Writing log- September

notebooks-blog

If you hadn’t seen the reading log post for a while, I bet you don’t even remember when it was the last time I posted something about my writing progresses!

So I’d say it’s about time! This post was really overdue!

If I think this way, I realize that I managed to be a shame even as aspiring writer, other than as mum and generally speaking as human being!

I opened this blog mainly to speak about writing and not being able to write more often about writing seems a bit silly.

However, let’s see whether I’ll manage to avoid a too long rant and keep going with the update on my writing status!

If you thought I’m doing a big mess with books, reading my previous post, you can easily guess I’m doing the same with writing.

And you’d be right!

I have so many notebooks, pieces of paper, apps on writing, drives connected to my emails, files on my computer and laptop, that I really have a huge mess going on.

In other words, I don’t know what is where!

Despite that, in the attempt to give a tidy up of this endless sea of bytes and paper I narrowed down to four, at lease for the moment, the number of notebooks that I always have at hand.

Here you have them in the pictures!

From the left:

Orange notebook – In here I’m jotting down the elements of the new project, the urban fantasy about hunters. I’m putting notes of my researches, notes on the world building, notes about the plots and the characters.

Sheep notebook – In this one I’m trying to tidy up and give a more or less definitive form to the plots about my high fantasy world. Each plot is followed or is going to be followed by the list of characters, maps and main information about the world or the particular nation.

Gray notebook – It’s where I’m writing the actual book. A part from the fact that I had too many files on the computer, I realized that I couldn’t stay in front of the screen too long anymore. As I’m working in front of a computer now, I barely manage to update this blog, so in order to keep writing I’m using pen and paper…old style!

It seems that it’s working at the moment, let’s keep the fingers crossed!  

I’ll curse myself for sure when I’ll have to pass all the writing into the computer – eventually I’ll have to – but for the moment it’s important to move on!

Small notebook – As you might read on the cover, this one is the notebook where I write the ideas I have for the blog. I usually bring it with me at all the times, everywhere, so I won’t lose any idea anymore.

Of course this means that also weird dreams and ideas for my books are going in there, but at least I know where they are…at least for now.

Once these notebooks will be finished and I’ll have to start a new one, I wonder whether I’ll be able to find them a place in where I’ll always be able to find them or they’ll get lost as the previous ones.

It might seem that I treat them like I didn’t care, but it’s not so. I’m just messy.

So, aspiring writers out there, can you give me an advice on how to tidy up the mess or sort the situation?

How do you do?

How do you organize your writing?

How do you manage not to lose your stuff?

Please, please, please write to me in the comments below!

Those, at least, won’t get lost!

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Visiting the Amerigo Vespucci sailing ship!

One of my passions, a part from writing and fantasy, are ships and pirates!

Sometimes I think that an awful lot of my posts begin with “one of my passions”, and maybe this could be the reason why I find hard job to gather the time to second and nurture them…they’re simply too many.

I know I should concentrate on one at time, but it’s kind of difficult to me.

But that’s me, right? Unless I decide to change completely my brain and way of thinking, I guess I’ll have to figure out a way to do so!

Vespucci 2

So where was I? Oh yeah, Amerigo Vespucci is an 83 meters long sailing ship the marine cadets of Livorno use at the end of every first year of academy. They go on a 3 months training trip and, from what I learned, I can tell you that their training it’s pretty hard, both physically and mentally.

I saw it docked near my new office.

It’s not unusual seeing tall ships docked near there, as I work in the port area. For how big my passion is, however, I never managed to go and visit one. I only went close and watched the outside while rushing for work or home, but the crew wasn’t there.

This time around I found out they were organizing tours of the ship, but the visit times were exactly matching my working shift, lunch break included. It was so sad. The ship was leaving in a couple of days and once again I wouldn’t manage to visit it.

However, one of my colleagues that very day announced that in her partner’s office were organizing a guided tour for the Vespucci. If she wanted she could join with a couple of people more.

Needless to say that I secured a place with her, starting immediately my giggling spell that lasted the whole day! I must have looked like a frigging idiot! Or a lunatic, you pick! The truth was only one: this was a dream becoming true!

I was getting on board! I couldn’t believe it!!!

I know that I might seem a bit nut or weird, but to me, boarding, although for a few minutes, on a sailing ship was one of the best things I’ve ever done.

All my attention was concentrate on the ship and the bits and pieces that built up together form that marvel.

I barely noticed the officials, the cadets and the Capitan unless they were saying something interesting about the ship and its parts.

I asked this official, I actually don’t know the name of, many question about which one were the shrouds, details about the sails and speed in knots and the relation in between the two of them.

I found all these extremely fascinating and interesting.

Also I realized, with a pinch of sadness, that I made a huge mistake.

I don’t know if I told you already, the very first book I wrote was in Italian and it was about pirates – of course! – and ships. During the trip and the explanation on the Vespucci, I understood that some elements, crew number and basic navigation technique and details in my story were completely wrong.

