Monthly Archives: November 2011

Across the finish line – NaNoWriMo 2011

50,085 words, and I am done!

It was a tough one this year, and I’m far from in love with what I’ve created, but nice to know I can still do it. Mr Shaky is, as I type, finishing up lyrics for his lot of songs for this year, and he still has a day to go, so it’s looking doable.

This year’s experience has been odd. I really don’t feel like I’ve been as involved with my characters as I was last year, and that possibly shows, but it was an attempt at a different kind of book. That’s what I have enjoyed using NaNoWriMo for, exploring different ideas. Trying a writing style I’m not used to is fine for a few weeks of madness as if I hate it, I’m not too attached. This one went a wee bit haywire, and I think the end is possibly too satisfying, but at least it has an end, and that’s kind of the point.

To the following albums, I say thanks for getting me through this one: Mew – …And the Glass-Handed Kites, Wild Beasts – Smother, Antlers – Burst Apart and Hospice (sweet Lord, my post last week about songs that make me cry was pre-emptive given that I heard Epilogue for the first time at the weekend and just about combusted), The Birthday Suit – The Eleventh Hour, Roddy Woomble – The Impossible Song and Other Songs, The National – Boxer.

Now is most certainly the time for a beer.

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Sing a Sad Song…

A little Nano break (a holiday from the day job is being spent playing a pretty frantic game of catch up, and I’m gaining ground so stopping for some idle Twitter nonsense and a Rice Krispie Square) led me to find this, a piece on songs that make Guardian writers cry, and I have to, gulp, admit that Will Young’s Leave Right Now has always had a similar effect on me. I’m not someone who generally cries at films (the first ten minutes of Up aside), but the right cadence, the right lyric, can easily make me sob. So the following, I would heartily recommend, should not be played near me in public.

Mew – Silas The Magic Car

Not a clue what it’s about, but it’s the wonderful Mew at their most melancholy, and “We didn’t know we’d seen their last show” hits hard every time.

Elliott Smith – Twilight

It’s hard to separate Elliott Smith’s music from his much documented personal life, and indeed his mysterious death, but this one in particular is devastating, perhaps more so than Pitseleh. When he sighs “I’m tired of being down, I’ve got no fight”, you believe it completely, so utterly defeated is his delivery.

Elbow – Switching Off

I’ve fallen out with Elbow recently after Build A Rocket, Boys, but Switching Off is still devastating stuff. And it shouldn’t be otherwise, really: it’s the story of an elderly couple entering into a suicide pact, choosing a moment to die together. First time I heard this live, I was all but bawling in the middle of Glasgow’s Academy. Very dignified.

Ben Folds Five – Fred Jones Part II

This prompted exactly the same reaction as Switching Off in exactly the same place. Never done than in another venue. Perhaps I just find the Academy emotionally damaging.

The National – Start A War

“Whatever went away, I’ll get it all back now, I’ll get money, I’ll get funny again. Walk away now, and you’re going to start a war.”

Regina Spektor – Samson

A bit of an OC kind of choice, I know, but it’s still a lovely song, and there’s something in her delivery of “your hair was long when we first met” that takes beyond it being the story of Samson to a nameless lover looking back on how things were when they met their other half, and its ingrained sense of regret is absolutely heartbreaking.

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Nano 2011: Nine days to go

30,195 words, and surprise, surprise, I’m behind. About 5,000 words behind, to be precise, but after spending most of last week flailing, the good ol’  bonkers plot twist announced itself at the weekend (I believe while brushing my teeth, fact fans), and I reckon I can pad this questionable thing out for another 19,000-odd words. Not my finest hour, this one, but it’s all about the process, isn’t it? Then I can get on with December, making best of the year playlists and generally having a life again. How nice.

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Day 11 – NaNoWriMo fatigue

My God, fatigue hasn’t half hit. As of last night, I’m still on target (16700-odd words), but I’m also grinding to an almighty halt. Yesterday’s word count was reached mostly by idly tapping words I might use at some point down at the bottom of that damn Word document, after lots of ellipses so I don’t accidentally forget I haven’t written in whole sentences. I don’t think I like my main character anymore, which isn’t helping, and I think it’s all becoming a bit depressing. And I have a deeply held hatred for grim for the sake of grim books. Maybe I need to introduce a happy pixie (I shan’t).
Temptation to give up is strong, but I’ve got this far, and I should be hitting the halfway stage on Tuesday, so onwards and upwards and all that. Think I might take tonight off, though, and attack it refreshed on Saturday. Wish me luck.

On another, brighter note, oh, Antlers, where have you been all my life? This is glorious.

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Nanowrimo – day 4

I still have the will to live! Hurrah! And am on target! Well, I was yesterday. Haven’t sat down to do any yet today, but I will. I’m still at the stage where I don’t really know what it’s about or where it’s going. Looking at Twitter, I see a lot of people make thorough plans, outlines, chapter breakdowns, but the past two times I’ve done it, I’ve quite enjoyed just letting rip and seeing what happens. The plot of last year’s effort was bonkers, and yet when I re-read it a few weeks ago, I was actually quite proud of it (which is rare), and that book never would have happened if I had tried to plan something out first. The madness that kicks in as the deadline approaches provokes some pretty spurious reasoning, and I think that’s my favourite thing about it.

Anyway, so far, this year’s plot feels a bit grim, so something needs to be done to lift it. I’m not sure I’m brave enough a fiction writer to attempt to be making a Big Point About Mortality, so it needs toned down, reined in. Or maybe the opposite. Time will tell.

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