School’s in for summer

Where the heck did July go?! Whilst kids and teachers are celebrating the start of summer holidays, I’ve just committed myself to a schedule of writing. Slack time is over. Cricket matches no more. Internet locked in the cupboard. Come what may, the novel starts Monday 1st August 2011.

Tube strike

This week has been a relaxing week. A great trip to Lord’s for the test match on Monday, a bit of running, reading and knocking in the odd goal on the 5-a-side pitch again. I put a bit of meat on the novel’s plans on Tuesday, but having got a good handle on the story now I thought I’d leave it for a few days, prepare for the actual writing and relax. Plus I wanted to recover from being cooked in the sun and having my leg trapped in a tube train’s door by a driver who didn’t want to hang around and perform a silly, superfluous action as actually letting people out of the carriage.

I also read an interesting section in a writing book this week that said to avoid planning too much and to not talk about it a lot before writing. Why? To keep up your own enthusiasm for the story. It’s a good point – if you were to know everything that happened in the book and could also tell someone all about it, why would you bother to spend months and months putting it all down on paper? In your own mind, it would have been done already; doing it again would feel for the brain like it was writing out in hand something that it’s just printed out on its computer. Best to have a framework and leave the juicy bits for your imagination to feast on in the coming months.

On your marks…

Plan done? Check.

Word count sorted? We’ll start at 1,500 words a day. (I may have to revise if that’s too much)

Schedule sorted? 5 days a week, 30 hours in total. (gulp)

Geeky spreadsheet created? Stats galore to measure my progress. Charts to be done soon.

Yowling cat neutralised? If not, deploy tactic a) Have a heart-to-heart with him and tell him to not yowl between 9:30 and 6 or b) Shut him downstairs or c) buy earplugs.

Confidence high? Yes and no. Yes, I feel I’m equipped and ready to go. No, I have no idea when I start on Monday whether anything will come out.

Right now, I just want to get on with it. I’m tired of talking about ideas, how I’m going to do this, and preaching like I know what’s the best way to do things. I’m still a wannabe. I want to be able to say that I’m actually, physically writing a book, and that I’m on the third chapter and that you can read the first two chapters over this place here. Either that or I realise I’m all mouth, slip away quietly and go join the back of the job queue.

An eye for an Eye

My trip to London on Monday gave me the opportunity for my first-ever field research for my novel. Without really giving anything away, one of the scenes will be at the London Eye, so despite having been there a couple of times before, I thought I’d check it out and take some photos. It was kinda cool, imagining my characters, what they would do, working out if there were any inherent problems in what I was planning. At least the wheel was still there, which was a start. I also checked out the surroundings for inspiration – there’s a lot going on down there that I could use. I would have liked a trip on it again, but I’d had enough of long queues for one day.

First contact

I contacted my first author recently: Hal Higdon, author of Marathon. As you may know by now, my novel involves the concept of fictional characters running a marathon (there’s more fun stuff aside from this that I’ll tell you about soon, don’t worry) and a quick search on the Internet led me to Hal’s book, the only book that I would say has this concept. I wanted to ask him a question on why he went down a particular route with one of the decisions he had to make, and I was delighted he replied later that same day. It also gave me some food for thought on an important aspect of the novel. Luckily, my book ideas are very different from what he seems to have done (I won’t even read his until after I finish).

However, there are many marathon accounts and how-to running books out there, but – like a lot of sport I guess – comparatively few fiction stories. Why read about imaginary goals in the 98th minute, 400m olympic runners with no legs, Grand National leaders collapsing yards from the end when they are reality anyway? That’s why “A Decade of Verrucas” by Joe Average, City Midfielder 1987-1997 will always sell, as sportsmen and women at the top of the game will nearly always have stories to tell. So am I doomed, destined to be a Richard Keys in amongst the real players?

Of course not. This will be a proper novel, which just happens to use sport for part of its idea. And with my own personal experience plus plenty of real-life material to draw from, I’m confident it’ll stand up very strong on its own merit.

Anyway, shut up, Andy. Enough talking. As a famous sports brand would say, Just Do It.

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