Posted in Artist in Residence, November 2013- Joe Hope, Writing

Specialisation is for Insects, Chapter 1 continued. Joe Hope

This month Joe Hope has been leading us on a journey into the world of writing.  He set himself the challenge of reading his sleeping novel and reworking chapter one.  Yesterday, he unveiled Chapter 1, Specialisation Is For Insects, which he has be working on this month as Artist Called Anyone in Residence.  If you missed yesterday then read part one first.  Otherwise read on and enjoy…

”Three and five years ago,” agreed Jade, leaning back now that they were going to get to the demonstration without having to go through a shouting match. This was the last university club to maintain his interest, but with the unusually large number of alumni who shared the same opinion and stayed on year after year, it did tend to have some rather rabid political cycles.

Simon snorted. ”I thought you were younger than me. Did you start here when you were thirteen?” His voice was brash. ”Tag along with your older brother or something?”

Jade shrugged, and glanced around the room. It was, now that he thought about it, extremely heavy on male representation. Bias from the content? Or positive feedback in a social identity sense? Visions of bistability hysteresis curves danced through his head idly, as he tried to imagine the group dynamic with a full gender reversal.

The Chair waved a hand dismissively. ”I remember when Jade joined. Thin young man, but he can’t have been quite so young as that.”

Jade shrugged again, and didn’t bother to correct him. ”Couldn’t wait to get started. Speaking of which – ”

Simon’s appraisal became a little sharper. ”Some kind of genius, then, are you?”

It was a tone that Jade knew well. Part compliment, part challenge. An assumption of hubris. He’d heard it throughout his life, and learned the art of the easy deflection. Thankfully, it came up less these days than during his first forays into college or university life, but there was still the occasional awkward pause to be found. It was a blessing that he looked older than he was, and also that people made less direct comparisons now that he was a graduate student.

Jade’s easy smile stayed. ”Let’s just say that I’m sure I’m not the smartest person in the room,” he replied after a small pause, spreading one hand. He turned a little to the Chair, silently willing him to get on with the agenda.

Simon laughed the loud chortle of the young. ”Well, if the books are anything to go by, I suppose this club ought to be full of red-headed polyamorous geniuses!”

Jade offhandedly indicated the redhead-poor room with one hand, while reaching into Sevent’s half-empty bag of recently-made fudge.

”Hope springs eternal.” The cherry vanilla cube popped into his mouth.

With a brackish clearing of his throat, the chair rumbled into action. ”Moving on,” he drawled, ”we’d appreciate your input on the extension skills planning night, Simon, but it’s past time we started on our second session.”

He tapped on his sleeve, and the wall lit up with a simple title slide: ’Protocol Programming’.

While nimbus management is something taught at high school, the majority of people get through their lives using little more than the standard group of interface items, each using one of a handful of standard software templates. Last month we explored both the underlying ideas behind the negotiations with our nimbus, and spent multiple sessions learning how to develop more customised code for fine-tuning the handshaking process. Today, we turn our attention to the side of that process that is usually the domain of professionals: the design of house protocols themselves.”

The chair gestured an invitation to Sevent, who had lifted his gaze during the introduction. ”We have invited our regular, ah, ’consultant’, Sevent Firth, to lead us.”

Sevent palmed two more huge cubes of fudge as he stood up. Without any visible triggering movement or voice command, a complicated rendered schematic of a network replaced the title slide on the wall. ”We interact with protocols every time we change locations, every time our nimbus changes state, and even every time we send or receive data. More than simply a hierarchy of filters and permissions management for data, they can be used to inject or edit active code. These abilities are why nimbus programming is so full of nested sandboxes – with great power and flexibility come serious security concerns.”

Sevent’s voice carried easily across the room, and the words were surprisingly well enunciated given their extraordinary speed. The newer members of the club might have interpreted it as an expected effect of the enormous sugar high that he must be experiencing after consuming approximately a kilo of fudge over the last hour, but older hands knew it was just the same when he wasn’t eating simple carbs. The words came out like a barely controlled torrent.

”Even without video input, a typical protocol setup can pinpoint most network active devices to the metre scale.” At Sevent’s nod, the wall’s screen blossomed into a map of the room. The devices were represented as shadowy icons, each displaying a label and table of summary information, floating in three dimensions.

Each person was clearly visible as a cloud of such items. ”Here you can see the standard visual representation of the diagnostic interface,” Sevent said, as he reached for his pTerm. ”Which can be used for ad-hoc work.” He tapped furiously on his screen for a few moments, and the advertising streams on every shirt in the room suddenly went blank.

”This session is going to introduce you to a brief schematic of the substructure used for these interactions, and then we’ll start with an exercise to try to re-establish your ad-streams.”

***

It was almost two hours later before Jade and Sevent re-emerged into the late, late afternoon sunshine. Supplies had run out half an hour before, and Sevent was starting to act a little fey. Jade stretched in the autumn light, and yawned in the gentle air.

Sevent unlocked their bikes. ”You could always dye your hair red, you know.”

Jade grunted. ”So could you.”

Sevent shook his head. ”I’m not a polyamorous genius,” he declared as he wheeled his bike backwards. ”So it wouldn’t have the same effect.”

Jade considered this with a tilted head as he retrieved his own. ”Let me find a bottle of oil, guarantee you’ll sit still and do as you’re told for two hours tonight, and I’ll try to bring you around,” he suggested.

Sevent’s eyes lost their playful gleam as seemed to consider this. ”It’s not the worst offer I’ll get tonight, but I just don’t think I’m built that way,” he said as he looked up at the snow-gold skin of the gum tree. ”Would take too much balance. Someone’s always got to come first.”

Sevent’s helmet blocked Jade’s momentary dumfounded stare. Every now and again, my friend, thought Jade, you can be such a moron.

Jade sighed as he pulled his own helmet on.

”If we’re going to get you a better offer tonight, we’d better get to the party before everyone gets too drunk.”

Jade slid over his bike in one smooth motion.

”To the Resurrection!” he announced.

Joe Hope

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Posted in Artist in Residence, November 2013- Joe Hope, Writing

Chapter 1: Joe Hope, Artist in Residence

With an introduction from Sophie

When I was envisioning this blog, it was as a place for people, including myself to come for creative inspiration, whatever our starting point.  The Artist Called Anyone in Residence is a big part of that vision.  This month we have seen Joe set himself the challenge of waking his sleeping novel, reading it and reworking chapter one.  This novel has been with him for over 20 years, and he wants it born.  It has been a huge effort and I am excited to read it.  Through this process Joe has inspired me write more, both volume and depth.  He has also inspired me to visualise my novel, imagine the cover with my name on it.  That has been an awakening in itself.  Thank you.

And here is Joe’s work, the culmination of ‘Joevember’

Chapter 1  

Specialisation Is For Insects

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, co-operate, act alone, solve equations, analyse a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialisation is for insects.

– Robert A. Heinlein

Only two paragraphs into it, Jade knew that he was in safe hands, so he tried to settle in to read. The young man two seats to his left was working himself around to committing heresy, however, and it was terribly distracting.

”It’s just,” the young man had tried, clearly quite aware of the bristling chairman’s increasingly aggressive objections, and yet determined to make his point regardless, ”that the spirit of the quote seems to be quite clear. There’s nothing particularly special about ships or sonnets over, say, tractors and haiku. If Hein-lein were here, he’d be the first to –

”The Chairman, a grizzled greybeard in both the metaphorical and literal sense, couldn’t hold it in past that point. ”So you happen to be quite sure what Robert Heinlein would say, do you?” he barked. ”Over the hundreds of thousands of words that he considered, and wrote? It may be a sample list, but it spans much of human life quite deliberately, I can assure you.” The seats in the fluorescent classroom had been arranged in a pair of circles, and heavyset leader swung his shaggy head from left to right, scanning the faces around the large ring before returning to the source of his pain. ”Simon,” he said, piercing the adolescent with an authoritative glare. Jade was suddenly reminded of a time he saw one of his professors hammer down a suggestion that the offices in the mathematics building be reassigned. The professor in question was a slender asian man, but the aura of active immovability seemed shared through some ill-defined brotherhood. ”We have a considerable auxiliary skill list on the main boards, for which we are always glad to accept input. But the core list has been unchanged from the original text in Time Enough For Love ever since this club was founded over forty years ago. We see no reason to change it now.”

Simon was flustered, but unabashed. ”…but surely a core list of skills is something that should be updated over the years? As inspiring as that quote has been…”

Jade’s head lifted up. Here it comes, he thought. And may the Departed Greats have mercy on his soul.

