I won NaNoWriMo for the 15th straight year. I hit the 50,000 word mark with 4 days to go but then slacked off the pace and had to scramble to make my personal goal of 60,000 just a few minutes before midnight on the last day. The story isn’t finished but I do have a workable first draft of a novel that I’m looking forward to working on. So that’s a double win.
I’ve taken a few days off since finishing, partly because I’ve come down with a virus and partly because my brain needs the rest. I will get back to Project Academy but not right away. I need to get back to the rewrites on the novel I was working on before, Project Kindness and at some point I have to take a look at the novel I tried querying and decide if I want to do anything with it.
In the meantime my spouse and I have been using Minecraft creative mode to build a replica of the setting for Project Academy. It’s slow going, partly because I’ve been so under the weather and partly because of the limitations of Minecraft. Also we’re pretty sure we have the scale wrong so that’s a problem. I can recommend it as an exercise for authors though.It’s nice to do something imaginative, that’s related to your novel, but is totally unlike writing.
The other thing I want to do this month is to clean up the first couple of chapters of Project Academy. My mother will want to read a bit of it just to see what I’ve been working on and for once I don’t have to worry about the sex, violence or swearing.
Five days to go and I’m currently less than 3,000 words from the 50,000 word target. I could hit it tonight. I still have another 10,000 beyond that for my personal goal of 60,000 words and it’s looking like I’m going to have trouble fitting in all my scenes.
I’m also having trouble actually writing scenes. I keep sitting down to write a scene that I have roughly blocked out and then realising that I can’t actually write it yet. That I have to write an earlier scene or three so that I actually know what’s going on. And I’ve discovered a massive plot hole in my plan for the climactic action scene that I don’t know how to fix. But it is NaNoWriMo so full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes.
No problems at all with my characters. They are wonderful. I love them all but I am a bit worried that I have too many of them. That’s the problem with a school setting. Even with a tiny school roll there’s still the pupils and the teachers and the support staff and my main character’s family and I’m starting to see why there are so many horribly under supervised orphans in YA fiction. It’s as much about keeping the cast down as it is about narrative.
My story keeps branching out. Tiny details of setting or character keeps leading to new stories that I definitely want to tell. It’s a little intimidating. It’s as if I started to dig a new flower bed, found a few Roman coins, excavated a corner of a villa, and now it turns out I’ve found a street and I have no idea how big the town is. I’m starting to feel preemptively guilty because there’s so much potential there and I’ll never have time to write it all.
Wish me luck.
I am continuing to write. I’m well ahead of where I need to be to hit the official target of 50,000 words but am slightly behind on my personal goal of 60,000.
My story is feeling really episodic. Not so much a coherent plot line as a series of scenes that don’t really connect to one another. That failure to transition properly from one scene to another is something that I can fix in the edit but I know that it’s going to be really annoying. I’d like to save future me from that soul destroying task but I can’t do that without slowing down. And I cannot afford to slow down.
I’m also having trouble with one of my characters. I have a character that I’ve described as a ‘trans boy genius’. Throughout the story everyone treats him as a boy and I always use male pronouns. How do I show the readers that he’s trans? My main character is meeting him for the first time at a point in his life where he’s already on puberty blockers and everyone he knows has got used to using his male name and male pronouns. You could argue that I don’t have to bring it up at all, trans boys are boys, but if I don’t then I’m concealing a part of who he is and denying my trans readers the representation they deserve.
I’m also having intermittent problems with my finger joints. Following my last appointment with the doctor I now have anti-inflammatory gel to apply when they start to swell and hurt but it’s not magic. It doesn’t work instantly and it’s not fixing the underlying problem. Can the underlying problem even be fixed? Is this just another example of life kicking me in the teeth? My continuing existence is going to be more unpleasant and there’s nothing I can do about it?
The worst thing about the finger pain is that it feels like a betrayal. I’ve never been pretty or fit or anything but I used to be able to rely on my hands. My hands were always steady and quick and strong. I could touch type, and crochet, and make jewellery, and I could learn new things to do with my hands quickly. My hands looked good too. They looked considerably better than the rest of me. And now my little fingers are crooked and the joints are swollen and it’s probably only a matter of time before the rest of my fingers look like that. Eventually I won’t even be able to paint my nails to cheer myself up.
I’m going to finish this post with some pictures of that time when I accidentally co-ordinated my nails with my iPad case. I don’t know how many more pictures I’ll want to take of my hands.
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.
