Friday, November 30, 2007

BattleJesus, Nanoisms and Cat People

November 30th: it's a strange old day. The wind is starting to gust and darkness is descending, even though it is mid afternoon. In our family, Christmas starts on December 1st, with the tree and decorations in place on the first Sunday of the month. I have an extensive collection of Christmas socks, and tomorrow I get to wear the new pair I bought last year. There's no rhyme or reason to all of this. It's simply a case of tradition.

Every year, as I leave November behind, I feel a sense of something beginning. I love Christmas: the build-up; the preparation; the excitement. Yet today, for the first time, I am sad that November is coming to a close, for it is the end of my first NaNoWriMo. It marks the return to reality.

However, I have no intention of lamenting this event, for it has been the best thing I have done in a long time. I place it alongside my children and my degree in the sense of achievement and self I have gained from it. As the clock strikes midnight tonight, I will rejoice in having completed a novel of just over one hundred thousand words in length, that I am reasonably happy is a decent first draft. It took two weeks of writing and two weeks of editing. I like the plot, know the characters well and look forward to returning to the novel in a week or so to start my first real edit.

Contrary to the way in which NaNoWriMo was presented on Radio Four's Today programme, many skilled and determined writers take part and go on to finish their novel. Evidently, such an undertaking means that the end product is a little rough, doesn't quite make sense here and there, is subject to sudden changes in plot and produces some spectacular typos. There is a forum thread on the NaNoWriMo site that allows writers to share their novel bloopers, known as 'Nanoisms', some of which are incredibly funny to other 'Nanos', but probably not to anyone else. These things happen when a community comes together - the in-jokes and the sense of sharing something that no-one else is a part of. It is what makes NaNoWriMo special.

As I write this blog, I am keeping an eye on the Chat Room, where many writers are battling through the final hours of the month, teeth gritted, the finish line in sight. It is a well monitored, spam free place where conversation is positive, light-hearted and always encouraging. It is also where the bot known as BattleJesus (BJ to his friends) resides and it is his fault I am writing this blog in the first place, for he is programmed to time Word Wars (where Nanos compete to write as many words as possible in a set time), provide prompts and quotes to stimulate ideas and to make decisions based on a number of user provided options (how he decided I should write this blog). I won't miss the chat room as I won't be leaving it when today is done. Here I have made new friends and I anticipate that it will be fun to share with them in the build up to NaNoWriMo 2008.

I'm not at liberty to discuss cat people, other than to say that I have enjoyed reading other people's excerpts, as well as the one completed novel that has been sent my way thus far and I'm looking forward to seeing where the cat people end up in the edit almost as much as working with my own main characters further. I might even give them a sequel.

And so, I say goodbye to NaNoWriMo 2007, with fondness and a little sadness, but tomorrow is another day. I am grateful for the patience and encouragement that has been afforded me over the past month, for it has given my writing the jumpstart it needed. For now I lay down my pen, certain that when I next pick it up I will know what to write, and if I don't, I'll ask BJ.

Inner Editor returns, and isn't too pleased with what she finds. This is an abysmal post, lacking in both quality and quantity. Could do better. Go to the bottom of the class.

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