To NaNoWriMo or not to NaNoWriMo? What a difficult question!
I’ve enjoyed tackling NaNoWriMo (National
Novel Writing Month) in the past but I had serious doubts about signing up for
it this year. Will it be a creative
opportunity I can’t afford to miss, or a waste of valuable writing time? Instead of trying to frantically churn out 50,000 words (most of
which will be rubbish) wouldn’t it make more sense to spend November
methodically finishing some of my current writing projects?
Last Friday, I was 99.9% decided not to do it …
… but on Saturday I saw The Guardian was launching a
new series: How To Write a Book in 30 Days. How could I resist? Unlike
NaNoWriMo, the Guardian plan isn’t about simply writing whatever comes into
your head as fast as you can. It should be re-titled: How To Write a
Detailed Outline for a Novel in 30 Days, and as I flicked through it I found myself thinking it had some good ideas in it, which led me to another idea ...
So, what will happen if I spend November alternating
between the crazy, no-rules writing of NaNoWriMo and the logical step-by-step
approach recommended by the Guardian?
I’m going to find out!
Is anyone else planning to do NaNoWriMo this year? Or are
you following the Guardian series?
(If you missed Saturday’s print Guardian, the 30 day writing series
– including downloadable worksheets – is available on their website.)
I had to struggle to concentrate on the rest of my shopping
list after overhearing this snippet of conversation in the supermarket:
Woman:I could put
it on a plate for you.
My imagination had a wonderful time throwing up all sorts of
questions and convoluted storylines …
Does she usually make him eat straight off the table to save
Is he a health freak who likes to nibble his lettuce while
it’s still growing in the garden?
Perhaps he’s a messy eater so she normally serves his food
in a big bowl, but her snooty sister is coming round tonight and she
desperately wants to make a good impression.
Did something traumatic happen the last time he had salad on
a plate? Is he afraid of repeating the experience?
Maybe he works at night and takes sandwiches to eat at 2am,
but she longs to send him off with a ‘proper’ meal, carefully arranged on a
china plate. If he agrees, what will his workmates think? How will he carry it
to work? Suppose he cycles there?
So many stories from so few words, but I mustn’t start
another one until I’ve finished some of my current ‘works in progress’. If you’re looking for an idea for a story or poem, please help yourself to
this prompt. I'd love to know what you can make from it!
Some people love it, some people hate it, but it’s no
surprise that all the reviews I’ve seen of J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, the author's first novel for
adults, compare it with her Harry Potter
books. (Apparently the new book has no magic, unlikeable characters, lots of
bad language, explicit sex and violence.)
It would have to be a very remarkable book indeed to match
the success of the Harry Potter series but, because of the name on the cover, The
Casual Vacancy is destinedto become a bestseller no matter what its
literary merits. But I wonder how many people will buy a copy and be
disappointed only because it is so different from HP.
I understand why J.K. Rowling wanted to write an adult
novel. The excitement and challenge of creative writing is – or should be – all
about experimenting with new subjects, different forms and styles. But as she
is never going to be able to escape the ‘Creator of Harry Potter’ label, do you
think she should have:
a)stuck to what she knows is a winning formula
b)published The Casual Vacancy under a pseudonym
c)written an adult novel featuring a grown-up Harry Potter