Writing a novel in 30 days!

November 2010 is done and dusted and of course that signals the end of 2010. This has been a fruitful month for me, thanks to a friend of mine (you know who you are) who encouraged me to enter the National November Writing Month aka NaNoWriMo. The point of the exercise is to complete 50,000 words towards a novel in the 30 days of November. For some writers that IS a novel. For me, well I got as far as 33,000 odd and then … suddenly … it was 30 November and I was nowhere near the end of my story.

The process: I have had a book (historical fiction) in my mind for a long time; I’ve written the first paragraph countless times, but only in my head. I could not let this opportunity to give it breath pass me by. I return to my notions of history and life as a tapestry – the picture on the front and the knots, tangles and loops at the back – holding it all together. The little things that make us who we are. The interlocking threads that appear and disappear, sometimes for good. In my mind I see the Fates weaving and cutting the threads without warning. I find it so magical that I can work with these amazing ideas for pleasure!

I began a week late because we were away on holiday but I did make some notes in longhand – which, in the event, I didn’t use. However, once we got home and I got started in earnest the words began to flow; the characters made themselves known to me and it felt wonderful! Some of the characters I had thought of but others put on a surprise appearance. Sitting at my computer each day letting the process take its course is entirely different to writing a thesis or dissertation. For example, my doctoral thesis took nigh on seven years before I submitted it! This time my significant other and the LBD (little black dog) did not have to beg for my attention and sandwiches were not the staple food in the home.

Procrastination and writer’s block have not been the problems I thought they might be. The most time consuming part of the exercise has been research. With my academic background I admit to being a stickler for accuracy. I’ve read books that I’ve enjoyed up until there is a completely inaccurate statement. One of these is in The Poisonwood Bible (although I still think it is one of my favourite books) where Barbara Kingsolver misplaces Johannesburg from the hinterland to the coast. I think that is poor research and poor editing. For me, sometimes I could not proceed until I had the facts right. Imagine if I wrote about the Boer Wars and erred about the dates (there were two wars, which one did I mean?). I had to check, was the Suez Canal open in 1875? When were the slaves in South Africa freed from bondage? Which ports in Australia and New Zealand were deep enough to take a large Clipper ship? How far south did the ships sail? All of these and more! I love the research but it is also important not to make the story too … academic. Honing my writing skills in this way has been brilliant for me, it has liberated my style hugely.

50,000 words does not sound like much and I know that it will not be the complete novel; my characters would like more of their stories told.

Keeping a file of the bits and pieces that I have edited out (naughty to edit when writing under pressure but never mind) means more treasures for my long drawer.

If the book should see the light of day I’ll let you know but there is a lot of work still to be done.

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Writing a novel in 30 days!

short post

A short post – just because I haven’t written here for ages – I’m working on a novel for the NaNoWriMo. That means 50,000 words in November. Well, I’m just over half way and November is more than half way finished! Anyway, even if I don’t finish it in time I’ve made a huge inroad to this novel that has been in my mind for a long, long time.

This week is going to be full on.

Among the exciting events the biggest is the Leonard Cohen concert on Wednesday. I am already starting to hyperventilate.

The other events are good but Leonard Cohen is the main man at the moment in my focus.

short post

Yoga and Birds

I wonder if other people who blog with google have the same problems of a disobedient blog? How long does it take you to get the darn thing to do what YOU want it to do?

Anyway, that is not why I’m here. I want to tell you about the magpie and the wattle bird who are friends and who, every morning while I’m out on the patio working through my asana, fly down and watch me. The magpie in particular is very quizzy and not a little critical. The wattle bird sits next to him in the Norfolk Pine but only for a few minutes. He soon flies down to the woolly bush next to the pond and screeches loudly at me – and at the LBD – the Little Black Dog. Maggie usually swoops LBD for some light entertainment and goes to the birdbath for a drink. All the while I am focussing on my asana and avoiding the mosquitoes who seem to think I am the smorgasbord they’ve been waiting for all night long.

For my morning asana practice, facing the rising sun, I begin with three or four rounds of the Salute to the Sun – Suraya Namaskar. I like to follow with Prithvi Namaskar – the salute to Mother Earth that I learned from the Dru Yogis. One of my yoga teachers (I have numerous teachers) Louise Wiggins teaches  beautiful sequences and when asked for the ‘plan’ says, “Do what you can and make it your own!”So, taking this to heart, my Prithvi Namaskar is probably more me than the Dru sequence from whence it came.

Once my body is moving freely, I begin the first of the Five Tibetans interspersed with Trikonasana and twists. Usually I add some free form dancing to keep the rythm of life pumping. The magpie is very impressed by my dancing, to be sure. At risk of anthromorphisising, what could be more entertaining to a wild bird than an elderly woman, in her pyjamas, cavorting around under the Norfolk Pine.

Life gets better every day. Namaste.

Yoga and Birds