On writing to a deadline and other strange creatures.

I’ve been prodded to update the blog as it was pointed out to me by some-one that it has been ten days since I did last. Time just flies by, though I have been very busy with me time. The weekend, for example, I really don’t know where that went. I did two favours last minute on Saturday which meant that I worked twice; starting at 1:00am and 9:00pm and by the time I got to bed on Sunday I couldn’t tell people what year it was, let alone what day. Working like that makes the mind increasingly confused.

I’ve been signed up by the person who deals with my PR these days to the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for the month of November. I must say that left to my own devices, I’d not have done, but they said it’s good for raising my profile. Apparently. I like to write stuff at my own leisure, but this will be a new experience for me. I will be expected in order to ‘win’ (this is a nominal term and everyone who reaches the target ‘wins’) I have to write 50,000 words or more between the beginning and the end of the month. None of it can be previous worked on material.

But I’ve been signed up, so here I am along with a few other authors and a lotof people who just write for fun. There must, actually, be several hundred thousand people who do this. If truth be known, I feel a little daunted by the idea. I don’t like such tight deadlines, and one month from start to finish is actually a really tight deadline for a book. It can be done, and a lot of people do manage, but I now feel obliged to succeed to avoid looking like a failure as a writer.

So I’ve been thinking about ideas to write about. Now ideas can often be the hardest part of writing. What are good ideas and what are bad ones? Well, you certainly know which are which firstly when writing something then secondly when reading it. I’ve had a rummage around and come up with two immediate possibilities. The first is to explore the second book of the trilogy that the more eagle-eyed will recognise as starting with ‘Orb of Arawaan’. Yes, I know there is currently only one book and a trilogy is conspicuous by its abscence, but there is meant to be three books I can assure you. I just got distracted after the first one by other projects and forgot to come back.

The other idea is completely new. I had a dream a long time ago and came up with the plot in it for a story involving children cast adrift on a desert island after the cruise liner they were on sinks mysteriously. They are rescued by what appears to be a mad professor in a time travelling hot air balloon (it was a dream, so humour me – the idea will get ironed out in the writing process). They have a series of adventures (I’m not going to give too much away here) which culminates in the children working out the truth about the professor that he is in fact one of the children who he rescued.

I would treat the exercise as creating a rough first draft which ultimately I could then revisit later on. The sequel to ‘Orb of Arawaan’ one would certainly ultimately need to be around the 140,000 word mark to fit with the length of book one. Either way, it might be a fun month to hammer out rough ideas. I may even elect to do a third story of whatever suggests itself, or expand on the idea of a short story I’ve written to take the story further – ‘Bringing home the stars’, for example, has a sequel that slumbers on my computer that is intended to expand it into a novella and beyond called: ‘The Stars came home’. There’s actually a lot of things I could do.

Apart from that, my life is rather mundane. Perhaps that isn’t the best thing for a writer of cutting edge sci-fi and fantasy to admit, but it is the truth. The mould problem is no more, thanks to hard work, fungicide and a dehumidifier. The council also unblocked the drain outside at the front, which seems to help. Incidentally if you are struggling with mould I can heartily recomend the following page on t’internet that was invaluable for me when I declared war on the unwelcome green visitor.

Finally, I’ve been thinking about getting a newer car again. I’ve been reading up on energy storing technology which whilst in its infancy, looks extremely promising. I calculate that it will take at least four years for the technology to become used in easily available cars, then affordable on the secondhand market (never buy a new car – let some-one else pay the depreciation and run it in). So the Swedish tank will have to soldier on at least until then. I’m sure it will as my last Volvo managed admirably.