ROW80 Check-In 30/10/2011

Well I said I wouldn’t but I changed my mind.  I’m probably mad to do it but I signed up for NaNoWriMo.  I’m already writing my second novel entitled Emily Swann but I couldn’t resist the challenge of trying to write a first draft of a novel in a month.  I thought about it and thought about it and I couldn’t get the idea out of my head so against my better judgement I decided to jump in and try.  I’ve never done it before and I’m not sure it’s such a good idea to try and write two first drafts at the same time but never mind.  The worst thing that can happen is that I don’t achieve anything on either project and although that would be depressing, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

My trouble is that I have so many book ideas.  I was counting them up and writing them down yesterday and I have ideas for another five full length novels, not including the one I’m working on now, plus an idea for a screenplay; I never struggle to come up with ideas, its just finding the time to write them all down!

But enough of that.  This week I achieved a word count of 4,200 which I’m very pleased with.  I didn’t do all my blog posts; I missed Wednesday’s check-in because I wasn’t feeling very well and I was supposed to blog yesterday but I actually forgot about it!  Have been reading the poem a day, sometimes more than one, which is good.  Next month I’m cutting the blog posts to two a week and that will probably just be the check-ins.  Because I’ve upped my word count, I’ve been reading a lot less though I think I’ll make January a reading month.  I usually get a book token or Amazon voucher for Christmas so I’ll buy some good books and read them in January; should have a bit more time then too.  I want to stick to my target of 500 words a day for Emily Swann but I’ll need to do 1,700 words a day on NaNoWriMo to finish 5000 words in a month.

I’ll probably aim for 2000 words a day on NaNoWriMo because there’s bound to be days when we have to go out shopping or something and if I just do the bare minimum everyday I’ll end up falling behind.  But it just means I’ll have to do 2,500 words a day and the thought is giving me palpitations!  Wish me luck!

Protesting outside St Pauls

I have just seen on the news and read in the paper that nine out of ten tents outside St Pauls are unoccupied at night because the protesters moan that it’s too cold.  Aah, poor diddums!  Not a very hardlined protest then, is it?  And they’re supposed to be protesting about globalisation while all the time they’re eating in MacDonalds and buying their coffees in Starbucks!  Not to mention the fact that they’re in the wrong place; I understand they couldn’t get to the stockmarket, but if you’re protesting about the behaviour of bankers, then shouldn’t you be outside a bank?  I don’t see the point of this protest; I picketed outside the South African Embassy in the 1980s as part of the free Nelson Mandela Campaign and obviously I saw the point of that.  But this protest?  I’m sorry but I don’t get it.

ROW80 Check-In 23/10/2011

Success!  I have, for the first time, achieved all the things I set out to do.  Firstly I wrote everyday, then I read at least one poem a day and I managed four blog posts this week.  Have written over 2500 words for my novel Emily Swann this week!  Feeling very proud of myself.  I must say that this ROW thing is really working for me.  Knowing that I have to account for myself has made me a hell of as lot more productive!

For Wednesday I aim to have written over 2000 words of Emily Swann and I’m sticking with the reading a poem a day thing.  Also going to try to stick with the four blog posts a week.  I also wrote out a cast list of all the characters in Emily Swann yesterday which led me to discover that I’d invented a character a couple of weeks ago and forgotten about her since then!  Oops!  Will hopefully sort that out when I start the editing process.  Don’t know about anyone else but I can’t edit as I go; I have to write a first draft and then go back and start editing it.  If I finish the first draft of Emily Swann by Christmas then I plan to do all the editing from January till June, ideally finishing by my birthday on the 2nd of June, if not, then by my wedding anniversary on the 20th of June.

Ignorance is bliss?

There is a trend I have been noticing lately that I find frankly alarming, and that is the idea that it is a good thing to be ignorant.  I don’t expect everyone to be dead keen on studying or to be a bookworm; of course different people are into different things but I would like to think we all have a certain degree of general knowledge.  Unfortunately I have recently discovered that I have been sadly wrong.  In a fairly recent episode of Come Dine With Me some silly bitch declared that she “would rather be streetwise than know the Capital of Rome!”  Don’t you mean the Capital of Italy?  How thick can you be and still be breathing?  Yes, there is a value to being streetwise and it’s not much use to anyone to be an ivory towered scholar who knows nothing of the real world but it doesn’t help to be thick as a brick either!  On a separate programme someone apologised to Katie Price for being “a history nerd” as she put it.  She was immediately thrown off the show.  But what gets me is why did she feel the need to apologise for having an education?  Since when has this become a bad thing?

