Tag Archives: progress

The final push

The final push

So Wimbledon has been and gone, which is always a blessing and a disguise. I always feel that I haven’t made the most of it, and watched enough tennis. That said, it does mean that I might finally get back to writing properly. Tonight under the light of a gas lamp and fairy lights draped around the patio I finished typing up what I’ve written to date.

55222 / 80000 words. 69% done!

So now comes the final push! I’m so close to finishing book two in the Mr Tumnal trilogy.

Adventures in NaNoWriMo

Adventures in NaNoWriMo

Doing NaNoWriMo this year was an experiment – an experiment in sustained productivity. I am a bit of a slow writer. Maybe not a slow writer of Alan Garner proportions, but slow nonetheless.

I’m not following full NaNoWriMO rules. I’m not writing something new, with the aim of reaching 50,000 words at the end of 30 days, and I’m certainly not aiming each day to write at least 1,667 words. That said, for the first 14 days of the challenge I took my self-imposed target of 500 words per day, and smashed it, averaging at somewhere nearer 800-900 words. One day I even topped 1000 – I think that was on a day that I thought I would struggle.

Halfway through exactly, on Day 15 of the challenge I had first wobble. I only managed 100 words. My excuse would be that I was busy having to do something else for band, but in truth I think I had a bit of, if not writers’ block, a stuck period. I had just finished one chapter, and hadn’t got stuck into the next, and I floundered.


Today though, I’ve got stuck back into it, and I’m back in the NaNoWriMo game…

My approach to getting stuff written

My approach to getting stuff written

So, it’s NaNoWriMO Day 2, and I am incredibly ahead of my (albeit reduced) wordcount target. I have no idea if it is a record year for NaNoWriMo participants but it certainly seems to be judging by my friends list on Facebook.

Of course, this is a thoroughly unscientific judgement to make. Equally unscientific is that the majority of participants are writing on their laptops (and thus, their wordcounts are exact). My wordcounts are approximations based on rough calculations…


My writing style is still, in this age of computers and electronic communications, longhand. See the picture below? This is me surpassing my conservative (but probably realistic) target of 500 words (I’ve actually gone on two more pages and started a new chapter!). You probably find this even more surprising when you hear that I work in web and social and digital media by day.

The truth is though that this is a system that always works. It’s a platform that doesn’t rely on internet connections or power supplies. It never crashes and its only a mild inconvenience if you drop it. I have a longer (possibly guest post elsewhere) brewing about my writing everywhere approach – I really should get down to it.

What’s your writing style? Are you ever tempted to give up on the laptop and return to the trusted pen and paper?

Getting my motivation back

Getting my motivation back

shield-nano-blue-brown-rgb-hires-1My current wip is about halfway done, and it’s been that way for too long. Not that it’s been stalled through writers’ block or anything like that, but just through lack of time and too much other life going on.

The start of November also means that it is the start of the annual NaNoWriMo. I’ve been aware of the National Novel Writing Month for, umm, probably about as long as I’ve been keeping an online journal – tots up the years – so that’ll be about 13 years now!! I’ve never done it because I don’t think that I could, practically write 1666 words every day for 30 days.

This year though, I’m going to try. Try at least to make some sizeable chunk out of my remaining word count. I’m going for about 500 words per day (more if I can) which equates to 3 pages of my handwritten notebook. I’m going to try, and see where this gets me. Hopefully it might get me to within shooting distance of The End.

Summer days, Olympics, and writing progress

Summer days, Olympics, and writing progress

After a weekend in which Emma and I completed another 12 mile training walk I’ve used up a couple of last days of annual leave to make a nice 4 day weekend, and some genuine me time to get back to the novel. I’ve spent most of the last three days outdoors on the patio, writing, and reading, before heading indoors in the evening to watch some more Olympics.

31303 / 80000 words. 39% done!

The comfort and the curse of the sequel

If the first half of my Easter holidays was a holiday-from-home with Emma, then I’ve wanted the second part (with the random extra holiday Tuesday that I get from day job working in the university) to be a bit more of a serious ‘writing week’.

And I have been writing lots, progressing the story on quite a bit. Or at least, I think I have progressed it on. Here, I hope that it’s natural to go between feelings of “I’ve got it” to “I’ve lost it” when ‪writing‬ The ‪Sequel‬? ‪I hear that it is.

I didn't write my book in a visit to the Gruffalo's woods, but I felt that I ought to have done!

I didn’t write my book in a visit to the Gruffalo’s woods, but I felt that I ought to have done!

22026 / 80000 words. 28% done!

