Monday, November 29, 2010

November is almost over. Did you write your novel?

I did.

After I posted the first chapter, some people said they wanted to read it, so I'm posting the rest of it here. But let's be very clear about this: I wrote this at a gallop in thirty days, and I've only skimmed it since then to correct spellings where I could. I can't guarantee that the action is consistent or that the characters retain their proper names all the way through, or that it makes any sense at all.

Nevertheless, here it is.

After four attempts and three completed novels, I think we can draw some conclusions about Nanowrimo and me. I obviously respond well to this particular challenge. It's about the only thing I complete on a regular basis, the only deadline I happily meet and take seriously, and the only way I ever seem to get any writing done.

I obviously like writing books featuring smart women and tall men.

I have a tendency to write what seem to me at the time very steamy scenes and then go back and change them because I am embarrassed to think that anyone would ever read them.

I do not know anything about the criminal underworld and would probably do well to stay away from it in the future.

So, thanks for all the support as usual, especially Mrmonkey who walked the dogs for me a couple of Saturday mornings and let me write in bed, and to my coach, Judith Ecker, who was keeping an eye on me from over there in Wisconsin to make sure there was no slacking off.

I hope the link works. Please let me know if it doesn't.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Can we still be acquaintances who never speak?

Hannah Pool has an article in today's Observer on a topic that fascinates me: the breaking up of friendships. I don't have a lot to add to what she says here, really. I've tried both of the "techniques" for breaking up with friends that she describes and agree that neither of them is pleasant. I've also had them done to me. Not so much the slow one, because if I call you a couple of times and you don't call me back, then I stop calling you pretty quickly (and by "call" I also mean email/write/whatever). And then if I hear from you months down the line because you've either changed your mind about breaking up with me or because you genuinely were busy or depressed or something, that's fine.

But the quick one I've had done to me twice. At the time I was extremely hurt by one of these breakups, which was done by letter. It came as a total shock to me and I was very upset to read the words "I don't think we should be in touch with each other any more". This was like a real breakup. (Subsequently the person in question did get back in touch and we did meet up a couple of times, but we both realised that his initial instinct had been correct and we haven't been in touch since. Still, nice to have everything put on a more civil footing.) The other time, I was out for a drink with the person and we were arguing about personal politics. I was finding these meetups less and less enjoyable every time we had them, but I basically liked this person and I was living on my own at the time, so I was reluctant to lose contact with even more people than my divorce had already cut me off from or allowed me to lose contact with, depending on how you look at it.

At the end of the evening I suggested we meet up for brunch in a couple of weeks (I preferred brunch because there was less chance of drinking and therefore less chance of argument) and he just said "yeah, brunch doesn't really suit me any more. Look, don't worry about it." And that was it. We never called each other again. It was a massive relief. Sure, we've seen each other on the street a couple of times since then, and we've said hello and exchanged highlights, but that's it. So civilised.

Anyway, that was all apropos of not much really. I wanted to save that article and I wanted to save the comments too. Some interesting stories there. I'm particularly interested by the person who starts her comment by complaining about using the word dump to describe breaking up with friends, then says she's had this done to her several times by people who are cowards, then talks about how awful people are who break up with friends. I don't know this person, and I don't like to be judgemental (or rather, I don't like people to know how judgemental I am) but I already want to break up with her and I've not even had to be her friend for any period of time.

People also talk about how Facebook and Twitter makes this all much more complicated, and it probably does. But for me, as for a lot of people, Facebook and Twitter are an aid to maintaining casual contact with people I care about very much who happen to be far away. I see the minutiae of their daily lives, comments from other people they chat to, and it makes me feel connected to them. It also makes it easier to keep that connection, so I don't worry so much that I don't have time to write a letter.

These are things, as someone points out on the comments page for the article, that rear their heads at this time of year, both for those of us expecting people home for Christmas, and for those of us who are coming home and don't know who we''ll end up having to talk to when they hit the pub on Christmas Eve.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Let's write a novel

Perhaps unwisely, I've set myself an extra challenge for this year's Nanowrimo. Rather than writing the requisite 50,000 words and have to listen to people tell me that that's "not really a novel, is it?" I've decided to try and write a full 80,000 words, so that people will have to resort to admitting they didn't read it, or that they just didn't like it.

More action/adventure/romance this year. I confess that I have little to no idea what's actually going to happen, but at least I have enough experience now to know that I just need to keep things moving along. I've got a first chapter, which I'm going to post here because some people might be curious about it (Hi Myles! Hi Queenie! Thanks for always reading at least most of my stuff!), but then I won't be posting anything else until it's all done. Yes, I know there are typos and things, but November means being a novel-writing shark, and I won't be looking at this chapter again until December. Or maybe never.

You should be able to see the first chapter by clicking here. I actually really like this as an opening chapter, which is almost a shame because it means that I think the rest of the book should be good rather than just fecked onto the page to bump up the word count.  

Two days in and we're on target with only a couple of hours writing a day. That's good, right?

Good luck to you if you're doing it too. Go to meetings if there's one near you. You never know, you might meet some lovely people.