Two types of progress: wrists and writing

by Suw on November 2, 2008

First, the wrists
After nine days of no serious pins and needles overnight at all, which I thought was terrific progress, the last three nights have been very disappointing. I’ve had very bad bouts of pins and needles, and last night’s just seemed to go on forever. I’m trying to figure out if it’s something I’ve done during the day that has affected what happens overnight, but I really can’t pinpoint a possible cause. Indeed, I’ve done less typing over the last few days than normal, so am totally perplexed. Next physio appointment is on Tuesday, so I’m hoping that the next two nights see an improvement so that I can avoid the steroid injection.

Second, the writing
Over the last seven days, there’s only been one evening where I haven’t written something, and that was spent carving pumpkins instead (will post photos shortly). I’m now up to nearly 40 handwritten pages, which I estimate comes to about 7000 words. I suspect that the finished first draft is going to come in at about 10,000 words, which will likely increase when I type it up as I keep thinking of additional scenes and descriptions that I want to add in. I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up coming in somewhere under 15,000 words, which will put it firmly in that very awkward category of novellette, according to Fiction Factor.

Not that it matters. I’ve already decided that if after a couple of redrafts I think it passes muster I’m just going to chuck it up here under a CC license and whatever happens to it happens to it. If you like it, that’s all to the good. But either way, I’ll just get on with the next one. (Not that I’m sure what the next one will be. Maybe a children’s story about a cat called Llew and his Magic Catflap. I really just want an excuse to write the counterrotating sheep scene…)

The funny thing about writing a short story instead of a novel is that you go through all the stages of writing a novel, only faster. The first six days were the I’m So Excited I’m Writing A New Story phase. Friday was the I’m Too Knackered To Think stage. Saturday I got through the Oh Dear, This Is Shit And No One Is Going To Want To Read It stage in about an hour. Now that I’ve roughly plotted out how I’m going to get from where I am to the end, I feel like I’m about to enter the Last Downhill Push To The Finish stage. Mind you, yesterday I intended to write a lot more than I did, but ended up honing my procrastination skills instead, which I’m happy to say haven’t waned in the years it’s been since I last did any creative writing.

Of course, one stage that I’ve never been through before is the Typing Up Your Hand Written First Draft stage, because I’ve either written stuff directly on the computer, or I’ve not entirely reached the end of whatever it was that I’d written. I already know that I have dashed through some of my scenes far too quickly. I am still slightly surprised that I wrote a one in the grounds of the castle without ever actually describing the castle itself. A travesty!

I think I’m still on target to finish this within my four week deadline, which means finishing the first draft before 22nd November (which also happens to be the day that Kev and I go on holiday to the US for Thanksgiving). Then it’ll go out to various friends for comment, and hopefully I’ll get the final thing up here before Christmas.

I’ve noticed a couple of my friends are doing NaNoWriMo: Nat and Danny. Danny’s even posting his draft up in public, which I think is incredibly brave. I considered doing NaNoWriMo. I never have before, but this year it seemed like maybe it might be a good idea. Then I had a chat with a couple of friends, who independently pointed out that unless one has a novel-length story already in mind it can get a little bit stressful, and I decided that rather than trying to think up a novel on the fly I’d just work with what I’ve got, which definitely doesn’t have enough flesh on its bones to produce 50,000 words.

I’m enjoying myself immensely though. As I mentioned to Vince yesterday, the story continues to surprise me. I didn’t think the cats would have such a big role to play. And I wasn’t expecting a flashback to 1588. Didn’t see that one coming! I have also had to wrestle with my McGuffin, but I think I’ve beaten it into submission now. In fact, I’ve just realised that it might not be a McGuffin at all, but could in fact be a character in its own right. Hm, that’s an interesting thought.

Annie Mole November 2, 2008 at 12:13 pm

Good luck – can’t remember the last time I did something handwritten that wasn’t just notes or doodles.

My ex husband is also writing a teen/children novel – but his is based on a talking skeleton (he started it way before Halloween though)

There’s a number of people I know doing NaBloPoMo – which you hardly need as you blog regularly anyway – but some may find that less daunting than writing a novel in a month!

Suw November 2, 2008 at 12:36 pm

Ooh, I didn’t know about NaBloPoMo. Neat! I wish I wasn’t going on holiday on 22nd Nov, otherwise I’d sign up right away, but no real point promising to post every day when the plan is not to take the laptop to the US. (Although that may change, depending on how well I’m getting on with the story…)

Neil November 8, 2008 at 3:16 pm

You have my sympathy; wrist problems – particularly the pins and needles sensation – are really unpleasant. I get intermittent, mild wrist problems as I spend most of my day job working at a laptop and most of my evenings spent writing. Two things seem to aggravate it particularly: the first is leaning on my elbows whilst thinking or even just sitting on the sofa and the second (somewhat more oddly) is stress. Not sure if that’s any help but not leaning on my elbows so much and the odd time out when I start to get stressed has helped minimise the pins and needles.

On the writing front: have you heard of Friday Flash Fiction? It’s an Internet meme where you post a piece of flash fiction (<1000 words) on your blog for free on a.urm…Friday. Yeah, the title kind of gives it away 🙂 Anyways, it started life as a productivity hack that SF writer (Gareth L Powell) used to get him into the habit of producing something every week. It’s about seventeen months old now and there’s a bunch of us that do it on a semi-regular basis, taking time out to read each other’s stories and provide feedback where we can. Most importantly it was (and is) fun. Anyway, I thought it might be of interest if NaNoWriMo is a little daunting.

Suw November 8, 2008 at 4:50 pm

Neil, thanks! You know, it’s funny that you should mention leaning on your elbows and stress – I have started to notice that leaning on my elbows, or letting my wrists lean on the computer, aggravate things. So I am instituting a strict no-leaning policy. I have always been quite aware of these sorts of things, so I am quite surprised that I have lapsed into such bad habits. I’m also trying to sit back further, instead of hunching over, and that seems to be helping.

I’m also sure that stress (of which I have had plenty lately) also plays a big, big part. I always have held my tension in my shoulders and neck and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to find out that that’s worsening the situation too.

But I have seen an improvement during the nights since the the injection – I haven’t had any problems at all. My wrists are still a little bit achy during the day, but that’s the lingering side-effects of the injection, I think. I just hope that the improvement continues. Next appointment with the physio is next week. Fingers crossed! (Or not, in my case…)

Thanks for your invitation to Friday Flash Fiction! I used to have friends who wrote a lot of flash, but I was never very good at it. But be that as it may (I know that practice makes perfect and all that), I am going to focus on The Revenge of the Books of Hay for now. We’re at 46 handwritten pages, which I estimate to be about 8000 words. About another 2000 and I’m at my word count target, but whether we’ll be at the end of the story I’m not sure. i had a sudden subplot come to the fore…

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: