So I've finally made it to the end of a first draft! But now what? I'm the sort of person who thrives on small, manageable goals and I'm not the sort of person who sits idly around, goal-less as it were. You better believe I have a plan of action going forward. But to explain things properly, I suppose I better start with The Realisation™...
Okay, yes, I am being dramatic. And I realised several things when I writing my First First Draft. For example, I'm incredibly forgetful (resulting in a very very messy draft). Also that I'm horribly inconsistent at characterisation until about 20,000 words in (same problem). But probably the biggest realisation was that... I don't think I want to write adult fiction.
That's not to say I don't enjoy reading adult fiction, because I do. But there are a few things I started thinking about in the process of writing that draft. For example, as I have mentioned before, I'm a secondary school English teacher. I enjoy my job and all the crazy kids I teach and I want to write something that they might actually choose to read! Moreover, as much as I like reading adult fiction, children's literature - particularly for upper Middle Grade and Young Adult readers - will always have a special place in my heart.
But more importantly than either of these things, I think my writing voice and style are just better suited to writing for kids. Let's be real, I spend a huge proportion of my time sitting in a room with rotating groups of 30 children. Besides annoying my mum with 2-3 phone calls per day, the majority of people I talk to are children. I know young people. Probably better than I know adults...
Plus I think the themes I'm interested in writing about just make more sense from a kids lit perspective. Call it being a prude, latent Catholic guilt, whatever you like - I cannot write a sex scene. I just can't. If it ever got published my mum would read it. Worse. My dad would read it. Not happening.
Anyway, all of this amounted to The Realisation™ - I'm switching age category. Leading me to short term and long term goals....
Short Term Goals
Last year I managed 14k in November and then work and life... got in the way! This year I'm trying again with a Middle Grade project that I've even been outlining! (I know, who am I?) I had this particular idea over the summer after talking with my lovely Twitter friend Samantha about writing in different age categories. I'm not going to lie, I was sleeping off a couple of glasses of wine. But lying half asleep in my bed I half-dreamed, half-imagined a story about the legend of The Gorbals Vampire - a strange occurrence that really happened in my city, when the children of the Gorbals area of Glasgow descended on the Southern Necropolis to hunt the 7 foot tall vampire supposedly killing local children. It made local new in 1954.
In any case, the idea brewed in the back of my mind over the last few months and I'm going to try and draft the whole damn thing next month. Because 50,000 words should be perfect for an upper Middle Grade.
Long Term Goals
I keep doubting myself and thinking - am I stalling? Because the project I've described above is probably not the trajectory I see my career going down long-term. I'll admit that what I really want to write are Young Adult thrillers. This is my all-time favourite genre!
So why am I not jumping straight in? Well, put simply - plotting a thriller is hard. And I don't mean that to come across like one of my reluctant students. What I mean is I don't think I've up-skilled myself enough yet.
I'm reading craft books, I'm reading widely in the YA thriller genre and taking copious notes. And - as I mentioned above - I'm working on my own plotting and outlining skills.But I feel I need another run at writing a full manuscript before I'll be ready. There is method in the madness.
2020 has been a crazy, weird, choppy-changey kind of year so it is only right and proper my writing projects this year should reflect that. Long-term I am building up to committing to a YA Thriller at the start of 2021, which I already know is going to be a big year for me. I'm turning 30, I'm buying a house... could I become an agented author as well?
(I'm resisting finishing this blog with something horribly cheesy like 'only time will tell'!)
Made it to the end? Comment and tell me if you've ever changed age category? Or, ya know, struggled to commit to a project long term...