The other side of the story

The other side of the story

It’s not been a Writing Week per se, but I have been writing this week, and progress has been made to Mr Tumnal 2: The Imaginary Wife. Hero of the first book, Louis Tumnal is yet to make an appearance, but I can feel his time nearing as his former-imaginary friend pieces together the story of her life.

11293 / 80000 words. 14% done!

I’m really enjoying telling the other side of the story, and getting my Lewis-fix through flashbacks to their happy, if unconventional, childhood together.

Writing Week: Day 4

Writing Week: Day 4

The day has been a little more overcast today than it has been, but no less pleasant. I busied myself with jobs this morning, getting the house all cleaned (in the full knowledge that with seven pesky cats, at least one of them would bring half the garden in with them and deposit it all over the floors – I think my efforts have actually survived quite well!).

And then suddenly it was lunchtime, so I made myself a nice chicken and ham salad, and sat outside and munched it whilst reading another chapter of The Story of Alice. Then I switched back to the novel du jour, Rosie Garland’s Vixen (which I’m discovering is a curious, very well written, but not entirely pleasant tale. And then after a chapter of that, I set to my own writing….

Another 1000 words or so done, and another chapter completed. If I can get another 1000 words written over the course of the weekend (weekend’s are usually less productive than weekdays, I find) then I’ll achieved a nice 10% of my novel written, which I think is a very good start.



7054 / 80000 words. 9% done!


Writing Week: Day 3

Writing Week: Day 3

I have certainly picked a good week to have off, with another day of glorious sunshine and outside living, and another day giving my shorts an airing. I didn’t feel like the words have been burning quite as fiercely today (although I did manage another 1000 words so  clearly they must have been), however I do now know an awfully lot more about this story and where its going.

What I’m not so sure about is at what point Louis is going to re-enter the story, but then when he left book one at the end of part two I wasn’t sure exactly when he would reappear. The alternate Lewis has made some appearances in flashback and I’m enjoying the ‘other side of the story’ nature of alot of this book.

5943 / 80000 words. 7% done!

I’ve also been reading more today. Vixen, the book I chose to read based on the cover being designed by a ‘social media friend’ and sister of a colleague, is proving to be an intriguing and enjoyable read. Written in almost poetic beauty about villagers in Devon at the time of the Black Death, I was amused to find that its author Rosie Garland was a singer in a band who sung on the soundtrack to the 1980s film Some Kind of Wonderful.

Inspired by this week’s Radio 4 Book of the Week, I’ve also started reading the non-fiction book The Story of Alice by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, partly because I’ve discovered that Mr Tumnal 2: The Imaginary Wife has echoes of Lewis Carroll and of Alice.

Writing Week: Day 2

Writing Week: Day 2

Took myself off on a bike ride today into town to stock up on ink cartridges to fuel my week’s writing and to pick up some more soft fruit and daffodils. I also planted our new plants and dug a big hole to bury Miss Wiggy at the back of the vegetable patch where she used to enjoy dust baths.

One of the joys of holidays is discovering by chance a really good book by way of BBC Radio 4’s Book Of The Week. I don’t know what was wrong with the advertised programme, but I’m really happy that it’s The Story Of Alice. Whilst I was in town I popped in to our local Indie bookstore and had a look at it. It’s a hefty tome… I think that it might be one for the kindle!

Today has been a glorious Spring day with warmth and sun, and I felt the need to reacquaint myself with my knees and dig out my shorts for the first time this year. It’s been one of those days when I’ve possibly not been that active, but I feel healthy because I’ve been outside all day. And I have been productive too – another 1000 words or so done. This novel is beginning to come together in mind.






5047 / 80000 words. 6% done!

Writing Week: Day 1

Writing Week: Day 1

After the Easter Break, my plan was to devote some serious time to my writing. Today is that weird and wonderful day that sits between Easter hols and annual leave – the random extra day that those of us are given in the university sector.

It was one of those perfect days where I was productive (did washing, touched up paintwork in the house, re-oiled some bookshelves), relaxed (read some more of a good book in the garden), and I still had time to lose myself for an afternoon in my own writing – and in the garden and the Spring sunshine too.


3761 / 80000 words. 5% done!

Oxwater: the Oxford you know so well like you’ve never seen it before

Oxwater: the Oxford you know so well like you've never seen it before

You probably can’t guess how how much fun I’m having with my new story. Peter is turning out to be something of an anti-hero, I think, as I wait for Lucy to make an appearance again. Already there are a some slight, knowing (and therefore unrelated but just nice) references to Mr Tumnal – all my novels are linked in some way however obscurely even across different worlds.

And In Your Own Words is set in a very different world, where I can describe Oxford just as I know and love it but where it exists on the water like in Venice. It’s fun imagining the great St Giles Lake at the centre of the city, and coming up with names for streets that are now canals…


3449 / 80000 words. 4% done!

Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesdays

So tonight sees me finding the first of a regular series of evenings which I can devote squarely to my writing. Thursdays have been, for the last 14 years(!!) band night, and since I’ve been with Emma Thursday’s have thus been Emma-time. Tonight Emma went off into Oxford after an early dinner to go to a taster session of Rock Choir.

Having never been to a choir before, it seems to have been a success for her, and so it seems that I will be getting an equivalent evening of Thomas-time to devote to writing my next novel, In Your Own Words (working title). My first novel, all in all, took about 9 years to be finished, and Mr Tumnal, five… I’m determined that my third novel will be nowhere near that. Tonight, I’m heading on the way with another 700 words in the bag. 🙂


2669 / 80000 words. 3% done!

Back On The Words

Back On The Words

There is something quite special about being back in the writing zone. I’ve missed it. On the 27 July 2013 I finished my last novel, and since then I’ve been keeping my creativity going with editing Mr Tumnal, along with tinkering with ideas for a follow-up Norse mythology novel to The End Of All Worlds, and writing a couple of short stories. However I have missed the urgency to write that you get when there is a novel is burning inside of you.

This week I’ve finally found my novel voice again, working out how to tell the story that I first came up with about eight years ago when I went to the pub after work with Ros and her friends about a guy who has his novel stolen along with his laptop only to read it in the slush pile of unsolicited manuscripts submitted to him year’s later.

Oh, and Puck features in this novel too! Not sure if he’s working for Oberon or Titania this time, or neither this time!

1934 / 80000 words. 2% done!

An encouraging response

An encouraging response

So, yesterday evening I got the report back from the Beta read of Mr Tumnal. All writers, no matter how experienced they are, still get the same gut-wrenching fear when they let go of their latest work in progress to be read by someone, but knowing that all writers feel like that doesn’t actually stop you from thinking it. They’re going to hate it. They are going to think that its one big, stinking, pile of poo – particularly alongside your other novel which they loved…

The fact that my friend Jane (who actually coincidentally features along with her blog as a non-appearing cameo in the book) has read bits of it at various points along the way, and that we’ve talked bits of it over in great detail and she likes it, doesn’t actually help in taking away the fears of the writer.

Angella Graff is somebody who I have got to know only after she reviewed my last book with no prior knowledge of it, and loved it. As well as writing books herself and doing book reviews she also offers editing services to other Indie Authors. Although by the time she read Mr Tumnal, she knew a bit more about me than before she was still coming to my new story with no prior knowledge of what the book was about or what I was trying to achieve. At this point of time there isn’t even anything so much as a synopsis to go on! (note to self: must attend to this…) So, imagine my delight when I read:

I really loved your style of writing, it’s different from your first book, but not so much so that you seem like a different author, which I love.  It gives a different flavor to your writing but doesn’t give that sort of writing culture shock that some people experience when reading a totally different genre.

I guess this is draft two of my story. Draft one would be in the handwritten original in the the three leather-bound volumes 🙂 and draft two would be the process of typing it up, and then the rough pass that I did to sort out any inconsistencies. It does seem that that draft is actually a very clean draft though, from the sound of the beta read…

Mr Tumnal is a very interesting story.  It plays out as a character piece, the character living the life he always wanted at the same time interposed with the life he really has.  When these pieces start to come together, his life gets crazy and random.  The prose tightens up about 20% through the story, so you start to get the ideas that there are two simultaneous stories happening.  It’s very organic and reads very well, though the early chapter work might benefit from a little more tuning, this way even though you’re not sure what’s going on, you don’t feel so completely lost.  I think the best way to do this is add a few touchstones during the real/fake scenes so that the reader can empathize a bit earlier.  I think the heavy focus at the beginning to the music and its importance is a little overplayed.  It is a huge part of the story and plot, but it might serve to be touched on a little less frequently.  Overall there’s a delicate balance and interplay working here, and any and all edits need to be done carefully.  I would have someone focus on bridging and connective text to make sure that the ideas move from one piece to another to help reduce the feeling of being adrift.

I’m now decided that its time to further go down the route of becoming something more akin to a professional author… and get the work content/copy edited as being the place to really find out where the story is not working. This is altogether, very exciting. I feel like Mr Tumnal’s curious little tale is finally going to emerge into the world in the not to distant future.