Friday, 30 October 2015

Writing that breathes.

Any writers reading this may or may not have heard of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), when crazy people like myself embark on a mission to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. People have laughed and called me mad, but I assure you it's possible. I've done it three times and I am determined that this year I'll add another trophy to my fictional shelf. But I'm not here to talk about Nanowrimo, because you may already know what it is, and if you don't, I recommend you head over to nanowrimo.org to get the low down on this crazy yet exhilarating writing activity.

What I'm here to talk about is the character who will finally be getting her own novel this November.

Before I start, I have a couple of confessions to make. Confession number one, I used to be a regular online role player and fanfiction writer (don't ask to see my fanfiction, it's terrible). And secondly, the character I mentioned above was (you guessed it) originally a character created especially for a role play game. As embarrassing as I find it to admit to non-online friends that I used to role play, I've got to be honest, I wouldn't be the writer I am today without it. My first venture into RPing was full of Mary Sues, clichés and cheesy lines. But as I got older and more experienced, my writing improved. Most importantly, I stopped using RP as an opportunity to put myself into my favourite fictional worlds (that gets boring after a while) and started getting creative with characters.

The character in question had similar beginnings. She started off as a baddie, quite generic, a school bully, a spoilt brat. But eventually, I began to discover this character's reasons for being the way she was. Her dreams. Her fears. The things that make her tick. Suddenly, she went from being a generic baddie to a well-fleshed out character. So much so that she breathed on the page. She became so natural to write that she pretty much told ME what she would do in each situation, rather than it being the other way around.

After a while my RPing days began to look over, and I realised that I didn't want my best character to die with the site she had lived on for a number of years. So, six years ago, when I first heard about Nanowrimo, I tried to write her into her own novel. But the RP world was still too fresh, and much to my dismay, she fell flat and dull in the vague and pale world I tried to create just for her.

Six years on, now that the RP sites are well and truly buried, I've worked and reworked that world and the plots to go with it and I'm finally ready to try again. And believe me, I've never been so excited for Nanowrimo. I can't wait to write her and get to know her again. It will be like seeing an old friend after long years of separation.

So, as I wait impatiently for the 1st November, able to do everything except start writing, I'm talking about my novel and my character instead.

It's going to be a good November.

Happy noveling ;)

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Autumn, remind me why I fell in love with you.

Autumn is in full swing, and I've been dragged into it kicking and screaming. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy autumn, but I'm such a summer child that I find it difficult to say goodbye to the sun and come to terms with the changing of the seasons. Even when most of the people I follow on Blogger and Instagram were getting excited about colder days and pumpkin-spiced lattés and saying it was their favourite season, I just couldn't warm to the idea. But now, finally, I've accepted it. I've left summer and denial behind, and I'm welcoming autumn with all the woollens, yummy soups and pretty scenery it brings.

I never used to enjoy autumn when I lived in Spain, because Spain doesn't really have autumn, at least not in the area I lived. The weather just got colder, the days got shorter and the flowers died, leaving perennials behind. But in the UK, France and Germany, to name a few more Northern countries, autumn is a dream. My favourite colours are reds, burnt oranges and warm yellows, all the colours the trees turn when autumn comes along. My camera roll fills with snaps of orange-tinged avenues and brightly coloured parks, while my shelves suddenly display an array of fallen leaves I've collected on walks. And while I hate the nights drawing in and I'm not a fan of the cold, I love getting out the boots and woolly jumpers, and this year especially, I've indulged in a bit of retail therapy to update my autumn wardrobe (shh, don't tell).

And the food! Oh, how I wish British supermarkets would sell more pumpkins and their cousins! Last night I knocked up some roast pumpkin to accompany a tasty Saturday night paprika beef dish, and I'm loving all the root veg and winter spices to throw in soups (although, to be fair, I tend to ignore people who tell me I can't eat soup in the summer, who do they think they are?) And a little later on, when the Christmas spirit starts to creep in (i.e. not in September when the shops think it's okay to start screaming at us to buy Christmas stuff), I can't get enough gingerbread, Yogi tea and hot chocolate, mmm mm.

Finally, there's the nostalgia, the sadness. In some ways, this nostalgia is a good thing. It's a sign that things are ending, but after that ending comes a new beginning, a new year. But I can't help but lament the passing of time, especially if the year has passed quickly, and this is the main reason I'm usually so reluctant to let go of summer. Time falls away quickly, like the leaves of the trees, and before I know it the trees will be bare and the time will be gone. Thank goodness all the beauty of autumn and all the joy of Christmas is enough to distract me from unhappy thoughts, and by the time January comes along I'm already looking forward to spring.

Autumn is finally here, both outdoors and in my heart. And soon I'll be munching my gingerbread men and doing my Christmas shopping. But for now, let me wish you a happy season and leave you with a little autumn poem I wrote some time ago...

Autumn Poetry