Qwerty Dancing: The Curse Of NaNoWriMo

Are You Prepared To Stand Up And Fight The Battle Between Write And Wrong? 

The first sentence of every novel should be: ‘Trust me, this will take time but there is order here, very faint, very human'” – Michael Ondaatje. 

Since the last ‘Scribe Post, Brad has committed murder.

What, again?! 

Well, yes.

No matter how you look at it, that particular devious miscreant had it coming. 

Does the fact that he was NOT human lessen the shock…? 

Truly, as writers, we are Lords Of Our Own Creation(s). 

We have conjured fantastic worlds before dinner, despatched heroes on fabulous quests before teatime, even created and – oh yes – killed off the most groovy – or garish – character(s) during the midnight hour.

Forgive me for the prolooooonged absence, but this hapless cake-scoffing fool though it would be a blastha! – to shut himself away within his Sanctum Sanctorum, participate in the whole NaNoWriMo thing, and, mayhap, attempt to rectify the minimal progress made on MY OWN NOVEL recently.

By Jove, what a discombobulation!

Unbeknownst to me, the whole horrendous cavalcade dwindled into something more infuriating than the lousiest Transformers movie, AND got tougher than any holiday camp…

Barely got out of November with life – and sanity – intact.

As that other writer named Brad said: “we should be continually jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” 

Aha!

That would explain why my snidely-regarded intuitive brain seems smashed to pieces and my legendary ripped bod feels absolutely shattered. 

So, released this Post (still took too many days to get back to this Bradform!) to reassure you that Brad is STILL HERE, but – by Aquaman’s quindent! – only just…

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are” – W. Somerset Maugham. 

Just two Summers ago, the itch to write novel struck me. But which one? 

TWO choices lay before me.

Should it be that futuristic noir thriller concerning bounty hunters? Or should it be that historical mystery tour inspired by the local medieval studies recently preoccupying my working hours?

In an ingenious twist – as deft as some of the greatest plotlines in SF history – an easy solution presented itself = combine BOTH into one unprecedented framework. Thus, The Monastikon Chronicles emerged. Brother Brad hunts the unearthly wraiths, who infiltrated 12th century English society in human guise. To read how this concept came to be, see here; to follow how chapters of my novel are developing, see here:

The first week of NaNoWriMo began encouragingly enough – filling in some narrative gaps; fleshing out some peripheral characters promoted to more vital roles; as well as finally dealing with one mischievous monk (not the first, but will he be the last…?) who turned out to be something completely different… 

So far, so groovy.

The third week, however, was spent wondering where in blazes did the second week whizz off to at such an incredible rate. Bah…

And the last week of November?

My main concern focussed on trying not to pass out at my desk…

Actually, by this stage it had got to the point where not a single coherent sentence could be formed, let alone any powerful passages of pulsating prose be produced – so what bare modicum of creative faculties remained were plied instead into sketching until December mercifully rolled into view…

But nevertheless, to experiment with language. 

Twist and turn the imagination. Then slip and slide it in other directions. 

Conjure the most bizarre characters and let them perform the most unexpected actions.

Traverse the plot in totally, radically, unforeseen directions. 

Let the material run RAMPANT. It is, after all, MY novel!

To plunge headlong into all the above opportunities? 

How could one NOT resist? 

Such strenuous mental endeavours exercised (exorcised…?) at a daily rate? For one month?

Yikes, not the piece of cake one thought it would be.

Anyway, same time, next year, then?!

“I should flamin’ coco!” as Billy Shakespeare ‘isself was wont to say… 

“Practice any art, no matter how well or badly, not to get money or fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow” – Kurt Vonnegut.  

Yay, another completed (and legibleBradscribe Post – after too many weeks, it doesn’t seem possible, does it? 

Hark!

We can just about hear someone clapping nervously in Row Z… 

WHO CARES if this blog is doomed NEVER to receive more than 200 Followers? 

NEVER MIND, Brad knew from the startFOUR YEARS ago(!) – that he was never going to be No.1, or considered among the “best,” or most popular bloggers out there, but even so…

The novel has stalled in the same way that the blog posts have slowed: will ANY readers show up to read my stuff…?

Having made no progress with several rudimentary Posts this past fortnight – could not even compile that Post entitled: No Justice For Brad! (discussing why the Justice League movie would not even get a cinema visit, let alone a Bradscribe Review!) – plus, the immutable low and discouraging state of my Stats, it got to the point: should Bradscribe be discontinued?

No need to make this “crisis” into a drama – these low spirits should be attributed to low energy, nothing more. 

Ultimately, in what has proved to be a physically and mentally trying eighteen months for yours truly, these past few weeks turned out to be a most welcome break – a chance to recharge.

