My NaNoWriMo Word Count Widgets!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Fake tears...

I've spent an interesting morning researching ways to create fake tears when onstage....everything from squirting lemon juice in your eye (OW!) to staring at a light, to yawning, to a handy little stick with menthol and camphor that you rub just under your eye.  I'm sure I will try almost all of them for Bad Girls over the next three weeks (but definitely not the lemon!)

I've continued with my writing streak - another two chapters fleshed out yesterday.  I'm sure I'll cut them back to almost nothing in the dreaded edits, but for now I can smile at my 60000 word count.  Another 20000+ words should do it....I'm now at the point where Dr B has nearly all the information she needs before having a talk with Esme about who she really is.  Julie and Alex have been discussing the situation but are left scratching their heads because they don't know everything Dr B does.  Dr B (and the reader) now understand Esme's mental health condition, but we still don't know if Esme has hurt herself deliberately or accidentally.  There's a lot for me to keep track of, so I'm glad I have my index cards!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Happy Birthday...

Well, Little Tootsie is four today...I don't know where the time has gone!  Four years ago, I thought I was having Braxton Hicks...she kindly arrived 5 days early and has been a darling ever since.

I've written a couple of thousand words over the past two days, which I'm rather pleased with.  I'm at the point in the book where not a huge amount is happening, other than filling in the backstory and teasing a few points about Dr B.  So it's nice to have the word count increasing..I just hope I don't go back over it and realise it's all unnecessary information and have to delete it!

I'm determined to keep working on Hospital Corners over the next month and have it all finished for November...and after the past two days, I have slightly more faith that this might actually be manageable.  I'll be uploading the newer chapters in the next week or so.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Sore feet...

Writing is really great fun - but it's not good exercise.  I went on a 5 mile sponsored walk today and I'm really feeling it tonight! 

I've not really written much this week - I've been feeling quite run down so I compassionately gave myself a week off.  But I'm determined to knuckle down in the next few weeks and get Hospital Corners up and running again.  I've reached 819 on Authonomy now - not bad when you consider the fact I started at 4-thousand and something-th when I uploaded the book in July!  I really want to get the first draft completed by November, so I can devote that whole month to NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month - the chance to write at least 50000 words in exactly one month.  I'm torn between two completely different ideas and styles.  Another lit-fic book called Agoraphobics Anonymous (for which I have no plan other than the title and a three sentence pitch) or a chick-lit book putatively called Tai Chi in Jimmy Choos (for which I have chapter plans and character ideas). 

I'll keep you updated on my progress - both with Hospital Corners and NNWM.  Right now I'm off for a cup of tea and a hot bath for my aching tootsies.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Back to school...

Well, that's the end of the school holidays and they've absolutely flown by!  Big Tootsie is now in P2, and Little Toots is in her final year at nursery.  Where does the time go?

I hope to get back into a regular writing routine myself now that my days aren't taken up with "not watching TV" with them.  I have a show in one month, auditions for another tomorrow night, voluntary work to arrange, and 2 gym visits a week to squeeze in.  Plenty of time for writing too....

I think I've worked my way through the middle of the book bog.  I have Dr B reading the journals, Julie is finishing up her shift, and Dr Alex Stevens (got to have a hunky doctor somewhere - even if he is just a bit part) is wondering why Esme is getting upset over a magazine article...the plot thickens and I'm just in the process of giving it a good old stir.

In a way, my last couple of writing sessions have been "back to school" for me.  Remembering that structure is all well and good but things like writing in just one POV at a time, giving a bit of description, and keeping characters' voices distinct are more important.

Time to knuckle down in the classroom...

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Middle of the book bog...

Today has been completely hit and miss.  I've written, re-written, deleted, re-written, deleted again...

I've spent most of the day battling through chapters 19 to 21, working out what needs to go where and who needs to say what.  I think I've worked it out now.  I've written it down on the ever handy index cards and I'm now letting my brain mull it over. 

My main problem has always been endings.  I know what I want to happen, I just run out of steam getting there.  I am happy with a couple of sections that seemed to come out of nowhere...I just wish they were a bit longer, but I'm worried that if I try to pad them out it will be too obvious.  I really envy those writers who write too much and then cut back.  I'm not giving myself a hard time about it though - I never thought I'd get 40 000 words written! 

Other news - signed up at my local gym.  They offer an exercise scheme for people with health problems.  I start on 2nd September...eek!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Wet Wednesday...

Well - I'm glad I took the time yesterday afternoon to cut the grass and pull some weeds, because it's been chucking it down today! 

I feel like I have so much on at the moment.  Having 2 rehearsals a week for Bad Girls is beginning to take its toll...and rehearsals/auditions start next week for my other group.  I have harmonies to learn, new routines to practise (if I can remember them!), plus lines and scenes to remember.  Thankfully I've bought a copy of the musical on DVD so I can watch it and run my lines and moves alongside a supporting cast.  That's my plan for this evening.

