Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Guest post: StaceyM

Hi - I’m Stacey, a writing buddy of Mark’s from Authonomy and NaNoWriMo. Mark asked me to write a piece for his blog and I’ve leapt at the chance.

I love goals. Goals get me out of bed on dark December mornings (today being one of them); goals get the housework done; goals get me through each day in nice bite-sized chunks of manageability.

You see - from April 2008 to October 2010, I was a patient in a psychiatric hospital. I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and, for most of my time in hospital, I had no goals. That’s a lie, my goal was to kill myself because I couldn’t see any purpose in continuing with life as it stood. A life without goals - not a pretty place to be.

From the age of 8, I loved writing stories, and it was my goal to write a book. At the age of 10/11, I did just that (30 pages of drivel half-plagiarised from the books I read at that time). Somewhere along the way, my goal of being a famous author turned into a dream and nothing more. We forget dreams after a while.

At the start of 2010, I’d had enough of a goal-less life and I dug out a notebook and pen and started scribbling. I suffered a few set-backs but I made it out of hospital and I scrimped and saved in order to buy myself a laptop (I’m one of those writers who does best with a keyboard instead of a pen). My goal for 2011 was to finally write that book. Then I heard about NaNoWriMo and set myself a deadline of October to finish Book 1, so I could write Book 2 in November.

My NaNovel sucks. I love to read chick-lit but I’ve learnt it’s not my writing style. I won’t scrap my 50953 words, but I will re-write the whole thing again at some point. Book 1 (Hospital Corners), however, well that’s a different story. My current goal is to complete the second draft by Christmas. By the end of 2012, it’s my goal to have published the book in some form or another. It might be “just” an e-book, but it will be out there, proving that goals are just dreams that need waking up.

Mark says: You can check out Stacey's blog here: The part-time writer I haven't been following her blog - we only 'met' during NaNo - but I'm now enjoying reading her posts and have bookmarked Hospital Corners on Authonomy to check out.

It is great to meet someone who is further along the road than I am - a couple of books written and now editing/rewriting one - and who has a clear goal and plan. Go Stacey!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Marriage in Scotland

I left this late but put my views to the Scottish Governments consultation on marriage this evening.

Scottish citizens have until tomorrow: Friday 9th December to also register their views at:

Care for Scotland have produced a briefing document on the consultation which some may find useful.

Goal 89: To change laws for the better

Saturday, 3 December 2011

NaNoWriMo - now it is over it has only just started

I signed up for NaNoWriMo at the beginning of September - exactly three months ago.

I signed up on a whim. I had wondered about trying it the previous year but was conflicted as I was still intending to get re-started on Fallen Warriors. I got nowhere with Fallen Warriors and after I finished the Open University's Creative Writing Course in June stopped writing altogether.

That was okay over the summer as I had promised my family I would take a break but the break was showing no signs of leaving me feeling like writing. I was dry; dead inside. My creative spark had gone damp. I figured I might as well give NaNoWriMo a go. I had nothing to lose and my Fortieth birthday deadline for my three life goals was only getting closer.

I got the welcome email and began to relax. NaNo was all about just getting on with it. Writing without worrying about which word was going to come next. Writing without a care. Writing - and it's been a long time since I've done this - just for fun!

Is that allowed? Writing for fun? Why shouldn't it be. Isn't that why we do anything we really want to. Because we enjoy it; for the buzz?

I started to buzz. I began to have ideas; made plans; stayed up late writing when ideas took me.I started three new stories, even finished one of them. I produced 15,000 words. I wasn't writing every day but I was building up stamina, proving myself, finding out what I was capable of.

Then November started.

The first week went well. I even managed 2,600 words in two hours at the end of that week. I had written out twenty potential scenarios and ideas that could kickstart me if I struggled but I mostly didn't need them. I found that the vague characters that I'd envisaged before began to take shape. Events needed to happen that I hadn't considered before and while they may not survive to the final draft - they gave life to the characters and helped me believe in the world I was creating.

The second week was tougher. I took longer - found it harder to write without considering the implications. I didn't have longer but somehow in the third week got by. Churned out the word count at all costs. It was too much. Before the third week started had to admit that I needed to reprioritise. I focused more on my family and work and allowed myself to ease up. It helped. I got through that fourth week still ahead of where I needed to be and even caught up the weeks target on the Saturday.

I knew that there were gaps in the story. Things I had wanted to say but which I hadn't had time to consider. It didn't matter. I can add them in later. Maybe in the second draft. Maybe in the third or fourth...

I was worried I wouldn't finish the story. Was I going to hit the same wall I hit with Fallen Warriors? I really wanted to bring the story to a conclusion. I knew how I wanted to finish it but it was the how to get there that I struggled with. In the end I just brought things forward; made the events happen and suddenly I was writing the ending. It was revalatory - I began to remember other novels I've read where the ending happens in stages: short reveals. So this is how they do it...

Then my daughter was sick. Literally. I had to take an unexpected days leave that last Monday in November and in between looking after her I somehow managed to write 4,000 words and ended the story. NaNoWriMo was over.

Cue anti-climax, what do I do now...

I took the rest of the week off. Well, from writing anyway. I read a novel on my Kindle: Lee Child's Worth Dying For. First novel I've read in over a month. Took me a couple of chapters to stop editing it...

Ever since I've been Eight years old I've told people I'm going to be a writer. I'm not going to tell people that any more: in the end no-one out there cares if I say I'm going to be a writer. I'm not a writer if I say I am - I'm only a writer if I'm writing. This is probably the most important truth I've taken from NaNoWriMo.

I am a writer - I write every day.

I've been reading the NaNo pep talks, reading other NaNoers blogs and planning out the next ten years.

NaNo has taught me I can write a lot every day. I now believe I could write 5,000 words a day if I was writing full time. Holding down a job and family - I think 1,000 words a day is more than possible.

My new yearly target is 200,000 words a year. A lot of that will be through rewrites but that is okay. Each rewrite takes me a step closer to the ultimate goal - getting a novel published.

NaNoWriMo has helped me remember why I love to write; has helped me believe in myself as a writer. I highly recommend NaNoWriMo if you have any interest in writing... You don't even have to wait till next November - any month could be your NaNo month!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Bethlehemian Rhapsody

Thanks to a Facebook friend for sharing this gem. Personally I feel it's an improvement on the original Bohemian Rhapsody...

What do you think?