NaNoWriMo Journal 2015: 2

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Nanowrimo - Screenshot - I like the new range of badges. The caffeine abuse and procrastination badges are particularly apt for me.

Nanowrimo – Screenshot – I like the new range of badges. The caffeine abuse and procrastination badges are particularly apt for me.

The kids are home from school today for the Melbourne Cup public holiday and it’s virtually impossible to write when there’s the standard adolescent war over homework versus video games. Being a strict and therefore mean parent, my rule – that a homework assignment due in less than 24 hours takes precedence over Minecraft – seems to have generated more than its fair share of tension in the household. As a result, my creative energy is in hiding. I’m using the time to catch up on the third module in the Open2Study Astronomy course, which is absolutely fascinating. I often lament that my mathematics skills weren’t good enough for me to follow the physics and astronomy route in my studies.

The good news is that I’m already well above par in the Nanowrimo word count stakes and even if I didn’t write a single word for a couple of days I would not fall behind. However, that said, I’m enjoying my story thus far and want to know what happens next.

Current word count: 7270/50,000 words.

Today’s writing soundtrack: a horrendous series of bluegrass-style banjo covers of pop songs that my husband found on Spotify.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

For the first time in my Nanowrimo history I have started out with a well-above expected word count and I can’t really account for it, except for the fact that I am enjoying writing my story. Oh, I know that the writing is not my best quality. I wish it had something more timelessly poetic about it. At this stage it’s still a bit on the thin side. It’s more plot and dialogue than well-developed scenery. I am conscious that while my mind vividly imagines the landscapes and buildings and spaces in my story, my writing does not yet adequately convey this information. However, I take it as a positive thing because the story itself wants to be told. Developing and enriching the language in it is a second-draft task.

In 2014 I was a “Pantser,” in Nanowrimo terms: I largely made it up as a stream of consciousness story. I had a couple of vague ideas but when I started I really made it up as I went along. It was not a great story. It was hard to want to write it. I didn’t like it. In some ways it felt l had used up all of my good writing ideas in Nano 2013. But my Nano 2015 story is one that I’ve wanted to write for several years; I just never felt that I had the ability to do it justice.

Sometimes I wonder if it might be better as a short story than a short novel, but as I write it in all its superfluous detail, I find myself honing in on the parts that actually matter.

The story I’m writing was, like so many of my writing ideas, originally derived from some of my vivid dreams / nightmares. Some specific scenery came from those dreams and eventually, as I linked them in my mind, I found a fantasy story hiding in there.

In my story the main character, a woman named Zaira, is a low-level hermit within a religious system. The Order holds incredible political and cultural influence and while in its earliest times it existed to support humans with supernatural abilities, over the millennia it has become so deeply entrenched in political systems that it forgets where it began. In that system, where once every three centuries they are required to select a worthy King and Queen to rule the people as a kind of social reset button, Zaira is called up to fulfil the role of Queen. The story begins with her receiving this mandate from her superiors, and it follows her journey as she unwillingly acquiesces to the leaders and finds within it a chance to fulfil her own personal ambitions. There is a lot more to it than that but at this stage I’m not sure if I will write enough during Nanowrimo to enter the “book 2” stage, as I’ve listed it on my Scrivener layouts.

Current word count: 9,129 words

Today’s writing soundtrack: Manala by Korpiklaani

Sons of Winter and Stars (Live in Studio) (2012)

Once in a while I come across music that is so beautiful (in my subjective opinion) that I just want to cry when I hear it. The Finnish band Wintersun does that for me.

I don’t know when I consciously realised that as much as half of the music I love the most is Finnish. My music collection is stocked up with bands like Korpiklaani, Finntroll, Amorphis, Turisas, and Norther. I couldn’t really account for what it is about their music and culture and languages that so intrigues me. I’ve seen a couple of Finnish bands perform live here in Melbourne, Australia, namely Ensiferum and Apocalyptica. I get the impression that a number of the bands are connected to each other. Here’s hoping Wintersun make their way here at some point in the not too distant future. Otherwise one of these days I’m going to have to take a metal fan pilgrimage to Europe. From what one of my husband’s German-born metal-loving co-workers tell me, let alone what I’ve managed to glean from watching YouTube videos with a profound sense of jealousy (!), Wacken sounds like an amazing metal festival. (Then again, I was able to nearly be showered in German metalhead vomit thanks to a very drunk fan watching the Rammstein set at Australia’s Big Day Out festival in 2011, so we do get to enjoy some of the sights and guttural sounds of the European metal scene over here.)

I love the folk metal genre in general, too, and it’s not just the Finnish bands. I saw Swiss band Eluveitie perform in Melbourne a couple of years ago and they were just brilliant. Easily one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen (a room full of bearded heavy metal fans moshing to bagpipes and low whistle has to be seen to be believed – it’s glorious). I was first drawn into folk metal via accidentally stumbling across Scottish pirate band Alestorm on a community radio station as I flipped through the channels. Since then, it was a short leap from Pirate music to Viking music. I fell in love from the first moment I heard a melodic scream about Valhalla (thank you, Swedish metallers Amon Amarth). On a completely related note, I named one of my cats Odin.

I find it interesting that I was always drawn to Celtic and Norse mythology and music inspired by those cultures. After a few years of my being helplessly drawn in that direction, my genealogy-researching history-geek sister uncovered a few direct lines of ancestry through our family to the Vikings and the Normans – we have evidence for Norwegian and possibly Swedish Viking heritage, and there’s also a thread in our heritage that appears to trace back to Finland, many centuries ago. It’s kind of cool to me to realise that countless generations ago some of my direct ancestors came from a part of the world that had always held a hitherto unexplained fascination for me. I feel like that validates my interest in learning more about a part of the world that’s about as far away from Australia as I can imagine. So, in the meantime, I’ll keep listening (and picking up random words in other languages as I attempt to learn the lyrics to the non-English songs).