NaNoWriMo 2018 Update 1

For the duration of November I’m going to be focusing this blog on NaNoWriMo because I’m focusing everything else on NaNoWriMo and I like things to match.

As I write this it’s day 4 and I’m on track to hi 50,000 words early and hopefully get to the approximately 60,000 that I think is a good length for the first draft of the story that I’m trying to write. Things are going well. I don’t hate my characters yet, the plot still works and my body hasn’t started rebelling.

This year my support team (by which I mean those of my friends and family who are not taking part in NaNoWriMo) are being unusually supportive. So give them a quick virtual cheer. It’s pretty thankless being an unpublished writer’s support team. They get most of the hassle of NaNoWriMo but they don’t get the creative rush or the potential feeling of accomplishment and it’s not like there’s any money in it.

Good luck my fellow writers. May the words come easy to you.

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Everything is terrible.

It’s not just my imagination, is it? We are all fucked. And not in the good way. Politics is fucked. The climate is fucked. The economy is fucked.

In theory it’s not too late. All these problems are fixable. Even the climate. We’ve fixed similar problems in the past. London fixed its killer fogs. China fixed its population growth. Europe fixed its acid rain problem. The world reversed the damage to the ozone layer. It’s not too late to reverse some of the damage, reduce some and prepare for the rest.

But that’s not going to happen. Have you seen the people in charge? Those that are competent enough to do something either lack the will or the power. Our politics is so badly fucked that it will take a generation to fix it and by then it will be too late to do much about the environment.

I don’t think we’ve destroyed the planet. We might have made it uninhabitable for humans but I don’t think so. As a species we’re pretty adaptable. I do think we’ve destroyed our current civilizations though. We might be facing a huge collective loss of technology.

Most of us alive today will probably live through horrible and traumatic change. Our lives are going to be a lot harder and much shorter. I say ‘our’ but since I’m reliant on modern medicine I don’t expect to live through any kind of societal breakdown.

Of course I could be wrong. We could turn it around. We’re pretty smart when we’re not being incredibly stupid. There is still time for someone to come up with something brilliant.

I wish I could believe that it would happen.

All hail the Internet.

There’s a lot of horrible stuff happening on the internet. It enables a lot of terrible behaviour. In the developed world most of us have come to rely on it as a distraction in ways that can’t possibly be good for us. The Internet also connects us to each other. We don’t always use those connections sensibly but they can be very powerful. So let me tell you a story about connections.

The other day a friend of mine posted a link to a music video on Facebook. He’d found the band online and been so taken with their name, The Church of the Cosmic Skull, that he’d checked out their music on youtube. He said that their music wasn’t really his thing apart from one song that had really got under his skin. I was intrigued (and it is a really cool band name) so I watched the video.

This video.

It has a gloriously understated note of all pervading doom. It’s like the soundtrack to the Scarfolk website.

Afterward I turned to my spouse (who I met via the Internet on the message board of the Fortean Times magazine back when meeting via the Internet was still weird) and I suggested that we listen to more of The Church of the Cosmic Skull. As we listened to the music I gave myself a gel manicure, using materials ordered on the internet and shipped all the way from China, and skills that I learned watching youtube tutorials.

We loved both their albums instantly and as my spouse was posting a link to the video for Black Slug to a Tumblr blog I returned to Facebook to thank my friend for his link.

Seriously though you should check this one out. It sounds like a lost Hawkwind track from back when Lemmy was still playing the base and the video looks like it they sneaked onto the set of ‘The Devil Rides Out’ and shot it when everyone else was asleep.

He replied “This is why the Internet is more often than not, the best thing ever,” and reminded me that if it weren’t for the Internet we would never have followed each other on Twitter and never have become real life friends. If there was no internet then there would be no NaNoWriMo and no Aberdeen NaNoWriMo group having meetings. I wouldn’t have been able to persuade him to come out to one and he would never have met the woman who is now the love of his life.

The internet allowed me to meet my spouse and most of my friends. The internet lets me stay in touch with friends I would long ago have drifted away from.The internet keeps me connected to my family. The internet lets me do detailed research for my novels. I don’t even have to stop writing to do the research. I can do a google search then read all the relevant stuff while I’m taking a five minute break to drink my coffee. The internet allows me to learn new skills.

