Is it December yet?

Woooot! I’ve won!! *happy dance*

I completed my fifth Nanowrimo out of six attempts at 23:15 on Saturday night. One day, I swear, I will put down my 50,000th word in the morning of the 30th.

And though it is never easy to write 50K in a month, I found this year particularly challenging and I really struggled with my writing.

I’ve been writing The Paradise Swarm for a long time and as Nano approached, I really didn’t feel like switching to a new story. I did start something new on November 1st, because I generally think it’s good fun, but I couldn’t get stuck in. I couldn’t start over again from scratch, slowly building characters and conflicts when I had just been getting to a really exciting bit of The Paradise Swarm just before Nano kicked off.

After approximately a week and 6,000 words, I switched from my funny university slice-of-life story about exchange students to ‘The Other Novel’, an adventure-filled Sci-Fi idea that sounded like the perfect distraction at the time. That lasted three days and about 4,000 painful words before I had to face the hard truth.

It was time to break the rules again, by going back to what I really wanted to be doing, which was writing The Paradise Swarm. I wrote about 40,000 words in the second half of the month, bringing me to just under 50K altogether. At the same time, the Prologue and ex-Chapter One and Two were relegated to the ‘Cut Scenes’ folder, as they didn’t really fit any more.

I started the year with 8,000 words, most of which have now been cut, and I’m ending the year with 48,000 words, mostly new and mostly from Nanowrimo. That is quite scary to me, but at the same time, I’m closer to my overall goal than I’ve ever been. I won’t finish the manuscript this year as I had hoped, but I am firmly decided to finish it before next November.

Famous last words…


Happy Anniversary, London!

Last Sunday marked the five-year anniversary of my arrival in London.

I’ve now lived in this country longer than it took me to go through high-school, or complete my degree. I’ve now lived here almost a fifth of my life. More than a fifth of my memories are from here.

It is officially A BIG THING.

Five years ago, I stepped off the overnight coach from Paris with a big suitcase filled with stuff too heavy for the plane, and went to meet Amy, who I went on to live with for several years. The house-hunting started that day, and that night there were tears of frustration and homesickness.

Less than a week later, I met Jenn and Rach, who let us stay at their place, geeked out about Harry Potter with us and took us out for sushi and karaoke. We eventually found a place, I met my other lovely flatmates, more awesome friends, an over-enthusiastic ginger kitten made of adorableness, and life went on.

One day, everyone was getting super excited about this thing that I didn’t get, because it was early days and I couldn’t catch everything everyone was saying. When I asked what the fuss was, I got more than I’d bargained for. Had I ever wanted to write a book? Did I have a lot of essays due in November? Did I fancy writing a book with them? In a month?

I thought ‘what’s the worst thing that can happen?’ and it didn’t even occur to me to think of the best thing that could happen. I’ve met so many amazing people in the NanoLondon community, and in London in general – I just can’t wait for the next five years, the next ten, etc.

Bring it on, London.


NaNoWriMo is nigh!

October to me is the time of wearing several layers of sweaters, celebrating my Dad’s birthday and getting ready for NaNoWriMo.

National Novel Writing Month is a seat-of-the-pants literary challenge taking place every November. Participants aim to write a brand new 50,000 words story in 30 days.

It’s now an international event, with many local chapters, including here in London!

I was introduced to Nano just after I moved to the UK and joined all four of the lovely people I’d met by then were doing it too. As it turned out, peer pressure is a corner stone of Nano (in a good way, I promise). Since then, I’ve been month-noveling furiously every November.

Keeping up the pace all month is difficult (in fact I always fall behind) and can be frustrating, but there are also exhilarating moments when your story behaves itself, everything is coming together nicely and you have enough points on your Costa card to get your sixth coffee of the day for free. Plus they have all the yummy Christmas drinks already in November. And on the less-inspiring days, there’s nothing better to spur you on than the sound of everyone else in the room typing like the wind. Guilt monkeys are also a corner stone of Nanowrimo.


Now of course neither you nor I will produce a masterpiece worth millions this November, but I know that I’ll be writing. I’ll be writing a lot more than I usually do. I’ll be taking risks, exploring silly ideas, taking dares and coming up with the kind of insane things one can only dream up when on a coffee drip. There will be some dreadful crashes, but I can guarantee there will also be some good stuff.

I know this because four years ago the most writing I had ever done were the first pages of one fantasy epic (complete with red-headed elves with apostrophes in every other character’s name) and about three Harry Potter fanfictions. I’ve now written four novels. They’re all very short, mostly unfinished and not that good, but each of them is a bit better than the last and crucially, the writing that I do outside of November is also massively improved.

So whether you’re new to writing or an old hand I think you should give Nanowrimo a shot. The worse thing that can happen is you ending up with a story you won’t reuse, but you’ll still be 50,000 words of practice better off than before.