>NaNo already on hold?

>Some of you will be delighted to learn that NaNoWriMo may be on hold this year after all, and all of you will be delighted when you learn the reason why. If confidential job #1 takes off, it has to be in by mid-November. [gulp] This isn’t just one article, by the way, or a dinky little English short story. It’s a biggie. A 72 page project. [gulp] And I need to work on my sample pages pitch this weekend.

To be honest, I’d rather be doing this. It’s a lovely project, lots of fun, and – more importantly – I’ll get paid for it. But I go into production on my own (dinky little, in comparison, but it is bi-lingual, and technical, and political …) magazine on 17 November, which is about my deadline on this job. If I shift my alternate Thursdays off around a bit, after the weekend I can devote 9 whole days to the new project, plus what I can squeeze out of my normal working day and evening – all those NaNo 2 hours, eh?

But [gulp]. No, if I get the go ahead, I’ll be delighted. I could do with something to get my teeth into.

Day job
My euphoria over getting my extra pages was short-lived when the 30 pages I was trying to squeeze into 28 became 37 pages trying to squeeze into 32. I lost 3 pages immediately … I just haven’t told all of the authors yet. Hopefully I’ve also lost the other 2, or moved them to the next issue.

At the moment I’m doing a lot of gazing out the window and staring at either blank or crowded page plans. I’m doodling a lot too, with a pencil. I’m actually working very, very hard, inside my head. But to onlookers I must look like I have nothing to do.

Weekend
Again I have choices – 3 gigs tonight, 3 gigs tomorrow night, including a charity fest, and 2 gigs on Sunday. But I also have my samples to do. I’m feeling a bit Bah! Humbug! about Halloween this year, though, so I really, really will be out Saturday night.

Y’all have a good one.

>Snoopy dance

>I got my extra 4 pages, so that’s 2 32-pagers on the trot. That will probably mean that we’ll have to have 2 28-pagers on the trot, but it’s less of a headache for me, although still a headache because I got a 3-line whip to include another couple of things, which is good in order to fill the extra 2 pages, but I still have 2 pages over … Oh well, the joys, eh?

Hands up everyone that got the last-but-one sentence first time …

See what I mean, though, when I say it’s ok to let someone have their way if they have a valid argument? My argument was valid this time, and that makes up for the cover argument I lost last time.

The reference material arrived for confidential job #1 yesterday, a nice big package brought to me from goods inwards. I can’t wait to get stuck into this.

I’m driving home in the dark, now, which makes it feel a bit more like winter. We woke to fog and drizzle one day this week, then the next it was glorious sunshine and frost.

>Two pages too many

>This is my current headache just now. I have 28 pages to fill, but material for 30 pages.

Before we started to “weather the storm” and try and cut costs, I would fight for a 36 page magazine and my boss would fight for a 32 page magazine, although I always thought the best by far were the 40 pagers. We’d take it in turns to win, so long as we had a solid argument. Then we cut the magazine right down to 28 pages to show that we too could cut costs – and it wouldn’t be any more cheaper now to have it produced online as many of the costs are in production and setup.

The last magazine, the one that recently came out 3 weeks late, ran to 32 pages. I was delighted, my boss was gracious in defeat, but the deal was 28 pages for the Christmas issue.

And we have 30.

Because printing goes up in 4s, and preferably 8s, 30 is not satisfactory. It all has to go in. What a quandary.

Someone drove into the back of me at a traffic island this morning. We were hardly moving, so I think I’m ok. The car, however, has a bit of dent in the bumper so I’m going to get that checked and costed. He was quite a nice man, and now I have his number. ;o)

PS Alison R – don’t be shy, say hi …

>Countdown

> I think I’ve decided to go for it. There are only a few hours left on the poll and while some have passed comment but not voted, I think it’s pretty obvious what the majority thinks. [gulp]

Honestly, I do think it will be good. I’ve pencilled in the diary, ensuring I have 2 hours every day including Friday evenings and weekends, while still maintaining the writing schedule, the day job, the non-fiction, chores and life. I won’t like giving up my weekend. I know that already. But maybe at the end of it I’ll have got used to writing for 2 hours Monday to Thursday evenings, and if I feel like it, I’ll work on a Saturday too – daytime. But at the end of the month I’ll give myself the weekends back, including Friday evenings. I’ll still have Monday evenings and alternate Thursday evenings during NaNo, so maybe it won’t be so hard.

