Saturday, March 02, 2019

I am fine

My only sister died at the beginning of this year.

It was a big shock at the time because she hadn't been ill, but I'm getting over it now.

I'm absolutely fine as long as no one talks to me about death. Or sisters. Or hot tubs, gardens, garden centres, charity shops, carveries, Costa coffee, presents, Alice in Wonderland, decluttering, dogs, chihuahuas, NCIS, hair dye, or Brighton.

As long as I don't catch sight of the weeping pear tree she gave me, or the soap dishes, or the pouffe. Or the wrapping paper I bought for Christmas covered in little dogs.

Have you read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine? It's a great book.

Eleanor Oliphant is fine and I'm fine too. Absolutely, perfectly, completely fine.

Thank you for asking.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

I did it again

Another successful Nano!

Honestly, looking at my record you'd think it was easy and a foregone conclusion that I'd reach 50k but every single time it feels like a huge challenge and in no way certain I'd win.

This time I started with no plot in mind, just "sequel to a previous Nano where the MC ends up with the wrong person. Make sure they end up with the right person this time".

It's easier writing in an existing world because there's a lot you don't have to invent.

It's harder writing in an existing world because you have to remember details you've already invented.

The story didn't end how I'd intended but now I know what I wanted to write.

There's a lot of rubbish in both stories but I reckon I could merge the two into one decent novella-length story if I put my mind to it. The question is, can I get the motivation to work on it without the challenge of Nano? Word count is so easy to measure and there's a real buzz from reaching the right number every day. I'm not sure how to motivate myself now.

All suggestions welcome!

Friday, September 21, 2018

Trans women are women.

Speaking as a cis woman, I want to say firmly that trans women are women.

I admit that it took me a while to understand this and I’ve had to broaden my definition of women a bit to reach that conclusion, but it seems ridiculous to define “women” as “cis women” and then say that trans women aren’t in that group (by definition). We can just as well define “women” as “people who know they are women” and trans women fit right in there.

There is no one “true” definition of a woman , as humans we choose how we categorise the world. It’s a bit like poor old Pluto: first it wasn't a planet, then it was a planet, now it's a dwarf planet, and many scientists think it would be useful to categorise it as something else instead. The lump of rock orbiting the sun hasn't changed but we define it differently according to what is most useful.

It’s most useful to broaden our definition of “women” from “assigned female at birth” to something that embraces everyone who feels themself to be a woman.

Trans women are women.

For me, that is “the truth”.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Is it that time already?

Last November I wrote about the "novels" I'd written during Nanowrimo but at the time I was in the middle of my story and didn't know how it was going to go. It turned out to be one that I had a lot of fun with, so I'm adding it to my list of Nano stories.

2017 This Planet Has More Dangerous Wildlife Than Australia
A survey team has vanished from a new planet in mysterious circumstances and the follow-up team face dangers from the indigenous life, including carnivorous trees. The two main alien races are in an uneasy truce and one of them uses only colour and gesture to communicate.

Think octopuses, only on land. I had fun with this one.

Now it's time to think about what I want to write this year. October will go by far too fast!

So far, I've updated my spreadsheet where I keep track of my progress. It's important to get your priorities right.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Happy, happy, joy, joy!

I was lying awake the other night with my thoughts whirling, and decided I needed a more positive frame of mind.

I thought back to my counselling days, and how children were being taught the main emotions: anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise. The only one of those that is really positive is happiness, and that seemed to be selling us a bit short. Surely there must be as many positive emotions as negative ones? I tried thinking of all the positive feelings I could.

Not all of them fit neatly into a single English word but then why should they?

Here are some of the ones I came up with:

  • happiness
  • satisfaction
  • competence
  • doing something that matters
  • complete absorption in a task (what's sometimes called "flow")
  • euphoria
  • peace
  • comfort
  • affection
  • amusement
  • hilarity
  • being among friends
  • enthusiasm
  • delight
  • excitement about something you like
  • feeling accepted
  • feeling validated
  • feeling valued
  • feeling loved
  • enjoying cuteness (kittens!)
  • feeling like you're floating away among the stars and your body doesn't exist any more
  • mastery
  • curiosity
  • the feeling you get when you learn something new
  • the feeling of a lightbulb moment
  • the feeling you get when you do something you didn't think you could do
And then I fell asleep.

Which ones did I miss?

Monday, November 27, 2017

I Did It

I finished my Nano “novel” today at just over 50,000 words and typed THE END.

50,000 words of science fiction poured from my fingers onto my screen this month.
The quality is... indescribable but don't mind that, just look at the number of words! So many words!

I have a purple bar and access to a lot of “prizes” that are mostly money off writing tools that I don’t want to use. I suppose I also have bragging rights.

I just feel tired.

Other years I’ve been so happy to make it past the finish line. This year, I’m glad I wrote the story and found out what it was about and how it ended but I’m not sure what to do with it now.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt so flat at the end of NaNoWriMo.

