N is for…

N is for NaNoWriMo

For those not in the know NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month.  It’s a yearly challenge that takes place every November to write 50K words in those thirty days.  I’ve done it several times since 2004.  I’ve won a few times but I’m lost many more.  Only not really because every word written is a win if you think about it.

NaNo has been great for me because it got me writing properly.  My first ever long piece of writing was a NaNo project, specifically a very bad Harry Potter fanfiction which before anyone asks was never posted in it’s entireity online.  I think I’d like to read it again but it’s probably better I don’t.

It’s also been great because I’ve made friends.  Some I just see in the group and the meet ups and several I’ve lost touch with over the years beyond sporadic tweets etc.  But I’ve got a couple of very good friends I met through NaNo – ones I’ve been to the paralympics with, and up the shard, for drinks and chat, theatre trips and breakfast in Giraffe (yesterday) and even to one of their weddings and that’s a whole lot of impact on my life and positivity that’s not to be scoffed at.

In many ways I’ve lost my love for NaNo now.  The year I acted as Municipal Liaison played a big role in that but I think it’s partially to do with maturing as a writer too.  I’ll still think of it every year and probably give it some form of a go.  I hear a lot about how it’s a bad thing and how NaNo ruins writing.  My suspicion is that some of those are valid points.  But I’ll always have a soft spot for it and think it’s a great thing.  Because for me it’s about more than the writing

November, NaNo Time

It’s November

And November is NaNoWriMo month.  I am taking part this year. Sort of. I must admit after several years of taking part and being a big supporter of it I’m going off it a bit.  I love the fact it promotes writing and make the time to do it and chase a dream (if writing a novel is your dream). But it’s not the be all and end all and some of the ridiculousness I’ve seen in the name of NaNo no longer seems worth it to me.

I have a work in progress that I’ve been working on properly since the summer after planning it and writing bits of for a year or two. I also hadn’t touched it for several weeks.  And at the beginning of this year (or maybe right at the end of last year) I told a couple of my friends that one of my goals for 2014 was to end the year with a finished draft.

So I’m working on finishing that.  It’s going to need a lot of work once it’s finished but getting that done will be a big help and will mean I meet my goal.  I think it needs at least 40,000 words adding but I’m not sure; it will probably end up needing more than that.

Today I seem to have written at least 1000 words of waffle which will most likely get cut.  But it got me writing again after being a bit stuck with where to take it next.

Because I have another idea for a story, probably a fanfic, nagging at me.  And it seems like all my ideas today are for that.

The End of NaNo

So it’s the end of November and Nanowrimo ends at midnight.

I’m a nano winner in that I’ve written over 50,000 words this month.

I’ve not written a book. I’ve not even written anything vaguely like a first draft of a book. Some of my friends are talking about submitting for publication pretty much straight away. They are either much better writers than I am or totally insane. Or both.

What I’ve written is a mess. It’s a variety of scenes from the idea I had. Some I planned and some I didn’t. Some work and some make me cringe just to think of them. I suspect when I look back some of the ones I thought worked probably won’t and some that made me cringe will turn out to be better than I remembered. I hope so anyway.

I’ve also come away with the feeling that the idea I had is actually for two stories rather than two arcs in the same book. And that very possibly I’m using the wrong perspective and the wrong main character. I wrote a bit using the new main character on Thursday and again yesterday and I like it a lot. It feels like better writing. But I think I’ll miss the person I thought was the main character. Which is why I’m thinking this is two stories not the one I thought it was.

More importantly being able to lose myself in my writing has helped me deal with a very difficult month with major wheelchair problems, several very sad happenings and lots of stress.

Taking part in NaNo has got me back into the habit of writing regularly once again. And it’s reawakened my love of writing. I needed that.

NaNo for me isn’t about writing a book, or finishing a book or anything like that it’s about writing and the fact it makes me do it. And tomorrow I get to go drink cocktails with a couple of very good friends (one I met through NaNo and one I got to know better through NaNo but knew before) and a bunch of new friends to celebrate that fact.

Writing thoughts or tips

With it being November and NaNoWriMo I’ve been doing a lot of writing. I’ve also been thinking about writing a lot and I’ve spent some time with groups of writers. Some of these are published writers. Some write fiction, some write articles. Some are very experienced and have written novels for years but aren’t at the stage of submitting them yet. Some just write for fun, and some are just starting out.

