Posts Tagged ‘Busy’
As the frequency of blog posts reveals, time is not a commodity in great supply in the Kristjansson/Hood household. And that’s a shame, because I quite like time. I like time to cook, time to chill, time to read and all manner of other times. Good times, bad times, you know I’ve had my share, sang Robert Plant. I suppose that holds true for me, but to be fair I struggle to remember the bad ones. Instead I kind of waft through life feeling vaguely ashamed that I’m moaning – because essentially what I’m moaning about is the result of doing too well*.
On the 1st of August I’m going to be a published writer. Getting my head around that is already task enough – but there’s other stuff going on as well, other projects and other possibilities, all geared towards the magical Shangri-La of becoming a Full Time Writer**. These days? I’m almost nearly living the life of a full-time writer (Book 2 of the Vikings, [censored], [censored], sent off [censored] to [censored], waiting to start [censored] and need to write a play in the summer, not counting an embarrassing amount of ideas (or possibly an amount of embarrassing ideas – hard to tell)) – on top of being a nearly-full-time teacher***.
Which, in effect, means a fair amount of pushing.
Pushing to get another 200, another 300 words down. Adding another page. Taking 3 hours on a Sunday to chuck out a work proposal to get more work. It’s exhausting – but there’s a fundamental and fierce joy in it, too. Sometimes you meet people who wonder what they could have been if they’d just…
Ultimately, the reward for the pushing days is that I know. In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter all that much whether I break on through, make it into Dreamland, write the seminal and age-defining piece of axe-murdery Viking Fiction romantic fantasy comedy horror thriller escapade or not – I know that when I look back, I really went for it.
And that’s worth it.
* This may be a humblebrag. I don’t know; I can’t rightly summon up a) the shame or b) the common decency to care.
** And moaning about how hard it is to not be allowed to leave the house, need to do chores and whatnot. You have been warned.
*** Which I thoroughly enjoy and is tremendously rewarding (unless you’re one of my students, in which case none of that is true and it’s barely tolerable and I don’t really like the kids at all).
His long, matted beard is clumped with snow, and his eyes are wild.
In front of him, the inn has seen better days. In front of him another weary traveller shuffles towards a group of bearded men sitting by a fire.
The cry goes out from the huddled shapes around the hearth.
‘Get the door!’
‘Close the damned door!’
The man in the doorway blinks, winces and steps in, kicking the mounting snow-drifts away. When he turns towards the hearth again, he looks confused. Tentatively, he moves towards the warmth.
“He’s… alive. I think,’ he says. ‘Although he doesn’t make much sense at the moment. He keeps starting stories with the same line. It’s always-’
‘NO! SHUT UP!’
Behind him, a frost-bitten man stumbles in.
Ups and downs. Ebbs and flows. Swings and roundabouts.
Right now it feels like I’m sitting in something that is flowing down on a roundabout.
The start of the week was all sparky and write-y and zingy and tangy and whatnot. Yesterday I devoted to some education on the Film industry* and finishing touches on related writing; now I’m back in 10th century Denmark, being mean to a blacksmith. I might be glorifying the writing of Swords in hindsight – but it feels like I am a lot slower with this book. Like, a lot. It feels like I’m putting in about 130% of the effort with about 60% of the output, which is frustrating.
And of course the key word here is ‘feels’. I have no objective idea of how long it took me to do this, that or the other. In reality, with discarded stuff and whatnot, writing Swords took about 12 and a half months. This one is on track to be done** in 8 months or thereabouts. Okay, let’s revise that – it will have reached manuscript length in 8 months. It’s gonna need an awful lot more work to be any kind of ‘done’, if I am to be brutally honest with myself.
That being said, some bits of it are quite good already, which makes me equally happy and surprised when I revisit them.
And on that note I shall crack on another album and get on with it.
* Names, specifics and details will not be divulged, but it was informative.
** For an entirely arbitrary value of ‘done’.
The washing machine is humming, a repeat of the Big Bang Theory is running in the living room and I am ending the year as I begun – hung over. So what could be more apt than to take some time and sum up 2012? It’s been a doozy, that’s fer shure.
However, the hangover I had on January 1 was not nearly as nice or as sociable as my current mild and self-induced red-wine-and-good-company-related troubles. The New Year’s Day hangover was an epic, five-alarm, 2-hour-car-drive-with-vomit-kit-in-lap humdinger of a beast, due to quite prolifically excessive consumption at Hogmanay. To cut a long story short – Scots know how to party. The fact that me and the Lady had gotten engaged the day before did nothing to stem the flow of Cava (and about 8 other types of alcohol). But, y’know – in the words of our hosts, that party was a belter.
