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Thursday, 1 June 2017

SHORT FAN-FICTION: A REPORT FROM A FUGITIVE.

How short is short fan-fiction? I thought about that, and remembered the Twitter. The Twitter amuses me. It readily accepts coffee in a pure state - coffee with a hashtag.
   I struggle to write coffee in stories without putting a hashtag in there.
   Rarely, I might mention my books on the Twitter. Only rarely, though. Mostly, I Tweet the #coffee, and THE STAR WARS. Sometimes I Tweet both in the same typing breath.
   Does this constitute short fan-fiction? Yes. It does. I rounded up those Tweets and sent them to a coffee shop for cake.
   These altered snippets appear courtesy the Fair Dealing and Fair Use doctrines of copyright law.
   The alteration to Fair Dealing, allowing the inclusion of parody as a category, is a relatively recent addition. Long overdue, and most welcome.













Wednesday, 10 May 2017

HELPING WRITERS WITHOUT HINDERING: A REPORT FROM A FUGITIVE.

Recently, I helped myself out by refitting the office and turning it back into an office. The workspace gradually deflated around me and turned into a nightmarish place to navigate.
   Salvador Dalí took charge. I sent him to live on Mars. Free holiday. Things are back to abnormal.

*

Even more recently, a writer came to me backstage and asked for help. I offered help. That doesn't mean I helped. It means I offered information that worked for me AT THE TIME.
   Hints, tips, help...
   If these things work for me at the time of asking, you get those things packaged as advice. Business advice on writing changes with the weather, and is not solid. Rely on it while it works...
   Dot dot dot.

*

But I must add this.
   Use the advice that works for you. I may offer formatting advice that is dead and done once Amazon drops support for a particular format. And that is what it is. Time-stamped aid.
   Advice rises and falls with the tide, true.
   When it comes to solid writing advice, your basic solid writing advice is timeless. Put the hours in. Read all kinds of stuff, and do more than just the reading.
   Did I mention coffee?
   When it comes to the writing, do the writing. No shortcuts. Write the bad stuff. Stop writing the bad stuff. Keep going.

*

So what is the advice on giving writing advice? Don't hinder. In giving advice, ask questions. And after giving that advice, ask questions of yourself.
   I hope I avoid hindering writers who come to me for help.

*

Then...another writer put material out there for comment and modification. I went backstage and ran through the manuscript.
   You spot formatting glitches, and gradual inconsistency sneaks in...so you want to nail all that...
   Anyway. Writers actively come to you for help, and you do what you can. Other writers reach out to the whole audience, and if you can help from your seat eight rows back...go for it.
   Though I recommend going backstage, even if you are at a public event. A professional approach stands more chance of getting through to a truly busy person.
   I was thanked for my hints and tips. My views. But I asked a load of questions in reaching the point at which I decided to offer those views.
   We all steer our submarines through the murk of the internet. It's better to up-periscope and take bearings...than to lie on the bottom of the sea, running out of air.

*

Also, did I mention coffee?
   The alternative is tea, if you'd rather secure your caffeine intake without relying on the taste of coffee.
   And there's chocolate. Coffee. Chocolate. These things will aid your writing. Your superpower is storytelling, and your secret origin is being exposed to magical levels of coffee and chocolate.
   I don't give advice on superhero costumes. Me? I'm with Edna Mode. No capes, dahling.


  

Sunday, 2 April 2017

REFITTING THE OFFICE: A REPORT FROM A FUGITIVE.

One more book came into the house...
   And the house snapped.
   Valiantly, I held both halves of the house together with grit, determination, and Elastoplast. I'd say don't try this at home, but, it's a house thing, so...

