Morning all. Just got back from a very wet walk with MollieDog on the beach and awaiting further storms. So it's a mug of Rooibosh or I can offer PG Tips or herbal, Gold Blend or Tesco's decaff. Not very inspiring here I'm afraid.
This is for all you Na No writers -
Back in 1995 I was among 50 nutters selected to take part in the World One Day Novel competition. (The entry form was devised by Terry Pratchett which tells you something about the kind of person they wanted.)
I got the letter to say I'd been accepted on my birthday. And panicked. My writing group met and we worked out A Plan, which was basically enlarging a short story I'd just had published. Based on the previous year's submissions I think the word count I was aiming at was 20,000 words but I could type fast in those days. But it obviously meant a lot of fleshing out from 12000 words to 20,000. So I walked round the village, reciting the plot, characters etc as I went (we werent allowed to take any notes in to the competition).
On a practical level, it meant travelling to the Groucho Club in London and doing the competition on a laptop. In those days laptops were like gold dust but thankfully my little brother came to the rescue with one from work. He also put me up for the weekend, dear of him.
So at 10 am that Saturday, 50 of us were poised, ready to start writing. We'd been told that the organisers reserved the right to set a subject at the last minute but thankfully they didn't. I was shaking so much that I didn't think I'd be able to type a word, particularly when the event was being covered by Radio Four and other news channels, so I had a huge fluffy microphone stuck under my nose (to hear my manic tapping of the keys, presumably. Either that or my belaboured, hysterical gasping). When we were given the Off my brain went entirely blank and I hyperventilated.
But eventually I got going – and didn't stop till we had to finish at 10 o'clock that night. We started at 10am again the following day, all of us feeling slightly more at home with what we were doing. Several had even gone off on the piss the night before, or what was left of it.
Being someone who always rushes things, I was the first to finish, some time that Sunday afternoon. Having edited and polished, with the few remaining brain cells left, I then staggered to the bar and got drunk courtesy of the Groucho Club, with various other members.
The experience was decidedly zany. It was terrifying, exhilarating and so unlike anything else that I will never forget it. It would have been great to have more time to meet the other contestants, but as it was I became friends with two journalists from the West Country. I then spent a week with my poor system in overdrive, unable to relax.
Looking back, what did I get out of it? Well, nothing that helped my day to day writing. But I did learn how to think – or write - on my feet. Or is that bum? I could type a lot faster – and more accurately – in those days, which helped a lot. I learnt how to plan and edit according to the time I had (not much). And I learnt how to work under pressure. Apart from all that, it was great fun and if asked, and after a few glasses of wine, I'm sure I'd do it again.
So for all of those you doing NaNo – what do you hope to get out of it?