I wrote a Sunday update post as usual but I threw it out because it just devolved into a rant about injustice all triggered by the additional pain I’m in because of my broken writing chair. I don’t like myself very much at the best of times but I hate who I become when I’m in that much pain.
I genuinely do not know what I’m going to do about writing. I’m always in pain but there’s only so much of it I can ignore. I need to be relatively comfortable in order to write anything other than semi coherent rants. You can’t build a novel on semi coherent rants unless you’re a famous, rich, white guy.
I also don’t know what I’m going to do about this blog. While I can write it in shorter bursts there’s kind of no point if I’m not writing anything else.
Anyway. Here’s my Ko-Fi link if you have a desperate urge to send me money.
Last Wednesday I had an incredibly shitty day and I wrote about it here. This Wednesday I spent the day in crippling pain. The kind of stabbed-in-the-hip-with-a-rusty-breadknife, 50-point-IQ-drop, can-barely-spare-the-brain-cells-to-speak sort of pain that people really don’t want to hear about when they ask you how you are. It was the kind of pain where sitting hurts, standing hurts worse, and laying down is by turns either much better or much worse.
And then my chair broke. My writing chair. The only chair in the house from which I can type and put my feet up. I was too tired and sore to work out what was wrong with it so I went to bed. This morning my other half tried to fix it and found out (by sitting on it) that the central post it swivelled on was completely sheared off.
So my writing chair is broken beyond repair. I have no money for a replacement. It’s NaNoWriMo in five days. I don’t even know anyone I could borrow the money from. I can’t ask my mother. She’s still in hospital and she’s gong to have to spend thousands on handrails and a stairlift so she can go home.
The most annoying thing is that I should have a chair. Local Councils are supposed to supply equipment to disabled people who need them. I used to have a rise and recline chair that was perfect for my needs but I had to give it back to the Council when I moved. In my new area there are so many people who need them that the Council only lends them to people undergoing end of life care at home. You need to be literally dying to get a comfy chair.
If you’re wondering why I don’t just go and buy one of these fancy chairs it’s because the kind I need starts at £1800. That’s why I had to pay for a cheap and shitty one that lasted just under two years and now I can’t even afford a cheap and shitty replacement.
So here’s my Ko-fi link. But don’t feel bad about not clicking it. Even if every single reader clicked through and donated the cost of a cup of coffee I still wouldn’t have enough to buy a new chair. I’m only doing this so that when I complain and people ask me if I’ve tried asking for money on the internet I’ll be able to say yes.
Well this has been a week of disappointment, anticlimax and annoyance.
I already wrote a detailed post about the Wednesday from hell so I suppose this is the place to talk about the fallout from that day. I knew when it happened that I’d be useless for the rest of the week and this has proved to be true. I haven’t been able to do much around the house at all and I’ve been on painkillers and vaping CBD for pain every day since. Things are beginning to get a bit easier but I reckon it will be next week before I’m back to normal. And let us not forget how shitty normal is for me.
No major news about my mother and although I hear that she is continuing to recover there’s still no timetable for her getting back home. I’m still working on a lighter weight poncho for her. It’s taking so long because it uses much finer yarn which takes longer to work up. Also the ongoing problem with my hands is slowing me down.
I finished part 5 of my current novel this week. Well… I finished it enough to show it to my beta readers. That means there’s still a lot of work to be done but at least I’m not fixing this part on my own.
Sharing a file with my beta readers always feels like a huge anticlimax. Not because my beta readers are bad, or lazy or cruel, just because there’s no reaction that would match the build up. There’s so much work in getting my writing to a state that I’m happy to share and it feels like a major milestone but it’s not. The story is very slightly closer to being finished. It’s just another step along the road.
This week I’ve had trouble shaking the feeling that it should be possible to find an agent and get published. Other people do it. There are supernatural thrillers and occult police procedurals being published all the time and my work isn’t that different. I am undecided about what to do.
And another excellent new episode of Doctor Who. Rosa marked a new high point for th series as a whole. I predict that people will be talking about it alongside episodes like Vincent and the Doctor for years to come. I’m sure there are people who’re going to complain about how political this episode was and to them I say, “Have you not been paying attention at any point in the history of the show? It’s always been political.”
This has been a big week for birthdays. We celebrated the births of my spouse, my son and my mother. This week also saw a brief visit from the in-laws. I have been unusually social and as a result I am knackered. But not in a bad way.