I'm also working on my short story, When I died, for a competition.  If I can get that out the way this afternoon, I'm free to continue with Hospital Corners.  I've been doing some research over the past few days on the inner workings of the NHS and their ability to dig up medical histories based on a name.  And it's good news - Dr B won't be able to find out anything about Esme unless she reads the diaries....excellent....

Monday, 8 August 2011

I need more time...

I don't know where the last two days have gone!  I guess that's what happens when Big Toots and Little Tootsie arrive home from their holiday.  They had a great time and I can't say a big enough THANK YOU to Granny & Grandad for taking them.

I'm also up to two rehearsals a week for Bad Girls...we still have one song to learn, two numbers to choreograph and two other major dances to remember!  Scary biscuits....but we do have our costumes fitted.  We'll look fab, and I'm going to melt under numerous layers!

On the writing front, I've given Peggy a couple of days off as I'm writing a short story for a competition on Authonomy.  I wrote the first couple of paragraphs late one night last week...sometimes my best ideas strike when I'm all cosy in my bed and about to drift off in a medicated snore.  I end up grabbing the ever-present notebook and scribbling things down before they escape.  And I'm glad when I do it - because you can never quite recapture those first moments of inspiration.  If you try to remember exactly how you phrased something 8 hours previously, you're doomed to failure. 

So I'm working on a short piece (up to 2500 words - a walk in the park compard to an 80000 word novel!) entitled "When I died".  Very much black humour.  I don't expect to win, but I want to write the story anyway.

I hope to finish off Peggy's part in Hospital Corners by this time next week...but with two little girls to entertain, lines to learn, dances to remember, songs to sing, audition pieces to prepare for next week (for my other musicals group!)...oh, and housework etc...good job women can multi-task!  And speaking of which, here's a little line that went through my mind one day to leave you with a smile:

Modern multi-tasking for women is the ability to pee, while simultaneously tying your shoelaces and gargling with mouthwash.  Extra points if you can fit in a text message too...

Saturday, 6 August 2011

A slow Saturday...

I really don't have much to say today.  I've had a quiet morning - catching up on some reading (i.e. actually reading for pleasure rather than to learn how to write!) and a quick trip to Tesco.  There's always something I forget...

I have spent a little time with Peggy today, writing her early diary entries from when she was first admitted to hospital.  I've had stuff drafted for a while, but today I've been going in and ironing out the kinks.  Hopefully, I can get some more of her life put down on paper by the time the girls arrive tonight.  I can't wait to see them again; it's been 6 whole days!  I foresee a lot of washing...

Friday, 5 August 2011


I've had two days of pretty solid writing, and I'm now pleased to announce that over 40000 words are written and up for viewing on Authonomy.  Hurrah!  I would like the finished book to be around the 80000 mark so I'm officially almost nearly there.

So - where am I in the timeline?
I'm now into the early hours of the Saturday morning.  Esme is snoring peacefully in A&E, Julie is sneaking into the toilets to peek at her diaries, and Dr B is munching her way through the contents of the vending machine as she goes through Esme's medical notes.

Dr B is still an enigma....and not just to the reader!  She's a character who is slow to step forward in my imagination.  She's aloof; she doesn't let people get close to her; she likes to do everything for herself...yes, she's me.  But she's a me who has managed to put a lid on her problems and succeed in her career.  I'll be interested to see how she's managed to do that...

The next chapter will be a long one, and the most autobiographical.  We're coming into the Peggy years - her diaries from her time in hospital.  They're not my actual diaries, but some of the pieces are things I wrote while in hospital.  Things I wrote while my mood was low; when I thought things couldn't get any worse...and then they did.  Some sections aren't pleasant - and I deliberately wrote them that way.  Mental ill-health isn't all fun and game...there are hardly any games and certainly not much fun.  Saying that, this is probably one of Esme/Peggy's happiest times.  A time where she felt accepted, normal even. 

I'll let you read them when they're done, but it's likely to take several days to pull it all into shape.  Especially as my girls come home from their holiday today...roll on tomorrow night when I can see them.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

From third to first....

No, I haven't won a competition.  Although I have won a free, limited edition, Harry Potter poster today.  Somewhere amongst the other 4999 pictures is my wee mug, pixelated for posterity. I think it's about an inch to the right of Harry's glasses. 

What I mean by "third to first" is this:

Yesterday I wrote a chapter.  It described Julie and Linda discussing Esme's handbag, which had just been handed in by the driver.  The piece was OK but it wasn't great, and it was nagging at me all evening.  I knew something just wasn't quite right.  There was a lot of dialogue for a start, and it felt clunky and contrived.

