Writing, the universe, and everything

Planning for NaNo is at the forefront this week; I am determined that I am going to get the 50k finished (I managed it last year) even with the challenges already set out before me…

It seems to me that the older I get the quicker the weekends vanish into the past. This weekend was a rather busy one for me as I got the flat ready for a houseful of visitors and then cleaned up ready for work that is being done to the flat over the coming week. Keeping busy has a way of ensuring that I don’t end up spending half the weekend lying on the sofa having a nap (well-deserved though it might be), instead I cleaned floors and cupboard doors, scrubbed bathroom tiles and tried to revive plants on the balcony that seem to have given up on the idea of life.

All of this hard work has meant that this morning when I left for work the only thing I had to do was take out a bag of rubbish I collected up yesterday afternoon, and then the flat was as tidy as it was after I’d had the professional cleaners in. Sure, there is a bit of dust here and there (this happens when you have a long-haired cat who likes to rub herself over every single thing you own, be it clothing or bookcases), but the floors are clean, the cupboards are clean, the surfaces in the public (or at least visible to guests) areas are clear of junk, and I don’t feel as though there is anything more I can do in order to make it ready for perfect strangers to come in and start ripping up flooring and putting new sealant around the tub.

Yes, you read that right! After four years of longing for it, and three years of asking for it, my landlord is finally putting new flooring down in my kitchen. The current floor is so bad that, since I moved in, I have been laying down large squares of sticky-back plastic to stop the cracks from collecting too much in the way of dirt. Once the floor is done I will feel more confident about baking for other people in the kitchen, and a little less conscious of the fact that there are huge tears all over the floor (just last week a tear appeared in the flooring in front of the fridge, I have no idea how it got there).

I didn’t start this post with the intention of talking about my flooring, or the visit I had from my cousin and her family, during which Darcy actually hissed for the first, and second, time. I started this post with the intention of talking about writing, specifically about NaNo 2017, and how, even though I know it’s going to be a real struggle due to a serious lack of time, I have every intention of taking part (and finishing, though that really depends on luck and time management).

I have been thinking about this year’s NaNo since the end of November last year, when I realised that a lot of the reason I struggled had more to do with poor scheduling than anything else. At some point my story (which wasn’t planned at all) went off the rails, first with the twist that I hadn’t intended to write taking the story off on a tangent, and then with the lack of focus I suffered as a result. For half the month, I didn’t even have a character name, let alone a direction for the story to go in, and then when I finally did have the former, the latter took a strange turn, changing absolutely everything I had already written and throwing me for a creative loop. This year! Well, this year I am determined will be different. Just a week ago I received an email (as, I am sure did everyone else who has signed up to NaNo in the past) from Wesleyan University with the offer of a semester’s worth of NaNo prep. The course made me think more about where I wanted to go with the idea that has been eating away at all my writing thoughts since about January, the characters are sort of formed in my head, and the core of the idea has been well-formed, but I still have a fair way to go, and I think that this course might help with that part of things, focus me on where the story is going, and how I am going to go about ensuring it gets there.

I have a lot to do, work is busy, in fact, November is probably the busiest month where I am currently employed, and then, of course, there is potential freelancing to take into account, but I can’t let either of those things affect the one thing that I have wanted to do (and been trying, to be fair, to do) since I was seven years old and first started writing short stories to amuse myself.

I have come to the realisation that finishing NaNo last year – with a lack of planning, the impulsive sign up (just days before it started), and constantly having to spend days preparing for job interviews – was a stroke of good luck, and a lot of mad panicked writing at the last minute (8,000 words on the last day, no less). This year I want it to be different, if only because November 30th is a Thursday, I am currently employed and have a long commute, and it shouldn’t be so hard to write 1,667 words a day if I structure things properly. Granted, I believed the same last year (without the belief that I’d actually planned anything), and I wasn’t having to get up at 5am to head out for a 12-hour day then, but planning is everything.

This year my motto for NaNo will be Preparation, Planning, Practice and Performance (the 4 P’s of productive working). I have less than two months, and already I can feel the clock ticking down, but I am determined, and I know that I can do it.

Is anyone else planning on joining? Has anyone else done NaNo before? Let me know how you found things/how you intend to prepare for the marathon month of writing.

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