NaNoWriMo 2012 – Winner!

Well folks, November has been quite a month! I’ve battled a lingering cold, fought with the pavement (the pavement won, temporarily causing me to have to limp everywhere, but I’m ok now), worked full time (plus the occasional late night), worked as a reporter for three days on top of my usual job, drunk a LOT of coffee, taken a gajillion photos (none of which I’ve uploaded yet), written 2 blog posts on and 10 blog posts over on Haikugirl’s Japan, attended a few workshops and exhibitions, and somehow… somehow… managed to write a 50,000 word novel for NaNoWriMo!

NaNoWriMo 2012 certificate

Yes, The Shizuka Tea Shop which I promised to write way back at the end of October is finally in first draft, sitting comfortably at 50,106 words.

The whole point of NaNoWriMo is to get the words out and to lay the inner editor to one side for a month. That part has been hard – my novel is riddled with spelling mistakes, typos, things I could have worded better, facts that need checking, but all of that can come later – early next year when I start the editing process. I do absolutely intend to come back to this manuscript and edit the hell out of it to turn it into something publishable. The idea is there, and I think it’s a good one, so just watch this space.

I can’t say too much about The Shizuka Tea Shop at this point except to say that I’m calling it ‘travel chick-lit’, which is a title I would apply to books such as Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s set in Japan and England, and is pure fiction, although I have drawn on some of my own experiences to set scenes. The Shizuka Tea Shop is a book I hope people will simply enjoy for what it is – a sweet, funny, story about people everyone can relate to. Oh, and it would probably make a pretty good film, too. Just saying… ๐Ÿ˜‰

Thank you everyone who has supported me during this month of madness. It’s been an interesting experiment to see if I really do have time in my overly busy life to write – and I’m happy to have found that I do (although it has been hard to force myself to actually do it, and I’ve been writing right up until the bitter end). It’s worth noting that I wrote more than half of this book using Pages on my iPad. When I bought my iPad I originally told myself it was so I could get some writing done on the Tube, but really that was just a lie to myself because I wanted a new toy. Well, my iPad is finally being put to good use! I’m no longer just playing Scrabble and Kumo Lumo on it, or watching catch-up TV in bed, I’m actually using my commuting time to write, and that’s a habit I hope to continue.

November is nearly over, and December will be upon us tomorrow. Before we know it, it will be Christmas and then 2013. It’s a little early for a New Year’s resolution, but I hereby promise to keep the spirit of NaNoWriMo with me throughout 2013, although I don’t intend to write 50,000 every month.

NaNoWriMo Winner 2012

Music in Pictures Contest: Better Days

This week’s Music in Pictures Contest is on the theme of one of my favourite songs: Better Days by Eddie Vedder. Whenever I think of the song Better Days, I think of this:

View from Enoshima Observation Lighthouse

View from Enoshima Observation Lighthouse looking out towards Kamakura (Japan)

I first heard Better Days in the film Eat, Pray, Love, and so I will always associate the song with that movie. In the movie, and the book it’s based on, the main female character decides she likes the Italian word “attraversiamo”, meaning “let’s cross over”. That phrase could also be applied to this picture of a bridge connecting mainland Honshu and Kamakura to Enoshima, in Japan.

Here’s to Better Days

I feel part of the universe open up to meet me
My emotion so submerged, broken down to kneel in
Once listening, the voices they came
Had to somehow greet myself, read myself
Heard vibrations within my cells, in my cells
Singing, โ€œAh-la-ah-ah, ah-la-ah-ahโ€

My love is safe for the universe
See me now, Iโ€™m bursting
On one planet, so many turns
Different worlds
Singing, โ€œAh-la-ah-ah, ah-ah-ah-ah, ahโ€

Fill my heart with discipline
Put there for the teaching
In my head see clouds of stairs
Help me as Iโ€™m reaching
The futureโ€™s paved with better days

Not running from something
Iโ€™m running towards the day
Wide awake

A whisper once quiet
Now rising to a scream
Right in me

Iโ€™m falling, free falling
Words calling me
Up off my knees

Iโ€™m soaring and, darling,
Youโ€™ll be the one that I can need
Still be free

Our futureโ€™s paved with better days

Travel theme: Sunset

I find myself dreaming about running off into the sunset recently, so I decided to join in Where’s my backpack?‘s Travel theme this week. Here are some beautiful sunsets I’ve had the pleasure of viewing…

Red sky at night...

London sunset, 5th March 2012

Sunset in Nagoya, 28th March 2011

Sunset in Nagoya (Japan), 28th March 2011

Sunset in Finchley

Sunset in Finchley (North London), 24th August 2011

Laguna sunset

Laguna Gamagori sunset (Japan), 14th December 2008

London sunset

London sunset, 6th May 2012

Chasing sunsets...

Brighton sunset, 2nd January 2011

Thanks to Autumn in Bruges for introducing me to this blog and weekly travel theme! ๐Ÿ™‚

NaNoWriMo – I'm a winner!

You may remember that a few weeks ago I made the rather rash decision to join NaNoWriMo 2010 (National Novel Writing Month). The challenge? To write a 50,000 word novel within the month of November.

Well, I am extremely proud today to be able to say… I DID IT! ๐Ÿ˜€

I was so thrilled when I got to 50,000 words, but heartbroken when I copied and pasted my novel into the website and found that it was apparently 500 or so words short. I’m not sure what caused that, but I think perhaps it had some way of knowing that I was trying to cheat by having my characters sing Hey Jude at karaoke (“na na na na na na na!”).ย  Anyway, I quickly bashed out another few hundred words, and now my official word count on the NaNoWriMo website reads 50,020. (My unofficial word count, according to my computer, is 50,492. That’s 83 pages, by the way.)

Once I had officially “won”, I was taken to the winner’s page of the website. The page read:

Author, on November 1 you accepted our challenge to write a novel in 30 days. Harnessed with a hard deadline, you persevered in the face of countless obstacles. You wrote with determination, you quieted that inner critic, and now you’ve reached the hallowed Winner’s Circle.

We couldn’t be more proud of your amazing accomplishment! Thank you for joining us on this outrageously creative adventureโ€”we’ll see you next November for more.

Well, actually, I accepted the challenge on November 11th, but I still “persevered in the face of countless obstacles”, such as work, work, work and work. I don’t want to blow my own horn or anything, but boy am I feeling chuffed right now.

So, a couple of people have asked me if they will be able to read it. The answer to that is “not yet”. I’m really serious about this novel, and I think it could be good. I’ll edit it over the next few months, as and when I have time, and then I will have to think about what to do next. Honestly, I’d like to get it published of course, but I really don’t know how I will go about that, and if it’s good enough. There are parts I’m pretty darn proud of, and parts I know I need to chuck out and rewrite. But I think it had potential.

So, I will leave you with this tiny teaser…

Alice’s Adventures: A Year in Japan

I felt a little like my namesake, Alice, when she discovers the cake marked โ€œeat meโ€ and the bottle marked โ€œdrink meโ€. Never quite sure what I was about to eat or drink, or what effect it would have on me. Would I suddenly shrink to the size of a grain of rice, or grow to the size of Godzilla? Who could tell. Anything, it seemed, was possible in this land.

P.S. If any agents/publishers happen to read this, please feel free to contact me! ๐Ÿ˜‰