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.

 

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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.

BlogMigraine2
‘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’…

BlogMigraineScoldsBridle
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.

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

 

 

 

 

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!

An Exercise To Develop Character Outlines

I am currently studying ‘An Introduction to Screen-writing‘( University of East Anglia) with FutureLearn – an online digital education platform. For me, being able to continue to learn and develop is as important as eating and bathing. This course is FREE! Many of the courses are free and are well designed, presented and are engaging.

Prior to this week, we have been learning about the Five Fingered Pitch and then extending into Ten fingers, or, Two Hand Pitch. I had an idea for a story which I thought might work well on the screen, so I pitched that. So today, we have been asked to do an exercise in developing character outlines. It is part of the the process of character development. We are to ‘create an outline for a character from a film that you’ve recently seen or use it as an opportunity to develop a character of your own.

I’m choosing to stick with my own story, in the hope that this exercise will help me to develop Reg – who currently doesn’t even have a surname!

  • List the character’s major actions. Start from the end and work backwards. (Don’t analyse how or why; just create a list of actions.)

    Saves his neighbourhood. Scares the drug dealers half to death. Accepts help. Falls into despondency. Discovers son has drugs. Asks new neighbours to be more respectful.

  • Analyse the list to reveal the character’s wants and needs. Is the character aware of what they want?

    Reg wants things to be like they used to be, he wants his family safe, and a quiet life. Reg feels impotent, he initially pleads for peace but is disregarded, in Reg’s eyes, his son has been tainted by the badness of the world. Finally realising that others feel the same, Reg is persuaded to join forces, under the ‘guidance’ of an archetypal mentor. They set about scaring off the dealers and thugs. Reg is aware of what he wants – a peaceful life – but the invading force (new neighbours) paralyse him.

  • Describe how the character thinks and look at his or her basic psychology. Intelligent? Intellectually engaged? Cognitive Biases? Impulsive? Cautious?

    Reg is a thoughtful considerate father and husband. His wife thinks he’s ‘too vanilla’. He is rare amongst his peers in that he has a college education. He listens to reggae, classical and jazz music. He reads history books and sporting fiction. He learnt to play the piano and violin at school, but parents could never afford instruments of their own. Wanted to be a jazz musician, but ended up working at the local steel yard. He enjoys the simple things in life; a pint with his pals at the weekend, a game of pool, football in the park with 10 and 12 year old kids on Saturday, sex on Sunday. Reg is quite philosophical about where his life is in comparison to original plans.

  • Describe the character’s superficial affect. How might a casual acquaintance describe them?

    A nice guy.

  • List any important physical characteristics

    None. Just your average dad.

This is just an outline, so stick to that format and make lists; avoid long prose descriptions.

So this is my character outline for Reg, aka; Reginald, Reggie, or Barnsey (because he looks like a young John Barnes; footballer).

The working title for the story/script is ‘Regilante’!!

This is something I have never done before in my story writing; plan the character, and this course is helping me look at writing in quite a different way. I have also stepped out of my comfort zone – writing from a male POV and a Black Comedy – I have never written comedy before and do not know if I am even up to the task!

 

Short Story – Wedding Day

Each year Wirral Writers holds an in-house competition. A theme is selected from ‘the hat’, we have up to 500 words and about two months before presenting to the group. Voting is anonymous. This year the theme was key/keys or quay if you wished. I generally write sci-fi or horror based pieces, this time I decided to write something positive and bearing in mind the wars going on currently –  a resolution…it was also influenced by Irish folk melody ‘She Moved Through The Fair’.

I didn’t win. I came joint third. This is my piece. (488 words)

Wedding Day or The Key

Our country is wracked by civil war. Suspicion and hatred spread like infection. We are tired; our people are tired, our land is tired. Love blooms rarely, so when it does, we hold fast. She said to me,

‘It will not be long now till our wedding day.’

The Generals had tasked us with finding a covert way to destroy the enemy en masse; to spread like wind across the land. Instead we discovered the genetic base marker for aggression; more accurately, I made the discovery; the bitter irony. My reputation grew tenfold, yet despite the wonder we have before us, despite the mounting joy everyone feels, I alone am sorrowful. I was given infinite resources; becoming head of my own research facility; surrounded by seasoned specialists. I hadn’t intended to be a scientist, I almost, almost went to war, but when she came close beside me; placing her white hand softly on my cheek, I saw the tears and could not go.

“It will not be long now.”

We found The Key to end the war – perhaps all wars, all conflict; for ever. Less than 90 years ago, in 2007, we knew of this process and for the last two decades our scientists have been using the qPCR-based tests to amplify the results. Manipulation created a violence suppressor and developed empathetic building blocks. The full genotype was found to survive in the rare few who experienced extreme empathy; the carriers.

DNA fragments, that linger in the mouth even after the briefest contact, were artificially increased, the life-span was extended, its function mutated; to create an Anti-weapon. Like invisible secret agents our mutation would attach itself swiftly to the recipients neurons, unlock and create new base pairs.

All the love in the world – that’s how one technician described it. But it doesn’t make it any easier.

“It will not be long.”

Many had been whittled down to a few, the few to a half dozen and the half dozen to a couple. Intense experimentation conditions had caused most potential keys to become…damaged. The pain was unbearable; I know this, I watched. At the last hour, one of the keys broke, and now only mine is left. There are many ways to end a war, we chose love. Once the good virus was administered to a few, it would spread exponentially. Saliva carrying our mutated DNA would rush through the recipient’s bodies controlling rage. A sneeze would carry compassion, spittle in shouted commands would bear humanity.

We gather on the edge. Her hand brushes mine as she steps away from me.

“It will not take long.”

