Day 12 NaNoWriMo – The road is long

It’s been a while and we NaNoWriMoers are nearly half way through our novel month. I’m not there by a long shot but today was a good day. I woke before dawn feeling sluggish and drowsy. Crawled to the kitchen where after much coffee yet still in darkness I started to type.

My new iPad keyboard is rubbery and not every letter struck true yet quickly a chapter formed and characters and plot started to emerge. I’m not really sure where it’s going. I think a novella but I guess only time will tell.

I felt inspired, and though it was still dark decided to finally after 4 months start editing the novel again. I know I know it doesn’t count if its not actual writing. But I’m glad I did it. Though I have also concluded that I really wish I had started using scrivener a long time ago. Most of the current editing process revolves of pinning one chuck of writing to another that is sequentially before it in the story. It’s a stupid and as hard as it sounds. Writing any part of the story that came to me seemed like such a good idea at the time yet it’s proving to be a total pain in the old proverbial.

Only 45,000 words to go!




Ok ok …. I survived the writing group review. More than survived even. Some people really liked what I had written and even better some big flaws had been pointed out to me so I can now fix them.

Of course I have not edited any further or even touched the manuscript yet… But all that is about to change! Because I have a very cunning plan. I will post one short flash fiction a day in November under my stories Page and I will attempt to finish the whole first draft as part of NaNoWriMo. Fool I hear you cry. I agree perhaps its a bit much pressure but what’s the worst that can happen? I fail? At least I would have tried and even that paltry try would have moved me on a bit!

So here goes something or possibly nothing 🙂

Don’t abandon hope all who enter here

Don’t abandon hope any who enter here. I have felt very hopeless of late but its starting to come back to me.

So Its been a while. A long while. I did feel that this little seedling of a blog had been abandoned but here I am again ready to give it another go.

Its been a challenging few months. The summer went by in fear, despair and anxiety with little or no good news. Often not even a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Needless to say that every sphere of my life has recently been hit and some fully annihilated.

But I guess I must be a cockroach as here i am – surviving. Eventually maybe even thriving.

In the back of my mind the whole time though was my work. My writing. Was this the legendary writers block? Was i unable to write? I dont think it was. I just needed all my mental capacity to keep my self going and I didn’t have any spare time or energy to feed my characters and to edit edit edit.

Yet they were all still there. Still living their lives and reliving certain actions and events. Their world kept unfolding in my mind even if the fingers never touched keys and pen never touched paper.

In the midst of anger or sadness It would occur to me that Edgar must have known Nick and that when Miles went missing of all the people in the world he would have a t least considered going to one of them. And what of the elusive uncle? Was he that elusive or was he about to come in from the cold? On and on it went. It wasn’t a shelter or a pass time. I never actively sought to think of the book. If anything I tried to put it out of my mind, sick with guilt that I had devoted it no time in months.

As Lear said “Nothing will come of nothing”. I too had always thought that no effort would bring no results. But it seems its not always the case. They kept on living and playing out their lives and every once in a while i saw what they were up to, surprised at the elegant moves some had made too gentle and elegant for me ever to have thought of them.

So I’m back and ready to start listening to them again and to start writing and editing.

The cold slap of water in the face will come tonight where the writing group will review a small yet vital chapter of mine. Having reread it today It needs a lot of work and the amateur spelling mistakes and autocorrect spell checker (I think i wrote the chapter on my iPhone!) are embarrassing – My favourite (most awful one) is “i witness”. *face palm*

They will rip me to shreds. Yet it will help me and I oh so deserve it!

Wish me luck.

Click – no big bang merely just a whimper of realisation

I’m not really sure how things work for other people, but for me transitions consist of a subconscious ripening of an idea and then it’s eventual maturity into action. There’s a moment when it all clicks into place and really I don’t have to think about what I need to do or what the next logical step is because by then my feet are already following that path.

You could say its the lazy way and well… you’d be right. There is an element of not taking responsibility for ones actions but really its my attempt at not rushing things and always striving to follow my heart. But yes lazy.

