NaNoWriMo this year was particularly challenging. Having got off to a great start, my laptop met a long overdue end at the beginning of the second week, as I mentioned last month. As such I ended up on the back foot somewhat, and with an interview for a Christmas job at Waterstones (which I got – hence the late reflection on NaNoWriMo) and going away staring at me on the 28th it was an uphill struggle. I don’t like giving up, and across a variety of devices, and on paper, I continued writing when I could; what really drove me on though was the support in the NaNo Kent facebook group.
Now, truth be told, I set out hoping to participate more in the community side of it but aside from a few posts on the web forums, I did not. But in the odd moments where I found a sticky patch in my plot, or trouble with tying things together or a character refusing to play ball, scanning the group was wonderful. So much encouragement given to others was there, instilling belief and confidence to continue, and to see such camaraderie gave me the boost I needed at times. I may not have posted it, but this is my “thank you” to you all. And on top of that, it has spurred me on to what I am doing now: reading back through, and editing, my 2014 effort, which I titled The King Under The Mountain. How long that title stays I cannot say, but I rather like it, and the motif reflects the story, so far at least, very well.
This time, at the last minute as well I might add, I changed my mind in what I wanted to write. I shelved the thoughts I’d been planning, which I made reference to in September, deciding that for this I wanted a new challenge. I may well kick myself in the long run for it because I didn’t expect to enjoy it so much, and now I really want to see how far I can explore it. And I have Kent-dwelling author Angus Donald to thank for my inspiration.
His Outlaw Chronicles are superb, a brutal, gangster-ish Robin Hood for those unfamiliar with them, and a new take on the legend we think we know. His hero is whoever he needs them to be within the story, weaving myth with history and creating a plausible figure, and his books just get better and better. As a child, I think I probably read more of the myths and legends than I did anything else. Robin Hood, King Arthur, the Hound of Ulster, Beowulf, the Greek heroes et al have all stuck with me through my life. I am, what you might say, a sucker for them, just like I am those glorious swashbuckling romps produced in the Golden Age of Hollywood. I decided to take one of my favourite legends and tell my own story, following in Mr. Donald’s example; not Robin Hood mind, I did that once as a short story, a few years ago and now lost courtesy of ye olde laptop and my own mistake. My protagonist had been Brother Tuck, a Templar, and was huge fun to write, but here, as then, I’m aiming to create something tangible within the realms of myth.
People groan because legends get reinvented or remade so often, but in many ways each generation ends up with their own version of the heroes in their minds. It’s like the oral tradition, where over generations the tales grow, taking on new elements while losing others. I have discovered what an absolute joy it is to write my own version of one, however much work it does need. I don’t normally make resolutions at New Year, but I think this time it might be different. After the end of this year, and the way things are now heading in next (an internship with an independent publisher), I do believe I want to finish this.
And all due to witnessing the encouragement given to others. Cheers!