NaNoWriMo 18 – What Now?

Apologies for the huge gap between my last post and this – it’s been a busy time.

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NaNoWriMo 2018

We haven’t quite reached the end of the month – but – I have hit the 50,000 target with five days to spare.

It’s an odd sensation, a combination of exhilaration; I did it! I finally did it! And, What now?

I am sure that if you have been following my blog for any length of time, you will be aware of NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. There are around 400,000 writers taking part, it’s a wonderful image isn’t it? People from all over the world, from all walks of life, busy beavering away at their stories.

To describe it as a race doesn’t quite do it justice. To talk about competitiveness only grazes the surface.

When you take part in NaNoWriMo, you can, if you wish to, award yourself Personal Achievement Badges; Planner/Pantser/Procrastinator/Word Sprinter and so on. You also gain Earned Badges; Word Count/Update/Winner. You can also add Buddies. I know, it’s tres American, but it can be a device that helps you get through the difficult times.

my NaNoWriMo Badges
My NaNoWriMo Badges

I have eight Buddies, I don’t get in touch with all of them, but this year three in particular have been on this journey with me – and that’s the point of having Buddies. Three of mine are based in America, one in France, two in the UK and the others haven’t posted their locations. Amy, David and Kristi and I have, this year, mailed each other throughout the event. Congratulating each other on reaching benchmarks, 10,000, 30,000 etc. We have spoken of time – not enough, word counts – falling behind, and emotional barriers – varied.

It reminds me of a tribe I once read about, and watched on TV many years ago – ‘Millennium: Tribal Wisdom and the Modern World’ by David Maybury-Lewis. (The Xavante of South America I think it was, but I cannot be absolutely sure.)

This community held a race each year. Everyone took part who wanted to – from the smallest kid to the oldest tribal member. An exciting event where everyone gathered at the starting line amidst cheers and joyful shouts. And off they went, running. I remember watching this really elderly man fall midway. The race slowed down. A couple of others came and raised him up and continued to run alongside him, everyone, every single participant crossed in a muddled lump of laughing and cheering.

The point was, the race was symbolic. They were sort of competing against each other, but more importantly – they were running the race together, as one. It was an analogy of life.

In the NaNo writing event, we all compete against ourselves. We push to reach that Finish Line ahead of others, but at the same time we are supportive of each other. Should someone not make it, then that is okay, they have written something and that’s what matters. We all begin with different skills at different levels and that is to be expected and appreciated.

So it is never an ‘In your face!’ moment. It’s a kind of ‘Phew! I made it. And you can too.’ moment. It’s not only about the individual; you, but about interconnectedness.

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Helping Hand

Last year I did not reach the Word Count goal – but I had never intended to. It was a 30,000 word novella. The previous year, my first NaNo, I hit the goal in good time – but – and this is important to remember for all participants – I am still writing it! When NaNo ends, the writing doesn’t. 50,000 words does not a novel make. And it will depend greatly on which genre one is writing in. Just over that word count might be a YA fiction story, but if it’s fantasy your writing, which is what I am doing this year, then I’m only half way there.

So a goal was reached. Now there is a new one – finish the novel. After that there will be another goal – edit the novel. After that another – re-edit/re-write.

And so on and so forth.

As with life in general.

Good luck to all those still working at their word counts, but remember, that reaching it is only one stage in the life of a novel.

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Finishing. Not the end.
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FL/RPGWW/NANOWRIMO- or How I Bit Off More Than I Can Chew

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Its NaNoWriMo time.

For those readers not familiar with this acronym, this is – National Novel Writing Month. An annual event lasting the whole of November for writers to encourage us to attempt 50,000 words in a month – no research, no editing, no worries – just write.

This is my third year of taking part. Previous  years I wrote a sci-fi story and a historical/magical realism story. This year it’s fantasy.

Plus…

It’s RPG Writer Workshop month. A new pilot programme being run by Ashley Warren to help gamers write a ‘one-shot-game’ before the first week in December. Game writers range from absolute beginners; never played TTRPG (Table Top Role Playing Games), to those who have already had work published and sold.

This is the first time -obviously – and although I’ve played Dungeons & Dragons for around 30 years or so, I am WAY behind with the changes that have taken place in this scene. Plus, it’s all online, so digital comms, chat rooms, etc are a challenge!