It took me by surprise when one such seminal moment took place on a rainy Thursday in a church room. Attempting to ignore the clucking gulls of the WI and the church Choir competing for oxygen in various rooms around the imposing stone building that we lovingly call Craggy Island, while Nick Triplow walked us through his writing history and process.

Though the idea for my novel originated a long long time ago in a town far far from here – It was just that an idea and when the actual task of writing needed to start I couldn’t manage it. I stopped after less than about 5k words and it died a death. Yet I did day-dream about it, about the characters what they were doing, and why.

A last minute opportunity to attend a creative writing course (what would i have done if the French class hadn’t been full??) was the catalyst and I started writing in earnest last autumn.

Things went well to start with. I wrote about 3 – 4 hours a day. I wrote on the train on my mobile. I jotted in the Tesco checkout queue on the back of my shopping list. I wrote ideas while on the bus. I would wake in the middle of the night having solved a major plot point and have to write it down before it evaporated. I wrote at the dinner table I wrote at my desk. Flying high on years of suppressed ideas I wrote – a lot.

And as all things must this slowly started to slow and then subside. I’m at around 70k + now and its been a slow couple of months. I have started to edit… a bit. This is vital to any book, but especially to me. Due to the way / place i wrote most of the work is utterly unedited and lacks punctuation, lay out and even grammar. Don’t even get me started on the *creative* spelling. Yet editing is not exciting and doesn’t get me all motivated to start the laptop up. In fact I had only started to edit so that i didnt drop the novel completely. I want to finish it but I look around and every book seems to be a 200k word mammoth. Frankly I am not sure I have that in me. My pathetic 70k + unedited words seems like a joke. One i’d rather not tell in public – I don’t like tumbleweed.

On Thursday listening to Nick talk about Frank’s Wild Years, how long it took to do, how many words he wrote and how many edits he did made something click for me. I’m not going to be the next GRR Martin or JK Rowling. But I could finish this work and make it the best that it can be.

That’s what really clicked for me – the question “What are you waiting for?” because I have nothing to wait for. So I have started writing again. Or more to the point I have started to finish. I’ve accepted that its done and that the really hard part starts here. I’m back to pushing myself to start setting goals and deadlines and plotting a strategy of next steps. It needs very little writing to finish it, hundreds not thousands of words but in essence I’m done.

And then I need to sharpen my pen and slash it to bits. Cut out the slack and sew it back up again, tighter and firmer.

Wish me luck.

Lame-ass not kick-ass

This isn’t a blog of the girl done good. It’s not a display of how well things went. It’s not a record of my coolness.

I make mistakes at every turn. I always have. Everything I’ve ever gotten came from blind luck and oblivious persistence.

Nothing was easy. Nothing landed in my lap. I worked. I tried. I failed. I dusted my self off and started again. Well in the interest of honesty I should add… I failed. I cried. I ate a pile of chocolate. Cried some more. Ate some ice cream. You get the picture.

The point is when some were drinking tequila shots and frolicking on beaches I was cutting things up and looking at them through a microscope. I was collecting samples. I was checking the statistics. I was *really* caring about the Genome project.

When some were having sleepovers and talking about boys I was reading Jules Verne and dreaming of being an astronaut.

When asked in junior school what I wanted to do when I grew up I didn’t say Model, or Singer (or as my real life class mates responded “taxi driver” and “secretary”) I said I really wanted to win the Novel prize for Science.

When my sight failed I went to specsavers and wore BIG glasses, not because they looked bang on trend but because they were cheap and gave me a good field of vision. I wore chinos and loafers and blazers. I didn’t do it to look cool. I wanted to be both comfortable and smart.

I still collect stationary and have discerning opinions on post-it notes. Even as a child I collected napkins. Ever need a correctly folded napkin swan in an emergency? Call me! And just wait till you see my stamp collection! It’s both massive and comprehensive.

