Day 24 of Camp NaNoWriMo 2016. 38,000 words in.
The countdown is saying I’m going to finish on the 1st August which is technically outside of July. Once you’re into August it’s time up. That means I need to write more words than I currently am. I’ve never taken part in Camp NaNoWriMo and not won so I think my pride will get the better of me and I’ll really push this thing along before next Sunday.
There have been some days this week when I didn’t write at all. It’s not so much that the story is stuck, simply that I’ve had other stuff on, which is fine. Then the weekend comes along and I’ve got more time to myself. I can sit and write and get on with things. I’ve written 2,400 already and I’m going to try and smash out a couple more.
I hit a point this morning where suddenly everything that happens from here on in makes a lot of sense. I wrote a plot-point in today and it all feeds in. I get where the characters are going. It’s definitely not going to be finished at 50,000 words. If I hit 50k before the end of the month then I’ll be really pleased with myself. If I can spend evenings this week going beyond that point and getting the story finished as well then that’s fantastic. It’s probably going to be closer to 70k. That’s a lot. When you consider I’ve only written 8,000 this week I know I’m going to be hard pushed. I am a sucker for punishment though.
I hope all of your projects are going well and that you’re looking forward to finishing and indulging yourselves a little bit.
I’m now in training for the Gobi trek I’m taking part in later this year. Last weekend I walked thirteen miles and it was a beautiful day. Stopped in the pub. Stopped at my dad’s. It was just like being in the desert.
I’m on 27k. I’m just ahead of the curve but I haven’t written anything in two days. It’s a Saturday and I’m hungover. I’m going to try and get a bit ahead of myself today.
I’m finding it a bit of a slog to be honest. It’s hard to force myself to sit in the chair, to actually write, to drudge through the drudgery. It’ll all be worth it. Isn’t that the point of all this. It’s just a first draft and we are all working on that thing for a reason. I still believe that what I am writing is fundamentally good, it’s just hard work. It’s a lot to get down and to piece together.
Basically I’m struggling and you’re struggling but we can do this. Keep rocking.
Last night I got to see The Last Shadow Puppets at the Ally Pally.
Here’s a wee cover of one of my favourites of theirs…
“Don’t start a fresh on your head, start it in your head” said my brother, in a move that was both unusually profound and advice I would ignore. I’ve always been very protective over my hair, my curls. Only yesterday I went for drinks with a friend who hadn’t seen me since the bold move to shave it all off, to lose it all.
“Where are the curls?” she asked immediately, rubbing her hand over my scalp, looking both enthralled and disgusted, like when you pet a naked mole rat. Here is the story of how and why I shaved my head and why it isn’t that big a deal and makes me feel like a superficial little idiot.
This year has had its ups and downs. Every year has its ups and downs. It’s not really possible to blame it on the year or to say that you can’t wait for a given year to be over to start. There are positives that come from a new year but essentially time is an invention of man and you have to make your own decisions and are responsible for your own destiny etc.
I’ve said for a long time that something boldly cathartic I would like to do is shave my head. It felt like a cool thing to do, like when JT left N*Sync and shaved his head or when Zayn Malik left One Direction and shaved his head. I wanted that sort of going it alone after life in a boyband vibe. Didn’t quite achieve it but nevermind.
There’s a lot to be said about siblings. I said to my therapist this week that siblings are able to say exactly the right thing to undermine you in a way that you thought you had grown out of. I feel like a strong confident man who don’t need no thing. My brothers are able to chip that charade away with the expertise of a marble cutter and say just the thing to make me feel like a skinny little twerp once more.
“You’ve got a funny shaped head”.
Oh no. It stings. I want to hide in my bedroom and read about Narnia. Aslan wouldn’t cuss my scalp. He’s got a glorious mane. He’s like a Jesus for the new age.
I was in Singapore. It was hot. Unbearable heat and humidity and this flop of new romantic fringe kept getting in my way and I figured the best thing I could possibly do is just shave it off and it could be part of me finding myself while I travelled across Asia with my friend Adam. It seemed like a cool thing to do. It would be bold. It would be shocking. Then again, on a trek through the Grand Canyon last year I went for a dip under a waterfall and when I crawled out with my hair stuck down on top of my head the guide said “you’ve got a head like a peanut”.
I told Adam I was going to shave my head. It seemed like it would be the answer to all of my problems. It helped with some of them, sure, but there’s no such thing as a solution to all my problems. Maybe there is but the Oedipal stuff is pretty deep set.
My friend Luke worked in Geylang as a barber for eighteen months. He lived in the Pinnacle Tower. He told me that while I was there I should visit his old shop and see his buddies and they would sort me out. I decided that would be the time when I would take the plunge and shave my head. We arrived hungover on the Monday and found it was closed. It obviously wasn’t meant to be. I would keep my hair for another day. We got some questionable buffet food and continued to tour around.
When we checked into our Air BnB in Malaysia I told Adam the time had come for him to shave my head. He seemed sadistically keen on the idea. I sat on a towel topless and gave him my beard trimmer. He turned it on and ran it through the middle of my head. There was no turning back.
Fifteen minutes later I was bald. Adam told me I looked dangerous. With my tattoos and shaved head there was something of the This Is England look about me, something proved as we pranced across Thailand together and got strange looks.
It had the desired effect. I felt different. I had one less thing to worry about. I’m not going to keep it this short and can’t help but notice how high my hairline now is but fuck it, it’s only hair. It’s aged me a little but at the moment that’s not a bad thing.
The only thing I did realise is that the whole Justin/Zayn thing didn’t happen. What I had done was have a 2007 Britney Spears style breakdown. I went away to find myself. I wasn’t there. I did however get my happy ending.
As ever I’ve driven myself to distraction with my writing. It’s day ten today and I’ve already hit 20,000 words. What makes this year and this Camp different is that I have not lived the experiences I am writing about.
For the last three years I have used November to write my travel journals from the annual charity treks I do. That’s where Yallah came from and in time the Peru book and Grand Canyon book should follow. I’ve taken a different tact and decided to write a sci-fi having undertaken very little research and with little planning – it’s very much a flying by the seat of my pants job. The cool thing is that it seems to be working. My friend Lottie called me out for always writing subservient female characters so I’ve not only written two powerful female leads but also have not boasted about the size of their tits once. Now that’s progress ladies.
I’m enjoying this project and, as ever, it is interesting to see where my mind sends me off to. There are so many different ways it can go and I don’t yet have an ending but I have an interesting arc, good characters, and shit is about to go down.