Plus…

FutureLearn  is currently running a course title, Understanding Depression and Low Mood in Young People. It’s running throughout November only and it’s something that will be useful for the job I am employed in – Learning Support Assistant.

This is probably the easiest of the three as I need no tools, except my laptop to access the course.

I have to say, I do not know how many people are on each of these courses, but combined, it’s thousands – NaNoWriMo itself gets around 500,000 writers enrolling. As someone who is not au faix with Discord, or chat rooms, or, let’s be honest, any digital technology beyond TV’s before the advent of the remote control, I do struggle, but people are so helpful. Really. The number of times I’ve posted in the wrong place, been unable to find something, couldn’t do whatever needed to be done – someone has ALWAYS come to my rescue.

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Things were getting heated in the chatroom. 

However…

I hadn’t really thought this through when I signed up for all these online courses. In previous months; the build up and promotion of these courses, I had paid very little attention to the time they all took place.

Of course, I just had to do NaNo again. And wouldn’t it be cool as a writer to be able to design/write games and sell them? Yup – sign me up for that too. And what opportunities are there for what essentially boils down to free training?! Most industries provide staff training, but that little extra you do yourself always goes down well. So, yeah, I’ll do another course to help me do my job better.

So I find myself now, a mere 9 days into November, staring at blank docs. A kind of numb terror creeping up on me….how am I ever going to get 50,000 words written before the months end? How can I read a whole new rule-set for games and make a decision. How do I complete ‘Thinking Diary’ when my brain is turning to cheese? How can I go to work and give my best to those who rely on me? I know, thinks I, I’ll write my blog – as if I don’t already have enough writing to do -but the folks will be waiting for something, some pearls of wisdom, some amazing insight into creativity and gardening – phtuh! – no pearls here folks – brain, cheese = panic…

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What if I get some hideous cross-over like in a 50’s B-movie!!

Characters from the RPG workshop sneaking into the NaNo story and developing depression!

The low mood student wends his/her way into the game writing and ruins the jolly humour!

My NaNo protagonists burst free and run amok amongst the comments section of well-meaning, kind-hearted people studying on FutureLearn, swords flailing, and continue the charge into the RPG workshop, dog-lock pistols ablaze – there’s bullets and documents flying…people fling their laptops aside as a black-eyed soldier leers from a video of a gentle soul telling his tale…nascent character ideas from the minds of newbie gamers are quickly laid to rest by a swift and smartly placed stiletto blade…and the Dark Order find an in-road during all the mayhem and the seeds of disorder are planted and then the NPC’s take over and…and…

Genre Mashups. Image from Indiereader.com

but that’s never going to happen!!!!

Or is it…

Oh, hey, remember that pearl of wisdom? Let me know if you find it! Right, I’m off to dig a hole and scream into it.

 

What I Have Learnt This NaNoWriMo

 

  • During a storm in Nottinghamshire, in 1558, a child was carried off in the winds.
  • Ghyll is Old Norse for deep ravine.
  • You could be engaged at 7 years of age – in the 16 and 17th centuries.
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Children of the 17th century
  • Church bells can be heard up to seven miles; depending on weather, landscape or obstruction. (In winter they are heard farther as the leaves are off the trees.)
  • Cumbrian dialect for an armpit, is oxter.
  • By the end of the 17th century, only 50% of men and 25% women were able to sign their own names. They could not read or write otherwise.

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    Signatures of Master Bushell and Master Hodges
  • A poultiggery is a hen-house above a pig-house (it protects the eggs from predators such as rats)

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    A poultiggery
  • Martin Luther wrote hymns.

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    ‘A Mighty Fortress is Our God’. Martin Luther
  • I write slower than I did last year!
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Slow Writing

Aphorisms on NaNoWriMo

NaNo turns the spectator into the actor – the reader into the writer – the internal dialogue is expanded for all.

For anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel, implying ‘we all have a novel inside us’, takes away from the real, honed creativity of the true ‘time-served’ novelist.

Self publishing turns us all into writers.

Without control the quality of literary talent will be watered to a degree that we do not know what real writing ‘tastes’ like.

All you have to do is write what you know. But what if you know nothing?

Everyone is a winner. (which means that no one is a winner)

***


Acknowledgement – this post is the soup of the soup. Dr. J. Suglia got here first.

