• Hughes the daddy?!?

    08 August 2009
    Right -- back to normal business!! I've been busy on the first draft of the fourth book of my future series (i.e. the one that follows my one-off fantasy book and the four-book series which follows that). I spent Wednesday plotting the book in detail. If the movie trailer hadn't broken that day, I was going to write a blog that night saying how good it was to sometimes share your thoughts about the writing process with others, or at least put them down clearly in print. As I said in my Tuesday blog, I'd been frustrated by my failure to crack the big secrets of this new series. When I sat down to write that blog, I was feeling bitter about the day's work, not sure if I was going to be able to make this series work. Then, as I set my thoughts in order and wrote them down, I realized that I was bitching about nothing. I'd plotted out TWO NEW BOOKS!!!! I had been looking so hard at the Big Picture, that I'd failed to give myself credit for figuring out the main kinks and twists in not just one new book, but two!!! That's no small thing -- in fact, it's huge!!! By the end of writing that blog, I was grinning broadly. I don't really discuss my work much with anyone until I've done at least a first draft and shown it to my agent. And I always tell young writers not to worry about showing their work until they feel ready, not to crave the opinions of family and friends. But sometimes you need to provide your thoughts with an outlet, to give yourself a bit more of an objective view of your work. I think that's where a blog or diary can come in useful. It's a chance to assess what you've done, to note the good things that you've achieved, rather than obsess inside your head about what you have fialed to do. That blog on Tuesday gave me the shot of confidence which I needed to move forward immediately and with purpose. So if you ever find yourself brooding gloomily about your work -- or anything else, come to that matter -- try blowing off steam in a blog (or diary, if you don't want to share it with other people). You'll probably find that things are nowhere near as bleak as they seem.

    Having plotted out the fourth book in detail (that's generally how I work -- I'll write down a very rough outline of the plot on one or two sheets of paper, then break it down into rough chapters and plot it out in more detail), I started writing on Thursday. I got down 11 pages that day, 8 on Friday, then 9 today. Usually I aim for a 10 page per day average, over a five day working week, but in recent years I'm a bit more flexible, given the amount of travelling that I do. Sometimes, if I have a limited spell at home to deal with, I'll work for more than five days in a row, and write more than 10 pages per day. But I'm happiest when I'm working to the five day, 10 page rule, so as long as I'm not too far off of that, all is well with my world. The book has started well. It requires quite a lot of explanations (it's one of those books where I have to explain some of the things that have been going on in earlier books), but it seems to be moving along at a fair enough speed. It won't have a lot of action for most of the way, but as I always tend to do when I write a book like that, I'll compensate by throwing in a truly nightmarish, frenetic scene near the end!!!!! Happy days!!!!

    I was saddened on Saturday to learn that the film director, John Hughes, had died at the relatively young age of 59. Even though he withdrew from Hollywood in the 1990s and stopped working on films, I still considered him a key director of my time, and was always hoping that he would return to crank out another classic or two. In truth, he didn't make a whole load of great films in his time, and his most successful, Home Alone, was perversely probably one of lesser efforts. But those that struck true struck brilliantly. Different people have their favourite John Hughes films, for different reasons. For me, the three stand-outs are, in ascending order, Planes Trains And Automobiles, The Breakfast Club, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Planes is nice, goofy fun, with John candy in probably his best ever role. The Breakfast Club resonated strongly with me when I was a moody, lonely teen who felt out of place in a big, uncaring world. And Ferris... well, that's just class!!! It makes me chuckle from start to finish, while having some deeper points to make too. I saw it at the cinema in Limerick with my best friend at the time, Larry, when it was first released, and 23 years later, I love it every bit as much as I did back then, and it always unleashes a flurry of happy memories when I watch it. To honour the passing of its key creator, Bas and I watched it again last night, and although I laughed as much as I always do, my heart ached a little this time too as I thought, "No chance of there ever being another film like this made by John Hughes."

    Heh -- I just had an image of John Hughes standing in line at the gates of Heaven. St Peter steps forward, the keys to the Pearly Gates held tightly in his hand. He looks at the long line of hopefuls and says: "We're only going to let some of you through. Can you guess who those lucky few are going to be?

    "Anyone... ? Anyone...?"
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