The rest of January was lovely – a fantastic trip to Paris with the Lady reclaimed that city for me, we spent four days walking, eating and never even seeing the Eiffel tower from a distance. I came away with a huge grin on my face and the spark of a new story, ready to tackle school and resume the hunt for a PGCE. Wedding planning also started happening.
Training to be a teacher? Harder than I thought. So are most things, which always catches me by surprise. Still the Good Ship Snorri sailed on; in my spare time I worked on a play for Smári Gunnarsson and Matthew Lloyd based on their idea ‘what if Federer and Murray had to share a sub-par dressing room before meeting in the Wimbledon finals?’. The working title? ‘Balls’. Because I’m mature like that.
Wedding planning, school and play writing. Spring also started springing, which is always welcome. I booked Zoe Lyons to play at Reykjavik Gay Pride, which surprised quite a lot of people.
As I limped into the break I got a rather quizzical text from my friend Steve saying he’d ‘mentioned me in despatches’ to someone ‘in film’ and that I should send them my stuff. I thought “…meh, whatever” and sent said film person snippets of what I’d been working on . I tried briefly to ‘get into film’ a couple of years back, and found the people I dealt with to be not to my taste, so I thought nothing of it.
However, this film person turned out to be different. Enfys Dickinson (for it was she) was polite, sharp and very interested in a story I wrote. Some very pleasant conversations later (which I now know are actually ‘negotiations’) we’d agreed on filming rights and that I would write the screenplay for said film. Paid writing gig, awesomeness happening, boost to confidence. Surely the life could not get any better?
A scary orb started appearing with some regularity in the sky. Temperatures rose; clouds dispersed. Natives talked of the apocalypse, but then our Elders said this was in fact called ‘summer’ and happened nearly once a year. Under said sun I laboured to get my last observations for the PGCE up to snuff and finished with a certain amount of aplomb, going from ‘mildly unsatisfactory’ to ‘good with elements of outstanding’ within a year. I finished another round of edits on Swords and sent it off to the Agent, who did her dark arts under the guise of being just a nice friendly lady who likes to talk about books.
The last residential visit to Buckingham University rolled around, the last chance to hang out with Rob and Erika and also the end of me qualifying as a teacher, which I did with flying colours. Go me! On the writing front, Balls got finished and handed over to the actors for showing in July. Plans being made included finalizing of agreement with Enfys, more wedding preparations (who knew? That stuff is endless) and plans to bring the Parents of the Lady to Iceland in July. Exciting times.
Summer holidays saw a relocation to Iceland with Lady and Clan. We spent a lovely week squiring her parents about, showing them the country, dunking them in the Blue Lagoon (seriously – go. If you haven’t been – just go. It’s quite something else) and generally having a whale/wail/veil of a time. I taught the Lady’s parents the Icelandic term for in-laws, which is Connected-Family – my Connected-Mother took to this and now uses it as her term of preference. I took the Lady out to the airport early one Thursday morn’, came back to my parents’ house intending to spend five days with them and my brother, speaking in our made-up hurdy-gurdy language – and that’s when I got The Email, shortly followed by The Phone Call.
There had been an offer on the book. And not only on the book, but on the two other ones that I totally hadn’t written.
And the offer was by none other than World Fantasy legend Jo Fletcher of Jo Fletcher Books.
It’s really tricky to explain how it works when something like that happens. It’s basically life-changing, but incredibly slowly.
The first person I got to tell was my Dad, which I was incredibly happy about. We did a little boogie in the kitchen – and then my brother pulled up in the driveway and I stormed out to tell him. According to him I looked so intense as I stomped out that his first instinct was ‘What have I done and why am I receiving a beating??’ – to this day I have no idea what was going on in my head.
The most agonizing thing was waiting for the Lady to get down from the skies so I should tell her. That was a memorable phone call, and it struck me as it rarely does how much we affect the people around us, the people who carry our burdens with us but don’t necessarily tell us that they do.
I spent the next 5 days kind of going hurbl burbl burbl at the family, who have been incredibly patient with my various outbursts – and getting to work, post-haste, on Book 2 about the Vikings. In the storm of it all, Balls also got shown at the International Youth Arts festival, to good acclaim.
