My-One-And-Only-Post-NaNoWriMo Post

Any minute now the blog-o-sphere is going to be swamped with NaNoWriMo posts – what people did, and didn’t do to make their goals, what they learned about themselves, how they would do it differently next time, and what they are going to do next … so I’m going to get ahead of the crowd and do mine first.

What I did: I did make the 50,000 word count, in spite of two weeks off in the middle, and I NEVER want to write like that again!

What I didn’t do: I didn’t do a detailed enough outline. I spent too much time looking out the window, thinking, (out loud) “What the f*** happens next?” and, “Where did that character come from?”

I suspect Widdercat, banished from cuddles for the entire time, partly because of my radiation treatment, and partly because I have not mastered single-handed typing, had a paw in the sudden surprise appearance of characters who wanted the entire story to themselves. Kitty revenge! … If I had the whole month, this might not have been such a problem – the outlining, not Widdercat.

What I learned about myself: I have a writing style that is not suited to the pursuit of quantity only. I edit as I go, not a lot with a first draft, but more than is compatible with ‘the need for speed’.

What I would do differently next time: Apart constructing a more detailed outline and not having two weeks off? If I decide to do it next year, not much else.

What’s next: Finish the story. It’s only half written!

P.S. I forgot this!

P.S. I forgot this!


“Art Hurts. Art urges voyages – and it is easier to stay at home” – Gwendolyn Brooks, 1917–2000, poet



The last phase of my cancer treatment is over. Everything is looking good, but I’m not really going to celebrate until I see the results of the final scan, which won’t be until 4th December – talk about your hurry-up-and-wait!

It’s been a very interesting and intense week-and-a-half for all three of us here on Widder Island. First came daily visits to the hospital for shots and tests to prepare my body for ‘the deed’, then the ‘deed’ itself, wherein I voluntarily ingest poison.

Segue: When I was growing up and as a young adult, the world shivered on the brink of nuclear annihilation. It’s a daunting thought even now to remember that many of us didn’t think we would live through those times. That U.S. and U.S.S.R’s pissing contest prompted my younger self to learn about nuclear radiation and what, if anything, she could do about it. Turned out, not a lot, but she did gain a very vivid understanding of the effects of radiation on the human body.

Fast forward to last Friday: I’m looking at this plastic cup encased in layers of lead sheeting with a huge white pill in it. This is my radiated iodine. This is what will kill any last remaining cancerous thyroid cells in my body. The irony does not escape me.

Nor did the fact that the technician who delivered this contraption backed off almost to the other side of the room once he’d put it in front of me. A slight exaggeration, the room was small. I felt like saying, “Yeah, this stuff is poisonous to healthy people, what do you think it’s gonna do to me!” But I didn’t. I swallowed my horse pill and got out of there too.

Then we came home to our separated life. Separate bathroom, separate bedroom, separate food. Separated from any contact by a 1 meter buffer zone between me and all that I am used to touching. We knew it would be an inconvenience, possibly a logistical conundrum, and Widdercat would certainly not approve.

But it turned out to be more than that. It challenged how we, I, lived.

Try this for a moment. Everything you touch or come near will be poisoned by your presence. You must pay attention to how far away you are from your family, and it is your responsibility to keep that distance. Flip a light switch. Turn on a tap. Open the door to go outside. Do you do these things, knowing your touch is poisonous, or ask someone to do them for you? Or don’t do them at all? – also a choice.

By late Saturday my tongue felt like it’d been scorched, and my throat, in the empty place where my thyroid gland used to reside, felt swollen and sore to touch.

My stomach wasn’t too happy either. In fact my entire digestive system … well, you can imagine the rest of that sentence. I was surrounded by my life, but almost completely isolated from it.

Thankfully I could use my computer (the radioactive isotope used has a very short half life) so long as no-one else (of any species) used it, but I had the attention span of a gnat on speed, so I read a lot (my TBR pile is significantly smaller) and slept in three-hour bursts.

