Camp NaNo, July 107

I made a decision a few weeks ago that the only way I am going to get to do what I want in life, as opposed to a series of pay-the-bills jobs, is by creating the job I want to do. To take control, in effect.

This might sound simple, and a bit of a Duh! thing to say, but taking control is not something I do. I am not a leader; I can only just decide what I want to eat from a menu, usually when the waiter appears to take the order because everyone else at the table has already decided. At that point I just pick something.

You may have noticed some small changes around my Cocoary. This is a part of my Taking Control.

I have found, though, since making this decision, that I am generally happier in the life and job (which I dislike) which I am currently living and doing. I have also found that something has clicked and I have more energy and enthusiasm to pursue my dreams. This is the most important change, I think. Never underestimate the power of having energy and a clear head. The job I dislike no longer gets me down like it did. My brain, which previously wasted a lot of energy thinking and dreaming of ways out, is free, now, to concentrate on the Way Out.

And so, to Camp NaNo July 2017.

I believe I have an account, but you won’t find me in the campsite. I’m not a people-person, sorry. Bit too busy for me.

Anyway, my plans for the camp which begins in the next few days are reasonably simple.

I have two story ideas currently competing for attention; they have been for the last few years. One is the story which I wrote for the first NaNoWriMo I completed in 2013, and still haven’t rewritten or polished to *er-hum* someone’s exacting standards, and the other is one which has been expanding, slowly, since the first scene wrote itself in my head on the way home from work while it was supposed to be working on the first story. Ideas are like that. However, both are at the point where they could, conceivably, be written (or rewritten in the case of the former) probably without too much difficulty.

In the spirit of taking control, though, and with the experience of writing without a plan something of a painful memory, my Camp NaNo goal is thus:

To write a plan, a synopsis, a detailed description, of both stories.

Quick Novels

‘Anyone can write a novel, given six weeks, pen, paper, and no telephone or wife.’

Evelyn Waugh

With the first week of NaNoWriMo behind us, I thought a quick round-up of some famous novels written in under six might help to encourage all those whose pens have stilled for various reason.

First up, Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, written in six weeks while convalescing for a war-injury in the spring of 1944. I really enjoyed Brideshead. I like the language and the imagery, I like the way it deals with Catholicism (Waugh was a Catholic), and I like the bittersweet ending.

A childhood favourite, Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women was written in just three weeks. I always liked Jo – I think there’s something about the name in fiction whereby she has to be feisty and a writer (Jo in The Chalet School, anyone?) – and Beth’s near-death was always emotional, no matter how many times I read it.

For people who think mysteries are all about obsessive plotting, A Study in Scarlet, the first Sherlock Holmes story, was also written in just three weeks, while Arthur Conan Doyle ran a medical practice.

And Robert Louis Stephenson wrote The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in about two weeks. I found that one strange. I don’t remember it being particularly horrifying, perhaps because of already sort-of knowing the story.

To be fair, none of these are particularly long books, all quite reasonable lengths but not door-stoppers, but I do think that Evelyn Waugh has a point about the lack of distractions. Would be nice not to have to worry about the Real World and such pesky things as bills and so on. Would make it much easier to write a novel.

In Uncharted Territory

I had a plan for NaNoWriMo. I decided all my blog posts in advance, making a note of what would happen when in a diary, pencilling in the cross-stitch projects because I wasn’t sure what or if I’d have to share.

I had planned to write them all in advance and schedule them to upload themselves, but I think the nature of this post makes it quite clear that that didn’t happen.

You see, I was knocked off-guard by quite how much I’ve been enjoying a new-to-me TV show – and yes, I do know how silly it was of me to have begun one so close to the beginning of November.

I’ve been watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I never saw this as a child – to be fair, I think I was probably too young when it was first aired – and anyone who knows me will tell you that I jump at the slightest thing. Even if I know it’s coming.

And yet here I am watching something with lots of jumpy (obvious or otherwise) bits.

Although, saying that, I did read a couple of the books – I particularly remember the praying mantis story (and was quite pleased that I saw that one coming from the woman’s first entrance) – and let me tell you, the books are much scarier than the series.

Or maybe it’s the ten to fifteen years since I last read one. I didn’t read all that many: far too scary for my imagination. The series is still jumpy, but far fewer nightmares.

Preparing for NaNoWriMo

As any veteran NaNo-er knows, the key to a successful NaNoWriMo is good preparation: spending October planning your project and doing your research, so you don’t get stuck in the middle of November because you don’t know what’s happening or where you’re going or how such-and-such works.

What a prospective NaNo-er does not need is an unfinished craft project Christmas present of the variety which requires time, energy, and obsession of the variety required for NaNoWriMo.

CrossStitcher Robo Family

For some reason after finishing my previous project, I lost the will a little and had a few days away from my stitching. So I’m a little behind and will be spending this week stitching like crazy to have as few distractions as possible from NaNoWriMo.

Which, incidentally, looks like it might be an attempt to finish the Novel, since in my break I began to chip away at that again. Funny how life and plans work like that! Like computers and threats to replace them when they have hissy fits and don’t work…

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?

NaNo, NaBlo, and Other Writing Challenges

With November fast approaching, it behoves me, and others like me, to make a decision about NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo. I’ve even chosen which of my many story-plans will be this year’s attempt. Or rather, Mark did, since I’m notoriously indecisive.

And yet, I think, on reflection, that I won’t be making the attempt. Not because I fear failure; I did it last year, I can do it again. But because I have quite a few demands on my time.

I’m still editing – I don’t like to rush these things – and I’m planning to make various Christmas-related items, one of which is (hopefully) an Advent calendar. Nothing like leaving everything to the last minute! Mostly because I don’t really like thinking about Christmas until the Autumn of Birthdays is done first – the last of which is the beginning of December. However. This year I’m attempting to be organised.

I will, though, have another go at NaBloPoMo – I failed quite badly last year, with my novel rather taking over. This year, I shall be stitching my way through November, so maybe there’ll be time for some intelligent, and not-so-intelligent, thoughts to make their way here.

Not that I intend to ignore entirely the writing of that novel, or the editing of the previous (whose name still needs finalising). I just won’t be racing to the end.