Thursday, 29 November 2012

November: A month of literary abandon


Although I know I've quietened down on here, November has been a super busy month for me. Between all the usual obligations such as work, and all the social events, like our trip upto Seoul, I decided to give myself an additional challenge.

I kept it quiet from most people, mainly because I guess that I don't have the confidence in myself to think that I won't just pack it all in at the first hurdle, but now that I've finished one day ahead of the challenge date I feel like I can explain a little bit more why I've not been such an avid blogger.

I decided to take part in this year's National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo). It's a challenge that anyone can take in November. It encourages people to try and write 50,000 words, which is the average length of a novel, in just one month. When you first look at the number 50,000 it seems like a mammoth task, yet when they sell it to you as just 1.667 words a day, it seemed alot more doable. So I signed up the day before it started, October the 31st, without much forethought about my plot.

I'd had an idea in my head for a long, long time about a story I'd always thought I could write. I know I'm not the next J K Rowling, but writing is something that I've always enjoyed, so I thought that maybe it was time to stop thinking about it and start actually trying to turn it into something physical.

The first week was easy, it was still a novelty and the ideas were flowing. By the second week, I'd run out of ideas, and was at risk of turning the novel into a short story. I had to catch up on the weekend's wordcount before I could even start the rest of the week. This made it feel like more of a chore. As if school somehow knew I'd decided to do this, the work load increased. There were speech contests to judge, the next event day to plan for, new work books to shop for, meaning I had a lot less time to sit at my desk and write.

When I sat down at the computer on the 21st of November, I was over 10,000 words behind the goal word limit, which is roughly a week behind. This was mainly because I was so excited about sharing my Seoul pictures on my blog, that I decided not to do anything on my piece on the Monday or Tuesday. So that night I had to brace the chill and lugged my laptop, charger and all down to a coffee shop. I sat there and didn't move until I had caught up.

I'm long past the point where I think this novel is going to work, the story is awful. I'm constantly repeating phrases like 'All of a sudden' and 'She held her breath'. The characters keep morphing into other characters, are they good or bad? Even I don't know. Even at the 35,000 mark I still didn't know how I was going to end it, at 50,000 words I still don't like what I decided to call the main character, I really dislike her too. I wanted her to be pretty cool, but she's turned into a Kristen Stewart-esque sulky teen.

Yet it was interesting to see how the story changed and seemed to lead itself to a logical ending. And even though I know I'll cringe through every part of it when I read it, at least I can say I actually did it. And give me a month or two break from a word processor, I might actually want to use it as a rough draft to work on. Maybe this story could work after all. Maybe.

Before November, the most I had ever written was my dissertation four and a half years ago. That took me at least 7 months and it was only 14,000 words. I felt incredibly proud of myself, so doing nearly four times as much writing in just a month is a massive achievement.

I've never been the most self disciplined person. I decide to eat healthily, have salad for my dinner and then chase it down with an ice cream. I resolve to get myself in better shape for roller derby, but drink too much the night before, so I'm happy that I've proved to myself that I can do it if I really apply myself.

So that's the biggest thing that's happened this month, along with the small fact that I stepped into North Korea.

Apart from the writing this month was filled with quiet weekends spent vintage shop browsing, telling people you love them by giving them chocolate covered sticks on Pepero day and art. We went to the Trick Eye museum, I shared the art around our school from the street art festival and we also paid a visit to the old refugee camp, Anchang Village. I finally got to watch the new Twilight movie, go ice skating and gawp at the amazing Christmas tree in Shinsegae, I'm feeling ready for Christmas now!

There are lots of exciting things I have to look forward to coming up in December, and now I've finished the story, I can properly build upto them. We have a ski trip with the school from the 10th-12th December, our final Event day of the year, with a British theme, my birthday, Christmas and then Nick and I are headed to BEIJING for NYE with Clare and her boyfriend Joe. So excited!

Funnily enough, the other day I was randomly looking on TED and found this talk on trying something new for 30 days and Nanowrimo was mentioned. Next up, which I think will be the hardest, is trying to break my awful habit of picking my split ends.