Friday, August 10, 2007

Notes from the Coalface

I’m not complaining, but it’s tough at the old coalface – the novel-writing one, I mean. I am writing, but not yet the kind of writing that feels like yesss, and we have lift-off kind of writing. What I am waiting for is the sense that I have hit a seam, because when that happens one is given wings for a space. Then the thing is to keep going. I made the fatal mistake once of taking a break when I was 30,000 words or more into the work – and this was one where I could see the whole picture, story and characters were alive in me, all I had to do was put pen to paper (which I always did first, typing it up later). Trouble was I took a break, a long one because of the M.E. and so many other things then needing my attention, and the characters began to lose heart and finally they cleared off altogether. I had the memory of them but they weren’t there any more. I could have resurrected the project but it would have been something completely different. After that it was short stories and poems – ok, you can sometimes complete them (first draft) in one sitting, but you need to re-boot each time. At least that’s how it can feel with M.E. energy. I like the feeling you get, with a longer work, of coming back to a place that already exists and comes to meet you.

Anyway, down among the bloggers, I can feel it’s in the air: Ms Pants has completed a significant draft of the novel she has been working on for some time, the novel-racing Mr. Moon has recently become re-inspired, Jane Holland has emerged from an Arvon course and seems ready to go and we have recently had some excellent advice from intrepid thongster and coalface veteran, Chip Dale. And NMJ, who has actually done the deed, is to have her novel published some time (spring?) next year.

If only one were still smoking Camel Lights! But one is a-chewing on Wrigley’s Extra sugar-free peppermint gum and trying not to think of Beryl Bainbridge saying how she can’t write without smoking. And one is taking the prescription drugs, when necessary, for muscle pains.

At the moment, I have very few hours in the day that are properly available for real work. PWME will just know what I mean and others will just have to take my word for it. Incarnating into the day takes time unless I grab some morning hours and do absolutely nothing else (practically not always possible) afternoons are out of the question till I have got my wings back. Or hit a seam. Sorry about the confusion of images. Goodness, is that the time?

And thank you, Anna Mr, for giving me the Booker Prize Creative Blogger Award.


Kahless said...

Hello Signs
what kind of novels do you write?

I am sorry that your characters cleared off, maybe one day they will return. If not, I am sure that many new and gorgeous characters will appear in many new projects.

Here's hoping for your wings to come back soon and also you hit that rich seam.


Reading the Signs said...

Hi Kahless, I don't really know, I've not finished one yet. Short stories and poems have been my thing.

Characters are a law unto themselves - complex, as we are. But they don't like to be left unattended for long periods.

Anna MR said...

Our Lady of the Kolmio (nowadays Neliö) - the Booker is quite justifiedly yours. But but but but but. How do you do that cool thing where you cross out stuff you've written? I've seen others doing it and now you do it too, it's not fair, I don't know how to achieve the effect. Teach me, you teccie wizard you.

uxfcntyj - what I'd cross out here if only I knew how

abbsddfi - more of the same

Reading the Signs said...

Anna, how can you do this to me? Force me to reveal my complete nicompoopness and reliance on Him Outdoors when it comes to the technical wizardry, I mean. Well it's something to do with going into HTML mode while you're in blogger - use the 'strike' tags. So enclose text in strike strike (blogger comments won't let me put the HTML signs).

pxxdx - means lots of crxxsing out, obviously, innit?

That's so pants said...

Hi Signs

You know what I think about this - you just start and don't stop until you finish, no matter how bad it is. I've told you already all about how I write total rubbish to start with - for YEARS in fact. You can't do anything about that; it's just the way it is, although probably not for Jeanette Winterson and Ian McEwan. You know what you're doing so and that you're a good writer. The only way to get through it is to do what you can when you can. You will get there in the end, you know you will. Good luck.



Reading the Signs said...

Good words and true, dear Pants, and I will be doing this thing - and sounding off along the way, no doubt.

cusp said...