*

I speak of reaching the limit. Saturation. No more room for books, and certainly no more room for bookcases. This time, I brought a book into the house and read it immediately.
   If I misremember correctly, I'm (barely) maintaining my pace of reading a book a week.
   Anyway...I was done. No more room. And I needed more room. It was just (barely) possible to refit the office and come away with more room at the end of the ordeal.
   If I planned it right.
   Planning. What does that mean? It means that, out of all the tools in the toolkit, the tool I keep handiest for handiwork is the tape. It's within reach as I type.
   I don't think about moving a bookcase without reaching for that tape. Moving a bookcase means shifting the books off it: shifting the books to SOMEWHERE ELSE - a mythical place.
   The monoliths close in. To shift a bookcase I must first move another bookcase deeper into the room. Twelve other items shuffle around the floor before I'm ready for that phase.
   Bookcases that move with books in them - ah, those are rare birds. I think twenty steps ahead, and I am five steps behind. Each of those five steps is a fatal flaw waiting to pounce.
   Apply the old rule.

*

The space you'll need most is the space you just obliterated with the heavy object. Now the heavy object can't come out to play. Find a new space. In another country. That's the closest space free, now.

*

I repaired a few world-weary bookcases.
   Hundreds of books marched off shelves. Space disappeared. Every night, Prometheus recovered from the morning's eagle attack. His liver regenerated.
   Every night, I played Frankenstein, and regenerated the computer. It had to go. Then it had to return. Ah, the joy/misery of plugging cables in, and hoping for the best. Ritual sacrifices to the great god Komputie staved off the horror.

*

And so it went, for a time Beyond Time. Until...
   Nay, I dare not speak of it. For...as I write this blog, I'm not quite finished. I knew I had to print a few letters out, so I managed the feat. Then I cut my printer off from my computer in an act of bravery that was really an act of stupidity in thin disguise.

*

Here I sit, after countless days, waiting for one more extension cable to arrive. But it's...mostly done. What did I wreck? A little space, but that loss of a little space is AWFUL.
   Yes, I gained a great deal of floorspace. But I had to sacrifice four feet of space on the very top of two now-awkward bookcases. With all that repositioning, it's not safe to return tall books to the highest spots if they aren't backed by walls.
   It's true. I reached for that awful solution.
   Thou Shalt Not...project bookcases into the room. For that way, and it is written, that way madness lies. Bookcases now surround the screen I'm staring at. I've created a cubbyhole for writing in.
   Now, more than ever, my office IS the library. Everything shifted back to the other end of the room in a move that I never saw coming. That's because I looked the other way, denying that I really had to do SOMETHING about this office.
   Matches and petrol cans weren't going to cut it.

*

Now I have a book problem that runs exactly four feet long. A solution will present itself. I'm certainly not going looking for one.
   It was enough for me to save the office by refitting it and making it so much easier to cross in a hurry. (Or even slowly.)
   Refitting took too long. And I haven't the energy to recount the heroic deeds behind saving the jumbo extension cord. There's no scope for investigating the odd little piece of broken plastic that's clearly sheared off SOMETHING.
   But what, though...what?!
   Cables snake everywhere. I think of the word snake as...that's the technical term for the plastic monster that devours all the other cables and makes the place 3% tidier. Is a cable snake poisonous? Why would you eat one?

*

My thinking was elegant in closed-minded simplicity. I'll never have to refit the entire office again. So they said, in whispers. They lied to me! New equipment ran in, and demanded space. I cut a deal, moving shelves with the speed of a tortoise on its day off.
   Bookcases, bookcases, bookcases. All out, a bit like the tide. And most back in. It's true to say I retired an awkward rolltop bookcase to...another place...
   And a few cupboard doors had to go, to squeeze that extra drop of space out of the new arrangements. I pensioned off a picture that could still hang on the wall...but that's inviting trouble.

*

Inevitably, I am done rearranging shelves. Really done with it. I knew I had to get on with the job and accept that dismal fate. You put it off with a bit of tinkering here or a spot of adjusting there.
   Eventually you know there's no way around it. That's because it's towering above you, and you foolishly moved a companion bookcase into its path. But you do what you can to squeeze by.
   If I didn't have hundreds of hardbacks on those shelves, I'd have hundreds and hundreds of paperbacks. Yes, I have hundreds and hundreds of paperbacks anyway.
   I know. No more books. I have four feet of books to squirrel away, and only prestidigitation will do the trick. Or digitisation. In this electronic age, that amounts to much the same thing.

   

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

CLEARING SHELVES: A REPORT FROM A FUGITIVE.