”…there’s nothing special about that particular moment in time. And though Heinlein was well ahead of his time in many ways, we shouldn’t take his pronouncements as gospel. Even a genius of one age couldn’t write this list for a later age, and Heinlein wasn’t really what you’d call – ”

Then: anti-sound, as the comforting flutter of human-generated background noise suddenly paused. Jade glanced over to Sevent. Sevent’s head hadn’t moved from his pTerm, and his eyes flicked wildly across the dancing text, but he had grown a tiny smirk. In the remaining half second, Jade attempted his rescue.

”The thing is, Simon,” he announced in a kind and firm voice, ”we’ve gone through the process of attempting to revise the core list before. At least twice since I joined the club, and presumably many times before that.”He gave the room just enough time to grunt some kind of approval, but not enough to interject. ”And every time it’s been a disaster. Because everyone comes up with their own list, and precisely because it’s an arbitrary subset in the first place, there are no real guidelines for throwing out anybody’s suggestions. So we circle around it for a while and agree to update the auxiliary list, while returning to the core list from the quote. Most people don’t worry about going through the lists in any kind of order, so it’s not like it really matters that much.”

Simon was evidently unconvinced, but his plans to nail his theses to the church door were temporarily disrupted by a thought and a single raised eyebrow.

”Twice?” he asked, incredulous.

To be continued tomorrow…

Posted in Artist in Residence, November 2013- Joe Hope, Uncategorized, Writing

Artist Called Anyone in Residence- Joe Hope

I’ve seen so many, they’re starting to blur together unfairly. Suited or casual, cocksure. Award-winning and sound. Some of the trappings of maturity, but bluster if threatened. Questions are threats. Facts can be questions.

Compulsively piling toys, hanging with the in crowd. Now that the schoolyard clique has the money and the tools, it must be the centre, right? Free to bully. Free to help. Free to offer advice. Dismissive. Capable of tantrums.

If I could give temperance to a toddler, I could say: Every little thing must be built. Every plate washed. Every heart held. We are all stripped naked by the end. And bonds that do not take a lifetime to make peel away with the warpaint.

But I can’t. I hear:

Oh.

I

know.

Posted in Artist in Residence, November 2013- Joe Hope, Uncategorized, Writing

On writing a novel with an update from Joe

My Novel- Sophie

Writing a novel is on my unofficial list of what I want to do in my life.  Surely it must be a fascinating process, a battle of willpower.  I would love to see what comes out.  I have long felt  that most people share this secret desire to write a novel and was surprised on asking a few friends recently that they don’t.  No desire, zilch.

I am sensible enough I know that writing a novel can be hard and time consuming.  How do you even know when you have a finished product?   It would help to have passion and drive behind it, and a deadline. But probably instead of passion and drive, I just need actual intent and a process.  So I have been reading up on process, I have a story outline and I feel like the journey has started, though just the tiniest steps.

Joe, our artist in residence this month lives the desire.  His novel was started over 20 years ago, last visited in 2004.  He has promised to use this month to revisit his novel after this long gap and work on a draft of the first chapter.  This excites me.  Here is where he is up to…

Reflections on writing in volume- Joe Hope

********************************

I’m half way through. I’ve read almost exactly half of the novel-shaped object that I wrote back in November 2004 in one crazed effort through the “National November Writing Month” (NaNoWriMo). In doing so, I’ve more or less rediscovered my perspective on what problems led me to NaNoWriMo in the first place, how it helped, and why I faltered afterwards.

It’s really only this year that I’ve even realised how strange it is that I’ve never reread what I wrote in that time. In fact, “reread” isn’t quite right either. I was going so fast that I literally couldn’t read earlier text before blazing ahead. So I have literally never read much of the manuscript.

Except for the first few chapters. I’ve come to those many times. In fact, some of them existed almost a decade before 2004, and it was the constant revision, tweaking, and subtle dissatisfaction that held me back for so long. I have felt a terrible desire to polish them and have them pleasing and functional right before I could accept writing more. The barb of that desire is that it makes partial sense. Imagine working for years in the scraps of day that you can find, and ending up with a large, tepid thing. Text that looks just like a novel, but you know in your heart is one of those myriad failed attempts.

For one thing, a novel has to have an even style and tone. When the first few pages were written over the space of a decade, it’s not surprising that it jumped around. And yet, which pieces and ideas to abandon? Could I face dropping decent writing?