I felt both bad and excited. Bad because, if I had the arrogance of editing and sending to an editor, I might have been mistaken for one cheater author who writes about specific stuff without having enough knowledge about it.

On the other hand, also I felt excited because I could confirm that I can learn more, that there are so many things I don’t know yet. 

It’s something really amazing.

Vespucci 3

Once again I want to thank so much Nicole and her partner for giving me this fantastic opportunity; and you, my dear readers, for reading until the end this post full of nonsense for any other person but me!

I hope, anyway, you will enjoy some of the pictures.

Do you have anything you like so much that makes you lose the control? That you love so much that you cannot regain the said control although you’re struggling hard in the attempt?

Let me know in the comments below!

And of course, in case you know any website where to read and learn all about ships and pirates, please, I beg you, write it here for me!

Vespucci 1

R as Research

Google research!

As I said yesterday, I’m trying to catch up with the challenge because I didn’t manage to follow it properly.

I have no clue if I’ll manage, but I’m counting on tomorrow’s break.

So, let’s go on!

This is another nice topic and, of course, one of my obsessions but, shush, don’t tell anybody or I’ll end up in a straight jacket in a jiffy!

I believe that for the research bit there was a part of my character that contributed drastically to the escalation from a mere time filler to a real “oh my gosh, I have to research otherwise will be the end of the world” status. The part of me that kindly contributed to this madness was my curiosity; the very same curiosity that brought me as a kid to stare at the plumber while working and to the point I could pass him the tools; or the very same that brought me to ask so many question to the dentist that not only I was involved in the vision and discussion to the x-rays but also had a fair idea of what was supposed to be done for the next visit or operation!

When I went to school my curiosity was actually focusing on the wrong things so I wasn’t that good. If only I put it into the right practice! But when I went to university it was a different story altogether!

Of course, you know already what was the real beginning of the mania: the essay on Dracula and vampires.

When I reached the moment I need to prepare my thesis for the graduation I kind of went wild. I was just sorry that the level of my Japanese wasn’t good enough to let me add up material.

Even my professor during the presentation of my work said that the real problem was to stop me writing!

I want to believe it was a sign!

The point is I didn’t use the whole amount of material I read and gathered but it was such a pleasure to read, research and find elements; once done that, it was marvelous putting all the pieces together and create a fantastic puzzle out of it!

This is what I hope it will happen with this book! And actually the others that I have planned already.

High fantasy is easier on this point of view, I think, as it requires a lot of creation and consistency but less research and study than an urban fantasy set in a real place and using elements of history, mythology and folklore.

There is a looooot to do and less time to do it…ok, I’m quoting, kind of.

To me, the problem with the research is managing to stop, because it becomes addictive. Or maybe it’s a way to delay what I’m doing…who knows.

The latter is a problem connected with my low self confidence. There is a part of me that keep telling I’ll never publish and I’ll never make it.

So this is maybe why I’m all so concentrating on the side bits of the writing.

But I’ll keep going, no worries!

So how about you?

Do you research a lot? You don’t research at all?

How do you organize?

Let me know in the comments below.

P as Planning

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I’ll recycle this picture of my faithful notebook!

P was supposed to be associated with Persefone, my other MC, but for the same reason I decided to change the letter M, here you have another topic.

P now stands for planning as it’s becoming fast a bit of obsession for me.

When I go and attend a workshop, I know already that the writer running it will tell us that every writer finds his or her own way of writing. Sooner or later they all say it!

I think they are absolutely right, but I also think that every writer should experiment different kind of organization before writing their book.

I tried both, not to plan at all and plan almost everything before deciding what was working for me!

The very first book I wrote – and I’m talking about drafts in this post as I haven’t published anything yet unfortunately- was written out of excitement after finishing Stephen King’s On Writing.

I didn’t plan, I got an idea and I started writing. This first book was about pirates and, a part for a few details and technical terms I researched on the go, I wrote without thinking much.

The pro was I wrote completely free of plans or rules, but, on the other hand, I had to reread a few pieces here and there and start taking notes of characters features or deeds as I didn’t remember what I wrote.

After attending my famous first workshop with Oisín McGann a few months later, I learned that I could try another method.

I could plan!

And the more I plan the more I want to, as I feel very comfortable in doing it. As Oisín told us, he plans because in doing so he has more control on the story itself and there is a bit less rewriting afterwards.

I totally agree with his style. Alright, you know that I basically agree with whatever he says, but it’s true, either I have a similar style –I wish actually I could be only half as good as he is- or it’s a nice coincidence!

Having tried both methods I can say that planning is my thing. The more I write and the more I want and I need to plan.

That’s maybe why it’s so difficult to start this new WIP. Because of the huge amount of research needed I haven’t had the time to plan properly.

But I’ll keep going as I love doing it, it relaxes me and hopefully sooner or later I’ll manage to reach my goal and my dream.

How about you?

Do you plan? Don’t you plan at all? Are you a bit in between?

Let me know in the comments below.

L as Lore

Vampire form India! Goole search!

Once again I’m in late and once again I don’t know whether I’ll manage to post two letters in order to catch up the posts.

