Monday, 31 October 2011

NaNo Nerves

Twas the night before NaNo
And all through the house
An author was pacing
And clicking her mouse...

Well, it's my first go at NaNo and I'm itching to start.  Not that my fingers will be hovering, trembling over the keyboard as midnight approaches, unlike those of some of the eager beavers who've signed up. Uh uh.  I'm very much a morning bod. You'll be lucky to get a coherent verbal sentence out of me after 10.30pm, so as for a written one..... 

     Anyway.  Back to NaNo. 

     I've discovered some very useful and creative 'stuff' on the website.  (www.nanowrimo.org/ if you haven't stopped by before.)  I particularly like their thread on character quirks.  It's made me think up something for each of my characters and I must say it's made them very visible in my mind's eye.
     Another valuable 'find' was the Snowflake Method, which enables the author to flesh out the bare bones of their story in a sensible and holistic way.  www.advancedfictionwriting.com/art/snowflake.php is the place to go if you want to learn more.  It's worth it, believe me. 
     I shan't be adhering to the NaNo challenge too strictly.  My aim is to reach my first major crisis point by the end of chapter eight.  (Novel-wise, I hasten to add, as opposed to complete nervous breakdown.  At least I hope it's novel-wise.....)  I've got it all planned thus far and I'm determined to allow my leading man and lady to take their time getting there.  I can't quite give myself over to rushing them through the whole caboodle in a month.  It's the kickstart and the discipline of NaNo that appeals to me.

     So, Nathaniel and Emma;  are you ready for the journey of your lives?  Do you trust me - the creator and author of your destiny - to deliver you safely into the land of Happy Ever After?  (Whoops - I've given the ending away.)  Then close your eyes, take a deep breath and submit to my imagination as I lead you 'Beneath The Cornflake Trees'.....

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Dirty Dog

There's nothing like a dirty dog,
A literal mucky pup. 
They're a kind of living magnet,
Picking mud and 'yuck stuff' up.

I've got one who cleans the gutter,
Her belly sweeps the road.
The wetter she gets, the better,
She's a filthy little toad.

She loves wet grass and puddles
And every kind of sludge.
When I try to get her moving,
Little Madam will not budge.

When she saw a mouse one day,
Just one thought sprang to mind;
To wriggle through a muddy hedge,
Me, holding on, behind.

I should have dropped the lead, I know!
I realise that now,
But I didn't know, when we set out,
She'd use me as a plough.

Although, some good has come of it,
Upon close inspection;
I've found a way to treat my skin;
Mud's good for my complexion.

So my doggy's saved me money,
Thrifty little lass.
She can get as dirty as she likes,
Cos where there's muck, there's brass!


Dirty?  Moi?   Honey and Blossom - squeaky clean

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Have Words, Will Travel

I recently completed my debut novel and, like the participants in many a reality show, I am happy to report it was ‘quite a journey’.

     It’s a pity this over-worked phrase has become Britain’s Favourite Cliché, because the writing process really fits the analogy.  Every novel is a means of getting the characters from A to B and it’s the writer’s job to ensure they complete the journey.

     Once you’ve selected your characters, they become your travelling companions and it’s up to you to decide where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. 

     Are you going to let your characters follow their noses or are you going to plan their journey carefully, ensuring you cover a pre-determined amount of ground in a set time, stopping off at places of interest especially selected in advance?

     Personally, I like to know where I am going.  That way, I can break the journey into chapters, knowing that my fellow travellers will have new experiences to inspire or frustrate them at each turn in the road.  That’s not to say everything will go according to plan.  It’s easy to get sidetracked or take a wrong turning.  Sometimes I found we were visiting places of interest in a different order to the one I’d intended.  We’d spend longer on some stages than others and some were bypassed altogether.

     It certainly took longer than expected.  It was harder work.  There were more uphill struggles and the wind was against us more than I’d allowed for.  There were days when I wanted to pack up and go home, thinking we were better suited to a day trip than the expedition we’d undertaken.      
  
     Occasionally I wondered if I’d chosen the right travelling companions - were they all pulling their weight, for example?  And days when I despaired about the mode of transport I’d opted for. 

     When the going got tough, it was my characters, my companions, who kept me going.  They had journeys of their own to undertake, problems to overcome, hearts to win and lose and they needed me to help them achieve their goals.  How could I just abandon them when it was me who’d dragged them kicking and screaming from their beds and places of work in the first place?

     I took courage from the fact that each word, however long it took to find, was another step nearer our shared destination; each a twist or turn in the plot another point of interest on the tour.

     And then, suddenly, the finishing line was in sight and we were racing towards it with renewed vigour.  We’d conquered the Everest I’d created for my characters.  Our destination and our goals – both corporate and individual – had been achieved.  Time I was gone. 

     It was an emotional farewell from my point of view but my involvement in their lives had come to an end.  They didn’t need me anymore. 

     So what now, you might be wondering?  Well I’m gathering together another ragtag band of explorers and planning where to take them.

     Anyone seen that atlas?

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Backing up; a scary thought for the day....

I awoke this morning to find a rather worrying thought waving frantically through the thick mist of sleep.

"What?"  I demanded tetchily.

"Pardon me for breathing," came the affected reply, "but how safe are all the masterpieces you've created over the years?"

"Fine," I assured the worrying thought.  "All my written work is saved on memory sticks, so if my computer decides to crash, let it.  Can I go back to sleep now, please?"

To my surprise, the worrying thought continued waving.  "And where do you keep your memory sticks?"

"Beside my computer, of course."

"So what would happen if your house burnt down?  Have you thought of that?  Hmm? Well, have you?"

"Um, er.......," I said, playing for time.

I sighed as  the implications hit home.  By now the mist had cleared and the worrying thought had taken up residence in my conscious mind.

"I don't know why you're looking so pleased with yourself," I spat.

"I could be saving you a lot of heartbreak," the worrying thought replied, looking around the inside of my cluttered mind and scratching its bum.  "Not to mention a considerable amount of work.  Possibly your sanity.  Can you remember your entire novel, word for word?  Hmm?Well, can you?"

I sat up, alarmed.

"Point taken?"  it asked. 

"Point taken!"  I replied, leaping out of bed and grabbing my clothes.

"Ouch!" cried the worrying thought, rubbing its shoulder.  My sudden movement had sent it crashing into a discarded nightmare.  "Where are you off to in such a tearing hurry?"

"Work," I called as I disappeared into the shower.

"But it's only seven o'clock!"

"I know, but I need to get my memory sticks out of the house, pronto, and my locker at work is the best place to keep them.  Bye.  And thanks!"

Having allayed it's fears, I was surprised when the worrying thought popped up in the shower.

"What?"  I growled.

It shrugged apologetically.
"As I'm here, I thought perhaps we could discuss your addiction to chocolate and the impact it's having on your waistline?"

I turned the shower up and laughed as the worrying thought spiralled down the plughole.