Gearing Up For NaNoWriMo 2015

I have been busy, getting ready for the National Novel Writing Month Challenge – known as NaNoWriMo – for the past couple of weeks. Every November, you get the chance to sit down, and with fellow, like-minded people, fight to meet the challenge of writing fifty thousand words a month. This might seem impossible, but I have managed to write whole first drafts in a month, and at seventy five thousand words. I also know people who have (somehow) achieved a hundred thirty words. Impossible isn’t something that should discourage you, but rather inspire you to do more, push harder and reach further. I remember in GCSE Geography being told I would not get a C grade. I was expected to get an F grade, based on how I had been getting along. My coursework I hadn’t understood, and on top of that, I ended up having a breakdown at the point all of my coursework for all my subjects was to be completed. I also had been sitting with the wrong crowd in Geography, and that didn’t help, either.

But I was told that the C grade I had believed possible was out of my reach. I could accomplish a D grade, but only by doing extremely well in the exams. I then silently resolved to prove my teacher wrong, and show her up. Of course, I ended up with a second breakdown, right at the time of doing my exams. (It was an interesting year.) I couldn’t revise. I kept on sitting down, managing to read a couple of lines, before I was having panic attacks, and had to stop revising. After a small number of attempts, I realised I wasn’t going to manage any revision at all, so gave up the notion. I went into all of my exams without doing a shred of revision. I had no choice in that, and it made me even more panicked and insecure. I walked away with decent grades, and with a D grade in Geography. I was annoyed and disappointed at the time, but have since concluded I was on the Intermediate Tier exam, so the highest possible was a D grade. In any case, I think I should have – upon hindsight – have chosen History instead. But such as is life…

Again, hindsight is a wonderful thing when it comes to last year. It was an utter nightmare, that November. I had been working since August to have an outline ready, so I could be fully prepared when the first of November came along. I had been trying to come up with a Book Two to The Thorns Of Lovecraft, and nothing I came up with would work. And I tried, and tried… and all that was happening was me growing more and more agitated. In the end, I had to declare it impossible. A week before the start, I had seen the trailer for the film Lucy. I read up on it a bit more, and then was intrigued by what was coming up in my head. I decided to run with it, because I had something, even if it was something very vague, and wasn’t fleshed out at all. I set it in the town i was living in at the time, and then played around with the concept.

I had a month of nightmare. At more than one point I was gleefully plotting how to kill all the characters, just to end my misery… in the end, I had it in the same universe as the Thorns Of Lovecraft, thus helping me out slightly. But it was a hard, bitter struggle. I managed to get past the target, and before the end of the month. I never managed to finish the story, because the laptop died, and I had it all on the hard drive, in limbo. I have back-ups, but not of the final couple of days of writing. The rest can be readily salvaged, however. I’m rather annoyed, because I want to finish it.

I plan to get a new computer, and then work around the issue. I know what to do, and how to do it… I just need time to get it done. And a computer to do it. I have tried with the replacement netbook, but it is rather uncooperative in that aspect. If I can’t succeed, then I shall carry on, try to rebuild the missing parts, and then continue it. This is rather personal to me now: I know it will be an okay story when finished, and I want to go and prove it. I also want to prove the impossible, and demonstrate that this will be something worthwhile. It also has helped to pave the way forwards for me, and the whole Thorns universe I have been establishing. Two years on, and it is a much more rich, diverse place.  I enjoy exploring it more and more these days.

This year, however, should be a different story. I know this because this time, I am ready. I have a full outline, I have everything fully prepared, and have done for months. That is because I had watched the horrendously bad film The Coven, and had tried to work out how to make it into a decent story. I decided to keep the name, because I had something more in keeping with it. I also accidentally discovered The Sword Of Truth series, through people Cosplaying characters in the television series adaptation created by none other than Sam Raimi. I have now managed to watch the whole of the first season of it, despite being in a country where it was never released on DVD. I love a challenge, and I love interesting stories. And Legend Of The Seeker certainly is. I will probably talk some more on that series, because there is a lot in it, and is worth taking a closer reflection on. I also took some elements, and then played with it, and expanded those ideas. I ended up having new ideas to add to the story I was developing. The end result was something that was very much in my universe, but with shades and elements being influenced by the Nightmare November story. This is something I find interesting in and of itself. And no doubt will be exploring further, when I fully write the story.

In addition to having an outline, I have been working more in the Thorns universe I created, and there is more “canon,” and more exploration of the setup, and the rules. I feel so much more confident of success, for a number of reasons. Firstly, as already detailed, I have an outline ready to go. I also have been preparing mentally, and trying to not be mentally over-taxed. I probably should start getting into Meditation again, to help keep myself centred. Another advantage is the fact I have managed to book off the first week as annual leave. So I have an eight day block where I can just write away to my heart’s content. There are also other long weekends as well, but I plan to finish the first draft in that first week, so I can focus on editing and honing it for the rest of the month. The plan is to have a fully finished novel this month. (Another impossible challenge…)

I also have managed to be writing continuously since July, when I had to switch Camp Projects about. I was working on a part finished, but fully outlined, short story. But as I progressed, I found myself being presented with a story that is really better off as a full novel. In addition, I started to sit down, and closely work out details to the story, I discovered some rather startling problems with chronology and background. So, it needs to be overhauled.

