America! 2016; or the Whales

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The author, with the smell of pulled-pork still on his breath, meets the second most famous pig after the muppet.

I have swanned back to civilisation from a lovely holiday with the in-laws to Orlando’s magic kingdoms: where Mickey Mouse is Führer, the happy blackfish dance, and everyday is Christmas but never winter. Which means the year of writing seriously begins yesterday. So I thought an update for the interested would be in order.

As well as putting about 1300 words to paper, I spent a chunk of yesterday setting up Twitter (@jonpill) and rather threadbare Linked In and Facebook pages because, you know, that’s what professional people do, I guess. It’ll need to do a bit of googling on what people actually use those for in terms of “raising one’s profile”.

More enjoyably I have moved all my ‘read in xyz’ lists, going back to mid-2010 over to my Good Reads profile, where I can now enjoy fiddling with the page count stats and spend hours trying to find the exact out of print penguin edition of Animal Farm that I have on my shelves. All of which feels far more worthwhile than other social media.

In terms of the actual writing I’ve started sketching out the second chapter of the current WIP and spent this morning plotting out the main structure of the novel. Which, inspired somewhat by a picture of J K Rowling’s planning for HP5 that went around the internet a couple of years ago, I have been doing in a spreadsheet.

rowling_spreadsheet

A leaf from Rowling’s notebook.

My breakdown is in much broader strokes at the moment, and there are sections that require a lot of knitting between the columns.

My approach to planning this WIP is iterative. Gather all those sketched out notes into one spreadsheet and sort them into a semblance of order (easier said than done with something as non-linear as the WIP). Then it’s a matter of teasing out one sentence descriptions of each scene or sequence in each column. Then turning those sentences into short paragraphs. Adding in details that foreshadow the scene to earlier paragraphs and payoffs to later ones. One hopes there will be a critical mass reached at some point where I can start writing from the beginning, but likely the planning will still be ongoing until I write: ‘And they they all died horribly. FIN.’

There is also the business aspect of being freelance: before I start looking for magazines to pitch articles to I have an interview at the Job Centre tomorrow to get my Nation Insurance number which, having lived in Foreign so long, I do not have at the moment. From thence I need to talk to HMRC about sole trader registration and the NHS about not dying of tuberculosis like so many other writers, artists, badgers. I also had a moment of genuine pleasure at filling in the double entries for my purchase of a printer and toner cartridges into my ledger (a gift from the Lady Friend). Those three years of working in the financial sector are not to be wasted.

And until that starts to pay off I’ve been setting up my profile on a tutoring website, if you know anyone who needs help with their GCSE or A-Level Biology or Chemistry . . . you know who to send them to.

Until next time, that’s all folks.

 

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