Week 4 A slowdown

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Hello and welcome to my creative writing blog. As always, I’ll start with this week’s statistics and then a little chat.

The weekly statistics*

Work on the first draft of my novel:

Total words for the week:  3,282
Total words in draft to date:  59,636
Number of days worked on novel this week:  5
Minimum words per day this week:  0
Maximum words per day this week:  938

Other writing completed:

Blog posts for Pam Alison Knits:  3

Related activities:

    • Worked on characterisation for the novel and thinking about conflicts
    • Read a bit of Julia Cameron’s books on artistic life

The chat

This week’s output is lower than my recent achievements because I allowed myself to have a more contemplative week. Much as the photo accompanying this post suggests, I’ve been mentally relaxing in the shade, gazing out to sun-drenched vistas. There were a couple of days where I didn’t add any words at all to my first draft, but on those days I worked at defining the characters so I was still moving forward with the story.

One issue which has cropped up in the first draft of my novel is a lack of conflict. The ideas I have had swirling about in my head have proven to be only short-term and have easily transmuted into more agreeable relationships between the characters. The central conundrum of the book (why two of the main characters failed to spend their lives together despite being perfect for each other and in love with each other) works well for that side of the story, however the more prominent storyline in the novel is overly sedate. Middle-aged man meets middle-aged woman, woes her in slightly non-traditional ways, wins her. They are both at a point where they want what the other has to offer with the only real question being whether confirmed loners can adapt to life together, which is hardly dramatic. I think I have come up with a situation which will provide a suitable amount of tension, yet despite being more than ready to write it, I wonder whether it fits into this particular point in the narrative. That said, perhaps the best thing about a first draft is that it doesn’t have to have everything in the best order, it is where you get to see what works, what doesn’t work, and where there are either gaps or rolling acres of unnecessary waffle in your story.

I did spend a bit of time last Sunday reading “The Sound of Paper” by Julia Cameron, but it made sense to read her original book, “The Artist’s Way” first, so I duly bought the e-book and got stuck in. However, I didn’t get very far into it before my main problem with Ms. Cameron raised its head, and that is her insistence on artistic endeavour being somehow external to the artist. She apparently subscribes to the idea that human beings are nothing more than a channel through which some external “creative” pours their thoughts and this is a concept which I have always struggled with. Although the author takes great pains to emphasise that creativity is not linked to any one religious belief system, her insistence on it being ‘spiritual’ and her use of language which is closely linked to religious systems makes it harder to approach her writing from a non-spiritual viewpoint. I haven’t pursued this reading very far yet, and I don’t know if I am going to be able to overcome this hurdle and read on to see if the practical elements can be of help in my endeavours to grow as a writer.

The first Saturday of the month is the traditional date for the meeting of the local writing group I belong to, although we don’t meet in August. For the past few months, this has been an online resource rather than a meeting in person, with a “lesson” provided for us to follow at home, however it just isn’t the same following the prompts on my own. I miss our monthly meet-ups as they are a brilliant way to step outside my comfort zone and always give me a boost, even though the first writing warm-up always throws me off and makes me feel I am not up to that month’s topic.

In my experience, it isn’t easy to find a like-minded group to join (regardless of what creative/sporting/professional activity you are looking at) and I really value this loose-knit group and the way it ebbs and flows, with a slightly different mix of people at each meeting. It helps that the physical gatherings are held at the Norman castle in the centre of our fine city, where we can easily sieze inspiration from the fabric of the building and from the historic pieces and artworks it contains in its current role as a museum and art gallery.

I’m looking forward to this fresh week and keen to work on the new conflict idea, exploring how each character is affected by this kink in their relationships.


*Explanatory Notes

  • For the purpose of the statistics, my weeks run from Sunday morning to Saturday night, and that’s why these blog posts will appear each Sunday.
  • I use Scrivener by Literature and Latte for my creative writing and take my statistics from there.
  • The working title of my novel is The Pen Emporium, it’s a fictional romance set in a small English town in contemporary times but referencing a trip to New York in the early 1970s.

 

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