Monthly Archives: November 2013
Just remember that Dumbo didn’t need the feather; the magic was in him. – Stephen King.
For those of you who don’t know (and who are you if you don’t?!) Dumbo is a Disney movie about a baby elephant with very large ears. Dumbo is teased by the other elephants and befriends a mouse called Timothy. Timothy tells Dumbo he would be able to fly with his ears but Dumbo doesn’t believe him until Timothy produces a “magical” feather which will give him flying abilities. Dumbo flaps his large ears, and is able to fly. At the climax of the movie, Dumbo loses the “magical” feather, but instead of falling, he learns that the ability to fly was always within him and the feather was just the guide to get him to where he was always capable of being.
Think of NaNoWriMo as the feather. You have the ability to write a novel, it’s built within you. But it’s not always easy to start if you don’t know how. Sometimes it’s nice to have a guide, to have something taking you by the hand and showing you the way. That is what NaNoWriMo is. NaNoWriMo isn’t the novel, it’s the power that makes you believe you can do it.
Back in 2003, when I started NaNoing, I wrote all the time. I wrote (bad) poetry, and short stories. I had whole notebooks full of snippets of ideas, random paragraphs, and stanzas for poems. I had doodles as I worked things out and ideas mapped out for somethings. I loved that. I loved carrying around a notebook full of random creative thoughts. So what if most of them didn’t pan out to be anything – it was fun. (I still have those notebooks in a box somewhere. They’re great to read.)
But as I got older, and NaNo became an ingrained part of my life, I stopped writing so much. I no longer write short stories because I struggle to come up with short and sweet ideas that can be wrapped up in a few thousands words. (I definitely don’t write teen angst poetry but I feel that’s more my age than my writing ability.) My writing ability seems to be entirely focused on full novels. Considering I don’t plan that much in advance, it’s strange that that’s how my mind works. But not only do I find I’m more leaning towards novel writing now, I find if I try and write in any sort of depth or for length of time at any other time of year other than November, I fail. I find I don’t have the drive, the desire to write during any other month.
In many ways, NaNoWriMo is my magical feather
Of course NaNoWriMo is a nice little bundle of novelling. It gives you everything you need. You get a timeframe to write, a deadline to meet, supporting people from all over the world, pep talks from real authors, and lots of metaphorical cookies and poking (and real, if you go to write-ins and that’s how your region is inclined). It’s perfect! NaNo wraps you in this neat little writing world, and it’s amazingly awesome.
After 11 years, I find the rest of the year is a little less coloured when it comes to writing.
But sometimes I find myself saying “I can’t write outside of November”. Well, why not? Apart from the community, what’s really stopping me? I can obviously write, and I can obviously write a novel in a month. So I’m using the wrong phrasing. I “can” write outside of November, but part of is me choosing not to. I think part of me is scared of trying without the feather.
But you know what? Right now, it’s totally okay to cling to the feather. Cuddle it, name it. Embrace the feather. It is teaching you what you weren’t ready to believe. But in December, when it goes missing, you can still fly.
Just spread those wings.
Have you ever met someone you admire and like, only to find they are a truely wonderful person and walk away feeling inspired and excited to achieve what they have achieved?
Today I did that.
L.A. Weatherly is the author of the ‘Angel’ series – Angel, Angel Fire, and Angel Fever. It’s a brilliant YA trilogy where angels are coming down from Heaven to Earth to live amongst humans. The catch? They’re also sucking the life force from the very humans who worship them, eventually causing their death. If you’re touched by an angel, you can only see them as true and good. Which leaves those who haven’t been touched by angels left to fight for the human race. Throw in some half angels, and a less than straightforward romance, and voila! One very thrilling post-apocolyptic trilogy. Highly recommended.
Lee has been touring the UK the last few days, visiting Waterstones stores and signing books. The great thing is you didn’t have to have bought her book from Waterstones to get it signed! She just wanted to meet fans, promote the series in store, and talk about her new trilogy (out next year). This was brilliant as I bought the last two books in Foyles.
Upon meeting Lee, I decided she was lovely. I’ve exchanged a few tweets here and there on Twitter before but she was genuinely lovely in person. We chatted for a minute about her new series, and she signed my copy of Angel Fever, and I got a picture. She was giving away badges, and bookmarks, and chocolate. Definitely worth the 45 minute tube journey to get there. I left happy (and bought Neil Gaiman’s ‘America Gods’ from Waterstones as well).