Good thing is that today’s Friday, so in case I’ll need spare time, I’ll have Sunday that will help to restore balance…I hope.

Letter L is basically connected with the R, research, and constitute the base on which I’m building this book.

Once again the main problem is the time! I’m trying to squeeze everything in the spare moments I have during the day.

I believe that lore is a very interesting branch of research. I’d love to have more time and to know more already.

I think everything started in university, when I made a mistake in preparing the small assignment on Dracula. I ended up writing a short essay just on vampires across time and places.

I learned a lot about it and I finally found out two things: first that I’m curious in an obsessive-compulsive way; second that I love the subject.

As I mentioned already I’m going to learn and research something on Irish and Italian lore, because these are the two main countries where my WIP takes place.

I wish I could add more countries and more notions, but I fear that this could be the obsessive-compulsive dark side of me talking!

Because I knew already that both the research and the writing processes would be long, I thought at the beginning to use Supernatural information, just to have a basic story I could work on, once the research was complete.

There are also a few elements that I like, for example the dead man blood that works as poison for vampires.  

After a while though I realized that it was too weird, hence I decided to stop and maybe concentrate on blog writing instead and at the same time doing some research on my own.

The blog would aid me not to lose the habit of writing and the research will help to build the story itself.

I wish I had more time, as alas! I’m squeezing all these in my lunch breaks but as you know I haven’t much!

So, what do you think?

Most of all do you know any cool website about these topics I can read?

Any advice on how to spread my activities better?

J as Jotting down

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At the moment, one of my best friends is an orange notebook I bring almost everywhere with me! In there I’m jotting down all the information, ideas, notes about this WIP.

Actually I have a normal size folder at home too, but I needed something portable in order to brainstorm freely when I’m in a waiting room or on the train!

Even before writing on my orange notebook, I jotted down the first 10k words of the book, well what that hopefully will be the first book. But after the advice Oisín gave to me I decided that it was better a change of plan.

If at the beginning I was thinking to write scene by scene, swapping the POV, I understood that the better way of proceeding with this WIP was to write character by character’s story first and then try to create a final book, making a bit of jigsaw puzzle, placing here and there what I think better fits at a certain stage of the events.

As I was saying in my previous post, this WIP will take for ever even to see the first draft, but to be honest, I didn’t think about anything better.

It is weird, every single time I have to face a new book or a new story my way of working on it is quite different.

I have no clue whether this is due to experience or that the story being different brings me to different choices.

What is true this time as well as the others is that I jot down notes at all the times. But not only those specific to the book itself, but also to do’s lists or advices or quotes.

It seems that just scribbling something down makes myself more focused and calms what anxiety I might have.

You might say that now that the technology is so advanced, it might be better to use some apps or just a simple Word file.

Right you are! Problem is that I’ve tried once, or twice or even more. But I think that the main issue here is the fact that I’m one of the messier people alive.

As I lose the many notebooks I have, so I manage to lose files. I give them weird titles and I save them in different devices so sometimes is very difficult to get hold of them.

And as a matter of fact, I prefer paper.

My partner sometimes mocks me saying that I’m the most wanted person in Amazonia.

How about you? What do you prefer? File notes or jotting down and scribble on a piece of paper?

Let me know in the comments below.

H as Howth

 

Howth is a fascinating place on the sea 40 minutes from Dublin center. It is also the first place of Ireland my MC are going to see and visit in the book.

I’m not really sure why I’ve picked Howth as location for the very beginning, but it seemed perfect.

20150501_120454For a while I went there to buy fresh fish, and because it was always over an hour ride on the train from home, there was time to think.

The panorama along the railway is astonishing and, despite the fact that has become a touristy place, Howth saves some of that pure tranquil Irish country flavor that probably convinced me.

I’ve tried once to climb the promontory, dreaming to reach the lighthouse on the other side, but I didn’t manage to get even to the top of it. I’m really out of training.

However, the view and the environment, the crashing noise of the sea on the rocks below contribute to its eerie charm.

It was probably because all these mixed feelings and thoughts that I decided to use it as arrival area.

My MC had never moved from their hometown, let alone Italy. I just imagined what would I do if I were in their shoes. Foreign country, unknown language, and strangers all over telling them who they were and what to do.

I’d go insane, to be honest with you.20150501_122359

Writing for me it’s relaxing and also is a way to live another life every single time. This is probably why the characters I create bear a part of me. Through them I manage to be stronger or more adventurous. And putting these particular MC in said situation, is letting me live a great emotion!

And this is just the beginning!

I’ll leave you here with a few pictures I took when I went to Howth with my brother and my sister in law.

20150501_124359These pictures aren’t nice or not even artistic, but they’re portrait of some of the beginning scenes of my new WIP! I needed some visual support, so when I went there last time I start to take these weird photos, but my family is used to me, so they didn’t say anything!

How about you? Do you always use places you’ve seen already, or do you use something completely new for your stories?

If so, how do you manage to make the setting believable in your works?

Tell me your method in the comments below.20150501_145951