In the Brexit Camp

I am imagining the reception this article had in the Brexit camp.

Iain Duncan Smith: Ah-ha! I’ve totally fooled them. They don’t see my cunning plan at all, they just think I’m stupid!

Boris Johnson: (long pause) Yes Iain, I think you’ve convinced them.

Michael Gove: (excitedly) Do you think I could use that strategy too?

Boris Johnson: (long pause) Yes Michael, I think it would definitely work for you.

Iain Duncan Smith: I have to thank you, Boris. This whole trick was inspired by your public image. I’d never have thought of this strategy on my own.

Boris Johnson: (very long pause)


Don’t Call It “Global Warming”

I’ve just been watching a UNEP video about the ozone problem and the Montreal Protocol. One of the scientists who discovered the problems in the ozone layer, Shanklin, commented that it was good that the problem was named the “ozone hole” as it was instantly obvious to everyone that “a hole” was a problem and the name helped to get quick action.

With that in mind, it’s obvious that “global warming” and “climate change” are rubbish names for our CO2 problems. I was trying to think of a name that would get everyone on board trying to fix it, and then I realised.

“The Flood”.

It’ll even sell to the religious types who are sceptical of science.

Of course, then I realised that they’ll get on board, but they’ll try to fix the problem by banning gay marriage. But still, admitting the existence of the problem is the FIRST step to recovery, right? We can argue about the solutions next… maybe?

Please Can We Stop Saying That Doctor Who is Old?

I’ve just watched the season finale of Doctor Who. No spoilers, I promise. But one thing niggles me, that I need to rant about slightly.

One of the recurring themes in Doctor Who is how immensely old the Doctor is. Every finale adds a bit to the myth. This season has added another iota. What’s bothering me is that it’s not true. The Doctor is not old. The Doctor is a young person who has lived a very, very long time.

Here’s the difference.

You’re old when you realise that there is not enough time left in your life for something that you want to do, or that your body isn’t strong enough any more. You get older year by year as the list of things that it’s too late to do gets bigger. Train as a ballerina. Train as an athlete. Change to a career that requires a decade of training. Have a child (or another child). And so on.

As you get older, choices are blocked off. Your possibilities become fewer. Your remaining time becomes less. You are faced with mortality, with the fact that you are getting closer to death and that there is a finite maximum amount of time left to you.

The Doctor has none of this. The Doctor, if he ever dies, will die of accident, murder, or noble self-sacrifice. (Or possibly a weird accident involving two TARDISes and a chicken. It’s hard to tell with him.) But until that point, he is a Time Lord. If he is gravely injured, he can regenerate. The mere passing of time will not kill him. He does not get old as humans get old.

The Doctor is not an old man, no matter how long he lives. He is a young man with an immense amount of experience who thinks that he knows everything and is invulnerable. He’s a twenty-something lad who is hundreds of years old. (Or more. Complicated discussion postponed for another time). When you see him this way, it explains a lot about him.

Winner! #NaNoWriMo

I officially finished yesterday, but I took the day off to celebrate so no blog post.

50,000 words. It’s quite an achievement, although once I’d decided to do it, it didn’t seem as hard as I thought it would be. I’m really proud of myself though.

In terms of my novel, it’s not done. It’s going to need to be 80,000-100,000 words, and it will need a lot of editing. But that’s okay. I’ve got further with it than I ever have before, and I’m motivated to continue now.

Good luck to anyone still writing, and keep going for the rest of the year!


The Last Week of #NaNoWriMo

Seven days to go. Only seven days. (I do my writing in the evening, so today still counts for me).

Now, logically, that’s nearly 1/4 of the time for NaNoWriMo. But a week at the start seems a lot longer and more carefree than the seven days when I have to finish my 50,000 words.

I’m doing okay-ish. I’m at 36,645 words, which means that (a) I’m a bit behind, and (b) not so far behind that I can’t catch up and finish. So I need to get cracking. Damn. No excuses available here then.


I’d like to finish before November 30, just to give myself some spare time to validate, order my Winner t-shirt, etc. So my plan is 5,000 words today, then 3,000 per day for the next 3 days. It might sound ambitious, but I’ve done that wordcount several times already this November. I think it’s doable.

So, all I need to do now is stop writing this blog entry and go write a novel. Be seeing you in December, then!

x x

Novels are hungry #NaNoWriMo

My goodness, novels are hungry. I’ve written 3,126 words today, and there are 1,641 more words until I’m caught up with the target.

I’ve had a really productive few days – several thousand words per day – and I’ve caught up a big deficit to get back (nearly) on track. But for the same reason, I’ve realised how amazing hungry novels are. I’ve poured words into Scrivener, flooding through my fingers in their thousands and disappearing into the void of the empty novel. So many thousands gone, but so many still to go!

I’ve also realised that although it’s getting easier to write as I gain practice, it’s also getting harder to write as I go through the novel. I’ve written the easier bits, the better thought-out bits, and now I’m tackling the harder parts. The parts where perhaps the plot is a bit too thin to fill the wordcount. The parts where I’m not really sure of what should happen next. All those bits are still waiting for me, voraciously, with mouths open to swallow the words I feed them.

13 more days, counting today, to finish the book I’ve been wanting to write for the last ten years. 21,641 more words to feed the monster.

I’m loving it. Let’s go.

#NaNoWriMo 2015 – Doing Well and Falling Behind

So I’m still working on NaNoWriMo, and I seem to have settled into the pattern of 5,000 words every few days rather than 1,667 per day. It suits me better. I can write 5,000 words on a topic, but then I need to pick a new part of the story and think about it for a couple of days before I’m ready to write again.

