So, I can hardly believe it... After ten months of writing, and 108,000 words, I have FINALLY finished the first draft of my brand new novel... Eeeeeek!!!!
As many of you know, my other books were all written on a weekly basis on the website Wattpad, which was a fantastic experience, but this time around I wanted to keep things a little quieter as I worked on them, ready for a big reveal. So this is actually the first time I've gone into a project completely blind without any reader's comments to guide me. It's a little terrifying as I only really have my own judgement that I am going in the right direction. But I LOVE these characters, and I really hope that means other people will love them too.
The story is also a lot more personal to me than my "Love Series" books. Even though there were plenty of little pieces of me scattered in Scotty, Olive, Benjamin Apple and co, I don't think any of them have captured my personality or my struggles in quite the same way as the leading ladies of my new story have. These two girls are ME, both in different ways. And all the themes that run through the book are incredibly close to my heart.
I don't want to give too much more away because there is still a lot more work to do before the book is finished, but I will tell you a little about the process of writing it. Many of my friends have said to me that they can't believe I've written so many words or want to know how I manage to come up with whole stories the way I do. I can't really explain how the stories come, they just kind of appear fully formed in my head during a flash of inspiration. I can't take credit for that, I'm just the lightning rod where my muse chooses to strike.
The hardest part for me isn't thinking up ideas, but actually sitting down and getting the story out, every day, come rain or shine, even when you can't be arsed or feel like the whole thing is going nowhere (EVERY writer feels like this at some point during their project, trust me). Sometimes it's definitely a struggle to keep going. But honestly, it's all about routine and getting into the habit of writing little and often. if you can master that then you can 100% finish your book! You just need to take it word by word, sentence by sentence, and soon enough everything starts falling into place.
I was lucky that I had a lot of time to write this year over summer - since I work in a Uni, I am not needed in so much when the students aren't in. I got so much work done over this time period which was great. However, getting back to early starts and late finishes was HELL and I never seemed to have enough time to write as much as I wanted. I started getting up an hour earlier than usual at 6am so I could get a few hours writing in before work (I find that my mind is far more alert and energised first thing in the morning rather than after work!)
It was beyond frustrating to get into the flow only to be cut off by time limitations, but I did the best I could each morning and I soon discovered that persisting morning after morning, even if I could only write one or two pages, was enough to get the novel finished!
Well... the first draft anyway! There is still lots to do and I've already found a whole load of things I want to fix, change, tweak and clip. For a start, I want to get the word count down as much as possible and get rid of any unnecessary waffle. I am a TERRIBLE waffler and I'm trying really hard to work on my problem of going massively over the designated word count.
I also want to change a few character's ages and fix a lot of dialogue. My main character sounds like a completely different person in the early chapters of the book compared to the later ones. I always find it takes a while for a character's voice to fully form in my head and I have to get to know them as I'm writing. When I first wrote Reasons To Love A Nerd Like Me, Scotty was really brash and swore a lot in the first few chapters which was so different to the sweet-natured, polite character he became! So consistency is definitely something I need to focus on!
Another aspect I want to work on is making my words really sparkle and shine. So far, I've just wanted to get the story out by any means possible. Now I have to look at everything from the grammar to the tone, to the choice of verbs and adjectives. I need to buff and polish those paragraphs into something way more poetic than they currently are. Which I am sure is going to be an enormous job because right now some of what I've written barely makes sense LOL.
Sooooo... I've finished, but also, I've only just started. I have no idea how long it will take me to get everything sounding perfect, but I'm estimating around 6 months realistically. I hate that it takes SO long to finish a bloody book. I am from the music world, where you write and record a song in a day then wait a few weeks for production and it's all wrapped up. To have something that takes around 2 years from start to finish feels so ridiculously slow that sometimes it's just unbearable. I am like an anxious whippet at the start of a dog race, DYING to shoot out and run, but the gate is always holding me back.
Still, it's pointless rushing anything. I want this book to be the best I can make it so I can pitch it to agents, and that will take however long it takes. And hopefully, by the end, I'll feel super proud of the final product and the immense amount of work I've put into it!
So there we go! That is where I'm at right now and I'll definitely keep you all posted on the next stages. Now I will just end this massive musing by stressing how strange it is to have something take over your WHOLE ENTIRE LIFE for so many months that no one else knows about. I literally spend every waking minute of every day thinking about my story and characters and my next move forward in the world I've created. And when I'm not thinking about the story itself, I'm thinking about where to find agents, what contacts I know who might be able to give me advice, how to get funding if I go down the indie route and what books I can be reading next for inspiration.
It's all pretty time-consuming. And whenever I mention it to other people, it's so hard to explain that this is more than a little hobby to me now, this is literally EVERYTHING and I have to get it right or else I just wasted 2 years of my life and my whole future is OVER (NO PRESSURE OR ANYTHING).
Ahem. Anyway. It'll all be fiiiiiine. (*nervous manic laughter*)
Thanks for reading this long old post, it feels great to be able to express myself and talk about thisjourney so far! Now I'll end with some of my current favourites:
1. Pink Hair!
Last weekend, my Mum and my boss Jacqui both helped me dye the end of my hair bright pink! We did it with a LIVE home bleaching kit followed by LIVE pink dye on the tips. My hair is very dark and we accidentally missed out the blonde booster with the bleach, so it didn't take very well and left me more "sun-kissed" than blonde. I was worried the pink wasn't going to show up at all because of this, but the end result was surprisngly vivid! The overall look was way more subtle than I had been expecting but I think maybe it's nicer than had it been totally neon.
It's faded a little in a week, but I'm hoping we can give it a round 2 pinking just before I head off on my Honeymoon in just over 2 week's time eek! Which leads me nicely to CF #2...
2. Honeymoon Planning
On November 6th, Mat and I will be jetting off to Japan for our belated Honeymoon and I'm SOOOO EXCITED! It's been such a long wait for us to go (we wanted to avoid the really HOT summer in Tokyo, as well as picking the best time for work), but now it's almost here and I'm so ready for it! Thank you SO much to all of our wedding guests who helped us reach our goal of getting to Tokyo, you really have made our dreams come true. We've been booking up so many things to do and researching all the districts we want to go and explore. There is so much to do that it's hard to fit it all into 14 days. I can't wait to switch off for 2 weeks and have an amazing adventure with my favourite person in the world. I think it will be a truly life-affirming and transformative experience!
3. American Vandal
This Netflix show is one of the most brilliant and innovative series' I've seen for a very long time. Set up like a real crime documentary, the story follows a high school jock called Dylan who has been expelled for drawing penises all over the teacher's cars in the car park, only he claims he didn't do it despite the weighty evidence stacked against him. What starts off as a stupid "dick joke" style comedy, becomes a really fascinating look at unpicking evidence and society's habit of putting people into boxes. It was hilarious, clever, surprisingly complex and full of heart. I cannot rave about this enough, I just loved it.
4. "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn
This is not my usual stlye of book AT ALL, but I picked it up in the library and gave it a go since I know it's been a huge hit and I honestly could not put this down! It was so thrilling, darkly comic and filled with twists and turns on every page. I think I'm going to give thrillers more of a chance now because it really did capture my imagination. Will definitely check out the movie version next too!
5. Strictly Come Dancing
IT'S BACK! You know Christmas is coming when Strictly is back! I just love this show, the glitz and the glamour and watching all the contestant's journeys. This year my favourite without a doubt is Susan Calman and her beautiful friendship with Kevin Clifton. Alexandra Burke has also blown me away with her amazing dancing! Such perfect Saturday Night Viewing!
6. "Frozen Charlotte" by Alex Bell
Another book choice - I am 3/4's through this one at the moment and I am absoutely hooked! This is a YA read so aimed at a younger audience, but it's also a horror and a really creepy, compelling horror at that set on the Isle of Skye and involving scary porcelain dolls, ghosts, posession and a host of sinister cousins who aren't quite what they seem. This has been HUGE mind-inspiration for me and is making me really want to write a young horror at some point in my career, something I never thought I'd be interested in doing before. I hate anything gory or unnecessarily violent, but I do have a streak for the macabre and love shows such as Scream Queens, True Blood etc. (I just close my eyes at the super gory bits LOL). I think I like young horror because it's scary without being too graphic and focuses more on the mystery. This book is part of the "Red Eye" series that features many more scary stories for kids so I'm going to read some more for research and try my hand at my own in the future!
I'm not sure if I will get time to blog again until I'm back from Japan, but I promise I'll be back with an account of all my adventures when I return! And I will try and vlog some of the trip too as lots of people have asked if we will :)
See you on the other side!