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.

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Marked

She walked forwards, hoping that her information was correct. She’d never done anything like this before, but with the weirdness happening at her school, Miskatonic Academic Institute of Learning. Or as the kids at this party would say, the rich frakkers. Well, if they’d even heard of that term. She’d picked it up from her friend Holly, who had picked it up from… somewhere. Maybe from Leigh, who was always butchering words together to sound elegantly eloquent.

Ginger Kurtwood – Ginny to everyone who knew her – stalked the dancing throngs of people. She noticed one or two middle-aged people, but this was an underground party, legally and literally, so there were all manner of ages here. But mostly young. And since it was Halloween night, full of costumes and Gothic partiers. Ginny herself had a Gothic Japanese schoolgirl outfit on, black with white shirt and lace edging, blazer with large rounded lapels, embroidered crest on her black tie. She pushed forwards, black laced hands parting the crowds, long legs striding her forwards, the black buckled leather boots adding more inches of height to her. Her normally vivid red hair and eyebrows were raven black for the night, her hair down instead of twisted up as usual. The music was noisy, pulse-pounding; the lighting epileptic rainbows beaming themselves about. She closed her eyes, and after a moment, she saw things a little differently. She could see exactly who – what – to go for. She smirked. She didn’t know what she had seen, but it wasn’t human. And it was now about to greet death…

“Hey, fancy getting me a drink?” she asked casually, hoping that she looked old enough. Granted, there were bound to be a number of under-age there, but she needed to be led away, and she didn’t know if age could serve as bait… the pale blonde guy looked her up and down, and smiled. She smiled back, her nerves slipping through. She had no idea how to chat a guy up, and now, she needed this creature to lead her away, so she could quietly dispatch him… He whispered in her ear, and Ginny waited, nerves breeding impatience. She hated the old cellars the city had re-discovered under the main street of the old shopping area. The stonework reminded her of mausoleums.

He returned, they chatted as they sipped at the weird coloured cocktails he had provided. Ginny was ready for the alcohol, making sure it wouldn’t affect her, not tonight at least. He offered a cigarette, and she faked eagerness, pulling out a lighter and started sucking, making the end glow and smoke. She exhaled effortlessly, mimicking all the moves she had seen Leigh do over the years. With effort, she smoked it, making sure it seemed to burn down. A small, simple trick, one that was luring him into false security.

The talking continued; she saying she was born and bred a Providencer, him from out of town. He commented on how well spoken she was, how clear and moneyed her accent was. She faked the bored rich girl persona her friend Felicia often displayed. After a lot of flirting and socialising – all mimicry of her friends in action – Ginny found herself led away. Finally, she thought, we can get to slay him. She’d taken the oaths, she’d made the vows. Now was the time to fulfil them. She quietly put the cigarette, unlit and unused, into the pocket where she pulled out a lighter.

She strode forwards, the boots making her a full head taller than him. She kept glancing about, looking to see if she could spot any others like him. She chided herself on her lack of knowledge; then again, since the demise of the secret order she had been recruited into, Ginny couldn’t risk drawing attention to herself. She had been lucky to escape the Purge; she hadn’t been Initiated, and had been by her dying grandmother’s side, when the Thorns of Lovecraft had their memories and… skills hollowed out of them. In a matter of hours, the society HP Lovecraft had set up in her school had been erased. The pain of seeing the older students, her mentor… not remembering, reduced… something had snapped in Ginny, and combined with seeing the one person in her family that had cared about her, loved her dying… she had never been able to cry since. Her emotions were gone, filled with the need to deliver payback to the Darkness that had stolen them from her.

Tonight, she would avenge them.

