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It’s getting hot in here

It’s hot. Somewhere above 30°C. Which is hot, especially when considering the fact that it was still necessary to wear socks a few days ago. I’m sitting at the dining room table, with a view out into the garden. At the point of writing this, I still have to write 8351 words to get to the finish line of 50,000 by midnight. I think I can do it. I didn’t think so yesterday morning, but I behaved very well all day yesterday and wrote a lot, despite the fact that it was meltingly hot and humid. Have a look at the stats page. This is a screenshot I did at 23.55 last night:

It’s now 1.40 pm, I have more than eight thousands words to go, I’m listening to a collection of songs from the South Pacific (this one here – it’s wonderful!), and I have the choice between being unbelievably hot (= terrace doors open) or suffocating due to lack of oxygen (= terrace doors closed).  So far, I choose to live. If I cannot make the deadline, I might change my mind.

Well, okay, not really. And anyway, by midnight it will be cooler. Hopefully. At least it will if this happens again:

That was two days ago. The lightning was impressive, but although it is my dearest ambition to capture one of those amazing, borderline-kitsch photos of a huge bolt of lighting, I haven’t yet managed to be fast enough.

… where was I? Ah, yes – procrastination. As you now have proof before you, I’m a master. My official title is ‘Queen Procrastinatrix of the Universe’. For you, ‘Majesty’ will be fine. Although I think I will insist on my minions fanning me with huge palm leaves. And regularly bringing ice water for me to put my feet in. Any volunteers?

(… my brain is cooking… where’s the iced tea?…)

… oh no, quick, I gotta go. My youngest sister is back from shopping for our BBQ party tomorrow and she bullies me something awful when she sees me busy at my true calling of putting things off. For some reason, she insists I be productive and finish this story on time.


Any cooling-down-and-staying-on-track tips out there? I’m also open on tips of how to stay sane. But maybe you can tell that for yourselves already.


Camp report no. 5 – Dancing or: The race is on!

I was stuck at 17407 words for five days. Then I progressed to 22463. And that’s where I stayed. I was in a slump. Total disintegration over a period of days, culminating in me staying up till four in the morning to watch random TV series that I wasn’t interested in and feeling sorry for myself. The reason is mainly my job(less) situation. Having nothing constructive to do all day and feeling not wanted… well, it can prey on your mind. The result was a total down. And with regard to writing and my Camp NaNo goal of writing 50,000 words in June – forget it! I pushed it back, thinking I would get back to it tomorrow, catch up then. The next day I didn’t feel up to it. My mind was blank, my thoughts sluggish, I couldn’t concentrate. The next day, it was the same, only possibly even worse. And so on. So yesterday, after several painful days of inaction and thoughts spiralling downwards, I decided to give up.

Well, maybe decided is the wrong word. I acknowledged to myself that I would never be able to catch up now, that I was too far behind. A part of me really wanted to fail, was relieved that I gave in to that little voice.  I decided I wouldn’t even get up in the morning. I would just stay in bed and sleep and read and sulk. Maybe I could induce one of my sisters to bring me a cup of tea or something. So you can imagine my joy when early this morning I heard the door to my room open and my youngest sister’s voice softly calling my name. I’d been deeply asleep, but I do wake up when somebody calls my name. I didn’t move though. Then she said my name again and I could hear from her voice that she was very upset. She said: ‘I have a tick in my leg. Can you help me?’

Believe me, it’s been a long time that I went from deep sleep to being fully awake in such a short time. Within seconds I was out of the bed and kneeling in front of her on the floor, examining the ugly insect that had buried itself into her calf. Unfortunately, I was clumsy in my attempt to rid her of it and ripped the damn thing out while leaving the head in the wound. So we ended up driving to the doctor, to sit in the waiting room for almost an hour, because of course we didn’t have an appointment and had to wait till they could squeeze her in. All of that without any tea or coffee! They cut the thing out and sterilized the wound and told her to watch it for any signs of infection and to be alert as to any signs of illness in the next six weeks. Because of course these little nasties can infect you with lyme disease or meningoencephalitis (in our area – they probably do all kinds of other bad stuff elsewhere). On the way back home we treated ourselves to croissants to ease the pain (in her case) and the guilt (in my case).

By now, you will be asking yourself, or, if you’re like me, your computer screen, what this saga about my little sister and a disgusting insect have to do with writing. Or my depressive phase. Or being able to write more than 25 thousand words in less than a week. The answer: nothing. It really has no connection that I can see, and still, when I was back at my computer this morning, at a terribly early hour, I suddenly wanted to write on the story again. I watched fourty words grow to a hundred, a hundred to two hundred, and suddenly I was writing full out again. I spent the whole afternoon (more or less) sitting here and writing on my story, and because I’m terribly slow, I only managed 5135 words in that time, but hey, that’s more than five thousand words more than I had this morning! I’m quite proud of that.

For some reason, I now feel more determined to make it than even at the beginning of the month. Now that the odds have shifted so much against me and I need to write a minimum of 5499 words a day for four days  to just make it across the finish line, I suddenly feel more confident that I will be able to do it. It’s now a quarter to two in the morning, and I’ll be back to my story in a moment. But before that, I need to do something else, and that is dance. Yes, finally, that’s where the title of this post comes into play! I dance. The house is asleep and there is no other light anywhere than the one light behind me, lightening up my screen. I don’t care though. I’ll crank up the music on my mp3 player and get up and walk right into the middle of the living room and dance around in the dark for a couple of songs that nobody but myself will be able to hear. Because dancing helps with anything. Except maybe ticks.

plotlove or: why it’s good to have a sister around

I *love* the word ‘plot’.

You can do so much with it.

You can plot a murder. You can loose it. You can use one to overthrow an evil dictator. If you’re not careful, you can miss it. You can employ it against someone or something. Best of all, they are messy and you can fling in whatever events, occurrences, mad inspiration or evil twists you want. It’s complete freedom. It’s the stage where you just happily imagine making your characters walk through fire. Or push them into boiling oil, as the amazing Holly Lisle expressed it.

Your main character (MC) needs to leave town, so that her car can break down, and she will be able to meet the guy, who will later ruin her life? Cue: the unexpected arrival of the  crazy spinster aunt, who embarrasses her so deeply that she is forced to leave.

You MC is mortally afraid of fish? Make him be the only one around when a child falls into a lake, forcing him to jump in and swim through all the fish to save the golden-haired infant from drowning, and coming out, he’s so empowered that he asks out the child’s mother, who wasn’t irresponsible at all, but instead was distracted from looking after the kid because the detective was asking her uncomfortable questions about the murder. Oh! OH! You could have the guy stub his toe on the murder weapon as he comes wading out of the fish-infested lake, glistening heroically in the sun. Or rather, dripping and blinking out from under the algae that cover him. And while the mother tearfully embraces the child and its rescuer, the detective realizes that it could of course only have been your main character, who found this ingenious way of suddenly ‘finding’ the murder weapon. Hm. Not sure I like where this is going…

Apart from my insane imagination going on the rampage here, the point is: plotting is FUN! It’s figuring out how to get from introducing your MC (or MCs) to having them either happily married to each other, or dead, or broken but wiser, or saving the world, or the murder, or … whatever ending fits in with the genre your write in.

This is what my plotting session last night looked like:

Me – lying in the middle of the living room floor.

My sister – lounging on the couch.

The floor – covered in my notebook, several pieces of paper with mind-maps, post-its, a pair of scissors, coloured pens, coloured paper, my computer for quick research, my sister’s computer for the music (the sound is better on hers!), several books to see how real authors do it, several used mugs half-full with tea, two half-eaten bowls of soup.

… and this bit of conversation is representative of about four hours of work:

Me: … but how does he [= the evil antagonist] try to force them [= my MC and her friends] to give up the shop?

Sis: Well, he could… well…. okay, he could spread evil rumours about them.

Me: Like what?

Sis: Like … *concentrated silence*

Me: Oh! Maybe he pretends to be a customer and says things like ‘I’ve seen this book a lot cheaper at this other bookshop!’ to customers? OOOOOOR, he could spread the rumour that the shop is infested with rats! Ha! That’s good, isn’t it?

Sis: Maybe. Maybe. Or he could kidnap N [= on of the side characters].

Me: I’m not sure he would do that.

Sis: Maybe not. But I think he should. It would be cool. Then the MC can rescue her.

Me: Okay, okay, let’s see. Maybe. I’ll keep it in mind. Back to the rumours. He could also pretend to be a building inspector and…

Sis: … and gain N’s trust and then kidnap her?!? *hopeful look*

Me: *banging my head slowly on the floor*