Sunday, 28 November 2010

NaNoWriMo and other things

Well, I've done it. I actually done it! I've completed fifty thousand words of my novel.

For those that don't know, November is National Novel Writing Month.You sign up and try to write 50k by 30th November. Well, I did it. On 26th November. I wasn't sure if it was possible. I know others that have done it, more than once, but I wasn't sure I could. But as it turned out, it was the easy bit. I cut down my facebook, twitter and scrabble time. I neglected the housework. The kids. The husband. But seriously, I just refocused my attention to my work in progress and I found that I wasn't stuck for words, just time. If I had more minutes, I am sure I could have written more words.

The problem I have now, is how to finish the thing. 50k might sound impressive, but I am sure I have another 50k at least to write to reach The End. And then comes the task of editing. And believe me, I need a good edit. A very good edit. I have written many words. Some are good, some bad and very many are ugly and redundant. That's the hard part. Reading and re-reading and chopping and killing my darlings.

But I've had great fun. I've decimated a nemesis, crucified a bully and jailed a horrible person, all in the name of characterisation. I've discredited a few others too. I'm not a vengeful person but I love it, the power of writing.

In the meantime, I came second in the Slingink Slam round four and whilst waiting for the results of round five, I'm half-way through my round six entry. I've sent out some competition entries and done Write Invite competition every Saturday at 5.30pm - 6pm. And currently, I'm plotting my next chapter - and it involves a reveal. Maybe I'll write that tomorrow. Take my word count up to 55k. Every little bit brings the end closer.

It's also good to do something like NaNo with writing friends on facebook and twitter. The collective encouragement and support is great. So to my colleagues, whether they reach 50K or not, well done. And a great big Thank You.  

And now it's snowing. Heavy. Fast. And laying. Deep. It's warm inside and it's beautiful out. The school will probably be closed tomorrow and I doubt the supply wagon for the Co-op won't dare attempt the drive along the country lanes. We've been for milk, there was no bread, and we have wine. And beer. And a few other bottles of comfort. I don't think I'll risk dancing in the snow but Strictly is on television shortly so that will do.

And if your writing, NaNo or otherwise, good luck!

Friday, 12 November 2010

Paul McKenna, Kidney Stones & A Bit About Writing

Kidneys. A bit of a strange topic you might think.

Three facts that you might not know about me and kidneys.

It is the one of the very few things I cannot stand to eat. I cannot bear the texture, the smell whilst they are cooking, the taste in the mouth. Yuk. Yak. Urgh.

I successfully broke my addiction to chocolate through kidney therapy. Sounds dreadful but read on.
I was an addict. Complete and utter addict. We are taking at least three chocolate bars a day on light day - but generally, five, six or more - sometimes a lot more - every day. Terrible. I hang my head in shame. I needed to break the hold it had on me. What may be surprising is that I cannot bear hot chocolate, chocolate mousse, chocolate cake, chocolate ice-cream - it had to be chocolate. Not dark. Not white. But milk chocolate. Galaxy was the best and I adored the luscious fancy chocolates that came from Fortnums and Mason in Piccadilly. When I worked near there, I'd pop in and buy three hand made chocolates for £1.50.

Something had to give and I didn't want it to be my waistline again. A newspaper ran a full week of self-help advice from Paul McKenna. I followed his advice to break an addiction. He used chocolate for an example. The idea was to think of the worst thing to eat. Easy. Kidneys. Then imagine it covered in chocolate. Then close your eyes and do all sorts of finger and thumb rubbing (I can't remember the sequence or script) all the while thinking of kidneys coated in choclate - how it would taste, smell, feel - urrrrrrgh. I felt sick. Remember that feeling. You had to repeat it three times. Maybe it was seven. I don't remember.

I wasn't convinced. Pah. In two days, I'll be back scoffing chocolate, letting it melt in my mouth. I didn't think of it - kidneys or Paul McKenna - for the rest of the day. That night, I realised I hadn't eaten any chocolate. I felt smug. Ha. Done it. I still thought tomorrow might be different. I really did think I'd be back on it.

That was seven/eight years ago. Once in a while, I fancy a little chocolate. I might buy a bar of galaxy. I might eat a twix, or a caramel bar. MMMmmmm. It never tastes of kidneys. It never smells or feels like kidneys. But it satisfies me for another few weeks and I don't think of it again. I might not look like I don't eat chocolate, but I'm happy in the knowledge I've broken the addiction. If only it would work for crisps and alcohol ...

So back to kidneys. On Monday night I lay in bed, thinking up #Poorverbs for twitter, posting them up and laughing with the night-owls making up more and more bizarre variations of proverbs.

if you love someone, set them free, unchain them from the attic, put the knife down ...

if you can tell a book by it's cover why does anyone write them?

Okay - you get it - I'll stop now.

I was chuckling away at the daft things people were posting when I a niggle started in my right hip. It quickly spread down into the groin. I knew that pain. I really hoped it wasn't. A couple of hours later, when it hadn't abated, I knew it was. A damn kidney stone.

I had one ten years ago. Then it had lasted most of the day, with the final hours spent in acute pain until it passed. Not good.
At 8am in the morning I called the doctor who came straight around. Two injections into my rump made me promptly vomit. I spent the day in bed writhing in agony. The doc came back - another two injections which immediately induced more vomiting. I was under threat to be sent to hospital. It's an hour away. I didn't want that.


The next day, the doctor called again. I'd given up and resorted to paracetamol that didn't even take the edge off. I tried to write to take my mind of the pain. I dabbled in twitter and received lots of friendly suppport. Someone said their kidney stone had lasted three days  : (

Yesterday, I went back to the doctor. He gave me a cocktail of pills - antibiotics, anti-spasm drugs, and said as a last resort I could take ibuprofen with paracetamol. I needed to rid myself of the high temperature and drink lots of fluids to flush it out. But because of my stomach problems I shouldn't really take the -ofen drugs. But by heck - they work!

If I keep on top of the tablets and not let them wear off, the pain is bearable. I'm still waiting for it to pass. I have an 'urgent' referral to outpatients which I hope comes soon. The doctor thinks the stone is going up and down the ureter. Don't want to think about that. I don't want to go into hospital either so I'll keep taking the tablets.

And write.

The good thing about this damn kidney stone is that, when I could write, I've managed to knock out 5800 words of my novel. My total word count is now 25k. Might not sound a lot but I feel I'm getting there.

So - it's been a week of pros and cons. I haven't danced at all but I've been keeping watch on Strictly at 6.30pm every night. I haven't done much in the way of housework (no change there) but I've added a lot of wordage. And I did have a little bit of popping chocolate orange last night - one that I'd put away for Christmas - but I ended up giving most of it to my daughters.

So - kidneys - one of the worst things you can possibly eat, they are useful to break an addiction to chocolate, and the pain from a kidney stone is worse than childbirth and with nothing at the end of it. Except, relief.

I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. Or maybe, I would.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Writing, Writing, and er - Writing

Today is all about writing so if you've come here looking for chat on Ehlers-Danlos, Footprints Nursery or anything else I ramble on about, they will feature another day.

On Saturday I completed another 12 hour writing marathon along with fellow writers from The Write Idea (link on this page). There were less of us this year but the enthusiasm was strong and thanks to some fantastic prompts by some great authors, the inspiration and words flowed. (Though I did have a short break for Strictly - you know how I love dancing!)

With continued support from my facebook and twitter friends I managed to write 30 individual pieces with a word count of 10.5k. Stef Hall once again thrashed me with her 198923457809 words or so it seemed. She's a writing whizz and as Jon Pinnock called her on twitter 'bonkers!' But she is a great writer.

I wrote about many things, including a man with a temporomandibular joint problem, a girl with her third finger missing, twenty eight pairs of white socks, poisoned pigeons and a little bit of fan fiction about a detective called Rebus. You may have heard of him.

I will try to figure out how to post some of the shorter stories here if anyone would like to read them.

So far, I have raised £190 for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome with promises of more to come.  

Thank you everyone. 

Did I mention Ian Rankin provided lots of quirky prompts and donated £20 to the fund? He's my favourite!

Then on Sunday morning, having been woken at 8am by my darling youngest daughter phoning from a sleepover, I discovered I had won 3rd place in Sentinel Literary Quarterly - publication and £40!

The judge had nice things to say about my story too.
http://www.sentinelpoetry.org.uk/slq/4-1-oct2010/competitions/ivor-hartmann.html

And that brings me to NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month, starting today, 1st November, with the aim of writing 50k of a novel by the end of the month. Writers from all over the world take part and some even have their novels published. I've always been far too busy to commit to 50k in one month but today I have made a start.

I've posted up 2.5k. The first day is easy. It's like a sugar rush. Ask me around the 15th how I'm doing.

I don't have a particular plan for writing - just as much as I can when I can. Life has a habit of taking over in this house and I can't commit to a certain amount of words on a given day. I might write nothing for a week, especially if it's a working-away-at-the-nursery week. Of which I have one a month. Another day I might churn out five thousand words.

Do I have an Idea? I have two.

Will I complete one? Maybe.

Am I mad? Very probably.

Why do I do this? Because even when I have an inbox and postbox full of rejections, I love to write. I've tried not. It doesn't work. I always creep back and tip-tap on the keyboard again. There's always something I have to say. Maybe I should shut up. It gets me into an awful lot of trouble sometimes. But wouldn't life be boring?

So that's why I like writing marathons, competitions, challenges. It helps to focus what I want to write. That's the theory. For now, anyway. Until I change my mind.