Without the internet I might not be a writer and you certainly wouldn’t be reading this. So thanks to Tim Berners Lee (inventor of the World Wide Web) and all hail the conquering internet.

I’m not dead I just don’t have anything to say

I’ve been so quiet recently because I don’t feel like I have much to say. This is unusual for me but then these are unusual times. It’s hard to find something to say when just looking at the state of the world makes you want to scream.

I try not to be distracted by all the horrible stuff that I can’t do anything about but I can’t pick something to focus on. I’m drifting. I was working on a novel but then I put that on hold to work on something that I could pitch at Bloody Scotland. I’ve submitted my short pitch but I’m not working on that novel just now because I don’t really expect them to want it. I started work on the prep for a new novel so I’ll have something to write for NaNoWriMo but shouldn’t I go back to finishing the one I was working on?

I suppose the real problem is that it all feels pointless. Everything seems pointless. I am one of the little people and there’s not much I can do about anything. I’m at the mercy of events driven by people with so much money and power that they don’t have to worry about the consequences of their actions. I’d be better spending my time learning more about growing vegetables and stockpiling cans so we can survive Brexit.

Review: Mercury’s Son

Mercury’s Son by Luke E.T. Hindmar

This is my second futuristic detective story review in a row and like False Hearts by Laura Lam it is an easy five star, 10/10, just buy the damn book already rating.*

Sci Fi is the genre of big ideas and this novel is full of them. It’s also a detective novel, and a noirish one at, that so it’s full of enigmas. The story takes place on a future planet Earth recovering from an entirely man-made apocalypse. Humanity has been brought low but is holding on in domed cities, living under an iron central control, committed to fixing the damage to Mother Earth.

The central character is a Moderator, a kind of detective, investigating a murder that goes to the very heart of his society. I can’t say any more about the plot without spoiling it and I would hate to spoil such a beautiful plot.

I recommend this book but it does need to come with a warning. It is a tough read in places. It opens with a suicide and it often deals with horrific violence and the emotional consequences of that violence. It is a brutal futuristic police procedural and it should be violent and terrible in places.

It is absolutely worth reading through passages that you might find painful to get to the deeper meaning. This book has big important things to say about things like consciousness, memory and mankind’s place in the universe and it says them with style and grace.

This is easily a 5 star book for me but if you dislike ambiguity in your mystery novels or violent death in your sci fi then you might have to knock a off one star. But that still makes it well worth the read.

 

*And while you’re buying it in the Amazon store have a look at False Hearts because that’s currently 99p,

And if you want to support this blog you could buy me a coffee with Ko-Fi or visit the shop of doom and buy things.

2018 Diet Update 3

This week I lost 1.3kg (just over 2 and a half pounds). My total weight loss is now 14.4 kg (31.6 pounds or 2 stone, 3.6 lbs). After experimenting with the positioning of my scales I can be fairly sure this is genuine weight loss but of course much of this week’s total will be down to fluid being forced out of my legs by my compression tights.

Wearing my compression tights continues to be a massive pain in the arse. And everywhere else. Just getting them on uses most of my spoons meaning that I don’t have much left over for chores or writing or working on the thing I’m crocheting for my daughter’s birthday. Or even for reading the book I’m reviewing.

More and more I’m questioning why I’m even on this fucking diet. Let us not forget that calorie restriction is not a treatment for lipoedema, that my value is not inversely proportional to my size, and that no level of weight loss is going to magically render me decorative enough to be societally acceptable. I only got on this damn treadmill because weight loss is a hoop that I have to jump through in order to access the treatments that actually do work.

I am trying to commit to more exercise. Not to lose weight but because I want to be stronger. I’m thinking of taking on a 100 squat 30 day challenge. The idea is to work up to 100 squats a day (any kind of squat counts) and then keep it up for 30 days. I have no idea if this is a good idea but I do think it’s important to have goals.

Diet Update 12

This week I lost 2kg. Of course some of that was the half kilo I put on last week so it’s only a net loss of 1.5kg (about 3 pounds). This is for a total weight loss of 11.5kg (25 pounds).

