Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Feeling festive yet?

It seemed that no sooner had the Hallowe'en decorations and fireworks disappeared from the shops, than the Christmas cards and paraphenalia were put in their place. In past years, this has thoroughly depressed me and I've lived in denial until at least the middle of the month, only admitting that the holiday break was about to arrive when I celebrated the winter solstice on 21st December.

This year, however, I have to admit that I'm feeling fully festive. I keep catching myself humming 'Let it snow' and 'Santa baby'. I actually started my Christmas shopping in November this year (a miracle in itself).

I've come to the conclusion that what has depressed me in past years has been the amount of money that I felt had to spend on Christmas - presents, food, outings. This year, we're concentrating on spending less but enjoying more.

Having lost a little weight, I will be recycling my Christmas wardrobe. I can now fit comfortably into a 1950s vintage dress that belonged to my mum, which goes excellently with a jewellery set I made last year, and another vintage find, a marcasite daisy ring that fits perfectly with the current trend for cocktail rings.

Christmas will be spent at our home with a menu that suits our palate and our pocket rather than bowing to the pressure to cook the full on turkey dinner.

There'll be less presents this year but they'll be chosen with more care, ensuring that when we open them there are no awkward moments when we try to pretend that they're just what we wanted.

We're even making our own Christmas cards. A couple of days ago, in a storm of glue and glitter (which I'm still removing from various areas of the lounge), my children had a wonderful time creating cards for Grandma.

All in all, Christmas this year will be about family and spending time with those who matter to us, not the people we feel we need to impress or are obliged to entertain.

Enjoy your break, whatever you do. Remember to breathe, and smile.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Writing the old fashioned way

When I was preparing for my November Nanowrimo writing session this year, I decided to write my novel with pen and paper, rather than type it up on my computer.

There has always seemed something luxurious and magical about writing by hand. I find myself becoming so involved in the story that I don't stop to think 'what next' which fits in perfectly with the Nanowrimo ethic of 'just write'.

The temptation to read back is less, partly because of my ornate handwriting which becomes a mesh of loops when I'm writing quickly, but mostly because by writing the words down by hand, I've lived the experience of what I've created and it stays with me. There's no reason, therefore, to read back at this stage. Editing will come later.

The other delight in doing this, especially if like me you use a hardback pad to write in, is seeing your book literally unfold. It's not just a computer file to click on, it's a physical, graspable object that you can flick through to see page (hopefully) after page of your writing.

I have to admit that it isn't so easy to keep the word count but writing like this takes me back to the creative child I was who didn't worry about the length of a sentence or whether that should be a colon or a semi colon. I just wrote, without fear or judgement.

Have a go. Writing by hand is a skill many of us have lost in this age of affordable computers and mobile phone note applications. You may be pleasantly surprised at the results.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

The 'No but' Monster

As you know, November is my month for Nanowrimo - that is, writing a novel in a month. The premise is that you don't hold yourself back editing (re-editing), worrying over chapter plans, character names or anything else that might distract you from the actual process of writing. You just go for it, ploughing ahead, accepting the nonsense and cliched with the possibly brilliant writing too.

Last night, armed with a pen and an A4 pad against the beastly 'No but' Monster and with several cups of coffee, I produced just short of 1,000 words. This was actually the first chapter which my voice of writing reason tells me is too short for a chapter. Ignoring both the monster and the voice, I drew a line under what I had written and tonight will start on the second chapter. I'm behind the daily word count target set by Nanowrimo at the moment but there's still plenty of time to catch up so keep your fingers crossed for me.

Begone ye beasts of procrastination and doubt. My pen is mightier than thou. Well, it will be once I've had another coffee.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

And we're off!

Nanowrimo starts today. I know what I'm writing this year and have the first five chapters planned out of a fantasy novel called 'Open Haven'.

Good luck to all my fellow Nanowrimers. Bring it on!