Country Music, Writing Goals, and Camp NaNoWriMo

Today I spent some time shopping. Surprisingly, no – I didn’t buy any books! Instead, I bought some clothes and – wait for it – a Blake Shelton CD. Because no shopping trip is complete without a little country music.

I legitimately can’t seem to go into a HMV store without buying country music nowadays. I think I have a problem, but the ACM’s are only a week away so I consider it preparation, not that I really need it. Country music is always on my brain. I love it so much it’s a part of my dissertation and I’ve lost count how many books I’ve got stacked up against my desk on the subject.

Okay, maybe I do have a problem.

But today was a good day. I actually felt fresh for a change. You know that feeling when you don’t get out of the house for days and you just need to get out? I felt like stale pizza – isn’t that a nice image. I just needed OUT, so today helped with that. Some quality time with your sister, new clothes and good music is just the solution.

And because I feel fresh, now I can concentrate on writing for the evening. I promised myself I would write 1,000 words of my novel in prep for Camp NaNoWriMo tonight and – BOOM – in the car earlier I got some inspiration for the next few scenes. I was listening to Luke Bryan, so I’m guessing I’ve got him to thank for that. Word count, here I come!

Thanks, Luke.

I’ve got Cornish Story Magazine stuff to work on later – (like I said in my last post, we are always looking for new submissions on interesting topics, so get in touch if you think you could offer us something!)

It’s looking like a good evening.

Writing About The South

 

Right now I’m writing at university because it’s warmer than being in my house. This is a legitimate reason. I am not kidding. But writing on campus can be fun because:

  1. There are no distractions
  2. It’s a working environment (so I actually feel like I should be doing something instead of tweeting.)
  3. It’s really quiet here right now because it’s evening!

So I’ve set myself a deadline. By the end of tonight, as in midnight, I will have written 1000 words to the opening of my new novel-in-progress which is – ta dah! – all about the Deep South … as in Texas.

Because I love it.

This new novel is a project of mine which I have been striving towards since the very first year of my degree. I’ve been holding off until now to write about it and now it’s here it’s kind of terrifying. The novel project is a part of my dissertation, which is all about the Deep South and the ideology of the cowboy as a romance figure in literature.

So my novel is a cowboy romance set in Texas. *unbelievably happy about this*

I’m writing different beginnings to the novel so far and I’m going to keep writing until I hit the one which I know is right. So far, I have four different openings. I think I know which one I love best, but I know it’s not quite there yet. More work needs to be done!

But, like Hemingway famously said, “the first draft of anything is shit.”

I think I always come back to that piece of advice when I’m writing a first draft and finding it hard. Because if you can’t have faith in Hemingway as a writer, then who else are you going to believe in?

For research, I’ve been reading snippets of DEEP SOUTH by the wonderful travel writer Paul Theroux which came out late last year. (I don’t know how many times I stroked it in bookshops before actually buying it. Sorry Waterstones.)

I read this book in the sunshine today and it was bliss. I’ll probably write a raving reveiw of this book once I’ve finished it but I’ll tell you right now that this book is amazing. It really gets you into the mindset of the South and opens up a world perhaps not so explored in travel writing. It’s a world of vivid colour and backroads and thrift stores located on old highways, where “the past is never dead” and where “poverty is well dressed in churches, and everyone is approachable”.

It’s a world I can’t wait to get into and one which I find hugely inspiring (hence the idea for the novel). I’ve always loved the South ever since I was first pulled into country music.

So today I pored over its pages, ready with a bright pink marker pen to highlight certain passages, and fell a little bit in love with it all. So tonight, I aim to write about it. Or at least develop some ideas about it which I can one day turn into fiction.

I’ll try and keep you updated on how it goes along as I try and figure it out.

In the meantime, it’s back to writing!

Book Signings!

Last night I met Sarah Winman, author of bestselling novel When God Was a Rabbit and the recently published A Year of Marvellous Ways. The first time I read When God Was a Rabbit I was mesmerised and immeasurably hooked. I loved it so much I even cracked the spine a little bit (something I rarely ever do with books).

So I’m certain that A Year of Marvellous Ways will hold just as much magic for me as Rabbitdid, if not more.

To meet an author – published, famous, and successful – always washes a tidal wave of excitement over me. And, of course, last night was no different on the crowded shop floor of Waterstones, Truro, the tiny capital city of sunnyside Cornwall. There was an informal interview between Sarah and a lovely employee of the iconic bookstore which weaved the stories of Sarah’s childhood memories, the people she’s known in her life and, ultimately, how the book and its characters came about.

I was captivated.

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The evening went on and, as she was talking, I became hugely gratified to discover that, when she writes a novel, she usually writes roughly 1000 words a day. This, for me, was monumental, in that while I am currently writing my own novel I also tend to write 1000 words a day.

(In no way am I comparing myself to this bonafide successful writer, but hearing those words gave me hope: it said, ‘I can do this!’)

It was truly a comfort in itself; knowing that an author like this also simply writes 1000 words a day and still gets the novel finished on time.

Because, you know, when you aspire to be a full time writer yourself, you always imagine bestselling authors to be hammering out 5000 words a day or more, scribbling page after page after page.

She read clearly and calmly, with just the right emphasis on the right characters when speaking their own dialogue. Her words written on the page and then spoken from her own mouth were entrancing and not even for one second did I actually find myself bored.

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To my joy, she signed my copy of her book which is now sitting on my shelf. And, not only this, but I asked her if she would sign my own journal; a notepad I use to scribble all my thoughts and story ideas in whenever I’m on the move. She complied and asked if I was a writer too. I told her yes, I was, and she listened as I spoke about my own fiction writing and the novel I’m continuing to write over the summer.

She listened.

Of course, I was in a queue so had to hurry along, but she gave me the utmost hope for my writing (not to mention a truck load of inspiration) and told me good luck with my writing adventures and said that, if I stuck to it, I could publish a book too one day (with a lot of hard work and torturous rewrites. I know.)

Everything takes a little bit of time and a whole load of patience, and most importantly, a great deal of work. As a current participant of CampNaNoWriMo, I’m mostly keeping to my word count goal of 500 words a day, if not 1000. Watching my stats go up is like watching a plant grow; it can be really, painstakingly slow, but the progress is still there and visible!

By way of word count, my goal is to have 36,000 words of my novel by the end of the month in total. But, the way I’m going, I’m hoping I can totally beat that!!

So, ultimately, here’s to Sarah Winman – on a brilliant and captivating debut novel and what I already know to be a truly wonderful second novel in A Year of Marvellous Ways, even though I haven’t read it yet.

Here’s to inspiration.

IT’S HERE!

I received this beauty in the post after ordering it from Waterstones. Can you believe that no book shop has it stocked in Cornwall?! None that I could find anyway. I even looked up its availability online, just so I could go and get it physically. But no such luck.

I hate buying books online because

1. What if they don’t look right?
2. What if there’s a crease on the front pages?
3. What if – God only knows how – the spine is already marked or slightly broken?

I’ve had this experience with brand new books bought online, so you can see why I’m a little shady at committing to that way of consuming. Books are a very huge part of my life, therefore I want them to look pretty sitting there on my shelves! Who wouldn’t?

But this came through in the post two days ago and I am ridiculously happy about it. I did expect it to be thicker but it is a trilogy after all so I let that slide. It’s so pretty. I keep picking it up, putting it back down, then picking it up again. I’ve vowed to get through my current Lionel Shriver book quickly so I can read this beauty as soon as possible!

Once I’m through, I’m going to buy the other two! Despite if it even has to be online!