Dear Writer Girl - Season 1: Writing The New Novel, Week 2, Sessions 4-6
Feb 25, 2022
NOTE: I began my new novel, Novel 4 [as-yet-officially-titled,-but-I-have-the-name-in-my-head], on January 4th, 2022. I began keeping a record of the process on my Instagram account [leone.ross] and replIcating on Twitter. But it occurs to me that this little blog and this website has been neglected far too long, so I am going to put it here as well - makes it easier to provide a link, apart from anything else.
Some Session reports are very short, as this first one, here. They get longer, but I don't think they will ever be really THAT long, so don't expect a book. :-)
Over the last few months I have posted twice for each writing session - to get me going, a morning check-in, and then a round-up at the end of the day.
I do this to please myself, to keep myself going, and just in case this is useful or interesting or edifying for other writers and readers. There will be pictures of me, a lot of the time, which helps me in ways I won't bore you with here. :-)
Enjoy, come back, share, comment. Or don't. :-) Don't troll - Karma will fuck with you and I will just shrug,
Thanks for passing by.
SESSION 4 - Jan 12th, 2022
[Alt text: lasagna lunch with a green smoothie]
SESSION 4: MORNING CHECK-IN
A perimenopausal, chest-infected night meant I finally got up and cleaned house and watched Chicago PD and so today’s start will be very late. But I am at my writing space, I have answered urgent email and am feeding myself before intending a 1.45 start.
Reflections on Week 1
1/ I am afraid
2/ I am afraid
3/ Of what, exactly?? Of not being able to do it again. Of doing it badly. Of not being able to do it in a year. Of regretting going full time and ending up in the gutter as publishers reject me. Of never ever writing a beautiful or effective sentence again because I have literally run out.
4/ I am aware that I do not wish to plot. At all. Contrary to some readers’ opinions, I do plot. If anything, I over-plot. I feel resistant to story. All I wanna do is describe a place and a series of people and then stop. I think I over-plot because I feel guilty about not wanting to plot.
5/ I may have to get over all this fear by pretending the novel is like ten short stories (which don’t scare me at all) and just write them.
6/ Given my personality, the beginning is all emotional self-care. But also: writing. It’s the only answer. Pen. Paper. Turn up. Do it. Do it.
7/ Pissed as hell to find out my protagonist is a woman. I prefer male protagonists for novels. But here she is: six foot three, Black as fuck, Sweetie Come-Brush-Me. That’s all I’ll say for now.
[Alt text: shot of Leone's legs in red and black striped tights and a grey frock; pic 2: a red chunky necklace and red rose earrings on a table]
SESSION 4: EVENING ROUNDUP I think the kitties know it was a bad day. Sure, I did stuff, but I sure do feel disconnected and uninspired. I also think that’s OK. Writing a book is like making friends in complicated circumstances, so I remind myself it takes time, and I count the things I did do. I also wonder about doing these little ramblings - and giving away too much! I suddenly am worried if I talk too much about theme or content y’all gonna be bored as hell when I finally publish the damn thing… Having said that…
Things I did: 1/ Warm up exercise - a list of things my character loves 2/ Researched - how carnivals work, weird food and fashion. Gonna be some FROCKS up in heah (maybe) 3/wrote a list of things than can go wrong with/for people - looking for narrative tension 4/ Pondering POV - whose head will I be in and is Sweetie the protagonist or the antagonist? 5/ thought a bit more about Sweetie’s background. Man, she does not trust women. 6/ Copied out more of Cane by Jean Toomer
Writing? Zero words 😂 Oh well. Tights were good. Today’s outfit theme was ‘accessories I love’ and I love red jewellery ❤️
SESSION 5 - Jan 13th, 2022
[Alt text:4 items on a table - cold bottled coffee, a small box of blueberries, yoghurt and a notebook with Frida Kahlo on the front]
SESSION 5: MORNING CHECK-IN
Some of writing is calming down and trusting, and neither state of mind comes easy to me. Some of writing is mischief and defiance and play, as several of you have pointed out. The heart of it is not giving a fuck what other people think, and expressing what you absolutely know to be true. Personal propaganda. But not giving an entire fuck can tip into self indulgence if taken too far - one is actually trying to be utterly authentic and brave while simultaneously trying to seduce others. Last night’s swim session was my first in about a year, and with the tail-end of a chest infection it hurt like HELL. But it left me happy. Writing’s like that.
