Monday, October 22, 2012

Starting A Small Fire

These is a moment in Stephen King's Misery when the main character, a writer called Paul Sheldon, is trying to solve a problem with his novel. His main character has killed someone in a cinema and needs to get away with the crime for a while before getting caught. Paul is trying to figure out how to make this happen in a plausible way.

Eventually he thinks 'Suppose the character starts a fire?'

He decides it will work.

Since then, starting a fire has been my go-to solution for every plot problem that comes up. It rarely helps me, because very few of my novels have scenes where it would work, but I always advise people to have their characters start a small fire.

At various times, I suggested it to all three other members of my old writing group. The final time, I had to preface it - 'I really don't wish to sound obsessed, but could they perhaps start a small fire?'

I'm not sharing this for any reason except to clarify that a) I am not a pyromaniac in real life, only in other people's books, and b) to  point out that every writer is crazy in their own special way.

Happy Monday!

Friday, October 19, 2012

And the results are in. . .

I have counted the votes and the Nanowrimo project that won the contest is - Sasha!

Thanks to everyone who voted here and on Facebook :)

#AuthorsAgainstBullying - Saving Yourself First

Today authors are coming together to blog against bullying. Non-authors have also been invited to participate, but although I have been a victim of bullying in the past, I have nothing much useful to say about it.

It's a horrible thing to experience.
It's a horrible thing to do.
If you ever feel tempted to do it, don't.

That's pretty much the sum total of my wisdom on the subject, except to say that sometimes bullying can come from very unexpected sources.

You may realise one day that your best friend is bullying you, but you hadn't spotted it before because, well, she's your friend, right? So it must be your fault that she sometimes says things that make you want to cry, right? You're just too sensitive, that's the problem. Maybe you can Google 'being less sensitive' and find some useful hints!

If that ever happens to you, step away from Google and consider that you may not be the problem.

From there, though, I can't advise what's the best thing to do. Which is worse, loneliness or being bullied? I can't answer that. I couldn't when I was bullied by friends when I was a teenager. Eventually, in my case, loneliness won (it just looked less crap) and I spent a lot of time on my own, writing bad story ideas in a notebook with a mottled green cover.

Which led to me being bullied by a whole new bunch of people. Seriously, they're everywhere! I'm now a working adult and I still meet them. I have no useful advice on how to deal with them either, except to run like hell (literally or metaphorically) when you realise you've met one. Put as much distance between you and them as you reasonably can.

One of the most damaging and pervasive myths of our time is that bullies will go away if you just stand up to them. I've met a few of that variety in my time but I don't think it's a good idea to assume that's the case, any more than it's a good idea to assume every other driver on the road is sober, alert and smart. Saying that bullies will back off if you stand up to them is also a nasty form of victim-blaming - if the victim just reacted right, then the bullying would stop. How about if we worked on modifying the bully's behaviour? Might that be a smart plan, since they're the one with the problem?

If you ever encounter a bully, whether at school or at work or in your private life, don't feel bad that you're not 'fighting the good fight' and 'sticking up for yourself' and 'teaching them a lesson.' That's not your job. Your job is to protect yourself and do what's best for you. You're not there to train other people to be reasonable human beings.

One final point - when you know what it's like to be bullied, you really, really appreciate fun, welcoming, warm, safe spaces like the ones I've found on the blogosphere. Not everyone's online experience is so good, sadly, but it's nice to be able to fully appreciate what we have.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Vote on my Nanowrimo project!

I've whittled it down to two options from the original four.

I can't decide which one to write. They're both Nano-friendly, involving lots of world-building and character interaction. They're both slightly fantastical. They both have flawed female protangonists. They each have an equal chance of getting me to 50K.

Really, there's little to choose between them. One of them has a contemporary setting, the other is futuristic. Both can be fun and wordy. I have beem mulling this over for a week without a breakthrough.

The time has come to turn the question over to Facebook and the wonderful world of bloggers :) Help me choose! For fun, I'm asking people to vote blind, based on the main character's first name.

To vote, comment with either 'Sasha' or 'Becky'.

So far on Facebook, Sasha is winning out, so don't be shy with the Becky-love! Whichever name has the most votes by 5pm GMT on Friday 19th October wins.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Nano in Numbers

Some Nanowrimo stats that might surprise you!

1999: 21 participants, 6 winners.
2011: 256,618 participants, 36,843 winners.

There are over 500 official Nano chapters worldwide.

Last year Dublin alone produced over 5.5 million words. I can't tell you how proud I am to be Co-ML for this region - not only productive, but the local Wrimos are lovely.

The total word count for Nanowrimo 2011 was 3,074,068,446.

Want to be a part of it? Contact me by email (firstname dot lastname at gmail dot com) or find me on where I'm known as nycelle.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Changing Seasons

I am back from mainland Europe, and very happy to see that people were reading and commenting in my absence :) You guys rock!

I had a lovely time, ate rather a lot of chocolate (oh, Belgium, thou art a harsh mistress. . .) and overcame my combined fear of enclosed spaces and spiral staircases to climb a few monuments. It was lots of fun.

And I have arrived back just in time for the start of October.

For me, autumn starts in October. In Ireland, it's not unusual for us to have a period of nice weather in September (we joke that as soon as the schools re-open, the weather improves) and although winter can descend very early, October feels like autumn to me. The weather is cooler and crisper, and you will no longer be surprised by the occasional unseasonal sunny day. The shops are full of Halloween and the air is full of woodsmoke and blown brown leaves.

I love autumn. I love the start of any new season, but especially autumn. It has many advantages - I can enjoy that lovely back-to-school feeling, that sense of possibility, while luxuriating in the knowledge that I never have to go back to school and pretend I care about Irish grammar ever ever again. I can bundle up in giant cuddly jumpers. I can rediscover the depth and breadth of my tea collection and contemplate hot chocolate after dinner. And if you stare at the word 'autumn' for a while, it begins to look like nonsense.

There is a great deal to recommend it!

Autumn also means that we're drawing closer to Nanowrimo. I'm returning to my role as co-Municipal Liaison (volunteer-type) for Dublin for my third year, and I'm already trying to choose which book to work on for Nano 2012. And I'm heading for a weekend away with a friend in mid-November, which should a) be lots of fun, and b) will motivate me to get ahead on my word count early this time.

So what do you guys have coming up this autumn (or fall, if you prefer)? And what's your favourite season?