Friday, November 26, 2010

Move over Movember

Blow those trumpets – the end is in sight! As of this evening I am up to 44,255 words and in racing parlance I’m rounding the last corner and heading into the home strait. For the first time I am beginning to feel I am actually going to complete the NaNoWriMo challenge and write 50,000 words in November. I am liking this image of myself of the sleek racehorse galloping to the finish and true to previous form I am completely disregarding the 5, 745 words I still have left to create and focusing on the champagne I am going to open on the evening of the 30th. Looking at the NaNoWriMo site where you log progress every day I observe some obviously driven and true writers have already completed their 50,000 words but you can absolutely bet your bottom dollar it will be 5pm on 30th before I finish. The only reason I say 5pm with confidence, rather than my more normal nerve wracking 11.59pm appointment with a deadline, is because I am already desperate to crack open that bottle and celebrate the fact I have actually done it.

November – or Movember as it is becoming increasingly known in Sydney is a big month for all kinds of endeavours including the sponsored growth of moustaches to raise money for male medical charities. As a letter writer called Rosie Lee remarked in the Sydney Morning Herald today there are so many moustaches round Sydney at the moment it feels like we are all starring in a 1970s cop show.

The one absolutely invaluable thing that NaNoWriMo has taught me is that if I want to write seriously then something in my life is going to have to give as there are just not enough hours in the day for family, job, dog, friends and writing 2,000 words a day on a permanent basis. I have managed to get through this month on adrenaline, neglecting all family members including dog and ignoring all household tasks but I am not sure this is sustainable. Apart from anything else my parents in the UK must assume I’ve died, as there has been complete radio silence from my end as I wrestle with my unsatisfactory imaginary teenager who just as in real life is completely failing to do what he is told.

There have been a few indications that things may be getting somewhat out of hand on the domestic front:
1. I have just found a dishwasher tablet in the fridge – this introduces the interesting question of what I put in the dishwasher.
2. The dog sensing he has been pushed down the pecking order for my attention has reacted by trying to recreate the Somme in the back garden complete with trenches and earthworks. Husband is waiting for one of the current excavations in the lawn to reach a suitable grave like size before extracting his revenge.
3. The washing has been hanging on the line for so long that when I took it in today I discovered a large spider had created a web between my shirts.
4. Personal grooming has dropped to a new low, hair has taken on yak like tendencies and if I don’t get a grip I might be giving those Movember guys a run for their money on the hair growth question (on my legs I hasten to add, rather than top lip before someone sends me their top tips on ripping and stripping moustaches.)

So roll on 30th November, which is coincidentally St Andrew’s Day, and like all good Scots I’ll be celebrating our patron Saint’s day, I might even be doing a little mini Highland Fling of my own just to give a little zest to the day before I reach for the champagne and razor.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Celebrate and pass the Kool Mints

Oh glorious day! I’m over halfway on my NaNoWriMo project, past the 25,000 mark and have had mini celebratory skip round kitchen. I am of course completely ignoring the fact that as today is the 19th of November that I am at least four days behind schedule. I should actually be about to get to 30,000 words today but I’m dismissing that as an awkward detail that’ll I deal with later. I am having flashbacks to my student days as I can see this whole project is going to come down to a last day sprint of about 10,000 words.

The omens for today were not looking good this morning when I emerged from shower, did first school run and then noticed that my hair was not just wet but positively slimy. I had, in an absent-minded moment that I would like to attribute to the trials of creative production, managed to put conditioner on my hair and then completely forgotten to rinse it out again.

Being time poor I then had to make the snap decision whether to spend the whole day looking as if I was auditioning for Snape’s understudy in Harry Potter with lank and greasy locks flopping round my face or should I should stick my head under the tap pronto. The tap option won and I staggered out of the house for school run number two and work, looking like a woman who had had a nasty accident with a rain barrel.

Australian politicians are providing me with lots of amusement at the moment. I listened to Julia Gillard the Prime Minister being quizzed on the relationship with Barack Obama and USA. Her assessment of the situation was that the two countries were ‘Great Mates’ which made it sound as if we all pop off to the pub together for a quick drink on a regular basis. I am not quite sure President Obama is fully cognizant of his role as ‘Great Mate,’ it may partly explain why he has yet to hit the Australian shores.

