Before the storm

Well, tomorrow I’m finally going to put my head down and get through these feedback notes from my beta readers. I don’t know how you’re supposed to do this bit, but just on instinct I’m thinking read over once to get all the feels out of the way and then, once they have settled to the bottom of the bottle, read through again and actually pay attention to what’s been said. Perhaps. But I guess I’ll only know once I make a start.

In the meantime I’ve been catching up with Game of Thrones. Which I adore. I feel that my intake of other people’s stories has not been quite enough for quite some time; I’ve seen quite a few films, but I’m growing more interested in long-form storytelling now, and that means that I am going to be reneging on my vow to never watch television again that I made some years ago in a fit of cultural rebellion and watch some TV. Not on TV, because the act of Watching Television drives me absolutely insane, but the shows are what I’m interested in.

And, of course, there’s the reading side of things, and I really want to up my intake there. Currently I am reading Millennium People by J.G. Ballard. It’s good, but if you asked me why I think so I honestly could not tell you in any sort of way I’m used to judging the ‘goodness’ of stories, at least not currently. But I like that. It reminds me that there are so many ways in which a story can be good, not just the set of criteria that I’ve become more focused on since graduating. I suppose being an English major does take its toll. The ideas and philosophical aspects represented through the characters are very compelling, but I think that the writing is my favourite aspect; it is absolutely gorgeous. There is a very specific kind of beauty that comes from seeing certain words used in conjunction with one another to convey a message, and J.G. Ballard knows how to choose his words, I must say. It’s terrifying, and obviously is something that comes from experience and intuition. And, I would assume, a fair bit of editing. I may have to hunt down more of his stuff. I deal in words, after all, and I get the distinct impression that Ballard chooses his with the care and confidence that only comes from being very intimately familiar with and emotionally articulate about how words make you feel. And as a writer – and just in general really – I want to get to that place.

I’ve told some friends about my life-draft idea, and it’s been met with a variety of reactions. It’s interesting to see how people in your life react to the choices you make in it, and then there’s seeing their reactions to your plans about choices you want to make in it. And it is a reminder that, at this point, it’s all still just plans. But hey, a plan is still something.

On that note, I’m now seriously considering going back to university. I’ve considered it before, but never this seriously. I don’t know that it’ll take me where I want to go – in fact since where I want to go is into being a published author I’m pretty well sure that it won’t take me where I want to go, not in that sense – but as I realised the other day, life isn’t just about one thing. I can’t just rely on writing to make me feel like my life is worth something. I’ll either study media, psychology or journalism, unless I have some sort of brainwave, and I have like 2 weeks to find out all the application stuff and ask the relevant department people and all manner of other things.

And I need to learn to deal with mornings. Whether I get a job or go back to study, I need to find a way to deal with mornings. I was fine with them – after a while – at uni, but today I got up at about 9, came back home at about 3, and then napped from 4 until 9pm. To be fair, I didn’t sleep well the night before, and while I was actually awake and in town and meeting people I was perfectly awake, but as soon as the activity stopped I pretty much passed out. That’s not going to work, obviously, if I’m going to be studying/working as well as trying to write a novel; that’s half a day spent sleeping. Unless I do some weird thing where I take a five-hour nap in the middle of the day and then stay up until 3am writing and then nap for another five hours and do whatever it is I do for the rest of the day, which sounds unmanageable, to put it mildly. I’ve been sleeping pretty badly for the past few weeks actually, so that’s just something I want to look into in general.

Regardless of what happens with all of that, though, draft 2 is going to get back underway starting tomorrow, where I shall read through beta notes, and that should be interesting in and of itself. Then, going with my ‘less is more’ idea of trying to avoid introducing new things as solutions to existing problems and instead trying to use what’s already there to fill in the gaps, I’ll make some sort of plan for how I want to structure this thing. And then I’ll write it.

I want to start writing by the start of July. I believe it’ll be a full year then since I started drafting Tallulah with the help of a wall-planner to keep me honest, so I’ll need another one of those, too. Hopefully this second draft will get written a lot quicker than the previous one, seeing as it’s mostly structural changes rather than having to write entirely new material. And then … draft 3. Which I’m predicting is going to be all about the writing, laying the meat over the skeleton.

I wonder if I can get it all done by the end of the year.

But I can get it done, of that I’m pretty certain. Just need to make a start.

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