NaNoWriMo – In search of a Trade Wind

I’ve totally run out of steam. The novel I started to write with such enthusiasm has turned dreary. I’m sick of my characters. They’re stuck in the Doldrums 5 degrees south of the Equator and it’s boring, boring, boring.

I just read Scott Westerfeld (author of the Uglies series) and his Pep Talk on the NaNoWriMo website. He states that writers can get stuck in a “childhood ontology” seeing the world in terms of cats and dogs rather than zebus, tardigrades and parasitic wasps. (Apparently there are around 20,000 varieties of parasitic wasps in the world – would you ever have guessed it – so which one would you choose to write about?)

I take his point. I realise I’ve been writing a cutesie ‘Famous Five go to New Zealand’ thing and I need to grow up and get real. My characters need more complexity, more grit, more acne. They need to smell a bit. They need to act maliciously or stupidly or bizarrely or in any way that takes them away from being so darn nice.

Sue Woolfe in her inspirational book on writing fiction, The Mystery of the Cleaning Lady, dares writers to tackle the subjects that scare them. She suggests writing the stuff that is almost impossible to contemplate. This makes me wince. I make a living out of being a mild-mannered librarian. Dare I delve into the deep, dark recesses of my psyche? Well, I believe I’m going to have to if I want to write a story that’s going to be of interest to anyone other than a twinkle fairy.

The whole thing sounds scary, but the wind’s suddenly picked up. I want to get to my laptop and start writing. I don’t think I’ll descend into splatter fiction or post-apocalyptic horror but you never know. It will depend on which way the wind is blowing.

To all fellow WriMos out there – may a creative gust fill your sails and blast you over the finishing line!

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