Now is the time to rebound!

Brad may not make a difference, but he’ll certainly make a scene. Or three. 

Just keep on pressing Publish, and if HARDLY ANYBODY wants to read, then so be it… 

But surely, writing an unread piece of work is far preferable than never to have toiled and troubled to produce one at all…right?

WRITE!

 

For all of you who may have struggled with NaNoWriMo last month – or those of you who have wrestled with writer’s block – this, my friends, is our Anthem: 

“You want the reader to remember. You want her to be changed. Or better still, to want to change…

“Never forget that a story begins long before you start it and ends long after you end it. Allow your reader to walk out from your last line and into her own imagination. Find some last-line grace. This is the true gift of writing…

“Your last line is the first line for everybody else” – Colum McCann. 

 

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1264 And All That

Posted: 16 May 2014

“Calamus velociter scribe sic scribentis”

The Battle of Lewes Memorial presented to Priory Park in 1964
The Battle of Lewes Memorial presented to Priory Park in 1964

“Speed on my pen, to write what is to come… The English army rode the heavy storm, Of mighty war, at Lewes Castle walls… For mighty was the sword; virtue prevailed, And evil men took to their heels and fled” – The Song of Lewes 1264/65.

This week marked the 750th Anniversary of one of the defining battles in English history. On that day (Wednesday), was bathed in glorious sunshine and the temperature was encouragingly higher than it has been the last few days. Even so, stepping off the train, there was a markedly quiet and subdued atmosphere – no festival mood here.

The “Dawn March” – a group of volunteer walkers – arrived at Lewes Castle at midday, while a specially commissioned “Battle of Lewes Tapestry” was revealed as the main attraction at an exhibition opened in the castle, but other than that, it was not very special. Maybe because it was a weekday, but so few people had turned up. (Most notably, this bunny was easily the the youngest attendee)

 1264

“The main engagement must have been short and bloody. Hand to hand fighting with spiked maces and the savage battle-axes… and the vicious swing of a heavy broad-bladed sword. Soon the green turf was littered with dead and dying”  – Tufton Beamish.

In the field of Landport Bottom, to the northwest of Lewes, Simon de Montfort led his rebel army against the royal forces of King Henry III (1216-72) who had arrived at the Priory of St Pancras, then one of the largest religious houses in the kingdom, to honour the feast of that saint.

Having stubbornly refuted all calls for constitutional reform, Henry had inadvertantly set off what is known as the “Second Baronial War.” The crucial moment came when the Royalists scattered a contingent of London volunteers; the pursuit followed the banks of the river Ouse, into which it has been estimated that up to 60 rebels may have drowned.

With the Royal army broken up, de Montfort initiated a devastating counteroffensive culminating in Richard, King of the Romans (and Henry’s brother), taking refuge in a windmill and Henry himself fleeing back to the Priory…

priory

“And now it is all gone – like an unsubstantial pageant faded; and between us and the old English there lies a gulf of mystery which the prose of the historian will never adequately bridge” – Froude.

The Priory of St Pancras – from 1100 up until the mid-16th century – was the leading Cluniac House in England. This “splendid edifice” was founded by William and Gundrada de Warenne,with construction commencing in 1077. At its prime during the 12th century, it was startlingly huge, with up to 100 monks residing here.

Without a doubt, its most trying time came in May 1264; not only did the monks have to provide food and supplies for all the King’s men and their horses, but the Battle reached the Priory gates – the church was hit by flaming arrows but damage was minimal. Henry III was defeated and had to surrender his sword at the Priory. In Annals, written by a resident monk, it is said that “2,700 more or less” perished that day, although the actual tally is still debated.

The next day,  the king agreed to a settlement known as the “Mise of Lewes,” which led to the first recorded elected parliament held that following year. The system of governance today at Westminster, London, stemmed from the drama which unfolded at that Priory 750 years ago.

Unfortunately, the opulent grandeur of this extensive site did not escape the Dissolution of the Monasteries instigated by Henry VIII. Portinari, an Italian engineer, was dispatched in 1538 by Thomas Cromwell, the King’s chief minister, to destroy the building.

The ruined fragments still standing are suitably impressive and inspirational; it would be quite a tranquil place if it wasn’t for the fact that the train to/from Brighton races through the middle of what was once the Great Hall.  A memorial was installed on this ground to mark the 700th Anniversary.

Hopefully, the people of Lewes will turn out for the costumed procession scheduled for tomorrow. Are they proud of living adjacent to one of English history’s most important battlefields? Or do they not wish to dwell on the fact that so many died gruesome deaths fighting for the right to have a fairer system?