November 2011 Archives

in arts and media |

Notable miscellaneous music news:

  • Leonard Cohen new album in January, yay! This is Show me the Place, it’s been a long long time to wait for a new song from him
  • Elvis Costello says don’t buy his new boxed set as it is too expensive, buy Louis Armstrong instead
  • I’d never heard of Ra Ra Rasputin before today, but they have released a 3-track EP for free download until 6 December — I listened to Forward and I thought it’s pretty good
  • Snow Patrol tour dates, they will be in London in Feb. Very tempted. Even more tempted after reading Gary Lightbody’s highly intelligent essay on huffpo. I mean, I can’t imagine any of the X-Factor / BGT / AGT brigade, or Justin Bieber, or even Lady Gaga, using words like fecund (I had to look it up, myself) and not as an alternative to some other salacious swear word. Mr Leonard Cohen may know the word. Ah, but I digress…read that essay, and tell me you know a song by Snow Patrol

in outside interests |


I bought 10 ebooks over the weekend, a mixture of new releases, earlier works and some from a sale event. I started on one of the 10 yesterday, but found it a hard slog. It’s not very well written: pov jumps all over the place; massive amount of telling vs zero showing; unconvincing dialogue; the characters have no character. The premise is decent, some important social issues are addressed and there is, on paper, a lot of potential. If only the writing matches the idea. I tried a couple more chapters today, but when I checked the page numbers I see that after all that, I’m only at page 110 of 260. Not even halfway. I can’t see myself sustaining any sort of interest so I gave up. Sorry, [author]. (And, I’m intentionally vague because I don’t want to upset people associated with the book.)

in eating and drinking , objects of desire |


I have a very simple wishlist for Christmas. I want a metal pasta strainer that can fit in my large le creuset pot. Just the strainer, not the pot because I don’t have the space for another pot. The reason I want the strainer? To use to put the ingredients when I make stock. I can’t believe how easy and a lightbulb went off in my head when I read this. All my colanders are plastic so they won’t survive 3 hours in boiling stock. A metal one will.

in eating and drinking |


And now back to the regular food porn series. I got this venison steak for £5 at M&S on Friday. Pan fried for about 6mins so it’s still very rare. Deglazed the pan with butter and served with sautéed little gem lettuce. Took all of 10mins. Drinking it with a beaujolais nouveau I got last week. I’ll never get on Masterchef until I learn more about artistic presentation, but I cook pretty well, I think.

in arts and media |

This is the John Lewis Christmas ad. Of course it’s meant to be an emotional blackmail, meant to tug at our heartstrings. All the other ads are the same (the Guardian has a nice essay and collection).

But, this is John Lewis! No other retailer has the same place in our hearts as John Lewis. Where else do you buy your duvets, your vacuum cleaners, your oven gloves? They, plus to a certain extent, M&S, are allowed to tug at our heartstrings. So I watched this again, and again, and again. And there is a lump in my throat every.single.time.

in challenges , random words |


The validator opened today, so I did the usual, got my 2011 novel validated. They gave me 50,264 words, so writely was only 3 words out. Lots of winners badges in different sizes and a pdf cert. Another purple year, yay.

in being healthy |


5.00km 30.36min 6.07min/km

The day after I finish nano is usually a bit of a let down. I don’t know what to do. It was quiet at work and I had nothing to write. I come home, watch TV, made lunch for tomorrow and there is nothing to write. Oh, I know, I know. There’s the Lamplight rewrite which has dragged on for too long and I have about 10 books planned so saying there is nothing to write is technically incorrect. There is just nothing to write today.

So, I do the next best thing. I went running. 5k around the track. Getting a little speed back. It’ll be nice if I can consistently do sub-30 5k this year. It’s a reasonable goal.

in challenges , random words |


2195 words | 50267 words total

Another nano done. Yay! What better than to end with the MCs finally getting time alone — perfect hotel room, nice walk, excellent dinner, hot tub and then spending the whole night to get to know each other. There is still some more story, if I wanted to continue. But things are so perfect between them, it seems a good place to end this year.

in challenges , random words |

2944 words | 48072 words total

Less than 2000 to go. And things are just starting to heat up between our MCs. I have things to do tomorrow night — watching Masterchef and baking a cake for a colleague’s leaving party. It’ll be great if I can finish tomorrow.

in challenges , random words |

2275 words | 45128 words total

800 words at work. It’s quite distracting so I’m grateful for any writing that I manage to do at work. Went running after work, for the first time in a month. 5k at just aound 6min/km, pretty good. There are still far too many people on the track, grrr.