Whatever else I schedule into the diary, during DianeTime, this past few weeks it’s the writing jobs that have been crossed off, regularly and mostly on date. What’s gone by the wayside has been household chores and the occasional gig. Week 2 looks like it will be hard, but I’m going to give it a go.

I can’t take The Beast Within into NaNo. It’s not allowed. But I am reading No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty as part of my prep work, and I am going through all the material I already have. Here are the options:

  • Stevie Tarot 1: 0 The Fool (contemporary/mystery)
  • Catch the Rainbow (historical/mystery – 1974)
  • White Horse Farm (romance/intrigue/adventure/contemporary)
  • something new and different – probably about pirates (romance/intrigue/adventure/historical)

Some others that really shouldn’t be started yet, but are stewing away, include:

  • Marcie Craig 3: Snowblind
  • Stevie Tarot 2: 1 The Magician
  • Hattie’s Hotshots (historical/mystery – 1950s/1960s)
  • Marcie Craig 4: Killer Queen
  • Stevie Tarot 3: 2 The High Priestess
  • Cider and Sympathy (historical/saga – early 1900s)
  • Marcie Craig 5: Burn
  • Stevie Tarot 4: 3 The Empress (you can see where I’m going with this, can’t you?)

I know my friends are worried about me taking on too much, but I’ve been doing this for so long now, I really do think I should at least give it a shot. After all, next year I hope to be even more busy than I am this year with the new projects coming through.

Anyone fancy joining me at NaNo? Whip-crackers get ready.

>I remembered the clocks

>For the first time ever I remembered to change the clocks on the evening before I ran around like the proverbial fly the next day then realising I’d got the time wrong. I changed the clocks during the commercial breaks on telly.

I didn’t do much at the weekend at all. My shopping came in at just over budget, so I stayed in for the rest of the weekend, having a no-spend time to try and claw some back. I didn’t go to any gigs, I didn’t go for my walk, I didn’t leave the house. I had a lovely relaxing time, got lots of reading, sleeping and writing done, as well as the usual chores.

Today I started the gig list for November. I only did the venues so far and already it’s taken an entire morning. The gig list is one of the things I’ll be considering for the new year: does it stay or does it go? As it gets bigger and bigger, I meet more and more lovely new people, and gradually more and more start to rely on it. But it takes a huge chunk out of my working month every month. So it’s time to reconsider, or maybe consider getting it automated or something. If it costs me less to pay someone to do it than it costs me in lost paid work, that’s also a consideration …

So I’ve also been doing some thinking at the weekend.

This morning it was my friend’s funeral service. I couldn’t make it in the end, but I’ll remember her in my own way and think of the fun times we used to have.

>Tall person required

>Two of the 3 lightbulbs in my kitchen have gone and the ceilings are so high in my house I can’t reach when I stand on a chair, and it’s a major expedition to extract the stepladder from where it’s stowed away. Every time I need the stepladder I have to plan it down to the finest detail.

So I’ll make do with a tall person, i.e. someone taller than me, to stand on the chair and change the bulbs for me. They’re dinky spots and are notorious for just working themselves loose, and that’s really annoying when I’ve gone to all the trouble of getting the steps, but they might need actual changing this time.

Library
I didn’t need to leave early to check my hair appointment. While hunting for my library ticket I found the appointment card and it was for 4:30pm instead of 4pm. The fact that it was “lost” was why it wasn’t in the diary. That gave me an extra half an hour in the house, and a bit more time to explore the library.

I’m starting to fall in love with my library. The books aren’t as tatty as I seem to remember them from childhood. Perhaps I should have given it a go again sooner.

