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There’s no rhyme or reason to what turns into a blog post.

Latte, the Shy Cat

Lately, my cats have been very taken with what’s going on out in the world beyond their windows. As inside-only cats, they tend to be rather voyeuristic snoops and spies on the neighbourhood goings-on. They probably know more about my neighbours than I do – it’s a good thing they’re not talkers!

One lot of neighbours have a couple of cats, one of which – Lucy – tends to drop by all the time, and make neener-neener faces at Smudge and Biggun (EnormousCat). Smudge tries to make kissy faces back, but Biggun gets bigger and fluffier and wails at me to let him out and deal with her impudence. (As a former alleycat and likely super heavy-weight brawling champion in one of his former lives, it’s probably best I keep him indoors – Lucy is half-a-feather weight and would disappear underneath his enormousness).

But Lucy has recently been joined by a new mystery cat. At first I thought it was Romeo returned from wherever he’s been, but rather than the white fluff with the big black heart on his bum, I’ve discovered a creamy part-tabby with startling blue eyes!
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Happy Smudgeversary!

As I type this, it is one year to the minute (2230) since Spirit alerted me to a fluffy, spitty little treasure in my backyard. I’ve been so tired all day that I actually forgot all about it until about an hour ago, just when I was packing myself up for bed. Unsurprisingly, I was packing myself up for bed at the time that night as well, and had to go out in my slippers and jammies to see why Spirit was making so much noise.

She’d woo-woo’d me all through my shower, and kept woo-woo’ing until I came outside – a little bit cross, if I recall – to have her herd me all the way to the back end of my backyard. There’s a chain fence divider as part of the old dog run the separates my yard from the rear fence, and she kept pushing her nose through the holes. And every time she did, I heard a funny little hissy-spit sound. Eventually I saw the tiniest bundle of black and white fluff hiding in a tuft of grass.
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NaNoWriMo Challenge Met

I didn’t think I’d ever make a proper start on this story. It’s been kicking around in my head for years, and aside from dabbling in the idea for my Honours project (a work of interactive fiction, coded in PHP/MySQL/jQuery, combining the stats of an RPG and the choose-your-own-adventure format – damned awesome stuff, albeit too labour intensive for a single writer), I haven’t had the time to invest in any real effort. I mentioned in an early entry how Novembers tend to be busy-as-Hell months, and how I keep really wanting to participate in NaNoWriMo, but generally get swallowed by everything else.

I’d like to see an Antipodean NaNoWriMo (and Halloween, while I’m putting in requests with the powers-that-be – our Samhain is April/May, a much better time of year for costumes! And Christmas in June would make traditional wintry imagery less ridiculous, and I’d feel less sorry for the fat guy in red flannel in the middle of Summer). A NaNoWriMo in May would be good. May is a slow month.
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Halfway there!

I’ve made it halfway through my NaNoWriMo challenge for this year, actually on time and on target for a change. This is novel – pun intended – but I don’t want to jinx myself, because there’s still half a month to fall behind and fail. Which I’ve done in several Novembers of the past.

Before I started I had ideas about sharing it, thinking it might motivate me to write more and better if someone was reading along, but I couldn’t bring myself to trust anyone with it, and as I got started… well, I haven’t written anything much worth sharing!

I’m juggling a lot of different character perspectives, and not sticking with any of them for any great length of time, so the story itself hasn’t actually progressed very far. I haven’t even started all the characters waiting to be written, so I’m definitely not going to be short of things to write. But I’m already running into silly narrative conflicts and having to retcon or earmark for fixing later down the line.

But there are a few things really bothering me about this whole experience that never bothered me before. First, I’m just getting the thoughts down without any sense of detail or emotional commitment to anything or anyone. It’s never been an issue for me to connect with any character I write, to get into their thoughts and senses and contextualise every scene with descriptive prose. I’m even pretty good at it, when I get going (read: have a bottle of something on the go). But I’m also working between writing sessions, so I can’t indulge in my usual bottled muse, and I think my writing is pretty bland and boring as a result. The process is a lot like writing my dissertation, getting it all down, notes, ideas, brainfarts, knowing all the while that the next draft will look nothing like the current draft.

I can’t look at what I’m writing as being anything like the end result, otherwise I’ll be so wretchedly depressed with myself I wouldn’t have made it even this far. Get all the ideas down, even if it reads like a robot wrote it, GET IT DOWN!

The other thing that’s bothering me is the realisation that one characters is a lot like me at a particular point in my life, sharing my resentments and bitterness – albeit with better issues and a grander supporting narrative – and it’s making it really hard to push through to them. All of my other characters are getting solid (if not especially committed) third person perspectives, but I keep defaulting to omniscient person perspective for just this one character so far. It bothers me that I can’t seem to give them a voice. :(

But, like I said, get it all down and come back to it later. The next draft will look nothing like the first draft, and the final draft will look nothing like the second draft.

I’m juggling a few challenges this month, including some 30 day fitness challenges that my cats are enjoying more than I am (ever tried to plank for a minute and a half with two cats sitting on your bum?), and AcaWriMo, which is the academic writing equivalent of NaNoWriMo. AcaWriMo is falling a bit behind as I’m back to doing more reading, but I think I’m going to count the pages I read into my progress, because it’s still progress! And there will be a burst of writing coming up as a result. (Also, marking essays, which is occupying most of my time, but isn’t nearly as engaging as griping about my NaNoWriMoWoes.)

Procrastination for Creative Writers - Tom Gauld