Now I’m trying to get my brain out of neutral and engage the think gears. I have high hopes that tomorrow I’ll be able to NaNo my allotted span of words. With what I’ve already written I’ll need to hit 2500+ words per day to make the finish line on time.

And Widdercat? … She didn’t come near me. It was only last night (Wednesday) that she approached me for cuddles. Try and tell me she didn’t know what was what!


“There’s an old folk saying that goes: whenever you delete a sentence from your NaNoWriMo novel, a NaNoWriMo angel loses it’s wings and plummets, screaming, to the ground. Where it will likely require medical attention” Chris Baty, accidental founder of NaNoWriMo

Coming Back To Zero – The Convoluted Path to Starting a Project

I actually woke up with some energy this morning. I was so shocked I had to lay down and rest for half an hour!

A while ago I decided to use this years NaNoWriMo to kick my brain/Muse/typing skillz, back into high gear, then, last week I get news that my radiation therapy is scheduled for the first week of … you guessed it … November!

I won’t be able to go anywhere near short people, pregnant people and four-legged people for about two weeks, or touch anything that isn’t disposable or washable. I don’t think my keyboard is included in either of those categories, but pen and paper might.

This reduces my NaNo time down to two weeks-ish and a daily word count of 3500.

So, all this is a convoluted reference to the topic at hand. The things we have to clear out of the way just to get to the starting line, which I call, getting back to zero.

Sometimes it’s something as simple as wanting to go for a walk in this chilly Autumn afternoon. first I have to stick my nose out of my Hobbit House in order to determine how many layers to put on, find my shoes, keys, notepad and pen in case I get an ‘idea.’ etc, etc, just to get back to zero – walking out the door.

The same with writing. Because of the reduced time-frame I need to really get my outline nice and tight, check out all the shinies on the NaNo website – I’m ‘Widder’ if you’re playing there this year – then get through the fun time that is my radiation treatment (it’s called an ‘ablation’ for reasons that are unfathomable).

Yep, November’s looking like a walk in the park, once I get back to zero.


“Two fundamental literary qualities: supernaturalism and irony”Charles Baudelaire,   1821 – 1867, poet, essayist, art critic, and translator of Edgar Allen Poe into French


P.S. Does anyone else think of Robin Williams as Mork fromMork and Mindy whenever they say ‘NaNo’ out loud?

NaNoWriMo Rama-Dama-Ding-Dang

All the folk out there who know what NaNoWriMo is are either full-on, flat-out participating … or not. For all the folk out there who don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it’s this.

Just about everyone I know and her cat, (and a lot of folk I’ll never know or meet) are either participating, or blogging about it. Pro’s and con’s abound. (a Google search comes up with almost 6 million hits) My opinion, and then I’ll move on. In three words, ‘It has value.’

Moving right along …

“Never Tell Me the Odds”

 Odds of winning.

You hear it all the time … the odds of winning? “A million to one” “Impossible” “Too high”, or just numbers, “10,973,172,369.74 to 1”, which is a number that only a computer or a mathematical savant could comprehend.

You buy a lottery ticket and know your chances of winning are miniscule … or are they?

Consider the moon. When a full moon appears just above the horizon it’s so big it looks as though it’s about to crash into the earth. A few hours later, now high in the sky, its shrunk to half its size … or has it?

What these two scenarios have in common is Perception.

One is visual; we know that the moon doesn’t change, but we choose to believe what our eyes tell us. (it makes for much better story-telling that way)

The other is societal; we’re told (by folk who don’t believe in magic) that we probably won’t win that lottery, but still believe we might.

Really, it’s all about how we choose to perceive something, that influences how we respond to it. Those choices are influenced by our environment (the un-believers of magic), but ultimately it boils down to what we choose to believe in, in this singular moment of Time.

The lottery ticket, finishing that novel and getting it published, whatever we decide … The truth of it is, it’s a 50-50, even money, bet.

We either will … or we wont.

Note to self: Check that lottery ticket that’s been sitting in my wallet for a couple of months. I’ve either won … or I haven’t.


“ Part of it went on gambling, and part of it went on women. The rest I spent foolishly”George Raft