Last year I got really excited about The Young Writers Prize by HotKey Books. It was perfect timing, really. I was writing a book, aimed at middle grade, that I had not finished, but I had enough done to write the synopsis and submit the beginning.
I eagerly awaited the statistics and was pleased to note that my category had far fewer entries than the teen category. In other words, I cared a lot. When I discovered that I didn’t make it through to Round 2, it didn’t bother me as much as I’d thought it might. I was in Europe, having a wonderful time, and I knew that it was okay to fail before you succeed.
Last year I learnt a lot about dreams and what it means to follow them. And the Young Writers Prize was part of that. Now, as soon as I heard that I hadn’t got through, I planned to enter the next year. Ie this year. I wrote a story for NaNo, and have been working on three other stories on and off. But I sort of forgot about the competition what with starting to do art, deciding to quit-my-PhD-and-move-states…. and all those other life things.
When HKB announced the competition I had a minor panic then put off thinking about it. I figured I’d just submit something from one of the stories I’d started and I hadn’t decided which. All of them needed changes made to be appropriate. Then I forgot until five days before it was due.
So, this year, the story I entered is from NaNoWriMo. I’m enjoying re-reading it. I still don’t know which age category it belongs in. I’m not entirely sure what it is. I don’t have the same lofty ambitions I had last year. I mean, I still have them, because I always do but they’re a little tamer than the excitement of last year.
I finally bit the bullet and decided to go print out my novel at Officeworks. All my editing, up til now, has been on a computer screen. But I only have a few more publishing companies to send it to and I really want it to be the best story it can be, you know. And I heard that printing it out really helps.
Well I don’t know if it’s the time away from the story or the fact that it’s now on paper but I just spent an hour or so slaving over the first two chapters. Rewriting every sentence. It will be better at the end of this process than it was at the start. But will it be good? That’s the question.
I’ve always had lofty ambitions. But they’re never out of reach.
It has been a tough year for me but here are some things that have been pretty great.
1. I found two sort of new hobbies: writing and photography, and they have given me things to think about and care about outside of work that distract me from missing my family and stop me from watching tv all evening.
2. Europe. Guys, I got to go to Italy and Austria and Germany because of my maths. I made new friends, ate delicious food, saw beautiful things and generally enjoyed the good things in life.
3. Public speaking. It might seem like a strange thing to be grateful for but I enjoy the challenge/adrenalin of performance and I guess presenting maths is the direction that’s going to take in me for a while.
4. My husband. I find it hard to write about him, and our relationship, on here because it feels awfully personal and he’s more private about the internet than I am. Suffice to say he has made me laugh and comforted me when I was miserable and we have grown closer together in our separation from everyone else.
5. Living near the beach. There’s not a lot to be said about this. It’s just pretty great.
6. Friends and family. I’ve really appreciated all the visits we’ve had from outernet friends and family this year. But also, internet friends, you’ve been exactly who I needed and I’m so happy that we met.
And nope, the pictures from Europe are not even near running out so expect posts with unrelated pictures tacked onto the end all through next year too.
Happy New Year, guys 🙂
Starting out without a plot was probably (certainly) a bad decision.
I’m not convinced I’ll ever do it (NaNoWriMo) again.
It showed me how much time I have available in my day. I don’t want to always spend that time on writing but now, for instance, I know that I really do have time to exercise.
I do not have high hopes for the story but I haven’t brought myself to read it all the way through so we’ll see.
On the (rare) days I knew where my plot was going I could write quite quickly. So that’s an incentive to plot out my next novel in a lot more detail than I did with the last one.
Working on one project so incessantly gave me a huge ton of ideas and inspiration to work on other projects.
So overall, I’m glad that I did it. It taught me a lot about writing and I now have a book that will, at the very least, entertain a few friends.
This picture is from Castello Aragonese in Ischia. I have no idea if that was originally meant to be a heart but I liked it.
I might reflect on the experience tomorrow, or in a few days, but regardless of whatever opinions I may later proffer, winning is certainly better than not.
If you listen closely you can hear the almost relief that is actually still stress. I have 5,000 words left to write by the end of tomorrow. I’m feeling confident though I’m sure it will take a late night. Mostly it feels good but also I’m sick to death of my story. So let’s talk about something else.
