2012 for most people in the UK was the year in which to feel patriotic: celebrating our Queen's Diamond Jubilee in the late spring, followed closely by hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the summer. Unfortunately, I didn't go to our local street party because it was raining, and my family was on holiday for the duration of the Olympics with the opinion, "why bother with sport anyway?".
Therefore, I believe I headed slightly outside the box this year, in forgetting the grandeurs of England and heading into the commonwealth, followed closely by the rest of the world.
On the 26th of February, I made my first step in this direction: joining Movellas. I had seen one of my friends on it the week before, seen what great feedback she had received for her writing and consequently signed up, posting a few of my lesser works and getting into the jive. In fact, one of the first works I posted was 'Sotheby and Self', which is now one my most popular, with 17 likes and close on 60 comments. I was determined to get my writing out there, to improve and get to know other young authors like myself, which is exactly what I have achieved. Having 'spread the love' for a while, I was perfectly happy and gaining confidence, being a runner up in a competition, making many friends and gaining 51 fans. I nearly cried when I got my first!
Therefore on June 12th, I decided to go in another direction. I surfed the net and came across Spinebreakers.com. It is a website owned by Penguin books, a division dedicated to teenage bookworms. I signed up and was soon promoted to an editor, being sent a couple of free books each month to review for their marketing. I have been involved with some of their opportunities, have written two blog posts and been praised for my writing on there as well!
So by this stage, I was feeling very comfortable indeed. I had so far experienced a great year for my writing, reaching out to new things and really focusing on my skills.
That is when I lost my head completely.
I had heard one of my older friends speaking last year of some sort of writing challenge. I looked this up and discovered NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month. It is a world-wide-web-based initiative to challenge aspiring authors all over the world to write 50,000 words of a novel during the month of November. Yes, that is 30 days, 300,000 authors and roughly 2,000 words a day.
"Ha!" I thought, "Can't be that hard. I want to challenge myself!"
So challenge I did. On the 1st of November, at the beginning of a new hectic school term, jet lagged from holiday and ill, I turned on my laptop and nearly broke my fingers typing. I went crazy that first day, writing about 6,000 words.
"Ha!" I thought, "Really isn't that hard."
Day 2: school. I got home at Eight in the evening. Piano practice, homework, house chores and dinner. It was by then 9.30. I groaned, looking at my unchanged word count. I had to write 2,000 words that day, as I didn't want to get behind so early on. So write I did. At 11 in the evening, I slammed down my laptop, panting for breath and fell into bed. I hadn't even had a chance to read through what I'd written and had no idea whether it actually made sense.
And so the battle continued. On weekends it wasn't as hard, as I usually had a few hours in the afternoon, but week nights were as the BBC loves saying, 'a baptism of fire'. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I didn't get home until 9.30, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays I only got back at 6.30. I remember explaining to a teacher how irresponsible I was for carrying on, but that I would still do my homework as a priority, and simply stay up as late to write those 2,000 words.
I think it worked. I kept a record of the barriers I broke, how far in the plot I'd got and what was still to go. I would cross out each day on a little calendar and write next to it my word total. That somehow kept me going. I was dreaming about my characters, walking around in quite literally, my fantasy world and having conversations with my heroine. I started comparing real people to my villain and got twitchy when I thought there was one of my terrifying monsters behind me. My head started to hurt by the end of 200 words and the plot started to unravel, not making sense with more and more holes appearing.
Somehow, I finished 3 days early. On the 27th of November, 2012 at about 7 in the Evening, I wrote my 50,000th word. That was on my 92nd page of my word document and pretty much at my last wit. I cried. I entered it into the website scoreboard and watched as a little video popped up.
"Congratulations!" the staff yelped out.
I was sat for a good ten minutes just in shock. I had written a ridiculous number of words in a ridiculously short amount of time. I was happy. I knew my novel was beyond rubbish, rushed and made no sense. But that moment of pure pride and relief was my highlight of the year. Even now, reading through and making that pretty drastic first edit to my draft, I keep pleasantly surprising myself. I'm going to say this now:
"It's not all that bad."
Go on, say that about your novel. Done? It feels great, right? Well there is one way to find an even better way of saying it. Go to this link and sign up:
Great. Now you can join me as I try this challenge again to write 50,000 more words in the month of November 2013.