Zombie Rising

And we are not talking about those lovable Chocolate Zombies, either.

At least one of you has noticed the lack of posts of late; I am sorry to inform you that this is because I have become a zombie. However I am seeing the doctor shortly and I hope there is a cure.

Emdee by Schell

I had last week off the DDJ, and oh, the plans I had. Yes, I needed to reconstruct everything after the crisis, but it was going to be fun. I was going to have time. I could live like a writer, at least for a week! The bells pealed, the angels sang, and I wrote about a thousand words of notes on the reincarnation of my WIP.

Mass Emergencies Opening Reception - Saint Peter and His Choir of Angels with Andre Woodward's Work

And then…
You guessed it. I got sick. At the worst, I had a high fever and couldn’t even bear to read (i.e. was at death’s door, as precious little else will stop me reading).
Once all my leave was up I went back to the DDJ, thinking I was getting better. But after only a day and a half I had to go home sick again. The cough, the cold…

Cough and the Common Cold

On the plus side, this means I am not at the DDJ and can even squeeze in a little writing here and there.

On the downside, I now have less than three days of sick leave to last me til mid 2014. (Guess I’d better not get sick again. ) I also have the brain of a zombie – all greyish green gook and slow synapses.

On the plus side again, I also have a Hollow-Cheeked Writer’s Cough which is definitely giving me the appropriate garret look.

58/365 where does it hurt?

What I really need to do now (aside from see the doctor for a zombie-cure, obvs.) is start writing the new draft. Just a line. Because until that first line is down, there’s the spectre of Perfectionism hanging over me.
And that’s scarier than any zombie.

A Crisis and its Consequences

After Saturday, I didn’t think I had anywhere to go but up.

I wrote a grand total of 729 words on my WIP last week. I sat down on Saturday, gritted my teeth, and wrote. I managed 37 words before I realised what the problem was.

It wasn’t so much that I had no ideas – I had a few, and enough to be going on with. The problem was that I was bored with the story.


Because the story was boring. It had got to the point where it didn’t even seem worth the effort of writing the next word, so I stopped in the middle of a sentence and did some serious thinking.

It didn’t take long to realise where the problem lay, at its deepest root – I’d long suspected, but hoped it would go away of its own accord. (It didn’t. They never do.)
The main character was flat and boring. Yes, she was supposed to be naïve, and completely uneducated in practical matters, but she had become the literary equivalent of blancmange: pale, flavourless and trembling.


Well, no more! I’ve kept the bit of the naïvety, and her knowledge of the world is still largely theoretical, but she’s no fool, and she knows her own mind (particularly in the matter of taking forbidden lessons in the nature and properties of explosive materials). Think of a cross between Scarlett O’Hara and a young Queen Victoria, with a side of pyrotechnical ability.

But then, of course, everything and everyone else had to change too. I had to kill off half the characters and perform radical surgery on the rest, but the result is much stronger and much more interesting.

I was surprised by how little pain it cost to kill my darlings. I had a twinge for the invisible minstrel, but he may yet return, if he can earn his keep.

The invisible man working in the nude

Unfortunately, I’ve also had to come to terms with pretty much starting all over again: most of the 27,387 words I have written so far will have to be ditched, because they just don’t fit any more. Even the (few) good bits.

Of their adventures in the Forest of Roxburghe, this chronicler shall say but little. Tsifira wandering away from the stream and getting lost shall be barely mentioned; Riordan and Berengaria going to find her shall be touched upon but lightly; and how they subsequently were lost all together and had to wait for sunrise to get their bearings will not even be spoken of.
The fraught incident involving Berengaria and an incidental bear, which was only resolved by the quick and judicious application of half an onion, shall, however, be divulged in full. (But not in this book.)

Ooh, the irony.

The Seven Lessons of the Week

And I thought last week was rough!

It’s the middle of Saturday and I’m still short 1800 words. I don’t know if I’ll be able to make that up (in both senses of the word) in just one day.

But I’ve learned from this week, hard as it has been to fall so short.


Lesson 1: don’t try to cook something new the night you’re supposed to be breaking the back of the week’s word-count. I got beat by the beets (and they dyed my hands pink).

Beet hands

Lesson 2: when ‘persuading’ a catweasel to release the bird in his mouth, wear gauntlets. Otherwise he may plug a bit of bird-feather into your hand and the wound will become infected, lessening usefulness of hand. (Supplementary note: make sure all pieces of now-deceased bird are removed from hand wound, or pain and swelling will be ongoing.)


Lesson 3: storms happen (literally and figuratively). If you need to spend extra time in the morning figuring out what you’re going to wear when walking to work in 200 kph winds (that’s 125 mph for the imperialists), take the time.


Lesson 4: know where you’re going. Roughly. I get bored if it’s all nailed down, but it turns out I can’t pull stuff out of the air for any length of time. I spent my two writing mornings this week trying to nut out some dramatic needs for the characters – once I know why characters do things, it’s easier to figure out what they’re going to do.

Now All I need is a Cape

Lesson 5: it’s just numbers. You can’t let them scare you. Dig down deep, find your motivation, and write. Remind yourself why this story should be told. Then tell it, as best you can. No one else will tell it for you.

Storyteller - D7K 3359 ep

Lesson 6: when you don’t know what happens next and it all seems to be palling on you, throw in something unexpected. This was part of my I Will column.

Ruins in the woods

Lesson 7: There’s only one way to do it. Pen in hand…