National Wish-You-Were-Writing-More Month

It’s November.

Yes, it’s taken me a while to realise this, I know, but, nevertheless, the observation remains correct.

And, as writers across the world know, November is NaNoWriMo, in other words, The Month Of Repeatedly Smashing Your Head Against A Wall In Desperation And Anger.

NaNoWriMo, for those that aren’t aware, (please know that I have never been more envious of you than in this moment), stands for National Novel Writing Month. Yes, that’s right, hundreds of thousands of absolute morons like me are attempting to write a novel in a month – that’s 50,000 words, in 30 days. Which means 1667 words per day. And remember, just because a novel must be at least 50,000 words, that doesn’t mean that many are. In fact, most novels nowadays are closer to 100,000 words, and while the objective of the month is technically to write 50,000 words, that is quite simply not enough words to tell a satisfactory story, and many of us (including me) will not settle for less than an entire novel.

This means that I have essentially given myself the challenge of writing over 3500 words a day, when coupled with the fact that I joined the challenge two days late, and am also generally an idiot. So, no, realistically, I do not think I have a single chance of finishing my novel within the month. I don’t even think that I have much chance of reaching 50,000 words before the end of the month, considering that we are very nearly halfway through the month, and at this point I should have written, 23,478 words, if I want to reach those 50,000, that is. This number is more than double my measly 11,148. This slow progress means that if I want to reach 50,000 words by November the 30th, I have to write 2433 words of my novel per day, which, to be frank, I don’t have the time for.

However, I am, always have been, and sincerely hope to always be, a blind, hopeless, and entirely pathetic optimist. While this number is entirely stupid, and borderline impossible, I am holding out hope that I can do it, and refuse to stop trying. The worst that could happen, I’m telling myself, is that I only reach 20,000 words, not even half of my goal, and I will feel like a complete and utter waste of space for the rest of my life, but I will at least have developed a daily writing habit because the NaNoWriMo site likes to shame me if I don’t write enough in a day, and I can then continue to write my novel at a painfully slow pace, and never quite finish it but at least have had some fun along the way, trying to make the feisty and suicidal ginger that lives within my head do what I say instead of jumping off a cliff on page 50.

So, yes, my novel, which is about that very same feisty and suicidal ginger, if you didn’t guess, may never be completed, but I am going to plough on through anyway, slugging my way through November, probably finding myself relating more and more to my protagonist as I go along.

Why am I telling you this, you ask? This isn’t a confessional, it’s a blog, and none of this is interesting enough to warrant a blog post, you say?

Well I would agree with you, none of this is very interesting at all. The only reason I’m telling you all of this is because I’m using it as an excuse for my miserable absence these past 10 days – this post is 4 days late, and a rather awful post, too. And you will now understand, having read my slog about NaNoWriMo, that the reason behind all of this is that whenever I have had time to write, I have been working on my novel. And yes, I understand that this doesn’t quite add up when you look at the numbers of things, but this is my excuse and I am sticking to it, because from here on in, this post will consist of an excerpt from my novel, and not of me doing my normal ranting and chatting about pointless things.

So, I hope you enjoy the excerpt to come, as much as I have enjoyed writing it, and then a lot more, because the pain of writing a novel is not worth it at all unless the readers have more fun reading it than the author had writing it.

The air was full of that end-of-school buzz that we all know so well; that fizzing in the air that’s there, by the gates, at the end of every school day. It’s a fizzing that is loaded with excitement, with laziness, with frustration, with stress, and primarily, with relief. School is over for another 16 hours. Relief. I can get out of my uniform at last. Relief. I don’t have to see these people again until tomorrow. Relief.

On this particular day, there was slightly more of that buzz than normal – it was a Friday, a Friday in April, and the sun was shining again for the first time since last September – such is the way in the depths of England: darkness and miserable-ness for half the year, and a pathetic excuse for warmth for the other half.

The temperature had sky-rocketed to double-digits since lunchtime – at 12 degrees centigrade, scarves and hats lay abandoned on the grassy bank outside the school, as teenagers basked in the  glorious sun-shine, in the lack of biting cold that chilled them to the bone. This one sunny day was like a ray of hope for the students, the school children. It gave them thoughts of summer, of warm days and bright skies and the sun staying up until past 5 o’clock.

April was the month of this – the month of looking forward, of excitement for what’s to come in the months to follow.

But the buzz of a sunny April after-school cannot quite spread to everyone, even on a Friday.

Walking out of the gates side-by-side, two sixth formers gazed at the screens of their phones. The girl, on the left, was knawing on her lip, all evidence of the colour she had applied in the morning long-since faded. A hat was perched stubbornly atop her long, dark hair, the fluffy pom-pom falling limp after months of everyday wear – even bobble hats grow weary with winter when it takes so long to wane. Walking next to her, his steps in time with hers, most likely due to the beat rushing through the headphones that they were sharing, was a young man, with an ash-blonde fringe flopping across his face as his grey eyes bored into the screen of his phone, willing a notification to arrive, to tell him that she was ‘walking home, see u on mon x’.