After initial meetings, August was a contract-signing month. I got to go to Pinewood Studios and do a film contract (complete with champagne), meet my Executive Producer (a really clever chap), walk around in the footsteps of pretty much all the film world’s greats (and past Simon Pegg’s office – luckily it was the weekend so I didn’t wet myself, wave, go “…hi Simon” and walk into a door. Because that’s pretty much inevitable) and ruminate on the fact that my little story was liked by some very clever people indeed. I also got to go to a very shiny glass house in Central London to sign a publishing contract and meet the lovely Nicola Budd, assistant to Jo and all round Good Egg. She brought me along to my very first event – an author meet run by the esteemed gentlemen at Fantasy-Faction, who I got to really get my geek on with. Good times were had, along with many drinks. I was introduced to the sterling Tom Pollock and also got to meet and shake a bemused Joe Abercrombie’s hand.
There was also a minor sporting event in London, which I attended. I got to see some gymnasts, who were astounding and mindblowing in equal measure.
But time waits for no man, and the school year gently sidled up and smashed me in the face with the Cricket Bat of Day Job. And you know what? Kids are fun. I found myself in charge of three Drama classes containing a delightful cocktail of little nutters, doing a fair amount of Icelandic tutoring and also looking after my very own class of 8th graders. Good, if somewhat exhausting times. September was also a month of travel – I counted, and I spent 15 nights away from home. This was achieved by a) going on a school trip to deepest, darkest Devon, b) jetting over to Iceland to help my esteemed father defend his Ph.D (He did the smart talkin’, I glared at his opponents) and c) going to FantasyCon, my first ever such experience. My geek sensors were practically vibrating – I went and saw Abercrombie and Sarah Pinborough lead a quiz, met some more lovely Jo Fletcher authors (Stephanie Saulter and Naomi Foyle, along with Tom and Sarah), met new book nerd guys and generally had a jolly old time of it. I also rejoined Twitter, and tried not to make too much of a hash(tag) of it this time. @Snorrikristjans, if you’re that way inclined.
More writing, more teaching, more writing. Deadlines for the film people; internal deadlines for myself for the book. After all the whizz-bang of the previous three, it was kind of a bit of a head-down-and-plough-on type of month. I got the novel up to the 44k word mark at the end, and sent it off to two of my alpha-readers (my Dad and Brother) to be read. I also submitted a revised outline of the film thing to Enfys, as we both agreed that the story in its original form would need quite a lot of reworking.
I got summoned to the Lair of Enfys, treated to tea and offered some criticism on the outline I’d submitted. One thing I do love is watching proper professionals at work, and along with my tea and biscuits I got the benefit of notes from someone who has spent a deceptive amount of years slicing stories apart. Like with all good sessions of constructive criticism I spent about three seconds fuming that my genius had not been recognized and then the rest of the time going “Yes! Ah. Cool. Dammit. You’re right. See what you did there,” and so on. I came away from the session quite invigorated, and set about writing a screenplay.
Handed in the screenplay to Enfys after my sensei had gone over it and pointed at the most heinous mistakes. As the term was staggering towards the end and I now had two major bits of stuff out (three, if you count Book 1) I did what any sensible Snorri does – I set about creating more work for myself and started what has occasionally been mentioned as The Bone Book, the idea for which was born in January of this year. I’m about 6.000 words in and finding the process equally exhilarating and frustrating. Further work may have to wait until I push the finished manuscript for Book 2 out. I also did a radio interview for Icelandic Radio 1, which may or may not be available at that link depending on whether you’re reading this now or in 2098. The peak of self-promotion in 2012 came with me writing my own Facebook Author Page. I’m still trying to figure out what to do with it, but y’know – here it is. Click and like, if you wish.
And then there was my 38th birthday, and then there was Christmas. The Family came over, the Lady cooked food that was incomprehensibly tasty, I got to see good theatre, good cinema and hang out with some lovely people, I got to see my beloved Arsenal thrash Newcastle 7-3 and now I am getting ready to go to Stevenage for a Hogmanay, bringing the year around full circle.
All I can say is:
I have now set up a Facebook author page. Do pop over, click ‘like’ or just wave at the screen in a friendly manner. With a bit of luck it’ll be a similar stream of nonsense with a slight difference. Without necessarily feeling like I am on top of this whole social media thing, I’m trying to add a latte and an espresso to my current offering of black coffee.
Also, tomorrow I’ll be 38 and the Lady has baked me a head-sized chocolate cake.
Life – it ain’t half bad.
I blinked, yawned, stretched and now it is December.
It sometimes feels like life is zooming by as one waits for milestones to come, and in my case those are quite properly big. As far as 2013 is concerned, it is looking like it is going to be sillier than ever before. The two big ones I can mention are
1) Getting married – 23rd of March and
2) Releasing Swords of Good Men, currently* slated for 6th of June.
