewrite the book, make it so good he'll beg us to publish it? Isn't that better?
Creative Me gets the «Mad Writer" look in her eyes, and rubs her hands together. - Oh, yes! That'll show him! And I will give it to another Editor, someone who appreciates my genious. That'll make him suffer like I do now!
- We'll see about that when the times come. Sensible Me is far to sensible to carry grudges. She points a stack of papers next to the computer - Now go. Make him suffer!
Creative Me goes over to the paper stack and starts reading. Sensible Me hands her a pencil, a pink one with a feather. - I'll get you some of that chocolate you like so much.
Behind her, Creative Me is humming quietly to herself. Sensible Me lets out a sigh of relief. Boy, am I glad I'm not the creative one, she thinks as she picks up a book on grammar and settles down with it. Thank God someone has a clear head.
Creative Me laughs like the Mad Writer she is.

11 May 2011

From a serial writer's diary ...

I'm working on two very different projects right now, both historical, but from totally different periods and genres. One is a thriller, the other a romance with a story that will cover at least 15-20 books when it's finished. Hopefully even more.
So I thought I'd keep sort of a diary. Not every day, I don't have the time (Unfortunately I have this addiction: I like to eat and sleep once in awhile ...).
I'm into my third book in the series (I can't reveal title or period since it's not published yet), and it's going very well indeed. This is my second series, so I now have the advantage of "having done it before" - that means I don't have to worry about being able to actually finish 15-30 books about the same characters (Oh, yes). I can always tell myself I have done it before!
Experience is good. Research is fun. Writing can be extremely slow, or I can get in the flow and just keep going until the bakery vans outside my window starts their morning deliveries. There's a tempo thing with the series, I have to write a book fast, and of course, the faster I write, the faster I get paid (which is a very good thing!). So far I have managed to keep the tempo on an average of 1000 words a day. That means I use about two months to finish a book (this includes rewriting and research). I want to finish faster, so I'm going to aim for 1500 words a day. If I do that, I can produce faster and perhaps take a week off now and then to recharge my batteries.
That's important. I need time to just read and think, and sometimes to get out of the house to buy a new washing maschine or a pint of milk - both takes time. If it wasn't for the fact that I actually need to see the people in my life once in awhile, to do some socializing or catch a movie, I'd probably just sit infront of my computer and hammer away. I have an obsessive streak in my personality (I don't play computer games for this reason. I'd never manage to produce anything if I did that. I'm saving that for the old people's home).
I do get caught up in  word counts this way. It's as if I don't get my daily quota, I can't relax. I take a sheet of paper, divide it in two, then divide that in two. I write the dates on both side of the halves (he, he), and everyday I write up the daily amount of words.
To days count? So far a big 0. (I was looking for that washing machine, actually, so I do have a valid excuse).
I have two hours of work left, so as soon as I have finished this, I'm into the book.
The thriller? It's back from the editor with a healthy dose of encouragement and feedback - that all amounts to rewriting the entire book. Again. But that's another blogpost ...