I watch her, on monitors, move here and move there through the camp. She lays a kiss on the lips of an astonished officer, she softly kisses another. I see a distant soldier raise his weapon and take aim.

He fires.

But they are too late; the Key has already opened the lock.

End

shemovedthroughthefair
She Moved Through The War

Writing Prompts Linked List

Writing Prompts

It’s a list day!

Some people write for pleasure, some people write to inform, some write for money, others for therapy. Whatever your reason, sometimes you might find yourself stuck for an idea. Don’t be; there’s loads of sites out there to get your creative juices flowing.

As a writer however, I would urge everyone to at least try to come up with your own ideas – take pictures, go for a walk, even in your own neighbourhood, take a bus ride and write down what other passengers say (old people are the best!), sit alone in silence for fifteen minutes, keep a dream diary, question yourself.

It’s a list day!

So you tried all that and today your brain went on holiday. Instead of trawling through your search engine, I have dragged together a list of 15 sites you might like to visit. I have included fiction, non-fiction, poetry and Y.A links.

1.Penguin Random House Writers Academy                                                                

Divided into categories – so you can find the genre you prefer. This is a shareable site, so you can add your own prompts if you like.

http://www.thewritersacademy.co.uk/writing-prompts/

2.Daily Writing Prompts

As well as a list of prompts to get your ideas started, they have other suggestions for making your own prompts.

https://www.dailywritingtips.com/writing-prompts-101/

3.Edutopia

Primarily aimed at school students, but there is no reason why an adult could not find something of interest here. Can also be used to prompt essay writing as much as fiction. N.B: Star Wars fans might be interested to learn that this was set up by George Lucas as part of the George Lucas Educational Foundation (GLEF)

https://www.edutopia.org/article/50-writing-prompts-all-grade-levels-todd-finley

4.Tumblr

Snapshots of quotes, opening lines, pictures and more to get the juices flowing. Great idea as some of us are visually stimulated rather than through other people’s words.

http://writingprompts.tumblr.com/

5.Pinterest

Similar to tumblr. If you are not familiar with Pinterest it is like a massive series of online message boards. You can find quotes, images and text to get you started.

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/explore/writing-prompts/?autologin=true

6.Think Written

Need a prompt for each day of the year? Here you will find 365 writing prompts, simple one-liners without too much input from the creators.

http://thinkwritten.com/365-creative-writing-prompts/

7.Reddit

Ideas submitted by members of the public (you can too!) Some of these ideas are really interesting.

https://www.reddit.com/r/WritingPrompts/

8.Writers Digest

Hundreds of ideas to scroll through here, from the light-hearted and fun to more potentially serious issues. Click on one of the idea links and you are provided with some background to start you off.

http://www.writersdigest.com/prompts

9.Poets & Writers

I found this site a little awkward to use, you have to read through a lot of other stuff until realising, oh, this is the prompt.

https://www.pw.org/writing-prompts-exercises

10. The Writer magazine

As well as having lots of prompts ready to use, right there on the first page, you can sign up (free) to get weekly prompts in your mailbox!

https://www.writermag.com/writing-prompts/

11. Letterpile

Although small and limited, in comparison to other sites, I quite like the mixture of pictures and single lines as prompts.

https://letterpile.com/writing/200-Creative-Writing-Prompts

12. The New York Times

For narrative and personal writing, the New York Times has collected ideas from students, who had previously been prompted to write something in response to articles in the NYT.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/20/learning/lesson-plans/650-prompts-for-narrative-and-personal-writing.html?mcubz=3

13. The Poetry Society

Ideas from tutors and poets, not just prompts but how to go about writing a poem on a theme. Contains links to poets and other helpful sites. You can download and print off a PDF of ideas so that you can get off the computer and let your poetic mind wander over paper!

https://poetrysociety.org.uk/competitions/national-poetry-competition/resources/poetry-writing-prompts/

14. Poetry Prompts

Although this is a tumblr blog, and I already have included tumblr, I thought this was beautifully clean and simple in its presentation. Looks like a series of prompt cards with a single sentence or word.

http://poetryprompts.tumblr.com/

15. Bookfox

Non-fiction writers don’t get much inspiration handed to them, so here’s a site for those of you who love writing creatively, but not fiction. He also has extra links at the bottom of the page – to push yourself!

https://thejohnfox.com/2016/06/creative-nonfiction-prompts/

 

Happy writing!

Writing Out Of Comfort Zone

So today I am at my local library having to write this blog – and work on my current story. So when I say ‘Comfort Zone’, I literally mean geographic location rather than mental state (well that too; but that was always in doubt!)

I have been without my own laptop for nigh on 3 weeks; many issues with not loading, running slowly, closing down of it’s own volition, not being able to install updates – I think I may have had a previous rant about my technology – especially on Twitter. (Have been using hubby’s little mini-laptop, but he needs it today).

Well I have just managed to check my e-mail and I apparently only have 15 minutes left!! What is this?

I have only been here 15 minutes and there have been three mobile phones ringing and four phone conversations and a whinging toddler – at what point do I say something before I explode and cause immense offense?!

I hate being out of my own environment to work. I have had to pack a bag with my notebooks, pens, hi-lighters and so forth. A new environment seriously alters the way we feel as we write, sure, I have my earbuds in and I am listening to my Novel Soundtrack on YouTube, but the chair is weird, the screen not at the right height; THERE ARE OTHER PEOPLE AROUND ME!

I hate it.

Forgive me if I don’t sound like I am having a good time – I’m not.

OMG! There is a woman diagonally opposite me chatting on her mobile – I thought libraries were meant to be places of quiet! Aaarrggh!

I will bid you adieu for today, have some ranting to do….