So the point of NaNoWriMo was to shut the inner censor off, and demand speed above all else. Get something out, and think later. And I learned that with enough will I could do that. I also learned that my plotting wasn’t right. I finished with a strong sense that something good had happened, but that I needed to seriously rework the whole driver of the action and mystery. But then I fell back into old ways. My first action (after serious rest) was to start reading and working from the beginning, and then I never somehow got past the first few chapters that I knew so well.

So now I’m using Joevember, nine years and two children later, to push through that reading barrier. I have to, if I’m to deliver a viable first chapter that sets up the rest properly, and really does energise me rather than make me immediately falter. I don’t need to completely resort my plot drivers, but I need to plan my hooks.

So what are my impressions from the first half? Well, I can see a definite change. The text from the first few days is a little stilted, something that can probably be fixed with editing. But after that, as my memories enter a kind of daze, things actually started flowing a lot better. I was writing in larger, smoother pieces, with little ideas sprinkled in that I remember chuckling about at the time. There’s a lot of it I can use. I’m extremely curious to read the rest. Still scared, to be honest, but also excited. Which has to happen this week, simultaneous with writing my Wednesday piece, because I need to do the chapter itself next weekend.

My fallow years are not entirely wasted. I’ve changed in useful ways. The main one is that I’ve internalised and expanded on the lesson that finally allowed me to write good poetry: dropping decent writing is absolutely essential. It’s imperative to take something that’s almost right and drop it into the fire. Trust yourself. Getting more words out is easy and fast. Getting the tone even is a function of momentum. Editing and crafting only work once you know exactly what you’re trying to achieve. But most of all, I have to trust that if I dig deeper, if I force myself to go beyond, that the real stuff will come out.

Posted in November 2013- Joe Hope, Writing

Portrait of the man in bed- Joe Hope, Artist in Residence

I’ve taken the 5-minute writing challenge, and turned it backwards. The task I set myself today was to write about five minutes. To simplify things (making it simultaneously harder and easier), I chose my first five conscious minutes of the day.

Portrait of the man in bed

*****************************

So, I’m lying there in a dark room, slowly, slowly assembling. Head, mouth, nose and brain all feel dry, but the desperate edge of tiredness has softened. Sick still. My throat is a rasp and the headache never really responded to paracetemol, but at least I didn’t have to change beds to get some sleep. Did Janet say something as I woke up? Will hurt to ask. Was that why I woke? Tuesday, it’s Tuesday. Honours talks. Can’t be late. How did the overnight preparation go?

The rain on the leaves. I hear it, but I also feel it, with a yearning flavoured with nostalgia. Childhood in Crabtree, and streams of children scattering from the hills as the heavens open. My sister and I reaching the house, and tumbling through a hot bath and landing in bed, heads wrapped in towels, with a silent grin and the rain tapping on the window behind me. I have framed the image and hung it carefully, and wonder if she remembers too. Even then I felt privileged to be so happy. It is Tuesday? Need to send Sophie some writing. Something on video? I could write some haiku “live”…

Rain patters on leaves
Seventeen syllables till
Dawn must grow again

I have to rouse myself. Though ‘assemble’ was the better word. Still feel like pieces are still coming. One piece now: Twenty eight more lectures to record. The plans unfurl with an attempt at adrenaline. Janet turns her smooth, beautiful back to me and asks me how I slept. Several more pieces come to answer: The various answers tangle unspoken. Before the pause becomes rude, I push out: “OK”. None of the pieces argue. Only our heads peeking from the blankets, one hand goes out, and as I touch her I start to dissolve again, the lulling rain, the cool air, and the gentle heat…

She’s more awake than me, and announces that she’s been reading a work that claims that there are topics on which you can be tactful, but only if you take the time to stay with someone and see them through any emotional reactions and responses. That tact takes time. And what do I think? Does that make sense?

What do I think? I think of myself as an animated young man, back when I first met Janet, diving into the deepest and most intimate conversations with strangers at parties. My large-eyed sincerity weaved past the small talk, and hours later we would emerge into the light a little bigger, a little more true. I remember David watching quietly again, chuckling with me afterwards that I somehow made it work. And I wonder where that went, and if it did. I am reminded of my comparatively recent, sudden realisation that some of my students found me quite confronting and overwhelming. And perhaps that’s a generational change, or a change in me, or perhaps that’s been there all along, and sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. And Janet is waiting on an answer, so I’m back on her actual words. On tact. This is the key word for her thoughts at the moment. And do I understand that there are things you can discuss tactfully only provided you take the time?

