November is a time when writers around the world around take part in the annual NaNoWriMo challenge. It is something that I have taken part in over the last few years and I was tentatively thinking of taking part again this year. Instead of writing another novel, the idea was to write a number of short stories instead.
I have previously completed the NaNoWriMo challenge twice. My first successful attempt at writing a novel from 2012 is lying in a drawer waiting to be edited. My novel from 2013 is currently being edited and discussed during my MA workshops. The first two chapters written last year has been edited down to one and is my PulpIdol chapter.
Given how busy I am with work and my MA, I have decided to sit NaNoWriMo out this year, as much as I would love to get involved, I just don’t have the time. For those considering doing it, my advice is to do so.
Last year, I entered the PulpIdol first chapter competition, held each year as part of the Liverpool Writing on the Wall Literature Festival. It is something that I have circled in the diary, but it was the first time I had something substantial to submit and I was selected for the heats. I didn’t make it through, but the experience was a good one, especially the chance to meet other writers and to get feedback from the judges who are al published authors. I would say that the experience kick-started my desire to take the more creative writing side a bit more seriously and led to me signing up for my MA.
Fast forward twelve months, the Writing on the Wall Festival and in particular PulpIdol is back, and yet again I submitted a chapter of a novel for the competition. It is one that I had been working on this term during the workshops as part of my MA. It had been polished, restructured and generally bashed about to make it worth listening to (or reading). Again I was successful in making it to the heats.
The heat that I was selected for took place in the wonderful setting of the Liverpool Central Library. There were a number of heats over two nights, as well as an online one. From these they would select ten writers for the final, who would all have the prize of being published in the yearly Firsts anthology.
Having been given my heat, and dodged the bullet of going first (I ended up reading fifth). I sat through a number of really good and interesting first chapters. In my mind I was trying to place mine alongside the others. Once all the chapters had been read the judges sent everyone outside while they had their deliberations as to the three that would go through. Milling around outside gave us the chance to chat to our fellow contestants and a wonderfully supportive bunch they were. I was even chatting to someone who had travelled down from Newcastle to take part, there’s commitment for you. After what was only a short delay, but with the nerves kicking in, it seemed longer. They called us in to hear who had made it through to the final
They called out the first winner, who was sat next to me and while I was congratulating her, they read out my title, and then my name. To say I was shocked was an understatement. I was still taking it in, when they called out the third name, I nearly forgot to applaud him given that I was still processing what was going on.
So I have made it through to the final. Delighted, doesn’t quite cover how I feel after this. The final will select a winner, but knowing that I will be published in the anthology next year, is enough of a reward. Just to be in the final is a great achievement.
Liverpool is again staging its annual Writing on the Wall Festival and as usual, it has an array of interesting talks and events. There is also a writing competition as part of the festival called Pulp Idol, which is now in its fourth year.
For years I have been meaning to enter this competition and this year was no different. The competition sees writers submitting the first chapter of their novel and then read out the chapter in front of an assembled panel of judges at a designated heat.
The finalists work is then compiled into a compendium of work called ‘Firsts’,I read a couple of these in preparation for my submission, to see what styles had been successful in previous years. I decided to enter with a newer chapter of an idea I had on the back burner and not the one that I was working on for Nanowrimo last year.
Having written up my chapter entitled ‘An Eighteen Year Winter’, I entered the competition and I was thankfully shortlisted for the heats which took place in The Kumaba Imani Centre in Liverpool.
Though I made it to the heats, I wasn’t successful in reaching the final stages. Although it was disappointing not to proceed to the next stage (I could see why when reading my work again and from seeing the level of work produced by the other writers). The experience was worthwhile for the feedback received by the judges. I think this has been a worthwhile experience and one that will spur me on to go further with my writing.
Well, thirty days have passed and despite the last week being laid up in bed with the norovirus, I have stumbled over the line and completed NaNoWriMo. It was a good job I was ahead of the word count before the bug hit, otherwise I would be writing about another NaNoWriMo failure. I didn’t post anything at the outset as I was in two minds whether I would it again this year. I also didn’t want to herald another failure. At the last minute, I decided to do it. Thankfully I did as I have now a draft completed.
At this moment I have a feeling of elation, tiredness, and weakness (as a result of the illness). The first draft stands at 50, 067 words, though a quick scan of the finished draft suggests that some of that will be cut from the final version.
The story arc is complete but I now need to give it a thorough edit. Given that it has been written at speed, my pages are awash with green and red squiggles that Word kindly uses to indicate the error of your ways.
This is a long way from being publishable which I am under no illusions at this part of the process. I see this as the something to edit stage. This is more than I had at the start of the month. Which I suppose is the point of the exercise with Nanowrimo.
Here’s to the editing process. Which I am assured is just as painful as sitting down to writing a novel.
My second post on this blog mentioned NaNoWriMo and how I had set myself the task of writing 50,000 words in the month of November.
Today is the halfway point and I should now be bragging about my achievements so far…Well the dog ate it, I left it on the bus… blah blah blah! excuses ad infinitum.
This year, like last year, I was probably a little presumptuous that the work situation would have calmed down by November. That has not been the case, if anything it has become increasingly busier. So with great reluctance, that I have decided to wave the white flag and give up. The novel that everyone supposedly has in them (so the cliché goes) will sadly have to wait for another year.
Though I have written 5000 words for an academic paper in the last few days – though I doubt that will be able to count towards the Nano word count.
Today is the first day of NaNoWriMo and like last year I have tentatively signed up for it. For those that don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it is a novel writing challenge that sees you sign up to write a 50,000 novel in 30-days. Easier said than done? Well last year for me it was, as I struggled to make it over the 25,000-word barrier. This year after much delaying and dithering, I have signed up to it again. Probably expecting work to get in the way again.
Tonight, if I was on course I would be signing off with a daily total of 1667 – so far I have done everything else other than what I was supposed to be doing. Already my idea, one that I have figuratively blown the dust off for this year, is looking like it may be discarded for something else!
It’s still not too late to join in the fun/stress – you will no doubt catch up with my not be revealed paltry total so far. I can be found here on their site (I need to update this too).
If you are still undecided here’s an interesting article on the process of writing