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. If you haven’t been watching these then you should have been. (Go! Go now!) In short: a webseries telling the story of Pride and Prejudice, modernised and in vlog format. It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s clever. It has Hank Green’s name on it so I’m not at all surprised. But really, what it has done for me is given me a whole new list of Internet People to care about and trust to make me delightful things. Rachel Kiley, Ashley Clements and Mary Kate Wiles in particular. I now want to follow the three of them around and watch/read everything they ever do from this point on. Is that creepy? I already feel the same way about Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer (that link is never safe for work) and the Green brothers.
I find it weird that there are other artists I admire to the same degree yet I don’t have that same devotedness to and it took me a little while to work out why. The artists I’ve mentioned are all accessible online. I’ve been retweeted by both Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer. I’ve had tumblr interactions with Rachel Kiley, Ashley Clements and Mary Kate Wiles. And I’ve seen evidence that the Green brothers talk regularly with fans online too. It’s easy to admire someone from afar but when they’re right there, tangible, when they’re living in your world, it’s as if they’re just a little bit more real.
Eventually I’m going to run out of entirely unrelated pictures from my trip to Europe. But that time is not now.
This week was infinitely better in terms of getting writing done. I caught up heaps on the weekend and have written the amount that I need to every day since. I’m also enjoying the story more and having a little more faith that it might turn into something good. The only problem now is that I still have another 17,000 words left to go and no more plot to speak of. Admittedly that’s been the case since I started. I didn’t really start with a plot, just some characters, and I’ve been building a plot in bits and pieces the whole time.
I plan to spend this weekend trying to rearrange the novel. For one thing I’ve got a Christmas scene that I think I want to move to Thanksgiving. Also, my brain really prefers to deal with things that are laid out neatly and I’ve written the scenes all out of order. So I’m going to write little summaries of my chapters and do all those organisation things that I actually really enjoy even though I never thought I would. It’s like a puzzle. I like puzzles.
Obviously I’ll keep writing too. I might even go outside. (At the moment I’m writing on my balcony so being outside and getting writing done are not mutually exclusive.)
I took this picture in Germany, right next to the section of the Berlin Wall that was turned into an outdoor art gallery. These guys weren’t trying to hide and I got the impression that it was okay to graffiti this wall as long as you didn’t deface the gallery next to it. Who knows, maybe this wall was even set aside for people to make their own art.
Okay so I will confess that this week has been harder. I didn’t write on Friday or Saturday or Monday and yesterday I didn’t manage the 1,667 words needed to stop falling further behind. But do not lose hope! We had a friend visiting on the weekend and I plan to fully make up for all the non-weekend writing of last weekend, this weekend. (Also, I discovered the Supernatural transcripts online and accidentally read three seasons in three days but I’m sure that’s irrelevant…)
So on this magical non writing weekend, what did we do? Mostly we spent our time hiding in bookshops in Fremantle (where it unexpectedly rained!) and in Kings Park which was delightfully sunny. It was also Remembrance Day and the War Memorial is in Kings Park so we got to hear The Last Post played by someone from army.
No, I have not reached my 1,667 words for NaNo for today but my average is above what it needs to be so, so far so good.
I find that I’m repeating myself a lot and having trouble allowing myself to work in multiple storylines. It’s trouble enough coming up with ideas for one plot so adding in side stories seems fairly impossible right now. Keeping up with the word count requires effort but not too much and so far, given all the hype, NaNo doesn’t seem as hard as people made it out to be. It’s not interfering with my daily life like I thought it might. But, then again, I’m not even one week through yet so perhaps it’s too early to tell.
I really appreciated today’s pep talk because its central theme was this: “I am a writer. I write books.” And it shocked me to realise that this is now true of me. It wasn’t a year ago. But now I can say this: I have written one book and I am writing another. I am a writer. I write books. And there’s nothing so encouraging as that. It reminds me of the scene in HP3 when Harry realises that he can cast a patronus because he has already done it. I have written one book and I can write another. That realisation washes away all of the “but I haven’t been published so it’s probably rubbish” thinking and reminds me that I have achieved something I can be proud of. There is nothing that can take away the fact that I have written a book. I do not need to wait for approval from any other source. I can say now, with pride, that I am a writer and I write books. And if I never get published and all my books sit on my computer or in the cloud I will still know that I am a writer and I write books.
Here is another art from the outdoor gallery along the remains of the Berlin Wall:
I have decided to enter NaNoWriMo this year. I’ve never done it before and I am approaching it with a not insignificant amount of trepidation. I’ve got some characters and a vague outline of a plot but I’m having trouble working out some crucial plot details.
Other life things: my brother has returned home, getting wisdom teeth out is actually really painful, and I dip-dyed my hair purple.
Last night we went to Cottesloe beach for dinner and it was beautiful: