A pinch and a punch for the first of the month. That’s what we used to say at school – and today, as well as being the first Wednesday it’s also the first actual day of the month; which means it’s time to link to the Insecure Writers Support Group:
November is the month of NaNo, of course: nothing to do with nano-technology (unless you write a particular kind of Lilliputian sci-fi) but National Novel Writing Month, a time when just about every writer I know goes into purdah in order to complete their latest project. The idea is to write during the month of November an entire novel totalling no fewer than 50,000 words. (If you’re wondering what 50K looks like, it’s a short novel: the average length is 80-100K. But it’s still a huge achievement.) And this month we are asked by the IWSG whether previously we have completed our NaNo projects (yes, nearly every time) and whether any of them have gone on to be published (no).
I’m not doing NaNo as such this year; I have, however, begun an epic poem along the lines of Wordsworth’s Prelude, telling in iambic pentameter the story of my life and poetry. It’s epic in terms of length rather than subject, and I have no idea how long it will turn out to be, but we shall see. It’s very hard to rhyme a poem of that length, so I have contented myself with blank verse, just the odd highlighted part in rhyming verse. I’m finding it very helpful.
So that’s me. If you’re doing NaNo I wish you all the best. Let me know how you get on.
Yessssssssssssssssss! 75,000 words completed today! Actually the count according to my laptop was around 76K, though the family computer only made it 73. But I suspect that computer is a nasty little liar. So I’m feeling quite chuffed with myself at the moment, the more so since the novel actually has some sort of rough shape which can be licked and honed and generally tweaked until it’s just about pretty damn-near perfect.
Right now I’m waiting for the husband to return so that we can both lay into the potato curry I’ve made. Potato curry is a staple of mine: since I hate following recipes (see previous post)
I tend to master a few dishes and then do them over and over. Pizza is another thing I do regularly, and from time to time we have lasagne; however since Him Indoors is in charge of cooking, I don’t get to do them very often.
Son has returned from an 18th birthday party. I can’t believe he’ll be 18 in a few weeks too – it’s quite incredible. As is the thought that daughter will soon have finished her first term at uni. She’s already thinking about putting a deposit on a flat – apparently they have to do that about now to get one for next year. Bloody ridiculous.
And that’s it – that’s all the news that’s fit to print. Have a great Sunday – or what’s left of it.
From time to time I forage in the outer – or rather, the inner – darkness of the food cupboard to see what supplies are lurking there, and today I found a clutch of tea bags. Is that the correct collective noun for tea-bags? I know the name for a heap of used tea-bags is ‘a heave’ of tea-bags, but I’m not sure about unused ones. Seriously, is there anything more sad and depressing than a used tea-bag, sitting oozing onto a saucer, its life-blood squeezed out and yet showing that it has so much more to give? Tea-leaves, by contrast, are useful: they can be spread on the ground for compost or used for divination, and they are relatively attractive to look at. But I digress…
On closer inspection, one of this clutch of sachets turned out to be green tea. I do not consider green tea to be tea at all: I do not like it and I don’t want it in my cupboard. So unless somebody claims it soon, it will go.
In a similar way, I sometimes forage in the subterranean world of my spam folder. This is truly depressing; the thought that there are so many people out there trying to cheat us out of our money by offering stuff from the sublime to the completely ridiculous (the current favourite seems to be buying cheap meds from Canada) but there are some claiming that I have recently had an accident or that my insurer could owe me thousands or offering to lease me a car very cheaply or to save me money on my employee insurance. Others sneak in under the radar, like one I nearly fell for recently which claimed to be from BT and to say that my recent payment didn’t go through. I almost clicked on the link, then I checked it out and it was bullshit. More fodder for the spam folder.
If you could only use spam as compost…
I do not like green tea and spam.
It’s fuff-fuff-fuff-freeeeezing here in blogland today. After complaining and worrying about an over-warm autumn, I am now feeling the cold very much indeed. Our kitchen thermometer is showing 13 degrees, which Mark claims is ‘not really cold’ but which I claim is fuff-fuff-fuff – you get the picture.
NaNo has moved from the dining room to the sitting room for the duration of the fuff-fuff-fuff, which gave me a good reason to turf infuriating sleeping son off the sofa (he sleeps downstairs ‘so that he can wake up’ – yet god help anyone who actually tries to wake him) and also a different perspective on writing. This is often helpful, I find – you do want to have a particular spot for writing, but a change of scene now and again can work wonders. And today I reached 4,000 words without even trying, leaving me just 1300 to do after lunch.
