I’ve been fretting about NaNoWriMo for the last week, since deciding to take the plunge and drown in words for a month. I have started! Hurray. Not bad considering I got home after midnight last night and spent hours getting over being hideously travel sick. Me and cars do not get on. I think it was actually last night which convinced me I could do this (or at least begin… let’s not get carried away and too far ahead). My issue is one of planning. I suck at planning. I hate planning. Seeing the end and even the structure of something can rob the thing of all pleasure for me. I think it’s because when I see the whole of a thing I feel that it’s already complete – what’s the point of filling in the words in between?
Last night I was working with my Company Contrary and Nott Circus friends waaaay out at Langar Hall for a Halloween event. It’s a rather lovely absolutely gorgeous hotel out in the Nottinghamshire countryside. While the others were stilt walking with really creepy make up or spinning hula hoops on fire, or actually rubbing fire on their bodies I was there to tell stories. I was supposed to be telling ghost stories.
Now I don’t know any ghost stories, and having looked up Nottinghamshire ghost stories, they’re even more pathetic than most. None of them gets beyond “I was in this place and I saw this guy and then he wasn’t there” or “I heard a noise / musical instrument / thing I couldn’t be bothered to investigate or think about properly” or even “and there was this chicken in the toilet, and then there wasn’t”. I mean, truly pitiful. I’d done some reading up on the hall and its history (which is really interesting) but I wasn’t really feeling like there was much to tell. I wasn’t planning to read any of course, I was going to make them up on the spot!
I took along a deck of tarot cards that I’d acquired through a Kickstarter campaign last year – the rather lovely Holcombe Tarot. I figured it might be a good prop, or an alternative if my stories sucked. I ended up only doing tarot readings. And it’s exactly the same as telling a story – a nice bit of cold reading combined with the amazing story prompts that this evocative deck supplies. I did cross, sun, moon and castle readings for about fifteen people. It was fantastic! And, from the responses I got, amazingly accurate and insightful. Obviously I don’t think I’m psychic, and I was explaining to them how astrology, tarot and palm reading are all bollocks anyway. But this deck, well, this deck is different. It’s not a matter of conning people, it’s about giving them an opportunity to tell their own story, highlighting things that they want to read into it and think about. I reckon it was a positive experience for them, and very much so for me. I’m grateful to everyone who let me read for them last night.
It was an excellent night all round, with charming company, surroundings and whisky. I did feel terrible both when I arrived and when I got home, but that’s entirely on me rather than my generous lift-givers.
It well matched how I’ve been feeling about my story idea for NaNoWriMo. Having been thinking about and making notes on it I’d completely undermined its viability in my head. Even waking up this morning, knowing that it’s day one, I woke up with a completely different story idea in my head which was pressing for attention. I made what I think is a sensible choice – to stick with the idea I already have. I’ve scribbled notes on the new idea, and set it aside. My biggest problem after that was starting the goddamn thing. I usually start a story when I get a first line that I like. I did have a line, but it was dependent on some of the ideas I’d already had and was badly fucking up my ability to relax and get into the story. I still quite like it: “Aliens invaded. Fuck all happened.” but I’m going to have to use it another time.
I’ve reminded myself of how I like to tell stories – no plan, improvised, rely on what comes out of my head and keep returning to what I’ve written to find the way forward. All the notes I’ve got are mere reference suggestions and nothing is canon or incapable of being cannibalised or discarded.
3946 words so far. Hopefully I’ll add a bit more to that after some Lego playing, and then post everything I’ve done so far later this evening.