It’s day 20 of NaNoWriMo, and I expect many are beginning to feel the pressure. After all, there are only ten days to go, and if you’re slightly behind, there’s not that much longer to catch up. Considering I thought this would be my hardest year yet, I don’t think I’ve ever been this far ahead. Not at this point, anyway. I think it’s to do with the fact that I know I don’t have a lot of time to play catch-up, and also because my free time, for the first time in what feels like forever, is really my free time. I don’t have homework, I’m not working until 8PM like I was in my gap year, and I don’t have essays and assessments due like every November for the last three years. Also, unlike while I was at University, I’m not feeling guilty for not doing something course related whenever I work on the novel.
The last few years, I’ve waited until December to start uploading the NaNoWriMo novel, but this year I’ve decided to upload two chapters every weekend. This is mainly because this year’s novel is a lot more jumpy than previous years, and I’m trying to fit a lot more in. Because of this, I wanted to get feedback as I’m writing it, although I’m currently on chapter fourteen and I’ve only uploaded five chapters plus the prologue. Anyway, if you’re interested, you can read it here.
Outside Your Window is the story of Brandon, whose life revolves so much around his computer, his online life and games that his girlfriend leaves him. Seeking sympathy, he turns to his remaining friends – those involved in his current gaming obsession. One seems to have a sympathetic ear, but after chatting with ‘Messenger’, Brandon is sucked out of his life and thrown into a new one.
I wanted a lot of freedom with this – I ended up writing about Brandon being sent to different moments in history, before being dropped in someone else’s body in the future. Then, well, he ends up in Wonderland. I mentioned previously how having a lot of scope helps me, especially because it means if I get bored, I can simply completely change the scenery. But I still have to push myself, as I can’t just stop mid-scene and put Brandon somewhere else, I have to flesh out the worlds he visits and I can’t simply use the same thing over and over again to get him to different places. So, I hear you ask, what inspires me during November? Well, don’t fear, because that’s exactly what I’m going to talk about now.
For any writer, reading is perhaps the biggest source of inspiration. This is no less true during November. I mentioned above how Wonderland features in Outside Your Window, and though some of that inspiration comes from the films, with the main character constantly comparing what he sees to both versions of Alice in Wonderland, it wouldn’t feature at all if it wasn’t for the book, and the fact that said book is in the public domain. It means I could take the core ideas and put my own twist on them (and yes, I have read the book). I started the month (and finished October) by reading The Shining, and along with some other horror that’s inspired me, too. I haven’t got to it yet but I intend to have a bit of horror thrown in there. Plus, there’s a random character called Danny, and The Overlook gets a mention when a playboy billionaire mentions spending much of his life in hotels.
Said playboy millionaire’s surname is Lancelot, inspired by, of course, the King Arthur stories. I considered for a second calling his company The Round Table or something similar, but actually ended up with Camelot Exiles, deciding it was just a bit more fitting. I have to admit though, part of the King Arthur inspiration came more from another take on the legend of the Holy Grail than just the story itself.
I’ve also been listening to the Spamalot soundtrack a bit, on and off, while writing. Haven’t seen the musical, (unfortunately, I was off at Uni when it was on in Cardiff) but bloody hell do I want to. Especially after hearing it. Anyway, yeah, I don’t think I would have come up with Lancelot/Camelot Exiles if I hadn’t been listening to this a bit. On a similar yet somehow different note, there’s another soundtrack I’ve been listening to, pretty consistently. I love Les Miserables, I love the story, and there’s something about it that just puts me in a “Hell yeah I can do this!” mood. Okay, so they’re singing about revolution while I sit here typing, but still. One More Day is just as good motivation as Eye of the Tiger. (Which I am planning on putting on when I’m about 500 words from 50,000.)
Notable mentions; Footloose. What can I say, for some reason I write just a tad faster with a decent 80s beat behind me. Also, Glee. Especially the songs that are all about reaching for your dreams and just doing what it takes to get there because if there’s any show that beats all overs in terms of cheesiness for that theme, it’sGlee. It just gets me writing, okay? Please save the judgement.
I decided I haven’t actually watched enough films recently to have a whole section for them, but the two I have seen in the last few weeks – Texas Chainsaw Massacre on Halloween and Resistance on Saturday – have added a little something. Like I said, in relation to the first, I’m thinking of adding a little bit of horror into the mix. Actually, I was going to have the Mad Hatter to turn out to be a serial killer, but decided on a bigger role for him.
Resistance is a Welsh film (though English language) set in WWII. It’s a better book than film but it’s a good story, even if the film was a bit flat (thinking of posting about that shortly). Anyway, watching it reminded me of the book and the way the story just drew me in. And, again, the whole World War Two setting of it, plus the fact that it’s sort of alternative reality, have added to my inspiration.
Now, for the biggest one. TV. Anyone who has seen Once Upon A Time will probably pick up on where I got a lot of the jumping through worlds inspiration from, especially in terms of a certain hatter. Though, again, I’ve tried to keep that away from the TV show. Still, Once Upon A Time manages to tell loads of different stories in loads of different places and it does it well. Plus, well, the female characters just kick ass and I guess that, in part, inspired part of Candice’s character. Or what I hope to achieve with her character, anyway.
Of course, there’s also American Horror Story. It’s a show I really love, and along with The Shining, it’s going to be a huge influence on some of the latter parts of the novel. If I get to that before the 50,000 words run out, anyway. (If not, then the novel will be a lot longer than I expected.) If you’ve seen the show – either series one or two – then you’ll understand. To me, it’s a brilliant retelling of some of the cliché horror stories. The second series seems to take inspiration from everywhere, involving (spoilers) aliens, slashers, demons/exorcism, and more.
Put it all together, and, basically, you can see where the whole jumping through time and space idea came from.
Among these, you could also include Supernatural (TV), Revolution (TV), A Song of Ice and Fire (books), 80s music, Alkaline Trio, Billy Talent, many other bands and songs, and real life experiences, plus, most likely, a few others that aren’t getting a mention here.
So, there you have it, a quick run down of things keeping me inspired (and, admittedly, sane) throughout the month of November. What about you? Are you taking part in NaNoWriMo? What inspires you, either in or out of this month?
(As a side-note, this post is only about 200 less words than what I’ve written for NaNoWriMo today. Maybe I should have spent more time on that rather than this, but I haven’t updated in a while so figured I’d better let people know I am still alive.)