Scheming words and plotting NaNoWriMo

Let me tell you a little tale about NaNoWriMo.

This is my second year, but last year, I started a week late. I had heard of National Novel Writing Month before, but not planned to participate, ever. For those not in the know, it’s an internet challenge where you write a novel during November whilst having as much fun as humanly possible.

I thought I was a ‚real‘ old school European writer, and this was something for the American Way of Fast Food and Decadence. Girl was I wrong.

I suffered from depression last November and decided to do this silly, frivolous thing to cheer myself up, also because I thought I could trick myself into writing a ‚real‘ novel after writing 50.000 words worth of ‚drivel‘.
So I started NaNoWriMo 2010 on the seventh of November.

Okay, tale’s over. Now comes the advice I can give.

Fist off, losing a week, yes a whole seven days, is no reason to despair. I wrote 50.000 words of fine if disjointed prose that month, and finished on time.

Second, NaNo is worth every minute of it. You get to spend a whole month fretting over words! It’s so much fun you won‘t even notice the rich golden prose amongst all the purple you create to reach your daily goal of 1667 words. But once the month is over and you let it all simmer on your hard drive for a few weeks, you will notice all the gold nuggets.

You have to filter out all the purple, but it’s worth it. Trust me on this.

My peculular ways of NaNo.

So I started on the seventh, without any semblance of plot or story idea or characters. I deliberately wiped the plate clean because I didn‘t want to ’soil‘ any of my ’serious‘ endeavours.

Nice try. Only means I have one more book to write in my life.

I have written since I was fourteen and have a pretty solid, strong voice. So my actual prose was satisfactorily and to my joy, only the plot… I have always struggled with plot, and telling myself to do something deliberately whacky and nonsensical didn‘t help. I started with the silliest premise I could come up with – My hero_ines‘ super power is the ability to see purple in a world where no one else can.

This shot me in the knee, but that is another story and shall be told another time.

Eventually I realised that I needed a solid plot in order for my writing to work. You may be a pantser and not need one; I‘m a heavy plotter, and I do. I struggled to inject some sense into the utterishness of my premise, and pravely worked on.

Next up: How the tale continues during NaNo 2011!!

The Glue. It is water-soluble.

Book binding adventures!!

I have a glue that is conveniently labelled Buchbinderleim*, or book binder’s glue.
I used to buy it in a tube that can stand on its cap, but said cap always glued up and I had to bore the thing open before every use. That got tiring, and eventually I kept to the old-fashioned glue pots with the screwable big lid on top. They are awesome, and since I have yet to learn how to cook simple starch glue without making it too runny, I use nothing else in all my bookbinding endeavours.

However, the lid gets full of glue, and after a while, closing it becomes a sticky affair, and opening it a minor problem. I know all the tricks however.

Only the glue itself gets dry, and then it’s a mean white glob that is hard to spread, and I come to dread the moments where I have to use it, and hate the glue itself.

Until one day, I remembered that it is water soluble.

Now I just wet the brush before I spread my glue, like butter, on the bread that I call book binder’s linen. Hmm…

This is the deep sigh of artistic satisfaction, coming from someone who can finally feel like a true craftsman.

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*I live in this quaint old country called Germany, the one with the Nazi problem, you might have heard of it.

The City of Freesberg

This is an excerpt from the book I am currently writing, Dogs Underground. Aaron and Win, our sixteen year old hero_ines have just stumbled into a city. Underground. May or may not contain their missing dog.

When they emerged from the lift, they stood on a smooth stone ledge overlooking a marvelous sight: A shining sky over a gleaming city.
They had entered a vast open space, so vast that at first they didn‘t realise that they were still underground. It took them a while to take in that this was indeed a cavern so huge that it had room for a small city. The buildings became higher nearer to the gently sloping walls. Where the ground turned upwards and it became too steep for conventional buildings, there where unconventional ones built directly into the walls, connected with rickety metal stairs and a maze of balconies. There where narrow stone ledges and an abundance of galleries protruding from the rocks all the way up until the walls started to slope inwards to form the ceiling. Huge bundles of fern grew out of every nook and cranny, cascading down into the city like so many green waterfalls.

The city had no roofs. In a rainless world, every available space was green with ferns and gardens.
At the far end of the cavern, a gigantic stream of water gushed out of a big opening and cascaded down the wall, crashing into a lake and meandering in great curves and circles around the city until it reached the other side of the cave, down and to the right of the ledge they were standing on. Here it vanished foaming and roaring into an opening that seemed to lead downwards.

A hundred bright glass orbs where hanging from the ceiling, all in different sizes ranging from football-sized to two meters in diameter. They were arranged in concentric circles, with the bigger ones concentrated in the middle, the suns of the domed ceiling.

The orbs were all interconnected by thin, opaque strands of tubing, reminding Aaron of a gigantic spider’s web laced in dew on a crisp winter morning. He also noticed that these were much brighter and emitted a clear light rather than a greyish turbid shimmering. The tubing ran together, forming a dozen or so thick strands that ran down the sides and to the ground; one very near where they stood. Aaron could see little flakes glowing and bubbling up in the tree-sized strand.

The ceiling as well as what little wall was visible behind the climbing city shined like the inside of a pearl. It was this reflection of light that created an illusion of openness, of sky.