Having done a series of challenges and online events last year I thought I'd start a blog to track them. Now in 2011, this is a more general blog about article writing, marketing, technology and general thoughts.
I've finished Nano - or to be more correct I hit the 50,000 words. Since I haven't run out of story, I'm still writing. I'm on the sixth notebook so far, so now I just have to see how much more I can get done in November.
Then I have to find a publisher, which could be trickier. Fingers crossed!
I haven't been sleeping well, so I've been taking notebooks to bed and writing. I'm on my fourth. Considering I was on zero a week ago that's not bad. If I typed it up, editing it as I went it would probably extend by 1.5, which is what usually happens, but that's not in the spirit of Nano. Now if only I could do the same thing with my current stories...
I do have to say one thing Nano is good for, and that is blowing writer's block out of the water. Now I'm torn between wishing I could sleep and writing down every idea as it comes as quickly as I can before the next one rushes in.
As you can probably tell from the page I'm off to a late start this year. It was odd, I simply had no ideas at all. I would sit in front of my computer blankly, or in the cafe with no clue whatsoever and usually just get a pounding headache to show for my pains.
And then a couple of days ago I just pulled out my notepad while I was walking, wrote a sentence and everything flowed from there. It was another day of writing before I realised I should probably be crediting it to Nano. Three nights without sleep, and I have 13,000 words.
The problem is it is all in notepads - yes, I am already on my second. I've got the word count by counting words on a page I wrote with the fewest, knocking 25% off, and multiplying that by the number of pages, but I'm hoping its still valid for a luddite's Nano - I really don't fancy trying to type this all up in the last week!
As you can probably guess from the image above, my day took a bit of an unexpected turn. I was walking along a main road when I spotted this, moving along. It was right in the middle of the pavement by the end of a drive. One pedestrian, one cyclist on the pavement, or a car pulling in or out of the drive and it would have been squashed very quickly.
One of Britain's rare reptiles, a slow worm, is not normal sight around here any more (in a nod to local politics, the council are determined to build all over their habitat).
I tried to pick it up to put it in the grass, but it coiled up the second my shadow fell on it, and I didn't want to risk hurting it trying to lift it anyway or making it shed its tail (yes, they do that)l. This was admittedly very poor performance from someone who was handling adders before age 12 – I know handling snakes is not advised, but the cat kept bringing in his prizes, and snakes do much better in the hedgerow than in the cat.
So what was there to do?
I waited. The snake took nearly fifteen minutes to cover the three feet to the verge, where it eventually vanished.
The snake was fascinating but, I have to say, so were people's reactions. There weren't that many passing by. A few would have stepped on it, but moved out to give me space they wouldn't give the snake.
Several did not notice anything amiss – even though there was a mad woman standing watching something on the ground...
One looked where I was looking and said the understandable “Oh my god, is that a snake?” and calmed down once I pointed out it was harmless. One saw it, reacted badly, and only calmed down when the words endangered, protected, and the fact it didn't bite were mentioned. Apparently where she was from, they don't have non-poisonous snakes. One gave me a very odd look indeed, then saw the snake and rushed on. No one stopped to help.
For me, I got a good set of photos, and the snake got to a safe home.
The amusing addendum was that in the supermarket I found myself standing in a queue behind one of the people who walked by. She didn’t recognise me, hunched over her phone chatting as she had been when she walked passed, and she was complaining to her friend that her life was boring and she never saw anything out of the ordinary.
I wonder why?
(Click for larger images and use back to come back to the blog.)
I was at the park yesterday for the Rememberance Sunday memorial. The memorial has the names of the fallen from the Great War, and a small addition for the Second World War. They could not name the dead from that war - there were too many.
It is a sobering idea that no one is left now who fought alongside the men named. With the passing of Harry Patch and Henry Allingham, the First World War has truly passed into history, the words written down and the oral history passed down through families.
Now, slowly, the same thing is happening to the Second World War. As people age, and understandably do not want to be reminded of it, the details are fading. But it matters. Talk to your elders, the grandparents, parents, uncles and aunts who lived through it. Get the true stories, from the people who were there not the political spin and biased histories that reflect the time they were written rather than the times they were written about. And remember them.
On a personal note, a gentleman of my acquaintance passed away recently. He was a second World War veteran, well into his nineties. He had a few stories I'd grown up with and he had entertained the younger ones with for years - floating out under barrels in the dark, real boy's own stuff - loved by children and dismissed by the parents. He was a cook, we were always told. It was not until he passed away that we found out among his things and his notes, and people who turned up for the funeral, what he had actually been doing.