My Mother is still in hospital recovering from her broken arms but she continues to make good progress. I’m still working on a poncho for her which means I haven’t done any more spinning.
My mother, in her usual ‘helpful’ way, has suggested that I start a new business selling hand crocheted ponchos to people recovering from shoulder and arm injuries. I don’t know how she thinks I’m going to find those people to sell stuff to them. I also don’t know where she thinks they’re going to get the money from. It’s at least £30 of yarn plus 10 to 50 hours of my time (depending on pattern). She’s still not ready to give up on the idea of me being able to make money at something.
Speaking of which, I am starting to give head space to the idea that If I want people to read my stories I’m going to have to give them away. I wrote a post about this that you can read here. I still haven’t come to a decision though.
November is fast approaching and with it NaNoWriMo. I have quite a lot of prep done for my own writing but I feel like I’m falling behind on my prep as a Municipal Liaison. I should be doing more to organise meetings and write-ins. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Perhaps it’s just that with such a rural region it’s hard to find meeting locations that everyone is happy with.
I’m continuing to work on the rewrites of my current novel. I might even have fixed that one scene that I just wasn’t happy with and that was keeping me from sending part Five to my beta readers. Maybe. I might look at it again in another couple of days and hate it just as much as before.
Just watched the new episode of Doctor Who and it was another belter. My only problem was the epic faff necessary to watch it. Our Tivo, which we have through Virgin Media, took multiple restarts to play sound. So we missed the beginning of the episode. So we tried to watch it from the start on the iPlayer app on the Tivo. Which would play sound but no pictures. Couldn’t get that to work even after a hard reboot and recalibrating the Tivo. Ended up watching it using the iPlayer app on the PS4. Worth the effort but I am not happy with Virgin. I pay a lot of money to them every month and I expect the kit they give me to work when I want to use it.
I’ve been thinking recently about what I want from my writing. I want to get paid, obviously, but maybe that’s not possible. Certainly any traditional system of remuneration seems to be cut off from me and any non-traditional system relies on already having an audience. So what else do I want?
I want people to read my stories. I owe it to the stories. Right now they only live in my head and when I’m gone I’ll take them with me. They deserve to be read.
Maybe I should focus on putting more stories online? I have a whole novel that I could cut into installments and then put up on my fiction blog. If I get enough readers maybe it would be worthwhile going the Patreon route or upgrading my Ko-Fi account to a gold one?
Or alternatively I’ll have like 10 regular readers and that will just be soul destroying.
I’m updating on the right day. Go me.
I’m back home from my trip to the frozen north to see my mother in hospital. She’s doing remarkably well for a woman her age with osteoporosis but they still haven’t operated on her broken shoulder. My youngest brother, who is coordinating the family response, is having trouble finding out what the doctors actually plan to do about it and when they plan to do it.
We’re also all still having trouble getting my mother to answer her damn phone. The mobile phone industry needs to get to work and develop the perfect phone for her. It would have flashing lights like a police car and an alert with the volume of an air raid siren so she knows when someone is calling. Also handcuffs so she can’t lose it.
I’m back home but I’m discovering that I used up a reservoir of spoons I didn’t know existed on my trip. As a result I feel like I’ve mined out new veins of exhaustion. I’ve also spent a week without wearing my medical grade compression leggings. I can’t walk anywhere without feeling like I’ve been stabbed in the calves and my left knee is being a total bitch. It is just not a team player. Still, it’s better than a couple of broken arms.
I haven’t done any more spinning so I can only assume that I continue to be crap at it. I have done some Tunisian* crochet and I’ve discovered that I’m really out of practice with it. I feel like I might be ready to really get into Tunisian because I’m starting to see the possibilities.
I haven’t done much writing but I am listening to a new audio book and that’s writing adjacent. It’s High Rise by JG Ballard, read by Tom Hiddleston. I might write more about it later because I have thoughts but it’s probably a good idea to finish it first.
I did finally get back to looking at my completed novel again, the one I tried queering but then gave up on because I started to suspect that either I’d fucked up the opening or it just wasn’t the right time. There might be a couple of things I can do to it to make it better. I still don’t hold out a lot of hope but it’s something to do while I wait for the inevitable stupid apocalypse.
*Tunisian crochet is halfway between knitting (two long needles holding a lot of loops at once and working the whole row of stitches) and crochet (one short hook working a single stitch at a time). It’s one long hook and that picks up a whole row of loops and then works each stitch individually. The finished fabric is similar to knitting and has a clear front and back but is thicker, like crochet.