May & June in Writing: Pushing Through The Block & Writer-Kids Growing Up…

BEHIND THE WRITING DESK_optAfter my previous downer of a post where I admitted I was struggling with motivation towards my writing, I can happily say I’m back on track. My solution was to find a better place for my writing to fit into my life, so that I can balance my hobbies and my time more comfortably. I now write on Friday mornings only. Up at 6, work from 7 until 12. With tea breaks of course, I mean, let’s not turn writing into hard labor… I’m tapping out about 3000 to 4000 words, and in my current project that seems to be a chapter a week. So it feels satisfying enough for me.

I knew my current project–‘The Darkwood Mysteries (17): The Slaves of the Underworld’–would be a longer project, perhaps a long short story or a novella, but I’m at 76,000+ words now and I’m just about reaching the two thirds mark (the last third will be shorter) and so I’ve realised I’m actually writing a novel. This might also be part of why I have felt like I’m struggling, as I hadn’t appreciated I was writing a book. I want to be in the business of writing novels and have four behind me already, but it is an undertaking and time-consuming, and obviously more work than a long short. I had it all planned out–I have to write to a plan–but while my plan might state X, Y and Z happens I’ve found that I have needed more chapters to cover what was intended, or natural breaks and cliffhangers pop up offering my the chance to keep my chapters a similar length. While it is longer than I expected, and definitely has some bloat to cut out when it’s done, I’m pleased with the way it’s going.

In my last blog, I mentioned that Darkwood–the main character–has arrived quite late to the party. Hobbs has carried much of the story to this point, which has been different, especially for a longer story, but that’s been appropriate as this project is very much about shaping Hobbs as it is about mole-men enslaving Londoners. Hobbs is reunited with a his boyhood friend, Peter Doyle, and it’s about how he has changed and sees his friend differently, and is struggling with one foot in the past and one in the present with who he is now. It’s also a challenge for Hobbs, as Darkwood is not arriving in the plot as his knight on a white steed, she’s also a captive, and while she’s busy working on a plan, she’s really just a slave like all the others.

Hobbs is maturing as a result. I found myself just write a little speech for Hobbs, and it felt like it should be Darkood’s, and I considered cutting it down, or reducing it in some way, but I realised my little lad has grown up, he is the man he wants to be–even if he will probably be the last to recognise it himself. He’s stuck in the middle of Darkwood proposing working with mole-creatures in an internal conflict as a way to work towards release or escape, and Peter who is wholly unconvinced that compassion is something that they can show the mole-creatures and whether the mole-creatures will understand and respect this as currency. Here’s the rough first draft of Hobbs’ interjection:

“The argument isn’t whether we can forgive, it isn’t whether we can forget—because we can’t and we shouldn’t. These things have dragged us down to hell, tortured us with terror and killed us with back breaking work and brutality. Perhaps hundreds, maybe a thousand or more have suffered because of these things,” Darkwood looked at me uncertainly, perhaps for a moment wondering if she had lost me as an ally in her cause. “The argument is whether we can convince ourselves and these mole-creatures that we have some aligned sympathies that breach the gap between slave and master, a common ground on which we can build a truce, protecting their young to earn favour which will get us out of here.”

As ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’ will eventually start to creep into the characters later years we will see both Hobbs and Darkwood mature and change, I think it will be interesting to see how Hobbs moves from being the student and side-kick, perhaps dependent upon Darkwood in so many ways, to being a stand-alone character who can make the moral arguments, the deductions, and save the day just as equally as Darkwood. After all, we know Hobbs will marry, will have a child, and I know that he will have a paid position alongside Darkwood which will see him move beyond her servant-companion. He will also be the last man standing, as we know he outlives Darkwood, and I know Hobbs will be fighting alone for many years after. I’ll have to be a conscious writer-daddy and think carefully about when I am writing Hobbs as it’s easy to always think of him as the young lad trailing after Darkwood trying to prove himself to her, when he will often be a man. Hobbs would not be happy with being thought otherwise.

Anyway, writing time is precious, hardly anyone reads this, so I should get back to the actual writing as I left Darkwood and Hobbs in a bit of a pickle, and I think they need me…

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