Hello, hello, hello my ducky darlings! The month of July is drawing to a close, and with it our International Creative Writing challenge. Welcome to the final InCreWriJul check in!
Before we get onto that, however, a massive thank you to Dear Reader Rachel who sent this photo of The Night Itself in the wild:
This was in the Kingston branch of Waterstones, and got Rachel excited because she hardly ever sees my books in Waterstones. I hardly ever see them in Waterstones either (or any physical bookshops, really) so it's exciting for me, too. Let's hope someone adopted my hot-pink darling and took her home very shortly after this picture was taken. Sadly over the weekend The Night Itself dropped down from its all-time high ranking of No. 45 in the Waterstone's Not Just For Teens list to the rather less exciting No. 356. But never mind - I'll always have my screencaps. However, if anyone was wanting to cheer me up a bit, and they had any thinky thoughts about TNI to share, you could nip along to Waterstones website, or Amazon, and leave a review for the book, even if it's just a couple of lines.
Also over the weekend, this lovely feature interview with me went up on Dear Reader Maya's blog. The questions were really fun to answer, so check it out.
Now, on to to InCreWriJul!
I've had a frustrating week since we caught up on writing progress last. To illustrate it, here's a picture of the calendar in my Writing Cave, which I wrote my weekly and total targets on at the beginning of July:
Sunday and Monday of last week went brilliantly. On Tuesday I realised that the scene I had been intending to write next just wouldn't work, which caused my progress to screech to a halt as I stomped around my house bad-temperedly, snarling at the walls and flinging scrunched up bits of paper around. Eventually I did come up with a solution, though - the next day, as you can see, I was delighted to produce seventage pages of handwritten notes.
But sadly that's where it all went wrong. Because after my morning writing sprint (during which I'd been so caught up that I didn't really notice my hand hurting a bit more than normal) my hand stopped working. This is not an exaggeration. Within about an hour of putting my pen down and going to make some lunch I could no longer pick up a pen at all. My hand, wrist and elbow were throbbing, and my shoulder wasn't happy either.
Bewildered and a bit frightened, I worried that I'd done myself some kind of repetitive strain injury, although in the past I've written far more than seventeen pages in one sitting without having problems (the only time I'd had pain in my hand that bad was after my legendary 9k in one day writing sprint, during which the entire ending of TNI was written, and even then, it was only my hand and forearm that hurt, not the whole arm). It had come on very suddenly, too. I borrowed a wrist brace, took some anti-inflammatories and applied heat and then cold to my hand and wrist, hoping desperately that I wasn't going to join the ranks of unfortunate writers who have to type everything. I've tried doing that before, after all, and it was a disaster.
I tried some typing the next day, but had to give up very shortly because as soon as I hit my normal typing speed (about 98 words a minute) the pain was unbearable. Also during that day my other hand and both feet developed similar symptoms, though not as badly as my right hand and arm. They felt as if someone had folded them up tightly and now the creases wouldn't come out. And this is what eventually made the lightbulb go off. I'd had this problem once before - after an insect bite. I'm incredibly allergic to insect bites. At the very least they cause a swollen welt the size of about half a tennis ball, and often they also give me flu-like symptoms. But on one occasion, several years in the past, I'd reacted to a bite with just such pain and stiffness in my joints, although that time the bite was on my leg and my feet were far more affected than my hands.
Guess what? I'd found a bite on the back of my right arm on Wednesday.
So I've basically been babying my arm and hand along since then, scared of causing any permanent damage to the tendons or ligaments by forcing myself to use them too much. I've got the mobility in the hand back, but there's still quite a lot of pain in my thumb joints and little finger, and these are causing shooting pains down to my wrist and even elbow. I have no idea how long it's going to take for the symptoms to go away, but in the meantime typing is harder than normal (although I can do it, providing I do it slowly and carefully) and handwriting is out of the question.
I'm really sad about this, because if it hadn't happened I'm sure I'd have hit my 50K target for InCreWriJul. Actually, looking back on July, something seems to have attacked me every single week - whether it was a horrible headache, a nasty bug, or a real bug that chowed down on my arm. I've also had insane amounts of personal issues, mostly to do with my father and his condition, going off like bombs around me the whole time. But I'm so so so glad that I decided to run InCreWriJul, because without it I have no doubt all these set-backs would have caused me to lose far more days out of my month, and be far less productive overall. I might have given up on July completely - but knowing that everyone else was writing with me and that we were all doing it together gave me that little extra push that kept me going.
I'd estimate that once all my hand written notes are typed up I'll probably have something in the region of 47,500 - 48,000 words, which is not to be sniffed at. I hit and passed the 50% mark of the manuscript and got a really good handle on my people, which I know is going to stand me in good stead when my edits for Darkness Hidden come back (probably this afternoon!). So for me, despite the universe apparently deciding to throw a whole bunch of sneaky, underhand tricks my way, InCreWriJul has been a fantastic success. I want to thank everyone who came on the journey with me.
So now's the time for everyone else to share an account of their month in the comments. Did you hit your target? Did you change your target and if so, why? Did you struggle or fly? Share all! And remember that everyone who has commented on each check in, including this one, will be entered into a prize draw. I'll pick the winner and announce the prize next Tuesday.