A nip and a punch for the first of the month – welcome to October. It’ll soon be Christmas, I’m told.
The last couple of months have been very interesting. I’ve spent most of 2014 wondering what novel to write. Should I go with a world I created for a short story, or try to emulate my favourite authors? Believe me, I tried both and more besides. Nothing seemed to gel, I ran out of steam, there was stuff to watch on TV.
Then, at the start of August, I made myself a promise – write every day. Get my backside in the chair, and just write. My problem is I want a first draft to be perfect, tweak it for spelling, make sure characters have the same colour eyes at the end as they did at the start, then get it sent away. Of course, it doesn’t happen like that; I read a comment on Twitter that the first draft is the clay, which will be re-shaped and moulded until it’s correct. I like that image. I also recalled something Stephen King said in his book On Writing (I’ve read far too many books, ahem, on writing, but King’s is the only one I’ve kept hold of, along with Sometimes The Magic Works by Terry Brooks) that the first draft should be done in three months. That works out at just over 1000 words a day.
Pessimist that I am, I aimed for six months, 500 a day. I blitzed it, doing 7000 words in the first week, so I decided to take Mr King’s advice. Today, two months on, my first draft stands at 64400 words. How pleased am I? Very. And yet, I haven’t made any spectacular changes in my life, other than just write when I have the time. My first draft is a mess, but that’s ok. It’s allowed to be; it’s meant to be.
I knew the end of my story before I started, as well as the half way point, so I’m sure that’s helped, but it all feels very organic, as if something more than the word count has grown with each day. I’ve surprised myself with some of the turns the story has taken, but they all feel right, true to the characters and the world I’ve created. I’ve fought my fear (yes, fear; stupid, I know, but that’s me) and won, simply by doing what I love.
Why the change of name for my blog, then? Truth is, as the trees are starting to lose their leaves, so I’ve shed some (not all) of my doubts as to my abilities as writer. I feel different, but the last thing I wanted to do was ignore the past, all the posts that have gone before this one. I’d already tried creating another blog this year, yet killed it off in its infancy. Another reason is that there’s a book called Flash Of Midnight, and I wanted that writer’s work to be as original as (and separate from) my blog.
So, here we are. New web address, based on a name a favourite manager called me years ago; a new title inspired by the combination of that nickname, a documentary Jonathan Ross made about Steve Ditko, and a song by The Hoosiers that is one of my favourites. I’ve changed my approach to my fiction, simply by just doing it, now it’s time to do so with this blog, too, and put the effort in to make it all it can be.