Sunday, January 27, 2013

"Fiction... that's a Fact!" (the 2012 Writing REVIEW!)

# "Runaway train never going back, wrong way on a one way track, seems like I should be getting somewhere..." # - Soul Asylum

Here's how I always start my new year of scribbles - it's how I like to begin my tale and it's how the story always opens... a review of the past year of my writing... This isn't just a vain exercise to say, "Ooh, look what I've done over the last 12 months!", it actually helps a wannabe writer to begin to take stock of a year that's often flown past and you're left wondering where the time's gone and how little you think you've achieved towards that Holy Grail of a publishing deal or super agent to guide you towards that goal...  So that's why each January, here on the blog I make a point of looking back and championing a few of the things that are small steps for most people but giant leaps for this humble jotterer...


So, scratching my head and wandering my way back to JANUARY of 2012, I began the year, much like this one with a review of the previous year… but crucially I had decided that 2012 was the year I’d begin a proper redraft of my first adventure novel.  

This mammoth undertaking (I hadn’t really touched the manuscript since about 2009) took up much of FEBRUARY as I began to remind myself of the finer plot points and machinations of the characters (as well as my younger self!), but I did find time to begin to also make some changes to my Official Writing Website.  Since the novel was on my mind and I was internalizing a lot with it still being winter, wherever I travelled on buses and trains, I had my doodling pad out and began to scribble some sketches of a few characters and objects that populate the story that my first intended book carried.  

Teaching myself simple web design and html speak has been one of the joys (if at times frustrations) of trying to be a writer, and happily early in the year that was 2012, I was able to figure out how to put these doodles into the backgrounds of each and every page of my Writing Homepage – helping to “uniform” the look of the site for readers…

Also in February and continuing into MARCH, I created a new "Dark Sci-Fi" page for my Official Writing Website - this is accessible by finding and clicking on a desk top object on the homepage that looks as if it could twist the sands of time...  In Feb too, I also began a “Write-a-thon”, attempting to give myself some scribble distraction from the main novel redraft, and concentrated on my attempts to create some unique short stories about a group of characters that were not my own but were actually part of my day job.   This all happened around my birthday and I was amused to realize that Dickens 150th anniversary coincided with the very day I was born too (no, I’m not 150 – but we two scribblers were born on the same date of the same month, across different years, decades and centuries!)

In APRIL, I posted about some canine companions I had growing up – all 5 of them!   But looking back now, I forgot to mention another lodger dog we had at our house called “Honey” who was a golden retriever who had been abandoned and stayed with us temporarily while she was placed in a rescue home.  At the time we’d only had male dogs and the peaceful nature of this female pet actually struck a chord with my teenage self and so I’m a bit ashamed I missed Honey off the list last year…  All of the dogs in my life growing up shaped the way I look at the world – I guess ultimately they had to because my mother recently reminded me that my first word was “Bruce” (our first family dog)

Also this month, I launched my first full-length short story trailer that would eventually herald another 12 teasers for tales on my Official Writing Homepage by the end of 2012. This first one was for a story codenamed "USB" but whose full title was "The Unbelievably Silly But Flash Drive of Jackie Armstrong" and it's still available to read on my Main Website by clicking on a red object that you could wear on your head...  

In MAY I blogged about the things that make me "tick" as a writer during this month, trying to pinpoint my influences and inspirations that get me scribbling.  I pondered upon my "need" to write and gave a list of my top things that drive me to write.  I wonder, what would YOUR own list of scribble influences be? 

I hit the ground running (literally) in JUNE by undertaking my first ever Parkrun and began to venture out more, hoping that fresh summer air might help, as it always has, to bring new ideas for future stories and the continuing redrafting of my first novel...  I also blogged about my annual holiday which this year took us to Greece and the island of Kefalonia, but also reflected in the post about how my travels abroad have more often than not been influenced by stories on the big and small screen...

The summer blockbuster season hit proper by JULY with more of my short story trailers debuting and I also received some exciting news that my short story The Archenemy had been shortlisted for a new anthology for 2013 by the quite famous Iron Press which is based not very far from where I live off the northeast coast.  (that story is still available to read on my Official Homepage by clicking on a picture of a classic comedy double act...)  There was also a fishy blog post from me in July reminiscing about the old family aquarium that my dad obsessed over when we were growing up - looking back (2012 was quite a year for doing this, what with the redraft of old stories etc.) this was definitely one of the things in my childhood that sparked my imagination into "other worlds" beyond my real life adventures...

By AUGUST the old fashioned romantic adventurer in me had begun to surface with the late summer sun (although generally in 2012, it rained ALOT!) and I began to daydream about making maps for my many stories (not least of all the new draft of Novel #1 that I was working on all year long...).  It had sort of been sparked by a work project in my day job that I'd been getting to grips with in the early part of the summer and I posted more about this here on the blog, having read the first "How to Train Your Dragon" books as research for said work project - the author of these books was a big proponent of maps too and I'm really keen going into 2013 to continue to develop a map for the specific imaginary world of my first book...

I went missing and a bit incognito during SEPTEMBER as I knuckled down for the big push to finish that elusive completed third draft of my novel and followed radio silence across most of my scribble media contacts with the outside world (I kept Tweeting though!)  But I did take some time out to attend the Heritage Open Days weekend on Tyneside where I did some valuable research on the history of my hometown, where I'd love to set a future work of fiction set in the not-so-distant past...

I was back on track in OCTOBER with a few other writing projects, raring to go after taking part in the Kielder Run-Bike-Run relay race.  My short short story Blood Hunt appeared on the Springheeledjack fiction website I've been privileged to help get off the ground (another of my exclusive short stories The Thirst for Knowledge appeared on the SHJ site too earlier in 2012) and I finally put the seal of approval onto my third draft so that I'd completed the goal of getting this finished by year's end... (wonder how many more times I'll be tempted to go over those oft-thumbed pages again before sending it out to agents in 2013?)  I also launched a brand new page across at my Official Writing Homepage to showcase my "nano fiction" - I'm always proud of these mini-epic stories when I set my mind to sit down and craft a new one, and you can still read these now by going to my Writing Site and clicking on a group of objects that could have been made by blasting apart a boulder or an asteroid...

In NOVEMBER I made my latest stop "On the Road to Publishville", giving a more detailed rundown on what exactly goes into working on a third redraft of a novel, so that other wannabe novelists might garner some tips from my so far limited knowledge of the scribbling world...   To extend these delusions of grandeur even further I also launched a new page on my Official Website which attempts to pass on other tips and tricks of the trade of writing that I've found up to now in this early writing life of mine - "C.G.Allan's Story Starts" is up on my homepage now and you can read more by clicking on another red object which could be used to keep your writing notes clipped together...

And so the 12 months that were 2012 ended for me and my writing in DECEMBER, perhaps appropriately given that I'd spent most of the year in a reflective mood, looking back on older stories in a new way, with a post here on the blog where I speculated about how my writing could fit into the ever evolving and erupting publishing world which is half-embracing new technologies and half-resisting them (is resistance futile, ultimately though?)

So that was my year last year...  As ever, I learned a lot about myself as a writer - but perhaps importantly I learned that when I needed to I can put in the hard work and the long hours to see the completion of a project (and even complete the project within a deadline too!) - this sounds like a basic thing for a working author to get right from the outset, but life is complicated and you never truly get the chance to scribble full-time, so for me it's been a personal best of a year really... I wonder what the next 12 months in writing will bring me.....



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