29 November, 2011


It is (nearly) the end of November and I am pleased to say that I have finished Draft Zero of my new novel, Thousand-Word Things. Having written it as part of NaNoWriMo, I needed to do at least 50 000 words of it during November, which I managed to do by the 22nd of the month. Today I finished the story completely at a smidge over 60 000 words.

I don't feel particularly victorious, I have to say. Although I am pleased to have "won" NaNo this year, I really didn't have an excuse not to. Many people have managed to get to 50 000+ words while holding down a full-time job and looking after three small children. I have been able to concentrate mostly on writing while just looking after one small husband.I feel a bit like I cheated!

It's been a great experience. It's forced me to write in a way that I wouldn't usually write, and encouraged me to take more risks than I normally would. With limited time for plotting and planning, the only way to make it work was to get to know my characters and let them develop the story themselves. The best bit of this is that I'm really excited about what I've created. Obviously, it needs to be expanded to the length of a full novel, by fleshing out the plot in places, and the writing quality isn't the best I've ever done, but I love the story and the characters and I'm excited about creating a proper novel from this beginning.

My plan for now is to read what I've written - I haven't read back a single chapter yet - and then to spend a month or so mulling over its potential while I crack on with some other things. I have the first draft of a short story crying out for attention and I'd like to start tidying up some previous compeition successes to try and get them published. But then, come January, I hope to get back on the Thousand-Word Thing case, with my own deadline of 31st March to have a finished novel.

08 November, 2011

What I'm learning in November...

So, a week into my first NaNoWriMo and I'm enjoying it. I'm lucky to be able to devote a lot of my day to writing, and therefore don't feel in such a mad rush as everyone else. Even so, I am on 19 500 words this evening, whereas some members of my region have reached the half-way stage already!

I've learned some important things so far.
  1. Microsoft word does not recognise the words lothario or wellies (it tries to change the first e to an i - not the message I was going for)
  2. It is easy to mistake writing fast for writing lots. I charged into my novel feeling the pressure to turn out a lot of words and started racing through the plot. By 10 000 words I was beginning to worry the book will be over before I even reached 50 000 words. The idea of NaNo isn't to get through the plot at double-speed but to get through words at double-speed - over-writing, including the disgusting abuse of adverbs is very much encouraged in NaNo land.
  3. When you delete a word because it is spelled wrong, it is vital to put it back in again. Having deleted most of the word "affairs" from a sentence, I forgot to replace it with the correct spelling. When I read back through the paragraph I found I had written, "If I wanted someone to meddle in my privates, I'd hire a cleaner." Again, not the message I was going for.
  4. Leaning on your elbow for hours at a time while you read and/or think leads to "student elbow" - too much fluid in the joint - which means you have to try and lean on your other elbow, which in turn means you have to try and use your mouse with the wrong hand. 
  5. Using your mouse with your other hand is hard.
I also found out yesterday that I didn't get anywhere in the Spilling Ink Fiction Prize, which wasn't too much of a surprise, but always a little bit of a downer. However, a magazine arrived in the post today with my prize-winning story in it, complete with judges comments and big cheesy photo of me (thanks Joe for the image!) which cheered me up - nice to see my name in print, even if it's not my own novel (yet!). I'll take every boost I can get; I feel like the next few months could be very slow on the "good writing news" front and depressingly quick on the "bad writing news" front, but I'm not letting that get to me. Not today, anyway.