It’s the eve of National Novel Writing Month 2011. Thirty days of literary abandon start at midnight. I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. I’m stoked, but I’m nervous. Already I’m wondering if I’m good enough to complete the task of writing a minimum of 50,ooo words in November. Already I’m concerned that outside distractions (work, family, friends, life’s problems in general) will cause me to fall at any of the fences in front of me.
I can’t let that happen, though. I won’t let that happen. Barring serious injury and personal catastrophe I shall pass the post with days and words to spare. Okay, if I’m to be more realistic about this, I’ll be equally as content if I pass the 50,ooo word mark at 11:59pm on 30 November.
My preference is to write at least 2,000 words a day: 1,ooo in the morning, 1,000 in the evening. Two hours’ work, tops. Seeing it written down like this makes it a far less tortuous prospect, don’t you think?
Image c/o Hugh Macleod: gapingvoid.com
It may look easy, but blogging on a daily basis, be it in 100 words or otherwise, requires persistence and discipline. There is a world full of material from which to write about; all the writer and blogger has to do is sit down and write, goddamnit.
For the last 100 days, that’s what I did. Fighting back the odd case of I don’t wanna, I have completed what has been by and large an enjoyable exercise. But the journey is far from over. I will continue to post daily, but won’t hamper myself with word counts. Let the blogging continue forthwith.
National Novel Writing Month is just over two weeks away. To this end I have come upon an idea that I think will carry me through these “30 days of literary abandon.”
Having decided to not play it safe this year and write within my (limited) comfort zone, I will take on a challenge. For those of you who have read the book or seen the musical Les Miserables, you will know it features the innkeepers Monsieur and Madame Thernardier. In the novel they are an unscrupulous and devious pair, and they represent the true arch-villains of the piece. I know it’s Javert who is in pursuit of Jean Valjean but he’s not a true antagonist because he follows his own moral compass; he believes in God and the Law. The Thernardiers are a different story altogether, though.
In the musical they are used for comic effect and as such are good characters to play around with. So my challenge for 2011 is to reimagine Les Miserables from the viewpoint of the devilish duo. As part of my research I am reading as much as I can of Victor Hugo’s mammoth 19th century novel. This in itself is as much of a challenge as NaNoWriMo.
As an aside, I have to work out whether I want to portray the characters as they appear in the musical – comic relief – or in the novel – much more complex. I’ll work on this closer to the time. So enjoy what follows this post. I had the pleasure of seeing Master of the House performed live on stage recently and it is one hell of a showstopper.
Theorizing that one could write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, Writer James McShane turned on this laptop and typed.
He wrote until he found himself stuck in the zone, facing words and images that he had created, and driven by an Unknown Force to change plot points for the better.
His only guide on his journey is You, a reader that James can neither see nor hear. And so, Writer McShane finds himself leaping from chapter to chapter, from character to character, striving to put down one word after another, hoping each time that the next word will be the last.
Posted in 100 Days, 100 Words, Blogging, writing
Tagged Arts, NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, Online Writing, Quantum Leap, Uphill Writing, Word count, Writer Resources, writing, Writing Exercises
It’s not enough to say you’re a writer; you must have something to show for it, some kind of proof. Whether they’re lines from a poem you wrote when you were four, or outlines for the next Great Irish/American/British Novel, a writer, fledgling or otherwise, will have something written down. Somewhere.
I was tidying out my bedroom the other week when I came across a hand-written manuscript dating back at least ten years. Three things surprised me. First, my handwriting is terrible. I can read the parts where I wrote when I was sober. I can’t read the parts where there was drink taken. You see, I wrote most of it in my local pub. I sat at the counter and drank while writing the book that would make my fortune. I was the source of much amusement to other customers, as well as the owner of the establishment.
The second thing that surprised me is the way the story made sense, in a surreal nonsensical kind of way. Each paragraph, each chapter contained scenes and dialogue that to this day fills me with a certain amount of pride. It had Beatles lyrics sprinkled about the place; it had spectral observers; it had angst and unrequited love – all in 27 drunken pages. Stephen King had nothing on me.
The third thing that surprised me is that I wanted to know where the writer was going with his story. Namely, where did I want to go with it? Was there an endgame? Would the story be worth pursuing? Was it important enough to me to continue?
And that, for me, is the crux of matter. When I was young, I read comic books – as I’m sure most of us did to some degree – but I would copy the story into a notebook, using the pictures and speech bubbles as prompts. I “wrote” Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog stories from 2000AD. I used Captain Kirk and Mr Spock as templates for new adventures set in other universes. In other words, I used my imagination. It was important for me then, and I guess it’s important for me now.
I don’t drink any more, but I now work in the pub where I started my then magnum opus. I may go back to it one day…when I have the nerve to do so.