Saturday, August 2, 2008

WIPometer Ahoy!


Thanks to JaneyV for
this timely post on the subject of creativity, geography, school holidays, dark corners — and writing. I’ve been having similar thoughts myself since my return from the gallic underbelly of the Charente Maritime, and you’ve saved me a few paragraphs here, me duck. Whether this constitutes plagiarism or merely laziness, I have no idea: the convolutions of my cerebellum would be better served up as cottage cheese than deployed for mental processing at the moment.

My increasingly serpent-like complexion reminds me that serious work must now commence on the WIP That Will Not P — if only because my skin is peeling in papyrus sheets as blank as the interior of my spangly new notebook.

I have roughly 60,000 words of hard draft, much of which is more or less finished and some of which is actually entertaining. My problem now (in addition to writing the final 30,000 words, figuring out the ending and draining the purple goo from the florid simile swamps on which the plot floats like a series of disjointed tectonic plates) is that I’m a hopeless reviser. Had I been born with the manly musculature of someone like Madonna, maybe I’d have become an explorer and visited every jungle, desert and wilderness once and once only before being run over in an Asda car park shopping for cheap socks between spectacular adventures. It’s having to do things again. I just hate it.

Take the chapter I’ve been working on this morning, for instance (hey, and while you’re at it, sweep up all the hair I’ve torn from my head and mop the condensation of frustration from my window so I can see daylight). It’s a simple A to B romp of 3,500 words, the bulk of which I’m pleased with. Now, I have no idea what the rest of you get up to as you’re sorting your has’s from your was’s and your plot notes from your script, but I use WordPerfect’s footnote function in conjunction with simple redlines to generate a series of notes with pointers on everything from wrong word to he can’t be wearing this because the werewolf ate it in the spaceship chapter to research how long you’d spend in prison if you were caught wanking off a moose. This current chapter has twenty such notes, and although most of them will make it through the glory hoop labelled FINISHED, to be tidied up once I begin laying all the chapters out to check I have everything in the right order, there are still a few sentences and chunks of paragraphs that need restructuring before I’ll allow myself to say “job done” — and for the life of me, I can’t seem to work the simplest of writerly magicks on the miserable bastards. I can visualise everything just as I did when I first wrote it out, and in note form, it’s a cinch to plot out. He stands up. He walks across the room. The sun is shining. Easy. But can I hell/heck/Humperdinck fill in the blanks? My only hope is that an amorphous overview is taking shape as everything begins slotting itself together; an amorphous overview* discriminating in its all-encompassing blobbiness. The hundred or so words I have to incorporate into the completed 3400 must must must fit or they’ll stick out like sore thumbs cut off and replaced by cucumbers. If I’m honest, the page full of one or two gaps holds more terror for me than all the blank ones put together. Yuck.

But I digress. Christ — I undress. I’m still in my pyjamas.

The important thing is that if I stick to the frightful timetable of deadlines pinned to the noticeboard of my determination and nothing awful happens like World War III breaking out or a coach load of half-brothers and sisters turning up on my doorstep along with a female gorilla looking for my Dad, I’m hoping to be well on the way towards having 90,000 words of novel with which to begin badgering a soon-to-be-selected list of agents some time around the start of November. Problem is, I’ve had plans like this before and meandered off course like a drunk walking a tightrope during an earthquake. My hope, as of this moment, is that if I go public with my schedule and include on this blog a wordycountyometerthingy to appraise the world of my miserable sluggishness, it will serve as the very best sort of cat-o-nine-tails, spurring me on from capital letter to full stop with Herculean zeal as the flesh flies from my bloodied buttocks. Either that or I’ll make a complete twat of myself.

Whatever the future holds, my dinky WIPometer now lurks in the margin.


* Had to say this twice.

45 comments:

JaneyV said...

I feel your pain.

I admire your recklessness at giving yourself public goals. Sorry I mean bravery. And if you should fall short of your goal (which you absolutely won't), I for one won't think of you as a twat!

One bit of advice is once it's done is to leave it for a couple of weeks before you edit it. Fresh eyes work better!

Whirlochre said...

