It’s been a busy month with one thing and another and last week, as I completed a piece of work for Magic Oxygen (exciting stuff; more information soon), I found myself with a bit of a lull. Just as I was planning to start a) re-drafting the novel I wrote earlier this year and b) finishing a novelette that has been waiting patiently for some attention, what happens?
Two new characters walk into my head and quietly but insistently make themselves at home. I watch as their story begins to take shape, fragments and scenes and information pouring through my conscious. They are difficult to ignore, try as I might, and within a few hours they have been joined by two more characters, some locations and a soundtrack.
They are intriguing and despite my (admittedly rather half hearted) attempts to send them to the back of the queue I am driven to make some notes – a little background information, some scenes, scraps of conversation, . A vague timeline presents itself. So here is my dilemma – do I start writing their story now and make the others wait? Or do I keep making notes and hatching a plan whilst finishing what has already been waiting too long, and brave the challenge of National Novel Writing Month again this November? Hmmm…
As dilemmas go, it’s a pretty pleasant one. A bit like standing in the sweet shop when you’re nine, thinking ‘Pear drops or toffees? Chocolate or jelly beans?’ Such a tough decision! Perhaps the only way to solve it is to indulge in a nice cup of tea and some contemplation under the apple tree…
In April I was gently coerced (is that possible?) by the newest group of characters that had wandered into my head into starting another novel. They had very kindly presented themselves just in time for Camp NaNo, which is another writing month run by the organisers of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).
Having successfully completed a novel last November, I decided to aim for the same target as then, i.e. 50,000 words, although in April (and July) you can set your own target and work on any writing project you like, non-fiction, plays, short stories etc.
I am feeling quite proud and a little smug at the moment because I DID IT, with the support, of course, of family and friends (thank you!) and an industrial sized amount of chocolate. Although the novel is not quite finished, it’s great to have the structure in place and the bulk of it written, even if it is only a first draft.
So Camp NaNo, I thank you, as do my characters Serena, Seth, Tallie, Ethan, Gaia and Great Aunt Rose. They are most grateful that I haven’t made them wait for eight years like Robyn, Bryn and Holly (my November characters) had to!
Well, it’s almost the end of November and I am happy to say that I managed to complete my novel in time – all 50,508 words of it. I have no doubt it’s going to need serious redrafting but at least it’s written and not just in my head. And hopefully I haven’t driven everyone too crazy.
So after the frenzy of writing, I am going to take my own advice and dust off a few of my favourite rereads this weekend. I can drink tea and eat chocolate just as easily when I’m reading as when I’m writing! These are the books I may indulge in.
Dreams Underfoot by Charles de Lint – a magical collection of short stories set in an imaginary North American city.
Green Angel by Alice Hoffman – the most beautifully written story of loss and recovery I think I’ve ever read.
Anne of Green Gables by L M Montgomery – the classic tale of an orphan taken in by a brother and sister, and how she changes their lives. The sequels are favouites too.
The Wood Wife by Terri Windling – an otherworldly tale set in Arizona.
I daresay that as I look on the bookshelves for these I’ll find others that tempt me in. What a lovely thought.
And from old favourites to a new book out for Christmas. You will see an advert for it on my website; it’s called 365 Silly Jokes For Kids and has been published to raise funds for Martha Care, a small but incredibly valuable charity that provides support and advice to parents of children admitted to hospital in crisis with injury or long term/teminal illness. Please buy this book and help them to continue supporting families going through their worst nightmare. Many thanks.
Picture by Caleb Roenigk
NaNoWriMo has been such a great experience so far. It’s been so great having a deadline because it’s made me sit and write EVERY DAY, despite having all the usual things to do as well. If nothing else, it’s taught me that I can make the time if I try hard enough, so I won’t be able to use the ‘too much else to be done’ excuse any more! Continue reading
Picture by Nic Mcphee
Just in case you’ve not heard of this, November is National Novel Writing Month. And it’s not just a celebration of the novel and writers and a stimulus to start one or finish one or even read one. No. As if the thought of writing a novel isn’t daunting enough NaNoWriMo is the month when you write THE WHOLE THING! IN 30 DAYS! Madness… or is it? Continue reading