November, for those not in the know, is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. I decided back in September that I’d give it a go this year, as it’s been a long held dream to write a novel. I love all forms of writing (mostly) but at times that does leave me feeling a bit like a jack of all trades but master of few. That said, I feel all writing skills are transferrable, so knowledge of one form can certainly be used in another. Regardless, I felt I was in a good position this year to give NaNoWriMo a shot, as I had completed my screenplay Grand and I was in the process of redrafting my short play The Fruit of Her Hands. To be honest my original plan was to use NaNo as a platform to get into a daily writing routine. My usual routine is writing on consecutive days in bursts but not EVERY SINGLE DAY. So that was my goal for NaNo and I figured I’d give myself a deadline of 500 words per day (as I knew that was manageable, given that most of the blog posts and reviews I write are approximately 500 words, and it felt like a good number to me). Even though 500 words a day is less than the NaNo goal of 1667 words per day, it would mean that I’d have 15000 words by the end of November and that’d be a great basis on which to construct my novel. I’m a planner, so I had an idea in mind and I set about making tentative notes. I worked out 5 storybeats, covering the beginning, middle and end, also including two plot points. Job done, so I set it aside and as November approached I thought about it every so often, making another note for the story whenever something interesting came to mind. The idea began to take a firmer shape in my mind and I genuinely felt it was a good story, my main concern was will I be able to write enough about it.
The idea for my novel, which is currently titled Bitten By A Dog On Tuesday, came from the media and real life, as a lot of ideas do. Over the course of 2015 I’d read (or tried to avoid) articles in the press about animal cruelty. There seemed to be a spate of incidents, each as atrocious as the next. I won’t even go into them here but all it takes is a quick browse online, and I’m sure it’s not isolated to Ireland. I was aghast at some of the cruelty carried out by humans. I’d class myself as an animal person; I love them but I still eat meat kind of person. Cody, my Jack Russel Terrier, is snuggled into me right now as I type this. Anyway, reading some of these articles online I would invariably read the comments section and most of the comments would naturally be from people who were horrified by what they had read. A common enough comment, at least a few times per article, was more-or-less Someone should do the same to them. And the reality is, I agreed with that sentiment. That got me thinking, what if somebody did do that. And that’s where Bitten By A Dog On Tuesday sprang from.
So, come November 1st I sat down to write 500 words and I ended up reaching the NaNo goal of 1667. A great start and I was delighted. More importantly, the story flowed a lot easier than I had thought and I figured I should at least try to write 1667 every day. And I did. In fact, on average I wrote more than that (though there were a few days I was below par). And yesterday, 28th November, I passed the goal of 50K words. FIFTY THOUSANDS WORDS. Naturally, the story changed and developed as I wrote it, as it always does. I was glad of having my brief plan written out and I used it as a guideline whenever I got a bit stuck. It was a struggle at times and some days I felt everything I wrote was utter rubbish but I WROTE IT. Which is the main thing for a first draft. Get SOMETHING on the page. I found it emotionally difficult at times too, as it meant re-reading some of those horrific articles about animal cruelty and plotting the human equivalent into my story. Is it any wonder I have nightmares? That’s not the only thing the story is about however; it also deals with familial relationships and young people who have fallen by the wayside. Overall I have to say, I’m delighted with myself. The story isn’t finished yet but I aim to have the full first draft completed by mid-December, and then I’m going to step back from it over the festive season, returning to begin my redrafts in the new year. In short, expect to hear me rabbit on about it for the next few months.
As I mentioned in my October blog, I was going to the Waterford Film Festival at the beginning of November. I was blown away by the standard and quality of the short films being made around the country (and some from abroad). Beautifully told stories, full of heart, humour, and drama. I really enjoyed it and it was made even better when my screenplay Lacewing, came runner up in the Short Script Competition. Lacewing is a story I love, so I was thrilled, and I’d love to develop it into a feature film or a TV series. That’s on the back burner right now though. I, somehow, managed to finish my short 1916 themed play The Fruit of Her Hands and I’ve submitted it to a competition, so fingers crossed that I’ll be successful there. It would be amazing to see it performed on the stage in Dublin as part of the 1916 centenary celebrations.
As you can tell, it’s been a busy month! Okay, back to the novel for me. And until it’s done, I’m calling it Waiting for BBADOT. *groan*