I can’t believe I did the thing.

It’s November 30th as I write this. The last day of the NaNoWriMo challenge that has taken over my life for the past thirty days.

The first time I attempted this challenge, I was highly motivated to win. I had joined an online writing community, I attended write-ins, I didn’t have a job or class to go to so I could literally designate entire days to upping my word count and fleshing out my characters.

This year?

Not so much.

I went in blind, with nothing but a brief idea of what I wanted to occur in my story. I found that as I am a frequent reader of sequential works, I’ve picked up the habit of working with trilogies in mind (Thank you Robin Hobb) and even though I have hit the 50k word mark… The story has not progressed as far as I wanted it to…  but then there’s always book two and three!

This year, I’m an MA student 2 months in with a lot more on my plate. November is busy enough with the countdown for Christmas starting and a lot of family birthdays to prepare for. I got distracted often… There was an entire week where I didn’t write a single thing! And then there were the nights that I would spend on my google documents, struggling to catch up to the recommended word count (Do not recommend).

Skipping 1667 words a day is totally fine if you miss one day… when you miss several days… multiple times… and you’re demanding more of yourself than ever before… you might stress yourself into illness.

Which I did.

And it wasn’t fun.

At all.

But I’ve finally completed something. Too often I’ve become swept up in a monthly challenge only to have my enthusiasm fade out as the days progressed. I’m talking about the Monster Girl Challenge on my IG and the Journal Writing Challenge I started on Tumblr… wow.

It feels good to finish something creative that isn’t for class.

I’ve always had a big sense of admiration towards authors and writers who churn out worlds and characters every year. Now, having completed the process myself (minus all the editors and beta readers because I’m not planning on submitting this novel for publication), that respect and awe has increased five times over.

Even though my novel isn’t the best… and hasn’t ended up as I had hoped, but I’m happy with what I’ve achieved. I mean, 50023 words in thirty days on top of an MA course? That’s an achievement. I’m crying.

I’m like the proud parent of an ugly baby*, no one can tell me a thing.


 

*No harm intended, most babies are cute, some just need to grow into their features.

 

 

I’m seeing a theme here…

Second installment of my weekly doings. Well, after two intense days at uni and my final two shifts I finally got some time to relax… and now I feel less guilty about what I’m doing! The fact that a reading week is coming up sure does help. Anyway, this week… I’ve been:

Reading:  Randolph Lalonde Origins (Spinward Fringe Book 0)

Source: amazon.com

Something great about my iPhone is the Kindle app. I get to do reading on my four hours commuting to and from uni on the days I’m in. I’m making progress on a sci-fi novel named by. It’s got all the regular things I enjoy, humans, space battles, hints of aliens and strategy (because space wars are all about strategy).

Nifty little object that the MC has? A cool ass vaccum suit that deals with space-business… oh, and it comes out from a little bracelet from their hand and is crafted to their skin through microbes everyday after disintegrating all of the dead skin cells from their body… and of course, an A.I. personal assistant who is so advanced that it is just a hairs width away from being outlawed.

They’re fighting for resources for their artificial planet, going against some kind of big evil space corporation. So I guess they’re almost… space communists? I could be wrong in my interpretation. But I’m just starting and it is just so very cool.

Watching: Unforgotten

Source: mainstreetpictures.co.uk

If you’re sensing that I like crime shows… you are correct. Unforgotten is an ITV Drama, following the opening of a case in North London after a body is found buried in a cellar. So far, its tackled issues of sex, redemption, racism and is doing a very good job of showing the shift of personality through time in the persons of interest in the case. Of the multiple POI are a priest who’s known to having affairs, a former National Front member, a former gangster and a seemingly nice wheelchair-bound man with an abusive streak.

The murder isn’t even the most engaging facet of the series I believe. The interest of the cold case and the changes in the POI as the police attempt to get justice for the murder victim intrigues me more. I change my idea on who I think the murderer is about three times an episode before giving up on speculating. It’s all the fun guesswork of your everyday crime drama, with the added unreliability of narrative that I was first introduced to in E4s My Mad Fat Diary as the PCIs end up frustrated and running in circles due to the evasiveness of those they are investigating.

Listening to: Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

Source: hamiltonbroadway.com

I’m not usually a big fan of musicals. But I’ve been seeing rumblings about Hamilton: An American Musical, based on the founding father on the $10 bill’s life. It’s freely available on Spotify and has been since this September… since listening to it I haven’t raved about it enough. Hamilton goes gone against everything I thought musicals would be, I’ve listened to it in full over seven times in as many days. Lin-Manuel Miranda has ensnared me, I’ve never been so enthused about American History… to be expected from the man who penned the lyrics to the numbers in In the Heights (2008).

It’s so modern and raw and perfect. I mean, that the musical numbers are quite clearly hip-hop inspired bangers helps. The lyrics are madness, the wordplay is undeniably fantastic, Cabinet #1 is a rap battle that has me hollering at every punchline as though I’m in the ensemble. The cast are so brilliant, not only are they great at rapping at mad speeds and commanding attention through dynamic action and stage theatrics (major props to Daveez Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette and Renée Elise Goldsberry’s Angelica Schuyler personally). On top of it all, they are so  talented in projecting the emotions in their performances. I wouldn’t be surprised if attending this musical feels more like a concert than anything else and I can’t wait for the Hamilton to come to the UK so I can see for myself.