I will be busy this afternoon, doing Spanish followed by drumming, and then off to Peter’s for yoga and dinner and a little light printing. The printing is for the gig tomorrow as I want to have some poems on cards to give all the people who are coming to the Twilight Gig (see poster below). I know Peter’s flat will be Mmmmmmmmmmmm-ahhhhh! and not fuff-fuff-fuff! as he always keeps it warm. I’m going to have to set the heating to come on earlier here, as it just isn’t warm enough at 7 am after only half an hour. I don’t mind the cold quite so much if I’m moving around, but most of my work is done sitting down and then I get really chilled off.
NaNoWrimically, I’m up to 56,000, on target to do 75K by the end of the week.
Time for soup now, then I must get the nose back to the grindstone. Here’s the poster for tomorrow’s gig: I’m on at 5.30.
Nope, it refuses to post it. OK so see you at Embrace Arts, Lancaster Rd, tomorrow evening.
I haven’t blogged for a few days, what with NaNoWriMo and all the other stuff that’s going on, not to mention the shredding. Oo! Did I tell you about the shredding? I have an ever-growing pile of cuttings and prunings at the bottom of the garden and no idea what to do with them, so I went on Streetbank
and asked to borrow a shredder – and lo and behold! some kind soul who turned out to be the gardener from the Martyrs offered to lend me theirs. They even brought it round – so on Sunday I got it out and fired it up. It started for about a second and then stopped and refused to do anything. ‘Oh, no!’ I thought. ‘It’s the lawn-mower all over again!’
but then I opened it up and saw that a wedge of wood (not Wedgewood) was stuck in the blade, and having freed that, Bob was well and truly my Uncle. It’s very satisfying getting branches and twigs, sticking them in the top and seeing them vanish as they are chewed up and spat out the other end as mulch. Lovely.
Back at the laptop-face, I have been keeping up with my Nano word count and I’m now up to 23,700 words; about fourteen chapters. I’ve had a court case, an artists’ meet-up, a political meeting and a bust-up with a friend, so I’m quite happy.
What do you think of the new profile pic? In some ways I prefer the old one, but I chose this one for the Mslexia blog. I was going for highly intelligent and slightly scary. Does that work?
In other news, my bid to run a workshop at Embrace Arts has finally succeeded. It pays sometimes to ask people why they’ve rejected you! And last night I went to a meeting of the literary caucus of the planning group for next year’s Clarendon Park Artbeat. This is a (very) local arts festival and was terrific this year: next year I am leading a poetry performance workshop, organising a poetry breakfast called ‘Poetry on Toast’ and setting up guerilla poetry on Queen’s Rd. All good stuff!
I’ve had a couple of bits of good news lately, one of which is quite exciting: I had an email from Mslexia magazine today to say they loved my pitch to be one of their bloggers and they’d like me to start next month! My pitch was that I’d be blogging about Mark and his gender dysphoria and how living with this has affected me and my writing. Finally, gender dysphoria pays off! I get paid for this too – not a fortune, but something; plus it will raise my profile and that of this blog. So watch this space…
I’m up to 14,000 words in my NaNo journey, which is bang on schedule. I realised if I’m going to make 17k it has to be over 3,000 per day so I was falling a little behind. I’ve also been getting a poetry collection together, mentoring Graham in his poetry journey (there’s one of his coming up in a day or two) and signing up for a gig at Embrace Arts. This is the start of a series of Twilight Performances which involve music, poetry and storytelling and begin at 5.30 in the evening. So if you work in town and want something to help you wind down that’s SO much better than alcohol, come along. I can’t upload the flyer, sadly, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. More on this nearer the time…
Back to the laptop-face…
It’s my first day doing NaNo and I’ve done 3640 words! It’s flowing quite well at the moment and I’m over my limit of 3000: I’ve planned 3,000 words a day in order to achieve 75,000 in a month. So I’m quite pleased with that. I work best in short bursts; and I usually work office hours: nine to five or thereabouts with a break for lunch and another for tea. I’m not a midnight-oil person, nor am I a scribbling-at-3 am-person: over the years I’ve found that this pattern suits me best. And I don’t work weekends: my brain needs the time to digest what I’ve done and come up with more stuff to do.
It has come to my attention that some people are attempting to write the whole 50k in one day. This strikes me as very extreme and quite foolish, like trying to run up Everest or do six marathons at once, because merely climbing the damned mountain or doing the one marathon just isn’t enough. Why? Why would you do that? I am very mistrustful of all these extreme activities. Where does it get you? At the end of it all you’re likely to have are, let’s face it, 50,000 words of gibberish, and it’ll take you all month to get over it. Rome wasn’t built in a day and a novel wasn’t written in a day either. A novel needs time and space to grow – and that’s why I give myself space in between working days; to let my mind digest what I’ve done and come up with more.
Things that grow need time, people!