Tag Archives: WriMoFoFo

Heart or pocket?

LOVE OR MONEYI don’t think anyone in this day and age becomes a writer as a way to make lots of money, or if you do you just need to attend one writing convention or read a few blogs (thanks Lamellae for putting me onto that one) to quickly learn that there are easier ways to make your first million. But all writers at some point have to ask themselves, are they writing to make some money, or are they writing purely for themselves?

I’d like to think that ultimately the goal of all of us is to get to the second option. We will always be our first market that must be satisfied for us to be happy writers. Unfortunately being happy about what your write doesn’t always equate to being paid for what you write.

At the extreme end, you can write annual reports and business plans for companies and get paid for writing, but will you be satisfied? By the same token, you can write that story that has been bumping around in your head these past twenty years about a dog who can fly, and no-one else might want to read it, let alone pay for it.  

So with WriMoFoFo now started I’ve decided that for me a job can be the equivalent of my annual report writing. Typing out words isn’t what brings me pleasure, it is creating worlds and characters and flying dogs. So WriMoFoFo is going to be all about me this time around, and I’m going to have some fun.

After all, if my ultimate goal (as a writer) is to be able to write what I want to write, well then I can hand myself that goal right now. I’ll worry about publication later.

Nat

Finding new words

I’ve had a lot of time to write in recent months, but I’ve mainly spent the time editing – something I usually put off as much as possible. Recently though, I’ve had three deadlines which all required new words. Amazingly enough I made all three!

The thing that strikes me is that often I have wanted to write new words, but when I looked at the screen nothing would come. So I turned back to the editing, something for which I had hard deadlines which also counted as writing. What changed between then and now to see the new words flow; it was having externally set deadlines.

One of my favourite short stories was a competition entry (which didn’t win) that I started writing at 8:30PM on the night it was due. I entered the story at 11:45PM –apparently it was the last submission before entries closed. Yes it could have (and has since) benefitted from a solid edit and a 24 hour rest, but without that external deadline it would never have been written.

This led me to ask the question of why I respect my self-set editing deadlines but not the new word ones. Finally it came to me; I had committed to friends and family about when they would be able to buy my novel on line, so lots of people knew that deadline. My new words had no such external commitment, they were just numbers in a spreadsheet.

Lucky for me my writers group is about to start a new WriMoFoFo (write more for four) and while we run it anonymously, I’m going to use it as a way to make myself more externally accountable. I will publish my targets and my actual achieved figures each Sunday.

Please feel free to join me, it starts on June 11th –so you still have plenty of time to plan what you want to tackle. For more info about WriMoFoFo see my last WriMoFoFo post. Let me know how you are tracking, even just in vague non-numerical terms. Maybe we can all get a few new words written!

Nat

A terrific afternoon

Terrific is one of those words which can mean almost opposite things; very good or very frightening. I had a terrific moment by the Torrens River on Thursday, in both senses of the word.

The sun was setting, casting long shadows down the riverside footpath. A bunch of seagulls were huddling together on the grass, preparing for the night, and a young couple walked toward me, their energetic little dog bounding around their feet. A fish jumped from the river, landing with a splash that carried across the still water. It doesn’t sound like the moments preceding a potentially horrific experience does it? It actually sounds quite pleasant, and it was, but the terrible chain of events was already set in motion, and we were all helpless to avoid it.

Wondering what fish could possibly be living in the murky black depths of the Torrens, a river which gives up numerous bodies each time it gets drained (oh, I mean car bodies by the way), I decided to walk over and see if I could spot the piscean acrobat. At that same moment the little dog noticed the gathering of seagulls, and the temptation proved too much as he ran headlong into the gathering. The squadron of at least 60 birds took to the air, their flight path directly over the place where I was standing, trying to spot the fish.

Bird droppings rained down around me, inches in front of my face, my shoulders, my legs. I heard the thick *splats* as they hit the ground, the black and white goo spreading thick and smelly across the path. I couldn’t look up, I daren’t move, I just froze and preyed as the droppings kept coming.

And then they stopped.

I ran my fingers through my hair; nothing. Inspecting my legs, my jacket, my shoes -all were poo free! I couldn’t believe my luck, not a single dropping had made contact! So there you have it, a moment of terror, followed by a terrific feeling of relief.

And for those following my word count, I’ve edited 7 chapters since Wednesday, which is about 11,000 words! Not a bad effort in four days. I’ve also included (below) another nature shot of a mother and baby koala, taken just outside the house. It really is a zoo up here!
Mother and Baby Koala
Nat

What’s that on my arm?

Adelaide Hills Wildlife

In Cambodia, when you feel something crawling down your arm it’s usually sweat. In Melbourne, when you feel something crawling down your arm it’s usually dust. In Adelaide, when you feel something crawling down your arm, it’s usually a spider.

Yes, the Adelaide hills are home to all creatures, great and small. Especially small. I can find at least three spiders in any room I enter. Most of whom are harmless, and I ran out of names for them once I got to Barry. Now I’m only naming the deadly ones. No, seriously, most of the deadly spiders actually live in the eastern states, so I’ve left them behind. Except for those who hitched a ride back with me in the car.

But on the up side, we have a family of crows, a family of magpies, a family of lorikeets and countless cockatoos visiting us each morning. The lazy koalas watch us from impossibly high perches that are almost too distressingly precarious to look at. They slowly munch on gum leaves during the day, when they are not sleeping, and grunt like broken machinery at night… late at night. Sometimes really early in the morning too.

