Friday, October 28, 2011

Inspiration and November

This seems the sort of post that belongs on my website, but this is more subjective mumblings as opposed to an objective advice article. I had lectures, this week, on Keats - you know, the great Romantic poet who died young, that guy. There was nothing especially inspirational in terms of stories in the poems that we looked at, not for me, anyway, at that particular moment in time.

The inspiration came from the lecture's choice of words. I won't reveal them. See, he used an expression to describe what Keats might have been writing about, and the four words he used have inadvertently given me an idea for a novel. The idea sort of clicked straight away, but I have a rule: leave it a day.

So, yesterday morning I thought about it properly again. I looked at those four words, which I wrote down separate to my notes, and the whole thing came flooding back in more detail. My head works weirdly that way, and I took advantage of it. Over a cup of tea and listening to The Saw Doctors on the bench just outside my college in the smoking area, I started to plan the book.

This is one of those books that would be categorised incorrectly if it was in a bookshop. It's a paranormal. It has some romantic elements. It would be classified as a paranormal romance, but it's not. Paranormal romance implies that the romance is paranormal, when the book has wholly independent paranormal and romantic elements. There are no vampires, werewolves or any other Gothic clichés that have been overdone in the last six years in the world of teenage fiction.

I am tempted to write the book for NaNoWriMo, but it occurs to me that actually taking part in NaNoWriMo will be impossible with college this year. While I do have a lovely break from college at the very start of November, I will be in France with no Internet connection, laptop, or privacy. This is part of my course.

When I get back, I will need to have two essays written by the following Thursday. Towards the end of the month, I will need to have written a journal of at least ten pages on Gothic films and books. Before the end of the semester, I will need to create two podcast-type documents - one audio, one video - for another module, while also getting a project about France done. This project will need to include more information than I currently have on a number of religious figures and movements.

I will also be taking part in an intensive, involuntary teaching programme. I will need lessons plans and I will need to teach. To add to this, I will need to get schemes of work done for my teaching in January. I'll also have to visit the school, and though it's local, this will take up a whole day in itself.

I have no problem doing this work. I accept that it is part of my college course. My problem is that I don't also have the time to write a novel, especially not if I'm losing several days at the start of the month. I have to run my college's magazine, The Scribbler, while also writing a short story for my website and another for the book I'm putting together in college. In short, I will be busy with these minor extra curricular activities.

And guess what? That's not it. While running The Scribbler and while writing two short stories, on top of all of the work I have to do, I will also be part of the play the Drama Soc are putting on. I don't yet know how much time that will take up. I also have two more poetry writing workshops to attend during the month of November. That's more time gone.

The simple fact of the matter is that, because of the sheer volume of work I have to do, I will not be able to partake in NaNoWriMo this year. I will still be writing various things, like essays and short stories and articles for my website, but I will not be able to focus on writing 1667 words a day, particularly not when I will be losing so many days. I won't even get into the climb of Croagh Patrick (again) in November.

What I will be doing is writing about NaNoWriMo. I plan on adding a "pep talk" to my website for each week in the month. I may write about characters and plots and settings and making things believable, and how to avoid stressing out, how to stop your family from annoying you and how to live with a writer (for the families that are cursed with one of us!). I just can't focus on a novel with all the work I have to do that is suddenly three times as much work as we'll have had to do since third year started.

I don't regret this decision. Yes, it means I won't reach my own personal deadlines, but I can still work on things, like editing Meet Sam, during the month, especially if I'm going to be stuck on a plane and on buses for three of the thirty days in the month, between France and the mountain out west. I would like to actually get that done properly, so I could finally move on with the damn thing. I'll probably need to print out a few different parts of the book, get a blank page or two and draft the additional details and scenes that will not only bulk up the book, but also make it better - there's so much depth not yet explored in it that a lecturer of mine was kind enough to mention when she read it, and I think the book will benefit greatly from this stuff.

I just need to actually get myself to do it. On that note... *reminds self to copy the post-it notes onto less sticky paper* It's something I can work on in France and on the bus to and from Croagh Patrick and in the mornings over a cup of tea. This novel is important to me, having evolved from an idea adapted from a film and a vision of this city I live in to something more and greater than that. It's a novel that doesn't draw on the lives of those around me. It's a novel I can be proud of, having written it in the November before my Leaving Cert exams. Even since then, it's stuck with me. I can't just abandon it now.

Is it foolish to imagine a dedication for the book already? Possibly. That's another little secret of mine, that tiny little message to go in the front of the book that not everyone takes notice of. I guess, of all the people I can think of dedicating my début novel to, this one just feels more right. Suppose I just have to make sure that happens by finishing and then submitting the book, eh?

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