Study
Yesterday was Exercise 3 of Devon’s 5 in 10 (reprise). I’ve chosen 1 of 2 newspaper cuttings and need to come up with 1,000 – 1,200 words. The way I’m romping through my schedule at the moment, it should be easy enough to add this in, and my next “gap” is for a short story, so that’s handy. Already there’s something stewing, but I won’t write anything yet as it needs to stew some more, and it’s a “heavy” topic. I have made notes, though.

I had a think about my Writers’ Bureau exercise hoping to identify an article I’m already writing further down the schedule. It won’t fit, though. That means I have to visit a local fair, exhibition, or show and try and come up with 300 – 500 words, including quotes. Blimey. Then I have to write 150-word outlines for 2 more local interest articles, and write one of them up to 250 – 500 words. These are very short so should be easy. Finding the material is the difficult part.

Day job
Today I’m busy structuring the magazine, contacting contributors. I already have a cover this time, but I’m hoping the pictures will be fabulous enough.

The weekend
I can’t believe it’s Friday again already. That’s what happens when you take an impromptu day off in the middle of the week. The working week suddenly becomes even shorterer. I haven’t thought about what I’m doing at the weekend.

Today, on my way home, I need to shop. The freezer is looking startlingly empty and my list is HUGE. It’s going to be a biggie. And on Sunday I want to go for a walk (and write a walk review). But aside from that, my weekend this weekend is anybody’s guess.

Have a goodun.

>NaNoVirGin

>I’ve been doing some research and there are loads of us contemplating this NaNo thing this year. For many of us it will be the first time too. But don’t panic, I’ve not decided yet, although I’m seriously leaning towards it and seeing how my writing is going during these 2 weeks leading up to it.

I hear what my friends are saying about the burnout thing. I DO take on too much and I DO beat myself up when I go into meltdown and “fail”. But as there’s nothing much on the telly at the moment, as there’s not really a significant other being very prominent just now, and as I have 2 outlines ready to go, I AM considering it quite seriously.

It’s only 2 hours a day. Two hours. Less if I switch everything off and concentrate. And with Ms Ellington cracking that whip … who could possibly fail? (I also have to imagine Ms Hardy giving me a kick up the backside every now and then, and Ms Evanovich smacking me across the head – I read that book too, Lacey.)

Schedule
Yesterday, despite allegedly playing 100 games of that awful Bejewelled on Facebook (it’s a lie, I demand a re-count), I did write draft 2 of the Barcelona article AND I typed up draft 3 of the Romulus story. Both are a little longer than planned, but I’m good with that. I’d far rather write too much and cut than write too little and pad. As the article will be a typed draft next time, that will probably increase a little more. But as the story is an edit next time, I’ll easily get it down to 1,500 words.

Because I’ve only just reinstated the schedule, there’s nothing to edit next – first edit will be the Romulus story. So that means the dreaded draft 1 again, and this time it’s a short story I outlined as a result of Devon’s 5 in 10 course. And I may get to work on that today.

No, I tell a lie. It’s an outline next – easy, peasy. Wahey! :o)

Also today
As it’s a Thursday off, I always schedule in the 5 in 10 course, so I have that to do today, and I’ll have a think about some research for a Writers’ Bureau assignment. What I like about the WB assignments is that they’re supposed to be marketable. I have to think of a market or an exhibition or something to visit, see if I can write it up for the local newspaper – not that it’s worth writing for the local newspaper at 7p a line, but it exercises that freelance muscle … And just as I like reading books about writing, I like to do a couple of hours a day (see, there’s that time slot again) study, on a study day.

I think I have a hair appointment at about 4pm, so I’ll take my library books back and drop in on the way to check (a) that it’s today, and (b) the time. I normally write everything in my diary but this one seems to have slipped through the net.

Facebook
I need to wean myself off Facebook. Or at least off that dreadful game. So today, I won’t be playing a game of Bejewelled. (I feel like an alcoholic, I won’t have a drink today.)

>Decisions, decisions

>If – IF – I decide to go ahead with NaNoWriMo, I won’t be able to work on The Beast Within, unless I’m trying to finish it. This is because we’re supposed to start on word 1, page 1 of a brand new story on the first day of the event. The Beast Within is already in my proper schedule, which will be put on hold on 31 October – IF I decide to go ahead – and will be picked up again on 1 December. Other stuff, the day job, the non-fiction book, any other contracted work I get, will already be in the diary during the working day.