To get past the word count, I went and created a new project on the fly. It was meant to be a simple short story, but more and more kept emerging, and I just kept going. It is now well over 15,000 words long, and I’m wanting to finish it this month. Ironically, it is working into being Book Two of the multi story arc I had been trying to continue. But again, it is helping to further and develop the whole tapestry of narration I have been developing. It also is helping me hone and develop my storytelling skills, because I have been working almost every day on it, even if it is just a couple of hundred extra words per session.

I know now that I am well on the way towards succeeding, and getting more stories finished. I just need to keep going, keep finding my path forwards.

I just need to keep on proving that the impossible is possible.

Blasts From The Past

I have something to admit. I’ve got a few ideas for blog posts, but I have been reading another blog, and where the guy had some adventures getting a snake out of his house, (he had just come back from a cruise with his family,) and the resultant stories coming out of that incident – and his older brother sharing a few snake tales – jogged my memory.

So, I thought I would go and try and produce a post that goes into childhood memories, and snakes and animals. It will relate to writing, I assure you.

When I was growing up, the first house we lived in had this large, long garden. And my mother had tried to grow vegetables at the bottom, and do all sorts. The next door neighbour also grew vegetables, and both were successful at it. The fun part was that there were slow worms about – a type of small, harmless snake. But that didn’t stop the neighbour… he would use his pitchfork on them with impunity, if he saw them. The guy had a fear of snakes, hence him screaming out and throwing that pitchfork like it was an ancient warrior’s spear. Curiously, I wasn’t scared by them; I was curious and fascinated by them. They were harmless, so why keep away from them?

One time, I had dug a small pit, and one had gotten trapped in it. I kept it in there for a day or so, because it was a little like having an exotic pet, I suppose. I certainly wasn’t out to harm it or anything, just keep it and study it. My mother made sure I let it leave, though i made sure it left in the opposite direction to our pitchfork wielding neighbour.

We eventually moved, and we ended up near the sea. My mother by then had ended up  being with this guy, and I remember it was a Sunday… must have been getting towards the winter. We had all gone out, and were walking the dog on one of the local beaches. There we were walking along, me being close to the shoreline, the tide going out. I was miles away, lost in thought. I just happened to look down, and then I shrieked my head off.

I was about to place my foot on a lobster. A live, moving full-size adult lobster.

It was still alive, because it was moving about a bit, even though it was no longer in the ocean. and it was dark, because they go pink when you cook them. In real life, they are a very dark, more blue-black colour. And it had both pincers, too. There was some quick investigating from the adults in the little group, and the guy my mum was with picked  up the lobster, and threw it a small distance away, back into the water. And then we carried on our way.

After a little while, we turned around, and headed back to the car, to go home. It was not starting to get dark now, and the tide was still going out. I was walking away along the shore, thinking away to myself, miles away. I was thinking about things like how it was getting to winter, and that the days were getting shorter. I was also probably getting lost in stories as well, to while the time away on the journey back.

I looked down, and shrieked. Loudly.

I was about to step on a lobster.

This brought even more annoyance, and comments about me being easily scared and all of that. I can safely say that I’d still be likely to shriek now, and I’m not a child. So they were talking out of their backsides. Adult panic in these situations as well as children. And in any case, I was about to use the same foot to nearly tread the same lobster from earlier. We looked, and there were a couple of identifying marks we noticed about it. I didn’t care; I was keeping away from those large claws. I knew what a crab pinching was like, and wasn’t interested in a whole scale larger pinching session, thank you very much. I’d nervously asked if they were planning to cook it and eat it, and the resolute answer was no. They had looked at it, and determined there was something very wrong with it to keep going on the shore like that. So it got tossed away into the water again. And I was relieved to get back to the car, having gotten (understandably) paranoid about stepping on lobsters. I was called an idiot, but seriously… twice? That’s not stupid. That’s realising you have some weird odds stacked against you.

Now… how does this relate to writing?

Thinking about the lobster story, I realise I could use it for a character I’ve been fleshing out in my head. Except that in this case, It would just be father and daughter, and the child is nearly stepping on the lobster. Twice. I have visions of her hating crustaceans as a result, a deep rooted aversion stemming from that childhood experience. Not that she’ll eat them…

Sometimes, personal experiences can be used to flesh out and define characters better. That is what I’ve taken a long time to get to. Though I’m certain some people have chuckled at my recounting my past misadventures with lobsters…