The October Question

Now that the nights are drawing in and the weather’s turning damp, and you’re wondering if it’s time yet to put the heating on or whether another jumper will keep cold from creeping into your bones, it’s that time of year when writers the world over have a decision to make.

NaNoWriMo, or not NaNoWriMo?

Are you ready for the annual challenge to write a fifty-thousand-word brand shiny new first draft? From scratch. Or are you still busy with last year’s, editing or rewriting, and can’t afford to invest a month in another story? Or are you just going to have a writing holiday, away from novels? Perhaps you’ll decide instead to do the blogging equivalent, NaBloPoMo, with a post-a-day-commitment.

Last year, still busy with the previous year’s NaNo draft, I opted for the blogging version.

This year, I’m still busy with that novel. Well, I say busy, but really, I’ve stalled a bit in my writing of the second draft (I don’t count all the previous edits as separate drafts. This second one is a complete re-write). I have about a third of it, and for (Real World) reasons I shan’t bore you with, I have become a bit stuck.

And I’m the sort of person who likes to finish one big project almost completely before I start another. Which means that I don’t really want to think about another novel until I’ve at least got this one to a stage where I’m happy that all I have left to do is a final edit. So I don’t really want to tackle NaNoWriMo this year.

But equally I don’t want to do the blog-a-day either. I’m happy with my current level of two to three posts a week. It’s taken me a while to reach it, and I’d rather not disrupt it.

So my final decision is this: I’m going to attempt to write short stories, total word count fifty thousand, about my world, both pre- and post the period my novel takes place in. My hope is that in doing so, I shall find a way back to Raganbald, and when we reach December, I shall be able to fly through the rest of that second draft.

What are your plans for NaNoWriMo?

A Good Customer Experience

There’s lots out there about how to build a business from a blog.

Quite a lot of it is much like the Customer Service advice about how to get people to sign up to stupid Rewards systems or to spend more money. Those cut-price bars of chocolate at the till-point. A discount for signing up. An e-mail address collector thing popping up two seconds after you click on the page. Receive a newsletter every (insert time-frame here!), so you don’t even have to come back to the site…

This all annoys me. I don’t like things popping up on my screen, getting in the way of my reading whatever, and I don’t like being asked (or indeed asking) if I want a loyalty card/Dairy Milk.

What NaBloPoMo has taught me is this: if you blog every single day, more people find your blog and tag along. And that’s how you build a community. It might be slower, but you’re less likely to annoy readers along the way. If your content annoys them, well, they weren’t going to sign up to your newsletter anyway.

For me, a good customer experience involves not being annoyed. Being able to get or read whatever with a minimum of fuss. It means making sure the customer is happy. Unless of course the customer is rude or moronic, in which case, anything goes. Well, not quite, but you know. Or maybe you don’t, in which case, lucky you!

But anyway. The one piece of advice which I agree with about building a blog-based business is this: blog regularly. That’s all.

Although I don’t plan a blog-based career, I do intend to continue blogging regularly. I’m still finalising the details of my diary, since I don’t intend to continue blogging every day – one needs one’s rest, after all – but I’m working on establishing a routine for specific sorts of topics. Some of them I’ve begun directly as a result of my November challenge.

I’ve learnt a lot from NaBloPoMo. Mostly, that, if I set my mind to it, I can blog every day. Even when I’m tired and can’t be bothered. And also that, I prefer shorter posts, so I might start to impose a word-limit (but this won’t always apply to Sunday Storytime).

Ducks and Dating

Because. Ducks.

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Yep, I’m being deep and meaningful. Look, I’m tired, OK?

And ducks are far more interesting than discussing why a Pick-Up Artist should or should not be denied entry to the UK on the basis of some questionable statements about effective methods to get laid.

The real question is how come men pay to hear him say these things? And also how come his methods actually appear to work? Because, let’s face it, if they didn’t work for him, he wouldn’t be making money telling other men to do whatever it is that he’s doing. Which suggests that there’s an number of women out there who do fall for his “routine”.

I don’t agree with what he says, or condone his actions, but as with all such dubious characters, let him say his piece, reveal himself to be a thoroughly nasty specimen, and then get on with our lives without any further ado. Knowing about him has not enriched my life; I doubt it’s enriched yours. What this fuss has done is to make us aware of his name and given him his fifteen minutes. (Actually, I can’t remember his name and nor do I think him worthy of the minute it would take for me to Google him.) I expect he’s thrilled to be attracting so much attention, even if it is negative.

It has surely, though, warned those women who might fall for his methods to be on their guard. Let’s hope so.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

I’ll be honest, I might have already used that title for a blog-post, but it’s not where I thought it might be (ie – last November), so who knows.

Anyway, this tunnel is the novel which I speed-wrote last year (when I’ve brushed up on the blurby bit, I might even tell you about it). And then spent most of this year dithering about writing the actual ending. And rewriting what I’d written in my haste to write lots in little time.

But! Having finally, after about six weeks of nagging, printed a hard-copy of a completed draft, I have now finished this round of editing. That’s a good feeling. Creating a whole new document to copy-and-paste and make the changes onto an electronic version is less of a good feeling, but I do then (usually) read through everything again and spot other changes to be made. Unless I’m going through copy at this sort of time at night, in which case I skim through until I find the bits I changed on paper.

And at this moment in time, I have only the fifth and final section left to make electronic changes to. And then it shall be done, and I shall have no more excuses for sitting on my bum eating left-over (and therefore much reduced in the shops) Hallowe’en jelly beans. Apart from the sewing, that is. But it’s harder to snack and stitch at the same time.

A Quiet Night In

So it’s Bonfire/Guy Fawkes’ Night, when we in Britain celebrate the foiling of a terror attack on Parliament and King James I/VI.

For those who think terrorists are only Islamic, Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators were Catholics. Fawkes wasn’t even the leader of the group, but there! He’s the one we remember because he was the one caught guarding the gunpowder.

But all that’s by the by. Fireworks have been going off for the last week or so, and I expect them to continue doing so for the next week or so, so I’m having a Quiet Night In with my sewing. And Numb3rs.

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