Enter the swirl. Here's the whirlpool. This is how it works...
   I buy books and stack them on shelves. Then I clear shelves. I don't take the books off those shelves.
   No.
   I take them off the shelves, read the books, and return them to those shelves.
   But.
   I am an author. So. I don't keep books on shelves in alphabetical order. Why the fuck would I do that? Books go where they fit. That's the bloody rule.


*

A shelf is cleared when all the books on that shelf are read.
   Enter the swirl. A new book arrives. It won't fit anywhere. I have to remove an old book that can fit anywhere, and put the new book in the vacated space where it'll bloody well squeeze in.
   And this means...
   A shelf, cleared, is suddenly clear no longer. It has a new unread book on the board.


*

Well. Damn.
   I'm reading a book a week. But I am not clearing shelves. New books saw to that problem, down the years. Now I am staring at 22 shelves of hardbacks, and...
   After much reshuffling, reorganisation, the ditching of a cabinet, the transfer of new tomes to the top of three bookcases...
   There are 22 shelves, and one shelf is cleared. Look at that sturdy board. There are 26 books on that cleared shelf, and nothing else will ever fit on it. Nothing. There's no way to reshuffle. Not on that one.
   Now I am staring at the nearest shelf. By coincidence, it contains 26 books. And I've read 25 of those. Closing in on that one last title. I should have it done by the weekend. And the weekend is long-gone by the time this post goes out.



   I turn to the shelf ahead. It houses 23 books, and I've tackled 21 of those.
   Surely, you say...


*

To clear shelves quickly, all I need do is read that one book here, two volumes there, and those three tomes yonder.
   Ah, bless your heart.
   I read what I feel like reading, of course.



   One book down, with that weekend far behind me, means one more shelf is done.
   What did I do next? Did I take the obvious path, and turn to the shelf with two unread books on it? Then the shelf with four unread books on it?
   The obvious path is a thorny one, and there is great resistance on it. Yes, to clear shelves I should read these two books next. Followed by those four.
   But I go where I please, down there in the stacks. That's the whole point.
   My purchasing habits changed. I bought in a stack of dozens of books in a sale and munched through them. Only to buy another huge stack of books in a second sale.
   And I never recovered from that. My rule of reading the book that comes into the house when it comes into the house...that rule warped and shattered under the deluge of paper.
   Well, purchasing habits changed. No more calamitous sales like that. This means I am making progress, one tome at a time. It's nice to clear shelves. But it is far better to read books in no particular order. Or in the illusion of order.
   No more bookshelves? And no more books? No more massive sales - cursed blessings, all.
   My hardback reading deficit hovers around 150 - yes, three years at a book a week. I knock it down in one year, and then it sneaks back up on me the next. Paperback books intervene, taking up time, deflecting the weekly consumption of the hardbacks.
   But I am getting there, this time.
   There's also the small matter of finishing hardbacks in series. But that is a small matter. I polished off one trilogy in January. Clearing shelves isn't about clearing shelves. It's about reading books. The stacks, seen from a distance, don't create a path.
   It's a mosaic.
   Also, quite hard to see at a distance. Walls get in the way. That's a technical thing.









   

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

THE ADVENTURE OF THE SEVENTH BOOKCASE: A REPORT FROM A FUGITIVE.


Six bookcases danced to my tune. The seventh pretended to caper, and stabbed me in the back. I booked myself into a corner. No paint required.
   In a futile attempt to gain more space, I decided that moving seven bookcases in a long slow swirl down the drain was just the thing. And so it proved. The thing. Often, I return to the thorny problem of space. And just as often, I tell myself…
   Well, this is it. I’ve reached saturation. When there’s no more room in halls, the books will walk the Earth. (Thank you, G. Romero.)
   This time, it all felt different. I wasn’t making space for more bookcases. No. I was simply making more space. Storage units ebbed and flowed. I’d removed the maze of (budget) metal frames long back, and placed larger, sturdier, more expensive monoliths in their stead.
   Quite right, too.
   Now I KNOW I’ve reached saturation, and there really isn’t room for more bookcases unless I do something INSANE. That way, madness lies. Obviously.