I am not really all that nervous about the marriage bit. It is going to be a right ol’ shindig**. As for the book…
I don’t know. 2007-me would have been biting his face off, crying into the pillow tortured by the sheer potential of it all and looking up ways to write self-Googling macros. 2012-me? Relatively serene about the whole thing. It’s weird, this book-writing malarkey. I was looking over Swords today to find minor details, and it is almost like a book by another person. I last worked on that maybe… 7 months ago? 8? Can’t remember – and it has been supplanted in my brain by two other books and another thing since. Luckily I quite like the writing, because I’m going to have to edit it with a fine tooth comb in a wee while. There will not be any words whatsoever for how annoyed I’ll be if I hold the book in my hand, open it at random and find a spelling mistake. Luckily I am armed with a select black-belt squad of badasses to sort and support – a tip of the horned helmet to you. You know who you are.
However potentially stressful things may look like being, though, I firmly believe that things will generally sort themselves out. If they don’t, I feel like at this point in time I am quite ready to help them***.
At the moment, though, I’d really like about 2-3 weeks to just laze on a sofa, watch about 3 seasons of some television or other and generally do as little as possible.
What’s that, you say?
Oh, if I must.
* possibly maybe potentially etc. etc.
** -to which we can sadly invite about 394 fewer folk than we’d like.
*** with application of Boot to Arse. That’s right, Things – you done been told.
As you my dutiful readers may have noticed, September wasn’t particularly kind to the fluffier parts of essential Snorri activities (such as writing informative yet entertaining blog posts). In short, it was bonkers – and not in that entertaining yet informative Dizzee Rascal sort of way.
No, September was just busy.
I managed to:
- start teaching again*
- do a 4 day school trip**
- do a 5 day whistle-stop tour of Iceland to make sure my Dad got his Ph.D *** and
- go to Brighton for 3 days to attend the awesome Fantasycon.
Actually – writing that down I’m quite shocked. If my maths is correct (always a big ‘if’) I was away for 12 days in September. The delightful bit is that despite this I was until Thursday (when I finally got some time) quite grumpy that I hadn’t really been putting in the writing hours. I should take my idol Joe Abercrombie’s words to heart – you have to be realistic about these things.
However, now October has rolled around with gorgeous, crisp autumn weather and time for stews, bread and woolen socks. The school term is getting under control, I am managing to inch Book 2 forward and sanity is slowly but surely being restored. As I am wise beyond my advanced years and about to turn into a proper greybeard****, I have learned to spot the subtle signs when I am a bit on the ‘tired’ side – tearing up at the television show Extreme Home Makeovers is one of them. So I’ve managed to get some strategic rest here and there, which is paying off.
However, there is one thing that I’ve been postponing for the best part of a week – and that is writing about my experiences at my first ever Con. Con is short for ‘conference’, and logically ‘Fantasycon’ is therefore a conference about Fantasy and Sci/Fi. What this meant, basically, is that I got to hang out in the Royal Albion Hotel in Brighton with the great and the good of the publishing world, authors of rather criminal awesomeness and gaze at the Cool Kids of the Fantasy/SciFi/Horror world. I managed to do what I wanted to do, which was to
a) observe a reading (two, actually),
b) sit and listen to a panel (an awesome panel on Dark Faeries – sadly it was in a room that ranked (un)comfortably #7 in the hottest Ever) and
c) attend a Master Class.
Of course I couldn’t help but go a little bit harrumph at the readings. I think it’s tricky at best for an author to read from his or her own work – the job description is ‘think of words’ + ‘put them on the page’ + ‘rearrange until in correct order’, not ‘make words leap into life’. There is a difference between words that are meant to be read and words that are meant to be spoken. So should an author read from his book, or paraphrase the words into a performance? Discuss.
The panel, however, I very much liked. I enjoyed listening to the experts, got quite into the subject and started doodling ideas which are now germinating somewhere under my left ear. Check this space in 2019.
The master class was masterful and classy. The master in question was one Gillian Redfearn and the subject was ‘the editing process’, which is a field that interests me greatly. I particularly liked the practical manuscript editing ideas, and would have been quite happy to pick Mrs. Redfearn’s brains on her editing methods some more, but I was shy.
