It’s funny — university is hitting me much harder this year in terms of time to blog, even though I don’t feel quite as overwhelmed and panicked by the amount of things I’m doing. That said, there are quite a few things that I’m meant to be doing that I haven’t done. Today, for example, I was meant to have a rehearsal for Pirates of Penzance from 2-5pm, but since I didn’t get up until 2.30pm, that … didn’t exactly happen.
Pretty much the only thing I’ve done today is go to ballet which, admittedly, is a fairly major operation. It’s a 10-15 minute cycle for me, then an hour and a half of class that’s significantly more intense than my dance school back home, and then I cycled home via Sainsbury’s to pick up a few essentials, including a new thimble. I learned that trying to repair pointe shoes is not very easy when your thimble is softer than the needles: they end up punching through it and into your thumb, which is seriously unpleasant and also negates the whole purpose of using a thimble. So I bought a new one. Because I’m cool like that.
I’ve been considerably more on top of my work so far. Second year’s treating me reasonably well: I’ve had various bouts of illness, including accidentally poisoning myself with gluten last Sunday and spending some time feeling very sorry for myself, and I’m as tired as ever, but at least I’ve written all four essays that I’ve been set, and made it to all my supervisions without asking for extensions. Okay, I’ve missed a few lectures because I was in bed, but nobody’s perfect.
This newfound competence aside, I’m beginning to doubt my decision to participate in National Novel Writing Month this year.
NaNoWriMo starts, for me, in about an hour. I’ve taken part every year since 2009 and reaching fifty thousand words have never really been a challenge — I participate more for fun and community than to push myself in terms of wordcount. But I’m still not sure it’s a great idea to combine the 50k/30days challenge with my second year at Cambridge, and it’s not just because of work.
My concerns about this month take various forms:
1) I haven’t written anything in a really long time. While I’ve done some editing and reworked the ending of The Knight Shift a couple of times, I can’t even remember the last time I wrote something new. It may not be since last summer (I wrote a second draft during NaNo 2014). Which means embarking on a new project is a bit scary.
2) That said, I’m not embarking on a novel, and that makes it even scarier. I’m not a short story writer, and while I thought it might be less stressful than trying to write a novel, as well as more practical in the long term, I don’t have the years of experience that I have with novels.
3) I may be just about on top of my work at present, but I’m not miles ahead. I’ve still got a much-neglected dissertation to work on and plenty of Old Irish grammar and translation that needs doing. And there’ll be essays aplenty this month, so there’s no point thinking I’ve got this under control. I haven’t.
4) I really haven’t written recently. I’ve been absent from this blog. I haven’t written anything for YAvengers in months. I haven’t reviewed many books for Miriam Joy Reads lately, although that’s more to do with reading time than writing. I haven’t written poems — the only contribution I’ve made to my journal was to press some particularly nice autumn leaves between its pages. I don’t know if I even know how to do this.
5) Plus I spend most of my time sleeping, and that really uses up a lot of time.
6) My hands haven’t been great recently, and while I think that’s mostly because of overuse (trying to take notes in lectures is valiant, but destructive), that doesn’t make it any better.
My lack of writing recently has been interrupted only by Fear Me Not, the revised title of the Tam Lin retelling that formed the first installment of my ‘folk stories’ series. Though I’ve titles and covers for stories #2 – #7, with many of them I have only the barest outline of a plot, and I still don’t know what I’ll be doing with them.
Why aren’t I writing a novel? Why didn’t I create yet another first draft that will wait years for its turn to be edited? Why did I not decide to write that Arthurian novel I’ve been planning for ages? (Because I’m too scared to write it, lbr.)
I don’t know. I really don’t know. Right now, I’m contemplating my life choices and they aren’t great. This could go terribly, terribly wrong.
But isn’t that kind of a tradition with NaNoWriMo? My first year (2009), I jumped in on day 7 without a plot or characters, never having written a novel before. My second year (2010), I abandoned the plot I’d been working on in favour of an under-researched novel at the last minute. My fifth year (2013), I took part despite not being physically able to type, and did the whole thing using voice recognition software.
This is year seven. Seven is a good number, and one that I like, so I’m going to give this a go. We’ll see how I get on — and if you want to know exactly how well it is or isn’t going, I’ll be posting my progress (probably with a slight lag, but more or less in real time) on Wattpad. So you can read right along with me.
To my fellow participants, good luck. To those watching from the sidelines horrified, confused, or entertained, we who are about to die salute you. And to those who have no idea what I’m on about, then I hope you have a good November. Oh, and since tonight’s Samhain, let me warn you against dancing with any mysterious strangers. They’re probably fairies, and you’ll regret it.