April 29, 2013
Spring has finally arrived, and so it’s time to dust down the blog. It’s been a while, as a cursory scroll will reveal. To kick things off, why not a 100 word story? They are all the rage. It’s about love, and has gardening in it; just the thing.
I was the outsider. I guess that was why people kept coming to me with their confessions.
Tomàs in the car on the narrow mountain road up to the village, hurting theatrically but deeply from Isabella who would not come back; everybody else who had their own version of not being surprised.
It was no good to me. What I wanted as we sweated to save the greens in the vegetable patch was for Tomàs to repeat what he had said down in the valley after everyone had gone to bed and the last bottle of wine was empty.
December 2, 2011
As some of you may remember, I have for the last month been participating in the National Novel Writing Month challenge, a fiction-writing marathon of 30 days and 50,000 words.
Consequently, November seemed much shorter this year. Towards the end of it, I began to think it was too short. Thirty days? Really? Seemed a bit stingy to me, what with more than 14,000 words still to write, and two days left to do it in. Somehow, though, those words really did get written, and not simply by copying large sections of the dictionary. The words were relevant to the story (the vast majority of them, at least), they formed meaningful sentences (for those with a generous imagination), and toward the end, they managed to pick up the various threads of the story, wind it down, and help it reach a satisfying conclusion (the conclusion being that I had passed the 50,000 words-mark). The Beast of Ravensburg was a novel, a medieval tale of bloody deeds and dark secrets.
I’m a little bit proud of myself, but with great pride comes great responsibility, to paraphrase Spiderman’s uncle. I now know that I can write 7,000 words in a day, and have a draft of a novel ready in a month. Conclusions may be drawn from this.
But, for the next few days, at least, I’m going to relax, and tell myself, Well done!
November 21, 2011
For those of you wondering how my November novel project is going, I can report that I have written some 26,000, give or take, which means that although I’m not exactly on target, the goal is not unattainable, either. Not yet.
My tale of the down-and-out knight, Sir Gerulf, has taken a cross-genre turn, in that he is now not just a character in a historical novel, he is also solving crime. As you do. At this moment in time (or, to be precise, autumn of 1124), he has just come across the cadaver of a pig. Thrilling as that may be, the scene causes the writer as many problems as it does poor, old Gerulf. I know who put it there (at least I’m one step ahead of him there), but how the hell did the evil-doer manage that, what with a pig not being the lightest of animals, and it having been done in middle of the night?
Other areas are looking more promising. The irrepressible Scrap (think Huckleberry Finn meets Pippi Longstocking) is one moment full of spunk, the next brooding over her dead sister (and maybe revenge?), Wulf the Huntsman hides a broken heart, and Otho, master of Ravensburg, hides something altogether more sinister. Lady Ursula is clever and apparently well-meaning, having once looked after Scrap’s sister (see what I did there? “apparently”…), and Horst is faithful in his stewardship of Ravensburg, though his opinion of those living there are less than charitable. But then, considering what he knows, who can blame him.
Gerulf, meanwhile, is stuck on a field in the driving rain, trying to work out who killed piggy. I’ll see what I can do for him.
October 28, 2011
November is a dull sort of month. The autumnal glory of October is over, but the lights of December have yet to be switched on. The countryside is a soggy mess, the streets slippery with rotting leaves. What to do with November?
I, for one, will spend it writing a novel.
The idea came courtesy of National Novel Writing Month. This yearly event first took place in 1999, when a group of friends in San Francisco (where else?) decided they wanted to write a novel. But why, they thought, should that be a solitary, years-on-end project? Instead, they sat down together, and gave themselves one month to write 50,000 words. The resulting efforts were not exactly ready for publication, but each of them had managed to put together a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. In other words, a novel.
Since then the project has somewhat grown. This year it is predicted that the web-based event will attract some 200,000 participants from around the world, all of whom will type away throughout November, and use their profile with NaNoWriMo to log their output. Everyone who reaches 50,000 words is a winner. The prize is the written novel, and although donations are greatly appreciated, there’s no joining fee. What money streams in from donors and sponsors pay for staff (websites with that sort of traffic don’t run themselves), and charities in the third world concerned with literacy.
When I first came across the website I was both excited, and a little confused. Excited, because it seemed to come my way at just the right moment: I needed a break from revising my novel. Confused, because surely cheating was easy? And if I wanted to write a novel in a month, what did I need a website for? As I explored the site things began to add up, though. Yes, cheating is possible, but since there’s no prize except one’s own effort, what’s the point? And committing publicly to a deadline is a great help for a not-so-steely determination. In addition, the website offers a plethora of forums and notice boards for staying in contact with other November writers, and email pep talks to boost morale: a friendly place to keep you keen.
So, next week by this time I’ll probably be fretting in front of the computer, regretting ever having signed up for something as silly as trying to write a novel in a month.