Therefore, my choices now are The Fool, Catch the Rainbow or something else. I already have outlines and character sketches and time lines for both of these stories. All I have to do is put my bum on that seat and write. If you voted for The Beast Within, it should let you change your vote. I’ll keep that as a proper WIP.

Diary work
Last night, as a bit of an experiment, I sat down to write Chapter 1 of The Beast Within. I wondered how long it would actually take me to write about 1,675 (round number) words. It was really, really difficult because every time I cleared another page (around 170 words), I was checking the internet via the mobile phone – checking Facebook, checking emails, checking the guestbook, checking my statcounter. Twice I thought, right it’s half nine/ten o’clock, might wrap up and go to bed. But both times I pushed myself to continue until I finished the chapter.

I finished at 10:15pm and it took me just under 2 hours to write 1,599 words.

Without the distractions, if I allow myself 2 hours a day, I should easily manage the 1,675 daily word count. It will mean not going out on a Friday night, but I can schedule in the 2 hours every evening on work days and during the day on days off (Mondays, alternate Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays).

I’ve done it before. All I need do is switch off ALL the phones for 2 hours. I did it for a whole weekend before, surely I can do it for TWO hours – or until I reach my word count.

Lightbulb
While I was writing, an idea occurred to me. I do wish they wouldn’t, but it was such a good idea I just had to write it down … It’s the basic premise for another Marcie Craig story, and I already have my subplot as well as the main plot …

This will be Marcie Craig #5. I don’t understand it when people say they don’t get ideas for writing. I get ideas in abundance. It’s adhering that bum to the seat I have a problem with.

Day job
I took today off because I want to catch up on some of this writing work, and to conserve petrol before pay day. We’re already planning the next magazine and it feels a bit weird as we only had the last one delivered last Thursday. True, it was very late due to someone that will remain nameless (ahem, cough-cough our MD cough-cough), but this will be an indication of how it may be if we get the go ahead to, um, go ahead with what we’ve asked for the, er, go ahead on next year.

Already the magazine is full.

This is amazing. I have to sort everything into page order on the database, speak to the contributors so they know what they’re doing, then confirm everything by email. We’re going to have a tight turnaround this time, due to Christmas, so I’ve told my lovely boss that if he has trouble with the, erm, same trouble we had last time, then *I* will deal with said trouble causer. I’m not scared – I’m a journalist.

More on the day job
I received an unsolicited letter yesterday from a German publication asking if they could do an interview with a member of management as part of a series of articles they’re doing on companies in the north of England. Normally I’d probably know who to assign this to, but my antennae started to vibrate when they mentioned fee.

No, they’re not going to give us a fee, and the report and publication is “absolutely free”. However, there is a charge for reproduction of graphics and photographs … Um, call me a bluff old cynic, but generally we don’t pay you for an interview. If anything, although very rare, it’s the other way around.

So, with alarm bells making a bit of a dull ring, I checked with my boss to see if he’d heard of this particular publication. He had. They’re known for tricking people into buying advertorial.

It went in the bin.

Today
So, today I write. And probably tomorrow too. And I do diary work for November so I can see how many of those 2 hour slots I have available once everything is in. If I’m very clever, I may still fit in some of the schedule – IF I decide to go ahead.

Next job is draft 2 of an article. Easy peasy.

>The big question

>With November looming – it’s only 19 days away – do I join NaNoWriMo this year? I have numerous plot and story ideas, hundreds of characters, loads of locations, several genres, tons of notebooks, a blank diary in front of me, and ALL of the NaNoWriMo paraphernalia. What I often lack is time … and motivation … and confidence … and stamina … and perseverance … and ability … and talent … and support … and … Oh God, I’m already talking myself out of it.

So I’m going to leave it to you guys. I’ve put 2 polls in the sidebar: Should I? and Which? You have a week, and any comments left will be more than welcome. (Follow the link to find out more about the event – if it’s too late for me to officially join in, I may still do it unofficially.)

Please join in and help a worthy cause. Thank you.