What could I do?
   If I moved this bookcase out, I could move an identical-sized bookcase in. Wait. What?
   I’d gained a bookcase that was almost the same size as another two monoliths. Bookhenge grew around me. The only problem with this late addition was a loose top shelf. And that lone problem was a major one.
   Solution. Replace it with an identically-sized bookcase that definitely fits in the vacated space.
   Bookcase one and case two went with little difficulty. In the case of a borderline case, always employ the scholarly approach: wing it. That case is too large to move, fully-laden. Okay. Lift a few books off, and stack them somewhere. Anywhere.
   Move nowhere near the place you are about to move the bookcase to. That way, lies congestion.
   You’ve moved a few books off shelves. Try swinging the bookcase about its own handy pivot – the bottom left or right corner. No joy? Sensing the boards warping, on the verge of a churning snap or three? Lift more books away.
   Yes, it is easiest of all to empty the bookcase entirely. But then you have no room. ANYWHERE. As a weapon of last resort, shift the offloaded books to another floor. This level of foolishness is known. Well-recorded. It’s not for you, so consider it merely as a non-option of an option. A noption. If you insist on being American, a nope-tion.

*

Of the first six bookshelves, I moved three fully-loaded and three partially-empty. I left the worst until last. This bookshelf was the largest. I had to empty it. Not a tome left. After I scoured the bookcase, I considered removing the adjustable shelves as well.
   No. I thought I’d just barely get away with moving this case intact.
   If you know anything about books and moving bookcases, you’ll know that you don’t even glance at the spine of a book unless you have a tape to hand. I measured everything. Everything. Yes, I’d relocate two framed pictures to accommodate the largest bookshelf. No other way.


Measure, measure, measure.
   And the corner of the bed? Well. I’d be forced to slide the bookcase up over the corner of that bed and…
   That’s where the faint-of-heart cease and desist. Yes, it’s HARDER to move the bed. EASIER to lift the bookcase up and slide it over, pivoting that last case in the process.
   The tape told me the bookcase would definitely slide in there with enough room to spare. Up over the corner of the bed. Around to the left. Forward into its last resting-place. That narrow avenue. We’d park on the left, away at the back. And the bed’s height wouldn’t be a problem. What? Remove the mattress first?
   No. I needed the softness of the mattress to see the deal through.
   Part one. I stood on the bed, and manoeuvred the book-free monolith into position. Sequel. Cautiously, I hefted the bookcase up onto the bed. No difficulty there. Part three. I slid myself around to the left and prepared to draw the shelf alongside me.
   This task belongs to me, and goes by with surprising ease.

*

The whole while, I’m thinking about the last time I bought a bookcase. The last bookcase. Yes, I’d really hit saturation.
   Now I had a problem. The bookcase swivelled around, and I stood ready to drive it home. But I couldn’t do that from the side or the rear. I could only tackle the job from the narrow alley I aimed for. Yes, I had to go ahead of the bookcase.
   Or watch the whole case tip over and head too far down to the ground to land safely.
   I rehearsed that, and struggled to save the case. Save it I did. Close. Then I went in advance of the monolith, and dropped myself into the narrow alley.
   Still not a problem. Two vast cases stacked up against me, held there by a wall. I dragged the third case further and further into the mire. The moment of truth proved to be a lie.


Everything hinged, or rolled, on a curious roller-top bookcase. I had to slide my hefty bookcase right next to it. No go. Wouldn’t budge. The roller-top article didn’t quite stand true. And that mild deviation from right turned the whole scheme wrong. I couldn’t escape the alley, to make the modest correction.
   Damn. I’d bookcased myself into a corner. This was the end. They’d be lucky to find a skeletal hand there, at the dark alley’s edge.
   Surely I hadn’t trapped myself.
   Oh.
   Wiggle room?
   For a worm, yes. Not for a human.

