Sunday, 18 November 2012

I Need Some Tough Love

So November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short). For those not in the know NaNoWriMo is basically Movember for writers. Whilst men try to grow unsightly facial hair, writers try to grow a story.

The concept works like this. For the month of November you’re just supposed to write. No editing, no re-writing, just getting words down on paper. The aim is to get 50,000 words written by the end of the month. It’s an exercise in discipline (which a lot of writers aren’t known for) and creative freedom.

I’ve done NaNoWriMo once before, and managed to write 46,000 words by the end of the month. That rambling, messy manuscript was eventually tidied up and edited into the 120,000 word epic fantasy novel I currently have gathering dust in my hard drive. It’ll probably never see the light of day, but NaNoWriMo got me writing. It did what is says on the box.

This year I had great plans to do it again, but life got in the way. November was suddenly upon me, and has mostly gone past me before I even realised.

But it’s never too late right? So I have come to this conclusion. Half the month has gone – so I simply need to halve the target and I can still use the inspiration of NaNoWriMo to get some words down on paper.

I started writing a new novel on the 15th – and I’m 10,000 words in. So all I need to do is write another 15,000 by the end of the month. But starting a novel is the easy part – the hard part is keeping up the momentum once you start to get bogged down with trivial little things like needing a plot that actually makes sense.

This is where the tough love bit comes in.

I am a notorious procrastinator. Sometimes I’ll do anything to avoid doing what I should actually be doing. Hell, I’ll even do housework sometimes rather than sit down and force myself to write when the muse isn’t around.

So here’s the deal.  To my online friends - my facebook and twitter friends, my family who are too far away to berate me in person, if you see me pissing around on Facebook or any other social media tell me to get the hell off and go and do something productive.

To the people who physically see me – if you see me around, without my laptop, or a notepad and pen (excluding when I’m at work, obviously) you have my full permission to give me a smack around the back of the head. I’m serious.

Trust me, if it gets to the end of the month and I’ve managed to get down 25,000 words, or hopefully more, I’ll thank you for it. In fact, I might even buy you a drink.

For now, my novel awaits. Two hours till work. A thousand words maybe? Come on, I know I can do it!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

In ‘Cheers’ it was a good thing. Going to the place where everybody knew your name. Trust me when I tell you that it isn’t always a good thing.

“So you’re ‘So and so’ – I’ve heard all about you.” That was the start of most conversations during my first few weeks on the island. In some ways it’s kind of cool. You feel like a little bit of a celebrity.

You realise pretty quickly though that if you’re the hot topic of gossip on the island there can’t be a whole lot going on. If what I’m doing is the most interesting thing on the island then that’s pretty scary.

But gossip is definitely one of the national pastimes for a lot of people on this tiny island. Unlike a lot of places though it isn’t malicious. It’s mostly just boredom.

Most people here don’t have T.V’s, so instead of watching the soap operas, we watch each other.

Secrets are impossible. If you’re going to start dating someone, you might as well put out a memo.

“Attention all,

Joe Bloggs and I are going on our first date on Friday at 7pm. Don’t forget to bring the popcorn.”

It might sound like I’m bitter. I’m not – honest. I don’t exactly date so I’m more likely to be the one bringing the popcorn! But it does make it hard sometimes to just do the things you want to do. It’s easy to feel judged. It’s easy to feel that if you do something crazy, just once, you’re the talk of the island. What’s the Terry Pratchett line - ‘A lie will race around the world before the truth has got his boots on’ – feels very true here sometimes. At other times it’s like the world’s biggest game of Chinese Whispers. With each telling of the story it gets exaggerated and expanded to the point that it’s barely recognisable as the truth.

Having said all that, the everyone knows your name thing does have its perks. It’s hard to feel lonely on an island when no matter where you go there is always going to be someone you know, someone to talk to. I’ve also never lived anywhere with such a strong sense of community, of togetherness. Just recently we had our Pirate Festival with a big parade of floats. It sometimes seems that there are more people taking part in the parade than watching it – but to me that’s great.  Everyone joins in, everyone gets involved, and the day really is about the community.

So, long story short, some days I wish I could be anonymous – some days I wish there was a crowd to lose myself in, but mostly I love being on an island where everybody knows your name. Because even though I’m single and ‘alone’ – I’m never lonely.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

So I've moved to a new place. And quite frankly, despite the size, it's easily the most beautiful place I've lived (and I've only been here a day). It's brand, spanking new for a start, I'm the first person to live here, which is always nice.

The real selling point though, the thing that has me practically drooling, is the view. I can sit on my porch and look at the ocean. That's right, the beautiful Caribbean sea is right there, practically on my doorstep. And I mean that literally - it's probably about thirty feet away (though I've never been good at judging distances). I can hear the water lapping against the sand, the wind rustling through the palm trees, quite simply, it's heaven.

I have discovered though, that this little piece of heaven, has a flaw. I have no internet access inside the building. The only place I can connect is the corner of my porch. And I, I freely admit, am an internet junkie.

I have to get my fix somehow. Facebook, Twitter, just random googling or watching videos on YouTube. It's how I spend most of my free time (as shameful as that is to admit).

And so for a while this internet blackspot that I'm in terrified me. How am I going to cope without internet there at my fingertips? How will I cope not being able to lie in bed randomly reading through blogs and Facebook statuses.

Then it hit me. This can only be a good thing.Surely. I used to be the girl who could read a book a day, easily. But with my laptop, and iPad it suddenly became easier to be online than to read. I used to be the girl who spend as much of her free time as possible writing. Then it became easier to sit and read blogs about writing.

So perhaps this will be the nudge I need. Going cold turkey might be hard, but maybe I can kick this internet addiction. Maybe with the help of my little internet blackspot, I can finally, finally get on with writing the next book in my trilogy. Maybe I can finally get stuck into the pile of recommended books I've been saying that I'll read for months.

I think this little piece of heaven might be even more heavenly than I expected.

Those books are waiting for me....after I just check Facebook...and maybe Twitter...