After The Dust Has Settled

So, let’s do a few checks: #100daysofwriting, done, #ayearofwriting, done, sanity, gone long ago, work produced, more than I have produced in several years of procrastination. I have written nine short stories and there’s one yet to complete, I average around 21,000 words a story when writing. Now, here’s for the Rachel Riley moment, 21, 000 x 10 = 210,000 words before editing. That’s a novel, let’s be crap serious, that’s two novels and a novella. I have done the averages, and I averaged 30-40 minutes a day of just writing short tales, some have been published, some are waiting to be published. This brings me neatly to what I want to achieve in 2019. You may already have guessed.

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What the hell, I’ll tell you anyway, I am going to start on my mosaic novel for my PhD. Yes, I can hear you yawning but it’s more complex than that. I am going to discuss, share, write papers, articles and the novel in this time. It may not be a complete novel, but it is a start. So, my hashtag now for 2019 is #clifimadness because that sums up what I am trying to do. Before you get on your soapbox and yell at me that climate change is not fiction, and that it is not madness, it is reality, let us look at how society perceives it. To see this, we have to turn to popular culture models, take cinema of the 1970s and the film, Silent Running, never an A-movie or blockbuster but a film that quietly reached audiences across the world, and impacted on a generation of children who were born or grew up in that era. In it, Bruce Dern faces down the three other crew on spaceship, calling them out for their apathy and one of the crew tells him that if anyone cared about nature on Earth, something would have been done sooner. This bitter pill, this insight into the world of the future made many of us question how we interact with nature but fast forward 40 years and climate change has become a joke, take Lisa in The Simpsons, rather than an activist, or a murderer for climate, as Dern becomes, she is the lil activist, she is laughed at and climate change becomes something that will improve our holidays. We are the citizens of a modern Rome, we fiddle as the world burns. We have 12 years left to do something and my prediction is, we will do nothing because only a minority care. If you are reading this, getting angry, you care but you are 1 in 20 that do. Every piece of plastic that passes through your hands is another nail in the coffin. Every time you turn the light on and a coal fire station powers up, you dig the hole a little deeper. Every summer holiday you go on, by plane or car, you shovel in the earth on the coffin lid. It is time to stop coming out with the glib: ‘Will someone think of the children?’ It’s time we start to think about humanity. It is arrogance to believe that our world is dying, we are, not the Earth. The Earth will evolve and we will be wiped from the world, our only legacy will be plastic, bones and our own incredible stupidity to pollute our own food chain. So, you see it is is madness.

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How am I going to chronicle this journey? Well, in #100daysofwriting and #ayearofwriting I relied solely on social media and what appeared there often was copied over to this blog bar some of the posts where I was in a more of reflective and expansive mood. I want to use this blog as the primary place to gather evidence, things I am reading, links I have found and generally log my practice. Here, weekly, you will see what I am up to, the ups and downs, the successes and the cock ups. It’s about you and me seeing every step I take to write a novel. Now, I am not new to the novel writing game. This will be my fifth attempt, my first attempt got me a book deal that went to nowhere in my twenties; not even the book saw light of day, and that hit my confidence hard that even twenty years later I still wince at my mistakes (see poor agent, see publisher dragging their heels). The second novel attempt secured me several awards to develop it, but again this spiraled into confidence issues. The third was never completed and the fourth was thanks to #nanowrimo. I still like that fourth novel but it is purely a SF romance that seriously needs some editing as I break ever rule going about structure because frankly I just wanted to get to the end of it. I did. That instilled confidence in me because unlike my second, and third attempts I had completed something. What I learnt from this process is not every idea makes it into a novel, that research, scribbling and even more research brings a depth to the written page. This is not about the old adage of write what you know. This is about write what you feel and the second and third novels were just my chance to produce masturbatory prose — a polite way to say that they were wank. So, here will be my confessional, my place to share and for you to comment if you wish. I will guide you through things read, books dissected, ideas broken and repaired. I will take you through the landscape of the writer, and why short stories are unique in the landscape, how novels are beasts, how the long short story is a tense minefield in the novice writer’s hands and how the novella is a missed art form. You will see me move through research, through word counts and through drafting to the point of madness.

You can follow me here weekly each Wednesday. However, I will chronicle everyday ramblings on twitter and Facebook, so get signed up there. If you want to join me, and expand beyond the #nanowrimo then let’s do it together and share craft, share practice, share madness, share words.

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