Madness Takes Its Toll

So, it’s halfway through National Novel Writing Month. Hey, here’s a completely trivial question, should Novel Writing be hyphenated? Since the novel itself isn’t actually doing any writing but is the object being talked about? Or am I misguided? Any grammar freaks who can put that niggle to rest, answers much appreciated.

Where was I? Oh yes. Halfway through NaNoWriMo (it’s quicker and it saves me from worrying about the hyphen thingy) and I’m not quite on track. I’m not horrendously behind…well, yes, actually I am, who’m I kidding? To be on target to complete the 50000 words doing 1667 words a day I should have written 25000-ish by now, and I’ve actually written just under 18000. To finish on time, according to my stats page, I need to write 2146 words a day. This is actually more than do-able, assuming I can focus and sit down every day, which is easier said than done.

So what does that mean for me? First of all, I’m not throwing in the towel. There are a few reasons for this: first, I want the GLORY, the satisfaction of saying that I did it. Does that make me a bad person? Probably. Tough. I also want the writing software Scrivener, which is being offered at a 50% discount to all NaNo winners. I’ve had this on demo and absolutely love it, so I’ll be getting it anyway, but I would rather get it half price! And third, the t-shirts the winners can buy are just so darn pretty. I want one. This definitely makes me a bad person. Of all the motivations I’ve heard for finishing a novel, “I want a t-shirt” has not been among them. The thing is, if I say, aloud, “I’m not going to make it, I’m giving up on NaNoNow but I’ll still write the novel” I probably won’t. I’ll probably go back to my pre-NaNo work in progress and both of them will creep along at the pace that I have the luxury of at the minute being an unpublished, uncontracted writer. If I say I still have a chance and I’m still in there, I’m more likely to push myself and get this written, even if I end up not ‘winning’.

Have I learned anything so far? Well, yes, actually. First of all, it’s good deal more difficult to turn off my inner editor than I thought. I’m constantly checking my research, rewriting my last sentence (because I CANNOT let typos go. I just can’t. Don’t make me.), thinking about what I’m writing. Not so much in plot terms but more like “Is this sentence even English?” This gives me confidence in a strange kind of way, more for the future than for this particular project, but also that this project has some potential in it. I may be deluded in thinking this, it may a leap of logic, but please don’t tell me until December 1st.

Second, it’s sort of a taster of what life as a Real Writer is like. Before you eat me, I mean a writer with a deadline, a contract, having to make time wherever possible, having to squeeze writing time in around family, having something other than the ‘muse’ making me write, and having to sit down and write nearly every day. It puts a little bit of extra pressure on myself to lift my writing from ‘something I do when I have time’ to ‘something I make time to do’, which was beginning to happen but NaNo has made me prioritise it more. And I like it. This also gives me confidence that I’m doing that which I was Born To Do. Not in that my writing is some great gift to the world, just that there’s nothing I can do better or enjoy more on a long-term sustained basis, and that gives me this kind of satisfaction. The satisfaction I get from my family and faith is entirely different; with writing, it’s just about me.

Finally, that writing is a) much harder than it looks (I know, I know, those of you who’ve ‘got’ that are going “well, dur”) and b) a thousand times more satisfying. I started this blog post feeling pretty down in the dumps because of a) but I’ve finished it feeling energised and motivated because of b).

So, madness is definitely taking its toll. But I’m loving it.

Another fresh start

Right then, Fresh Start #451 begins now. Mainly in writing, but also other areas of my life – namely being a better mother to my son and keeping on top of the house. Writing, though, is where the serious FS#451 is aimed.

At the moment I am caught in a vicious circle of not writing because I am not enjoying it and not enjoying it because I am not writing. Once down in the ‘Slough of Despondency’ (is that Pilgrim’s Progress?) it is incredibly difficult to struggle out of it. I have reached a nice little comfort zone with a journal entry every couple of days and am not pushing myself to do much more. Enter Fresh Start #451.

So here is a list of new (again) short term and longer term goals. I have included a guilt-free reading list because, as I was reminded in a blog today, reading is an essential part of a writer’s life. And I AM a writer. Maybe not a very good one but I will get there.

By the way, is it slightly ironic that as I am typing this in WordPress, the spellchecker highlights ‘blog’ as a misspelling? No? Ok, it must just be me. On to the lists…

Short term goals

  • Begin reblogging on both this blog and The Daniel Pages. Not necessarily long posts, but published, tagged and categorised PLEASE.
  • Explore tutorials on getting the most out of WordPress and look at getting hosting so my very talented hubby can build me a nice shiny customised blog. (He is really very talented, leave a comment if you’re interested in knowing more)
  • Enter the monthly competition in Writing Magazine – this needs to be an inflexible rule, even if it’s the only one I’ve got and even if I’m not particularly inspired. One short story on a given prompt every month.
  • Poetry. As the muse strikes!

Longer term goals

  • Filing WIP on paper and on disk
  • Poetry – as above
  • Compiling ideas for stories and journaling whilst out and about as opposed to a page’s rant every couple of mornings.
  • Compiling subjects for research (see below)
  • Finding inspiration for the best-selling novel I WILL write.
  • An Open University course

Reading and Research

  • More contemporary literature to broaden my experience
  • More non-fiction on a range of topics – journalling or blogging interesting points. This is a) to keep my brain working and b) to provide material for blog posts
  • Newspapers / The Week – for the same reasons as above
  • A ‘Flavour of the Month’ – not strictly monthly! An area that takes my interest and could provide inspiration for any type of writing whether it is a blog post, short story, poetry or novel; taking notes and making information files on the computer for future reference. For example in the past year I have had brief but genuine interest in astronomy and aromatherapy and have greatly enjoyed looking into these areas, and currently fancy looking into early feminism and women’s enfranchisement. So if anyone knows any interesting blogs, books or materials, please let me know.

So there you go. Fresh Start #451, raring to go. And now it’s on the internet, so it must be the real thing.