NaNoWriMo 2013

After finding out about NaNoWriMo on the 5th of November last year and promising I would do it in 2013, I’m trying to prepare for the mammoth task of writing a 50,000 word novel in a month. I am beyond excited.

My planning isn’t exactly concrete – I have a basic idea and a few details about my main character, but that’s about all so far.

I am really looking forward to being able to concentrate purely on writing for a while, although it does mean I’m racing to get things sorted out in the last bit of October.

There are also local meet-ups near where I live, and support via social media. I particularly like the way the NaNo team send emails encouraging you to do it, and I’m sure they’ll be really useful when I’m stuck with writer’s block.

It’s a lovely idea, and if it gets me writing more regularly and just more, then it’ll have been a success. For all the people who think it’s a stupid idea to write so much so quickly (“It’ll just be poor quality!”), there’s always December for editing, and you can’t edit what you haven’t written.

Is anyone else taking part this year? Or any advice from NaNo veterans?

Running and writing

I’ve just started reading Haruki Murakami’s ‘What I talk about when I talk about running’, which is ideal for me as both an aspiring writer and runner. It’s a short book, and although it’s biographical it’s written in exactly the same sort of style as IQ84, which I guess makes sense. It’s refreshing to know that’s actually what Murakami is like, rather than a  way of writing reserved for fiction. You get the sense that it’s how he speaks as well.

It’s also very interesting, because the style of IQ84, and this book, is quite strange. It’s methodical, precise, and sure. He freely admits quirks around the way he lives his life – giving each successive task everything he has, enjoying time spent alone and dislike of being told what to do. It’s made me wonder whether this is true for everyone; are we all that weird? I suppose we must be, and maybe Murakami is only more honest about it. It’s a nice thought in one way, that it makes me think everyone has the potential to write a novel, and for it to be worthwhile. It also makes for a much more interesting world. When you look at how pigeon-holed society seems to be at the moment (I’m biting my lip not to say ‘these days’, because I know it’s not true) that’s reassuring.

Murakami writes about running, as laid out in the title, but the book is more about how running fits into his life; its similarities to writing, and why he has decided to live his life the way he does.

Reading about running always makes me want to go do it – I started halfway through ‘Running like a girl’, swept up in stories about marathons and the transformative effect running seems to have. The same is true with this book. It made me remember why I started running, and what a shame it would be if I let that all slip away.

Although Murakami is modest (to the point of irritation for me – I think it downplays something more important than the actual work itself if you dismiss deserved praise) this is actually helpful, as he sets out in stages exactly how he developed the motivation to write and run so regularly and the philosophy which underpins this. It makes the magical secrets of creativity seem a little easier to unlock.

All in all, it’s an interesting book, and one I’m looking forward to finishing. Murakami is a fascinating writer and this book has made me more sure than ever that I want to read more of his work, and that I want to write myself.

San Fran Writers’ Grotto #1

A storm destroys your uncle’s shed and kills his six-year-old son. Describe the colour of the sky right before the storm hit.

It’s the middle of the night, but there’s yellow in the sky. It tinges the edges of the clouds, which are swirls of the deepest greys and blues. It’s the shade of soft, ripe fruit just as someone takes the first bite. The sky is so big tonight it looks like there’s more night than land, only cloud and moon as far as you can see. It’s darker in the east, and the swirls are moving quickly now. It’s too light for this late, light that almost looks like it’s shining on another planet.

Birthday books

It wouldn’t be a birthday without books. I turned 24 yesterday and, as well as having a wonderful day, was lucky enough to receive these:

He’s a stud, she’s a slut, and 49 other double standards every woman should know – Jessica Valenti (Obviously continuing my feminism-based reading. It’s smart, funny and most importantly, has a focus squarely on what we can [all] do to change these double standards.)

El leon, la bruja y el ropero – C.S Lewis (It’s The lion, the witch and the wardrobe in Spanish. Very touched by this one – I’m trying to learn Spanish at the moment but my understanding is pretty basic. This is one of my most-read books in English, so I know the story very well. That will help enormously as I try to read my first [full-length] book in a foreign language.)

Three mini moleskine notebooks – every writers’ favourite. I can’t wait to fill these up!

And finally…

642 things to write about – the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto (This is basically hundreds of writing exercises, aimed to get you thinking about different ways of looking at the world, and to realise that there are still plenty of new ideas to write about. I like this idea so much that I think I’m going to include a few of them here on this blog, along with my ‘answer’.)