Done it! NaNoWriMo Challenge – Completed!
Well, by the skin of my teeth, as they say, I have finally managed to complete the NaNoWriMo challenge of writing 50,000 words in the month of November!
What a strange month it’s been. I’ve been under the weather the whole month, with an infection that started in late October, and for several days I haven’t been well enough to write at all.
Then there’s the fact that I’ve started THREE separate novels this month! The first was a fuller version of one of the past lives that Cathy Heritage discovers in my novel, Healing the Wounds. That ground to a halt when I realised I needed to do much more planning than the November sprint allowed for.
So, having already come up with a great idea that I had expected to start writing on November 1st, I changed horses mid-race, deleted the first 3,400 words of Witch, and began to write a contemporary crime novel, The Macbeth Reviews, set around an amateur dramatics group, who suddenly start receiving a series of vitriolic reviews in the local paper. Accidents begin occurring with remarkable frequency, and things become lethal when one of the cast is found dead. Was it suicide, natural causes, or murder? Who is the mysterious reviewer, who uses the pen-name Macbeth, and is he (or she) responsible for the group’s difficulties – and/or the death of their member?
But after a while of writing this story, I realised I was waffling, and that this, too, needed more planning. What to do? For several days, I wrote nothing at all, as I was too unwell to have the head-space for it. I had the time – with no work having become available – but my head was full of gunk and cotton-wool. At this point, I was ready to give up. I had nothing else to write, and I wasn’t well enough to think of anything. I made eventually made some progress on a stress management workshop I’m putting together for Embrace Healing, and considered amalgamating all my writing to far this month, but it still hasn’t anywhere near the word count I needed. Indeed, when I did put it all together, it only came to around 12,000 words. So, my apologies for failing to provide regular updates, but as you can see, there was a variety of reasons.
And then the miracle occurred. One day at work (last Thursday week, to be precise), when I had nothing to do for a few minutes, I opened an email from Waterstones. It had a link to the bestselling children’s novels of the year, so I decided to take the time to do a little research.
One story in particular caught my imagination. It was called Snow Sister, and it was about a little girl who builds a snowman each year to ease the loneliness of having lost her sister. As a pagan, who is acquainted with many of the old Celtic myths and legends, this reminded me of the story of Blodeuedd, the woman who was made out of flowers to be a wife to Llew, to foil a curse laid down by his mother.
So that day and the next, I wrote the Prologue to a new children’s novel, in which a lonely girl sits rapt as the Court Bard re-tells the story of Blodeuedd, and an idea blossoms in her head.
But where to go next? I began the first chapter, but it was not until the Saturday morning, when I lay in bed thinking it through, that the whole story arc blossomed in my head. Excited, I got up and typed it out, before it got away.
The Bard refuses to make her a friend out of flowers, but when she finds an inscription in the woods, he agrees to create a girl/woman in order to break a centuries-old spell and free the legendary magician, Merlin, from his enchanted sleep. But their troubles are just beginning. For Nimue, the woman who enchanted Merlin, has stolen the Spear of Grievous Wounding. In order to distract Merlin from his rightful vengeance, she uses it to wound the King, our heroine’s grandfather. The land begins to fall into civil war, famine and sickness, and only the Grail can save both the King and his people.
And Aelwen, daughter of the King’s youngest son and the heroine of our tale, is integral to the quest, for as the chosen Grail Maiden (the working title of the series), her help is vital to its successful completion. But will she have to marry a neighbouring Prince to seal a diplomatic deal, or can she complete her rather hurried Bardic training? Can she accomplish the heavy duty laid on her by the Goddess of the Land, and help find the Grail and heal the King?
These questions will not all be answered until at least the end of Book Two – and we may still have the thorny problem of Nimue to resolve. I don’t know – I haven’t written it yet. But with the help of Aelwen and her family and friends, I have achieved the legendary status of NaNoWriMo winner (for the second time in my life), through a huge and concerted effort right at the end of the month (record number of words in one day – 11,000!), and the story will continue. Here endeth Book One. Let Book Two commence!