Flotsam and Jetsam

It’s been a little while since I posted last. In that time I’ve wallowed in a new story idea and I’ve completed another draft of Restless, which is now off with crit partners. This means I’ve got a bit of time on my hands, and it’s time to start making decisions about the Sea Story. I have my characters, my plot and my setting, but there is still one element I haven’t quite figured out. To me, it’s the most important part: Atmosphere.

All writers face the question, “Where do you get your ideas?” It’s a hard question to answer, because as far as I can tell, ideas are the flotsam and jetsam of the mind. They are the waste product after all your experiences, all the things you see and hear each day, have been sorted and cataloged in your brain. They are the mulch of our lives.

There are so many ways I could answer that question, but there is one answer I think would confuse people. I get my ideas from video games.

Not the core ideas, mind you. Not the plot or character or setting. But the most important part: Atmosphere.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I can’t start a story until I have the atmosphere down. The few times I’ve tried, I’ve lost interest in the story pretty quick. But honestly, I never knew this about myself until I discovered video games, or one video game in particular.

Now, I know I won’t be able to convince you to play the game itself, but here’s a sample of the music:

True, I could probably just listen to some music, but there is something so immersive about video games. In a way it’s like my post on wallowing. For a few hours, or a few days, you can get lost in this other world.

The game above was how I landed on the atmosphere for Restless. The video game I will be playing this weekend, and which I hope will help me nail down the atmosphere for the Sea Story, is called Heavy Rain. I think you can hear why:

And once I have my atmosphere, there will be nothing left but… to write!

I’m excited and nervous and I’m trying not to think of how long it will take me to write another book. A book is such a huge commitment. You really need to be sure. You have to know it’s the story you can live with for the next year or more. And the great thing? I’m certain. I’ve been unsure with other stories,  but not this one. THIS is the book I’m meant to write.

I just hope I can do it well.

P.S. For the curious among you, Flotsam and Jetsam are different kinds of shipwreck. I think that’s kind of apt, don’t you?

Flotsam and Jetsam

Six Things on a Saturday

I have a whole bunch of random things I want to write about today, and was struggling to find a unifying title… Hence the Six Things. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

1. Restless

So I realized a few days ago that my story will not be 70,000 words. 70k was a bit of an arbitrary number to begin with – it seems to be the mid-point in length of the YA novels I read. My first book ended up around 80k. I’m thinking this one will be closer to 60k. Maybe 65k. This means something rather significant: I’m really almost completely done with this revision. “Huh?” I hear you say. “But the last time you posted you were at 40k.”

Well… After a banner week I’m current at… drumroll, please…


54000 / 60000 words. 90% done!


Crazy, huh? This draft could be out to my critique partners in just a couple of weeks (eek!). If all goes well I will finish the draft this week/end and will spend next weekend reading through it from beginning to end. Then I’ll send it off to my readers!

2. New Story

Whenever I get to this stage in the process I start thinking about the next story I’m going to write. I think I’m a little terrified of not writing, and I think it probably helps the critique/query process if I’m immersed in another project. In theory I won’t take things so hard if I have something else on the table. So, as I’ve mentioned, I have a few ideas on the table and who knows what I’ll end up writing, but one in particular has caught my fancy. It has something to do with this picture:

TSW Inspiration Photo

TSW is the acronym for the (possibly temporary) title.

I like having images associated with a story idea in my office. Atmosphere and setting are two of the most important elements of story to me, and it helps to glance at a photo and be immediately drawn into the world of my novel. With Tiger Eye I used a poster and just glued pictures printed on normal paper to it, but it hasn’t really stood the test of time. With Restless I pinned pictures to a corkboard, but that meant I wasn’t able to use the corkboard for anything else, which was frustrating. So this time, I’ve decided to try something different: Photo frames. I bought a bunch of frames and picked out some inspiration photos from our trip, like the one above. As soon as we get the go-ahead from the real estate agent to put nails in the walls, I’ll hang them and have my own frame collage. I’ll probably swap out the pictures every time I start a new story. I think it’s probably the prettiest solution to my problem :).

Photo frames, without pictures

3. Whiteboard

For Christmas two of my brothers-in-law gave me an awesome notebook and a gift voucher to my favourite stationary store (they know me so well!). I used the gift voucher to buy a whiteboard and that, with the notebook, has totally revolutionized my writing process. I’ve always understood that my first ideas are rarely my best ones, but I don’t often give myself the time to explore all the options when approaching a scene. Now, thanks to these two totally awesome brainstorming tools, I always know I’ve picked the best idea I can come up with.

My brainstorming book
This is an action scene I was having trouble with. There is no actual bear in my story. Though that would be pretty cool. If implausible in the Blue Mountains.

4. Music

As a teen, music was everything to me. I listened to it all the time. I tried a bunch of different instruments and spent many hours performing or in music lessons. All my friends were musos and just as obsessed as me. When I moved to the city with my family though, all that went away. When the people around you aren’t big music people, listening to music can be sort of isolating. I really wanted to make friends. Around this time I also became more serious about my writing, and so the instruments I played grew dusty in their stands.

Lately I’ve realised how much I miss listening to music for fun (not just as a playlist for my writing) and making music myself. So I’ve made a deal with my husband. Every week I can buy one album, or a collection of individual songs of the same price. As well as that, I’ve dragged my guitar from under the spare bed and I’ve been fiddling away at it.

I’ll never be a professional musician. I’m not too fond of performing, or having people listening to me play. But I’m learning that not everything you do needs to have a larger goal attached. I may never be very good at playing music, but it makes me happy, so I’m going to keep doing it.

Here are two of the songs I bought this week:

5. Bagels

Bagels are our go-to breakfast food, so we decided to try our hand at making them ourselves. Here is the (delicious) result:


6. Old Posts

I finally got around to importing all my old posts from livejournal. Have a look around if you’re interested 🙂

I’m off to go write! Have a sunshiney weekend, friends – if not in weather, in mood.

Six Things on a Saturday