Tuesday, 30 July 2013

InCreWriJul: The Final Check In

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.


Essjay said...

I hope your arm is back to normal soon and that you can get back to handwriting again. Damn bugs! Despite everything you've definitely had an awesome writing month.

I managed to do my 7k again this week so my wip has gone from 10 to 38k in July. I'm over the moon about this and also massively grateful to you for running InCreWriJul - thank you so much!

Am aiming to carry on with writing 1k a day from now on so that perhaps my first draft will be done by the end of August.

No work done on the handwritten project this week so perhaps I'm not a two project girl :)

Zoë Marriott said...

Essjay: Wow, you've done AMAZING work this month. I'm so glad that InCreWriJul has done what I wanted it to do for other people as well as me. I know what you mean about not being a two-project girl, though. I'm not either, much as I've tried!

Liz de Jager said...

My word count, as of last night (not writing today but making notes of chapter happenings instead) is 39,100 words, which I'm happy with. I'd have liked for it to be more, but you know Real Life intervened. I started on maybe 5 words at the beginning of July.

I'm sorry I stupidly did not manage to check in during all this time, but I thought I should just let you know, boss!

At least I've made some headway into the 100k due for delivery in November.

Good luck to everyone else - am looking forward to seeing everyone's check-in.

Rhia said...

Did I make my targets? Yes and no.

The Big Hard Chapter has been pruned, polished and another bit added because my characters prodded me awake in the missle of the night and told me they wanted to go somewhere I hadn't even thought of. So the completed chapter - which last week I intended to sit at about 6K - is now 8.5K with a new twiat to be dealt with.

The article (which I am now heartliy sick of)reached its target of 5K (I had a strict word limit on this), even if I did have to fudge a bit over the final bit of information I needed. And it was submitted two days early.

AND I read TNI. Twice.

Zoë Marriott said...

Liz: Well, you were with us in spirit, then :) That's a very tidy amount of words and a great chunk of your total in just one month, so well done!

Rhia: Congratulations! Sounds like you basically crushed it (with a special merit badge for TNI reading, of course).

Isabel said...

I definitely empathize with your bug bite issues, as two weeks ago I had a similar problem with a really infected bite in my leg, but all the same you have an amazing word count for the month!

This last week has been really productive for me on my essay, and I'll probably be done by the end of the week, which I initially had hoped to get done way earlier but it's been a busier month than I expected. As for my plotting, I made some progress and then things started to go wrong. Inevitably I had to take a step back and give myself a break from it this week so my brain can start having ideas again and I stop being in panic mode, which never works when it comes to writing!

So I have made some progress this month, although certainly not as much as I hoped, although I have you to thank that I didn't just give up and get nothing done at all! Thanks for letting me participate, I would totally do this again next year :)

Zoë Marriott said...

Isabel: The bugs really just seem very attracted to certain people, don't they? And it's nearly always people who are particularly allergic to them! Nrghg. Well done on all your hard work and your mature attitude to getting all that work done - thanks for taking part!

Phoenixgirl said...

I had a very good week - over six notebook pages, which brings my total for the month to somewhere around twelve pages (and some tweaking of bits already written). I made a lot of progress on the plot this month, too, so overall I'm very pleased with how things went.

My goal was to make steady progress instead of having a spurt of writing and then ignoring it for days, and aside from the occasional life-related setback, I did. I'm going to try to keep up that steady pace even now that InCreWriJul is done - it feels so satisfying, and now that I'm in the groove I'm hoping to stay there!

April C Rose said...

And...done! As in a few moments ago. YAY!

I almost thought I wasn't going to make it, either. I had a different "bug" issue. I spent some time with some sick relatives last weekend and this week my daughter and I have been sick sick sick. So between napping 3-4 hours each day and having a clinging toddler, I wasn't getting much done.

Then there was the pee incident. So, H is potty training. Being sick, she was glued to my lap. Between sneezes, I was trying to get my edits in. H starts to pee in my lap. I stand up and rush to the bathroom--or I would have, except I slip on the pee and fall harder than I have in a long time. In the course of the fall, I bang my knee on the floor HARD and half-land on my daughter. She starts screaming. Both of us are covered in pee. It was a mess.

But! I stayed up extra late for the last 3 nights (which might be why I can't seem to get better) and got up early this morning (rather, H got me up), and I finished!

Thanks for doing this. As you said in your post, if you hadn't done this, I think I would have given up on July altogether.

Barker and Jones Staff said...

I'm glad you're doing better!

I'm hovering just over 38.5K, which I'm very, very happy with. Needs work, of course, but that's a fantastic start. Thanks for helping us along, Zoe!

Q said...

I consider this month a success because it made me write six days out of every week, and I need to be building a habit like that. Throughout the month I don't think I wrote as much in quantity as I wanted to, but I did discover a lot of surprising things about my world and I found a number of things that need development. I think I thought I was done with the worldbuilding, but not so!

Thank you so much for running this! I hope your arm gets better soon.

Zoë Marriott said...

Eeep, somehow got very behind on the comments here! So proud of everyone's amazing progress in the face of all these challenges. Well done! Working together has made this an amazing month!

girlinthelens said...

Sorry to hear your arm and hand are continuing to give you problems! Hopefully once the bit clears up it'll all be back to normal :) And just as you've had a tough writing week, you'll have a good one in no time.

I hit my target for July and got to 40,000 words today! I've found the chapters over the last couple of weeks to just be coming out nice and easy, so let's hope that continues :) loving writing the story.



Isabel said...

Zoe, I just finished The Night Itself and I loved it! It's definitely already one of my all-time favorites, up there with SotM. I'll write a review on GR really soon!

Zoë Marriott said...

Natasha: Thanks! My edits for Darkness Hidden have just landed so I ought to be able to take it a bit easier on the hand for a bit - lots of slow picking through the ms and not much sprinting required, especially not by hand. Well done on your brilliant progress, Natasha! And good luck, too.

Isabel: Yay! I'm so glad - it's so different to everything that came before :) *Hugs*

Rebecca Lindsay said...

I wrote a 500 essay for a competition and proof-read a short story, so I did not bad considering I never wrote anything last week.

Zoë Marriott said...

Rebecca: Well done!

Rachel Balcombe said...

Well, this week I wrote approx 1800 words, so numbers-wise I'm proud of myself. I haven't managed to write every day, but I feel like my routine has got more regular, so I'm going to try to keep that up! I can't honestly give an overall total since I ended up having to scrap most of what I wrote in favour of a completely new approach, but I've learned a lot in doing so, and I've found someone who's really great at pointing out the issues in my writing, so I should get it done faster from here on in. This month has been really, great, so thanks Zoe for organising it. Sorry to hear about your troubles this week - sometimes it just seems like someone's got it in for you, doesn't it? I hope you feel better soon.

Zoë Marriott said...

Rachel: You're very welcome, Rachel - and thank you. Congratulations on all your progress. Even if you did have to take a few steps back to get to the right place, it sounds like it's been a very productive month.

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