And now I've got no excuse for avoiding anything I don't want to do. Maybe I need to do another challenge in December.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

NaNoWriMo in All Its Glory

I was asked on Quora about previous Nano novels, and looking back I realised I've had a very chequered Nano career. I’ve got a lot of finished (but mostly unedited) stories and a couple of unfinished ones and the quality really varies.

2004 The Coven.

A group of would-be witches get in over their heads and need help to get one of their own back from an alternate reality.

Mostly very bad, but with odd flashes of “where did that come from?”

2006 Another Way

A quantum computer becomes sentient.

Probably one of my favourites of all my books. It has a lesbian couple as the main protagonists, and two bedroom scenes. Mind you, one is a quarrel and one is a pillow fight, but still.

2007 Missing

A young child goes missing and his sister tries to rescue him with the help of her professor.

Very badly written and unresearched on police procedure. A few nice moments with the kid from his point of view.

2008 Magic Time

Three children go back through a portal into an earlier time.

Unfinished and probably just as well. I think I got 24k words before I ran out of steam.

2009 Space Escape

Something about rescuing sentient animals.

Even looking at the draft I can’t make sense of it. Not one of my better efforts.

2010 The Silver Flute

Claire falls through into an alternate universe where science is masquerading as “magic” and she finds a flute that is the key to opening the doors to other worlds. Will she fall in love and stay in the new world or return to her own? And how?

A very messy book but it’s my favourite because I loved the characters of Claire, the journalist with the temperament of a librarian, and Rhea, the innkeeper she falls in love with. Although it’s technically finished, Claire ends up with the wrong person and I want to rewrite it to the ending I really want.

2011 Timeless

A Mary-Sue character gets abducted by time travellers and after adventures in the future sets up her own rival time travel agency. With a cast including a clapped-out AI, blue and grey humans and an annoying cousin.

An OK story. As usual some fun parts and some less so.

2012 Saving Space Through Tessellation

When Sylvie's father is kidnapped from a secure science lab, her life is in danger as much as his. Can she escape from the confines of her school with the help of her two friends and rescue her father, who is being held on another planet in another galaxy?

Includes a man in a crocheted chicken suit and a random penguin. (It was just after Random House and Penguin merged. I really thought they should have chosen the name “Random Penguin”.)

It’s a bit of a schoolgirl romp and I had fun with it. It's also my favourite of all my titles.

2014 Marked

When Amy inherits a country cottage from her Gran she also inherits a mysterious book which turns out to be cursed. In trying to remove the curse, Amy sets free a demon who places his mark on her. Can she get rid of the mark before she succumbs to its power and becomes possessed by the demon?

Unfinished at 28k because I took the book in a direction that didn’t work. Not one I want to go back to.

2015 Twisted

Em's difficult home life makes her an obvious target for anyone looking for disaffected youngsters. A shady group who claim to be exploring a distant planet recognise her potential and enlist her for her science background. But what is really going in with the Asimov Foundation?

I don’t remember much about this one which is a bad sign!

One year I tried editing instead of writing. That didn’t go well. Some years I just didn’t write at all.

This year I won't know how well it's gone until afterwards. At the moment I'm putting off writing my story by blogging instead. At least I've written every day so far, except for a pre-arranged day off. Tomorrow is another day off. I ought to get onto my story now and stop playing online.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

The Worst Story

This is how I'm keeping track of my word count. I've got two days when I know I won't be able to write so I'm trying to get ahead as much as I can.

I'm already at the stage of using up a lot of my preplanned plot, and feeling that this has to be the worst story ever.

My aliens look like large blobs of jelly, with many eyes on stalks around the top which are in constant movement. They  have complete rotational symmetry so they have no front or back; they have tentacles round their middles and stumpy legs. They can’t hear and they communicate by flashing coloured patterns over their skin.

I also have another set of aliens that look like Wookies, and the ones that look like crickets but are the size of a large poodle. The latter are companion animals to the Wookies, sort of.

It all seemed so logical at the time.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Day three of Nano

I've had three reminders to donate to Nano so far, so that averages one a day.

It was the constant demands for money that made me give up after 2015 and not write at all last year. This year I don't know if I'll donate because my main support is on Quora and Ravelry and not on the Nano forums which are well-nigh unusable.

I love the creativity of Nano but it's a pity that it's being turned into a mostly fund-raising event.

Nevertheless, I now have over 7,000 words written. It's been a tough one today. I wrote before checking any social media using mostly ideas I'd planned out over the last month and some I came up with on my bike ride yesterday.

Then I went out for a cycle ride hoping to come up with some more ideas but today that just didn't happen.

I'm going to be running out of preplanned ideas soon. I wonder what I'll do then.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Am I even a writer?

I usually call myself an “amateur writer” because otherwise I think people will assume that I plan to make money by writing. Nope. It’s a hobby.

Strange, because I don’t call myself an “amateur crocheter” even though I don’t plan to make money from it. I’m pretty good at crocheting - clearly not an amateur!

I’m not an amateur pedestrian, driver, or cyclist either; I’m just any one of those three at any time.

I wonder when “writer” got to mean “someone who makes a living at writing”. Or maybe it didn’t and it’s just me.
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