Friday, November 23, 2007

How (not to) write a novel in a month (Part Two)

How (not to) write a novel in a month (Part Two)

For Part One visit here.

Day Four:

The plan for today had been to write approximately double my daily word count in order to compensate for the inevitable non-writing disaster of Day Five. Obviously having such a plan was tantamount to asking for my balloon to be popped. Instead of my novel I end up - to the strains of Dermot O'Leary on the X Factor repeat because I heart him - doing lots of typing that has nothing to do with NaNo and more to do with a Listed Building being accidentally knocked down.

At 5.00pm I settle down to write. I write a few words. My phone rings. I speak to Dean for an hour. Some of that time is spent discussing his cleaner. I write for two hours. More importantly I watch Top Gear and almost cry when Richard Hammond's car, gloriously named Oliver, almost dies. As is possibly all too clear I enjoy this slightly too much, though appease myself with the knowledge that one of the leading characters in Ilyria is named Oliver and therefore Richard Hammond and I are on the same wavelength. Less enjoyably I watch half of Long Way Down, and give up when I discover that I am moaning about how badly - and uninterestingly - it has been edited together.

I write a few hundred words before bed, noting however that I am now 500 words behind and Black Monday hasn't even happened yet.

Word Count at Start of Day: 4,873

Word Count at End of Day: 6,016


Day Five:

At 9.25am I am sat on a train in Leeds station. At 10.00am Dean rings me to find out what time I will be arriving in London. I am still sat at Leeds station and say I do not know. Eventually it turns out that a train has broken down at Wakefield and no trains are leaving Leeds station in that direction until it has been moved. I continue sitting on the train at Leeds station until 10.50am. When the ticket inspector comes round he hands out compensation forms. The couple in front of me do not understand why they are being given out. I think that this means their compensation should come to me. Just after we have passed through Doncaster a hat box falls off of the storage rack and hits the woman next to me on the head. I end up administering first aid on the train. Afterwards I consider whether I should have just stayed in bed.

Arrive in London and Dean and I whizz down to the V&A where we are keen to use our recently purchased membership to re-visit the Couture Exhibition (number of dresses I would like to have stolen: too many). We then attempt to find the mythical members only room, my pointing out the flaw in Dean's plan being that he is holding the map upside down. After climbing the stairs to the top of the building and making our way through a couple of exhibitions we are becoming slightly puzzled as to the whereabouts of the room. Only when we are in the final section of the glass exhibition do we notice that there is something special about the mirrored wall at the end of the room. There is a door! To the Members Only Room! We go through the mirror and I feel the expenditure was entirely worth it in order to feel like Alice. Predictably the members' room is rather beautiful, all comfy purple seating, squashy sofas, with a mezzanine level with tables and bookshelves. Automatically I decide that I want to come and write here. There is also a lady on hand to sell you cake and proper coffee, and because there are only four other members in the space, there is no queue! I feel very decadent, but also good because my membership is saving the world (or contributing to the V&A at least).

Afterwards we walk to Oxford Street (only briefly being distracted by the window in Ralph Lauren's Children's Store) where, after a quick poke around Borders Dean heads off to work and I meet Nik who is just finishing. We go to Hammersmith and find a very nice pub and a sofa. After dinner we go to the Hammersmith Apollo to discover that their cloakroom has a policy of allowing you to fill a black plastic bag and charging it as one item. Being from Yorkshire I predictably adore this idea, though resolve not to suggest it for the WYP cloakroom. On entering the auditorium discover that the Apollo is raked. Raise the possibility that this might be my favourite venue ever (even if they miss a trick by not selling ice cream during the intermission).

Unexpectedly end up enjoying The Fray's support act (The Days) rather a lot. Come to the conclusion during The Fray's set that they have two corkers of songs, a couple of good ones, and the remaining are much of a muchness. Nevertheless adore their 'Wonderwall' singalong, get tingles during the the unaccompanied audience choir of the final chorus of 'How to Save A Life' and feel that I might burst during 'Cable Car [Over My Head]', not only because I adore the song and they place it perfectly, but because all the memories it evokes of this summer, playing in the upstairs kitchen, rush down on me. Wish, for a second, I could bottle the moment.

