Saturday, 24 January 2009

The story so far about the story so far...

So, not the world's most prolific blog, then.

As I might have predicted, I dived so deep into the challenge of NaNo that I didn't actually take any time to blog about NaNo. For the record, it was a fantastic few weeks of mad writing and I learned loads: how to keep going whether I felt like writing or not, how to keep (mostly) to a plot outline I had made for myself instead of waiting days for inspiration to strike, a recipe for chocolate cherry cupcakes. A thread at the Ship of Fools boards ( explanation here if you haven't heard of them ) provided some extra support for a devoted contingent of writers. I drank a lot of tea, even by my usual standards.

After nine days I had 50K words. On the morning of day nine I realised how close I was to "finishing" and took a day out to go for it. "Finishing" seemed to be defined as reaching 50K words, or reaching the end of your story arc if longer, so on one measurement I was nowhere near finished. In the early hours of 24th November I hit the last sentence of my narrative, although I had written some of the later sections with far less detail than the earlier parts, at just under 108 000 words.

I now had the first draft of a novel. My new story follows the life of a potter born in a central European society a couple of hundred years from now, sufficiently distanced from an ecological and political catastrophe that has changed the world. As an ordinary craftsperson, he is on some levels a free agent due to his talent and hard work, on others he is at the mercy of the forces sweeping through his people. Stuff gets said about Art which may or may not turn out to be pretentious when I get round to opening the box file and editing it. Pots get described. He falls for people, develops as a craftsman, is frustrated by various restrictions in his life, gets caught up in a rebellion that turns into all-out war, survives.

Then I stopped writing for a couple of days.

Then I had to start writing again because it seemed to have insinuated itself into my life to stay. Sometime around this point, I signed up for a 10-point course with the OU called "Start Writing Fiction," (course summary here ) mentally appending the word "properly" to this title. This officially starts in a few days, but I have already started the reading and a few of the activities along the way. It seems quite promising so far, I have already seen some good suggestions for sparking ideas and finding ways to write out of a block. At the end of next month, I also have a weekend creative writing course booked, at an adult education site I have previously visited for pottery tuition, in a beautiful setting, so I know that's likely to be good.