Her sight picked out a couple of auras that were like the creature luring her away, and then a couple more. She noticed that her prey had just slipped his phone into his jacket’s pocket. The others were moving ahead faster, clearly to entrap her. She thought quickly. Then smirked. With full concentration, she slowed down slightly. Now, anyone watching would see she was right behind the creature still. Just like him seeing her smoke. Ginny was very, very good at making glamours. She hung back, watching him take her copy down a passageway, then another, then another, until the throbbing, pulsing of the music had ebbed. It opened up into a chamber, and she could see others hiding behind some of the pillars that propped up the ceiling. Faintly, she could hear the thrumming of traffic above. She willed the glamour to keep following, whilst she invisibly held back. With inhuman deftness, the other four encircled the glamour, trapping it. Ginny stared at the floor around them, willing out another spell. As they tried to rush her, they found the glamour vanishing, and their feet sticking fast. With a smirk, she pulled out her wand from a blazer pocket, and took a couple of steps forwards-

And found her legs suddenly paralysed.

The creatures twisted round, sensing where their quarry was. Ginny’s face wore a mask of fierce determination, her holly and black deer antler wand pointing at them. Then there was a blur, and something was attacking the male and female human-like creatures, crunching leg bones causing howls of agony as they found themselves crippled, unable to collapse to the floor, thanks to her spell. Ginny felt vomit threatening to spew out her throat, fear pounding her heart like a thousand frantic, frenetic war drums, her mind momentarily paralysed by blind panic.

But only for a moment.

She looked down, trying to see why she couldn’t move forwards. Crystals. Five crystals had been placed – somehow – around her feet. She could still move her feet up, but not forwards or backwards. With intense concentration, she knelt down, and then jumped up as hard as she could. She felt herself levitate, the sudden upward force making her stomach lurch again. She seriously fought the urge to vomit as she used her fingers to more herself along the ceiling, desperately trying to keep her mind calm and focussed, blocking out the sounds of tearing flesh, screams of pain and rage, of something feasting on the creatures… she pushed herself down, and harmlessly reached the floor, when she ran as hard and fast as she possibly could. She turned and turned again, getting back to the party.

She scanned hurriedly about, noting that everyone was human. She quickly cast a glamour, pouring into it as much of her magical reserves as she could dare to. After some chanting, and concentrating, the archway she had just come through had turned into a wall. Some of the people near her stared, curious, then clapped as they thought it a party trick. Wide eyes darting about, Ginny took a bow, then pushed her way forwards. The glamour should hold for a day or so. She glanced back, relieved breathing as she saw the drunken revellers touching it, feeling every bit like a solid wall. Which was the idea. It had given her a headache doing it, but she had years of practice, and knew how to produce something as complicated as that.

“Impressive trick, my little witch,” said a voice behind her. She spun round, face to face with the eyes of the supernatural being that wiped out the five in the corridor. She stepped back in fear, glancing about the place. It was too public to try to stop him… he looked at her, and smiled. With insane deftness, he snatched her wand out of her hand, and it fell to the floor, an electric shock numbing his hand. He regarded it with intense interest.

“So… you are one of Howard’s pupils. How is the old devil?” Ginny looked at him, eyes wide with blank shock, and then rushed to the floor to pick up her wand. When she stood up, he was gone.

“I had heard that the order he founded had been eliminated. But here you are, stalking lessers. Pitifully, to be honest.” Ginny spun round, and saw nothing again.

“Who are you?” she demanded, drawing strange looks from those nearby. She looked away, chastened.

“A dear enemy of Howard and Abraham. Though, I doubt you would know who Abraham was. He died many a year ago,” he lamented. Ginny spun round, and was dragged towards a corner, where a makeshift table had been set up. She decided against fighting; she couldn’t risking innocent people. Her duty was to protect them, even if it was with her death.

That was the Thorns way.

He made her sit down, and undid her collar, loosening her tie. Forcefully tilting her head back, she whimpered, ready for what she guessed was next.

“Why kill them? Those monsters?” She asked timidly. He chuckled.

“I was hungry. When you live as long as I, humans do not satisfy as much. Besides… they were crass. Inferior to what had been gifted them.” His teeth sank into her throat before she could react.

Two sharp, hot slices of pain were instantly replaced with searing pleasure. Images flashed through her head, her life, focussing on three owls, staring down from a tree. He withdrew immediately. Her hand to her neck.

“Interesting… another has marked you,” he remarked. He smiled curiously.

“I’m not their daughter,” she protested.

“Until next time,” he said, before leaving at the table, and to the far exit.