But no such message appeared, as they never do, and when the pair of teenagers came to a halt just outside the gate, the boy pulled his scarf away from his mouth and exhaled deeply.

“Why the hell can’t she just send a text?”

“Because that would be too helpful.” The girl responded in an attempt at bitterness – but it failed dismally – the worry in her voice, her face, her eyes, was too evident, too strong, for annoyance to be effective.

With another sigh, the boy reached up an oddly muscular hand, and ran it through his hair, holding the floppy fringe out of his face for a few seconds.

“Dude, just cut your fringe if it’s annoying you so much.” The girl said, her dark eyes following his hand.

“What?” He asked, drawn out of a trance as quickly as he had fallen into it. His hand was still resting  on his head, holding his fringe back.

“You keep pushing your fringe out of your face recently. You’ve touched it so much today that it’s gotten all greasy.” She dead-panned, trying hard to keep the disgust from her tone as she looked closely at his hair.

“It’s not annoying me.” He said, pulling his hand from his hair and self-consciously patting it.

“Right.” The girl was unconvinced, but went back to staring anxiously down at her phone screen. There was silence for several seconds.

“It’s just a nervous habit.” The boy said after a while, defensive. “Whenever I’m tense, or on-edge, or whatever, I touch my hair a lot.” His voice was weaker than his argument.

“Cause that seems legit.” The girl nodded over-dramatically, sarcasm dripping from her voice.

“It is! I mean, I do have a reason to be tense today, if you hadn’t noticed.” There was silence for a second or two, and the girls face fell.

The remark was intended to be playful, funny, but all it did was remind both of them of something that they’d been trying to forget. It stung more for the girl, as she recalled all the times she’d remembered the day alone, crying into her pillow in the middle of the night, pretending by day that there was nothing different, nothing special, about the day, as her eyes had glossed right over the boy now stood next to her, for so many days, so many years.

“Sorry. That was a dumb thing to say.” His voice was quiet, low, barely more than a whisper.

“Yeah.” The girl nodded slowly, the corners of her mouth lifting slightly. “It’s fine. We need to be able to talk about it without it being weird or making someone cry.” The boy chuckled. “Joking about death is a positive step on the road to getting over it.” She continued, grinning, but didn’t look at the boy. As she said ‘getting over it’ she had changed her voice into a sickly sweet croon, a mocking imitation of someone who had clearly said something wrong.

The boy laughed, and was about to respond when a year 10 with a river of red hair behind her appeared in front of them.

“Hey, guys. Have you seen Honey anywhere?” The girl’s tone was bright and warm, and there was a smile on her young, freckled face as she glanced over her shoulder at her group of friends, clustered around a bus stop and shooting glances over at her every few seconds.

“No, we haven’t. We’ve not seen her since lunch, actually.” The older girl replied. A flicker of worry crossed the face of the younger girl.

“Since lunch?” She asked, glancing at her watch.

“Yeah, but, whatever. Don’t worry about it. She probably just had a free and decided to walk home or something.” The boy shrugged, forcing a small smile onto his face.

“Hm.” The red-head was clearly unconvinced, as was the older girl, who rolled her eyes discretely at the pathetic excuse. “Well, if you see her, tell her I’m going out with Tabi and the others, so I won’t be on the bus, yeah?” She asked them, glancing over her shoulder again at the group by the bus stop.

“Yeah, course.” The boy gave a smile and a small nod, before speaking again, “and, May, if she’s not there when you do get home, let me know?” He requested, his eyes beseeching.

“Of course. But she will be, she’ll be fine.” The girl, May, forced herself to smile back, before taking a small step backwards.

“Yeah, but, just in case.”

“Yeah, ‘course. Anyway, see you soon, I’ve gotta go.” She looked over at her friends again, and when she turned back around she was once again smiling without difficulty. “See ya.” She directed this at the boy as she turned around, and began to walk off, shooting a “Bye, Lisy!” over her shoulder at the older girl as she left.

“I really hope she’s okay.” The boy said, watching the younger girl walk away, and being greeted with shrieks of delight by her friends.

“She will be. Don’t worry about her, ‘Tember.” Lisy snuck an arm around her friend’s torso, bumping him with her hip.

“I always worry about her, Elisabeth.” He said, forcing himself to sound cheerful as he dropped his arm heavily onto her shoulder.

“Me too,” She said, failing to keep the strain out her voice, “me too.” 

Yay, you got to the end!

Here, have a sticker and a hug for reading all the way to the bottom. Thanks for sticking it out.

Anyway, have a lovely week, and don’t die before you come back.

Lots of love, Mima xox

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