Haircuts and Hairshirts

Strange title, that much is true, but it seems that since my last confession, this is all I’ve achieved. 

Participants and acolytes of the scribbling craft set themselves targets, decide upon numbers of words to be written, and the time allocated in which to achieve it. 

Many will claim to have hit these targets, to have written tens of thousands of words, to have dug drainage ditches, manned a food bank for the poor and deserving, and indeed many will also have learnt to play the cello.

Me, I’m sporting a new haircut, and wearing a metaphorically uncomfortable and itchy shirt as penance for my lack of discernible output. 

It’s not that I haven’t been trying, and we all love a good tryer, it’s just that my efforts have borne little or no fruit. 

I’ve tried to hide behind the ever popular “I’m editing” as some sort of defence – and to be fair it works up to a point, but only up to a point. 

So, in my defence I have rewritten a passage here, a phrase there, and added a few new ones at the end of the current scribbles, but I know its not enough, not something I could proudly stick on the fridge next to my potato print paintings. 

I have sat down, fingers curled poised to pounce, hot tea within easy reach, and written practically nothing. 

And today I’m looking at my lack of progress, debating the wearing a hairshirt and considering flagellation (both scouring, and shirt are obvious metaphors).

Although, truth be told, I’ll probably just go for another cup of tea and browse social media for another hour or so!

Perchance that is the problem…

Stay safe – remain sane!

Confessions from a Pantster.

I don’t plan, not when I’m writing, and truth be told no too much in life either.

But this is about my scribbles. 

I have a rough idea, a conceptual imagining of where I’d like to be at some abstract point – but I’ve no roadmap, no plan or detailed scheme mandating how I get there. 

I have every admiration for the spreadsheet creating, post-it-note posting, notebook referencing organised writers who know every twist and turn before they type so much as ‘Once Upon a Time.’  I do.

Me, by contrast, I open the door, and I am as surprised as the reader about what’s on the other side, or indeed that in the middle of the field there was a door.

Sometimes flying by the seat of my pants pays dividend, the tale becomes free flowing – and for me that’s great.

I never planned to have fairies in my tales, but now they are there.

I had a moustachioed twirling villain all but tying the damsel in distress to a train track; but then he fell in love, and everything changed.

Our heroine is the victim, but she can be cruel and vindictive too.

Neither scenario necessitate or preclude being a pantster or planner – but I’m not too sure I’d have been able to plan these depths to each character from the get-go.

This isn’t a VHS/Betamax argument (how old is this writer?).

Plotter or pantster are aspects of the creative processes that suit the individual writer – nothing more.

Me I fly by the seat of mine.

That’s it.

No words of wisdom other than you should enjoy what you do – and if you do that then I’m sure that will transfer to the narrative.

Stay safe and remain sane.

A Warm Coat.

We write, we write some more.

We delete whatever it was we wrote, and then we write some more.

Whatever was deleted is reinstated.

We write a bit more, change our mind, alter the narrative ever so slightly and then redelete whatever it was we removed the first time.

The narrative looks good – we like what we’ve written, and we feel brave enough to offer it out to the world for Beta critique.

Amy Grace: Home is the fifth instalment in our historic fantasy thriller. 

Four Volumes [Thomas Payne; Magic; Gotham & Prison] are in the can – this one we are still kicking around.

From earlier reviews we know certain readers like some bits, and some, no matter what will never like other bits – we take the rough with the smooth.   

We value their opinion.

Critique is the lifeblood of a drafting scribbler. 

For the feedback we patiently wait.

And then someone says “It was so easy to get back into the life of Amy.  It was like putting on a comfortable warm coat.”

That’s it, I am done. 

It’s not a review from the Booker Prize committee – but I’m banking that one. 

That one I’m keeping.

Stay safe and remain sane!