Sunday, 2 October 2011


Hello, my lovelies - I hope you all had a nice weekend? I did. And certainly a productive one.

On Saturday, after I'd done my normal household chores and shopping, I sat down with my notebook and produced a detailed, six page outline, with bullet points, for the scenes I wanted to start on Sunday. The scenes I've been referring to on Twitter as The Big Fat Final Scenes (well, it goes nicely with Big Secret Project, right?).

I did this because I had SO much going on in these final scenes and there were so many ways things could play out, that I really wanted to nail the choices down and block it all out before I started work for real. That way, instead of staring at a blank page and being faced with a million things to decide, I could launch right into the action. Some writers do this with note cards or Post-Its or with clever graphs, but generally when I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed I find the best thing to do is scribble until I feel better.

Which I duly did.

Sunday rolled around, and despite oversleeping and therefore getting up with a headache, I was in my Writing Cave and ready to begin work shortly before nine o'clock. I hoped, with determined optimism, to get about ten handwritten pages completed, which would translate (normally) to something like two thousand words when typed up. A nice chunk of pages that would get me right into the action.

I popped in my favourite Big Secret Project writing playlist (you can find it here) and started writing.
Then I wrote some more.

And... a bit more.

My hand started to really hurt. I stopped, ran it under cold water, and then warm, and then cold again. Then I went back to my notebook.

I noticed that my clock said it was lunchtime. After stretching my hand again and wondering why it was hurting so much, I counted the pages I'd written that morning.

It was twenty-one.

Hmmm. That was quite a lot. Around twice what I'd expected to write the whole day. Things were going well. I went off thoughtfully to have some lunch, walk the dog and apply a cooling gel strip to my hand.

When I came back, I went onto Twitter and asked for opinions. I had written twice as much that morning as I expected to. The Muses, who, being capricious and contrary, often make one of their rare visits when a person is already in their Writing Cave scribbling their brains out, seemed to be in my corner. It was possible - JUST possible - that if I kept on like this, I might be able to actually finish my handwritten draft today.

This. Actual. Day.

On the other hand, my first handwritten draft doesn't really count because I still have to type everything up later and revise and re-write and polish it. And my arm and fingers were very sore. And I usually spend the afternoons typing my morning's notes up so that I can get a fresh start the NEXT morning. So...what did everyone think? Should I push on and go for it? Or stop now and start typing up and re-writing?

The vote was unanimous. Push on.

Notebook open again. Fresh pen, since the old one was getting a bit faint and scratchy. Music on. Write.

And write.

And write.

I got to an emotional bit, and started crying. I wrote through the tears.

The tears eventually dried up.

Finally, the words THE END escaped from my pen.

I was looking at the first, very tough, handwritten draft of Book One of Big Secret Project. The book so big and secret that I can't even tell you about it yet.

I still have to do a lot of work on this manuscript. Not just the typing and revising and polishing, but then printing it out, leaving it for a minimum of two weeks, re-reading it and revising and polishing again.

But all the same.

Today, I wrote forty handwritten pages - roughly (it may prove to be slightly more or less, typed up) eight thousand words. Today, I strained my hand and carried on writing even when it hurt so badly I could hardly hold the pen. Today I dripped tears all over everything and swiped them off and kept the words coming. Most of all, today I was happy. Completely and totally happy, joyous and free and in my element in a way that it's almost impossible to explain to anyone who doesn't have something they're passionate about (whether that's writing or reading or painting or singing or baking or running or doing their make-up or making sculptures out of discarded plastic picnic forks) in their life.

This is what being a writer is all about. These enchanted moments when everything goes wrong but it doesn't matter because you want to write more than anything, and you do.

And here, just for kicks, are a couple of shots of the two notebooks that I have filled up writing Book One of Big Secret Project, and in which the enchanted words THE END are scribbled out in blue pen - one of the most beautiful sights a writer can ever see.

And now... onto Book Two. *Grins*


Sarah Pearson said...