Almost have an argument with one of the security men who will not let both Nik and I go to the cloakroom. I refuse to go outside without my coat and, in a combination of annoyance and desperation, he lets me through. Subsequently have a mini tube adventure getting from Hammersmith to Tooting Bec due to line closures. Resolve that I should not travel at all in future.

Do not write a single word.

Word Count at Start of Day: 6,016

Word Count at End of Day: 6,016

Day Six:

Have a bewilderingly easy train journey back to Leeds and wonder what the Gods of Travel retribution have in store as payback for this.

Discuss new hours and rota at the WYP, in place because Vintage Queen is leaving us. Realise that I will be working Friday and Saturday nights until the end of time.

Feel slightly grumpy about being in work - not to mention tired at all the travelling and travel related disasters experienced in the last 24 hours - and resolve to give myself a NaNo break to let myself recover.

Manage to find myself in a situation where, at 11.00pm, I am ordering ice creams.

Word Count at Start of Day: 6,016

Word Count at End of Day: 6,016

Day Seven:

Am lazy and sleep in. Subsequently greet the Postman with a towel on my head for the second time in less than a week.

Play about with word count and calculator to establish just how far behind I now am and how many words a day I would need to write in order to catch up with this. Stop when I realise that this is just anal and, also, a little bit scary.

Write a little bit like a maniac.

Word Count at Start of Day: 6,016

Word Count at End of Day: 8,504

Day Eight:

Set myself a target of 3,000 words for the day. Also decide to combine NaNo and my Facebook obsession by adding my tally to my status update, if only to shame myself. Instead of doing anything which will help either I blog about YouTube videos of people I know. And - then! - rather than just watching Neighbours I get sucked into what is possibly the best written episode of Doctors I have ever seen (not, of course, that I watch Doctors). Though I do get very, very irate when the Doctor fails to treat someone suffering from anaphylactic shock correctly because the last thing you should do for someone who is conscious but struggling to breathe is keep them lying on their back. Shoddy.

Start writing and realise that, now I've discovered something of a rhythm with my novel, I can, in a good hour, write 600 words. Consequently manage to finish my word quota for the day before I break for dinner. Finally start to make a dent in my word deficit and discover, in the process, a wonderful inner monologue from a background character that I really hadn't expected.

I physically have to stop typing because I have acute right arm ache.

Word Count at Start of Day: 8,504

Word Count at End of Day: 11,520

Day Nine:

Get up knowing that I need to finish my word quota for the day by 5.00pm or else I am buggered. Manage 400 words before lunch and mark this as something of a success.

Have an issue with the ballcock in the toilet which requires me i)to get wet and ii)to almost be a plumber. When the water has finally stopped pouring a proper plumber can be called. He resolves to come tomorrow. I realise that my ingenius plumbing solution means that the only way to flush the toilet now is with the aid of a bucket. It is possible that I may not make it as a plumber. NaNo is now surely more important than ever.

Post Neighbours do some more frantic writing. At 3.30pm I get an error message. Word must shut down, would I like to send an error report? I realise with a quick flash of what I can only describe as utter terror that I have not saved my writing all day. I am to lose 900 words. I almost cry as word shuts itself down.

I contemplate turning George off and leaving today as a no-word day. After a few minutes recognise this as being petulant and mildly diva-ish so decide to see how much of the writing I can construct from memory.

It turns out that this is much easier than just having to make everything up on the spot.

Hit my word quota by 5.00pm (though I am now hitting save even more frequently than I'm hitting 'word count') and am resolutely smug.

Put on a dress and go and see Noel Coward's Brief Encounter with Cat and Val, which not only features a trampoline and some comedy balloons but also rather breaks my heart and I end up sobbing, aware that my shoulders are about to start shaking if I continue in such a manner.

Word Count at Start of Day: 11,520

Word Count at End of day: 13,219

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