My Own Private Nanowrimo



It’s the last day of Nanowrimo and there’s no going back. Although if you look at that chart up there, it seems I am going back, having written -1 words today.( I deleted the word Nanowrimo from the top of the document.)

Yes, it’s still November, but I typed “The End” last night and that seems like a good place to stop. Plus, I’m knackered and have a month’s worth of errands to catch up on. Come January I’ll print the manuscript and start a second draft. Until then I’m going to let all those words marinate. Overall, I’m pretty pleased with myself. In one month I’ve created a viable first draft of novel number two. I expect it took me two years or more to do that with my first novel, Up She Rises. Here’s a few things my experience this month has taught me:

  1. A word counter widget that tracks your progress is beyond awesome.
  2. Write daily even if it’s only 200 words. I didn’t manage every single day but I wrote most days. It helped keep the momentum going.
  3. Grab writing moments whenever possible. I tried to carry a notebook  with me in case I had five minutes to spare. Once I wrote a scene on the notes section of my phone then emailed it to myself to cut and paste into my word document.
  4. Turn off that persistent voice in your head that says, “this is crap.” Keep writing.

So now what? Well, according to the Nanowrimo website, when you hit the target 50,000 words you upload the manuscript to the word count validator and claim your win. But I can’t. Because I didn’t.

Except, guess what? I refuse to view the 40,093 words I wrote as anything other than a victory. So, right here, right now, I’m claiming my own private Nanowrimo victory. There may even be cake later.

What are you celebrating today?



A Picture’s Worth A Thousand Words . . .

This is where I’m at with Nanowrimo, guys. On the one hand, I’m three days behind, currently scheduled to hit the target 50,000 on 3rd December. On the other hand, I’m 35,559 words ahead of where I was 23 days ago. From where I’m sitting (on a sore butt) that is good progress.


Poetry & Songs

Last week I relied on poetry to get me through creeping despair. This week another poem lifted my spirit. Driving in the car I heard the most gorgeous poem on Start The Week. It was called In Wales Wanting To Be Italian and was recited by its author, the poet Imtiaz Dharker. (You can hear it here, at about the 26 minute mark, but I don’t know how long it will stay on the website.)

I don’t read enough poetry, but when I got home, I googled the poem and promptly ordered the book of poetry in which it appears.

Here’s an excerpt:

Is there a name for that thing you do when you’re young?
There must be a word for it in some language, probably German…
What is that called ?
Being sixteen  in Wales, longing to be Italian
To be able to say aloud without embarrassment “Bella, bella”
Lounge by a vespa with a cigarette hanging out of your mouth
And wear impossibly pointed shoes.

And of course, since last week I’ve been listening to another great poet, Leonard Cohen. When I was an angsty seventeen year old, he was a constant companion. This song has been covered so many times, but no version is better than KD Lang’s. And I love the moment she shares with Leonard Cohen at the end. Enjoy.


You Could Make This Place Beautiful

Sometimes you can’t put into words the sense of despair you feel. You have to rely on the words of better, more powerful writers. Today is one of those days.

Good Bones by Maggie Smith:

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.

NaNo What Now?

I’ve thought about it for a few years but yesterday I finally took the plunge… There’s no toe dipping, you have to dive straight into NaNoWrimo or National Novel Writing Month.

If you’re unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, you can read more about it here. I certainly can’t explain it right now. First because I have to write 1,667 words every single day in November. Second because that’s all I know. I dove in without checking the water for depth, sharks, etc. Now it’s sink or swim.

Okay, enough with the swimming analogies.Basically if I meet the daily word count then at the end of the month I’ll have roughly 50,00 words of a manuscript. I say roughly for two reasons. First, I’m planning to write longhand so the word count will be approximate. Second, it will be a very rough draft, or as Anne Lamott called it in Bird by Bird, a shitty first draft.

But that’s fine. I’ll shove it in my bottom drawer for December and pick it up for rewriting/plumping/editing in 2017. Rinse and repeat.

Oh and remember how I couldn’t share the awful working title? I can now because I have a new awful but not as awful working title.

The old awful title was Lawyers In Love. (But as a fellow ex-lawyer said to me, “Lawyers don’t love.”)

The new awful title is The Trouble With Law.

Now, I must away. Did I mention I have 1,667 words to write today?