It’s very much run-through-the-neat-piles-of-leaves-like-a-child autumn in Edinburgh now, and that also means it’s nearly NaNoWriMo season. I’m fretting because I’m juggling having one novel under scrutiny, a first draft of another to edit, a couple of short stories on the boil and the seeds of a possible third book and novella. Oh, and I get older and greyer on Monday. But I still need to come up with something to write about for November.
I’m a fantasy writer. Well, urban fantasy to be precise, since Tolkien didn’t see fit to have angry juvenile delinquents punching the hell out of his orc hordes. NaNoWriMo was a great aid to getting vaguely-coherent words out of me, along with the creative writing classes I took a few years ago. But part of the joy of NaNo is also trying different things and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. So I’ve come up with a few genre ideas, but I can’t pin down the one I want to try. Here’s what I have:
– Sci-fi. I went to a brilliant panel at WorldCon on South American SF and got interested in the lecture on Schrodinger’s Cat, the grandfather paradox and Borges. Don’t expect hard SF if I go down this route, though; it’ll be more timey-wimey. And if the current protagonist’s anything to go by, sweary-weary.
– Crime/mystery. I haven’t read very widely in this genre, though. Unless you count spending a forgotten iTunes voucher on a couple of original Lovejoy novels by the unfortunately pen-named Jonathan Gash. They’re fun reads, all the same.
Oh, I don’t know. Knowing me, I’ll decide on November 1st that I’m writing a middle-grade historical novel about Mary Queen of Scots. (Not a bad idea, that. Another excuse to visit Craigmillar Castle…)
In better news, a writer chum on Twitter brought an article to my attention that brings good news to all tortured writers- drink, mess and noise are all good for creativity. This captures my writing environment perfectly, as do the quotes about F Scott Fitzgerald. Take this one, for instance…
“Dazed and wan, he shuffled about the shut-in, unwholesome house in bathrobe and pajamas, pondering his next move.”
Wait…have they been spying on my last NaNo month?
“Interrupting him at work, I remember the illumination of his eye, the sensitive pull around the mouth, the wistful liquor-ridden thing about him.”
Although in my case, it would’ve been more bleary eyes, haggard face and angry liquor-guarding expression whenever my long-suffering husband attempted to get a glass of awful Tesco premixed mulled wine that served as writing fuel. Especially important when research takes you into the history of deeply harrowing, spoilerrific conflicts you’d rather unsee.
(Let’s give an honourable mention to the Writing Diet. It’s similar to the Political Campaigning diet- forgetting to eat, walking long distances, worrying- only with more alcohol.)
Whatever gets written, it’ll be good for flexing the writing muscles, as well as cheap therapy. As Mr. Fitzgerald says:
“You’ve got to sell your heart, your strongest reactions, not the little minor things that only touch you lightly, the little experiences that you might tell at dinner.”
Can’t wait to hear what everyone else’s NaNoWriMo ideas are…