Progress.

I’m at that point with my NaNo novel where I’m wondering if I’ll have the energy to reach 50,000. On Friday, I almost headed for burn out by reaching 17,000 because I knew I wouldn’t get any writing done over the weekend – my family, man, and sister’s man headed to Northamptonshire to celebrate the 18th birthday of the son of family friends (phew, what a mouthful that sentence is). Today, I spent the whole day writing 3000 words in an attempt to catch up – I’m proud to say that I did eventually hit 20,000 words. Its a big milestone, one which is worth celebrating. I mean, in 20,000 words in 12 days? Not bad at all. So give yourself a pat on the back – give yourself a pat on the back anyway, no matter what your word count is!

I feel a bit better about the whole thing today. Last week was like wading through treacle – I knew I wanted to do it, and I knew it would be hard, but this time is definitely a struggle. My story is shaping up okay, but there are a lot of mysteries that I want to work out, about the character and her family history, about her choices and her relationships. Without giving too much of the plot away, she has terrible family relationships, the love of her life has left her, she just slept with someone who may ultimately turn out to break her heart – and adding to that, her life is in danger. Plus, the novel has demons, vampires, witches and strange creatures.

The main thing is that its fun, and I care about the character. At least, its turning out to be more fun now, in week two. Ironically, week 2 is meant to be the hardest week. I’d be lying if I said novel writing is a breeze – but it is exhilarating to know you’re writing something, that with a lot of editing and rewriting, could turn out to be a good read. I wouldn’t want anyone to read it in it’s present incarnation, because there might be some gems in there somewhere, but most of the descriptions could be described as repetitive. Writing a novel in a month means that you will be cutting corners – and sometimes those corners lead to adverbs. Lots of adverbs.

I seem to be fuelling myself with coffee, chocolate and Cherry Diet Coke this month. I’m definitely eating more chocolate than I would normally eat! I think it’s okay to cut yourself some slack this month. I’m still trying to make sure I eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, but sometimes I’ll be writing until it gets dark outside and realise that I haven’t eaten anything since 11am. Probably not the greatest idea. For me though, this is something of an extreme – giving yourself over to a month of pure, intense creation. It doesn’t happen that often, and it feels good, on some level, to know that you’re capable of so much.

It reminds you that humans can do something incredible – we create, and good things come out of that. Sometimes bad things too, but hopefully mostly good things. I spend a lot of time feeling sad or outraged about things happening in the world, and it feels good to let yourself just be consumed for a month, giving yourself the permission to be a creator, someone who gives of yourself and might put something out into the world that will give someone else happiness one day. I’m a great believer in the potential of literature to change minds, to open up your world and make you think and feel. Reading has taught me a lot that I wouldn’t know or feel otherwise. In my times of sadness, I turn to a good book to remind me that life is still good – even in the hard moments. Writers write, and NaNoWriMo is the purest distillation of that. It gives you what its hard to instil in yourself at any other time – a target and a deadline.

To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard. ~ Allen Ginsberg.

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