Not NanoWriMo

So to all the dedicated writers and aspiring authors out there, it’s nearly come to the end of another year for National Novel Writing Month (NanoWriMo).

How are you feeling?  Are the words going to plan?  Are you almost at the 50,000 word challenge, or at 70,000 words not giving a damn?  Or did you get stuck after the first 5,000 words and have been beating yourself up ever since?

Don’t because it’s a challenge.  One that can be faced again next year, or next month come to that.

Trying something new

I decided against trying my luck with NanoWriMo for a second year.  Not least because I’m still in the very slow editing process of getting the novel from last year, to a publishable format.  I, as usual, have not made this my priority, so the words are just sat there until I get my act together.  Writing and editing appear to be places so far apart (for me), it’s almost ridiculous.

There I was thinking I was a struggling writer*.  I’m not.  What I am is a struggling editor.  I can write until the cows come home (this blog being a very casing point), but editing 50,000 words (55,641 at the moment)…now that is hard and I appear to be doing all I can to avoid it!

*Of course when I say writer, that doesn’t mean I’m a great writer, I am just saying I write and love to write.  

As I carefully beat away from my novel, I have now turned to another writing challenge and I wondered if you’d like to read the first instalment?

30 days of writing

The challenge is to write 30 pieces of creative writing in 30 days.  That ain’t gonna happen, I’ll be upfront now about that.

I found the list somewhere on-line linked to a social media site I don’t tend to follow so I can’t even give credit for the list to whom it’s due as they didn’t even have a name.  However I liked the list.

It goes something like this:

  • Day 1: Re-write a classic fairy tale
  • Day 2: Write a fanfiction
  • Day 3: A story that takes place pre-1950
  • Day 4: A poem using the words: blue, mistrust, half, twang
  • Day 5: A story revolving around an object in your room
  • Day 6: Start your story with: “He glanced at his watch impatiently…”
  • Day 7: Create a superhero. Have he/she save the day.
  • Day 8: Write a prequel to that Superhero. Pre-Superhero life. Maybe their childhood.
  • Day 9: A story in 250 words or less about your favorite city
  • Day 10: Start story with: “She touched the little box in her pocket and smiled…”
  • Day 11: A story where the characters go without power for a day.
  • Day 12: Find 10 random words and create your own definitions.
  • Day 13: Begin with “I thought I saw…”
  • Day 14: randomly find someone in your yearbook. Create a story about their life today.
  • Day 15: Write about a stranger you see. Either their back-story or what they are thinking in the moment you see them.
  • Day 16: Go to iTunes, put your music on random. Write a story about the first song that comes up. (250 words or less)
  • Day 17: Use time travel in a story
  • Day 18: A story set in a ghost town.
  • Day 19: Write an obituary for a historical figure
  • Day 20: Use these words in a story: grandfather, photo album, post office, and folder
  • Day 21: He or she sees their crush in a library. describe the incident.
  • Day 22: Write a story based on a dream you had
  • Day 23: Describe/fictionalize a childhood memory
  • Day 24: Write a story that takes place 100 years in the future
  • Day 25: Write a story about a mythical creature.
  • Day 26: Write about the 30th picture on your phone or computer. Write about the story behind it, or make up the story behind it.
  • Day 27: Story taking place during a sporting event (any sport)
  • Day 28: Story on a ship. Past, present, or future.
  • Day 29: Story about space
  • Day 30: Story or poem about ice

Day 1 really got me thinking…so here is my take on..

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 The Tortoise and the Hare. 

Courtesy of Peter Bono

Courtesy of Peter Bono

Once upon a time in place far from crowds of people, speeding cars and social media there was an island. This island, located somewhere between the edge of the caribbean and the start of south America was remote and as such undiscovered by the human populous.

If it had been discovered you would have found a small place full of sandy beaches backed by thick palms that made way to a lush and green forest full of fluffy animals and noisy tropical birds.

If you passed by the sand, dodged the falling coconuts and moved yourself through the overhanging branches into the thickets of the forest, you’d eventually come to a little round clearing. Over here the sun would beat down to a patch of overgrown grass and if you looked very carefully you would start to the tufts of grass moving, quickly. Very quickly.

Horace stood up on his legs and sniffed the air. The air smelt good, today it had been a great training session. He turned around in a circle, still on his hind legs, and carefully brushed his front paws along his long grey furry ears. He loved his ears, the way they bounced about with him but when he took off on full speed his ears would lie stiff against his head and give him more aerodynamic ability than his strong legs already allowed. He felt in tip top condition, not one animal in this place came close to the speed Horace could reach on the ground when he put his mind to it.

Horace hadn’t noticed but the indigo bunting had landed on the overhanging branch above him.

‘Another good run there Horace?’

