Why I quit NaNo … at 39018 words


Today I quit NaNoWriMo. I’ve written 39018 words. I’ve still got three days. I’m only about 5000 words behind target to finish on time. But I quit. I’m giving up. As painful as it is, I am quitting.

Why? Read More

We are here #blogvember

It’s the first of November. It is not 4 in the morning. Which is just as well as today has been full enough without extending it for another 10 hours. It is the first nice evening for a while and we are sitting outside. It is the start of Blogvember, or as we call it round here, NoNoNaNoWriMo.

I can’t commit to writing 1667 words a day, for every day of November. While I would love to, and I’d love to feel the fantastic sense of achievement of ‘winning’ NaNoWriMo again, I know what is required. I know I am not able to commit the time required. Never mind that I am bursting with story fragments, ideas and characters. I just don’t have the time.

Me? Nerves of steel!

Me? Nerves of steel!

Instead I will blog every day for November. That’s a blog post a day for 30 days. Last year’s blogvember was a whirlwind of working full time and writing every day and the hardest thing was finding and processing images. This year will be no different. I won’t be able to find any more free time.

If you write everyday, you need images for your blog; to promote it. It provides a visual reference for your reader. Something that represents your words. If you’re a writer, you need to conjure those images, but in the minds of your reader, not in the blogosphere. The writing and the blogging I have done, particularly in the last three years has shown me the difference. If you want to write fiction, you need to stop blogging. If you love your blog, it is hard to find the time to write fiction. That is just my experience. This year at least, I have a stock of images ready to go … well sort of. I have taken photos. I have sometimes even processed them into acceptable blog images. I have a few ideas for posts I would like to write. Mostly it will be a ‘pantser’ effort of making it up, just in time, as I go along. My creative processes will be curtailed into snippets of compressed, expedient writing, rushed and hurried, while I should be doing other things. I will spend a bit of time this evening, formulating some ideas and trying to work out how to carve out the hour a day I really need to do Blogvember, or indeed any creative writing process, justice.

While I struggle to find the time, I commit to bringing you insights, small and large into my life and the lives of those around me. The big issues, the tiny and insignificant issues, the issues that matter and the ones that only a tiny handful of people will actually care about. Hope you can join me for the wild ride.

It’s Blog-vember! Post the first

On the way back from Melbourne, I gazed out the window mouching quietly about having missed seeing some fantastic people. There were just too few hours and I really needed a time machine to make it all work. I even missed out on drinking gin in The Gin Palace; that really really hurt. The trip was too short, the family commitments too long to make it work.

I started on a bit of a reverie then. I’m missing people, I’m missing writing, and I’m missing NaNoWriMo!

I tossed ideas around. What if I could do something else? How could I make this work? How could I write and keep the little smouldering embers of love of writing burning? I certainly couldn’t write 1667 words a day! But I could blog every day. I workshopped ideas. What to call it? Blog-a-rama? NoNoNaNoWriMo? Blog-vember? Yes that says it all. It’s November. It’s blogging.

I wrote the post and sent this little idea out into the ether and who should show up?

Only the gorgeous people I missed in Melbourne!  I may have let out a little squeal of delight at the first response.

Here we all are. Drum roll please.

Blog-vember! A little idea to keep my writing spirits up and share the love.

Here are just a few of the people playing along.

Under The Yardarm

Twitchy Corner


Join us. You can still play and catch up and keep your writing spark. A post a day. Every day for November. Blog-vember!




Blog-vember or NoNoNaNoWriMo

No No NaNoWriMo for me. I have come to a sad realisation that I cannot participate in NaNoWriMo this year. As much as this decision pains me, it is the right one for this year. I just cannot commit the necessary time and my experience last year taught me exactly what that commitment looks like. Of course, I am not willing to give up altogether. Too easy to do that.


Instead of NaNoWriMo this year, I give you Blog-vember!

A blog post every day for the month of November. At least that way I have a target and a writing goal. Feel free to leave pull-your-socks-up comments if I start writing about what I had for lunch – unless of course the lunch was at Tetsuya’s then you’ll just have to suffer through a blow by blow description.

