The insanity that is this month continues. As you may have gleaned from the lack of recent posts, I have been flat out with work, other work, yet more work, and, of course, NaNoWriMo. I have been so busy in fact that I allowed the month to slip on by and Friday (Half Way Day) was upon me before I knew it. Despite having attended two very wonderful Write-Ins with my Regional Group in Chester, Friday dawned to find me floundering at just under the 10K mark.
Not very impressive.
As a result of this I took myself off to another Write In at the very hospitable Forest House in Chester and joined my fellow Wrimos, who are a bunch of predictably odd but unpredictably eccentric crazies (all writers are, it’s a given; it’s why I love them). I settled myself down to the daunting task of completing the 15K needed to reach the half-way mark by the end of the day.
This was, in hindsight, a pipe dream. There was no way in hell I was going to be able to write 15K in one day. Not when my brain was fried from all the work, the lack of sleep, and the general insanity which descends upon me in the penultimate week of October, and invariably refuses to leave until at least the middle of March. I was setting myself up to fail, and fail I did.
I managed only 5 and a half K, a pitiful third of what I had been aiming for, yet still a reasonably respectable number of words, all things considered. This bumped me up to 15K, at half way through the month and I have, for obvious reasons, been stuck with that indelible ballad by Bon Jovi, running around inside my head ever since.
I am now half way there (over, in fact) and I am indeed Livin’ on a Prayer.
The prayer of course being that I somehow hit 50K by the time December 1st rolls around.
Despite my disappointment at having not written as much as I’d hoped for by now, I have to say that I have perhaps gained something of far more value. Something which I have in abundance online but in very short supply in the dreaded Real World: a community of writers. A group of people who not only share my passion for writing but also understand the mentality that comes with it.
It takes a certain kind of person to truly want to be a writer. It takes an inextinguishable need to tell your story, to get those characters out of your head and down on paper, or napkins, or the carrier bags they give you on the food carriages of Virgin trains, or, if all else fails, your own flesh (true story). All this so that you have an outlet for some of the deranged ideas (and believe me, there are some doozies), which float around in your subconscious and, if left unchecked, may cause unfortunate situations such as talking to ones self in public, believing elaborate martial arts displays are a perfectly rational reaction to any perceived slight upon your honour, and, of course, stock piling for the inevitable apocalypse.
To understand a writer, one must either be a writer or be something which requires an equal level of insanity, such as an archaeologist.
Unfortunately for my mental health, I happen to be both.
I know a great many archaeologists, some in the real world, some in the cyber realms, others who exist only in my head. One, in particular, is a totally fictional woman who goes by the name of Ande Tilbrook, and is such a close personal friend of mine I felt compelled to write not one but two entire novels about her, with at least one more currently planned (Chasing Azrael, due for release in 2014, and Butterflies Eat Dead People, still a WIP). Writers however, are much more elusive than archaeologists. We are solitary creatures as a general rule. We like to hide away in our bat caves, scribbling and scratching our notes and clacking endlessly away on our computers which, in my case, may as well be surgically attached to our fingertips. Interacting with other writers online is very common place: we frequent forums, we join discussion groups, we Beta read for each other and proof read for each other and even, if we’re feeling really generous, edit for each other, but we very rarely SEE each other, in the flesh.
This is why NaNoWriMo has become such a revelation for me.
I have easily met, in person, a dozen or more new and lovely people since I went to my first Write In. We sit around in the pub, chattering amiably, until someone asks for The Dreaded Apple to be activated – an apple-shaped kitchen timer set for fifteen minutes intervals which demands absolute, complete silence – at which time we all begin furiously writing until the apple releases us and we are free to chatter again. We chow down on burgers, we eagerly await 3pm and declare it cake-o’clock, then even more eagerly await 5pm and declare in beer-o’clock, and all the while we encourage each other to write more words, keep on trucking and not give up, even when our own plots have tangled us up in knots, we have no idea Who Done It, and we seem to have spent the last four hours writing about nothing but bacon (again, true story, although thankfully this time not about me).
I was particularly pleased on Saturday when I announced to the group at large: ‘Excellent, now I get to kill people!’, and was met with a barrage of questions as to how I was going to do it, rather than being body tackled until the police arrived.
As it happened, although I was greatly looking forward to writing the chapter in which two of my characters perished (because it was incredibly dramatic, you understand, not because I have a macabre fixation with death – honest), I was, at that point, rather lack luster about the nature of their demise. It was, to me, far too predictable. I voiced this concern to the room. Within minutes I had a far more interesting way of doing it, plus a few back up plans in case the first option failed.
Now that’s what I call friendship: helping a person plan the perfect murder without all the unnecessary pre-judgement.
Consequently, although I still only have 15K of my novel written, I am at least reasonably pleased with that 15K, rather that sitting staring at it, grumbling that it’s unimaginative tosh and I should just give up the whole job for a lark. As a result, I do not mind so much having to suffer having ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ running around inside my head. In fairness, I love Bon Jovi so it’s unlikely I’d ever really complain about that, but the worry that I’m so far away from my 50K target is very real, and yet at this point I feel that if I reach the end of November with a wonderful group of new writing companions and even some (reasonably) well drafted words down, I’ll be a lucky gal indeed.
So, until further notice you shall find me, at every available opportunity, ensconced on Love Street (yes, really), in Chester, trying desperately to reach my goal, and thoroughly enjoying the company.