I agree with Pants ---just have to keep plugging away until the muse 'locks on'.

Think of it as waiting and waiting at a bus stop and many buses going past (and you may even get on some and stay on until they return to the original stop) and then, eventually, over the horizon appears the No. 43...just what you were waiting for. But unless you keep waiting and persisting the 43 will go right past and you'll never even have known.

Ontheotherhand......the M.E. is a b***er and can make you fall asleep at said stop so you have to persist all the more. or snooze like an old puss cat with one gimlet eye open peering through the milky mist.

In this house at the moment, small people and other animals keep dragging me away from my bus stop. I know the bus I need to catch; can even visulaise it in my addled head, but every time I go to put my foot on the plate, somebody/thing drags me by the coat tails and all I get to see and hear is
'Hold very tight, please...ding ding...' as the dratted ominbus pulls away :-(

Knickers !

NMJ said...

Another great post, describing the M.E hours of the day perfectly. I still have to pinch myself about my book. I think 7 March is the date!


Collin said...

I've just sent my novel off to a publisher in the UK and I'm writing new poems waiting for a publisher to pick up my next poetry collection. When the summer begins to wane and autumn is on the way, I always feel the muse more closely.

That's so pants said...

Signs dear - sound off all you like. It helps and, more important, others help you.



Reading the Signs said...

Cusp, I'm being a bit literal here, but occasionally (and for what reason I don't know) one sees one of the old red London buses cruising along one of the B roads here in the Sticks, and I always long to jump on it. And thank you, yes, I love your image (only for me it would have to be the 38 or 53).

NMJ, I guess I would also be pinching myself black and blue, and intend to at some point - just for completing a first draft. March, is it? I will be ordering my (signed) copy.

Collin, I feel that too - love the autumn, it's as though some vital force comes back into the body and consciousness.

I didn't know you'd written a novel as well as all else. Have you blogged about process etc.? I'd love to read about it, if so. Best of luck with that and your new collection.

Pants, one of the few things I can be relied upon to do is sound off - and here does seem a rather fine place to do it, what with the good company one keeps.

I hope you have all had/are having an enjoyable Sunday. I have been to Brighton to eat oysters, looked at the sea and written about 750 words. Like I said, it's tough at the coalface. Oysters and Sauvignon Blanc are almost a necessity.

That's so pants said...


Oysters! God it's been months since I had oysters. My favourite food ever.



Anna MR said...

Shhhh....Signs. What are strike tags? I'm flabbergasted by your use of teccie lingo...

And your leprechauns really have it in for me now, they have won many battles and I fear for the war:

jmxdnzgh I mean, really

Reading the Signs said...

Anna, An HTML tag is a keyword placed before and after the text you want it applied to. Before the text, the keyword is placed in angled brackets, afterwards as well, but with a '/' before the keyword. To cross something out, the keyword is 'strike'. I know you know all this because you use bold and italic, but with those just the b and i are necessary. To cross out I had to put the whole word "strike". When you are putting up a post on Blogger you have to go into HTML rather than Compose. I just tried it here in comments, but it wasn't accepted.

I am not techie, I just do as I'm told and sometimes it works!

Kahless said...

Oh Signs
I have just got into html tags and I am having fun using them everywhere now.
Didn't know the strike one, I'll try it out now if you don't mind...
couldn't do it!! I assume only on a post then, not comments.
Any other apart from b,i,a that you could pro-offer for me to show off with in comments?

Reading the Signs said...

dear Kahless, that's really the limit of what I know! Seen Digitalesse on my sidebar? I imagine she knows a thing or two.

You know, my non-blogging friends think I'm dead cool for being able to do the hyperlink thing in emails.

Kahless said...

Its great to look cool isn't it!!

Reading the Signs said...

Pants re oysters: I'm not surprised - apart from the relish of them, for me they are almost medicinal. I ought to get them weekly, on prescription (on ice, with lemon, etc.)