Saturday, January 07, 2017

Kill Your Darlings

So, anyway, I think I’ve promised to post here more regularly about four or five times over the last couple of years, so I won’t be doing that again. The reasons behind my lack of posting are various: private, professional and finally due to a degree of boredom and irritation with the social media.

A little while ago I decided that in the mornings (rather than sit in my living room with a cup of tea, with my Ipad open while farting about of Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere) I would go straight into my office and get to work. I also decided that in the evenings I would again avoid social media and read and watch more TV. In these the only one I haven’t stuck to is the reading – must make more of an effort there.

My working day now usually runs like this: I am at my computer by about 8.00 AM, I warm up my brain by reading about 10 science articles from various sites across the internet, then I get to work. At midday I stop to cook and eat (a stir fry is usual now), then at about 4.00 – 4.30 I head to a local gym for about an hour or so. There I do 20 minutes on a cross-trainer, 30 – 40 minutes on free weights etc., finishing off with 2,000 metres on a rowing machine (I have four routines I do and intend to add more, because I’m getting bored with them now).

My aim has been to do my 2,000 words each day. I had a week or so when I was doing more than that – continuing to work after I got back from the gym and not stopping till 8.00 in the evening – but generally it has been less. The results? I’ve done a couple of short stories titled Grawl and Logan. The first is an elves and orcs siege while the second is a Polity story loosely based on High Plains Drifter. I intend to write some more short stories soon since doing so is something I have wanted to get back to for some time. Then there’s the book…

As I have noted here before, the latest book for Macmillan was a bit all over the place, having been written in spurts over a couple of years between periods of anxiety and depression. I’d ripped it apart and stuck it back together again many times. When I finally figured out where I was going with it, a few months back, that was after I whittled it down from 110,000 words to 90,000 words, while it sat in a file named ‘Jain’. Further work brought it back up to 110,000 words, then I hacked it down again moving sections from it into a file named ‘Jain2’ for a second book. More work, which involved further deletions and the diversion of a black ops attack ship called Obsidian Blade, resulted in the file name ‘Jain1’. Next I decided I had too many character POVs. I removed the POV of one character along with about a chapter of work on the same and this resulted in the file name ‘Jain1a’. I then decided this character was superfluous, so I killed her, and this resulted in ‘Jain1ab’…

‘In writing, you must kill your darlings.’ – William Faulkner

The quote is quite apposite in this case. I found myself writing more and more about the character I mention above, and drifting away from the main thrust of the story. She had to go, so I whacked her. Maybe it was doing this that led on to what happened next. The end of the story in this book was in sight. I had three plot threads I needed to tie off in a satisfying way, while also keeping them open for the next book. I worked with two of them, thinking to myself that maybe I needed to do more. I then moved onto the third yesterday, wrote another section and then finished it with three words. I realised that this was enough – that because of those three words I didn’t need to do anything more with the other threads. There is more to do – tidying up, some sections to be expanded, additions to be made – but I looked at those three words for about 30 seconds then after them wrote:


THE END.

5 comments:

Daniel Ware said...

Sounds like you're a lot healthier than most (and definitely me ;) ). In terms of the book though do you feel good about it as a whole? I would guess this matters more than how and over what period of time it was written.

Take care!

SFcrowsnest said...

Sounds like you're on track. Just joined a gym on a NHS program myself. Need to spend less time on social media, too. Netflix seems to be pumping out so much good content it seems determined to kill any author's writing life with a subscription to the flipping service. I knew it would be a mistake, but the rugrats twisted my arm. Have a great and productive 2017 writing year!

Roger Schweingruber said...

Neal, I can really relate to getting bored with social media. I stopped posting (mostly) and I started to select the blogs I really like and get rid of the others. Instead, I too started working out once a day for about 90 minutes to have a counterweight to my daily work. I'm glad you started to write short stories again. I really love all your books but the short stories for me are just a tad better. I like a long and complex story but the beauty of short stories is, that you have to construct the underlaying universe for yourself. A a guy suffering from Aphantsia this is a challenge - even more then reading a novella or a book since there the author gives you more background. Looking forward to whatever gets published from you. Regards from Switzerland.

Roger Schweingruber said...

... well it's early and my autocorrect is set to German so... I meant "Aphantasia"...

Neal Asher said...

Daniel, I feel good about it as a whole but never satisfied, but if I ever am completely satisfied with a book that'll probably be the time for me to stop writing them.

SFcrowsnest, bugger. I'm just getting myself a big TV with surround sound and aimed to subscribe to Netflix. Oops.

Roger, I think short stories are what I have always preferred writing. Neater, tighter, and a quicker pay off in terms of creative enjoyment. But they don't pay the bills!