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Sunday, 1 December 2019

December Again

So November draws to an end for another year, and with it, National Novel Writing Month 2019.

There's a feeling I talk about, which is that hollowness when you finish reading a really good book. It's this slight ache, a moment wherein you feel two things very keenly.

The first is: This came to an end, and the rest of the world just moved on, how can that be?

The second is: The space that this occupied was so great, and so full; how can I possibly fill it again?

It's not just reading a book that leaves you like this, though.

For a month, half a million of us - or pretty close, anyway, I don't have the official stats for this year yet - lived in the worlds we'd made.

It occupied space in our brains. We were distracted, not quite fully with it, because our thoughts kept drifting back to that thing that we were creating. Characters and scenes and dialogue and themes and literary tricks and a thousand other little aspects of the work we were undertaking, constantly ticking over - for some of us set solid in stone, for others, roiling like a cloud of plasma. Either way - always present, always taking up space.

I can tell you how my characters smile.

Like, I can see it in my head. I can put each of them right in front of me, bid them smile - even imagine the thing that makes them smile - and see how they do it.

I can tell you the thing that each of them is worried about. I can tell you the person they are thinking about, right now, and in what context. I can describe to you how they would deal with a hundred different problems and situations...

...and then I stopped typing, and put the novel down, and there it is.

Sure, it can do with a second draft. That's the work of it. Taking the first draft and sweeping it into something better; but the skeleton is there, the shape, the clay of the object. It exists, and it was brought into existence out of my brain.

Now my brain sits there with a hole in it that is novel-shaped.

You may wonder why I am telling you all this.

I am telling you because, despite how generally draining it can all be - how disheartening it is to not make word count for a day, or to realise that you may not make it to 50,000 by the end of the month, or how frustrating it is to encounter writer's block...

Each ache, each moment's lost sleep, each frustration, is a piece of stone that you chip away. And you chip all of those away, until you are left with sculpture. With art. Beautiful, and yours.

Every hour you spend typing (punching the keys, for those that recognised the first image) is an hour's worth of work that you have put into something that is yours. A thing you created. A story. A novel. And it probably isn't the best thing ever written, because very few things are - but you made it. You made a thing, that you probably didn't think you'd ever make.

Sure, you told yourself you would, one day. After this. After that. One day. When you had that idea. One day. But until then it is time to obsess over detail, over whether or not you are a good enough writer to carry it off, if you have time, if you are creative enough, and so, and so, and so, until we manage to mentally talk ourselves out of it - again.

So why do I talk about it so much? Why do I post about it on my social media, blog about it, tell other people about it?

Because, folks, I want to share this with you.

I want you to join in, to feel the way I feel, to write the story that you have in your skull. I want you to get to the end of December and have stories you can tell people about that novel you just wrote. I want you to be able to talk to other writers and understand how it feels to make a thing and let it stand. To be able to read your own work, and even if you spend 99% of the time finding flaws in it, seeing at least one or two lines that you think..., that's actually really good.

And then thinking:

I wrote that.

It's a good kind of mental tired.

My NaNoWriMo project this year was called Phase Shift, also styalised as [PHaSe/SHiFT] because I am that kind of dickhead. It's a transhuman scifi coming of age slash thriller. It's set in the Eclipse Phase RPG setting because I love it.

I set myself the challenge of having every chapter title be a song lyric, and have it be relevant to that chapter. Here's a playlist of all those songs in order - it's not a bad list if I do say so myself.

If you want to read it, just get in touch. I even made two cuts - one of them with all the smut cut out, in case it isn't your thing.

And when it comes around to the end of next year? Will you maybe consider joining me on this most novel of months?

I hope so.

If you'd care to share my blog with your friends, I'd appreciate that! If you'd like to thank me in a fiscal form for entertaining you a little bit, I do have a Patreon right here, but please - no pressure. Thank you for reading, and check my social media to the right to keep in touch.

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