Highland Cows & Trying To Write A Novel

highlandcowLots of competition news for you to start this post (which is a bit of a hotch-potch! Forgive me!):

1. The October Writers Bureau competition was won by one of my lovely ‘birthday twins’: Ninette Hartley!

Hurrah – yet another winner from this blog! (I should be on commission or something).

Come on, let’s get another winner in November. This month’s (free!) competition is open to anyone, anywhere and if you’re the winner, you’ll win a non-fiction writing course.

All you have to do is ‘write a history of Guy Fawkes in 500 words or less’. (Simples!) And it’s got to be ‘a lively, engaging read, something that entertains and informs at the same time.’

You’ve got until 30th November to get your entry in. More details here.

2. My story, ‘Heroes, Just For One Day’, which won the Erewash Writers’ competition, is now on-line..(I’m only telling you because a few of you said I should!).. should you wish to have a quick look.

3. Bill Strachan, from the ‘Highland Lit Salon’, up there in Bonny Scotland, has asked me to give his group’s short story competition a little plug and I’m more than happy to do so – not least because their webpage has a gorgeous Highland Cow on the home page – which I have decided to ‘appropriate’ for this post.

Closing date is 31st January, it’s £3.50 to enter and the theme is ‘roots’. There’s £100 for the winner of the adult section and £50 for the runner-up and the entrant that shows ‘most potential’ will win a week’s Arvon course in Moniack Mhor, which, if you don’t mind coughing up for the journey to Scotland, (if you don’t already live there!) is a prize well worth winning!


Right. Update time. I’ve got a (reasonable) idea. I’ve started writing and I’m plodding away at my ‘novel’ (in between procrastinating MADLY – I even wrote some Christmas cards today..!) but I’m way behind the word count that I should have reached by now.

But guess what? I’m not going to worry! I’ve decided that, rather than race to the 50,000 word mark – and perhaps end up with another load of nonsense (!), I’m going to do some planning, plotting and dip into some ‘how to write a novel’ books as I go along – and if I only end up with 20,000 words BUT I’ve made a start in writing a proper novel, then I’ll be happy.

I just feel that I can’t do it ‘on my own’! (I know I’m not exactly on my own in doing NaNo, but you know what I mean). I need the inspiration that books like Louise Doughty’s excellent ‘A Novel In A Year‘ (month?) give. It’s a bit like having a ‘coach’ rather than trying to do it completely on my own! Interestingly, Kath McGurl’s latest post – which really struck a chord with me – dropped into my inbox tonight, just as I was thinking about all this.

Have a read, whether you’re doing NaNo or just thinking about writing a novel ‘one day’. You might find it useful too!

The Culture Show: Wars of The Heart

And finally, none of us has time to watch TV, now do we? So, if you missed The Culture Show last week (as I did) and you have a spare half hour, you might be interested in viewing this programme on i-player (until 13th Nov), which someone in my writing class recommended.

It’s about novelists Graham Greene, Henry Green and Elizabeth Bowen, and American poet Hilda Doolittle, who stayed in London during the Blitz and who ‘revelled in the creative and personal freedom they discovered even as the bombs rained down.’

I’ll update this post when I’ve watched it! (but of course, I’m NaNo-ing, so, ahem, I may be some time…)

This entry was posted in Competitions, Short Stories, Successes and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Highland Cows & Trying To Write A Novel

  1. olivespastavino says:

    Thanks for the mention! I have already begun the course with Writers Bureau, there is a great deal of content! I also started the NaNo novel writing but have come to more or less the same conclusion as you (and written even less I think). I started writing and immediately found that I didn’t know my characters well enough and my plan was only in the very early stages so will now write as much as possible but definitely not 50,000 probably more like 10,000! It’s a good way to kick start things though. Thank you again for a very informative blog. I love reading it.

  2. kathmcgurl says:

    Good luck with your novel! I think the whole spirit of Nano is to get you writing, and not achieving the full 50,000 is no kind of failure if you still did something worthwhile. I can’t commit to 50,000 but am trying a private half-nano. I began my latest novel in late October and if it is at 25,000 by the end of November I’ll be delighted.
    Thanks for the link to my blog. We could start a new club of moonlighting writers!

  3. traceyglasspool says:

    Just wanted to say I loved your winning story. Helen. Good luck with Nano, I think you’re right to adapt it how you want. I’m also signed up this year and to my amazement flying at the moment (I didn’t even get close to 50,000 last year). But I won’t be counting my chickens just yet!

  4. Wendy Clarke says:

    Are Christmas cards counted, Helen?

  5. Linda says:

    Just read your story and loved it. I can see why it won!
    I’ve done NaNo several times in the past, never managed to reach the target 50,000 words but it did generate lots of useful ideas and I was able to recycle some of what I produced (after a lot of editing and polishing) so it was definitely time well spent.

  6. KH says:

    Loved your story, Helen. Well done! Kath KH

  7. Keith Havers says:

    I really liked your story, Helen. Congratulations. I know some of the Erewash group and they’re a really nice bunch of people.

  8. Downith says:

    Hi Helen, Just read your story. It was wonderful.Well done!

  9. Tracy Fells says:

    Really enjoyed the story, Helen, and well done on winning. Well deserved! Will have a look at The Culture Show – thanks for reminder, I always forget to watch it.

  10. julielees says:

    Fabulous story! Loved the way you gave so much back-story to your characters in so few words. Impressive!

  11. Great story, Helen, a deserving winner (unlike many I read, I’m afraid).

  12. Lee J Dawson says:

    Loved the story, Helen. Great fun! 😀

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