Thanks Janey — the ball now rolls like a eunuch-to-be, halfway through his op.

Natalie said...

Good luck! I'm all about goals--you can do it. 30k words is nothing, just convince yourself of that:)

JaneyV said...

Ouch!

Whirlochre said...

Split pouch!

blogless troll said...

Good luck, Whirlio. To save you some research time, it's actually a $5,000 fine and up to 30 days.

Whirlochre said...

Nice to see you around again BT.

That's some fine — especially given the initial $1500 outlay for the antler harness and gloves...

Whirlochre said...

30k words is nothing.

Thanks for that one, Natalie. I've embroidered it onto the sleeve of my writing costume.

sylvia said...

Well, we're watching you now!

I don't know if it'll help, bearing in mind I focus on non-fiction. But that kind of stuck, I deal with by writing an outline, then doing one sentence per outline point. Then I do one more sentence per outline point until I have a paragraph for each point that I listed. Either I end up putting it all together at that point or I know what is wrong and why it's not feeling cohesive.

Might be worth a try as you mentioned you have notes.

Kiersten said...

Okay, I'm going to try several methods of encouragement. Decide which one is most inspiring.

1. Ha! You can't write thirty-thousand more words! Dude, you're OLD! Your fingers will like totally cramp up from arthritis! You'll probably die from the strain or something! Man, take up birdwatching, and leave the writing to the younger generation.

2. I dare you to finish your book. I DOUBLE dare you!

3. Wager: If you finish by November, I'll line-edit fifteen pages for free. If you don't finish by November, you've got to post voice clips weekly.

4. Whirl, sweetie, we all know you can do it. The whole internet believes in you!

5. Seriously, if, after getting this far, you don't finish? That's just lame.

6. Give me a W! Give me an H! Give me an I...I, wow, look at the quarterback. Mmm mm, excuse me, I've gotta go get a date for tonight.

7. Just do it.



Also, are those eyes yours?

McKoala said...

Sometimes it's OK just to say 'the man walks across the room'.

Whirlochre said...

Thanks Sylvia. Most of the time I'm fine with outlines and notes, but now I've had a little time to reflect, I think this is a case of trying to make old words that no longer fit, fit.

K — you do have a Death Star in your garage, don't you? So I'll take 7. Plus — nice to hear a little encouragement first thing in the morning. I've trained the cat to meaow an affirmative phrase, but instead of sounding like 'go get em, writer boy' it just sounds like 'meaow'.

McK — you're right.

And so, keyboard at fingertips and crunchy muffins already halfway down gob, Whirl prepares once more to do battle with...etc etc....

Kiersten said...

I try.

And wait--am I really that domineering online? Excellent. I just wish my kids would actually listen to me...

Whirlochre said...

You could show Darth the hearth...

McKoala said...

'crunchy muffins' explains your inability to climb out of your own pyjamas.

I liked Kiersten's encouragement technique. It's like seven bloggers posting at once.

Whirlochre said...

It's true. I do have a liking for pyjamas, though I have in recent years sold out and allowed myself to progress to lounge pants and colour co-ordinated top. More about pyjamas in a later post, methinks.

As for Kiersten, she makes the 7 Samurai look like a tweenie ballerina dance troupe.

Kiersten said...

Whirl makes me way cooler than I actually am.

And pajamas are wonderful, wonderful things. I only change out of pajama (or lounge) pants when I go out of the house.

Whirlochre said...

Don't get me started on pyjamas.

Kiersten said...

Actually, I think we are all trying to do just that.

Whirlochre said...

This is the worst conspiracy I've ever found myself to be part of...

writtenwyrdd said...

I don't believe in goals because I always ignore them. Writing related goals, that is. Unless it's a work goal and my job hangs on the line, I pretty much suck at goals.

I hope you fill in those blanks and learn to keep a squeegee handy to clear the windows of the steam-driven condensation you are causing as your brain bubbles merrily 'neath your cranium. (Sheesh, I'm starting to sound like you!)

writtenwyrdd said...

YOu know Whirl, speaking of pyjamas, you could have this guy in your book, or write a whole new book, about a guy who sits at home, trying to write a crappy novel* and who tangentially solves crimes/mysteries while doing so.

