Sunday, December 2, 2007

Misery

BBC NEWS | Magazine | Misery lit... read on: "The bestseller lists are full of memoirs about miserable childhoods and anguished families. Waterstone's even has a 'Painful Lives' shelf.

Why are authors confessing their hurt so freely and do readers find morbid enjoyment in them?"

good luck

Home - andyconway.co.uk: "And I'm pleased to announce that I chested the 50k line two days before the month was out and can now officially call myself a NaNoWriMo 'winner'.

But let's hold the champagne. I may have written 50,000 words in a month but my novel is still unfinished, which means I'm still waking up every morning and reaching straight for the laptop and writing 2,000 groggy-eyed words before breakfast (alas, the word counter doesn't recognise when you see double).

So I've now set myself a new deadline of 75,000 words before Christmas, which should be a piece of piss if the last 30 days are anything to go by. I have to confess, though, that I have cheated just a little bit with this. Although, hear me out. I'd like to explain how I don't think it's cheating at all.

First of all, I didn't actually write a novel. What I wrote was an autobiographical account of my mother's five year illness with vascular dementia and eventual death in a care home. I believe the current hot publishing buzz word is misery memoir. But I approached it as a novel and tried to write it as one, so I do think of it as a novel. . . . .

Step forward NaNoWriMo.

The discipline of it made me sit down and do it every day and amaze myself with how much was actually ready to pour out of me. There were many mornings when I thought I had nothing in me, but ten minutes into tapping away it would always come.

A reminder yet again (because I forget it so easily) that the only solution to writing is to just sit down and force yourself to write. The solution to any writing problem will always be solved by the very act of writing.

And treating this misery memoir as a novel gave me that emotional distance I needed to get it written, as well as allowing me to make discoveries about my relationship with my mother as if I were reading about two characters in someone else's novel.

The Longest Death is a novel full of anger and despair and outrage, but thanks to NaNoWriMo, I wasn't consumed by any of those emotions while I was writing it. There was only ever time to get out of the way and allow the words to write themselves.

So in that sense I think I stuck to the spirit of the contest and am allowing myself to feel proud of the achievement.

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