I’ve startled my parents when I start rapping along to Guns and Ships in my room (LAFAYETTE!!!)… I’ve annoyed my poor neighbors wailing Helpless and Satisfied during the night and, to be fair, they’ve retorted with midnight fireworks… I’ve cried at Dear Theodosia and Its Quiet Uptown while trying to fall asleep…

I’m also, much more informed on the Alexander Hamilton’s (and his family and friends’) role in the founding of America… and wow. I’m impressed. Talk about being the change you want to see.

Misc: NanoWriMo has begun

I have updated my word count to 1690 on day one! I’m so excited. This week I’ve finalized my plot. I’m so happy to find out that so many of my fellow MA students are also taking part. Definitely more enthused than I was last year. I’m happy to produce a blurb to share. I’ll have you know that I don’t think it will turn out like the Riftwar Cycle at all, apart from the fact that I would categorize them both as “portal fantasy”.

Weaver

A trip of self discovery

Kewoya’ana is a girl on the cusp of womanhood with no life plans as the world accelerates around her. Returning from a close friend’s wedding, she is transported to a strange land full of even stranger people she has heard of only through the smoke and shadows of her father’s educational  fireside stories. She must develop understanding of this new world’s thoughts on gender, race and social standing in order to make her way back to the familiar…

If she fails she will remain an outcast on the fringes of society… something that never appeared to be an option in her childish fantasies of adulthood.


Until next week then

I read over my most popular fanfiction. Why?

I do that a lot. Sometimes I enjoy it, most times; I cringe, I cringe so hard that I have toyed with the notion of completely deleting my account and destroying all records of my attempt at writing.

After all, I’m not a creative writing student, but fanfiction has been a big part of my life since, well, I was in secondary school. I posted my first ever chapter on a forum that was called BBRae4Eva, I think. And since then, fanfiction has been an anonymously accessed, never before announced activity that I take part it. I’ve written and published online 16 fanfics of moderate success from about 2004 to 2014 (with numerous unfinished sequels, prequels and one-shots that lie in the fiction folder on my desktop).

Now, why am I dragging myself through this 90K+ worded romantic adventure between my favourite crack pairing: Naruto’s Uchiha Sasuke and Hyuuga Hinata in a 6th form AU?

I've hidden relevant identifying information. Still a bit shocked (and proud) I managed 18 chapters and 92,981 words down though.
I’ve hidden relevant identifying information & highlighted my achievements. Don’t even TRY to look for it.

I’m about to start writing again. This time, not fanfiction. 100% original plot, 100% original characters.

This year I’m taking part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo to those in the know), it’ll be the second time I’ll be participating. And unlike last year, I plan on actually reaching the 50K mark within the month. So this is like a cram revision session for next month’s “test”.

Last year, I started and got most-a-ways through a post-industrial fantasy tale, based in a little town called Silverbank. I was inspired by a friend’s short story that I had read in my final year of university: in her story, education was the class separator (and to be honest, even in our society that is the case often more than not).

In my take, I followed a large family of seven, the Darzis. Aida the mother, a fiercely jealous woman still hiding grief and taking it out on her eldest surviving child. Kamal the semi-absent father, a seemingly ordinary construction worker who hides his ties to underground political extremism with the profile of an alcoholic. Taking inspiration from my family I gave all the siblings nicknames that were so often used, their legal names were strange words they had to remind themselves to answer to, which were only brought out through vexing parental lectures and legal processes.

There was Sugar; the eldest sister, beautiful and with a tragic past & present (& possible future). Sixes; the big brother, named for the 6 facial scars on his face (punishment for stealing from an orchard) dating the identical twin brother of his little sister’s beau. Sissy; Aida’s favourite and personality twin, big appetite for romance and about to embark on a shotgun wedding. Sweets; the MC (middle child AND main character), at the ripe age of 16 (perf YA MC age), entering the workforce and trying to not get romantically distracted by the other half of the golden twins of attractiveness while getting involved in all of the sibling drama and some of dad’s extreme politics. Sparkles; the youngest daughter with crippling low self-esteem but high expectations that depend on her above-average intelligence.  Shin; the sweet baby who becomes traumatized when forced to witness the outcomes of one of his father’s plots.

As you can see, I gave myself a lot to work with. Maybe too much to work with…There was supposed to be romance, conspiracy, drama, jealousy, death, suspicion. I probably got to slightly introduce these plot devices and maybe get a bit of the Darzis’ struggles in the 42K words that I had managed to splurge out. Let me tell you, Unnamed NaNoWriMo14 was what happened when you try to cram a seven-novel series into one.

This year I’m not going to do that.

I’m going to write more simply. I know my genre: my old faithful High Fantasy… but with a twist.

Yes, it’s going to feature Medieval inspired European background. Instead of the foreign brown savages with strange customs and social structures that get introduced to the main character who becomes the very best, like no one ever was, somethings are getting flipped around perception wise. My new MC, the beautiful Kewoya’ana is transported via magical portal to a world of  stone turrets and corset-wearing courtesans, “dashing” knights, and gets to overthrow some totally un-righteous rulers in order to set up a treaty between worlds.

And now that I’ve explained the basic plot, I’m really hoping that it doesn’t end up too much like Wurst and Feist’s Empire Trilogy set in the Riftwar Cycle.