chapter 5 finished

Chapter 5 is finished and that marks the first third of the story. A few months ago I posted about this story probably going to 12 chapters and 50,000+ words. This is now revised to 15 chapters and 75,000+ words. I’m at 26,000 words currently.

I’ve finally finished my degree (about a week ago) which means I’ll be able to dedicate more time to the kind of writing I want to do and the novel should start to progress more quickly – but not before I take the next 4 weeks out to write a short play. This will be an entry into the Noosa Arts Theatre one act playwriting competition. When I submitted my first entry in this in 2014, I resolved to do one per year for 3 consecutive years. My story this year revolves around 2 characters: Satya and Verity, a young drug-dealer and an older woman. It’s about place, and the different sorts of claims people have on it.

“Earthworms are divided into three different categories. The first are the surface dwellers, the Epigeic worms. Then there are the upper soil worms, the Endogeic worms. Finally, there are the deep burrowing species, the Anecic.”

— Wikipedia

the worm

I haven’t updated for a while because there hasn’t been much to say. I’ve been at work on my novel; The Worm. As this is my first attempt at a novel it has all been a learning experience, but I can honestly say, a very enjoyable one, and right now I’m feeling positive about it.

I have completed two chapters of around four and a half thousand words each, and am perhaps halfway through a third. I have fleshed out the plan for the novel much more fully than when I actually commenced writing a few months ago. A number of plot elements have fallen into place beautifully. It feels like a quite traditional sort of story to me, but I think it will be a satisfying, if harrowing read. The world of the characters is opening out to consume my own world. Plenty of fiction writers have noted this phenomena. The way one’s characters become real; absorb so much of your attention during your day to day life, while you’re supposed to be focusing on other things, essay writing for example, or your day job.

Viktor and Eva are becoming increasingly real for me. And with Viktor I think it is a two-way street because there are a number of insights into his mind and soul that are probably drawn directly from my own mind and soul. This is a major point of difference with a novel, as opposed to a short story. This coming-alive of the characters. I have noted that it is this balance between allegory and character study that probably, at this stage, best defines the sort of story this is. When I was first planning it I was working totally in the allegory framework, designing plot elements that most satisfactorily articulated the allegorical thrust of the piece. But then you start writing and discover that these people are human beings. They suffer, and they experience joy, and they have hopes and dreams and feel these things with intensity. And it is this intensity of feeling that is intoxicating, that feels thrilling to write about. But in exploring these characters, you don’t want to lose the primacy of the allegorical idea. A balance is needed.

I am busy at work, and at uni. As always it is impossible to find the time I need to progress my writing the way I want. But I’m definitely keeping my hand in, and pretty happy with where it’s going. I’m looking at 50,000 words minimum. 12+ chapters. So I’m looking forward to hitting the milestone of completing chapter 3 and being a quarter of the way there.

Leap Year Update: The Worm, The Spot and Gods Eye, all commenced

The past couple of months have been spent developing and outlining my next three projects. This now done, I’ve started writing. I’m excited about all three projects, they all seem to me to hold the prospect of interesting, engaging finished works. They are:

– ‘God’s Eye’. A short story set in the north of England in the year 1,006AD, involving the sin, guilt, judgement and possible redemption of a pathetic young monk named Eadmund. This will be my 9th short story.
– ‘The Spot’ or ‘Greener Pastures’. A one-act play with two lead protagonists: Satya, a street-tough young woman, and Verity, a disappointed and grouchy older woman. This will be my third one-act stage play.
– The Worm. Yes, my novel, or novella, that has been hanging around for a while now. I’ve actually started writing this. Characters are transitioning from flimsy ideas in my head to real, living (sort-of) people on the page. I’ve been spending plenty of time sitting up in bed, Macbook balanced on my knees.

Uni has started up again – today actually – so as usual it’s going to be a busy time. The prospect has also emerged, of working on my one-act plays from 2014 and 2015 with acting students from Brisbane Arts Theatre. This isn’t confirmed yet, but it’s obviously an exciting possibility, and could lead to one, or even both of these plays being performed this year! I’ll post updates here if anything eventuates.

I’m reading ‘Story’ by Robert McKee. A very thorough and insightful – albeit pretty traditional – analysis of the fundamentals of story-creation, and Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’, which I’m hoping might help inform God’s Eye to a certain extent, even though it was written over 300 years after the events depicted in God’s Eye. Well, at least it’s medieval. I’m hoping it will add some colour, detail and authenticity. I’m not really listening to anything in particular at the moment. Though I did notice that Brian Eno has a new record coming out in April, which I’m keen to hear. I’d really like to open the door onto something big and interesting that I haven’t yet experienced. Something that can sustain me for a year or so, like Eno did a year ago. A few weeks ago I thought Fela Kuti might provide that possibility, but somehow my interest is already flagging.

I told Sia last night that I have found the last month disappointing in general, and that’s true. The inner world of writing is challenging and interesting, but in the outer world I find myself only seeing the facile, shallow, meaningless aspects of modern existence. I’m afraid I don’t have a lot of excitement about, or faith in the kind of culture we seem to be drifting towards.