Wednesday, November 03, 2010

In which I commit to 500 words a day regardless of procrastination

This is a picture of Scotland – how I spent my summer holidays in other words. Rain and grey skies and long walks by the lochs as the sun peeked (or not) through the clouds (and one long walk/climb/soul-destroy-and-repair-maneuver up a tall tall mountain in full sunlight). Also an eerie half-light that seemed to linger all night so that you could look up from your computer (writing/Plants vs. Zombies is the best reward) at one in the morning and a timelessness had set in, a Tom’s Midnight Garden sort of moment.

Anyway, I also wrote 17,000 words of new novel which is not about Scotland but came out of a feeling in Scotland and a rather dull dream that I had just before we went but a couple of images stuck with me: an awkward but sublimely confident everyday girl in a shift dress, perched on the edge of a table in an anachronistic aristocratic household, a young man, a bit older, in evening dress, chairs tipped over but a sense of calm.

I write often from atmosphere, I think – I want to write a book that feels like this I often say to myself, the visceral is awfully important to me – I’ll close my eyes and try and sense the scene with all senses. Atmosphere, however, does not a story make, certainly not a YA novel. Characters come naturally to me but plot, oh plot my greatest enemy… But this book has a plot! It is more than characters perched on the edge of tables and chairs, it is buried treasure and political intrigue and fraud and great family secrets and a dash of romance and a dash of the sea. The plot is written!

On return from my two week July jaunt to the Highlands and Islands, I resolved to finish my novel, uninspiredly titled Shena and Robbie, now rather pompously titled Grandings (to change, I’m sure) by the end of the summer. It is now the beginning of November, and my grand total stands at 26,000 words. Not the record I might have hoped for. 9,000 words in three months is not something to be proud of.

But I shall be proud! For from now on, I have a goal of 500 words a day. There was this goal last week too and perhaps the week before, and it ended in failure. But not this time! For it has been proclaimed into Blogland and must be so.

I was going to tell you my ten tips for procrastinating when you have carefully set aside a day for writing and it is now 14:29 and not a word has been written. These included ‘Computer battery has run down. Computer charger is plugged in behind the sofa. The sofa is not the place to be for writing this afternoon’ and ‘Reading other writers’ blogs is almost as good as writing’ or even ‘my husband asked me to load the dishwasher and put the washing on the line – if I’ve done this, maybe I won’t get told off for having done no writing on my writing day…’

But I shall not do this! For writing blog posts must make the list of great procrastinations… I will, however, update you to confirm my measly 500 words, and you, I hope, will applaud loudly.

1 comment:

martha (chickadeenest) said...

I know just what you mean about writing a feeling and atmosphere. And, ahem, procrastination.