*no resemblance to actual writers or bloggers intended.

Whirlochre said...

To be honest, WW, I could do with a hippo. I saw three while on holiday (in a zoo — not just wandering at large) and they have the most spectacularly huge gobs which they seem to spend most of their time having open. Maybe it's a way of losing heat. I mention this only because my brow is probably the only part of me not drenched in sweat at the moment. It's terribly muggy here and I could do with somewhere decent to wring out my T-Shirt. Must check out the cost of hippos on discountenormousquadrupeds4U.com.

Whirlochre said...

WW wrote (but Blogger ate...)

You know Whirl, speaking of pyjamas, you could have this guy in your book, or write a whole new book, about a guy who sits at home, trying to write a crappy novel* and who tangentially solves crimes/mysteries while doing so.

*no resemblance to actual writers or bloggers intended.

Whirlochre said...

Or maybe a wizard who predicts the future by throwing his pyjamas in a heap and scrying the stripes.

Could be a whole new genre.

sylvia said...

It's quarter to six in the afternoon and I'm in my pajamas :D

Kiersten said...

Whirl! What are you doing reading this? You should be writing. Get back to work.

Whirlochre said...

If you're in Spain, S, I'd be surprised if you were wearing anything else. It was 29 degrees in France last week so it must be more further South now.

As for K — I hear the whistle of your unrelenting lash and will hasten back to my WordPerfect window immediately, though I do have to cook some fish for the fam...

sylvia said...

It cooled down over the weekend but was hot again today.

So yeah, they are tank-top and shorts sort of PJs. I pretend they are summer clothes from California and the Spanish believe me.

I think.

Whirlochre said...

Back in pyjamas again. But no muffins. I can't find a single one to fit me.

Kiersten said...

No muffins to fit you?

That's odd...I'd think most muffins would be befitting a man of your quality. Alas, I suppose muffins are not one-size-fits-all, no matter what I'd like to believe.

Whirlochre said...

It's a tragedy. I've had to loop a bagel over each ear and I now look like a cyberman.

They're covered in sesame seeds, too, so I keep showering my keyboard.

The perils of writing truly are manifold.

Kiersten said...

Soldier on, Whirl. Baked goods everywhere will thank you someday.

Whirlochre said...

Yes — somewhere, a flour-bespeckled plateau of pastry awaits.

Kiersten said...

HEY! The WIPometer moved! Go Whirl!

Whirlochre said...

It must be like watching a slug work out.

Kiersten said...

With much less slime.

beth said...

Hello! I just wanted to drop in and thank you for commenting on my query on EE's site (I'm the Amnesia Door). Very funny post--love your style!

Whirlochre said...

Hi Beth. Most gracious of you.

writtenwyrdd said...

I wear my pj's when I'm not in work duds, painting the house duds or must go to the local Wal*Mart duds.

I sort of resemble a plaid-draped hippo, actually.

How is the hunt for the ginormous quadruped going?

Whirlochre said...

Looks like I've found you — when can you start?

Kiersten said...

Every time I see the WIPometer, I think it says, "Manly swearing."

Which is more interesting than mainly swearing, sorry. But did you really have 2500 solid words of swearing? That's got to be some kind of record.

Other than that, good job! You're positively speeding along!

Whirlochre said...

There's some womanly cussing too, especially when I delete something I shouldn't.

Anonymous said...

Hi Whirl-

I'm on a foreign computer in Mumbles, weird keyboard and all- so sorry if there are typos-

1-you're brave to post your sorta schedule

2 i like the ye pics- trying to find the exclamation point-screwd-can't find it. just pretend it's here.

bye for nw- rob

Whirlochre said...

Hi Robin.

Hope you're enjoying the weather. If it's any consolation, this is the worst its been here since...last June. Still, I have no doubt the Welsh are filling you full of hearty cheer as they sing to you by the collieryload in that peculiar language of theirs.

Not sure if the schedule is a pipe dream or a realistic target as yet, but it's spurring me on as if John Wayne himself had leapt onto my back and slapped his thighs round my ribcage — and you can't say fairer than that.