*

Shift the bookcase to the rear of the room. Bring it back a smidgeon. Squeeze. Turn. Squirm. Slump. The bookcase is a ladder leading out of my predicament, but only if I don’t put my weight on it.
   Now I’m in here, it’s impossible to tilt the bookcase so that it mounts the corner of the bed on a return to wide open spaces.
   Can I nudge the roller-top obstacle just long enough to drop this massive jigsaw piece in place?
   No.
   Then can I move the roller-top the other way, forcing it out altogether? Absolutely not.
   Now I juggled, slowly, with the various pieces.
   I felt the heat. There was no heat. I’d turned the heating off, knowing this would be hot work. But I felt the heat. There wasn’t room to remove a jumper.
   Dehydration takes me before hunger, right? Or madness, perhaps. An ill-advised attempt to move the bookcase jumped to the top of that list. DON’T PUNCH ME, bookcase! 



What of the plastic drawers beyond the roller-top? A fingertip struggle ensued. It was barely possible to shift the plastic drawers, in fits, in starts. Yes, I closed off my one avenue of escape by drawing the drawers further out into the alley. Best possible bad move.
   No matter. I was committed, by that stage.
   The plastic drawers slid free. Wiggle room. I pushed the roller-top into the space vacated by the plastic. And then I returned to shunting the bookshelf into its intended spot. Finally, I had space. I staggered from the narrow alley and put everything back.
   That plastic set of drawers went away without a murmur. And the roller-top bumped in, nestling against the seventh bookcase, with ease. What was so hard from one side was a flimsy nothing task from the other side. I survived the adventure of the seventh bookcase.
   What did I learn? In all that time of hefting bookcases, I’ve had narrow squeaks down the years. But this was the narrowest. A shade too slim for my svelte frame to negotiate, the squeak proved squeaky as squeaky could legally be.
   The bookcase went to its doom with a cosmic sense of finality.
   Truly, I have no more room for bookcases. And this means no more books. The old lie, trotted out one last time.
   With bookcases rearranged, I contemplated the ancient sport: clearing a shelf of books. And by that, I mean reading those two books on that shelf. Then that shelf is classed as done. Cleared.
   I gaze at the shelves to my left. On the nearest shelf, two books go unread. Ahead of me, three books, part of a set, sit lost and unloved. And so it goes. If I manage to read a book a week, I’ll be happy.

*

As this blog goes out, one month down, I’ve read two books a week.
   Inevitably, after writing this blog, before posting this blog, I bought one last last last last last LAST lastest of the last bookcase. A small one, that fits just in there. I measured, in advance.
   No more bookcases.


Sunday, 1 January 2017

THE OLD ARCHIVE GAME :A REPORT FROM A FUGITIVE.

It's the first day of a new year, and the archive is four hours from being updated on the cloud.
   That archive is already here on this computer. It's on that external hard drive. I may copy the archive over to yonder dusty laptop lurking behind the main computer.
   Earlier, smaller, archived years sit safe in a fire-resistant safe.
   My published works are all archived on Amazon, where they are for sale.

*

Yes, the best form of archiving for an author is still PUBLICATION.

*

Lessons learned in previous years allowed me to archive with ease this year. No mess, very little fuss, and hardly any blood on the carpet.
   The only problem is...the next archive. Starting afresh, and dropping all the new folders into another new folder. I prepared for that task long ago...
   It's a paste job.
   And yet...each year brings change. Old familiar folders for regular contacts just curl up and flake away in the wind when companies go out of business, say.
   Contacts ebb and flow. A few folders go up automatically. Those people will get to me sooner or later. Some contacts fall into the sketchier category, though.
   May turn up.
   No need to create a folder until that happens. Mentally, you replay a scene from Amélie. This is right at the start of the movie...
   There, in an apartment on the Avenue Trudaine, we see a sad man erase an address from his book of friends. Death creates gaps, of course. But other events take people out of the archives.

*

In ancient times, I'd spend the first day of the year archiving.
   Then things grew more complicated, and I'd check more thoroughly. Days passed. A week went by. I wondered if I'd have the previous year's archive in a fit state come the end of January.
   It isn't about losing data. No. The problem is accidental duplication of data. With slight variation following, to add to the fun. Luckily, I keep that to a minimum now.
   As far as I know.

*

Another year, and another archive put to bed. With large chunks of the archive transferred to the new year's fresh folder, the job is marked off.
   Save your files. And try to avoid mismanagement of those saved files. Write stories. Publish them. Data is robust. And data is fragile. Discuss all you like. But save the discussion in several different places.


