4.11.11

nanowrimo - week one

As mentioned in last week’s news blog I have spent my time attacking the challenge of National Novel Writing Month with great fervour. Not wanting to publish my work here I do want to relay my experiences on a weekly basis in an effort to keep this blog alive during November. To be honest I thought I would be too fed up of writing to have even the slightest motivation to continue here, but it comes as a welcome relief and hopefully in posterity it should offer some insight should I choose to take on the challenge again next year.

So fifty thousand words. I seems ridiculously daunting when said out loud but I have found that that goal is not really tangible in the day to hammering out of words. I've been thinking mostly in percentages and the ability to achieve the necessary golden 1,667 words a day mark. My concept has been bandied about for many years and a handful of people have had the questionable pleasure of me pitching the idea to them.

I had made attempts to get writing in the past. The first was a mediocre and tragically childish script which doesn’t deserve thinking about; the second got to a respectable 10k words but still was sub par in terms of literary prowess. I’m told by many who have chanced and indeed succeed in past years that NaNoWriMo is not about creating, glorious, near perfect prose, but an idea that has sat around this long should at least make an attempt at the odd simile. Since the last attempt I have read many book by many authors and made many a mental note as to how and where I went wrong, even by my own standards, in the past.

For me, joining NaNoWriMo is about two things;
One - Actually banging the idea out, having a good reason to write and a designated plan which will make it achievable. This is the most important hurdle that has stopped me getting this idea onto paper in the past; having dedication to write is a difficult thing to muster no matter how excited you are about an idea. Having the structure, support and goal of achieving the big 50k in a real incentive especially when you factor in…

Two - Meeting new people.
As I’d said before, with Miss F moving outwards and upwards it is important for a usually insular person like myself to make a conscious effort to be more sociable. Having a group of people all aiming for the same goal in their own unique and individual way is strangely comforting, having met the Nottingham ‘chapter’ (for want of a better pun) for their kick-off meeting last week it was nice to find them welcoming, jovial and for the most part damn-right silly.
None of them are taking it too seriously, especially not at the meet ups, which they consider to be time off from writing. Word counts and individual work aside this is a social event which just so happens to involve attempting to write a novel.

So, past the motive, and onto the act itself.
In the lead up to November 1st I began to worry that, although my concept was strong and relatively well researched, nothing actually happened to the characters; in other words  my plot was a no show. Once again the community element of NaNoWriMo came to my rescue; on their forums were a myriad of simple ‘outline a plot in an hour’ tutorials which worked really well for me. Answering a few simple questions helped me get to grips with what my characters wanted and as their relationships grew so did the intricacies and event which shook their lives. They began to take the form of full fleshed human being, who felt and wanted and reacted.

The physical writing thus far, and I don’t pretend this is always going to be the case, has been relatively easy. I pick a chapter and try to coax at least two thousand words out of it while hoping to pick up the major plot point in passing. It seems easy at the moment because I’m writing scenes I have been stewing over for years but some of it still surprises me. As I'm writing new points which serve to tie things together are appearing every day, at this point I have a semi-solid 2/3s of a plot, I’m waiting on the divine intervention which will deliver a major conflict and ultimate resolution but seeds of ideas are being sown all the time.

If you have thought about participating in the past, and feel you can rocket through the 12,500 word necessary to bring you up to par for the week, then I’d say take it on. It has, so far been a really fulfilling experience. Expect digital transference of tears and plea’s for help in the coming weeks but as of right now, thoroughly enjoyable.

I’ll leave you will a brief except which I posted on the NaNoWriMo.org site as a teaser. You’re welcome to rip it to shreds in the comments, assuming that is you can put your own words where this month is!

"Essentially what Stephan has experienced of over the past five days is the equivalent of a month at high summer on the beaches of the Algarve without the luxury of sunscreen. He has suffered some pretty severe sunburn and is, from what I hear, being treated for it accordingly. This will have been extremely painful for a child of his young age but in most cases we have found that it is better that this inevitable, if not traumatic, exposure happen when a child is too young to remember it."
"What do we do now? How do I keep him safe?”
"Well thankfully in the UK you have the National Health Service, a luxury many of my patients don't get, they'll assist in fitting the necessary shades and filters to the windows of your home. I'm sorry to tell you Mrs. Cauldar that much of your son's, and by extension your own, life will be spent in darkness."
"If that's what it takes to protect him, I'll do it."
"I know you will Mrs. Cauldar, what you need to be aware of is that Stephan is unique. He will never be like other little boys, he wont be able to play outside in the day and for a long time he wont have friends whose parents can allow their children to go out and play in the dead of night. Besides television he will most likely never see the sun, you will be very hard pushed to find a school that will be able to accommodate his needs and for much of his childhood years he will need near constant supervision."
Nina nodded taking in the information without thinking about the future and its consequences.
"Mrs. Cauldar are you sat down?"
"Yes, why?"
"Well, there is one serious possibility which you need to understand about people with your son's condition. Of the five cases I have taken on, which I have constant contact with each and every one of them. And of the numerous other cases of XP I have consulted with across the globe, you have to know that there is very little chance your son will live past the age of twenty five."
Silence stretched across the four thousand miles between them and hung in the air like a think fog. Nina didn't cry but her face flinched in discomfort as if the very thought hurt her. Dr Barba's voice was first to cut through the silence.
"Um... this is quite difficult. Dr Paisley can you confirm that Mrs. Cauldar has understood what I said?"
"She heard you." Dr Paisley replied tersely.
"Okay, I'll continue. In most cases of XP children of about eight years old develop skin cancer normally ascribed to sixty plus years of exposure to the sun. The more we can minimise his exposure to ultraviolet light of any kind the easier it will be to catch and treat what are sadly inevitable yet manageable cancers. In people without the condition our bodies repair the  damage done by UV light by a process called nucleotide excision repair, this happens as a matter of course and we rarely notice it, in Stephan's case the gene needed for this repair is either broken or missing and the cumulative damage can  quickly metastasise. His eyes and skin will be the most vulnerable but any prolonged exposure runs the risk of various cancers which can rapidly spread if not kept under constant supervision."          
"Are you telling me that I'm probably going to outlive my son? He has barely been in this world for a week and you're telling me that I should be prepared to bury him?"  

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