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A Novel in a Year: Stage Four, Plodddding


Here I am! I’m plodding happily along, putting in about a thousand words a session. I’d probably be at around this word count by this time of year anyway, but I have been held up a few times – by my own marriage, for one! – and by some editorial business. I’m at 11,000 words today on my own manuscript for the year (if you haven’t been following, I also do collaborations). I’ve been putting together detailed outlines and some mini-outlines for unmentionable projects that you’ll probably be able to guess anyway. The seductive whispers of other books have been plaguing me, as I’m only a tenth of the way in, and I could turn around without feeling so bad. I shun those voices! Be gone! You have no power here! Saucy, sexy books are a reality. Don’t give in to those sirens.

My, my, my, I certainly know what I don’t want to ever do for a living, and that’s organise weddings. Though I’m not an amazing sleeper, I’ve lost a considerable amount of sleep this month agonizing over everything that could go wrong in my wedding to the hilarious, handsome and decidedly hairy Tim Keen, fellow wordsmith extraordinaire. In the dark hours, I’ve imagined some pretty insane stuff, like ex-boyfriends/girlfriends turning up on the green and shouting that they’re still in love with me/him. The more extreme fantasies involved a relative shooting themselves in the middle of the dance floor. In daylight guessed that more likely, Tim and I were going to get something like a story frequently told about a wedding of a friend of a friend, who had a fat man with a beer walk right through the back of the ceremony wearing nothing but a pair of Speedos. While we did have our wedding in a public garden, and there were hangers-around with no idea of personal space, they tended to loiter during the photographs after the ceremony. We only had eyes for each other! Nawwwww alright I’ll stop now. Perfect, perfect day, anyway.

There are more editorial nightmares looming on the horizon, so I’m trying to trundle along on the book at a healthy pace. My crisis of confidence seems to be over – and I think that’s a mark of having thickly detailed characters who are intriguing (I hope, anyway!) in themselves/their pasts without necessarily having to rush here and there completing plot points to fill themselves out. If you’ve got a few deeply interesting people, worrying about plot is like worrying if three incredibly socially skilled strangers are going to get on with each other at dinner. They have the tools. They have the experience. They’ll make it work, even if they fumble around a bit first.

As a mark of good practice I’m attending a new boxing gym tonight, because James and my character, Harriet Blue, is a boxing enthusiast. I think it’s always good to write what you do, and do what you write – it’s a lesson I learned back in the day as a teenager, when I used to set all my books in New York. I’d never been to New York, and knew nothing about it. The books were garbage in the first sense because I was an overly emotional, melancholy teen with a bit of an over-infatuation with Anne Rice and Martin Scorsese, but in the second sense I think it didn’t help that I didn’t know what New York looked, felt and smelt like. I’ve boxed for a long time, and Harry boxes. It’s a chicken and egg thing. It’s time to get back to that, I think. Get some of the tension out so I/she can sleep.

As always, curious to know how you’re all going with your writing/submitting/editing. Keep your chins up, everyone. (No seriously it’s really bad posture looking down at your laptop. Sitting is the new smoking, for real).



6 thoughts on “A Novel in a Year: Stage Four, Plodddding

  1. Hey Candice,

    I’ve really been enjoying this ‘Novel in a Year’ series so far. Long may it continue! And as a long-time fan of your work, I really dig the insight into your process.

    This year, in order to overcome my own crisis of confidence, I applied for two Faber Writing Academy courses: ‘Writing the First Draft’ and ‘Writing the Second Draft.’ And, hooray, I was accepted! Now, I realise completing these courses doesn’t guarantee anything, but upon acceptance, I found myself immediately reinvigorated; just the fact they identified a tiny sparkle of writerly ability in me has really propelled me onward. I’m hitting the keyboard again every morning, and am determined to see the writing through to its end. And the course, while it’s still early days, has proved incredibly motivating; sitting beside fellow writers at different stages of their own journeys is really cool. I’m so accustomed to writing being described as a solitary activity, but it’s struck me how great it is to have other people who’ve also experienced your same doubts and fears.

    So as things stand, I’m 17,000 words into the novel I started on January 1 this year, and have successfully typed between 500-1000 words every day for the past few weeks. I feel like I’m on a roll. I’m sure there’ll be bumps along the way, but for now, I’m basking in this period of feeling good about my writing.

    Cheers – and congratulations on your marriage!

    Posted by Simon McDonald (@writtenbysime) | February 22, 2016, 1:05 am
    • Hey Simon, my very kind reviewer.

      Seventeen K at this stage of the year is fabulous! And consistent writing every day is something I’ve never been able to achieve. Nice work, mate! I think I might have applied to one of those Faber things or something like it before – rejected, likely. I’d like to hear more about how it’s going. Do you go somewhere every day and work or keep in contact with the other writers online or what?

      It can be so powerful to have someone, anyone, notice the good in your work as a writer. I’ve always said more people would run in the street if there was some national understanding that it’s nice to give them applause as they go past you, sort of in the way that we all flash out headlights to say there’s cops up ahead. I reckon I could do 5km just off one stranger’s clapping. One person saying – hey, I see you out here running in the heat. Nice work, girl!

      When writers say ‘oh this is my word count’ or ‘oh can you read this for me and tell me if it’s any good’ I think we suffer threats of either being embarrassed by our progress or accused of being a wanker by other writers. Or that the praise won’t be genuine. So many fears. Classic overthinkers, aren’t we all?

      Soak it up while you can, and please feel free to come have a chat when you’ve got those insecurity woes troubling you. I always do.

      Posted by Candice | February 22, 2016, 1:13 am
  2. Congratulations Candice and Tim!!
    I hope you both enjoy a wonderful life together 😉

    Posted by Julie | February 23, 2016, 9:19 pm
  3. Hey Candice! I’m loving this series. You are hitting the stages on the head so far. I’m deep into revisions of my second novel and just realized I have no less than eight points of view on the go at once. Eesh. Probably will cull at least two of them before the end, and a few only have one or two scenes to their names, but it’s quite a shift from my first book. I think I’m definitely in the “plodding” stage where I just show up, open the document, and read/edit the words I wrote for NaNoWriMo last year. At least some of them aren’t half bad.

    Thanks for sharing your process! I love reading what the authors I love do to get through this whole writing deal. Talk soon x

    Posted by asuiterclarke | March 13, 2016, 9:58 pm
    • I don’t think eight perspectives is too much! As long as they’re so distinct, no one ever gets confused. The cardinal rule with multiple perspectives is making it clear to the reader who’s talking in the first line. Personally, if I have to wait any longer than that, I get pissy as a reader. I want to be hooked, compelled, saddened, amused – anything but confused.
      Eight IS a lot though. I’m thinking you’d have one hardass, one idiot/Shallow Hal, one comic relief, a hero, a heroine, a villain, a mentor/wise person… Who else?

      Posted by Candice | March 15, 2016, 3:27 am
      • This is great advice! I have never actually tried slotting side characters into archetypes like that, but I think it would be really effective. I’ll give it a go to make sure I have the needed variety in the various POVs. I think I have all of those things, plus an antihero.

        Thanks for your perspective! Hope your writing is going well 🙂

        Posted by asuiterclarke | March 17, 2016, 8:07 pm

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