Friday, 30 December 2016

TOXIC TEARS AND A VAMPIRE'S HALLOWE'EN: A REPORT FROM A FUGITIVE.

Amazon is always changing, and backstage that publishing bookshelf had a makeover or three. Some of the alterations look like change for the sake of change, and I'll leave my acidic commentary at that.
   On a related note, the Amazon widgets ceased being widgety and I'll have to work out an alternative plan involving string, glue, and wishful fucking thinking to tidy the blog.

*

This year kept me busy in all the wrong sorts of ways. I had a complex writing project on the go, until it fell at the last hurdle.
   By that, I mean the book vaulted that last hurdle, chinned itself on a passing bluebottle, and keeled over.
   I left entrails in the trails.
   Dust was bitten. Mightily.
   Then I had a new task. Reviving the lost project, and sewing the bits and missing pieces together. I'll get there.
   In the meantime...

As the model on this cover for A VAMPIRE'S HALLOWE'EN would say, every day is Hallowe'en.






I managed to scribble a quick vampire story, featuring TOXIC TEARS as the cover model yet again. If she's not careful, she'll start to build a reputation as a vampire, or Goth, or who knows what.
   Frankly, I'm as surprised as you are. It'll be The Sisters of Mercy at dawn, next. If there is a dawn.
   As I type this, dawn was well-delayed by the thickest cloud-cover I've seen in many a canty day. The day is far from canty now.
   It's sobering to see security lights guiding me down the path on my dusk-like trek to the bin.
   I expect sunset within the hour, with noon to follow not long after.

*

And so, I end the year on a rapid publishing stint. It wasn't my intention to publish this vampire story at Hallowe'en. Rather, I wanted to write it then, for atmosphere, and publish when I could.
   For reasons of the plot, it was important to note sunrise and sunset as Hallowe'en loomed. These events are vital to vampires, and their chroniclers.
   Things stand in your way, and it takes an age to scramble around them. But the effort is always worth it. I have to say that. No one else will.
   And that's the point of self-publishing. You clean the pots and pans and make the plots and plans all by yourself.
   My first plan was to write a vampire story at Hallowe'en, and my second plan was to publish by year's end. Job done.


Now, back to the matter of reviving and completing the book that fell apart through no fault of my own. Every year is busy. I see 2017 being that bit busier.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

NANOWRIMO: A REPORT FROM A FUGITIVE.

I see the internet awash with articles on how to handle the dreaded NaNoWriMo. One more piece can't hurt. Add this one to the pile.
   (World spins off axis.)


*

National Novel Writing Month.
   Once that spread to the internet, it became more of an awkward intergalactic affair.
   Argue over the length of a novel as much as you like. The event's official word-count is 50,000. We'll label a narrative of that size as a very long short story.
   Month? As months go, November is in a leaner calendar bracket.
   That leaves writing.
   So. You want to participate in International Very Long Short Story Writing Thirty-Day-Stint.
   InVeLoShStWrThDaSt.
   It's in the Highlands.


*

How should you prepare for the terror of writing 50,000 words in a month?
   Plot? Characterisation? Setting? Drama? Conflict? Genre? Perspective? And so on.
   I can't help you with those things. You write your story. Those plot choices are yours to make. That's a technical thing.
   But I can scribble about writing a set amount of words inside a time-limit with a starting-date and a finishing-date. So I will.


*

I cleared a few hurdles, and gave myself the task of writing a vampire story by Hallowe'en. The earliest date I could manage this was on the 26th of October.
   Six days and nights.
   The story was in my FICTION FACTORY lineup. When I write one of those tales, I stick to a formula.
   There's a teaser of around 1,000 words. Then I write three chapters of 10,000 words apiece. (I'll follow up later with 1,000 words or so, in a section of notes on creating the tale.)
   The bare minimum for the story side of things is 30,000 words. And I had six days to write this vampire tale. I wanted to stay true to the timing of the piece...
   So I paid attention to sunrise and sunset at this time of year. This is important to the vampires, after all.
   That's the background to the creation of the tale. How did I do?


*

With an eye on giving NaNoWriMo advice, I kept notes on the daily word-count.