I’m in danger of frothing at the mouth here before I’ve even reached my actual point.

And it’s this: Fuck off! Nerdiness is mine.

Succinct I think you’ll agree. Really it’s a message to all those Johnny-come-latelys trying to steal my identity.

I don’t remember laminating your chess club member card.

Where were you when plimsoles were first in?

Take your satchel bags, your faux tipex nails and fuck off.

Nerdiness is mine. I earned it. This isn’t some short and torrid love affair with polyester. It’s a lifestyle choice. It’s a long term commitment. It’s taken decades and it shows no signs of fading.

So back off and get your own thing.

Brand New Image

So tell me what you think? About the new image that is. It’s a combination of symbols and characters from my first novel (name tbd).

As it’s a work in progress the image certainly represents how I feel about the novel right now and the shape it’s currently in.

It’s hard to know what it will be in its final version when all the words are out of me and on the screen. I chip away at it day after day and week after week. Sometimes I wake in the night having realised through a dream why a character would do something, how they would react. In all honesty it does not feel like I invent and write, it feels like I discover and reveal things.

Here is a passage from the book that provides the best insight what it’s about. Do tell me what you think of the art and of the synopsis!

Under my grey fleece and winter coat, I’m shivering and I can feel the scratchiness of the fabric as my hairs stand all on end. The taste in the back of my throat is old and lingering adrenaline. I can’t recall when I last felt comfortable and relaxed. When did I last live without fear? The hungry rats crawling in my belly won’t lie still, because they know that the worst is yet to come and they scratch and wriggle trying to get away.

If they know, I should have bloody known. I should have known better, but I took it personally. I thought that losing my mum and dad in the way that I did was about us. About the Kin. That we were hated and we were hunted. Oh so naively I thought it was all about me me me. But the picture was much bigger than that and right now even though I can’t see its edges I at least realize my complete and utter insignificance.

If only i’d kept my head down. Maybe they would have let me live.

Been there, listened to that, ate some cake.

The Leicester Alt fiction festival was great. I only attended the Saturday (due to horrid cold that sprang up Sat pm) but really loved it. I think I left Sheffield full of nerves, not knowing what to expect but found the festival informative and encouraging.

I was not the only person flying solo, plenty of people had turned up in cliques but there were those like me that had come with only their nerves, courage and enthusiasm.

What surprised me most (and this probably says a lot about me and how new I am to writing) was how relaxed and easy the atmosphere was. No one stood and shouted “Imposter!! Fraud!” when I walked in, and not only that – there were reassuring words – if you write then you are a writer whether you have published a novel or not.

For the first time I started to feel that maybe that’s what I was. What I am. It’s not something I will one day, maybe, if I work hard, if I’m very lucky…become.

It’s hard to explain lucidly and it’s a concept that I’ve only really analysed with people on my creative writing course. I feel self-conscious writing it.. but here goes… It’s the feeling that you can’t admit that you ‘write’, that you are a writer, to people not in a similar position, to non ‘writing’ civilians. Instead we say it’s a hobby; “something I like to mess around with”, casually. Something to not invoke their ridicule and not convince them that you have delusions of grandeur. You don’t want to be viewed as one of the X factor hopefuls whose family and friends have told them kindly that they have a lovely voice when in fact the truth is not so – they sound like a cat grated.

Being at the festival was quite liberating. No I’m not published but there is no shame in writing. And even if there was it’s not something i can help. I walk, skip and run through my life and everything i see makes me think “What if….”.What if there were dragons? What if I died but stayed around as a ghost able to see what happened next? What if my two best friends got back together against the odds? What if a modern-day Medusa infested a fitness centre? What if my neighbour was a serial killer?Everywhere there is a story. I write them for my self to just express what whirls through my mind. Most will not ever be seen by another but some may.

As well as the inspiration the festival had lots of practical advice on writing, researching and publishing work. It also had something I really valued – input from actual published novelists – the good stories and the hard to hear stories.

All in all so good its in my diary for next year already. In pen!