The End of Days.

I know you can’t see me, but I’m blowing a whistle as we speak, indicating the final dying minutes of National Novel Writing Month. I breached the 50,000-word target by only 29 words; that’s 13 less than my very first novel in 2010.

Last year’s total was 60,000 and I’d barely scratched the surface, but this time around, I don’t have the material to go much higher, so I’m happy with my haul. Many congratulations if you’ve also hit the benchmark.

My aim is for this to be the last time I bore you with this subject for the next eleven months.

I’ve been to a number of literary events this week, including a fiction writing and a life writing class, and I’m pleased to say I’m enrolled in the continuation class for the latter.

On Thursday, I attended a literary salon where I heard current English students read out their best pieces. Then on Friday, a poetry and cabaret event. A number of pieces were in the Dundee dialect, which must have confused the last act, a songwriter from New Orleans.

I’ve lived in the city most of my life and understand most of the vernacular, yet I’ve never naturally spoken it. It inspired me to write a poem exploring the theme, and I completed it before the event ended. I’m not known as a poet, and I’m not at the stage where I would describe myself as one, but I have been dabbling in the form.

I’ve also been working on another piece, but I need to give you a bit of background. If you didn’t know, I’ve only been a writer since October 2010. To put that in context, I was 27 when I wrote a fictional story for the first time since high school. The piece was that first NaNo novel.

However, when I was at school, I fancied myself as a singer-songwriter, not to mention an actor. I’d tried to write song lyrics, and I recently rediscovered a four-line fragment with two internal rhymes. Moreover, I can still remember the tune, and the words still resonate as much now as they did then.

At the time, I tried to expand it by writing extra verses, but nothing seemed to work until I turned to Google+ earlier this week. With the help of a community, I preserved the rhyme scheme but expanded the number of syllables, and I’ve now squeezed nearly four verses out of it. If I keep making progress, I finally hope to perform it on December 9th after all these years.

After a conversation with my former NaNo Municipal Liaison a couple of weeks ago, I raked out my school qualifications. I’d correctly remembered I’d earned only a C for English, although I have criticisms about the way it was taught. Perhaps that’s why I never pursued it, or perhaps I was too fixated on music to realise my strength was in words, not instruments.

I’ve got to make up for the time I wasted setting up blogs writing factual events without realising that I was able to write fiction. I kick myself every day about my late start, although I take some comfort from the careers of Barbara Taylor Bradford and Richard Adams. Their first books weren’t published until they were over 40 and over 50 respectively.

But I need to work fast if I want to reach a state of parity. I want to reach the point where I’ve produced as much work as if I’d started as a teenager. I have around 200 pieces in total, but that could have been 1,000 if I’d begun at age 15.

I won’t rest until I’m satisfied I’ve made up for every minute of wasted time.

The N-Word.

I’ve a feeling you’re getting sick of me talking about National Novel Writing Month, so I’ll devote only one paragraph to it. To date, my total is 48,711 words, meaning less than 1,300 to go until I hit the target. I have until Saturday to complete it, leaving plenty of time.

I’ve been going to two other classes at the same time, and I seem to be going through a rather philosophical patch as I complete their respective homework.

Class one is Life Writing at the University of Dundee. Our homework is to write a short passage about our lives each week, all focussing on a particular aspect of writing, which might be the use of the child or adult voice, or employing the past or present tense. This week was a little different, where we were asked to choose an abstract noun and write a piece around that theme. Mine was On Solitude, arguing that this is not the same as loneliness.

Number two is my regular writing class with Zöe Venditozzi, held at a new, secret location. One of the prompts led me to write about a floating island and the ideological arguments its inhabitants had when setting up their community. The other is about twins with wildly different reactions: one is always brutally honest, while the other goes into denial when he hears bad news.

Also, my second published story is currently being launched in Australia as part of the FourW Twenty-Four anthology. The Wagga Wagga and Melbourne events have taken place, but the Sydney launch happens this Saturday 30 November. It’s impractical for me to attend as I’m halfway around the world, but if you live there, pop along and let me know what it’s like.

NaNoWriMo and Other Stories.

Just a quick update to say I’m still alive, but I’m not only taking part in NaNoWriMo, but homework for two other writing classes as well. As you might imagine, this is keeping me jolly busy.

With 33% of the time elapsed, I had reached half of my target of 50,000 words. I think be able to match the target, but not beat it, so I’ve been taking it slightly easier. At a day over the halfway mark, I now have around 33,000 words.

But I’ve also had time to visit the cinema. Last week, I saw Gravity, although I felt that because Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are such famous faces, it distracted somewhat from the story. Yet it remains an excellent film, with the action of Apollo 13 set to the backdrop of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

And today, I attended a free screening of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, in Swedish with English subtitles. I enjoyed this for its captivating story, even if it becomes a little muddy towards the end, and I hear it’s much better than the English-language remake. I’ve no current plans to read the book but if I have a chance, I’ll give it a look.

So hope you reach the end of NaNo in one piece, and any other writing projects you may have on the go. I’ll update again when I have the chance, which I hope will be the day I hit the target.

NaNoWriMo: One Week In.

If Bridget Jones had inhabited me in a Quantum Leap style. I’d say I was typing out a v. v. quick update on my National Novel Writing Month process.

I have a very organised Municipal Liaison, or ML, who gives us writing space in a friary. While I’m not religious by any measure, the calm, quiet sanctity of the place is very conducive to writing.

But equally, so is a certain coffee shop in the town centre, where I tried writing on Sunday. A friend happened to be in the area, and she forced me to go to the pub across the road and drink red wine – forced, no less – leaving me 2,000 short of my intended target.

Despite this small setback, I still bagged a mammoth weekend total. The daily target is an average of 1,667 words, which equates to 11,669 on the seventh day. As of last night, I’ve banged out 12,539. I’m just about to start hacking away at today’s total.

If you should like to follow me on the NaNo website, please do so. It’s helpful if you can also send me a message saying you saw it here so I know where you’ve found my profile.

NaNo Go Go Go.

I’m just taking a few minutes out of my writing schedule to wish the best of luck to every National Novel Writing Month participant. Thus far, I have a little over 600 words to sling on the pile.

Don’t forget, there are likely to be people in your local area to help you stay inspired, and look out for the periodical motivational e-mails.