So with less than 5 days of WriMoFoFo left, can I hit the 15,000 target? That’s just another 10,000 words by Sunday. As a little red engine once said I think I can –or was that a politician? Anyway, I’m sure I’ve got the quote wrong enough to avoid breach of copyright. But I think I can do it. In such a paradise as the Adelaide Hills is turning out to be, I’m sure the ideas will flow.

I’ll check in on Sunday and let you know how the word count goes. Wish me luck!

Nat

Moving is like publishing a novel

After countless visits, phone calls and online volume calculators, I finally found a removalist who could move what we wanted for the price we were happy to pay. I thought my work was over. I even went back to writing and put a decent number of words in my WriMoFoFo spreadsheet for the first time in two weeks.

Then my boxes arrived.

It is day three of packing, and while I have nearly exhausted my box supply, the house looks just as full of books and trinkets as it was before. I’ve been down to St Vinnies so many times that I suspect next week the shop will be stocked entirely with my stuff. Yet there is still more to go!

This got me thinking; moving is very much like getting a novel published. You think the hard part is finding a publisher who wants your book, but it is only once the book is picked up that you find out about the real work of being a novelist.

Having never published a book, I know some of you are wondering how I would know, this is where the writers group comes in. Recently we watched two of our members get first time novel deals and go through the whole process. However, they are both still going through ‘the process’ despite having had their books on the shelves for months.

For us unpublished writers, the goal is getting that call from a big publishing house saying they want to include our opus in their list. But it is important that you don’t confuse ‘goal’ with ‘destination’, because once you are published you need to ensure that you get published again. To do that you need to make your first publication work and that means you need to work.

As an unknown author you might have to organise a lot of your own press opportunities, book signings, guest blog spots, possibly even your own launch. If you want posters, post cards, bookmarks or book videos, you may need to commission them yourself. All of this while also working on your next novel, because many publishers work on multiple book deals, with deadlines a year (or less) apart.

But if you are a writer, none of this will scare you off. It is a problem we would all love to have, unlike moving house, which is a problem that I can have all to myself. At last I see why buying a home is the great Australian dream; it is not a crazy desire to owe someone lots of money, we just want to avoid moving all our crap. It is so much easier to shove that spare set of Bocce balls in a cupboard just in case you need them again rather than finding them a new home.  

Nat

Words: 0 Cupboards cleaned out: 4

Yes, WriMoFoFo has not started well for me. I’ve been a bit stressed by the move and in an effort to appease the little monster that sits in my brain when I lay down to sleep and recites all the tasks I need to do before moving day, I have started packing already. Both the recycle and the rubbish bins are full, but the nifty WriMoFoFo spreadsheet that Liz did up for us is empty.

But there have been a lot of good moments during the packing when I’ve found little writing gems that I had completely forgotten about. As much as I procrastinate and find every excuse to not write in normal life, I’m actually quite good at keeping journals when I travel. I found one from my year in the UK which had me laughing and wasting at least an hour of packing/writing time. Here is an excerpt from my time working as a carer for a grumpy old lady and her dog.

She had a beautiful chocolate brown dog, Merlin, who had taken a fancy to me and I to him. Occasionally we escaped together for a brief walk, but due to his advanced age, his major hair loss and extensive arthritis the walks were short in both time and distance. I was also responsible for giving the dog his drugs, which he took in half a Milky Way (despite my protests that chocolate was bad for dogs; “maybe in Aus-tra-lia, but it is fine here”!?!?).

It was a whole week and a half before I stole one. I ate one of his sausages barely three days into the stint. I was hungry and he ate better than I did. He didn’t mind sharing, I asked him first. Besides, if I’m going to hell for any of my sins, it would be for giving the old lady the finger through the walls, not eating the dog food.

Perhaps a job as a carer was not the best career I could have followed, but it made for some particularly funny journal entries. This shows that we are constantly collecting material, even when we don’t know it. It also proves that the bottom drawer is no place for old writing, you need to have it out where you can see it and revive it.

Happy writing!

Nat

NaNoWriMo & WriMoFoFo

Yes, it does look like I’ve just randomly hit the keyboard to produce my title but those actually stand for something. November brings with it NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). This was started in 1999 in the US by a group of friends to motivate them to write more. Since then it has spread across the world, with over 165,000 participants joining in last year.

So what is it? The premise is simple; you try to write a 50,000 word novel in a month, specifically the month of November. What do you win? Nothing, you are doing it for the glory.

In my writers group (SuperNova) we have found a few problems with NaNo. Firstly, November is generally not a good month, there is the lead up to Christmas and the weather has finally turned into something you want to get out into. Secondly, 50,000 words is a lot of words. Many people miss the target and find it disheartening, hurting their writing more than helping. Finally, we are all commitment phobic, we have trouble dedicating ourselves to just one novel as the NaNoWriMo rules dictate.

Hence WriMoFoFo was born; Write More For Four. The aim is to write more words than you would normally write over a four week period. So you set your own target; 20K, 10K or even 100K whatever is right for you. You can write anything; a novel, short stories, poems, whatever you want to count toward your writing goal. We even have an ‘edited words’ section for those who don’t need to write something new but rather fix something that already exists.

Normally we run WriMoFoFo earlier in the year, or when the weather is turning bad. But as fate would have it, we all have deadlines to meet, so we are running a WriMoFoFo across November.

So whether you want to WriMoFoFo or NaNoWriMo it doesn’t matter, because even if you don’t hit that magic 50K either challenge will see an increase in the number of words you write –and that is always something to aspire to! You have a week to decide; NaNo or FoFo?

Happy writing,

Nat