I have had something of a religious conversion to novel-writing. Having never attempted it before because I have primarily been interested in the craft of the short story, it is a fascinating process.
Of course NaNoWriMo is not traditionally how you write a novel. The aim is to move fast, move ahead, conquer that daily word count. But I have discovered that it has helped me enormously. I am a relatively slow writer, keen on crafting each sentence, discovering the absolutely right word, the rhythm and cadences of sentences. Sometimes I stop and stumble back over something: fiddling, fiddling oh so much fiddling. I like the indulgence of a good metaphor, the odd fanciful simile. Luxuries that further slow me down
So why is NaNoWriMo good for me in particular?
1. For once I have silenced that nagging perfectionist line editor that follows me like poo on a sheep’s behind.
2. I am concentrating solely on narrative, solving problems of plot as I go, not spending weeks as if I am planning to rebuild the pyramids.
3. More than ever, the story is breathing after I turn off the computer. Remarkably so.
4. I have conquered my fear of dialogue and it flows. It is carried in my head from character to character.
5. There is no looking back. So no novel turning to a pillar of salt.
6. I have produced now 28,445 words. Perhaps not the most exquisitely carved Michelangelo but a piece that can be chipped away afterwards to take away the roughness. In the worst instance, I can do what any ruthless business person does when they take over a large company: I can boil it down and slice away lots of the components, create several short stories. I already have one in mind from a minor character I have just ‘found.’
7. Did I say that I had produced 28, 445 words. For me, in fourteen days? A miracle. Usually I would have 2,000 words of the same story.
8. I am looking forward to the edit, always my favourite part of the whole process.
9. I am calmer, more purposeful. This feels like a job now. I go to work and actually manufacture something.
10. Characters have become friends - some enemies - but it is so much fun to string-puppet their lives. I can say pretentiously that I am a novelist. But whatever happens, I have gone on the journey……
- Julia Bohanna
- Shortlisted Bath Short Story Award 2013 Runner-up Cinnamon Press Competition 2013 WNNER: Don Louth Writer of the Year (run by Reading Writers) WINNER: Bradt/Independent on Sunday Travel Writing Competition 2012. SHORTLISTED: Scott Prize (Salt Publishing) 2012 for a short story collection. Writer/ Journalist - assistant editor and writer for the art and books pages of Wolfprint. Most recently published in Independent on Sunday and short story anthologies: Sentinel Champions No 9, 100 Stories for Queensland, 50 Stories for Pakistan, 100 Stories for Haiti and From Hell to Eternity. In a recent writing competition, Joanne Harris described my writing as '...compelling (but quite creepy)'
- ▼ 2009 (13)
Prizes and Writing Awards
- Winner Bradt/Independent on Sunday Travel Writing Competition 2012
- Shortlisted for Salt Publishing's Scott Prize for short story collections 2012
- Finalist in Brit Writers' Award 2011
- 2nd in Sentinel Literary Competition 2011
- Whitechapel Society Anthology to be published 2010
- Shortlisted for the Mslexia Short Story Competition 2009
- Shortlisted for The Asham Award 2009
- Joint winner of the Penguin/Decibel Prize 2008 - Asian Invisible. Published as The Map of Me
- Highly Commended in The National Galleries of Scotland Short Story Competition 2008
- Runner-up in Segora Short Story Prize 2008
- Joint Winner of The Lancet Short Story Competition 2007: The Resurrection Girl.
- Runner-up in Virgin Trains/The Guardian Short Story Competition 2007: A Small Revolution
- Winner of the Woman and Home Short Story Competition 2006: Ghosts of Jamaica.
- Shortlisted for The Asham Award 2005
- Runner-up in the Good Housekeeping Short Story Competition 2003
- Winner of The Sunday Telegraph Tourism for Tomorrow Travel Writing Competition 2002: Wolves of Rumania. Winner
- Winner and also Winner of Most Original Short Story in the Competition in Trowell and District Writers' Competition 2006