Horace jumped. He wasn’t expecting company. He waved at the bright blue bunting that stood out against the green leaves, while jumping up and down to get his muscles relaxed.

‘Have you thought about a race?’

‘Who me bird? A race? Who could I race against around here?’

‘Don’t be too quick to dismiss it Horace, I know of someone that would love to race you’ The bunting bird flapped his brightly coloured wings and settled back on his branch. ‘In fact I have been asked to set the race up’.

Horace was more than interested at this idea. He could see himself now flying along the beach and leaving all and everyone behind him in a swirl of sand. He looked up at the bunting.

‘Say I was interested in this race. Who else is going to participate? Who would want to compete against my lean physique?’

The bird whistled to herself before answering. The clearing was surrounded by the constant chatter of bird sounds and the bunting didn’t want to miss any gossip the other birds were tweeting about, before going back to the task in hand.

‘Theo wants to race you’

The hare stood down in amazement at this piece of information. Then he rubbed his face with his paws and began chuckling, the chuckling turned into full scale hysterical laughing by which point Horace could be seen on his back, legs up in the air through fits of breathing like it was just a funny joke he had so obviously been told. The bunting was partially concerned for the hare and flew down to the ground to make sure he wasn’t having some kind of seizure. Eventually the laughter died away and hare once again sat up. He looking down very seriously at the bunting and said

‘You want me to race that tortoise? That’s about the most comical thing I’ve ever heard! You’re very amusing Betsy but even I’m not falling for that joke!’

‘It is not a joke. It is merely science. You see I’ve been speaking with my fellow birds about here and we’ve come to the conclusion that speed does not always win out. We decided it might be fun to test this theory out and we’d think you and Theo would be perfect to demonstrate it.’

‘It’s physically impossible for anyone on this island to beat me especially a cumbersome tortoise such as Theo, he knows it and so do I. I wouldn’t even need that much speed to beat a tortoise. Enough of this nonsense.’ The hare went back to smoothing his ears.

‘Is it nonsense though Horace if I prove you wrong? Do you want to be shown that speed is not everything?’

‘Speed is everything. We live and die on here because of speed, or lack of it in most cases. This is just silly Betsy’.

‘So you won’t say no to a quick jog then Horrace, to prove me wrong then?’

Horace didn’t want to appear too rude, these were after all his friends and who was he to appear better than anyone else. So he agreed. The race was set for the following morning.

At dawn the next morning, as the sun started it’s great ascend through the mist and clouds the animals of the island gathered on the shoreline to mark the way of the race which was to be exactly three laps of the island, along the sand. It was going to be another beautiful day on the island.

Horace pumped his friends hand and wished him luck as they got prepared on the start line. Theo pushed his shell about until he was absolutely comfortable with it’s position. The buntings lined up on the palms and gossiped about who would win, while the monkeys, rats and deer lined the route. Everyone wished the tortoise well but knew he would not win and as much as they liked the hare they too couldn’t understand why such a race had been devised by those busy buntings if not to make fun of the tortoise. Chatter had reached all over the island and there wasn’t a mammal, bird or insect that didn’t want to be part of this event.

One of the monkeys was decided upon as being the race starter. He pitched himself off and let out the biggest shriek of his life to announce the start of the race.

Horace bolted off, the sand blew up in a cloud behind him and he couldn’t be seen after one minute as he started to round the corner of the island.

Meanwhile Theo, with all his energy launched off as quickly as he could but he soon discovered that the weight of his shell would prevent him going anything more than a meander along the sand and so ignoring all the shouts of ‘hurry up’ and ‘come on Theo’ he stuck his chin out and got stuck into a steady pace along the sand.

It was no surprise to find Theo still only half way around the first lap when Horace, still speeding, ran past him. Horace was now half way through the race. He had thought about stopping and giving Theo some words of support and to tell him not to worry and all that but decided against it. Horace was in his running zone and he carried on. Nothing he could say would make the tortoise feel any better.

As Horace reached the starting line for the second time the crowd wished him well and he threw his paws up in recognition of the support he was getting. After he went through the crowd he begun to get out of breath. Feeling most unusual at this he thought maybe he better slow down, he wasn’t after all anywhere near as slow as the tortoise and he only now had one lap to go. As he rounded the corner of the island, out of sight from the crowd his hind legs began to cramp to such an extent Horace found himself hopping rather than bounding. A slow increase of pain so blinding in the back of his thigh began to take hold that in an instant Horace found himself stopping on the sand, out of breath and very much in pain.

‘Grief…what…is…the matter…with… me’ Horace leaned forward to get his breathing into a normal state and rubbed his legs at the same time.

