October Blog: Attrition

The collective anticipation of NaNoWriMo is almost palpable.  Only one more day and then the manic month of writing begins. I have no reservations about participating in NaNo this year. Yes, it’s a tough slog and certainly not without its stresses but it’s also an opportunity to get a good chuck of a first draft done.  Of course, writers don’t need NaNoWriMo in order to write but it’s a great motivator to write daily and work towards a set target within a specific time frame. The sense of community and encouragement is also hugely beneficial.   It certainly works for me. I’m a planner; I like to have a basic roadmap of where my story is going but I’m more than happy to take detours along the way. In fact, that’s where a lot of the good stuff happens but having a map means I can check every so often if I’m still going in the right direction. I know who my central characters are but no doubt they’ll end up surprising me along the way too, as they usually do.

I’ll start tomorrow (1st November) with a word count of zero and hope to have at least 50K words written by the end of the month. That’s 1666 words daily, though I’ll aim for a little bit more if possible. It’s actually not that much to write on a single day but for thirty consecutive days it certainly becomes a challenge, especially when coupled with a full time day job.  It means I’ll be a recluse for the month, though that’s not terribly different to the other eleven months of the year to be honest. Fifty thousand words won’t be a complete novel but it will be a good chunk of it done and my aim is to have a full first draft finished before Christmas. As with any first draft, I’ve given myself permission to write absolute rubbish and not obsess too much over the nitty gritty details- that can all be done in later drafts.

Given that NaNo becomes all-consuming, at least for me, I’ll have to park my other projects for the time being. The Romanov Sisters have been waiting for nearly a century, a few more weeks won’t hurt.  That said, if I’m lucky enough to have a burst of creativity regarding a particular project I’ll certainly embrace it but my main focus will be the new novel. It is an historical suspense story, inspired by real life events, called Attrition.  The action spans from a double murder in the late 1920s in rural Ireland to Operation Pied Piper during the Blitz of World War II. The story centres on the murder of two children by a housemaid who, while found guilty, evades the death penalty due to being a minor herself.  I have to admit I’m very excited about the story and can’t wait to see it develop over the coming weeks.

Besides my NaNo preparation I also reviewed several performances for the Dublin Theatre Festival, which to be honest was a bit of a mixed bag this year.  That said, it’s great to see a variety of different shows and I did get to review the absolutely amazing The Circus Animals’ Desertion, presented by Brokentalkers. My other reviews can be read here: Ancient Rain, Death at Intervals, Donegal, This is Not a Love Story, The Last Siren.

In the midst of all of that my creative writing course came to a close and I have to say I really enjoyed facilitating it. All going well, the course will probably run again in the spring and I’ve already had some enquiries about it. The 6 weeks flew by and it doesn’t seem like that long ago when I was contemplating putting the course together.

As if all of that wasn’t enough to keep me busy I changed my day job in October too. After 15 years in frontline clinical care I’ve made the move into health promotion. A change is as good as a rest, or so I’m told. As with any change it will take me some time to get used to it but so far, so good. It will be a new chapter in my life and no doubt bring with it challenges and opportunities. So, until I can make a fulltime living from writing, that’ll be my bread and butter.

Good luck to anyone who’s participating in this year’s NaNoWriMo and let me know how you’re getting on with it. Imagine, this time next month I’ll have the guts of the first draft of Attrition written. Wish me luck!

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