I also had tremendous intellectual conversations, offered people Brennivín and ate a lot of food. I particularly enjoyed spending time with the JFB gang – the lovely Nicola, PR Chief Lucy and the lovely authors – Stephanie, Tom and Naomi, and too little of Allison and Sarah, all of whose books I intend to acquire and read. It was quite fantastic to be among like-minded people, geeking out about Fantasy – and I got to sign up for next year’s WorldCon, which will be in Brighton.
I am still not quite ready to believe that by then my debut novel will be out.
It’s a weird old life, that’s fer shure.
* Or, you know. Shout at children, anyway. The fact that they do seem to be improving is down to them, mostly.
** I’ve petitioned for cold water pressure hoses to be standard equipment for teachers of teenagers. Results are pending.
*** I was allowed to believe this.
**** In my mind, this is happening next week. In reality it’s probably more like 2023.
Not from a school trip, nor from Iceland – but from Fantasycon 2012. I do not particularly want another month with three days of taking my suitcase on the morning commute any time soon. I am tired and moderately hung over but happy and very much looking forward to getting some kind of normalcy/routine going* – will write more about the Con later. For now, shout out to Nicola, Tom, Stephanie, Naomi, Steve, Kathryn**, Allison and Lucy of The Crew, Dave, Jon and Rob from The Gathering of Manly Men and various others who shall be named and/or namedropped later.
I also managed to spend a weekend in occasionally close proximity to people I admire without being fanboy-ish, awkward or in any way silly, which is encouraging. Work on finding one’s feet in this whole author business is ongoing but very, very fun.
* And also Eastercon
** Cathryn? Katherine? K’Thron? I can honestly not remember. 1 drink, owed to you by me.
Those magical three words.
No, not “I love you”. Although I do like those. Also not “Surrender the cheese”, as that implies dairy-product-related illegality. No, the three words I’m thinking of today are Deal, Book and Three. But not necessarily in that order.
Yesterday afternoon Jo Fletcher Books sent out a press release in which it was announced that they had acquired the world rights to my Viking trilogy, the first book of which will be called ‘Swords of Good Men’. And what does one even say? I’ve tried about 12 different sentences to follow that, none of which adequately cover the feeling. “Fhnesmjufhhh” probably comes closest. It’s like four Christmases and nine birthdays at once. But for form’s sake: On the 16th of August I went to a house made mostly out of glass accompanied by my intrepid agent, the illustrious Geraldine Cooke (holder of camera phone).
Once there I sat down in an orange origami chair. It ranks comfortably in the top 17 of weird things I’ve sat on in my life.
..and signed a contract.
After that I went home to The Lady, a delicious meal of celebratory take-away (I had every intention of cooking after the signing, but she has the common sense for both of us) and champagne courtesy of aforementioned agent. I finished the day sitting in a daze on my sofa, finishing the dregs of the champagne straight from the bottle.
The more alert among you will have noticed that this was a month ago, and will now be teetering on the edge of disbelief going “A month? You get this bit of news and wait A SODDING MONTH to tell us?” – and I can understand your fury, your shield-biting rage, your wailing and gnashing of teeth. Believe you me, I’ve wanted to go home to each and every one of you and tell you personally*. However publishing is a many-splendoured thing, and as all of you who have tried to make even one splendour will understand, that stuff takes time. This includes negotiations, coordinations and machinations. However, now that things are Officially Official in an Official Fashion and have even been announced on Twitter and a Blog, I can tell you what I know**.
1) ***I am going to be a published author.
2) Swords of Good Men may possibly be available in all/most/some good book shops/stores/stalls in July 2013.
3) I am now at work writing Book 2, which has a name. I can’t remember off the top of my head whether I’ve told you – if not, it’s a secret. If I have, forget it****.
4) Jo Fletcher and all of her army are awesome, pretty much.
I think that is pretty much the extent of what I know about the world at this moment, but I shall keep you posted.
And now I’m off – I’ve got an axe to grind.
* And yes, I do know where you live.
** Which is, as usual, not all that much really.
*** Barring catastrophic world events and/or Justin Bieber claiming his throne as King High Priest of Humanity ahead of time
**** or call it Revenge of the Smurfs in your head (which might be a better title, for all I know)
Here’s a smart article on social media. Turns out ‘having fun’ is a smart idea. By the way – is there a number for the repetitions after which a phrase becomes meaningless? I wonder. Social media. Social media. I’mma social media me some social media. But maybe first I do some work.
And then I accidentally a Warren Ellis instead. Trust that little beauty to be pootling around in my brain for a while now. Oh, and it’s five years old. I should go sit in the Corner of Irrelevant Shame now, I really should.
Maybe I’ll Get It one day.