Writing groups are interesting things. I’ve been part of several different versions of two very different writing groups over the years. One of those groups no longer exists. The other does but basically in name only because I am the only person still attending regularly from when I joined in 2007 and it’s set up is completely different. I like it but it no longer gives me what I would like in a writing group.

Anyway that’s a bit of a long winded way to say I’ve been thinking about what tips I’d give to people who are doing NaNo for the first time or who just want to get into writing.

Do it because you want to. Writing is not easy and it’s not going to make you masses of money. And certainly not anytime soon. At the last nano meet up I went to someone said Danielle Steel is quoted as saying it took her 15 years to become an overnight success. Most people think My Best Friend’s Girl is Dorothy Koomson’s first book. It’s not, it was just her first smash after being part of the Richard and Judy book club. Her first book was The Cupid Effect published several years before.

Pick the right people to talk to about your writing. I have several great friends I can talk to about writing in general. Tips, tricks, mechanics it’s all good. But with a couple of them I’ve learned not to talk about what I’m writing. One of them doesn’t like the sort of stuff I write and thinks it isn’t “proper writing”. The other does but if I say “I’ve started a story where XYZ happens” they immediately tell me everything that’s wrong with the idea. I’d happily show them a finished project for nitpicking (although probably not as my first beta reader) but not for new idea encouragement.

Read. Read lots. Read things that are like what you want to write and which aren’t. I’ve not been reading many books this month, I’ve mostly been reading fanfic. And I’ve been thinking there was something missing in what I’ve been writing. A few days ago I started listening to an audiobook and I twigged. It felt flat because it needed more descriptions of setting etc. I’m not sure my writing is much improved by that but it feels better.

50,000 words is not really a novel. It’s not long enough unless your writing kid lit or YA. Nor are you like to come out with a finished novel (hell I doubt I can ever call what I’ve got a first draft). Put it away and then go back to it fresh in a few days/weeks/months to finish it and give it a damn good edit. And for the love of god do not finish writing it in November for NaNoWriMo and submit it to publishers in December. Apparently that happens a lot. From what I’ve heard from a few publishing types they hate it and generally end up wanting to bitch slap people who do that for the sheer stupidity of it.

Random Bullet Points of Life

♥ I got my powerchair back yesterday and I took it out for a very long wander around this afternoon. I came back cold but with the cobwebs well and truly blown away and feeling happier.

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(An Instagram I took as proof I went out and because I thought it looked nice. Road, trees, sky, cars going past and the power station in the distance)

♥ I can’t remember if I posted here that I was going to take the creative writing class again. It was going to be a five week class with the same tutor I had before. The first one was last week but the rest have been cancelled due to low numbers. Which didn’t surprise me. It’s a shame but I’m not as bothered as I was because I wanted to take it to help me find my writing mojo again and I’d already located it.

♥ my GP just called me (at 7:20 PM). My iron levels were back to normal when tested but my stores were still low. I may need to keep taking iron on a very low dose long term however. I feel this is a perfect time to declare “sometimes it’s hard to be a woman…” (Who sang that?) retest in December.

♥ it’s probably over a week and a half since I finished a book.

♥ I actually finished a craft project! Well a couple of weeks ago but the recipient has it now so…

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(Pink crocheted baby blanket, crocheted in the round. Large bright pink stripes interspaced with a few narrower light pink ones)

♥ I have 26,437 words written for NaNo. They are mostly crap.

A Properly Poorly Powerchair

I’ve got a poorly powerchair. I’ve known for a fe weeks that it didn’t feel right but I couldn’t put together what was wrong with it.

Then mum and I went to Oxford to see The Mousetrap and on our way to the station afterwards (I had gone in early for drinks with a friend) she said the back of my chair struck her as wrong. When we got back to the station she had a properly look as we had time before the train and said she wasn’t sure. But I mentioned that I’d thought it felt off and had had a feeling it was something on the front right.

I’d been not saying anything to anyone because I wasn’t sure if I was right and anyway denial was a nice comfortable place to be and meant i didn’t have to do anything to sort it out. But she said I was right and that my front right wheel (my chair has six wheels) was coming on and off of the ground as I wheeled and actually I could see that in the reflection in a shop window.

