Monday, 28 May 2012


So a lot of you may know about an annual event NaNoWriMo in it's traditional November, write 50k words in 30 days madness. But where you aware they also do the same thing in both June and August?

CampNaNoWriMo; it's all the fun of NaNo but with the summer sun shining down instead of the drizzly rain of November.* Instead of a large regional forum you can opt in (or out) of a Cabin with just you and 3-5 others, you can select to be with those sharing your age range, your genre, specific campers or a surprise mixture. and of course, because you could be mixed in with writers from all across the world 'write-ins' are not part of Camp unless you know enough writers locally to organise your own.

CampNaNoWriMo debuted last year is still quite new this year, there may be some kinks in the system to work through as more people join in the fun but just like it's older sibling in November it promises to be just as crazy, just as challenging and just as good at eating up your time (or making your house super clean as you procrastinate and fight writer's block). If you're a student with nothing to do over the summer or a stay-at-home mum who's tiny one is starting to give her more time to herself, or even if you work really hard full time and just want to add even more too it; I recommend at least giving Camp a go. If nothing else you will meet a few more writers and maybe make a few more friends than you had before the month.

So, why a long and rambling blog post on the event I signed up for weeks ago with only 3 days before it starts? Simple, it starts in 3 days and I have no idea if I can manage the word count that is needed (1667 words a day at least) around the baby. He is, right now, playing in his gym with his octopus toy but that won't last for ever (and from the damp patch at his leg I sense a nappy has leaked and a complete change of clothes may be on the cards for the near future). I have 24 in a day to try to write 1667 words. It sounds so simple but baby takes up a huge amount of time and it depends on his mood if he naps in his cot or only in my arms, if he'll play on his own or needs constant stimulation from me. And then there is the housework. We were away for most of last week so have piles of laundry, dirty dishes and other cleaning crying out to be done. Though if anyone thinks I'm cleaning that bathroom they can think again; the woodworm we were told was dead is very much alive and crawling all over the floor.

Crawling things and babies aside, thanks to the tiny netbook I may even be able to write in bed during those 4am feeds when he refuses to go back to sleep. Or on car journeys to visit relatives or do a bit of shopping. Or on Saturday mornings when I can convince the husband to take baby. Or Tuesday mornings when baby and I can go to the local church coffee morning and baby gets handed about and I can sit and type (and chat) while he socialises with the old people. Husband suggests I write on the toilet but 1) that's gross and 2) I'm never in there for long enough.

Of course, in a bid to make things a bit easier I'm being a rebel this year and going to continue working on the crazy koala story from November. It's still needing lots of work is now looking like it'll be a rather entertaining novel with at least one possibly two follow on novels. It's fun to write even if I only have a vague idea of where the story is going and no idea how to make what I think is the ending happen.

Because it gets asked a lot, allow me to explain about the koalas. Two years ago at a NaNoWriMo kick-off party we played a game called 'Pimp my plot'. Where you wrote a brief few lines on what you're story was going to be and passed it around for people to add to. There were about 20 of us there so that's a lot of pages to read and write on. One of the guys sitting near me suggested just writing the same thing on everyone's paper whether it made sense or not. For some reason I choose to add flesh eating koalas to almost every story that passed my way (A cry of "not more bloody koalas" was heard at the other end of the room later followed by "Needs more koalas." from me). It was a tad hilarious with just a touch of annoying (how big a touch depended on whether or not you cared about what had been added to your plot). Roll forward to the next year and another kick-off party where the same game was played and I was specifically warned not to add flesh eating koalas to any story line. I obeyed but only just**. Instead I wrote my brief plot as "Flesh eating koalas invade Edinburgh zoo." The plot I got back was hilarious.
Now, last year I was also being a rebel and had planned to continue working on The List and doing a few short stories throughout. However, a friend was writing her NaNo by hand and I came up with the idea that for every day she hit target I would write 1000 words of this koala story. She did really well to start with and by the time she gave up I was to engrossed in the story to stop so the whole thing was padded out and slowly became an actual novel. Every so often I'd get stuck over a name but the wonderful people in our regional chat room were always happy to supply and a lot of their user names and suggestions are scattered through the story (I may need to do something about that if I get it published). It has flesh eating koalas, shape-shifters, a strange robotic squirrel, a human boy that's not a human boy, an alien scientists running experiments on elderly humans, exploding snails, an exploding space dock and some very bad jokes. It's a lot of fun really though how I'm ever going to be able to give it to my in-laws I've no idea, I don't think it's really their kind of book.
Since then the same friend who helped start this koala madness has become a facebook friend and a lot of her status updates are written with abbreviations of websites in them or just seem to be written in code. Rather than ask what she's talking about I have been pretending she's living a secret double life as an inter-galactic space trader (mainly slaves but a side line in exploding snails and other dangerous cargo). So she is going to be the inspiration behind one of the characters of the next book which will be about llamas. Of course I first have to finish this koala story, edit it, beta it etc. etc. I'll get there in the end. Hopefully.

I think the biggest challenge will be using the time I get productively. Facebook, emails and the like are all going to eat into my time if I'm not very strict about getting the writing done. Of course not giving up just because baby is teething and screaming for comfort will also be an issue. I've already had to write part of this balancing a baby and his teether on my lap at the same time, not very easy I can tell you. But do-able. Just. I think the thing most likely to stop me will be the baby and him needing me. Given this has taken 2 hours to write so far, most done with him on my lap feeding or being comforted you'd think this would be easy but  it's the fact I've spent half an hour with him screaming in pain which could be an issue. One thing I'm sure of is that finishing Camp is no where near as important as making sure he's happy and meals and housework happen normally. I'd rather write 10 words a day and have a happy baby and a happy husband than write 2000 words a day with a screaming child and depressed and stressed husband. Priorities, you know?

Now that I've droned on and on and on about Camp and my plans and every other bit of nonsense in my head, let me finish by asking if you plan to do Camp. If so, what are you working on? If not, why not? I may well do this again tomorrow but you're very much welcome to ignore it as it will probably just be more inane ramblings of little importance.

While writing this batch of 1667 words I had to contend with 1 nappy change with change of clothes, 4 feeds, 1 morning nap (during which I had breakfast and got washed and dressed), 1 poo filled nappy, 2 issue with a lot of baby sick plus a change of clothes for both of us (and one for the couch), 1 screaming session because growing teeth hurts, 1 interruption by the mailman, another short nap, 1 photo shoot and a lot of writer's block. It's taken a little over four and a half hours to do and no housework has been done and it's now after 2pm and to hot to move off the couch. Oh well.

*Weather statement may not be valid in all areas.
** I did add some exploding snails and a platypus that foretold doom but both totally fitted into the already established plots. Honest.

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