The Best-Laid Plans

Yesterday – November 1st – marked the start of the glorious month of Nano! Yes, NaNoWriMo is here again, and for thousands of people the next thirty days will be spent frantically typing or writing in their bid to make the sacred wordcount goal of fifty thousand words.

I’ve done NaNo three times now. The first time was back in 2011 when I had made up my mind that I was going to write a novel. A full novel. Not the first chapter of one which I’d managed on countless occasions over the previous decades, but the whole thing. I’d made a detailed chapter-by-chapter plan and nothing was going to stop me. I was filled with enthusiasm and determination and when November 1st arrived I was off, out of the box like a champion race horse. And I did it. 120,000 words, give or take a few, and a complete first draft. Little did I know that was just the beginning and it would be almost another three years before I considered There Must Be An Angel fit to be read by anyone else.

In 2012 I decided to start book two. Again I made a detailed plan and got to work. The trouble was, I was still working on Angel, and as this book was the sequel I wasn’t entirely sure I was doing the right thing. This time I managed 60,000 words – enough to win but nowhere near enough to finish the story. I put it away and returned to Angel. That book is now what will be book four in the Kearton Bay series, but it will be very different to that first draft. I may rewrite it and finish it for NaNoWriMo 2015! 🙂

Last year I did enter, but I have to admit my heart wasn’t in it. I had too many other things going on and I was fine-tuning There Must Be An Angel which was my real priority. This time I failed. I managed around 30,000 words. No winner’s badge for me!

I was quite determined I was going to enter and win  this year. Angel was done and, surprisingly, the second book (which I never used for NaNo) was also done.  I had no distractions and I spent weeks plotting out scene by scene for what will be book three. I was all geared up for a month of uninterrupted writing and then…

Firstly, due to unforseen circumstances, it seems I will be putting in a lot of extra shifts at work this month. This is the first time I’ve been called upon to do so and if that’s not an example of sod’s law I don’t know what is. Secondly, as I was eating my evening meal on Friday – just hours before NaNo day dawned – I was visited by the ghost of novel outlines past. A story I’d thought up and roughly plotted some months ago had, for no good reason that I can fathom, suddenly reared up and galloped to the front of my mind, demanding to be heard. Worse, demanding to be written! What was I to do? I grabbed a notebook and fleshed out the rough outline I’d done with more ideas, more about the main character who was suddenly chatting to me in a very determined voice.

I went to bed totally confused. I had to get book three done didn’t I? I didn’t have time to mess about with a half-baked novel idea when I’d planned the other one out so meticulously. And with extra shifts to cover, I certainly didn’t have time to waste by dithering over what I was actually going to write.

So I got up yesterday and switched on my computer and …

I Facebooked, tweeted, messed about with this blog trying out custom designs and adding a new page, ordered some shopping and generally wasted hours. All because I couldn’t decide which story I was going with.

In the end I gritted my teeth, pushed the bossy newcomer back into her box and started book three in the Kearton Bay series.  I managed almost 2,500 words and I’m hoping to continue today, but I’ve promised my new character that I will work on her story after work in my notebook, and that she won’t have to wait too long before I really take her seriously. Honestly, why is nothing straightforward?

If you’re NaNo-ing this month I wish you lots of luck. It’s quite tough but it can be very rewarding too. I hope your characters behave themselves a lot better than mine! 🙂

Have a great week xx

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