Inspiration via Nanowrimo – and our final winner!!

One of the things I absolutely love about National Novel Writing Month, are the Pep Talks. Emails from published authors, encouraging all the writers out there to keep on writing.

Today’s Pep Talk was from Nick Hornby. His words of encouragement need to be shared with the wider writing world. All of us who worry that our work is not good enough, who judge our work based on the ideas/rules/perceptions of others (which, lets face, it probably everyone!), need to read his email, and print it out, and stick it somewhere so we can remember what he says.

I will try to paraphrase Nick’s words here – but if you’d like to get the full impact of what he has to say, click here to check out the pep talk!

(And for those who don’t know – Nick wrote the books “About a Boy”, “High Fidelity” and “Fever Pitch” all of which have been turned into films!)

Every writer questions whether they are good enough – whether there is a stick by which we can measure the validity or otherwise of our work. But as Nick points out – art is subjective. Not everyone agrees that Shakespeare was a great author (and lets not get into a debate about whether he really did the writing, or simply stole someone else’s work). Some people say that a good novel takes between 2 and 7 years to write – but P G Wodehouse wrote 98 books in his 75 year career (and that’s not counting his plays).

Nick says:

“It’s a mess, the arts. Critics don’t agree with each other, readers don’t agree with critics. And real writers—if I may become definitive for a moment—change their minds about their own worth and talent somewhere between two and seven hundred times a day.

I’m trying to tell you that your own opinion of your work is entirely irrelevant, and so is the opinion of others. You have a job to do, and that job is to write a novel.”

I love that line “your own opinion of your work is entirely irrelevant, and so is the opinion of others”. Of course, I would think that if the larger percentage of “others” tell you your work is bad, perhaps you should listen to them – but then again if your work reaches even one person who – to paraphrase Lemony Snickett (see this pep talk) – takes it to heart and feels an effect in their life from your words – surely you have still achieved something as a writer, and that one thing is not to be sneered at.

Being a writer is far from easy. I send my stories out to different people – they come back with different ideas on what needs fixing. If the majority come back and say the same thing needs fixing, I fix it. But what if only half say there’s a problem with x,y,z…? What if only a few say “such and such is lacking”? I guess that is the point where personal preference must shine through – what do I like best? It is my work after all, and if I am sending it out into the world, it is important it has my mark, not the mark of others.

Today is the day I draw the last copy of The Secret Keeper. And I was going to try and do something original to draw the winner, but instead I will just flip a coin, as the only commentors we have had (who haven’t previously won!) have been Bec, and Laura Kay, (and anonymous – but as I can’t confirm your identity you’ll have to miss out this time!! Feel free to post again though! 🙂

And the winner is! Bec!!

Yay!! I’ll send you an email shortly Congratulations!! 😀

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Nanowrimo 2012

Ah Nano! I love it! This is my fifth year of taking part in NaNoWriMo, and I am pleased to say I have been successful each time, some more than others.

This year, I was excited to be writing a sequel for a novel I wrote during Camp Nano in June. To my memory, Red Sky flowed from my fingers onto the page with ease. And I guess it must have been fairly easy, for I finished it in 19 days. Dark Sea, however, was like pulling teeth. Or rather – as I explained to my partner the other day – it was like there was a blockage in the pipe. The inspiration was there, I mostly knew where I was going, but it just took so darn long to get anywhere! I’d sit for hours, and end up with a meagre 500 words, and then all of a sudden, bam! The blockage was gone and the words poured out, and I had an extra 1500 in 45 mins. But the next day, the pipe was blocked again, and I had to go through the painstaking effort of unblocking it before the words would flow again.

Looking back, now I’ve finished the first draft, I’m feeling pretty good about the story as a whole, though there were moments when I thought what I was writing was utter tripe! Mind you, I haven’t been back to reread it yet, that won’t happen for a month or two… probably January… so I have no doubt that there are moments of utter tripe, but I’m hoping that mixed in all the mess there are gems as well, just waiting to be polished.

And now I’ve used every cliche in the book, perhaps I should go do something a little more constructive with my day. 🙂

 

 

 

Hooray for 50k!!! :D

Just a very quick note to say Hooray! I’ve made it – story is finished at… 50,224 is the current word count. I have to wait until tomorrow (or maybe Monday??) to validate, and the Nanowrimo validation calculator always counts my words differently so I will come back with a final word count then…

Favourite Nano Videos, Progress to Date, and a Winner!

I have been procrastinating. It’s particularly bad today, because I now had a clear outline of how to get this story to the end… I spent half an hour yesterday (or maybe it was the day before… it’s all blurred together at the moment),  working out how this story was going to end, and how I was going to get there. And yes, my writing has deviated slightly off the outline, but in a better way! Much much better. So I should be writing, and NOT procrastinating. But I couldn’t help myself.

Above is one of my favourite Nano Videos (or at least an attempt to embed(?) it, I really have no idea what I’m doing, so here’s hoping it works!!). I can’t remember what year it comes from but it was incredibly inspiring at the time, and I enjoy watching it again now.

But watching old Nano videos is not the only procrastination I’ve been doing today.

Pinterest has got me too and this morning I began to search for travel pictures – of Scotland in particular. I’ve been to Edinburgh once before, for two days! I loved it! It felt like home! I’ve got to go back, explore the rest of the country, pop across to Ireland and explore that too! I can trace several branches of my family tree to these two countries (Yes, I’m ignoring the fact that Scotland and England are now the UK – that’s ok, isn’t it?), and I would love the chance to see some of the places they lived, and to maybe do some genealogical research at the source.  I want to travel again!

But at the moment the funds are dry, and I have other things to do anyway… like finish this novel. Only 8 days of Nanowrimo to go. And less than 10,000 words to reach my goal! I know I can do it, if only I can drag myself away from the internet for a few hours. :/

DS’s Young Writer’s Program experience is not going so well… “I’ll catch up tomorrow,” he tells me. He is now several days behind. He needs to write 80 words a day to catch up. I’m sure he could make it, if he wanted to. He has, after all, had a day of over 100 words. But I’m not sure he does want to. We’ll wait and see I suppose…

But I did come to post for a purpose today, and that was to draw a winner from the ‘hat’. There have been a few more commentors this week, but finally, finally – Monica! You have won!! Yay!! Will send you an email right now for your details, and soon your book will be winging it’s way to you! Enjoy!! 😀

I have one more copy of Kate Morton’s The Secret Keeper to give away. Comment on any post or page, and stay tuned for next weeks draw to see how you go!! 😀

Six Sentence Sunday #7 – Nanowrimo

This is the start of Chapter 19. The story is beginning to feel stuck again, a little dull.

The next morning I awoke, fear heavy in my heart. The other ‘maids were already up, and the cave was deserted. More than ever I wished I could get to the surface, to feel the fresh air on my face and see the stars. I longed to feel the familiar rock of water beneath my ships hull, to hear the creak of the timbers, the soft inaudible chatter (wrong word… murmuring?) of the men (crew!).

I had become an Undine to better look after my son, and what was I doing instead, abandoning him to live with strangers, while I was here, failing to carry out a promise to a dead woman, made after she’d passed. This was ridiculous.

I’m hoping this will help me get back on track. But where Red Sky seemed a breeze to write, and a relative breeze to edit, I think the sequel will need lots of rewriting to bring it up to standard…

Writing from the Vacuum

Recently my father-in-law asked me about my writing. Specifically, how I write about things that I don’t know about. He said ‘obviously you don’t write from a vacuum, it has to come from somewhere’.

And I agreed. I talked about research, and how I could do a little research, and get an idea about something, but that someone who knew better would see the problems in my writing, would know I didn’t really know what I was writing about. (Unless of course I’d done heaps of research and then hopefully I would be able to express myself properly, in a way that would show that I did know my topic as best as I was able, without experiencing it myself).

But then I came away and thought about it. And I think, really, that my best writing comes when I am writing from a vacuum. Though I tend not to think of it in quite those terms.

For me, it’s being in the zone, totally focused, unaware of my surroundings, even the keyboard I”m typing on. Everything is the story. When I have those moments, I can easily write 2500 words in half an hour. Easily. Getting into that zone can be hard work though. Trying to get my children to pester my partner for drinks/snacks/general conversation while I’m writing can be extremely difficult. The other day my dearest daughter took my writing time as a personal offence and kept interrupting me to bring me artwork and cards with “I love you Mum”, and a paper bracelet she’d made just for me, just in case I was angry at her for something. It was so precious and I told her so, and of course reassured her that I loved her too, and was not angry at her, but I really just needed the time to write.

After an hour I had only written about 500 words. The next half hour wasn’t much better, but after forcing myself through the painful process of forcefully extracting words from my head, something clicked and suddenly I was there. In the next half hour I had written well over 1000 words.

I have seen research about this ‘zone’. A TED talk I do believe, and possibly a post on the Office of Letter’s and Light blog (actually I think the link to the TED talk was in the blog… ) If anyone knows what I’m talking about, I’d love the link again, because I cannot find it anywhere!

Anyway, the general gist of the talk was that creative people use a different part of their brain when creating, and when they are in the zone, other parts of their brain do shut down, and amazing things happen.

For me, the story writes itself. The characters do things I had never expected, they reveal aspects of themselves that were never in my outlines and planning. The story veers off track and reveals new exciting paths, paths that usually much better than the one I had planned to follow.

Are you creative in any way? Have you experienced this ‘zone’? Have any thoughts about it?

Feel free to share your thoughts! And don’t forget, I have two more copies of The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton to give away this month, all you have to do to get your name in the draw is comment on any post! :D (For more info check out this post)

Our second winner is!!

Posting has been sporadic this last week, with a sick daughter earlier in the week, and now a sick husband, alongside two ‘sick’ cars – writing posts has been at the lower end of my priority list. Which isn’t to say I haven’t written any – it’s just that I saved it as a draft to return to later, and so far later hasn’t come… tomorrow, maybe.

Anyway without further delay, I’ll announce this weeks winner of The Secret Keeper, by Kate Morton.

Looking over this weeks comments, I think I’ve only had two this week – Karen and Monica? If I’ve missed anyone let me know, and I’ll add your name twice to the next draw. With only two commentors this time, I thought I’d flip a coin…

 

Heads Karen, and tails Monica… and Karen it is! Congratulations. I’ll be in touch shortly so you can be reading your book in no time!!

Oh – and a Nano update? I’m still on track, thanks to a few wordy days of 2000+, sitting at 27,548.

DS however, has not bee so motivated, and without the assistance of my motivation, his word count sits at: 587. By the end of today he should be at 750 words… Hoping I can help him get back on track, and build up that word count. Maybe I need to bring back the incentive of chocolate…?

There are still two more copies of The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton to give away this month, all you have to do to get your name in the draw is comment on any post! :D (For more info check out this post) And to help you out, I’ll try and have a few more posts to comment on!! 😀

Six Sentence Sunday #6 – Nano

This next sentence is from somewhere around the middle of Chapter 7. This section (including more just before and after this snippet of conversation), was probably the turning point for me, when I started feeling better about my story – that it was finally heading where it was supposed to!

I have to make an admission here – I edited last weeks Six Sentence Sunday, to make it more readable for the blog. This next one doesn’t have too many mistakes, but I’m leaving them all in. This is how Nano should work – you get the words down in November, and fix up the mistakes in December (or January, or February or…).

Though it is glad to know that you make mistakes sometimes. From all the rumours flying around, a man’d think you were near perfect.”

“What rumours?”

“Pirate Captain Morgan, only female sailor in the whole of the Nine Seas. Makes you sound a bit fierce, all in all. Not at all the woman whose eyes watered from being told the risks to her child. “

Any other Nano-er’s out there willing to share a snippet of your story? I’d love to see what else is being written this month (even if you’re not taking part in Nano, feel free to share some writing)!! 😀

Come on – don’t be shy! 🙂

Nanowrimo Young Writer’s Program, and Homeschooling…

My son’s picture of his character, and the castle he lives in.

 

I want to start by saying that I am not a homeschooler. I have certainly thought about it in the past, and it’s something I wouldn’t mind trying at some point in the future, but for now my son goes to a great school, (and my daughter is VERY excited to be starting next year!) and lets face it, I get more writing done without them at home 😉

But doing the YWP with my son had shown me how useful it could be, on so many levels for homeschoolers. Maths, as we work out the overall word count, and how many words need to be written each day. More maths, as DS counts his words-so-far each day, and works out how many more he has to write. There’s spelling as he tries to write new words, and synonyms as we discuss using different words to mean the same thing. Come December there’ll be grammer too, when we go over his story for a proper edit. There’s art and drawing, as he draws pictures of his characters and their home (see above picture). 🙂

We could start in October – using the YWP Workbooks that are downloadable from the site. These guide YWP participants in what makes a novel, and how to develop and plot out their own.  We could start the month by reading a novel, noting the characters, the points of conflict, and resolve, then work on his own book, the planning for that. It could involve research of another topic, which in turn leads to more literacy and numeracy as he encounters new words.

On the other hand, trying to keep my son focused for more than 20 mins is proving difficult, and I wonder how I would deal with that on a daily basis.

DS will be away over the weekend, so he wrote 157 words today, in various stints and with various incentives (the one that worked – money – he wants to take his pocket money with him on the weekend, and I said he had to reach 150 words!)

Total word count DS: 507,

Me: 16,395

Are there any other homeschoolers reading this, who are doing the YWP with your children? I’d love to hear from you!

And don’t forget, I have three more copies of The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton to give away this month, all you have to do to get your name in the draw is comment on any post! :D (For more info check out this post)

And the winner is…

The first winner of a copy of The Secret Keeper by Kater Morton is:

 

Laura!! YAY!! I’ll send you an email shortly to let you know you’ve won and get some details from you!! 🙂

Don’t forget there are 3 more copies to give away, over the next 3 weeks. Keep commenting!! 😀

And for those of you who’ve only just stumbled across the blog – check out this post to see the great book that’s up for grabs!!