More weather than we know what to do with

Just don’t even ask me about the weather.
One day’s respite between the storm of the century and a fall of snow overnight which has sent one of the cats into hibernation, has annoyed another so that he’s constantly complaining to me about it, and has got the third one over-excited. Incidentally, the third (and youngest) one spent a couple of days earlier in the week constructing a makeshift hurricane shelter behind the bathroom door using only a towel rail and some towels which he pulled on to the floor to give himself something soft to sit on. It wasa bit disconcerting at first to find him there when you went in, but after a while we got used to it.
And now I will say a few words about the joys of NaNoWriMo.
I’ve been taking part in it every November since 2006. Last year I also wrote a play during Script Frenzy, which happens every April, and this past year I took part in Camp NaNoWriMo, a summer camp version in July and August. The aim is to write a novel of 50,000 words in a month. At the end you can validate your word count and get a certificate and/or badge to put on your blog (see a previous post). Once you’ve done that the progress bar that shows under your name in the NaNoWriMo forums turns from blue to purple. The whole thing is run by an organisation called the Office of Letters and Light on the west coast of America. They send out motivational emails to registered participants, and there’s a great book by the founder, Chris Baty, called ‘No Plot, No Problem’ that takes you through each week explaining the particular problems you are likely to encounter.
The first year I took part I had an attitude of grim determination, mainly because of events in the family, and I had to force myself to write every day. It seemed like a real uphill struggle. Gradually it became easier to reach the daily word count of 1667, and this November I found myself rushing along at 3,000 words a day, and actually had to slow down because I was afraid the story would run out too soon! Of course, 50,000 words is a bit too short for a full length novel, but it is never completely finished anyway at the end of November, so you have to give yourself a crash course in re-writing and editing to make it into something reasonable. In the case of my first effort, ‘The Mountain and the Flood’, set in a fictitious independent Scotland of the not-too-distant future, I spent nearly 4 years editing and re-writing, and it ended up at 86,000 words. But that isn’t a very long novel either. Some fantasy writers tend to write a lot lot more, because of all the world-building. Personally I usually settle at something between 60,000 and 70,000 words since, after that first foray into sci-fi, I’ve mostly written fairly lightweight mysteries.
A few years ago I was lucky enough to join an Edinburgh group of writers who take part in NaNoWriMo every year and carry on writing all the year round. There are write-ins once or twice a week, and more during November. This isn’t a critique group, and in no way does anyone ‘mark’ the novels that come out of NaNoWriMo – something that still puzzles a friend of mine who is a retired teacher! It’s entirely up tothe individual writer what they do with the novel next – tidy it up, submit to publisers, self-publish – which is what I have now done.
Now back to dealing with the weather and related decisions. Will I spend the morning packing Christmas parcels and trudging off through the snow to the Post Office with them, or will I put on seven layers of clothing and curl up somewhere with a good book?


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