NaNoWriMo – all good things must come to an end

I had no guest booked in tonight (shock, horror!) so I thought I’d write about NaNoWriMo. 🙂

This was my fourth November undertaking the 50,000+ word project that is the National Novel Writing Month.

I’d heard it being mentioned back in 2008 and until then had not considered writing a novel but figured a month out of my life would be worth the experimentation so decided, that October, that I’d do it. I’m never short of ideas but I’d only ever written short stories before and only (although they’d seemed much longer until I checked) 3,000-word ones at that. With little time to prepare, nothing came to mind that could have covered a novel so I dug out pieces I wrote for college to see if I could expand on those, but they were fairly self-contained. We had however begun a script and mine was light-hearted so I thought I might even enjoy spending a condensed month writing something fun. And ‘Hitman Sam’ was born.

Then in late October 2009 I thought I ought to see what I could do for that year and in my Word document of ideas came across a wealth of weird and wonderful male characters so I threw them in a pot, along with local journalist Isobel, and the first draft of ‘The Serial Dater’s Shopping List’ came out the other end, a massive 117,540 words later (a figure imprinted on my brain).

A much darker piece followed in November 2010 and could possibly be the one that never sees light of day. It’s often quoted that writing can be therapeutic and whilst I hadn’t realised I needed any, it certainly felt good getting that one down on paper (well, screen but it’s also in a ring binder – it’s how I edit, although I haven’t that one yet… if I do).

This year I cheated. I still completed the 50,000 words (just; 50,040 according to Word or 50,163 according to the NaNoWriMo widgets, and who am I to complain?) but instead of writing a novel I wrote three collections of short stories. Firstly was another eleven stories that, along with April’s Fool, will make up ‘Calendar Girls’ but then I finished with many thousands of words to go so I created seven themed stories (just from the idea of the theme) and a bunch of random ‘whatever struck me at the time’, which may end up being a collection in its own right, individual (free) short stories, and / or participants of other anthologies. They’re currently marinating quite happily so I’ll see what I think they should be when I come back to them.

Apart from short stories being my first love, I found not having to stick with one story very liberating and fresh, which is just as well considering I’d written 2,683 words on day 1 then nothing for 21 days; leaving me just over 47,000 words to write in the final 8 days. I’d always known, given this being my first year of blogging, that it would be tight but I hadn’t anticipated how tight! But I managed it, albeit with 40 / 163 words over and an hour to spare (and dark circles under my eyes threatened to convert into bags) but now it’s all over, I can relax, catch up on sleep and forget about it.

Or can I? I know I now have those 50,040 / 50,163 words to hone, chop, purge, add to and eventually send off to my editor Rachel, to ultimately go on Smashwords and Amazon (the latter is another job on my list for the eBooks already on Smashwords) and with my current job coming to an end at Christmas (my choice) the pressure will be on me to see writing as career rather than a hobby. So will that stop me doing NaNoWriMo again? No way. For 30 days (or in this year’s case 9 days) it’s the best way to get me writing – the best thing you can do if you want me write something for you is give me a deadline – and it may only be December 5th but I’m already looking forward to November 1st 2012 and given that the Mayan Calendar stops at December 21st 2012, I’d better make sure it’s my best yet. 🙂

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please” (while quietly bouncing up and down in my seat with joy!).

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with thriller writer Eric Wachtel – the two hundred and ninth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast ‘short stories’ episode 002

Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast ‘short stories’ episode number 002 was released today.

This is a new series tucked in between the now-monthly hints & tips and red pen critique sessions and for the first weeks will include the flash fiction that appeared on this blog as ‘Flash Fiction Fridays’.

Because they’re short and, at the moment, I have plenty of them, I read out three per fortnight and today’s were ‘The Ruby Stradivarius’ (at 588 words) by Issy Flamel, ‘Horror story’ (986 words) by Theodore P. Druch and a 999 word ‘Lorna doomed’ by Phoebe Matthews – no critiquing, just simply reading them out and I hope you enjoy this new format.


You can read the full transcription of these stories as well as the author biographies on the Flash Fiction Fridays page but then that may spoil your enjoyment of the audio. 🙂

Next Monday’s episode should technically be hints and tips but as we have a holiday coming up (although I will likely keep these podcasts going, albeit a day or two late with Boxing Day falling on a Monday this year) I plan for the next episode to be a series of exercises, some easy, some less so, for you to complete during your time off work, assuming of course that you won’t be engrossed in all things family – maybe the exercises will be just the excuse you need to escape!

Thank you again for subscribing, downloading and listening to this episode and until the next time. As Issy’s characters would say “Auf wiedersehen”.

The podcast is available via iTunesGoogle’s FeedburnerPodbean (when it catches up), Podcasters (which takes even longer) or Podcast Alley (which doesn’t list the episodes but will let you subscribe).