For added interest, I will also give myself the end of November as the deadline for my long overdue book reviews that I keep promising and failing to deliver.

Join me! If you are NaNo-ing then go you. But if you are not join me for Blog-vember.

A post a day for November. Who’s in?

I won! I’ve finished NaNoWriMo!


That is all. I won. I wrote 50028 words from 1 November to 29 November 2011.

NaNoWriMo you are mine.

NaNoWriMo Update

Day 20 has just passed. My word count is up over the 30 000 word line. It is starting to look like the downhill slide.

The denouement is creeping closer. I am carefully setting the scene for the fall and resolution.

I have had some pretty huge writing days. At least three days over the month I have written over 5ooo. Another few I have written over 3000. I did not keep my promise to myself to write everyday. The delicious progress bar chart on the NaNo site has little steps in the middle of most weeks where I didn’t progress at all. On my least productive day I wrote 25 words. A long sentence. That was it.

As I press on for the last 10 days (eek!) as I pass 35 000 and then 45 000, I have to keep reminding myself that not every page will be great but that it exists at all is great. I look forward to the race to the finish line. Not least of all because they maybe, just maybe be champagne waiting when I cross it.

I am learning an enormous amount about the writing craft during this challenge.  Here is a sample of the lessons. (Any seasoned writers reading this, please turn the page now, before I fall in your esteem.)

1. Dialogue is hard to write. Actually, good dialogue is hard to write.

2. You need an infinite variety of synonyms for ‘quietly’ or ‘softly’ if your characters are whispering to each other a lot. (Mine are)

3. My characters spend a lot of time with their faces pressed up against the glass looking out – at the view, at the skyline, at the planes. They are always doing it! Is this normal?

4. If you write with action in both hemispheres at once, map out what season it is at any point first. So confusing. I am sure that these sections will need editing, a lot of editing.

5. You need to keep checking your character’s motivations, clarifying point of view. Would she really say that? Is she just not going to answer the phone?

6. Some word, that you don’t often have to type are really hard to spell and look all wrong when you type them; meringue for example.

7. Sometimes the writing is easy, it comes out and flows well. Sometimes it is torture to sit at the desk for one more minute writing what you know is essential description but so boring that you’d rather stick a pencil in your eye that write one more word about the departure lounge at Heathrow. (For the record I just stopped; the plane took off, scene finished, job done.)

NaNoWriMo Halfway Update


It’s November 15.

It’s NaNoWriMo halfway mark.

Shortly before 4pm I typed the 25 002nd word of my NaNo story.

HALF WAY! HALF WAY! Sky rockets in flight! #NaNoWriMo
Louise Bassett


Here is my last paragraph for the middle of the story.

Outside it was warm and the late summer breeze carried with it the promise of cool weather and the change of seasons. They walked to the tube, Cooper still none the wiser about their destination. The afternoon was proceeding better than Matthew had hoped. Pleased with himself, he bounced on the balls of his feet.

Stay tuned. I’m on track and have really started to enjoy the process. I am now so focused on the task at hand, my week has been reorganised around getting me in the chair and in front of my macbook. Seems to be working.


I’ve lost control

Vladimir Nabokov, The Art of Fiction No. 40


E. M. Forster speaks of his major characters sometimes taking over and dictating the course of his novels. Has this ever been a problem for you, or are you in complete command?


My knowledge of Mr. Forster’s works is limited to one novel, which I dislike; and anyway, it was not he who fathered that trite little whimsy about characters getting out of hand; it is as old as the quills, although of course one sympathizes with his people if they try to wriggle out of that trip to India or wherever he takes them. My characters are galley slaves.

Nabokov’s characters did exactly what he wanted them too. I’m close to 7000 words into the NaNo novel and already I’ve lost control. My characters are doing their own things! I’ve written myself into a corner and now I have to write a sex scene. There are continuity issues, my flashbacks are out of order, it’s the past – no wait not that far back – fuck. Wait, that hasn’t happened yet. It’s a nightmare. And entirely par for the course with the challenge of writing this fast. Regardless of my plotting, I’m still having to ‘pants’ parts of the story. There isn’t time to story board the sequences, so by the seat of my pants, I am guessing, making it up. Cranking out the daily words so I don’t fall behind.