Still not much of a visible change though. In fact there’s so little change in my forearms that I’m starting to worry that I might have lipoedema there as well. At least I now have an appointment for the next stage of assessment for the lipoedema and it’s less than a month away.

With the end of NaNoWriMo approaching I think it’s time to think about a proper exercise plan. Going to a gym just isn’t practical but I do have a rowing machine. Now I just have to work out how to use it. I’ve got a bunch of weights for weight training but no bars to put them on, no bench and no squat rack. I suppose it’s a start.

 

Diet posts.

Playlist Track 9 and 10

Track 9 is another song that makes me think about co-dependency but now with a heavy side order of loss and regret. If you’ve never seen the video then I recommend stopping what you’re doing and watching. It’s beautiful and poignant.

 

Track 10 is more about loss and regret and about how sometimes a brief happiness can make seem like a cruel lie when the misery returns.

 

These two songs take me into the state of mind of my little group of amature detectives. They’ve all felt a terrible loss they’re each one striving to be strong for the others. They’re each living with a gaping hole where someone they cared about used to be.

Why not tell me in the comments about the sort of music that helps you when you’re writing? Does it help you to concentrate, or help you visualise a scene, or does it create a mood. And if you don’t like music what do you like? Silence? Ambient noise? Podcasts?

All the Playlist posts.

Just keep writing

For everyone about to face week three of NaNoWriMo.

How you doing? Are you still writing? If you’re ahead then good work but don’t get cocky. If you’re behind but you’re still writing then well done but don’t stop.

Week one was all about enjoying the fun of creation but accepting that your novel wasn’t as good as you hoped it would be because your imaginary novel is perfect and your real one is not only real but a first draft. Week two is about keeping going even after it’s stopped being fun. Week three is different depending on where you are with your word count.

If you’re roughly on track with your word count then Week three can feel a bit precarious. You’ve kept up the pace so far but you’re beginning to worry that you can’t keep it up till the end of the month. You start to worry that you could lose all the work you’ve done so far with just a couple of bad days.

You can’t lose the hard work you’ve already done as long as you have backed up your work. You have backed it up haven’t you? Go and to it now, just to be sure. If you do fall behind you can claw it back. I’ve seen it happen. I’ve even done it myself. But if you’re starting to worry, if you’re looking ahead to commitments that you can’t get out of then decide today to do an extra 20 minutes. After you’ve hit your total for the day write an extra 20 minutes worth of words. Do that whenever you can and you’ll build up a buffer to carry you through.

If you’re well ahead of track, either because you need to finish early, or your story is longer than 50,000 words, or because you’re writing more than one this year, or things are just going really well for you then take a couple of minutes to congratulate yourself. Pat yourself on the back. Eat some cake. Celebrate with a beer if that’s your thing.

Now get back to work. November isn’t over. There are greater heights to scale. There are lessons to be learned from whatever you’re writing. And, since you’re ahead, you have time to spare to help, advise or commiserate with the people who aren’t doing so well.

Speaking of which.

Hi, how you doing? Still writing? Not giving up even though you’re sure you’ll never hit 50,000? Good work. If you can keep writing till the end of the month then you might not officially win but you won’t’ have failed. To keep writing in the face of all the distractions the world can throw at you is its own kind of victory.

But don’t write the official win off just yet. There is still time to pull it back. Just sit your arse down at the keyboard/notebook and write. Write anything. Start by complaining about the mad woman with the walking stick who keeps threatening you. Because if you don’t write more I will come round to your house, stand behind you, and poke you with the stick of doom until you do*.

 

*I won’t actually do this unless you’ve given me your address and specifically asked me to so you’ll have to use your imagination.

Playlist Track 8

This song is for my group of ‘detectives’. They’re good people but they’re all a bit damaged.

Tragic backstories all round.

But the thing about damaged people is that they can be hard to scare. How do you intimidate someone when you can’t say anything that’s worse than they say to themselves? How do you threaten someone when they’re already in more pain than you will ever know?

And if you’re a killer who has so far gone undetected you can forget about them missing any evidence you’ve left behind. The OCD won’t let them miss things that are out of place. The Autism won’t let them stop looking. The PTSD and the depression mean that they don’t care enough about their own safety to  even think about letting things lie.

For further information