Monthly Archives: November 2012

It’s My Birthday and I’ll Write If I Want To

Well, I’m not actually writing. I’ve just had that title planned for several weeks and I’ll be damned if I’m thinking of something else! (For reference, it’s a parady of the song title “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to”. I haven’t heard the song in years but it’s been stuck in my head for some bizarre reason – as I’m not having a party and I don’t want to cry…)

Yes! It’s my birthday! *streamers appear and coat the blog* (If I actually could do that, I would. That’d be fun for a day!) I am somewhere in my mid to late twenties… although if you have me on Twitter, you’ll know how old I am as I announced it at 00:00 last night. I had sort of countdown going on whilst I ate a Asda Smart Price pot noodle. I’m such a badass. (Asda is a UK supermarket chain owned by Walmart. For anyone not from the UK. Their smart price pot noodle are 35p. I felt wrong but it tasted nice!)

My birthday this year is a big thing. Not in terms of age or celebration or in terms of what I receive or anything. But just in terms of where I am in my life and who I’m surrounded by.

When I turned 25 (okay, so I’m 26 now – confessing just makes the blog writing easier), I was unemployed, living in the 7′ by 7′ box room at my parents house. I had no money and the other half of my then relationship was living 200 miles away. I was unhappy with the way my life was. I’d come back from an awesome summer in the States and felt like I’d just hit a brick wall. There weren’t any jobs going in the north of England and I struggled with being unemployed again.

But now, a year later, I’m in a full time job in London, working for a company I very much like and surrounded by friends I adore. I have my own place (well, my own room in a flatshare, but it’s a good flat in a nice area). Money isn’t a worry anymore and I am in such a better place with regards to everything. I’m genuinely happy with my life. It’s a wonderful feeling.

So much can happen within one year.

And for those wondering why I’m not writing… well… I haven’t really got a valid excuse. I hit 53K on Friday and sort of just… stopped. I ended up being busy but then even on my train ride back to London, I decided to read R.L. Stine’s new book instead of writing my own. (It’s looking to be a great book, Goosebumps fans! It’s his first book for adults so I’m excited to be reading it!) Previous birthday’s have been celebrated by hitting 50K on my birthday. (In 2009 I celebrated on my own in a cold, drafty house in Watford, by hitting 50K and singing happy birthday to myself. I had a mini cake and candles and everything. It was a sad image when I think about it.) But as I’ve already passed 50K (woohoo!), I can do what I like tonight! Post-work drinks are on the menu. (Don’t worry, nothing like this story will be happening! It’s Tuesday… joking! Never again.)

Wrimos – if you’re still going, for the love of the gods keep going! The end of the month is always frantic and stressed and suddenly busy but then you get that awesome adrenaline rush as you barrel towards 50,000 words and it all becomes somewhat worth it. No matter what, just keep writing!

Enjoy your Tuesdays, folks!

Gracefully Stepping Down

On Thursday night I made what was an incredibly hard decision to make.

I decided to stop striving for 100,000 words this November.

You may have noticed the complete lack of blog posts the last week and a half. If you’re used to seeing me on the forums, you may have noticed my complete absence from those. My time management this November has tanked. Completely and utterly. My word count stuttered, including days where I didn’t write at all. I kept telling myself that there was time, I could catch up, that writing 6,000 words a day every day around a full time job and a social life was perfectly do-able and normal.

I was wrong.

It’s a week to go until the end of November and as of Thursday night, I was 21,000 words behind my personal goal. If I didn’t write yesterday, that would jump up to almost 24,000. The sheer size of that number scared me to the point that I couldn’t write. I felt too pressured to even get the words down. I started avoiding writing. I told myself I had the time off work and I deserved the rest. At 11:30pm on Thursday, I knew I was defeated by my own ambition. I’d written 144 words that day and was more concerned with checking Twitter than trying to get more words down. When I looked at the time I knew I would use to write over the next few days (train journey, write-ins, etc) and worked out what I could expect word count wise to write during those times, I wouldn’t even hit 70,000.

The only way for me to do it would be to throw myself into my novel and push myself until I was out of energy and even then still keep going. And I could reach 100,000 that way. I’d drain myself completely, but I could do it.