Trying to introduce enough tension between the central characters and avoiding any more love interests – man are they trouble!

Sunshine in a cup … Write on Wednesday

This week for Write on Wednesday we are back to our faithful timer and the challenge of writing to a prompt for five minutes. The wonderful Emily Dickinson and “Bring me sunshine in a cup”. 


Bring me sunshine in a cup.

Place it gently on the table, right in front on me. Watch the dust motes dance and swirl in the early summer breeze.

Feel the glowing warmth rising. But what is it? What is the strange sensation of warmth and light? Is it the tea? Is it the warm breeze? It is the warm thoughts of home rising quietly within me as I sip the tea. Soon, soon I will be there again. Home. Where the sunshine just seeps in and is not confined to a mere cup of warmth and light. Home. Where the close spaces with their familiarity ease me back into the rhythm of living. Where the simple pleasures of tea, a bath and a moment’s peace in the sun can begin to restore me. To give me back the zest. To give me back the calm. Like a soothing balm the light illuminates my face.


Write on Wednesday … chose your own adventure

3 o’clock. An unexpected early afternoon at home. It was a warm but overcast afternoon. How to enjoy the extra time?

A trip to the shops. A time filler. An afternoon treat. Toddler’s favourite. We set off. Man, woman and child. Oh and the cat. At the bottom of the drive we encounter our first hurdle. The road.

Walk on the path. Walk with daddy, hold his hand. Off we go again. Back on the path.

Oh look here’s the cat. Following. The toddler wheels around to see the cat, then races for the road.

It's a slow procession

We are hold hands with the small boy between us. His legs swing, his shoes scrape the concrete. He twists and wriggles in our grasp. One hand and then the other wrenches free. The small boy pokes at a tiny moth lying prostrate on the footpath. A tiny victim of spring. The man leans down to tell the small boy all about the moth. He pokes it gently. Its damaged wings flutter pathetically but it is too broken to fly away.

Walk on the path. Hold daddy’s hand. I say these words over and over again.

The small boy wriggles free again. Takes a few rapid steps into a front garden. He runs around in circles all over the lawn which is still settling in. I notice the strips of turf haven’t matted together yet, the lines are clearly visible.

Eventually we all make it to the top of the strip of shops. I see a flash of grey and white dart into a shrub across the road. Our cat, sits crouched and anxious, waiting. We make our way down the wide footpath. Every sandwich board is carefully inspected, hidden behind. Each piece of street art examined in minute detail. I am impatiently pacing back and forth trying to encourage my unruly band to follow me toward the supermarket. But there are dogs to pat, rubbish to be picked up, sculptures to fondle. There is absolutely no urgency to the journey. I am the only one who is impatient. I shift from foot to foot. Check the time. Try once more to drag the toddler a few more metres down the footpath toward the supermarket. I am wearing myself out. He turns and runs back to me. His cold hands wrap around my legs and he buries his face in my skirt.

Write on Wednesday … the re-write

Last night I dreamt I went to the dam and saw it.
I felt the chill standing there by the thick reeds and mud, while I tried the edge, it was too dark to go in. There was a dark house behind me. In my dream I heard children calling out and I searched the water for their faces. I peered in through the dark rust coloured reeds. I called but the dam had no answer.

It is always the same dream. The house has infinite rooms. Rooms within rooms. Boxes filled with treasures. Secret staircases that rise high into the building with no sense of reaching another floor. Then, suddenly, it is all on fire. Burning to the ground.

. . .

Read More

Write on Wednesday … great one liner

Such is my mother love that even though I know he only wants to sit on my lap so he can eat my breakfast, I let him.


Write On Wednesdays

This week’s exercise comes to us from  Karen at The Rhythm Method.
Write one good line to describe part of your day.
As Karen says the one line is like a “tiny little paper plane that must travel a big distance”.