 

NaNoWriMo Headache

migraine (n.)
late 14c., megrim, from Old French migraigne (13c.), from vulgar pronunciation of Late Latin hemicrania “pain in one side of the head, headache,” from Greek hemikrania,from hemi-“half” +kranion”skull” (see cranium). The Middle English form was re-spelled 1777 on the French model. Related: Migrainous. https://www.etymonline.com/word/migraine

 

I had my first migraine when I was around 25 years of age. I didn’t know I was having a migraine. I managed to make it home from the shop I worked in at the time, get into my pyjamas and lie down on the settee. I thought I was coming down with flu. When I complained about an awful noise in the apartment, my husband had to turn off the fridge – and that’s when he knew – I was having a migraine attack.

It began with pulsating neon-like triangles in the outer corner of my right eye. They throbbed away al afternoon, eventually causing such fuzziness as to obscure the vision in that eye. I had the most horrendous headache, felt nauseous, shivering, and later came the vomiting.

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‘Lady’ Migraine!

A migraine is a primary headache disorder characterized by recurrent headaches that are moderate to severe. Typically, the headaches affect one half of the head, are pulsating in nature, and last from two to 72 hours. Associated symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, sound, or smell. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Migraine

A headache?! A headache?! It’s more than a headache wiki!! Ask anyone who suffers from them. I began to get a migraine once a year or so, from that point onwards. Very occasionally one would be so bad, that I would have to take the day off work. Painkillers were useless. A darkened room, a cool, damp flannel on the forehead, plenty of water, oh and a sick-bowl, just in case!

“Migraine is an inherited tendency to have headaches with sensory disturbance. It’s an instability in the way the brain deals with incoming sensory information, and that instability can become influenced by physiological changes like sleep, exercise and hunger.”Professor Peter Goadsby, Professor of Neurology, King’s College London.

A s far as I am aware, no-one else in my family suffers from migraines; not my mother, father, brother, or aunts and uncles or nearest cousin. Then I reached a certain age (mid-40’s) and began to get a migraine each month. And each time it was different – sometimes I would have a visual migraine; Scintillating scotoma, the most common visual aura preceding migraine, but often without the after headache. I would get Ocular migraines; painless, temporary visual disturbances that can affect one or both eyes; that’s the one which makes you think you might be going blind; scary but it passes. As well as nausea, I get photophobia and in recent years have taken to wearing sunglasses even on not-so-bright-days.

Most commonly, my migraines take the form of, what I call ‘the shrinking helmet’…

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Scolds Bridle – probably invented by a migraine sufferer!

 

…Imagine Alexander Dumas’ Man in the Iron Mask, kind of thing, okay? It is smooth, polished, seamless and fits snugly over one side of your head. There is a ‘plate’ that goes into your mouth and presses on the roof of your mouth and another that presses against your right eye. Through the following hours, that ‘Mask’ is going to get tighter and tighter. Your mouth feels as though it will press up through your nasal cavity, your eyeball is flattened… and then you get used to it. It seems to resolve into a neck-pinching all-over general pain. There may, or may not, be nausea.

I missed my writing session for NaNoWriMo last Friday, Saturday and Sunday, because of migraine!! It lasted 2 days (and on the third day you gasp and blink with relief, but fear going near bright lights and technology) I was not sick. But I could not write at my laptop. I could not hand-write as I couldn’t wear my glasses without the ‘Mask’ pressing tighter. I couldn’t read, use my mobile phone, play video games.

Today, Tuesday, I still have the remnants of the pressure in my right eye and the roof of my mouth. I will have to get as much as possible written of my story, before the possibility of the whole thing kicking off again!

Like some kind of word assassin, it lurks on the edges of my brain, ready to sneak in and kill my vision.

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Roy Batty gives Tyrell a hell of a migraine! (Blade Runner 1982)

 

 

 

 

Rediscovering – Patrik Fitzgerald

In the mid 80s I went to a Polytechnic (now a University! Of course it is, aren’t they all) to study Fine Art. Whilst there, I met my future husband who not only taught me patience, the art of not caring what others think and how to play the guitar, but introduced me to the music of Patrik Fitzgerald.

As art students, it was our prerogative, nay, our duty, to lie in bed in the morning and arrive late. Sit around being fey, poetic, or as Jarvis Cocker once sang, It may look to the untrained eye like I’m sitting on my arse all day.”

One day, whilst not attending class, my other half put on a cassette – you remember those,you had to wrap the brown tape around a pencil when it got tangled or twisted, and then the damaged bit would be a permanent wobble – anyway, he puts this tape on.

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The original headscrew!

I had NEVER in my life heard anything like it. I immediately went out and bought an album – that’s a record, NOT a CD people – ‘Gifts and Telegrams’.

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gifts and telegrams by Patrik Fitzgerald

I played it until future hubby was sick of listening to it. I still have it. I haven’t listened to Fitzgerald’s music for over a decade – until today.

Fitzgerald is hard to classify/pigeonhole. Wiki describes him as –

Patrik Fitzgerald…is an English singer-songwriter and an originator of folk punk he began recording and performing during the punk rock movement in 1977, after working briefly as an actor.”

I had never heard an album that sounded like it had been recorded in someone’s bedroom (though that’s where all the new young things start today – on social media *rolls eyes) I had never heard music that incorporated sounds that apparently didn’t belong to instruments. Singing in an amateurish, yet compelling, manner. And odd techno bleeps.

So today, as I was writing, I decided to look for my NaNoWriMo Novel Writing Soundtrack, and the wonder of the internet brought me to Patrik, it was an odd feeling I have to admit. Kind of like coming full circle musically, rediscovering your youth is a bizarre thing – just you wait!

Fitzgerald is incredibly unique in the history of British music and I do think more people should be aware of him. For some reason, he seems to have been forgotten. It isn’t Punk in the way most remember it, there’s no aggressive, hyper-tuneless, in-your-face stuff – though I do like a bit of aggro – Fitzgerald is more melancholic.He’s urban before urban was a thing, his introspective, almost suicidal lyrics pre-date Emo’s. Ironic, minimal, bitter, poetic,now is the time for a resurgence of Fitzgerald’s music focusing on the human condition.

I know it can be challenging for some people, but I do urge you to give it a listen to. I’d love to hear what people think.

Stop Stalling, Get Writing. NaNoWriMo is here !

NaNoWriMo 2017
Good Morning WriMo’s,

This is my 2nd year at NaNo. Last year I started a sci-fi novel, reached my 50,000 word count and continued it – it is still progressing, has passed 100,000; but that’s for another time. This year I am trying a new approach. Planning!!!!! 

I am late to the party this year, partly because of that and due to other writing commitments: I have a little map of the village in my notebook, all the villagers names, family connections and job roles in the community i.e. dyer, scribe, labourer etc. I have NEVER planned a story before.

I will be ‘trying’ to write a piece of Magical Realism, set in late 17th early 18th century. Suzanna is a 12 year old on the cusp of womanhood. All she wants is to be the May Queen and for James Joseph to fall in love with her. An isolated village, the Church, culture and conformity, and Oak Tree Jesus!

 

And so begins my introduction to this years NaNoWriMo event.

NaNoWriMo?? I hear you cry – what is wrong with you Alex, have you forgotten how to speak or are you making up new words?

National Novel Writing Month – shortened to nanowrimo –  is an annual, Internet-based creative writing project that takes place during the month of November. Participants attempt to write a 50,000 word manuscript between November 1 and November 30. But you don’t have to!

If you’re a writer and need something to motivate you – this might prove to be worth a shout. I joined, last year, on the recommendation of a fellow Wirral Writer. I work alone, I like working alone, I don’t mix well when it comes to creativity, I don’t want to share my ideas and I don’t want to make new friends – if that sounds like you, then NaNo is still fit for purpose. You do not have to do anything you don’t want. But I got a hell of a lot of words written! I found that this works for me, I need a ‘kick-up-the-arse’, not because I don’t write or enjoy it, but because I get lost in the minutiae, or I wander off into the Land of Research – for example, did you know that not everyone in England in the 16th century had a chimney on their house? Chimneys were a luxury, a luxury!! – see what I mean?

Last year I was what is commonly called, a ‘Pantser’ – writing by the seat of your pants, not organised or planned. This year, it’s Planner; let’s see how that goes.

Sure, some people go all the way, they keep in touch, they communicate with new writing friends, they even meet up at venues for real-life ‘write-ins’ as well as virtual ones. It is a perfect writing platform as you use as little or as much of it as you want. You can see other people’s word counts – so you are either incentivized or proud as a peacock throughout.

So, if you are beginning a new story, or even in the middle of one, you can join the community and share as much, or as little, of your experience throughout the month of November – just get that story written!

Before NaNo – daydreaming, and during NaNo – working!