Now that I’m only 5,000 words from the 50k target, I can afford to skip some descriptions. The MCs have driven the lost boy back to his mother, and I wanted to describe the village that his mother lives in, but I don’t have a visual. So I just put in a placeholder and moved on with the chapter. Chapter 14 is done, and Chapter 15 starts a new act in the novel, so to speak. They’ve reunited mother and son and happily moved on. Now time for both MCs to get to know each other. Thing is, I suspect I’ll just stop at 50k, and there’s tons more story to write after that. We’ll see.

in challenges , random words |

2337 words | 42853 words total

It’s an odd feeling, to have a nanoday starting with 2-, still. It’s Mum’s last day, we went for a nice lunch at Bayswater then she spent the afternoon packing while I tried to write a little. I made her a nice steak sandwich to eat on the plane, we were too full for early dinner and I knew she won’t get fed till very late London time. Got the zipcar at 5.30pm, got her to heathrow at around 7pm. She went inside immediately so I came home. It’s quiet without her.

Writing is okay, the story is slowing coming along. I wish I had the motivation to really get into turbo mode and do the usual 5000 words a day. I’m close anyway, and I’m actually more inclined to continue at this 2000 words a day pace so I finish sometime this week.

in challenges , random words |

1084 words | 40516 words total

I knew we were going out the whole day, so I tried to write as much as I could in the morning before we went out. Went to the Christmas market at the Southbank (disappointing), then to Westfield Stratford (horribly crowded, never again) and then to visit RM. Had Turkish dinner near his place, after dinner sat at the coffee shop and chatted for a long time (nice).

It’s been a long day, so I’m going to call it a night. I’ll try to catch up either tomorrow or next week.

in challenges , random words |

3007 words | 39432 words total

Wrote 1100 words at work today, nice. Took Mum out to dinner at Belgo’s, but since there was nothing on TV, I still managed to start on the nano at around 9.30pm. This is the most I’d written in a day this year. It’s the morning after the night of many kisses for the MCs. Time for a special breakfast and then making plans for the road trip to take the boy back to his mother.

in challenges |

2273 words | 36425 words total

Busy at work today, the usual stupidity. Only got 300 words written. Rest were written at home. Chapter 11 is finished, it’s all about reflecting on that first kiss.

in challenges , random words |

2549 words | 34152 words total
Wrote 800 at work, and then finished the rest of chapter 11. Chapter lengths are a bit longer than usual, at over 3000 words. Anyway, end of chapter 11 = first kiss.

in challenges , random words |

2201 words | 31603 words total

Well, I made 30k. Took until day 15, ugh. This is my slowest progress in 7 years of nano. Comparison of day 15 results:

  • 2004 — 50,078 | finished on day 8
  • 2005 — 50,141 | finished on day 15
  • 2006 — 50,305 | finished on day 10
  • 2007 — DNS
  • 2008 — 50,277 | finished on day 15
  • 2009 — 50,057 | finished on day 12
  • 2010 — 41,106 | finished on day 18
  • 2011 — 31,603 | target to finish on day 24

I have good reason, and to be honest there is a certain relief at writing at this slower pace. The go-getting Aries in me is protesting wildly, but the part that wants to spend more time with Mum has won. Even though it’s just eating dinner at the kitchen bar table or watching TV together, I want to spend the early part of my evening this way. I wrote 675 words at work today, to ease some of the pressure. I only needed another hour at home to get up to the 2,000 word daily target that I’ve set myself. It’s all good.

in challenges , random words |

2142 words | 29402 words total

I wrote about 600 words at work today, a first this nano. Just typed in an email and sent it to myself. It’s so inconvenient to have google docs blocked, and can’t save anything onto flashdrives. I think I’ve done a great job of dragging things along this nano. The MCs and the boy were going to go shopping for clothes and stuff for the boy and they are still stuck at mcdonald’s and only just managed to get into MC1’s car. I thought the novel would be crap (after all, that’s my definition of a nano novel), but it’s gradually growing on me.

in challenges , random words |

2020 words | 27260 word total

Went to Camden market then Leicester Square with Mum. We’ve been out every single weekend for 4 weeks and the crowd was getting to me. Too much interaction, no, not even interaction, it’s proximity, to people is very draining for me. I need people to be away from me, far far away, and it’s getting on my nerves.

I had to cook dinner as usual, so not able to start on nano till around 8.30pm. Not in the mood, but I have to carry on. Chapter 9 is done. Our MCs finally got in touch with the lost kid’s mother, who is on her way to her weekend country home for some function. After getting over the disbelief that someone would abandon their lost child to the company of strangers, the MCs made the no-brainer decision to bring the kid to his mother. Cue start of road trip.

in challenges , random words |


2572 words | 25240 words total

I didn’t expect to be able to get this much written today. Went to Borough Market, Canary Wharf and South Bank with Mum today. Still managed to get home to watch Strictly. So didn’t get started till almost 9pm. Quite tired from walking all day, and carrying all our shopping.

At this rate, the story will be 100k words. The MCs just met, and have found a lost child. They are working together to get the child back to his mother, but his mother is too busy and it’s difficult to coordinate. All this is to lead up to the road trip portion of the story. We’re already at Chapter 9 and they are still on the phone with the kid’s mother.

in challenges , random words |

2344 words | 22668 words total

Went out for Le Relais steak with Mum tonight, so I’m happy that I still managed my informal 2011 daily goal of 2000 words. I’m pretty tired, time for bed soon.

Anyway, nano won’t be nano without my wrist pain flaring up. I keep cracking it, and the pain and discomfort continues. It’s the same every year. Like I said earlier this week, it’s a routine now. Left wrist pain is a nano routine.

in challenges , random words |

2242 words | 20324 words total

Alright. Got to 20k. Good progression. Chapter 7 just finished. All nonsense of course, the main part of the story hasn’t even started.

in challenges , random words |

2366 words | 18082 words total

This week has been very routine-like: I get home, shower, cook dinner, we eat dinner, watch Masterchef plus anything else interesting on TV. Then I get some free time, mostly about 2 hours, for nano. Compared to past years, I’m extremely slow. But this year is different and I don’t think I’m doing too badly.

One thing missing is running. I’ve only run once since Mum is here. I was walking in the park this morning thinking about running. Then I read probably the most moving race report on rw and I’m thinking to myself, I want to go running. Argh.

in challenges , random words |

2483 words | 15716 words total

The MCs just met and they’re starting to have small talk. Slowly slowly, I’m dragging everything out. Spent a large part of the evening watching TV with Mum, still pretty decent wordcount.

in challenges , random words |

2012 words | 13233 words total

Sort of back on track. I think I’ll aim at around 2000 per day, which is a tame target for me. Spent a couple of hours watching TV with Mum. Not wasted, just a different allocation of time this month.

I found the dares thread, I missed it cos it’s stickied. Anyway, I managed to include both Mr Ian Woon and Marin Woon. They appear early this year, in Chapter 4. Our MC2 was sorting through letters for tenants who occupied the flat she just moved into.

Mr and Mrs Ian and Marin Woon were subscribers to mountain biking and triathlon magazines that were super keen to have them become valued subscribers again

Did I mention that the novel sucks?

in challenges , random words |

1127 words | 11221 words total

Considering we went outlet shopping at Bicester, followed by Indian dinner at Brick Lane, ie I as out all day, I didn’t do too badly. All this was written in 1 hour. Need to go sleep now. There’s a part of me that wants my peaceful life and quiet weekends back, but the other parts are saying don’t be so rude and spend more time with mum.

in challenges , random words |

331 words | 10094 words total

I’d be happy if I get one word today. Drove 2+ hrs to Sussex to visit my niece’s other grandparents. Set up skype for them, had a nice lunch and walked around their harbour. By the time we got home it was past 7pm. Took the bus to Bayswater to have dinner at Nando’s — fast becoming mum’s favourite. Not a lot of time. Fireworks going crazy outside. Too tired to do much writing. Whatever I can get this weekend is a bonus.

in challenges , random words |

2056 words | 9763 words total

Mum and I visited our old neighbour; it was so fantastic to see her. We didn’t get home till 8pm so dinner was late at 8.30pm. Then we watched a documentary about Susan Boyle and I didn’t start working on nano till after 10pm. Wrote gibberish for 2 hours.

in challenges , random words |

2487 words | 7707 words total

So far, doing a chapter a day, today it’s introducing MC2. Sorry about the obsessively boring posts. This will continue until I finish.

in challenges , random words |

2797 words | 5220 words total

Not too bad. 10.4% complete, projected completion 18 Nov-2011 according to my nifty spreadsheet. One thing I love about nano is the stats.

There was a post on the writing prompt thread (used to be dares, I wonder why they changed the name) that gave,

It all started with a paper cut

I used this as my first line. The idea of how to expand came suddenly to me as I sat down after dinner to write, and I wasn’t even in the bathroom! Got a whole chapter out of it, and good basis to develop part of the story. I think I can be quite pleased with progress so far.

in random words |


2423 words

Another year, another nano. Year 8 for me. It’s almost a routine now, I’m not sensing any of the enthusiasm and magic of those early years. Not yet anyway. I still think it’s insane, which is why I’ll continue to participate.

The novel will still suck, that won’t change. Didn’t have a lot of time to prep, the outline is only half done. Time will be a constraint, I won’t be able to write a lot at work and I have to spare time to spend with Mum. May be I could chug along, to get to a decent total then spend the last 10 days after Mum goes home, to shift to a higher gear. We’ll see.


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