I realise that some people have dyslexia and other learning disabilities which makes it difficult for them to achieve high standards of education but what appals me is that so many young people today seem to think that education and learning are a waste of time and that any young people who are vaguely intellectual get ridiculed because of it.  Since when has it become a good thing to be ignorant?  How did being thick become cool?  Is this something young people really want to emulate?  God help us all if it is!

Ethnic Cleansing on Dale Farm?

I was watching the news with my wonderful hubby yesterday and, in case you’ve been living in a cave, Dale Farm is this Traveller’s site which was put up without any sort of planning permission and now the Council have been through the courts and won the right to evict the travellers.  The bailiffs have been called in and are slowly clearing the site.  Now some idiot who either is a traveller or was speaking for them, I’m not sure which, was on the phone talking to the news reporter and he said this was ‘ethnic cleansing’.  I have never heard a more stupid statement in my life!  He does not know what he’s talking about.  Yes, it’s sad that some people are being made homeless but it is not ethnic cleansing. No-one has died!  Ethnic cleansing is a term using to describe killing people because they are from a ethnic group that you hate.  Saying this about Dale Farm is an insult to the families of those who have been killed.  For God’s sake; Dale Farm is a bunch of people being evicted.  And I fail to see why, if we law-abiding citizens have to apply for planning permission, that people who live in caravans don’t.  Justice is the same laws for everyone and if it’s one law for them and one law for us then it isn’t justice.  And it certainly isn’t ethnic cleansing.

ROW Check-In 19/10/2011

Right, I managed 700 words on Sunday plus a blog post; only did 200 words on Monday and did about 650 yesterday so not doing too badly.  Started a ‘reading a poem a day’ thing that I saw on the net somewhere, so I read W.B. Yeats’ An Irish Airman Foresees His Death.  Need to do more reading; am currently reading Charlotte Bronte’s Shirley and I must admit I’m finding it quite hard going.  I chose it because it’s from a fairly similar period to the one that my own novel, Emily Swann is set in, so it sort of serves as background research.  I’m also reading Our Tempestous Day by Carolly Erickson which is a history of Regency England and while waiting for my husband in the doctors the other day I read the first two chapters of The Spy Who Came In From The Cold by John Le Carre.

Realised rather stupidly that the check-ins for ROW80 are going to count as two blog posts so am going to try to do two other blog posts as well.  Eventually I want to train myself to blog everyday but I think that might take a while as I’m terminally lazy.  My excuse is in my horoscope I have no planets in the element of fire which always makes it very hard to motivate myself.  I also have a grand trine in water which means that I’m sensitive, dreamy and creative but not very practical or that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

ROW80 Sunday Check-In

Okay I missed Wednesday’s check-in so apologies for that; it’s hard for me to work out how many words I’ve done because I’m doing the first draft by hand but I’ve worked out I do about three hundred words to a page so I’ve done about seven pages this week which works out at about two thousand words.  If I do my 500 words a day then it should be 3,500 words so I fell short a bit but at least I made progress.  I would like to do 1,000 a day so I’d be hitting 7,000 a week but there you go.  Struggled a bit this week with character viewpoint; have reached a really crucial scene where an attempted murder takes place and can’t quite decide whether to write it from the point of view of the victim or the attacker;  might try re-writing it from the other point of view just to see what it looks like.

Did manage my two blog posts a week, might see if I can up that to three a week next week.  If it doesn’t work I can always scale it back.

So targets for next week are 1) three blogs posts and 2) 4,000 words of novel Emily Swann plus re-write from different point of view of attempted murder scene.  Now I written it down I’ll feel guilty if I have to explain to you all that I couldn’t be bothered to shift my lazy a**e!