October the 26th.

I began abysmally.
   Much of it stayed in my head on that first day. I worked out who the main characters were, how the setting played into the tale, and a few twists and turns I had in mind. The story existed. But the typing of it remained slow.
   I opened with the idea of a vampire having an adventure leading up to Hallowe'en.
   The story started with the vampire angry at her assistant for arranging a meeting to join a team of vampire hunters. Straight away, I had a character in trouble. She was forced to deal with this calamity.
   That first day, the goal was to write the teaser: at least 1,000 words. With that done, I'd start work on chapter one. I felt I'd barely made it, by day's end. But I exceeded the goal.
   Word-count: 1,877.

That felt grim. So slow. But I created a solid foundation for the rest of the story to stand on. There were six bullets in my revolver. I'd fired off day one, and hit the target.

October the 27th.

With the start set down, I moved into the minefield of the first chapter. This felt like another slow day, and I feared I'd not type enough each day to finish the story on Hallowe'en.
   I managed a bit of major scene-shifting, and kicked the story off the ground. The goal was to do a chapter in 10,000 words. Firing on all cylinders, I could do that in a day.
   The cylinders didn't fire. Anything under 5,000 words = a slow day. This was a slow day. I wrote a third of a chapter, and the story made its own supernatural kind of sense at the end of the session. At least I had that to go on.
   Word-count: 3,570.

October the 28th.

Crunch-time. I had to demolish chapter one, or I'd lose a lot of sleep extending my nights, burning the writing candle at three ends, living off coffee.
   Luckily, I demolished chapter one and carried a little bit of writing over into chapter two before I felt wrecked that day.
   Word-count: 8,011.

October the 29th.

With around 1,000 words of chapter two under my belt, I'd taken the sting off the challenge for this day. I wanted to write 10,000 words in a day, and kill off chapter two.
   The story still made its own crazy level of supernatural sense. I keeled over at the end of this day, finishing the chapter.
   Job done. I'd written just shy of 10,000 words. But, adding the 1,000 from the day before, I'd finished the chapter at the right length. Couldn't go any further.
   Word-count: 9,843.

October the 30th.

Just missing 10,000 the day before, bringing the writing to a definite conclusion with the last of chapter two, I was determined to write 10,000 words on this day.
   It was Sunday. Last Sunday in the month of October. According to the formula, the clocks went back an hour. Magically, I had an extra hour.
   Also, I woke far earlier than usual on a Sunday and just started writing away...
   The goal was to write 10,000 words and finish chapter three. End the story there. That night, I stopped writing just shy of the end. With one more scene to go, I was too tired to write it, and knew when to call a halt.
   Word-count: 10,656.

October the 31st.

I planned to write 1,000 words to lead through the finish. Maybe 2,000 words, at most. This felt like a slow day, as I just couldn't close in on the end of the story.
   It's not a jigsaw puzzle, at the very end, when you are close to the planned word-limit, with time against you. Puzzle pieces fall into place easily, when completing a jigsaw.
   This was surgery. Procedure after procedure, to get the job done AND keep the patient alive while doing all those final vital stitches.
   Word-count: 5,361.


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Observations.
   Drawn as a daily graph, my word-count starts small, shoots up like a rocket, then tails off as I reach the final goal. The story was written by Hallowe'en, with a guaranteed minimum of 30,000 words. Success.
   If you add those numbers, you tally to 37,441. But the final story was 40,000 long. After I recorded the daily figures at night, I'd start each day with a refresher - going over the last thing I'd written.
   And, from notes, I'd remember a thing I had to throw in. So I'd bolt a paragraph or two on, in a scene. (Hence the discrepancy.)
   What's important here?
   That you write. Doesn't matter if the day felt slow and you didn't get much done. That small piece of writing could be the vital part that allows you to rattle ahead next day.
   Aside from a refresher next morning, I didn't look back in any great way. Word-count meets deadline. You'll have time to read it later LATER.
   Don't tangle yourself in story problems. Get typing. With the story fresh in my head each day, I remembered the big picture and plenty of minor details to see me through the new chapters.
   If I genuinely had to trudge back to a scene, really had no other choice, I recalled a word I'd used there. Then I searched the document for that word. Zap. There I was, taken back by the technology. A glance at the text, ideas bubbling, and I was instantly back at the blank page typing away again.
   Don't stop to read the whole thing.
   But do stop for coffee.


