‘Keren, if you don’t recognise your prince when he gallops up on his white horse, then there’s no hope for you.’ So said my mother, a good few years ago, when I cruelly rejected an eminently eligible but sadly unattractive suitor. The white horse was purely metaphorical, as was his royal status. I laughed a lot. She wasn’t pleased
But I was right, and so was she in some ways. Sometimes you know - you just know – whether a man’s a prince, a troll or a frog with prospects. The same thing goes for homes, jobs, friends and opportunities. You get a shiver of déjà vu which is all about potential. You know you’ve met your prince, found your palace or embarked on your quest.
All of which is a slightly roundabout way to explain why I’ve just signed up to do something crazy, daunting and probably impossible. Something I had no intention of doing. Something for which I’m not prepared and have no time for.
I’m talking about NaNoWriMo. Writing a novel in a month - the month of November which starts on Sunday. The challenge is to write 50,000 words in a month . Why would I do this? Why, when I swore that this time I would stop and think and plan my next novel? Why, when I’ve got lots of things planned for November already? Well, because I know myself. And I read the website and fell in love with an idea.
Sign up on the website and you’re in touch with thousands of other people all trying to do the same thing. There are emails, events, forums and - above all - deadlines. ‘NaNoWriMo is all about the magical power of deadlines.’ It says. I love deadlines. ‘Give someone a goal and a goal-minded community and miracles are bound to happen. ‘ I love goals. I love communities. I believe in miracles.
‘Writing a novel in a month is both exhilarating and stupid, and we would all do well to invite a little more spontaneous stupidity into our lives,’ it says. I love (deadline-bound) spontaneous stupidity. That was it. I signed up.
It took a bit more than a month to write When I Was Joe. But I had 60,000 words of the first draft in two months. The combination of deadlines, goals and community on the City University workshop course gave me the kick up the backside I needed. Right now I’m at the same stage with my new idea that I was in May 2008 when I started writing Joe. I have a vague idea, the context of the story. I have two main characters. I’ve written a first chapter which needs to be thrown away and changed completely.
So wish me luck. If you're doing NaNoWriMo then I'm signed up as kerensd. I’m afraid the blog may suffer as a result. Anyone want to write a guest blog during November? I’d like to hear about your Desert Island Books - the five books you’d take to a desert island and why. Or tell us about crazy challenges and whether they worked or not. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org