Not the weekend just past, or the weekend before that, but the weekend before that, I wrote another novel.
Well, that’s not strictly true – it was more of a novella, whose final word count was just over 24k. But that’s not bad going for less than 30 hours of work.
Mind you, if you’ve been following the 12 Books saga, you’ll remember that I thrive on writing lots of nonsense to the tune of ridiculous deadlines. ‘Surely you already know you can write a lot in a short period,’ said my dear Mama, ‘isn’t it time for you to finish something?’
She was absolutely right, of course, but I did it anyway. Give me an infinite length of time to edit twelve books and I’ll do it in dribs and drabs as and when the mood takes me, but give me a stupid challenge and I’ll be at my laptop before you can blink.
The project was called NaNoWriWee, and was Kernel Magazine’s answer to NaNoWriMo. A friend told me about it before Christmas and I blithely signed up thinking I had plenty of time to prepare, and perhaps even publicise the fact I was doing it. I then promptly forgot all about it in a haze of mince pies and sleet, until an email landed in my inbox reminding me that I was writing a book at the weekend. ‘Crap,’ I thought, for I had not planned it in the slightest (and had also accepted an engagement to eat tapas with my friends over the weekend). ‘I guess I won’t do it then.’
On the Friday afternoon, I got an email saying that if I wanted, I could go to the write-in at the Kernel offices in London. That was not going to happen, mainly because there’s a 400 mile gap between my house and their office – but for some reason the offer was enough to make me change my mind. ‘I’ll do it,’ I cried, ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’
On the Friday evening, I visited my sister to help write a funding application for Homespun Theatre, then we had a cup of tea and googled romantic cliches. Within about half an hour I had a plan for my novella, which would be about a wannabe romance writer who is struggling to write her debut novel. The idea was that she’s a terrible writer, thus giving me the chance to write a terrible romance (something I enjoy more than I probably should) and frame it within a modern working girls narrative. It would be hilarious and clever and there would be no sex bits because I can’t write those.
Unfortunately, about four hours in I decided I hated this framing device – but because the idea was to get as close to 50,000 words as humanly possible in 30 hours I had to plough on regardless. To reach the target, incidentally, you’d have to do 1666 words per hour – which I briefly thought might be achievable, because I am an idiot. It wasn’t long before I realised that I couldn’t maintain that level of output for any length of time – not without giving myself arthritis, anyway. That’s why it’s taken me so long to even blog about the experience – I’m still getting occasional cramps in my thumb. Although thinking about it, that could be related to a penchant for playing Bejeweled Blitz on my phone…
The most interesting part of this for me was the fact that I finished the story. When I was doing 12 books and hadn’t got much of a notion where I was going, I tended to repeat myself a bit and there were some rather massive plotholes and I didn’t always finish the story. When I did the whole thing from beginning to end in two days, I had a beginning, middle and end – although they obviously needed a lot of work – and it made me think this exercise might be worth repeating in the future.
I haven’t re-read it yet, because I’ve been reading some proper books (since then I’ve read Fremont by Elizabeth Reeder, The Bride’s Farewell by Meg Rosoff and am currently working through The Passage by Justin Cronin) and I’ve been enjoying myself doing so. Also because The Kernel are going to post them all online in the not too distant future so I figure I’ll look at it then, and possibly link you to it too. Then wait for my follower count to plummet as you all realise what a fraud I am…
In the meantime, some of the other people who did NaNoWriWee have written about it. You can read their posts here: