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Sunday 29 November 2020

(NaNo) Finishing And Ending

It's often kind of hard to actually wrap up a story. Just ask this dude.

I passed NaNoWriMo's 50,000 word deadline a couple of days ago, and managed to tie up the story vaguely to my satisfaction a mere 700 or so words later, which was pleasing. For those struggling to imagine a book of that length - that's about the length of The Great Gatsby, Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, or Fight Club.

For me NaNo has two endings: when I hit 50k, and when I finish the book, and the two are often kind of different places.

Like the last few times I've tried - and succeeded - the books have ended up between 60-70k. I don't think that is a strength of pacing or anything; I thin if anything I have a habit of waffling too long in descriptive pieces. I need a sharper editorial blade than I currently possess, maybe.

This time, though, the two married up with reasonable ease. That is a happy accident. I was definitely not aiming to have the entire plot wrapped up by 51k. That said I was riding by the seat of my pants for several segments of the book so the length wasn't guaranteed either way.

Writing this one was a little rough at times.

There were moments that I feel that, maybe, I dipped too hard into myself. Looked too hard in the mirror. Perhaps found uncomfortable things in there that I'd have honestly rather not thought about too hard.

But I managed to take all that and turn it into work and words. I told a story. Even if that story is just about a guy trying to work out how to get by in a world that seems inimical to people in general, let alone to people with mental health problems.

It's not meant to be a spotlight on how people are treated, or on how one should react to mental trauma, or on my personal feelings about memory loss, or anything else. It's just a story that I have had in my head for absolutely years, that this year's NaNoWriMo seemed ideal for.

It's being beta-read right now. Following that, there might be some minor edits; but I am going to just... put it up online where people can read it. The first draft, as it exists right now, is going on my Patreon.

(EDIT: It Is Now Here.)

And that's... that, I suppose.

That was my November, again. Amid the pandemic and the politics and the chaos, I wrote a novel, and doing so honestly helped to keep me sane.

Because, soon, it will be That Time Of The Year....

God help us all.

Thank you for reading. Support your humble author via Patreon or Kofi, or follow social media on the right. See you next week.

Sunday 22 November 2020

(NaNo) Getting There

Public transport is important to most people in the UK, in one way or another. My locality is no exception, as neither is that represented in my NaNo project.

This here picture was part of a tweet posted by a chap named Ben Rue who works for Wightlink:

What you can see here is the Isle of Wight's trains. Our old stock on the left, our new stock on the right being delivered.

New is relative, of course. Our old stock has been renovated and refurbished several times but it was first made in about 1938 - it literally survived the Blitz, much like many angry people on the internet claim they did when talking about masks and political correctness.

The new one? Also refurbished? Was made in around about 1978. Which means it still saw almost 20 years of the Soviet Union, and is four years older than me.

It got me thinking about the role public transport - transport in general, even - plays in our lives. About how much of our time is spent getting from place to place, and how difficulties in that specific arena can pretty much define your day.

The notion of commuting really only began in the industrial revolution. Before that everyone just lived where they worked - and a significant amount of city and town building and planning surrounded the notion of keeping the employees near their place of work. You can still see this in the industrial heartland of the UK. The term "commuter" even comes from the fact that tickets for people that had to regularly travel to work had a reduced or "commuted" price.

Now if you are lucky enough to have your own means of getting to and from your place of work, then this might not apply so much - you should concentrate on driving when you are driving - but for those of us that have to bus/train/whatever, the time in between origin and destination can be very valuable as thinking or meditation time.

That period of introspection is really useful to me as a writer. Like, not so much for this year's NaNo, because it's first-person and so it is perpetually from the main character's thoughts; but nonetheless, the periods of the young man going from place to place are often the periods of greatest reflection.

You know, like the Stereophonics song.

And I think that, for a lot of the world, that experience is very universal. That period wherein the world moves around you, and you are being conveyed to a destination, so there isn't much you can do with yourself aside from think... or try and not think, as hard as you can.

That's why airports sell books, after all.

Just a thought. Perhaps something deeper next time.

Thank you for reading. Support your humble author via Patreon or Kofi, or follow social media on the right. See you next week.

Sunday 15 November 2020

(NaNo) Where's Your Head At

You know, seeing anxiety or depression or fury or mania happen in a book or movie always hits different when it has plagued you for years and years.

You know it by instinct the moment it happens. You also know if anyone involved with the production of this thing has ever experienced it - because if they have, then it feels that much realer, hits that much harder.

It speaks to you, the same way as a song does. I've talked before about a singer feeling a song when they sing it, and how that translates into how the song sounds. It threads into that.

So when a writer can make you feel a thing - a thing that the writer has felt themselves, that they are perhaps in the process of feeling as they write, and that you perhaps are feeling as you read - that can be a very special thing. A moment of intimate connection.