But this weekend I’m home visiting my friends and my family ahead of my birthday next Tuesday. I’m here to relax, take a couple of days off work in the process, catch up with my people here in Manchester and generally enjoy myself. I can’t do that if I’m freaking out over my 100,000 word goal. So, I decided in order to celebrate my upcoming birthday, in order to spend quality time with my family and friends, I had to gracefully step down from my target, rather than go down flaming on November 30th when my brain melts.

However! At 8pm on Wednesday evening, I did pass 50,000 words. For the 10th year in a row. And I am epically happy about that. No matter how many NaNos you do, passing that golden number always gives you a rush of adrenaline and a feeling of sheer job and accomplishment.

And even without reaching my insane target, I’ve still had an amazing 10th year of NaNoWriMo. I’ve joined a whole new region, continued to ML, reached 50K with a full time job and without taking time off to hit that mark, and made some great new friends. There are definitely worse ways to spend your 10th year of NaNoWriMo! And as I finish writing this post which will go live in the morning, I’m sat in my old region of Manchester, surrounded by old friends and new faces, discussing dressing one of the current MLs as Rudolph so he can pull someone around an ice-rink in a sleigh.

It’s been a brilliant year overall.

But d’y’know what?

I may try for 100,000 again next year.

Because ultimately, the madness that NaNoWriMo creates inside you never really goes away.

It’s The Little Things

I had a horrible weekend overall. Entirely my own fault. The short version is that we went out after work on Friday to a place which sold really strong cocktails on a 2-4-1 offer until 8pm. Needless to say, I got horribly drunk, was pretty much literally carried (with the help of a taxi) home by two friends, who then stayed the night in my room to make sure I survived until the morning. Naturally, I spent most of Saturday asleep, with the exception of the hours between 2pm and 9:30pm when I was up and about and did laundry.

But no writing.

On Sunday, I felt marginally better, skipped giving blood for obvious reasons, and went into work for a training afternoon. I should point out by this point that I hadn’t had a proper meal since Friday lunchtime. I was still picking at any dry foods and drinking anything with sugar in it to keep my energy levels up. Anyway, training was, well, training, and afterwards one of the same friends who carried me home on Friday insisted I actually ate something so we went for pizza (which I paid for, since I clearly owed him something).

The pizza made me feel human enough to write 2,341 words in a little over an hour. And nothing more.

Today I went into work for another day of training, meaning I did no actual work. The hour or so I should’ve had to tackle emails before the training started was mostly spent covering reception as our receptionist had called in sick and the agency temp we’d arranged to come in didn’t show up on time. Thus I started my day feeling horribly stressed out, annoyed that I was essentially missing what is always my busiest day of work in the week (meaning tomorrow will be awful), and I was tired as I didn’t sleep properly last night. (Surprisingly, my 12 hours of sleep on Saturday night prevented me from getting to sleep last night.)

Somewhere near the end of the day, a further joke was made about my deeply embarrassing show on Friday night and I kinda left the office tired, stressed, and wishing that I had never ever discovered alcohol ever. I still had to go shopping for my friend’s birthday present, which was the last thing I wanted to do. But this was my only night this week to do it, so I went shopping.

My first stop was Clinton Cards. I ended up picking up a present and a card for my friend, and present for another friend for Christmas. My total came to over £10 and I was informed at the till that I was entitled to a free Teddy Bear!

This sounds so silly but I walked out of the store with a huge smile on my face. I had a free Bear! And not some small cheap thing. A really nice bear! This completely made my day. Screw that, it made my whole weekend. I will confess that I am very easily pleased and things can fall into place very quickly for me. I was prepared to drag myself back from shopping, forcing myself to stare at my novel for a couple of hours before giving up and falling into bed. That one free gift, that one bear, completely lifted my spirits.

My new bear and NaNoWriMo mascot ‘Chris’, with my geniusly named pillow pet, ‘Pingu’.

Friday night was three nights ago. It happened, screw it, I can’t change it. I have amazing friends who not only literally took me to my bed, but stayed the night to look after me. I feel deeply privileged (sorry, this gets a touch soppy) to have people like that in my life. I have very recently become completely settled into London and it’s my friends that have helped me to do this. Yes, I’m not going to hear the end of this for a while, but I know it’s all in good fun and I know that if I continue to let it bother me, I’m just being stupid. I’ve gained a lot of confidence thanks to my friends in London this year and confident people don’t fall back between the cracks ‘cause of one silly night out. *nods*

I am doing okay with my novel. I’m off track as I barely wrote between Thursday and Sunday but, it’s still okay. I wandered happily through the shopping centre and into Foyles book store, at which point I made myself a promise in my new lightened, happy, mood. If I reach 50K (currently on 30K) by Thursday (which brings me completely on track), I can buy the second book of Stephen King’s ‘The Dark Tower’ series. As I’m nearly done with the first book, this is a highly enticing offer to myself.

This rather long winded blog post does have a point. Let the little things make you smile. Whether you find a five pound note in your jeans pocket, or come home to have a cup of tea waiting for you, or get a free gift in a store. Don’t just push it aside as a small thing, let that small thing lift your mood and re-adjust your view of the world. Sometimes we get so bogged down in the petty bad things that we forget that there are good things which happen as well. Everyone has a bad weekend, everyone has THAT night out. Every Wrimo gets to a point where they want to bury their head in the sand over their novel and stay there.

But nothing lasts forever, time marches on, and sometimes you just need a little help in lifting your head and realising that things could be worse and really, everything is absolutely fine.

Now, if you excuse me, I have Coco Pops to eat and 5,000 words to write. See you on the other side!

Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November

Happy Guy Fawkes Night for all my UK readers! If you’re going to firework displays and bonfires tonight, remember to wrap up warm and stay safe! Eat a toffee apple for me!

(For non-UK readers, Guy Fawkes Night is the celebration of the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Guy Fawkes planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament by stacking barrels of gunpowder in the cellars and tunnels below, but was caught before he could do the dead. We now blow things up in celebration of him not blowing anything up… *pause* We’re odd like that.)

I am spending Guy Fawkes Night at a write-in (and busily avoiding the whole Oxford Street area of London as Robbie Williams is switching on the Christmas lights and I have better things to do than be crushed by 30,000 squealing fangirls).

In other news, we are a SIXTH of the way through November! (Scared?)

So, how’s the novel going?

That’s a horrible question, isn’t it? How’s the novel going… badly, if you’re asking me! I have whole sections that I’m wincing as I write because I’m just pushing for words and I know that it’s a horrible scene that has no right to be there, but it adds 500 words so it’s staying. The whole first 2,000 words will be scrapped and re-written when it comes to editing. On the other hand, I’m neatly tying up various parts of my vagueish plot ideas and I’ve just jumped ahead five days in the story which means, FLASHBACKS! We love flashbacks because they’re a great thing to throw in when you’re running up against a brick wall.

My friend pestered me the other week to have a “starring role” in my novel. I said he could have a cameo, take it or leave it. He accepted. We had this text conversation on Saturday:

Friend:      “So tell me more about my character. Does he die?”

Me:              “Yup! He’s been living in a dumpster for a week when we meet him, thinks he’s a spy for MI6, and gets killed by a flying shovel.”

Friend:      “Wow. I don’t know how to react to that.”

I laughed a bit too much at this point. That whole scene is going to provide me with a good couple of thousand words, if not more, AND the character brings an important piece of information to other characters attentions. So it’s not an entirely pointless scene! Yay!

Let’s ask a nicer question:

How’s the word count?

I hope that’s a nicer question. By midnight tonight, you should be on 8,335 words. Don’t worry if you’re not, it’s only November 5th, there’s PLENTY of time to catch up! Personally, I am doing very well! (It’s my blog, I can brag if I want to.) I’m aiming for 100,000 words this year so I need to be on 16,670 by midnight. I passed 17,000 last night so I’m a day ahead! Fantastic! It’s always nice to have a buffer of some description. It helped that I spent the weekend doing very little, other than writing and pretending to write (procrastination is thy middle name).

If you’re struggling a bit with word count, just keep going. Write whenever you have a spare 10 minutes, join in some word wars on the forums, or follow the official NaNo Sprints Twitter account. Trying putting on a song and writing for the length of that song, or hold off checking Facebook until you’ve reached a certain word count. You’ll be surprised at how quickly the words build up!

No matter where you are right now, you’re doing fantastic. Keep writing!

Remember, remember, the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason, and plot.
There is no reason why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

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