[Alt text: pic 1: Leone waist up, smiling, in different shades of pink and curly hair; pic 2: Leone waist down showing hot pink frock and bubblegum pink tights]
SESSION 5: EVENING ROUNDUP A little happier. I am a bit of a solitary babe, but I do write with a partner when I can. We occasionally stop to chat (I try to stop yakking) and buy each other hot drinks. She’s very good at shutting up. And has been very patient with me these past few days as I clutch pearls, bosom, tummy etc in distress. We think this: -that writing as a career, a full time job, is new and scary and we have much to learn about doing that; -that I have only written 3 novels after all, and 40+ short stories, so surely I would feel more confident about that form; -that the internal judge is a BEAST when it tortures you in the voice of future reviews: ‘Ross is an earnest writer, but in the end, this fourth novel may prove that she needs decades to produce something good…’; - that you just have to keep creeping up on yourself… Things I did: ⭐️Warmed up with a list of made-up name places including Rainbow Bar where unicorns go to get drunk and The Memory Palace where people go to expunge exes; ⭐️Thought more about the central theme - yep, it’s still right but I still have noooo STORY; ⭐️Considered character motivation; created two new characters. Gordita and Lolo. Maybe they will make it through. ☺️ ⭐️ Went to my back catalogue and wrote down what all my stories and novels are about and where I got their ideas from/how they evolved. Mostly it’s wanting to explore a feeling or bouncing off an image. The image thing is KEY. ⭐️Copied out bits of Jean Toomer, Sherwood Anderson and Keith Ridgway - his ‘A Shock’ is amazing ⭐️ Wrote a list of fantastical stalls at a fairground ⭐️ Wrote a new scene so raggedy it needs shelter; decided another scene will be based on a real experience - and maybe be the first scene of the book SO I WROTE: 1,426 new and ugly words that didn’t exist before Session 5 OUTFIT THEME: ‘Pretty In Pink.’: frock, cardigan, jewellery, tights, sneaks, undies, all pink. Hair: by the Swimming Pool
SESSION 6 - Jan 14th, 2022
[Alt text: a box of 4 pics of Leone in various poses wearing a very bright, cowl-necked sweater - in 3, the cowl is pulled half way up her face with various expressions - dread, thoughtfulness, happiness. Pic 4 her face is bare and hair messy, and she looks smug]
JUST AN EVENING ROUNDUP A longish one to end the writing week. A story of ills with a good ending.
So you know one of those days? When you warn your beloveds to keep away because all around you is fuckery? Wan a dem bad vibes days? I woke up late and mashed. I headed to the hospital for a chest X-ray where I variously: bent my glasses, knocked out a glasses lens; snapped my mask and wouldn’t be let in (quite right) until I had one; ripped my bra; was crashed into by a fucker who just left me there open-mouthed after spraying my smoothie across the hospital floor; my card was declined twice before it was accepted; and no my period wasn’t over in that perimenopausal play witchoo kinda way. I tried to be positive, o readers. I did the X-ray (20 secs). I got the busted glasses fixed (free) and bought cherries & strawberries in the local market. But by the time I got to my writing spot, it was LATE. On the bus I became aware of that concrete-in-the-bones, head stuffed with cotton, deep achiness of a fibro flare. I thought: go home and read in bed, bitch. You can’t do this. That fatigue is not sleepiness. It’s hell. I did not go home. I did this: 🌟read more Keith Ridgeway - a master class in changing registers ⭐️did a warm up exercise list of things that can go wrong with a character 🌟wanted to cry over the flare up, ate lunch instead ✨ shifted into handwritten copy exercise level 2: wrote out a sentence of Toomer, then re-wrote it in my voice (he describes the weather with a verb+noun, I describe the weather with my own verb+noun). ⭐️ Got so I found a flow. Single sentences become paragraphs. I began to SEE things. Feel characters. 🌟SLAM ON THEHEADPHONES AND TYPE IN 1,782 NEW FUCKED UP GLORIOUS WORDS. ✨Dance in empty cafe. When I enter the flow it is always like ferocity. Like preening. Like I’m a lion. Purring. It’s always sensual energy. And now I’m actually going swimming, at 9pm. I can feel you, Sweetie. Your hand on the wheel…I begin to see where you are.
[This is how I look when I'm high on writing...]
[Alt text: single pic, Leone in red lippy, very windswept black and blonde streaked hair, totally feeling herself]