The last day is here, the last day of the challenge… the target day which once seemed a distant speck on my writing horizon and then gradually began to loom… On November 1st I took up the online challenge to write 50,000 (yes, fifty thousand words) this month. This is my fifth year of doing it, and to be honest, although my writing has gone well, really well, this year it has been a struggle. It’s been a struggle because November has been a very busy month and lots of quite ordinary but nice things have come between me and my writing.
This is what I wrote here on the first day of the challenge, reporting back under a post tile ‘Went the day well?’
I was all set up with what I was going to do; I have a character called Gus and I’ve written about him several times, and I decided I wanted to pull his story together and NaNoWriMo seemed the ideal vehicle for my attempt. So… I had a busy day yesterday, lots of things happened, some planned some unexpected, some good, some really not good at all.
I sat down first thing and opened a new document… and blank… Gus had wandered off… he obviously didn’t think he was ready to share his story. There would be no point in forcing it I knew, that way difficulty lies! I have so many other things I am doing at the moment, probably too many, that I knew Gus would prove recalcitrant and reluctant.
I did have a back-up plan; after I finish writing my novels quite often the characters’ stories continue in my head and I sometimes actually write down what happens next – this doesn’t develop into a sequel, but some of the ideas might lead to something new (what happened to the characters in ‘Farholm’ resulted in an idea which developed into ‘The Stalking of Rosa Czekov‘) However, when I tried to find a couple of these ideas I wanted to pursue I couldn’t locate them; I have an awful feeling that when I was doing my mass clear out and tidy that they went into the recycling bin)
So at eleven o’clock last night, I addressed the empty page. I started something completely new, something which had just been a vague idea floating around… I don’t know whether it will work, but it’s started and I managed to write 1076 words before midnight!!
Well, I’m thankful that the vague idea took off with a mind of its own! So by Day 3 I was into the swing of it, but still very much feeling my way and not really knowing where it would all go… This is what I wrote here:
This is the gist of it so far:
A mystery woman with an undisclosed past has got a tiny flat in a small seaside town (my imaginary Easthope) it’s told from her point of view at the moment and I hope the reader (well, if it gets that far) will be wondering ‘why is she here?’, ‘why is she living in such a tiny place?’, ‘what’s she running away/hiding from’?, ‘is she escaping an unhappy relationship?’ etc, and then the reasons are gradually revealed. The woman is doing a lot of writing which is shared with the reader, and it’s about her past, but she talks about ‘the city’ rather than naming it, and ‘the river’ etc so even in her writing she is circumspect…
On day 1 she didn’t have a name – that’s how new the whole idea is! Day 2 and I knew her name was going to begin with a B or an M… and in the end it is M – Milla. I am a little behind – not quite making the 1667 per day = 3,334 words in two days – I am up to 3,152, so not too far off target, especially so early on in the challenge when I haven’t got into my stride yet.
Today which is Day 3 I am going to write some of her writing, which I think will be a memoir of when she was a student in the anonymous city…
By day 4 (in Milla’s story as well as mine) things were moving on, but slowly… This is what I wrote here about my progress:
On the first day a mysterious woman appeared, recently moved into a bedsit – or what is now called a flatlet apparently, and it was only on day two that her name was revealed, Milla. It has become apparent that she is trying to build a new life… and yesterday, day four, she became involved with someone who might later become a friend.
This makes it sound as if I am reading a story, rather than writing one… well, sometimes it is almost like that! A surprise on every page, a new character, a new scene, a new difficulty!
The new character takes a tumble…
She set off back to the steps to leave the beach. An elderly man had crossed the road, pulled by his dog, maybe the old man and dog she had exchanged greetings with a couple of days ago.
It happened almost in slow motion – whether the pulled, eager to run on the beach, whether the man tottered or slipped on the sandy steps, whether he had some sort of seizure but he fell, lurching towards her and she sprang to try and catch him but he went sideways. The dog dragged him, and then the man’s hand released the lead and he went down, the side of his head hitting the stone with an audible ‘crack’!
Milla went down on her knees beside him, calling out something to him, something silly, inane, panicky are you alright? Are you ok? Don’t worry, I’m here!
I thought I would write a daily update here… I haven’t had time for that! It wasn’t until Day 12 that I managed to write another NaNo blog:
So… how has NaNo been going? I’ve mentioned that I intended to write about a long-standing character in search of a story… however he has wandered off, and instead I am writing about Milla who has come to my imaginary town of Easthope. She is a woman with a mystery past, which has not yet been revealed to the reader. Over the twelve days I have been writing about her, her character is gradually developing, especially as she is coming into contact with other people – the other people who live in the house where she’s renting a room, people in a café where she’s been working part-time, other people from around the town.
She has created what amounts a set of runes, which she is ‘reading’ each day, by taking one at random and bearing it in mind as the day progresses. In order to do this I do have a made up set of images which I am randomly picking out – so in a way the writing of the story is guided by chance. I have got to a point now, where I feel as if something has to happen… there has to be some action and movement to keep the reader engaged because otherwise this will just seem like the diary of an uneventful life – and even if there is some strange secret in Milla’s past, by the time it is revealed the reader won’t be reading any more!
Another thing has struck me which I must have a good think about – if I have time to think as I pound away trying to reach my target… Milla’s character. To be sure she is mysterious, but she is gradually changing into a stock female character without an actual character – she has no personality!
So that’s my task for the next few days, to discover her character, and make sure she is interesting and different!
So day 30… the last day… and 2,938 words to write… I’d better get going!
Three of my last four NaNo journeys made it into print… here is a link to all of my books: