The NaNoRebel Diaries – Week One

So here we are. 8th November. A whole week of NaNo lies behind me. And how many words have I written? *Cue drumroll* Tadadadadadadadada!!!!…..


Oh yeah. I rock…. sigh.

I always knew NaNoWriMo would be tough this year. Especially as it got closer and it became obvious that even though I’d got ahead with my degree, I was never going to finish my essay (due today) before November. And that I have several courses, extra sessions of work and meetings to go to – amazing how these things only come out of the woodwork in such quantity in November! Any other month, it’s a tiny single line formation of downtrodden woodlice waving banners that say ‘you might have to do a few extra hours this month’. But as soon as November comes into view it’s the Peabug Rebel Army: marching in multiple columns, wearing flak jackets and bellowing ‘Abandon All Hope! All The Free Time That You Clung To Has Gone!’ through a loud-hailer.

In true rebel style, none of those 3855 words are from a new novel started just for NaNo. 1665 of them are a story written by twisting an idea I used for a story in the first year of my Creative Writing Diploma. It’s no longer about the leading lady’s father, but her husband instead. Even worse, shock horror, it needs editing and polishing during NaNo because I want to send it off to Writing Magazine’s Marriage theme comp for the 15th.

247 words of them are a Flash Fiction story called My Medicine that I’m sending off  to another WM comp before January, in hopes of winning a book. 1210 are from the serial I’m writing to submit to JukePop Serials – the working title is The Box but I think that will change! 259 words are another Flash about Chocolate for another book-winning WM comp – that will need a major revise after November. And only 474 words, so far, are towards the 50k novella I started during the last NaNo and am determined to finish in this one, ready to be revised, polished and sent off to Maggie Seed at Easy Reads by the end of the year.

Today is my day off but of course I have that pesky essay to write (on Othello, in case you’re vaguely interested. Ok, stop snoring…)

The plan is to get the essay pinned down and begging for mercy by 1 pm, grab a celebratory lunch and then crack on with some writing. So why am I here? *shuffles feet* Good question. Off to the essay…

NaNoWriMo? Non! NaNoRebelo!

‘I’m not doing that again!’ I said to myself. And, if you’ll forgive that writing no-no, the adverb, let me tell you I said it to myself FIRMLY.

View details See? That’s how I looked. Determined. But without the ginger hair. Or the earrings. And admittedly I rarely wear that shade of pink, but then with that hair colour, nor should she.
So what was it that I wasn’t going to do again? I bet you’re all on tenterhoo-

What d’you mean, you’ve guessed?


Ok, so the post title might be a clue. But it wasn’t NaNoWriMo in its entirety that I was rejecting, just the concept of ever attempting it again before I finished my degree. Toooo stressful.

And guess what? The degree is still unfinished. I’m in my last year (although confusingly, not one of my finals years – there’s a certain degree of flexibility with the OU and I left the course I least fancied until last!). Also the other commitments that stalled NaNo last year are still there.  Naturally then, I won’t be doing Nano this year. Nope. NO WAY.

 Well that’s what I kept on saying… until a few weeks ago, when my writing was going well again after a long break, and I had managed to get ahead of my degree course by starting early and only studying what is necessary to get me through the essays (fear not, I’ll study the missed texts before the final exam. It’s not lazy studying, it’s smart studying!). Plus I knew the first few days fall in half-term – so I’ll be working but not in work, making my time more flexible.

But starting something new? Did I have to? I still had last year’s novel to complete, and I’ve been busy trying my hand at a serial and getting back in the swing of writing short stories. I didn’t want to start something new, or develop other novels I had in the note stage, until I had this one doneI’d promised myself it would be ready to send out by the end of the year, and that wouldn’t happen if I started something new.  But I didn’t want to cheat! What to do?

And then I came across this blog post on NaNoWriMo Rebels by Rachel Naquin…and realised NaNo has a legitimate home for me. I AM an Official NaNo Rebel – and proud of it!

If you’re not sure whether you qualify too, check out Am I a Rebel? You can hang out with other NaNo Rebels and tell them How You Are Rebelling.

And if the idea you can rebel and still be ‘proper’ has inspired you to join in -for the first time, or again – listen to this NaNoWriMo Pep Talk by Kristina Horner on YouTube. It made me giggle 🙂



NaNoWriMo Wisdom to Soothe Your Soul

Depending on your viewpoint, either:

“Aargh! Behold, the Dark Day descendeth upon me apace! I am undone! The storm clouds gathereth into a mighty maeslstrom above my head, from under which I canst not dare hope to emergeth unscathed! All that I hold dear shall be wrested away(eth) from my grasp, I will face the Doors I Cannot Pass and smash myself upon them as powerlessly as a low tide does smasheth itself upon some really quite sturdy rocks”


“Hooray! It’s nearly here! I’ve been champing at the bit to start my novel! I can’t wait to enjoy the inspirational companionship of fellow writers all working towards the same marvellous goal !I’m brimming with ideas and scenes! My notebook is full of character sketches and I have the entire novel outlined chapter by chapter in my MyNovel/Scrivener/TheNewNovelist programme!  NaNoWriMo will let me get that first draft finished without fussing about perfection – then I can revise it and this time next year, I’m BOUND to have a book deal – and be writing my next novel in NaNoWriMo 2012!). Bounce, bounce, cheesy grin that makes you want to punch my lights out, BOUNCE!”

Which ever of these is closest to your current mindset – with just 36 hours to go (for those of us in the UK, anyway, who have just swapped back to GMT!), there might be a frisson of panic. What will you eat? How many days sick leave can you really take before your boss turns up at your door bearing an ominous sheaf of papers? What if you forget to feed your parrot (it’ll be like Beth and Pip in Little Women all over again…)?  Say you get stuck in the middle, realise your novel’s rubbish, get the flu, are called away to a remote part of Borneo…

What you need – apart from a few deep breaths, a frothy coffee/stiff drink/insert beverage of your choice, and another week to prepare – is a) an alternative challenge – see the last link below OR b)some tips. Not from me, because I’ve never done it before. It’s the blind leading the blind, down here in cliche canyon.
So instead feast your eyes (see? told you where we were) on the links below, which will lead you to the NaNoWriMo Wisdom of better women than me (although possibly not better at making cheese sauce. I make a wicked cheese sauce).

Jodi Cleghorn’s Tips for Keeping Your Sanity During NaNoWriMo

Writer’s Digest How To Prepare For National Novel Writing Month

Martha Alderson How To Plot Your Writing Time in the Month of November

Alison Wells NaNoWriMo: Write 50000 Words in 30 Days when you don’t have 5 minutes Part 1

or catch up on Larry Brooks NaNoWriMo October Planning Tips – a whole month’s worth of motivation and preparation

If you want to challenge yourself in November but don’t feel NaNoWriMo is for you, take a look here at some alternative challenges from the Harlequin community.

Right. I’m off to finish my mad-coursework-housework and-paperwork(for work)-athon. Tomorrow evening is reserved for the shop-then-cook-four-weeks-worth-of-meals-in-advance-athon. See you in’Mo Madness!