NaNoWriMo Day 1

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It’s NaNoWriMo Day 1 and I’m chomping at the bit to get started.

But it’s also Saturday, which means a family day, and the kids are off school for mid-term. So I’m trying to hold my frustration and bide my time until later when I finally get to shut the door and give myself over to writing.

In the last week it feels as if the momentum has been building. Like an actor, I’ve been getting into character – which is quite amusing, given that my ‘hero’ is a fifteen year-old boy. He certainly has no interest in keeping the house running smoothly, or returning clients calls, or even taking a shower. His mind – and, now, my mind – are elsewhere. He sees where life doesn’t make sense, he rebels against the ‘musts’ and ‘shoulds’ that we all carry around in our heads. I wonder how he’ll take to having to write several thousand words a day. It’ll be an interesting month trying to be both of us at once, nevermind all the other characters that weave their way through his life – some of which are not even human.

Apart from being interesting, it’s also refreshing, though, being a teenage boy. One of the things that I love about writing (and there are many, including just the simplicity of sitting down with myself, my thoughts and a mug of coffee) is the chance to explore aspects of myself that don’t get much of an outing. Someone once asked me who the various characters were in my books, thinking they were based on people I knew. I’m not sure if other writers are the same but I have to admit that most of my characters are parts of me. Perhaps not very well-developed parts, or parts that could ever normally see the light of day, but still parts of me. And maybe that’s the allure of reading too – that no matter how different a character may seem to us, they are still connected in some way. After all, we are all one 🙂

And now I’m on count-down to my first NaNoWriMo writing session – only a few hours to go – with notes pasted to my office door and concepts sketched out in my bulging pad. I even had a four-foot long ‘time map’ kind of thing stuck to the floor but it had to come off when the in-laws were staying and is now sitting rolled up on the shelf beside my desk. I’m determined to write at least 3,000 words a day on week days, though preferably 5,000 so that I can ease back at the weekends when I have less time to write. And I’m aiming to have a novel that’s about 70,000 words long by the end of November – what a kick that would be, to have it done before Christmas! Although the challenge of finding an agent and publisher remains, as I’m choosing not to self-publish this one (at this stage anyway).

There’s something about the word-count ‘thing’ that reminds me of school, though. I always have a tendency to under-write rather than over-write and I’m not sure I like the idea of setting myself a numerical target. Still, it’s probably a good discipline given that this particular book has remained in an embryonic stage for almost eighteen months now while I’ve distracted myself with article-writing and consultancy. But in my own defence, I should say I have another adult novel half-written in the meantime so I guess I haven’t been totally distracted.

Apart from the discipline offered by this month’s challenge, it’s also heart-warming to know that there are many of us focussed on writing for the next four weeks – all drawn to this strange obsessive habit of turning ideas and feelings into words. The world of a writer is an insular one and I often feel as if there’s a peculiar madness that comes with spending too long alone with my craft. And yet, there’s also an irritated frustration that comes from not spending enough time on it, which I’m feeling today as I breathe deeply into the necessary delay before I plunge into the challenge.

So my best wishes to all my co-authors around the globe whose minds and hearts are similarly focussed today. May you all write fluently, easily and with enjoyment!

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