So I emailed the guy who does my powerchair (at the moment I have two wheelchair technicians because my manual is NHS and they provide servicing for free. Consequently I see a lot more of the technician who deals with my manual). And I also mentioned that I definitely needed new tyres and suspected I was beginning to need new batteries. We spoke on the phone and he said he’d come out yesterday.

In the mean time I was using it as usual and trying not to worry about it. A few people had said to me since then it didn’t look right including a new staff member at Reading Station I’d never met before. I told him I knew and was working on it but in the mean time I preferred if we could pretend there wasn’t anything wrong. I’m not sure he got it but he tried to pat my shoulder in what I take to be sympathy. Let’s just say that I was whipping through the station quickly between trains and he was walking next to me and it wasn’t my shoulder he got…

The technician came mid morning yesterday and within about five minutes had spotted that it had a broken shock absorber, I asked if I could keep using it until they had the part and he paused at which point I added “bearing in mind I went all round Ascot in it on Saturday and round Oxford yesterday…”

Anyway, basically it’s not safe to use.

We chatted a bit more about the chair and he asked me if wanted the armpads replacing while he had if. I showed him a bit that I needed putting back after it had fallen off (the battery cover) twice in the middle of Oxford the day before and he went “are you trying to wreck it?” And well I had to admit that I wasn’t but it really does look that way.

Then after he asked me about book blogging having seen my email signature and I tried to explain, I’m not sure successfully, he left.

Taking my poor poorly powerchair with him.

And they’ve had some of their courtesy chairs stolen so they don’t have any available for me to borrow.

Several hours later he called me back. With what he described as “good news, bad news, and news”

When he got back to the workshop he found my chair has also got a cracked chassis and needs a whole new one. This, apparently, is not unheard of which I find very concerning. Especially as I’ve got a Quickie Salsa M and I’d always heard that Quickie and their parent company Sunrise Medical are one of the most popular/best brands out there.

This was the bad news, along with the fact that I’m not getting my chair back until next week at the earliest. The good news was it’s covered by the warranty (I’ve had the chair since Feb 2012). The news which was in between good and bad was the details how much my new tyres and batteries will cost. Let’s just say its £extortionate but cheap when you work out how long they last and how much taxis would cost (my dad is giving me a lift somewhere tonight. If I had t get a taxi it would be about £6 each way it’s not much more than a mile)

So I’m powerchair less at the moment which makes things interesting.

But it does mean my do NaNoWriMo in a low key way plan is out the window and I’m getting loads of writing done 🙂

This is the story of…

We played Consequences at the NaNoWriMo kick off meet up today. It was pretty funny and I said I’d record them for posterity. I figured my blog was a better place for them than the forum as things get lost on there!

This is the story of how Bugs Bunny met Goldilocks on Red Dwarf. He said “I’d kill for a slice of that pie.” She said “Hush you!” And they got lost in the forest and found the witches house.

This is the story of how Reginald Harris met Marilyn Monroe at the circus. He said “Have you ever seen Mamma Mia?” She said “How RUDE!” And that’s why they don’t have a dog any more.

This is the story of how Lord Grantham met Queen Victoria on Platform 9 3/4. He said “make my day punk.” She said “that’s what?” So they went ice skating in George Square.

This is the story of how David Cameron met Miss Piggy in the GOL section of the phone book. He said “give me your toes, baby!” She said “that reminds me of the time I ate an entire buffalo.” And that’s why spaghetti is now illegal in France.

This is the story of how Jean-Paul Gaultier met Jordan in a booth of the London Eye. He said “I only speak French.” She said “oh ah just a little bit.” Then they went to the pet shop and bought goldfish.

This is the story of how Dangermouse met Shania Twain in Mornington Crescent. He said “don’t move! There’s a banana here somewhere and I’ll find it if it kills me.” She said “I’ve always wanted to learn how to whistle. They lived happily ever after.

This is the story of how Mickey Mouse met Eva Green on Jupiter. He said “Gold is my favourite thing, precioussss.” She said “Pandas are not lobsters.” So they had no choice but to eat hot dogs until they felt sick.

This is the story of how Mark Twain met Elizabeth Bennett in Churchill’s bunker. He said “do you like vanilla ice cream?” She said “I am going to call the police!” And then they jumped off a cliff.

This is the story of how Winston Churchill met Mary Poppins at the £2 book store. He said “can I buy a box of arsenic?” She said “I like old movies.” And they all won NaNoWriMo.