In the run up to the festive season the ex Premier of Victoria, Jeff Kennett shared his top tip for avoiding detection in the random breath tests that are a major feature of Australian roads, particularly at weekends. Apparently he keeps a packet of Kool Mints in his car and if he ever feels he is close to the limit, he just pops one in and hey presto it mops up the alcohol. Apart from the general rush to the sweet aisle in the supermarket to procure some magical Kool Mints, the other completely predictable outcome has been the press conference held by the Victoria Police to debunk the myth before they were faced with legions of alcohol impaired drivers reeking of mints.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sculpture by the Sea, Jacarandas and purple prose

Feeling triumphant as am up to 18,128 words as of last night. There is however the slight problem that today is the 15th of November eg halfway point so presumably 25,000 words is an indication of roughly where I should be. I can see there are going to be a lot of hot evenings spent sitting at the computer wondering what my character is going to do next. The answer so far is very little – husband suggests I need to add car chase, guns and sex in order to ensure I am creating a future bestseller. I counter that it is a writing exercise rather than a novel production line and anyway I can’t worry too much about plot as I am so stressed about the fact that my main character who is supposed to be a 15 year old boy speaks in the voice of a 45 year old woman – funny that – or not funny in the case where you are trying to create believable dialogue.

To move off the self indulgent navel gazing – or surely novel gazing in this instance, I have to report that at long last it has stopped raining and we have just had glorious hot weekend. I had my first swim of the year down at Balmoral Beach. I’m very easy to spot in the water as I’m the one doing the good old Pom breast stroke, head held high above water level.

One of the most vibrant signs of early summer in Sydney is the jacaranda trees which are in full purple flower at present. Purple never seems a very normal colour for a tree, this particular shade puts me in mind of one of Dame Edna’s more enthusiastic blue rinses, but the jacarandas do look absolutely stunning against a clear Sydney blue sky.

Sculpture by the Sea is another sign that summer has really begun. This is an annual event where the coastal walk between Bondi and Tamarama is transformed into a sculpture exhibition. The coastline is the most spectacular setting for all the sculptures. Husband took last Monday off and we spent a very happy morning, battling the crowds (goodness knows what it was like on a Saturday given the amount of people at 10a.m. Monday) and wandering along the path, gazing at all the sculptures. We were blessed with the kind of day where the sky glittered blue and gave an extra dimension of vibrancy to all the art. I've posted some of Husband's photos to give you an idea of the range of sculptures.

I always find the range of artistic imagination totally amazing and I think the concept of a temporary sculpture park is brilliant. It finished this weekend and the organisers reckon that over 400,000 people walked through the exhibition which I think is pretty good for a modern art festival.

I now feel revved up by all that artistic effort and achievement and as the chances of me being able to sculpt anything other than a poor imitation of Tracey Emin's unmade bed are pretty remote, I'd better return to my own particular artistic creation, the strangely mature and female sounding, teenager.

Monday, November 8, 2010

If madam would care to try this very fetching little mouthguard

Quick update on progress on both teeth and NaNoWriMo, both continuing to be major pains in my life, and arguably self inflicted.

In the case of the teeth, my problems apparently arise partly from the fact that I grind my teeth in my sleep like some kind of demented monkey searching for a nut trapped in its gnashers. This grinding is a sign of stress, so the dentist tells me, and she is helpfully about to provide me with the ultimate romantic gadget, a mouthguard.

I am struggling with the image I might present to a surprise visitor to the bedroom, the ultimate burglar deterrent, a woman in slinky negligee wearing mouthguard – actually I am making up the negligee bit, but even so who wants to go to sleep feeling like a member of the All Blacks front row? I was presented with the choice of did I want it on my top or bottom teeth - obviously the answer was neither, but I feverishly and vainly lay in the chair trying to imagine which might look better. Do let me know if you've a strong opinion.

