Tag Archives: writing

November is Coming.

2013 NaNoWriMo Participant

It’s that time of year again.

As soon as October rolls around, the NaNoWriMo machine lurches into action. Eventually, I see an email, and I think ‘huh, I should probably think about that’. I then ignore the issue, wait until the morning of 1st November, come up with a half-assed plot and then stress over that for a month.

It doesn’t seem to be happening like that this year.

For a start, when that first email came round, I thought ‘huh, if I end up doing it, I should probably donate.’ I donated in my first year, but not since then. And I love NaNo, and I want them to keep on doing what they’re doing. So I went on the store, and saw the NaNo power-up mug.

November is coming. #nanowrimo

+20 buff to hyperactivity for 30 minutes. SOLD.

Then I was like, well, I’ve bought a mug, so I may as well participate. I’ll think about it later, though, make a proper decision when I’m better able to do so.

Then a couple of nights later I dreamed my plot. No joke. I’d had no proper sleep for weeks, and then the first night I actually sleep long enough to dream, I come up with some batshit crazy plot which is part dystopian future, part psychological thriller, part metaphor for modern life. I have two ready-made, reasonably interesting characters, a full world, and a reasonable premise around which to build the whole thing.

So, the preparations are beginning. I have multiple files of brainstorming notes, across DropBox, Evernote, and my snazzy red notebook. I’ve switched onto movie soundtracks for running so I can drift off into plot points while I tread the promenade. AND I just realised that I booked a week off work in November.

brace yourselves: November is coming

Anyone else in? I am whoopscareless over there, and I am open to buddies if you tell me where you found me. 😀

Blogtoberfest ’13

I’ve been doing some tidying-up of the old website recently. Fancying up my sidebar, tidying up my menus, cleaning up the tags. In the course of this very satisfying process, I noticed a long-forgotten event: Blogtoberfest.

The year was 2009. I’d had my blog for three and a half years, if we include the Geocities ‘zine which started the whole thing off. And why wouldn’t we? It taught me everything I know about HTML, most of which is now deprecated. Anyway; somehow, in this year, the notion of Blogtoberfest crossed my desk. ‘Write a blog post every day,’ I said. ‘How hard can that be?’

I made it two days. To be fair to myself, I did end up posting a lot that month, after the usual summer lull. And I was also participating in Socktoberfest, though I only posted about that in the initial OMG SOCKTOBER post so who knows what actually happened.

This year, I don’t need socks. I have a job that I like. I have at least one weekend away. So I probably won’t write every day. But I am painfully aware that NaNoWriMo is just around the corner and I have forgot how to write. To that end…

My logo for Blogtoberfest '13

You see, it’s orange, which is totally October-y. And knitting, very autumnal. And… ZOMGSPARKLEBUTTONS. I can’t help it, I love them.

So yes, I don’t know if I’ll post every day. But (to paraphrase Carl Sagan, possibly) this blog has never been in perfect harmony with my ambition.

I do hope to:
– get a bit of wording practice in before NaNoWriMo
– write several panicked list posts at 11pm
– make at least one graphic designer cry at my slapdash logo
– get some data into my Foofle Analytics account (I got a certificate, you know, but I have so little traffic I can’t do a damn thing with it :D)
– re-learn how to express myself through the medium of blog

Anyone else in?

FO Friday: NaNoWriMo ’12

In the early hours of this morning, 30th November 2012, I reached the ultimate goal: 50,010 words.

Winner 180x180

The stats:

  • Final verified count: 51012
  • Average daily word count: 1759
  • Days of active writing: 19
  • Word count per day active: 2684
  • Number of plots used: 3
  • Number of unrelated ‘short’ stories written: 4
  • Number of times I made myself cry: 3

It wasn’t easy, this year. I did a lot of things wrong, spent too much time procrastinating and doing other things instead of concentrating on my story. I flounced at the most minor interruptions, claimed writer’s block when really I was too busy faffing on the internet. I drank too much coffee and far too much wine.

Wait… that’s what writers are supposed to do. I take that back.

I’m not sure where I went ‘wrong’ in comparison to last year; it’s not that the plot was better last year because it really wasn’t. But last year, I did manage to stick to the same story for the full 50,000 words. This time, I really struggled, and kept writing people into corners, making them do things that didn’t make sense. They swung wildly between totally irrational and bitingly logical; at one moment doing stupid shit that made no sense, and then the next refusing to do something because it just doesn’t feel right, mew mew mew.

I liked them, though, as characters. I may not have represented them well on the page, but they were cool to be around. If a bit angsty. I dreamed of them, at one point. We were doing a crossword. My other half woke me up just as we were about to get 17 across and I was very irate.

Things I learned:

  • The thing I thought was a plan? Was not a plan.
  • I need to spend more time away from the internet.
  • I need to read more. It is hard to write a well-paced scene – well, any scene – when you read nothing but forum posts and memes.
  • Coffee + movie soundtracks + full-screen text editor = frightening but super-productive hyperfocus.
  • I really enjoy writing.

Vale Fireworks last night.

NaNoWriMo: feeling cautiously optimistic

We’re just past the half-way mark of this year’s NaNoWriMo, and all is well on this end. In fact, I had an astonishing burst of creativity over the weekend, which included not only two 5k days but a 10k day. Yes. Ten thousand words. In a day. I felt like a god, albeit a god with bloodshot, gritty eyes and shooting pains in my elbows.

Tip: Movie soundtracks are marvellous for blocking out the world and letting you really concentrate on writing, but be warned that they may trigger hyperfocus so intense you forget to blink.

So I find myself a good few thousand words ahead, which has allowed me to take a few days off to tool around with some other writing projects. I know the idea is to write on it every day, but it’s good to get some distance and bash out the unrelated ideas so they don’t bug me or force their way into the NaNo storyline.

That distance also gives me the chance to stick my fingers in my ears and say LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU to my internal editor who is doing her best to make me feel bad. I’ll think about whether she’s right, whether there really is nothing salvageable from the dross escaping my fingers, in December. Maybe.

And let’s face it, many people will already have abandoned their novels. Characters have been written into corners, entire outlines expressed in a fraction of the intended word count. A sea of writers are sitting, head in hands, as a thousand internal editors dance cruel victory dances on the bytes and pixels of their dreams.

So I’m doing pretty well. You?

NaNoWriMo Challenge: The 5k day

Like many people attempting NaNoWriMo, I woke up this morning facing a stern challenge.

Due to a week of procrastination and related artistic flailing, I’d fallen quite a bit behind on the required word count. To be precise, on Thursday I found myself 5576 words short of the target.

Like many people attempting NaNoWriMo, I thought the unthinkable. I actually considered ditching the whole thing.

Fortunately, GrumpyCat wafted her way across the internet, and said no.

grumpy cat says no

See? GrumpyCat is srs bsns, so I knuckled down, spewing over 2000 words of loosely-related nonsense into my poor beleaguered text file.

I emerged, blinking, into the Friday morning light, a good 4500 words in the red. I was nervous, let me tell you. But once again, the internet came to my rescue.

During my morning perusal of my RSS feeds, I came across a set of pictures from an awesome site called Retronaut. Normally a site of cheerful, cutesy retro pics of happy events, I was sucker-punched by some fairly graphic war photography.

Unable to deal with this like a normal person, I incorporated it into my NaNo. Suddenly, my urban fantasy is a gritty war story. And 5000 words longer than it was this morning.

I’ll take it.

So anyway; here is the point of this post, and the meaning of the title. I hereby challenge you, the NaNoWriMo-er in crisis, to do a 5k day. Do some sprint prompts, look at some photos, take any inspiration you can find and run with it. Tweet the results with the hashtag #5kNaNoDay. You can do it!

Battling the internal editor

One November morning, I was sitting at my desk, working on my NaNo. Suddenly, I heard a noise. My hands paused over the keyboard, the flow of words immediately staunched. Footsteps. Unmistakeable. In my house. Coming up my stairs.

I turned around. At the door, was me. To be precise, a facet of me, a part of my personality made flesh.

My internal editor.

She settled her glasses more firmly on her nose, and drew a large red marker pen from her pocket. She gestured for me to move away from the keyboard.

Dumbstruck, I followed her instructions. Moving over to the computer, she removed the cap from the pen and scrawled these letters on the screen.


We stare at each other. My shoulders hang heavy, and it feels as though my strength (and hope, and happiness) is dripping from my fingertips as I realise the significance of my alter ego’s refusal to read my text.

She makes some insolent gesture at me. With all the strength of my mind, I will her to die. She grins wickedly, and visibly grows in height.

Damn it all.


NaNoWriMo is already live in tomorrow-land, but at time of writing, I still have about 10 hours to wait.

NaNoWriMo wordcount graph

While I wait for the clock to tick down, it’s time for the final preparations.

Step 1: Get widgets in place.

You’ll notice mine over on the right there, and I’ve also updated a couple of other profile pages. This is probably the most important step. Well, it’s the one I always do first, anyway. Get yours here.

Step 2: Prepare implements of choice.

This year I’ll be using Sublime Text 2, because it’s so shiny. There is a word count add-on, I can sync it over DropBox, and I should even be able to write on my iDevices.

Step 3: Prepare Real Life for the onslaught.

Stock up on coffee. Plan meals. Clean the house now, if only because it’s so easy to get carried away buffing the skirting boards when you’re supposed to be writing.

Step 4: Get the support network going.

There are all sorts of resources out there to keep you on track; dive into the forums, follow the tweets from NaNoWordSprints for some awesome inspiration and challenges, or put your life in the hands of technology.

Step 5: *crickets*

You may be thinking that I’m missing something fairly crucial; namely, how about planning the actual writing, you crazy woman. But that, to me, is the least of my concerns. I mean – that’s what November’s for, right?


And so, the insanity begins.

As you may have spotted in my last post, (inter)National Novel Writing Month is about to begin.

This is my favourite time in the process; brimming with optimism, plots forming, coalescing, and crashing into each other like so many icebergs of creativity.

Icebergs + Penguins

Yep. Complete with penguins.

I become convinced that everything I see is worth noting down for inclusion in my story. For example, I was on a run earlier this evening. While trotting along, a half-eaten apple fell from a tree that was not an apple tree. I became convinced that this should form some part of my plot. Some kind of sign, a portent even. Possibly related to the abandoned bag of sand I spotted by a garage. Then I saw a man hugging a TV and let me tell you, if that doesn’t appear by chapter 5, I’ll be very surprised.

Anyway. There’s a little glimpse into my particular brand of insanity. Are any of you planning on joining in? Any other similar experiences?

Short Story Saturday: Vampire Babysitters’ Club

Today’s story was spawned by a random forum conversation. It was posited that the reason the members of the Babysitters’ Club never seemed to age was because they were actually undead. It started off just being vampires, but no other vampire franchises seem capable of sticking to just the one supernatural… er… race? so pfft. Might be follow-ups to this.

Belinda strode across the grass, tugging her bag more firmly onto her shoulder. It contained everything she’d need for a long night of babysitting; phone, notebook, pens, DVD box set of True Blood. She’d pinched the latter from her mother’s bedroom – her father had banned her from watching it, and demanded that it be kept away from her. He still insisted on treating her like a 14 year old. ‘Come on, Pop,’ she argued, ‘I’ve been 14 for more than fifty years, can we just move on now?’. But no, he didn’t want her getting any ‘funny ideas’. Whatever. As if sucking the blood of the innocent weren’t funny enough, right?

That man. Totally in denial. As if she couldn’t just download it, anyway.

She was on her way to the Pattersons’ house, just behind her own. She’d heard the kid prancing around in the garden, the occasional night-time screaming session, but never spoken to the adults. So far they’d avoided employing her services, preferring the more discreetly undead members of the club; but tonight, all the other girls were occupied. Tonight, it was Belinda hopping over the little picket fence, trudging past the dustbins, and crunching over the gravel drive.

She knocked at the door, which opened immediately. Mr Patterson muttered a hello and a goodbye, immediately scuttling out to the car like a fretful hermit crab seeking a new home. He fumbled and dropped his keys on the floor, such was his haste to escape the fearful five-foot-nothing predator standing on his doorstep. She smiled pleasantly in his direction as the car door slammed, then turned to face his wife, now standing in the doorway.

Mrs Patterson’s nerves were betrayed by only the slight sheen of perspiration trying to break through her makeup. Her hair was piled up on top of her head, shining curls rigidly secured by innumerable hairpins and a gallon of hairspray. Following her around the house, Belinda smiled politely, complimented the furniture, and waited for the inevitable question. It came after the tour, as Mrs Patterson stood on the doorstep, one hand still on the door.

“I, er. I don’t like to ask, but… you’re not going to… bite him, are you?”

Belinda raised her eyebrow. “Look, lady,” she said, “I’m a growing girl – ok, maybe not. What I mean to say is, don’t worry, your kid is barely big enough to be a snack. Not really worth the effort.”

Mrs Patterson’s brow creased in concern.

“Not that I’ve thought about it, of course,” continued Belinda. “Besides, I just ate.”

“Oh, ok,” replied the woman, momentarily relieved. Her face dropped. “Oh.”

“Don’t worry,” smiled Belinda. “Nobody you know. Probably.”

“Um… ok. Well, these are our numbers if there’s an emergency. If you feel hungry there…” She paused, and swallowed nervously. “There is food in the fridge, help yourself to any… er… drinks… are you sure you’ll be ok?” Her eyebrows looked like they were about to break free of her face, and dive into the stiff updo for safety.

“Absolutely, Mrs Patterson,” replied the girl, closing the door, calling “You have fun, now!” through the frosted pane. She listened for the slam of the car door, and sighed deeply as the Pattersons drove away. She wandered to the living room where the boy, Sam, was playing computer games.

“Well,” she said, “It’s just us now.”

The boy ignored her, continuing to tap on the keyboard as pixellated blood spattered across the screen.

She rolled her eyes, and took her phone from her bag, hoping to find a decent conversation to join. She was immediately interrupted.

“Dad says I have to be really good and do exactly as you say.” He swung around in his seat, and narrowed his eyes at her.

“Yep,” she replied, “sounds about right.”


She cocked her head to one side. “What do you mean, why? Because I’m in charge, is why.”

“No, I mean what will you do otherwise?”

“Well,” she said, racking her brains for the most effective response. “I’ll probably drain you of every last drop of blood, and leave you a withered husk on the floor.”

“Like a mummy?” he asked, looking down at his hands as though imagining it. “Dad won’t pay you if you do.”

She looked steadily at him. “That’s a risk I’m willing to take. Are you?”

He met her stare for a moment, before turning back to his computer screen with a shrug. “OK. Where’s Tammy?”

“Tammy?” replied Belinda. “Probably howling at the moon through the iron bars of her bedroom window.”

“Cool,” he said, something in the game letting out a muffled shriek. “She tells me she’ll rip me limb from limb and eat my insides but she sticks her nose up at hotdogs so I don’t think she will. I believe you, though. I’ll be good.”

“Glad we’ve got that sorted,” replied Belinda, tapping her phone. Perhaps this wouldn’t be such a long night, after all.