finding the mojo
Two short stories written in two months. That was how I ended 2012. Granted, I was distracted by taking care of a sick relative for all of that time and many would regard such diversion a legitimate reason to stop typing. What little time was left over was spent navigating the final stages of the release of two books with The Recidivist released in December and The Crusades to be released in the first quarter of 2013.
The tail end of 2012 has been perhaps my least productive creative period in almost a decade. After I deposited the recovering relative back in their own home (nineteen hour round trip in the car) and took a moment to enjoy the freedom of discarding the life of a senior (including pre-dawn wake up and dinner at 530pm every day), I turned my mind to my 2013 writing goals.
It is clear as I write today's blog that I will not finish any major project in 2013. With two major projects completed in 2012, I am effectively back at the start of whole new projects and all that entails. It is always a difficult place to be because the beginning of anything brings a degree of uncertainty and a significantly greater level of procrastination than is the norm. And I am a world-class procrastinator (says the girl who once spent her day counting the ways she could procrastinate - the answer was 64 that particular day). I love the joy of creating a fresh idea and seeing what journey it will take me on. I loathe the despair of the seemingly endless amount of staring I do at a blank screen as I wonder how I will start. Baby steps.
It probably hasn't helped that I have come from this "lower base" (more distraction than usual) so it wasn't until I wrote a short story on the second last day of 2012, aptly entitled Sleepwalker, that I felt that twinge of mojo returning in the blood flowing through my veins. I wrote the story in a day and felt that it was good product (notwithstanding it, like every other first draft, needs a decent edit).
Writing short stories is a good way to brush away cobwebs. So good in fact that, when I was done, I crawled into bed and found an idea for another story "leaking" out of my mind before I could close my eyes. Trusty notepad that sits within arms reach for such occasions was immediately grabbed and several lines of ink found their way to the paper before I turned out the light.
In the early morning light of the next day, I started working properly on the storyboard for the next novel. I have been jotting down plot ideas for much of the last six months though the last day of the year was the first time I made a conscious effort to see if the ideas might make a coherent story when observed collectively. I procrastinated for six hours, watching a great (though unfortunately short-lived) series called Pushing Daisies, and managed to get the barest of outline shells together by the end of the day (when a NYE party beckoned me out). Eight of twelve chapter concepts on a single page.
Still some cobwebs to brush away apparently. Figure it will take me at least a month to have some semblance of a fleshed out roadmap for the next novel. This entails chapter summaries, scene summaries, character details (including motivation/conflict) and major plot milestones. This part of the process is the hardest but most necessary. I have written a book without the discipline of a prefab structure and (with the benefit of hindsight) I regard that work as my worst.
I sat down again on the first day of 2013 (after a decent sleep in). Slightly less procrastination - only five hours with Lee Pace performing the lead role as Ned and the subsequent research highlighting just how much stuff this actor has been in that I've already seen and enjoyed. (Aside: is it a sign of good acting if you remember the roles and not the actor who played them?) Way to go Lee! I did manage to get the concepts for the remaining four chapters sorted. Good start, great middle, superb end. Only 60 or so individual scenes to figure out now...
So where does that leave me for my goals for 2013?
First, I will continue to rediscover my mojo writing the short stories. This is where I started as a twelve year old and there is something reassuring about grabbing the string of a tangent and playing with it as the mood takes me. Substantively, I want to make significant inroads into a collection of short stories I began writing last September. I have seeds of ideas for around 40 stories in total (most 3000 words or less) of which I have written twelve. Most are in the speculative or fantasy fiction genre, though some are simply reflections on life experiences (the latter not dissimilar from the subject matter of my very first novel, Transition Girl). If I manage to complete initial drafts of all these stories by the end of the year, I will be giving myself a gold star.
Second, I would like to get about half of the next novel, working title The Helotry, drafted. I think this is a realistic and challenging goal particularly given I write part-time. Barring no major life-career changes, I know my writing mojo will return with a vengence once I return to my disciplined routine.
I will finish today with a picture that pops. It is the cover of The Crusades due for release shortly.
May 2013 be filled with exciting change, amazing adventures and heartfelt connections for all (my characters in my stories and for the readers of those stories).