A moment for the reader to feel that they have been seen, and understood.

Which is precisely why I take the time to write my characters suffering through the random mental stuff that I suffer from.

Like running into someone in the street, and having a panic attack over having to just... talk to them.

Doesn't sound like much, does it? Just running into someone that you don't want to see in the street? Not so bad. Just grit your teeth and bear it... 

But with an anxiety disorder, this situation is awful. Infinitely worse. Like walking is easy unless you have a broken leg. Now you face a yawning gulf in which every moment you WILL question and second-guess every single thing that you say and do for the next two minutes, until you can get away - and you will shred yourself afterwards for all the awful, terrible crimes against social order that you just committed.

Every single micro-expression becomes a vector for something, a fear, a doubt, a terror of some kind. A sign that this person thinks of you as an outcast, an idiot, a loser, an enemy. It's totally uncontrollable, and it is so much more common than anyone who hasn't experienced it would imagine.

That's why I write it - because there are people who suffer this, who deserve to have their story told. They exist and thus deserve to be seen.

And also because the main character's anxiety isn't just there to drive the plot. It's part of them. It's a significant part of who they are.

You have to be true to that.

And if along the way, someone can see something that rings true in themselves, and feel like someone else understands them?

All the better.

Thank you for reading. Support your humble author via Patreon or Kofi, or follow social media on the right. See you next week.

Sunday 8 November 2020

Thank God For That

This blog is going to be a short one, because I am super busy doing writing and such right now, but - I wanted to take a moment to share in the sheer joy that isn't Joe Biden's victory, but Donald Trump's defeat.

The man is bad for America. He is bad for the world. No, Joe Biden isn't perfect - in any other race he'd have been on the red side of the curtain, probably, like he makes me think of George Bush Senior - but, like...

Yes, I know there is more work to do. Just because the goon is gone, and his direct circle of cronies and yes-men, doesn't mean that the problems that they 1) created and 2) were spawned from have been dealt with. They haven't. Nationalism, white supremacy, general smatterings of hate, these are still present in not-inconsequential amounts. Systemic racism isn't cured just because the makeup department get a day off or the Secret Service budget doesn't need to incorporate stays at Mar a Lago.

There will be legal challenges, too. Both perfectly legitimate ones, and I know there may well BE legitimate concerns, and also not so much. I know that the dirty tricks will start coming out. I'm pretty convinced that a couple of outlets will start running stories about people who will remain anonymous who were approached by Joe, Barack and Hilary and asked personally to change half a million Red votes in a swing state. I bet one of those outlets will be RT, too. Just a thought.

But what I am taking from this - and I will spare you the deep analysis of how broken the vote system is, and what happens when the guy refuses to leave office (I already blogged about that over here) - is one moment, one day, when something good happened. When, after all the bullshit nonsense that 2020 has been serving us, and in the teeth of an oncoming Brexit, something happened that we can universally feel good about.

And herein is an opportunity - for everyone that nailed their colours to the Trump flag, lost friends, buried themselves in something that was perhaps a bit more nationalist or populist or racist than they had previously considered acceptable.

Just box up your shit, toss it, and start life anew.

Now is the time. Let it go. You can spend the next three months raging at the entire world, or you can just... let it go. Because your man lost, and he lost because the people are tired of it, and of him.

People wept in relief, when AP called it. They wept. Literally broke down in tears.

That's why his ass needs to be left in the gutter.

I am not a good person. I have anger and hatred in my heart, and I have an abundance for this particular breed of politics. Every single person that takes to the high places to push their nationalist, populist, supremacist agenda, and then scurries back behind the rock of Free Speech and the Marketplace of Ideas. People that will happily link to terror groups, feed apocalyptic millenarian death cult conspiracies, put on the raiment and bearing of fascists of the past, people that will preach the same old lies of purity and strength and all that absolute bullshit.

I just don't have it in me to be terribly understanding or forgiving.

And you know what? This time? ...neither did the people. Neither did Georgia or Pensylvania.

You know what that means.

Neither did Gritty.

I feel afraid for the United States, because now, there is a very angry child that has months to do as much damage as he is capable of doing. He has the ear of dangerous people, and he has friends that will do their best to cover for him, even at his most ridiculous.

And we, the United Kingdom, are not out of the woods yet. The same folks that bankrolled the geniuses behind the Trump presidency are bankrolling a bunch of the people in this country who are just casually getting ready to drive us off a cliff. Why do you think Nigel Farage was caping for Trump so hard?

But for today - for the next little while, at least - let's just enjoy the fact that the guy whose career should have ended when he mocked a disabled news reporter got to be told, actually, no. This time...

You lose.

Thank you for reading. Support your humble author via Patreon or Kofi, or follow social media on the right. See you next week.