A poem I wrote earlier in the year gets stuck in my head:

Some explanations take a little time
————————————
My love is not listening
And some explanations take a little time
But some day
Maybe in just a few minutes
She’ll be back
 
And though I can’t turn that fast
Though the bubbles won’t even really slow my fall
I still appreciate their colours and their soft intent
And if some of them are still there
When I bob back up
I will wear them like the richest crown
Like all crowns, given

Only right now she is listening. And waiting. I don’t want to quote it to her whole, for fear of giving the wrong impression, but yes, I understand about the need for space. It’s about respect, isn’t it? If you respect the answer and give it space, that’s what tact means.

So yes, I say, I believe that’s right. And yes, I think, that’s something to keep practicing. Because I’m not usually slow enough, and my instinct is to skip steps that I already know well. The language of Janet’s comments are a lot like her musings on coaching, and a minute later she makes the connection out loud. Then she asks me what I’d choose to be coached about, and up comes the writer with a surge of frustration and fear; the teacher, who always mutters quietly in the background; the researcher, who is busy, though a little depressed by funding and the unrelenting pressure to justify one’s existence; the athlete, who wants to get healthier and set goals. Maybe there are more, but before I can figure out whether any of them want attention more than they want time, the moment passes.

And there’s rain on the leaves, and cool air on my face, and she’s lying quietly with her thoughts and I with mine. The blanket is warm with my body heat, and my dozen aspirations try to gather strength as I breathe deeply.

Then in a reflective tone, she begins: “I can’t get over the fact that my grandmother put rohipnol or whatever in my bedtime cocoa so I wouldn’t wake up when -“. And immediately, half-way through the sentence, the frustrated, sympathetic, familiar rage fills me once more, once more. “…It’s just one of those things that keeps coming back to me.”

“Of course,” I assent, and put my hand on hers. Even without further words, this expression of one simple feeling rings in the air. Abrupt. Violent. In the spirit of our waking discussion, we try to give it space.

But soon we agree: some things you cannot say with tact. We can but try to choose the time.

But still I want them said. They will have their price even if left in the shadows, and I choose the purge over the poison. I also want her to know that I’m holding her hand, and that our hearts are truly together. That every laugh can be real, because every tear is real. Sometimes the overmatched black eye frees us from bullies.

Today, this morning, it is enough. There are stirrings in the next room, and sleepy mentions of teddies.

And, I think, it’s been over five minutes now, and I have assembled enough people and ghosts. Let us have our day.

In the end, we just take it.

Posted in Artist in Residence, November 2013- Joe Hope, Uncategorized

Reflections on my parents- Joe Hope

Reflections on my parents, Friday afternoon, again:
***************************************************

My father’s approach to child rearing, or human interactions on the whole, was to act as a stamp. Make yourself into some rigid shape and impress yourself into the supposedly malleable base material.

But, Dad, my one and only true father, that was always a bad approach.  After the stamping process, how does the conversation run?  What were we supposed to say to each other?  We were never quite as soft as you thought.  And remember when some of us started shaping up like stamps too?  With unapproved designs, no less.  Two stamps and an awkward pause.  Would you like a beer?

I remember you near the end, doubt crossing your face in an unfamiliar panic.  “They’re good kids, aren’t they?  The girls turned out good.”

And yes, I reassured you, they did indeed.  They turned out great.  And you calmed down and went back to your chair and tea, and life went on.

So all’s well that ends well, I thought to myself.  You crumbling, will-carved, lonely, lonely man.

*  *  *

Mother, if I could fight the facts and make me a heaven, it would be shaped like your library.  And you would be there, doing your own thing, perhaps back from a trip.

In fact, I think I will fight the facts.  We spoke every week, so I will speak to you now.  You never said that much, did you?  So it’s not so different, except there’s no-one actually to tell.

But I’d tell you about golden-haired girls and boys. Laughing in the sun, full of concerns of dresses and teddies.  And exploits.  And if we talk enough I’ll get back to the little things, like diets and the run I did yesterday, and what do you remember about when the girls were in Guides and I went too?  Things got good, Mum.  It all came off, and if I don’t have big news, it’s because everyone’s basically happy and healthy.  I’m busy, yes, very busy, but there’s a steady beat.

So all’s well that ends well, I think to myself.  Ignore the aches by an act of will.

Posted in Artist in Residence, November 2013- Joe Hope

Writing and me- Joe Hope

Once upon a time I spent a few hours talking with a young man who didn’t like music of any kind.  It took me quite some time to believe it, and even now, the presence of such people in my species leaves me slightly disoriented.  He never listens to it by choice, and avoids it if he can. The desire to dance is as foreign to him as the desire to gather pollen for the Hive.  No song or phrase gets lodged in his mind.  No swelling heart, no tears, no grins.  No air guitar, no drum solo, no beat.  No harmony, no chorus.  No crescendo, no lament.

He was patient with me, I remember that.  I was young, but I hope I was polite.  I hope I hid my pity better than my surprise. He calmly described his simulacrum of life.  Described how this key part of his soul was replaced with other interests.  And I slowly started to wonder whether this is what people who love trains feel when their chortle at a black-bellied steam engine chugging past is met with an indulging nod.  Is this how bisexuals consider me?  Like a soul with half the spark removed?

Or is music, somehow, not fundamental?  Is it simply a popular enthusiasm?  A choice of passions: cricket, cars, karate and/or crochet?  I have friends that knit, friends that weave their own wool, friends that run marathons, and those that play chess.  I understand and celebrate the savage, random loyalty.  I will sternly defend Vegemite over Marmite. Intellectually, I see dice beneath those choices.

But my heart tells me that I am not of a kind with the musicless man.  We can help each other find shelter, food and caring, but not love.  I seek something beyond the mere Turing test, and to use a word with the right weight, let’s call it ‘soul’.  Music is but one sign.  Curiosity is another.  An interest in catching one’s own assumptions.

Which finally brings me to writing.  However artless my engagement with it, writing is some part of my definition of soul.  Poetry is an unpopular art form, but when I meet someone who feels it, a piece of me settles.  It is the difference between being out on the town alone, and meeting up with friends.  I’ve been writing poetry from a young age, though I did not end up keeping any of the pieces that so outwardly impressed my father (my father!).  I suspect they were probably missable.  The pieces definitely developed over the years, though when I went panning for those little nuggets as an adolescent, they usually came with a lot of black, sticky magnetite.

With maturity came a little more perspective, and a little more ambition.  When people read my poems, they often liked them, but I began to realise just how much of the message was left unpacked, still wrapped tightly in my brain.  I stopped favouring trigger phrases and simple word play, and tried starting poems with a more focussed idea of exactly what I was trying to convey.

I also developed interest in writing more prose-based pieces, and before long, I had plans for a novel.

I started notes and early writing on my first novel over twenty years ago, and never had the slightest inkling of how slow it was going to be.  At some level this is a matter of dedication, of course.  It has never been my prime activity in that I have always put both work and social concerns above it.  It also wasn’t recreation, exactly.  More of a compulsion.  Over the years I have come near to despair – most people that think about writing a novel never do.  Or, possibly, they manage a manuscript that never sees the light of day for good reasons.  Was I that person?  Do I simply lack the talent and will?

I think will is the key attribute of concern.  In the absence of time pressure, or a deadline, the project bumbled along with insufficient focus.  I wrote chapters months or even years apart, resulting in wildly varying tone.  Then, in 2004, my life changed dramatically.  James was born, and suddenly my duties took my life.  In a panic I realised that I might have missed my chance.  So with a three month old baby, I plunged desperately into NaNoWriMo.  With a target of 2000 words per day, something approximating a draft was coming out.

By the end of November I was comfortably over my target word count.  Some of them were good.  But I had a strong sense that I’d missed the mark on a couple of key plot elements. The reason that this was just a feeling rather than a carefully considered conclusion was that there had been no chance to reread the previous day’s work – it was just a matter of blazing on.  To this day I have never been able to force myself to sit down and read that draft past the first few chapters.

But I think about it a lot.  At some level I know I’m going to have to rewrite the whole thing – possibly cannibalising parts of the rushed manuscript.  I’m confident I can make have a much better plan for the second go, and many of the changes are already planned.

It’s possibly the most scary statement I could make about this process, but the butterflies in my stomach on the issue tell me that the best way for me to use the pressure of Joevember is to promise a draft of the first chapter by the end of the month.  (Not the prologue, which has been written for over a decade.)

Feel that adrenaline!  That’s just got to be healthy.

So until that is ready, I will endeavour to provide some poetry and possibly some word-based performance pieces.  Wish me luck!