On a classic November day

Fortunately I don’t have to go out today as the weather here in Edinburgh is grey, dark, dim, wet and windy, and I have lots of writing to do indoors. Actually I would be writing indoors today even if the weather had been cold, bright and cheerful, as it was only yesterday. As mentioned previously, only about 203 times, this is NaNoWriMo when people who have only had vague aspirations to being a writer up to now give themselves permission to set aside enough time to write 50,000 words.

Winter sunrise

Winter sunrise (not today!)

I think it’s the giving themselves permission that is the important part, at least in my experience. I have wanted to be a writer myself from the age of six, which is not an exaggeration as I have the notebook with my first story in it and possibly even a date on the front, to prove it. It wasn’t until I was somewhat older that I took part in NaNoWriMo for the first time, carving the time out of my days in thin slices rather like the head of a desperately poor family trying to eke out a joint of beef or chicken for a whole week.  I still write in much the same way if I have to, taking fifteen minutes from breakfast and half an hour from lunch, writing on my tablet while I wait for mechanics to have finished with my car and in the evenings during commercial breaks.

This past week I’ve had the luxury of being able to spend a few whole days on my writing. Needless to say, I never actually spend a whole day at a time on it – my fingers can do it but my brain can’t – so I usually aim for about 2,000 words a day and then stop. Today I’ve been particularly stationary after wrecking my knee as well as my hip on the steps at Castle Terrace car park, so I’ve managed 3,000 before giving up for the day and sending myself the file by email as a backup. I think the most I’ve written in one day is 6,000 words, and that was when I was desperately trying to get to the end of my previous first draft and I felt as if I had to get it finished while the rather complex denouement was still in my head.

I can’t finish this post without mentioning my Cecilia Peartree, Woman of Mystery blog, where this weekend I have posted some links to do with a historical fiction promotion as well as my justification for writing about the 1950s and calling it history. I have a kind of love-hate relationship with my 1950s novels. They are hugely more difficult to write than the Pitkirtly Mystery series, and I am never sure they’ve come out right, in terms of being true to the era. I am even less sure about that with the one I’m now writing, but I’ll press on to the end anyway. First drafts usually look better when you’re looking back over them than while you’re still writing! Or maybe it’s partly relief that you don’t have to write any more.

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