In another store I found a little Christmas badge. It was an angel made of tinsel with flashing lights embedded in it. I couldn’t resist. I bought it and went back to find Lee chatting with a staff member. Cautiously interrupting the conversation, I presented my find, we figured out how to get it flashing and she promptly wore it.
And then we talked for 20 minutes.
My original impression was spot on. She was absolutely lovely, great to talk to. I dropped in that I was a writer and she instantly asked what I wrote usually, what I was working on, how it was going, and how far along I was with editing. I explained the basic outline of We All Fall Down. (I’m not great at explaining it to normal people, explaining it to a published author who’s work I like is a lot harder!) But! she said she liked the sound of it, and that it sounded a great concept. WINNING!
I mentioned NaNoWriMo and how it got me started on novel writing, and we discussed the importance of having a supportive background. I’m very lucky that my family have always been supportive, and Boyfriend is too. As much as he jokes about distracting me from doing NaNo, he’s aware I’d be very upset if he actually prevented me from writing. And he’s super supportive of my editing.
We talked about non-writing too. She told me about the road trips she took for research and I talked about my job and working on a summer camp in the States (summer 2011, Minnesota).
I also got general advise. Lee suggested looking into finding a suitable writing group to get further support, help, and ideas. She also said how important it was to just keep going, even if you get rejected, to not give up. Which is absolutely right. Stephen King used to collect rejection slips on a nail on the wall of his bedroom. He used it to drive himself until it was successful, and look where he is now! If you want something badly enough and are willing to put in the time and effort, you will eventually get it. I fully believe this.
Overall, a great way to spend part of my Saturday.
Lee, it was an absolutely pleasure meeting and chatting with you. Buying that little flashing angel was a great decision. If I am ever published and get to do signings, I’m going to be as lovely to my fans are you are to yours. You’re an inspiration.
Have a good weekend everyone!
For Cinderella, midnight signalled the end of the ball, for NaNoWriMo-ers, it’s the start of an adventure! For the UK, that adventure starts NOW!
Famous author, Tom Clancy who sadly passed away this month, said “The only way to write, is to write.” And that is what November is all about. It’s not about editing, it’s not about wondering if you need another layer of subplot, it’s not about spelling your character names right every time or knowing what their birth sign is, or whether they like carrots. It’s about writing and writing and more writing.
It’s about getting the words on the page and leaving them there. It’s about opening up the floodgates in your mind and watching the magic pour from your brain through your fingers and onto the keyboard or page in front of you. It’s about watching your ideas and your ideas only come to life before your eyes.
It’s about realising what you can do when there’re 100,000 people doing it with you.
It’s about taking a leap of faith and just going with it. Even if you are like me and haven’t really a clue what you’re going to be writing this November, it doesn’t matter. Because over the next few days and week, you’ll work it out. And you’ll watch yourself work it out and be amazed that it’s you doing that. You’re going to surprise yourself on many levels, and even on the days when the words won’t come, you’re still going to feel pride for what you’re doing.
You’re going to join in the word sprints online, or join the write-ins and social events in your local community. You’re going to discuss ideas on the forums, or procrastinate heavily with like minded people. You’re going to create fictional worlds with wonderful people whilst getting to know equally wonderful people in the real world.
You’re going to be caffeinated, sleep deprived, and prone to scribbling a few words here and there just to keep your word count up. You’re going to be on a month long roller coaster filled with highs and lows, sharp corners, and graceful gliding lengths. You’re going to feel a little crazy. But that’s totally okay. Because we’re all a little bit crazy with you.
This November, is your November. And you’re going to make it amazing.
Every year, thousands of people sign up to NaNoWriMo and don’t start. By writing even a few words, you’re already ahead of many people who don’t.
One of my favourite Stephen King quotes is: “The scariest moment is always just before you start.” Well, right now, it’s gone midnight. The final moments of October have vanished. The final dreaded minutes of waiting for something to happen are gone. That scariest moment is very shortly going to be buried under piles of prose as soon as you type the first sentence.
So, what are you reading this for? Go write!
Happy Novelling Wrimos!