So, today I changed from writing in the third person (Julie sat down, pulling the bag towards her) to first person (I sat down, pulling the heavy bag towards me).  Suddenly it sounds a million times better.  It's more personal (obviously) and it breathes....the old chapter was definitely more like a zombie in a really bad movie, not quite alive and not quite dead. 

So - although it's taken me two days to write, I'm much happier with my 3000 word chapter and I'm in a much stronger position for moving onto "Midnight".  I also learnt what information is found on a bus pass....always handy to know.  Thank you to all my friends on Authonomy who helped me with that one! 

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Compassionate other...

As part of my weekly therapy for my BPD, I'm currently working through a "Compassion" module.  It ties in nicely with a lot of things I've been thinking about on my own, and working through on a one-to-one basis with my psychologist.  However, todays session neatly fits in with my writing too!

With compassion training, we work our way through imagery exercises, building them up over time.  We start with just breathing in a relaxed way, then we think about a compassionate colour (for me it's a pinky purple) and then we move onto imagining a safe place.  Now we've reached the point where we have to picture our "compassionate other" - someone or something that we can talk to and they can talk to us, soothing us and being compassionate.  If we can picture someone soothing us in our minds eye, the idea is that we will accept that a lot more than just telling ourselves to be compassionate....if we need the therapy then we can't manage that!

So I was sitting in the room, listening to the group leader describing the qualities this "other" person should have...and I realised that I have already created my "other".  Her name is Miss Esme Smith.

The interesting part is that I already had a scene roughly worked out in my mind, where Esme will talk to Dr Blake, to get her to loosen up, enjoy life more I am going to be able to combine my therapy and my writing!  They say art mimics life....or is it life that mimics art?!

On a personal note - I had a lovely lunch with a friend today, and we're both hoping to sign up for the next round of creative writing classes at the local college.  Unfortunately class size is very low because the ILA dropped their funding....we'll have to wait 3 weeks to see if it's going to go ahead.  I think it's a crying shame if it gets cancelled all because the ILA don't think it's a valuable enough course. 

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

I'm a Bad Girl..., I haven't done anything wrong, I'm just trying to get into character for my rehearsal tonight!  Having realised we're now into August, it's quite scary to say "the show is next month"...14th to 18th September to be precise.  I really need to find time in the next hour to go over my script and learn the lines for Act 2.

I've spent today surprise there!  I jiggled around with Chapters 5, 6 and 7 in the morning, watched a film after lunch, and now I've completed my re-writes of Chapters 8, 9 and 10.  In terms of the timeline, I'm now at approximately 11.30pm.  My index cards from yesterday are coming in very handy.  I've stapled the timeline together and attached the individual "action" cards to the appropriate time slot.  So I know, for instance, that before I reach midnight, I need to:  hint at a link between Lottie and Esme; have Esme's diaries handed in to the front desk; have Julie pass on Esme's name, address etc; have Julie hide the diaries from Dr B. 

Hopefully, I can make a start on that tomorrow afternoon and have a chance to start on some completely new writing.  But for's the Baddest and the Best!

Monday, 1 August 2011

Staples, paperclips and index cards.....

Well, after the quickest cleaning blitz ever, my house is respectable for the week.  My ironing pile has been dealt with expediently - by just shoving all the clothes away unironed.  I have stocked up on chocolate raisins (vaguely healthy!) and bought piles of index cards, a box of paperclips and a stapler.  I am ready to test my story structure.....

So what have I done today with my book?  Well, I've written out a pile of 50 cards with events, characters and things like "establish Dr B's character".  I've assembled them into order and now I'm working my way through them, to ensure I've got each bit in place.  Reworking of chapter 5....again.....

I also have a timeline of index cards stapled together and stuck up on my kitchen wall for a quick reference.  It has such delights as "5pm:  Esme makes her way to LGH; Esme loses her handbag on the bus", "10pm:  Esme moved to MAU; Dr B still trying to find Esme's records; Esme wanders into Maternity Unit; Marge's story; Esme's panic attack; Esme moved back to A&E (conflict between Dr B, Alex & Julie); Why is Dr B so interested?; Why did Esme have a panic attack?" 

A lot happens between 10 and 11 that night! 

I think the idea of writing events on cards is a good one, but I also think I'm too far into this story for it to be as helpful as I'd initially thought.  I already have the timeline fixed in my head; I know the logical steps that must be worked through to get Esme from 4pm Friday to Noon Saturday.  Hopefully the process will help more on my next book.....once I get this one finished that is!

Now - this afternoon's task is to eat some of those lovely chocolate raisins, watch a film to refresh my batteries, and then start again on the re-writes later.  I find 3-6pm is the best time for me to get some serious writing done.