ROW80 Writing Goals

Okay, I’ve joined this ROW80 thing.  It’s a movement where writers get together four times a year starting in April, then July, then October, then January; you sign up for eighty days and you post your writing goals so you can get and give encouragement to each other.  Wednesdays and Sundays are check-in days where everyone posts how they’re doing.  I think this is a pretty good idea because it makes us all accountable to each other.  It’s like exercising; you more likely to do it if you know you’re personal trainer is coming round tomorrow.  Well this exercise/movement is like having a personal trainer for your writing.

My goals are to finish the first draft of Emily Swann by Christmas and to blog at least twice a week.  I plan to write at least five hundred words a day; 1,000 on a good day and nothing on a bad day.  Yesterday was a bad day unfortunately and I didn’t write a word.  Oh dear.  Hopefully today will be a better day but I must admit I haven’t started yet.

Becoming a Writer

I’ve always been a scribbler; I won a school poetry competition at eight years old (so far the only time I’ve won a literary prize) but I never considered myself a writer.  I wrote poetry in my teens and imaginary song lyrics for my imaginary band but I always saw people who wrote books as some sort of magicians with mystical powers that someone like me obviously didn’t have.  Writers were an elite; something that us ordinary mortals could aspire to but never be.  It wasn’t until I became a mature student at the grand old age of thirty seven that my attitude changed.

In the first year of my history degree we had to do a second subject, which at the time pissed me off because there was nothing else I wanted to study.  Then I noticed they did creative writing so I thought ‘What the hell, I’ll give that a try.’  It was strange being with other writers discussing our work, reading other people’s stuff and bitching about other people’s work.  But for the first time I realised that writers were just ordinary people who wrote and I could be one too.  More shockingly, I realised that I was, in fact, probably already a writer; I just hadn’t realised it.

I think that a massive part of being a writer is developing the right mind set.  When I was a teenager I was totally evasive about my writing and would never have shown any of it to anyone but there is a process of self acceptance that you have to go through to become who you are.  We all do it but it took me so long to say “I’m a writer.”

Wiiliam Shakespeare

Okay, it’s soapbox time; I’m here today to discuss one of my pet hates and that is the ridiculous idea that anyone, other than Shakespeare himself, wrote Shakespeare’s plays.  It is the biggest load of nonsense going and worse, it is nothing but pure snobbery.  Its just a bunch of stuck up morons who don’t want to believe that some commoner from Stratford could possibly wrote such works of utter genius.  But why not?  The upper classes do not have a monopoly on genius and for that matter Shakespeare himself was not as common as they make him out to be.  His father was mayor of Stratford so he was not an uneducated peasant.

I must give thanks to Bill Bryson because a lot of the facts I’m about to quote come from his book entitled “Shakespeare”.  His last chapter is on the conspiracy theories surrounding the plays authorship and I quote “So it needs to be said that nearly all of the anti-Shakespeare sentiment – actually all of it, every bit – involves manipulative scholarship or sweeping mistatement of fact.” ( Shakespeare, Bill Bryson, p. 180, 2008)

The anti Stratford brigade say that there were no mentions in contemporary documents of Shakespeare as a author but this is just a flat lie.  “In the Master of Revels’ accounts for 1604-5 – that is, the record of plays performed before the King, Shakespeare is named seven times as the author of plays performed before James I.  He is named as author of several quarto editions of his plays and John Webster identifies him as one of the greatest playwrights of his age in his preface to The White Devil.”  (Shakespeare, Bill Bryson, p. 181, 2008)  The number of ridiculous candidates put forward as ‘the real author’ gets sillier with every telling.  Some say Elizabeth I herself was the real author although where she found the time is not explained.  Francis Bacon is a favourite candidate despite the fact that in his private notebooks he repeatedly goes on about how much he hates the theatre.  The Earl of Oxford is another favourite despite the fact that he rather inconveniently died before all the plays were written.

I let Bill Bryson have the final word; “One really must salute the ingenuity of the anti-Stratford enthusiasts who, if they are right, have managed to uncover the greatest literary fraud in history, without the benefit of anything that can be reasonably called evidence, four hundred years after it was perpetrated.” (Shakespeare, Bill Bryson, p. 195, 2008)