At the moment, I’m on 20,077 words (with a target of 3,229 more to write tonight). That means that, at one and the same time, I’m a bit behind at this stage of November and also that I’m way further than I ever secretly thought I’d get.

Basically, I’m worried and thrilled at the same time.

The whole process isn’t at all what I thought it would be. I had an image in my head of planning out the novel in advance, then sitting down and writing, from the beginning, 1700 words per day until I got to the end. Instead, I’ve put the basic structure in place in Scrivener, and I’m jumping around randomly between different parts of the story working on whatever inspires me at the moment for 2,500 or 5,000 words then taking a break and picking a new section.

I also thought I had the novel well planned out, until I started trying to write it. The overall structure is there, but there’s so much I don’t know! I’d assumed that I’d write a first draft in November, then have to edit and extended it a bit in a Camp NaNoWriMo before it was finished. Now I’m thinking at least five iterations. After I’ve finished this November, I’ll have a good attempt done and know where I’m missing info and detail. Then I’ll have to restructure some bits and fill in plot holes. Then look up more information where I just didn’t know enough. Then do a review to make sure that I’ve treated my important themes consistently. Each of those might need to be done more than once. And then, only then, will I actually be ready to start tackling whether the writing itself needs fixing.

I’m working on quite an ambitious project, but it’s a story I really. really want to tell. My previous attempt at NaNoWriMo (6,830 words) was a more “sensible” attempt to tackle a story that I could finish in NaNoWriMo – but I just got bored and ran out of ideas. This time, I’m overflowing with ideas, I just have to find out a way to get them onto paper (well, computer, but you know what I mean).

As you can probably tell from all of the above – I’m loving this! I’m so glad I’ve committed to it this year. Now I’d better stop writing this and get back to it! Ciao until next time.

Note to Self: Shut Up, No One Cares

… aka, my blog update on NaNoWriMo.

I’ve been neglecting NaNoWriMo for a few days (okay, a week) as life happened. So now I’m behind, and need to catch up quick. I was on 13, 259 words before today, but I’ve added 2,868 to the total so far today. Which is more than I need to write per day to finish on time, apparently. If I can keep that up every day.

Spoiler: I can’t. I write sporadically, and I know I’ll have a few more days off before the end of November. So I need to write in sprints, and I’m aiming to add 5,000 in total today before I quit.

This is where it helps that I have the novel structure. I was totally uninspired by the part of the story that I’d got to, so I just went to another part and started writing that. I am both well-prepared (in having a structure and target wordcounts for each section) and woefully unprepared (in terms of realising that I haven’t filled out enough details of the plot or researched the facts).

The only option, I think, is to keep writing. Even if it’s sparse or a bit of a placeholder, it’s moving me towards my total and showing me where I need to do more work. I’ve had this idea in mind for some time now, but I only realise now that I come to write it which bits still need work. So: valuable even when it’s crap. By the end of November, I will have something which needs further work, but I will know what work needs doing. That’s a good position to be in.

Right, I’m going to stop talking now and go and write the other 2,132 words that I need to do before I sleep. Night, all!

Remembrance of the right things

I didn’t feel it was appropriate to post this yesterday, but I do feel the need to say it.

The Sunday nearest to 11th November, we have Remembrance Day. After the First World War many people did not want victory celebrations. Too many had lost family members and friends. Two minutes silence to remember the dead, a solemn procession, the laying of wreaths – these were the appropriate ways to remember appalling losses. One of the best known phrases of this period is “Never again!”.

Last year, in 2014, we had the 100 year anniversary of the beginning of the First World War. There were countless events remembering it. Each year, Remembrance Day seems to become a bigger thing. Everyone posts a memory, poppy or photo on Facebook. Businesses post tributes, not wanting to be left out or shamed. Wearing a poppy is increasingly seen as a duty, not a choice. The right-wing press noted that Jeremy Corbyn “didn’t bow low enough” at the Cenotaph, and the left-wing social media commentators responded by noting that Jeremy Corbyn had skipped the VIP lunch in favour of talking to veterans.

In short, Remembrance Day seems to be less about remembering the fallen, and more about social status, being seen to conform. And the remembrances seem to confer status on simply being a soldier, to glamorize war.

There’s a very, very fine line here. Someone who has fought for their country, who has been wounded or died for their country deserves our respect and remembrance. But I would prefer that we had well-funded veterans’ hospitals, adequate mental health care for veterans, rather than insist everyone wears a poppy on one day a year. I know that the poppy sales raise money for the Haig Fund, but is it really better to give your child just 10p to buy a poppy than to donate £5 quietly to Help for Heroes. Have you done your duty by wearing the poppy if you gave the minimum you could? Notoriously, a picture of David Cameron wearing a poppy was released this week, and it turned out that the poppy was photoshopped on. Is that really a meaningful act of remembrance?

And, let us not forget, the remembrance of a soldier’s death does not mean that he or she died in a good cause. That is not within the soldier’s control. He, or she, does not choose the war they fight in: that is the politician’s role. We may send our soldiers to defend their country, or we may send our soldiers to defend the interests of the already-wealthy. If we are sending our soldiers to die unnecessarily can we ever make that better by remembering their deaths?

I can’t, in honesty, participate any more in a ritual that seems to be used to promote war rather than remember the dead. I cannot, in our current rituals, see any remembrance of the spirit of “Never again!” remaining. I see more of “The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est/Pro patria mori”.

Each November, I will give a donation – as large as I can – to Help For Heroes. But I will not wear a poppy.

Footnote: There’s a very good article on the background to Remembrance Day on History Extra here