The good news is that having been absolutely hopeless on NaNoWriMo, to the extent my scoreboard is filled with yellow and orange lights indicating that on given days I’ve failed to hit my allocated word target of 1,666 and horror of horrors one red light indicating bugger all was done that day, I now have a beautiful green light glowing for today as I managed over 2,200 words – mainly by describing my characters in such lurid and extended depth in a way that would have any decent editor reaching for the sick pail let alone the red pen. However the beauty of NaNoWriMo is they say don’t attempt to edit – do it in December. Ho Ho Ho is my response to that one.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Word count up - remaining teeth count down

Haven't figured out word count widget yet - but up to 2,218 words -total rubbish but I am feeling a slight glow of achievement. I am however slightly downcast by the knowledge they won't allow you to type out the same word -and I am thinking four letters here- 50,000 times as I could see that could have been my last resort.

In terms of getting my teeth into this particular project, the bad and frankly unbelievable news is that the dental saga continues. To recap, 45th birthday dawns Saturday, half tooth falls out during virtue filled flossing session. I see dentist on Monday for good news that this is going to be a major time and financial commitment involving me and my bank account spending great chunks of time in her surgery, if I don't want to be reduced to spending the second half of my forties sucking soup through a straw. Dentist not quite as poetic as this, but you get drift. Stagger out of surgery. Survive 24 hours without major dental incident. Buoyed up by false confidence eat left over Halloween candy - the Australian Mintie which should carry a dental health warning. To be frank I did know about their dreadful teeth mashing reputation as the Drama Queens' Orthodontist has banned them as death to braces, but in a devil may care moment I shoved one into my mouth and set off for calming walk with dog. Have to report it was as calming as electric shock treatment as approximately two chomps later I discovered hard, white, non Mintie lump adhering to Mintie and realised part of a tooth from the other side of my mouth had fallen out. I can hardly say that the situation is moving from the sublime to the ridiculous, as so far as I am concerned there was nothing sublime about the first tooth - but there is definitely an element of farce about the whole thing and I now hardly dare open my mouth for fear of showering my nearest and dearest or indeed complete strangers with stray bits of dental enamel. I need hardly say I can't wait for the next manifestation of old age - also known as which bit of my body is going to give up next. Had I known what a milestone 45 was going to be I'd have had a damm good party beforehand.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Write Stuff or perhaps more appropriately The Write to Die!

I have been inspired by the fabulous Kate Lord Brown on her blog to take a leap into the dark. In a ‘put up or shut up’ challenge to myself I have joined the American NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month group. ( The idea, which seems frankly laughable from my current perspective, is that during the month of November (which in a cruel twist of fate is only 30 days long) you write 50,000 words.

Somewhat predictably in the 8 hours since I signed up this morning. I have:
a) Mooned about panicking that we are already halfway through the 1st of November in Sydney whilst it hasn’t even started in the US;
b) Consumed a giant packet of chocolate buttons in an effort to kick start the muse
c) Gazed at the pouring rain, cancelled family photo shoot scheduled for this afternoon as feel shots of family group on the beach wearing wellies and morosely sharing umbrella are not how I want to remember our time in Sunny Sydney
d) Continued to watch rain whilst secretly rejoicing that surely netball must be cancelled this evening – there must be limits to these female netballers’ keenness after all
e) Read NaNoWriMo hints which include the following gem:

Tell everyone you know that you're writing a novel in November. This will pay big dividends in Week Two, when the only thing keeping you from quitting is the fear of looking pathetic in front of all the people who've had to hear about your novel for the past month. Seriously. Email them now about your awesome new book. The looming specter of personal humiliation is a very reliable muse.

So there you are – I have told you all – roll on personal humiliation! I will try and post the word count widget at the top of the blog so you can jeer and cheer at appropriate moments. I can’t actually decide whether this insanity means that I will be posting endless blog posts during the month as the ultimate in procrastination or whether it will entail complete radio silence.

At the moment my biggest problem is trying to decide whether I revisit a draft of a novel I tried to write in the US focusing on marital infidelity - always a goodie – or whether I try and go for something completely new – the advice from NaNoWriMo is go completely new – apparently much more exhilarating and liberating – apart from the fact my mind is a complete blank. Time to do or die and hit that first minimum of 1,000 words a day.