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Prepare. You are at a cabin in the woods, and supplies are sitting handy. Household duties are clustered together for convenience. Avoid exhausting yourself at the typeface - take breaks.
   Make coffee and put the bins out in the street. Come indoors and drink the coffee. Never leave the computer without saving the file. But do leave the computer.
   For those of you faced with interruptions, interrupt the interruptions and tell the frivolous, the inconvenient, the distracting, well in advance, to fuck the fuck off and leave you to your writing.
   Deal with essential e-mails only. Do that by banning the concept of e-mails.
   When I returned to Twitter and answered ancient Tweets, one Tweep deduced that I'd either finished a writing project or gulped too much coffee.
   You can't drink too much coffee. Ancient Tweets are Tweets from more than three days ago.
   Yes. Prepare. I don't mean in a writerly way. Domestically. There are no other projects to deal with. If a shelf needs putting up, it can wait. There's space on the floor for the things on that shelf.


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Don't obsess over the word-count. As long as I averaged 5,000 words a day, I'd make the deadline. I didn't fuss about that average, though. After two slow days, the pace picked up.
   I thought about chapter one making sense. It did make vampiric sense. And I thought the same about chapter two. With those two milestones doing okay, it was difficult to mess up chapter three.
   Yes, thinking about the word-count is part of the deal. Thinking about how the plot is going - that's important, too. But don't stop typing. Keep typing.
   You can stop for research. But not for long. I couldn't remember the name of a chemical. It had a specific purpose, and a very precise role in the story.
   I stopped to search the internet for a few terms, and looked for a video on the main subject. Within minutes, I'd found a video that named the chemical.
   The video showed the process. I sped through the video, found it informative, took what I needed from that, and moved the fuck on. Back to it.
   Always back to it. I left Twitter dangling over a cliff, cancelled meetings with people, earmarked documentaries for later viewing, rose earlier, stayed up later, and arranged meals in the least time possible.
   Ow. I ached from typing. That was with frequent mini-breaks. I'd rest, walk away, get back to it, stop for food, type some more, remember to leave the room to empty my bladder...
   At day's end, I'd decide when the day ended. Could I go on, and push a bit more? Yes. Or no. Know when to quit in the short-term. Sleep is important, so I hear.
   But in the long-term, no, don't quit. If you are watching your words, you must write 1,666 a day, every day, for the whole of November.
   Save yourself some grief. Write 2,000 a day. Allow yourself a sedate typing-speed of 30 words per minute, giving you time to think over what you are writing, and write for half an hour. Now you've done 900 words.
   Grab a coffee and write for another half an hour. You are up to 1,800 words. Go for another ten minutes and knock out 300 more. You've done your 2,000 that day, and you are a little bit over.
   What did you spend? You toiled for 90 minutes - including computer set-up time, coffee, a toilet-break, setting up the next meal, and putting the bins out in the street.
   Can't devote that amount of time each day? Wake earlier. Catch up on your TV shows another time.


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Life gets in the way.
   Deal with emergencies first. I had a quiet old time of it when I wrote for six days. You might not be so lucky.
   If you don't make your 50,000 in November, finish what you started by scribbling more in December. I wrote 40,000 in six days. You can manage 50,000 in a month. And if you can't, you can manage 50,000 in a month and a little bit over.
   My FICTION FACTORY stories have a lower threshold of 30,000 and an upper barrier of 50,000. If I'd wanted to take that story from 40,000 to 50,000, I could have written like a maniac for another day and done the whole 50,000 in a week...
   That's encouragement, not discouragement.


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Have I rambled? Yes. I had a deadline. Write at least 1,500 words for this blog, on the 1st of November. Job done. Editing is an entirely different job. It's not your job to do that entirely different job while you're writing like a maniac.
   If you found the time to read this in November, any November, you can make the time to type. Stop reading. Start typing.


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I blogged 2,000 words today. What was your word-count?