This is the story of how Gollum met Margaret Thatcher on the London Eye. He said “that’s the way the cookie crumbles, my dear.” She said “sometimes I think I can hear trees talk.” Aliens blew up the building they were in.

This is the story of how The German met Alice (from Wonderland) at The Jam Factory. He said “I’ve got a brand new combine harvester.” She said “I prefer golf clubs.” And then Frank ate bacon.

This is the story of how Ash Ketchum met Isabella Valentine on Betelguise 4. He said “your shoes look fantastic.” She said “ok, I’ll go for drinks with you.” Then they did vodka shots and ate cake.

This is the story of how Jonas met Doris at the Eiffel Tower. He said “I love jam”. She said “I think they’re writing novels.” And they ate fish and chips in a yellow submarine,

>A few writing thoughts

>I can’t remember if I shared this already but by the end of November I was still loving the writing but I was just done with the project I was working on. Totally bored of it. Talking to others who did NaNo that seemed to be pretty normal thing. I’d probably go as far as to say its an expected part of the nanowrimo process. But that said I don’t remember it being as hard in years gone by. I did have several instances of life kicking me in the teeth in other ways during the month though.

Two weeks later however I’m finding that I’m really missing the writing. I can go many months without doing a lot of writing but this year the habit seems to be sticking much more. I’m absolutely itching to do some real writing and I can’t wait to find another completely free day and dedicate it to my craft. Sadly that’s not likely to be very soon.

My writing is going to be my big thing in 2012 I think. Or at least I hope so.

>Somethings are more important

>I had hoped to update my blog this evening with the news that I had won NaNoWriMo for the third fourth (was sure it would be the third but then after I hit publish I looked on the NaNo site which says otherwise) time.  But that was not to be.

I am so close to winning that it’s pretty much a given that will happen.  Just not today.  I have about 4K left I think.  In all honest it’s a bit of a mess though as I’ve ended up writing bits of both the projects I considered dong for NaNo and a tiny bit of a short story that landed in my brain part way through the month.  Not great but I am very much enjoying the writing.  I hope to continue writing daily because regardless of the quality or whether I do anything with it, I think I’m getting a lot out of it.  Even if I did write so much yesterday that I had to force myself to stop as my fingers ached.

Instead I went to bed last night with the idea that I’d leave the alarm off and sleep until I woke naturally. End result being it was midday before I woke properly and got up.  I did feel a hell of a lot better for it!

Then I popped briefly to the supermarket and since then I’ve been mostly watching Downton Abbey on DVD and knitting.  My DVD player appears to have a problem though as they had a very green tinge to them!

Apart from that I went to my parents house for a lovely lovely roast Lamb dinner with the family.  We watched a film there too.  I forget what it’s called.

I just put the computer on to do more writing but when I logged into Y! Messenger (which I set back to auto log in, something I ought to do with MSN) and now I’m chatting with an old friend who I’ve not spoken to properly in months.  It’s very nice to catch up 🙂 and somethings are much more important then writing 😉

>Stop! NaNo Time!

>Yes it is indeed that most wonderful time of the year – NaNoWriMo. And just because the madness that is writing 50 thousand words in 30 days wasn’t enough for me this year I’m also one of the Municipal Liaisons for Oxfordshire.

It’s going well so far although not as well or as fast as I’d hoped.  I’ve been very lacking in motivation for the past day or so which means I’ve not hit the goals I’d set for myself but I have hit and exceeded the standard day one and day two goals.  The goal is 1,667 words a day and I’m ending day two with 4,462 words meaning I’m over 1000 words ahead of where I needed to be. Good stuff.  I am trying to take care of myself and not beat myself about missed goals etc.

My motivation does seem to be coming back tonight and I’ll need to channel some of that into other things like doing some washing and cleaning out the fridge tomorrow.  But I’m at that week one of NaNo point where I’m remembering how much I enjoy it and it’s getting easier.

Being ML is very different to how I expected but I think I like it.  We gave everyone at the kick off party four index cards and had them write down a situation (or place), a person (either the name of a real person or a type of person), an object and an action.  I am loving the level of creativity in those and the amount of detail some people went into is astounding.  I’m posting one or two of those prompts to our regional forum each day and so far they seem to be triggering interesting discussion.  Today we had a radioactive tea bag and swimming as our two prompts.  Yesterday’s prompt was to add some monkeys.