Yup, I’m a winner in Nanowrimo but where do we go from here?

I am very happy that once again I’ve got a really good start on a book.  It’s tentatively titled Late Night Cleaners Club however it may not be staying with that title.  It depends on whether I work what I had originally intended for that title into this book.  It’s hard to say.

A synopsis:  Doug is a middle aged man who visits his mom in Fredericton for Thanksgiving.  When he gets there, he realizes that something is wrong, his mom is not herself and what’s worse, she thinks his father is in Toronto.  He’s not.  A trip to the doctor confirms his suspicion – his mother has dementia.  Since she is barely able to handle things at home, Doug decides he better take leave from his job and go to Fredericton to take care of his mother.  His wife is not amused.

This book is a journey through memories and follows the decent into silence that dementia is; it’s about a mother’s love, a marriage hanging by a thread, and the exploration of relationships that happens when you are faced with a serious illness of a close family member.  There is humour, touching, sad moments.

This is a book that I think people will appreciate.  At 50k words it is not finished; I expect that it will be about 150k when it is.

I do have a promise that unlike my 2012 novel that is about half way at 75k words I will finish this one.  My 2012 book is a humorous fictional novel that deals with what it’s like to work for the government (think Yes Minister but from the point of view of us minions, not the DM level).  For various reasons I’ve shelved it for the time being but it will be completed in due course.

What’s next for me is continuing on this new novel and finishing the edit of the first edition of Off-Air after which it will be (I hope) approved for Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  I will also be illustrating and publishing my children’s story The Troll of Barondale and compiling a book of essays and a book of short stories.  So you see, I’m busy.

The two published novels, I Ching Jukebox and Off-Air are published under pen-name Genève Blue because fiction is indeed fiction and that’s my way of putting space between the real me and pure imagination.  Other publications, such as Polariods Get Yellow (my illustrated book of poetry) and my essays and short stories are published under the name Catherine M. Harris.  Yup, that’s me.

So stay tuned.  As you can guess I am really happy with my latest nano attempt.

Now about Nanowrimo: I have read and been part of discussions on the merit and the foolishness of trying to write a novel in a month.  The fact is that how quickly and indeed how people write is individual.  For me, this exercise forces me to put aside extraneous things and get busy.  The hardest thing I find is just having the time and the perseverance to not take several years to finish a piece of work.  It’s easy to get distracted with life so I appreciate this month of writing time.  It doesn’t always work – last year’s effort got as far as about 2k words when I knew that what I was thinking of would take research and I just wasn’t all that into it.

50k of words is a novella.  As a short story writer and poet used to trying to condense emotion and thought into a short space initially that amount of words was a daunting experience.  However, once I saw that it gave more space to truly explore deeply the characters and their emotions I have learned that novel writing is an experience that I use for my more complex ideas.  I don’t write as many short stories as I used to because I now look at them for ideas that require a short punch – not an entire world and bevy of characters.  I view this as evolution.

I have been told that you can’t just sit down and write a novel.  There needs to be a story board and plot outlines and character sketches to attempt it and for those people who do this, all the more power to you.  I envy your organizational skills.  For me though writing comes from a space that I can’t explain.  I see a sentence – my first line – and everything just flows from there.  It’s how I’ve always written and how I intend to continue.  Whether a novel takes me ten years or two is irrelevant.  It’s how the inspiration hits me and that’s all.

People say how good can a book be if you just whip it off in 30 days?  Well, probably pretty messy.  That’s what editing is all about, and that’s where proof reading after the book is edited and published comes in.  The editing is the hard part and most assuredly the longest – at least for me it is.  Some day if I ever get picked up by a publisher I hope that I’ll rub shoulders with an editor that comes with that book contract.  In the meantime I rely on my own skill and those of a few chosen fellow writers to be those extra set of eyes.

In that I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that one of my favorite editors Mark Atherton died earlier this year.  I miss him, and I hope that where ever a soul goes when you die, he’s happy.  He deserves it.

Now back to my novel.





Nanowrimo 2014

Yup, I’m at it again.  This novel is a little different in that so far it hasn’t got any ghosts, lol.  Just the haunted musings of a man caring for his mother who is suffering from dementia, watching his world both close in around him, and fall apart.  There’s a wife and a house in Mississauga he’s had to abandon for Fredericton, a job he’s put on hold while he deals with this, a dog and two cats to care for, and a shit-load of memories to sort through.

Stay tuned.  Don’t know if I’ll publish/finish this one but it’s starting to grow on me.  It kind of has the feel of my short story Karen.