Congratulations. That feeling when it's all going right is like the best drug in the world :-)

Zoë Marriott said...

Sarah: Yep! I wouldn't swap it for anything :)

Jenni (Juniper's Jungle) said...

This is so awesome! Congratulations :)

Zoë Marriott said...

Thanks, Jenni. Now I've just got to get this scribble typed up and into some kind of order. Easier said than done!

Aimen said...

OMG!! I am so excited for you. *chucks confetti around* I'm still at that point in my writing life where I have yet to finish a first draft so I'm in awe of anyone who manages to do that.

Congratulations!!! I'm so proud of you ^_____^

Zoë Marriott said...

Aimen: Your day will come, don't worry. And then I'll be flinging confetti for you :)

Megha said...

Oh my gosh! CONGRATS ZOE!

I was soooo happy to read this post. You lucky duck! =D

Zoë Marriott said...

Thanks, Megha! I just hope my example makes you all want to get your own pens scribbling.

Megha said...

I wish, but it's the old thing again - no inspiration. Also High School is like - BOOM! It's been a really busy start and we're getting a lot of homework and everything so I've hardly got time to do anything WORTHWHILE because somehow the time flies when I'm doing procrastinating from doing my homework. :-(

I might start sitting in the school library and writing, but you know how fun it is to hang out with your friends...

Zoë Marriott said...

Megha: When you have a story that really inspires you, you'll find the time to write. It's like you can always find the time to watch that amazing TV show, or sneak a bite of a chocolate bar, or whatever - you love those things, you almost can't stop yourself doing them. So don't worry about it for now. We can't all have a story we're passionate about all the time. The universe would probably explode :)

AmieSalmonYAWriter said...

Yay, I love that feeling, one of the best in the world.
I am so happy for you, exciting times ahead and I can't wait for you to share it =]

whispering words said...

wow, seeing your note books all pretty and filled up makes me feel really inspired... *sigh, I hope one day soon I too will have lovey notebooks filled up with a story.
Big congrats on finishing!:) How's your hand feeling?

Isabel said...

YES!! This made me so happy -- congratulations, Zoe!!! XD This, I can imagine, is what being a writer is all about. It's what makes it worth it!

Also, do you always hand-write your books first?? I never knew that...

P.S. I've never really cried over something I've written before, which upsets me. I'm sure I eventually will, though. And since I still haven't finished a book yet, there's no telling whether I might not cry my eyes out at the ending. ;)

Zoë Marriott said...

Amie: Thanks! I still have a tiny bit of a buzz - and I'm very glad I get to share that with you guys, since IRL no one understands why its a big deal at all!

Whispering: Hand's pretty much back to normal now, thankfully. Which is good, as I need to get to work on the next book...

Isabel: I usually scribble out a rough draft first and then type it up, yes. I do it bit by bit - normally once I get to 10 handwritten pages, I stop and type up. It gives me an extra drafting and experimenting stage that I find really helps. Once something's there on the computer screen in black and white it's somehow a lot harder to mess around with, radically change or delete it. I've tried to eliminate this stage before, and draft at the computer, but it just leads to much more messing around later.

Don't worry if you don't get teary when you're writing, Isabel. I know some wonderful writers who don't react to their own work that way. It's a quirk that I have, and some writers have, but it doesn't mean that you're not able to write scenes every bit as intense and emotional as anyone else's. OK? :)

Rebecca Lindsay said...

Oh my god!! There's a book two? Is it a sequal? A trilogy? A series?
Congrats on getting your first draft finished! :)

Zoë Marriott said...

Rebecca: He he he! Yes, it's a proposed trilogy :)

Rebecca Lindsay said...

Ace! :D

A.J. Mullarky said...

I'm so happy for you!
Also yay for both of us winning copies of Daughter of Smoke and Bone! I can't wait to read it!

Zoë Marriott said...

Alex: I know - I could hardly believe it was both of us! How lucky is THAT?

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