Horace realised he must have been recovering for some time as he could see Theo coming around the corner to complete the start of his second lap. Horace was not letting any tortoise pass him and he set off quickly, only to find himself in burning pain again. He slowed, eventually stopped and looked behind him. Theo was gaining on him. Panic started to set in now for Horace, he tried bolting but every time he did he was out of air and out of strength to carry on.

Eventually Theo caught up with Horace. He barely noticed anything around him if it had not been for the rasping sound coming from the left of him. He took his eyes away from the distance and looked up to discover the hare bent over breathing rapidly.

‘You okay Horace?’

‘I, I can’t seem to get my breath…I, my chest keeps giving out on me.’

‘Anything I can do?’ Theo asked.

Horace was far too proud to ask for any help, this was nothing but a blip. Maybe he hadn’t drunk enough water, or maybe he hadn’t limbered up enough before starting, but he wasn’t needing any help.

So off the tortoise went on his way, teeth gritted, his shell once again adjusted to his back. One step, two step onwards all the way.

Eventually the crowd got bored of waiting for the either the hare or the tortoise and found themselves heading off to do other things.

The hare wanted desperately to lie down and go just go to sleep but he couldn’t. He walked as fast as he could and managed to catch up with the tortoise once more but just as he was about to overtake the tortoise, who never moved anything apart from his legs, the pain in his thighs once again caught him off guard.

‘Aggghhhh’ the hare shouted in frustration. ‘What is the matter with me?!’ The hare once again found himself stopping as the sun beat down on his head.

The end of the third lap was nearly in sight but the hare couldn’t move again to be able to see it. He flaked on the sand and waited for the pain to pass. It’s okay he told himself, I’ve still got time. The tortoise is walking so slow it will take him 30 minutes for me to cover in 3. But the hare still didn’t move, he didn’t want to move anymore. He liked sitting down. In fact whatever positive thought he came up with he just couldn’t make himself get up again. He’d lost all motivation for racing and even watching the tortoise head around the corner and out of sight without him still he felt no sorrow. This was not like him. He brushed his paws along his ears to feel how long they were. He was a hare, the greatest racer in the world. He could get to 65mph in less than 8 seconds. He felt no inclination to move.

As he laid there, looking up at the wispy clouds move slowly across the bright blue sky, it suddenly occurred to him; why did he need to reach the finish line first? He just needed to reach the finish line to save face. So he got up and walked, first quickly, then when his breathing got rapid, he slowed it down a pace.

Theo was less than 100 meters away from the finish line. Horace was 250 meters away. He watched in what felt like slow motion as the crowd began to reappear either side of him along the laid out track. Word had got around that the tortoise was going to win the race and everyone wanted to see it. Horace limped along slowly and heard the crowd cheer fantastically loud as Theo passed the line, then attention was upon him as he closed the gap to 200 meters, 150 meters…by now Horace was feeling so tired he could have dropped down on the sand again but he knew he had to make it. 100 meters…the monkeys clapped, the rats squeaked and the buntings chirped. Horace estimated he was now about 15 minutes behind the tortoise finishing.

As Horace paced the last 10 meters his eyes was watering from the exhaustion and his ears were flopped at his sides. He stepped over the line and collapsed in a heap, everything went dark.

The tortoise had won.

Three days later Betsy appeared at the Hare’s warren and waited for Horace to appear.
‘How are you feeling Hare?’

‘Much better. I just don’t understand Betsy, what happened to me? I’m a highly trained running machine but out there I completely fell apart.

‘Oh it’s very simple my dear friend. It’s all to do with the distance. You have been so busy training at getting your speeds up it never occurred to you to ever measure the distances you were covering. It’s most unlike you to cover more than a single mile I’d been watching the tortoise for quite some time, they can travel up to 30 miles in one day. Can you imagine that? The tortoise has no inclination to speed and you had no inclination to slow down, through elimination I knew who the eventual winner would be. All I had to do was put you together. You see it’s not about speed or distance, it’s about knowing what your strengths are, both are as important as each other and it’s even worth it when I’m right said Betsy who flew off singing to herself.

Horace hadn’t thought about distance at all, the bunting was right, of course she was right. What a silly hare he’d been. That’s okay though Horace thought, I’ll start on my distances right away, right now in fact. He looked into his warren and back out into the forest. Well, maybe tomorrow would be better and Horace headed back to the nice cool setting of his home to get some more rest, ready for tomorrow, probably.

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Anyone else want to join me in this creative writing challenge?  If you do I’ll post, or link your work to mine.  Or if you don’t have a blog I’ll publish it on mine telling everyone what a fab writer you are.

There are no deadlines, and you can just pick and choose the day or days you want to complete., just let me know when you’re ready to share it…join in, have fun :-)

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Cover photo courtesy of Carla C.

4 responses to “Not NanoWriMo

  1. Pingback: 30-ish Days of Writing – Poem | The Forget-me-Not Cultivation Blog·

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