Tim’s NaNoWriMo Tips

Starting your first NaNoWriMo can be a daunting experience, but never fear! Our resident NaNoWriMo veteran Tim will give you the low-down on what to expect during your thirty day writing epic – including tips and tricks to help you through those more challenging times at the keyboard!

Did you do much planning before your first NaNoWriMo?

The planning I did on my first NaNoWriMo really made things difficult because I had a story I wanted to tell – and when it wasn’t working I just stopped. This was failed attempt #1. The trick is to remember the goal of this challenge: to hit the word count. What I learned from that experience was the planning caused me to have an additional goal which got in the way of the first. If you are able to get away with writing a complete novel you’ve had planned out in one month – good oh! But it seems like everybody I talk to who has tried the challenge learned to loosen up on the planning and allow the story to carry its own momentum.

What were your thoughts after your first day’s writing? How did this change throughout the month?

Every year I try NaNoWriMo I feel very disheartened after my first day. It’s like going for a jog for the first time in ages. It sucks! But the trick is not minding that it sucks. That’s why the whole online community is so great. There are subreddits and hashtags you can latch onto and remember you aren’t alone. In recent years, NaNoWriMo has become rather big on YouTube – so you can actually *see* you aren’t alone too! Real life face-to-face meet ups organized by communities – like the group that meets up in the Central library – are a really good way to get accountable. It wasn’t until after my second attempt at the challenge that I realized I couldn’t write this many words while alone on my laptop in my bed after a full day’s work. It was too tempting to just watch a TV show instead.

Did the intensity of NaNoWriMo help or change your writing in unexpected ways?

The intensity of NaNoWriMo forced me to shed a lot of silly stylistic rituals and habits I’d picked up from years of trying to be a ‘serious writer’. There are days when you just want to blab the words out onto your text editor and go to sleep. Or get on with your day. This is a Good Thing. Because when you stop being so self-conscious with your writing it’s always way better. I think there is a weird doubt we all have that if each sentence isn’t clever then readers will think we aren’t worth reading. But this is a fallacy. Just write.

Do you have any tips or tricks for getting through those harder moments?

Gripe! Gripe to your friends and to your flatmates and to your partner and to your pet. This way, everyone can know how interesting and creative you are for attempting to write a novel in a month. I also sincerely recommend showers. Just go stand in the shower and give yourself a pep talk. Pump some beats. Yeah, you got this. You are a writer. The novel might end up a bit shabby but by gosh you are actually writing!

How did it feel to complete 50,000 words?

I don’t know. I’ve never completed 50,000 words. I think it probably feels like sending off a university assignment when you close all the tabs of research. Or maybe it feels like when your bus has all green lights in the morning and you actually get to work on time. Or perhaps like a cool lemon lime bitters with like one ice in it and you’re part of the first wave of humans exploring intergalactic space. Who knows! Some do.

What happened to the non-writing areas of your life during NaNoWriMo, and do you have any advice in regards to this?

To be honest, if you aren’t a very organized person you are going to fail NaNoWriMo. Most likely. Because unless you already have up to an hour of every day carved out for ‘creative activities’ then something will suffer. And it would be great if it was your mindless internet browsing time but let’s be honest – that usually isn’t what is sacrificed. Just remember to shower. Also, it should be noted that having the free time to do NaNoWriMo is quite a privilege. Many people in New Zealand and the rest of the world DO NOT have a spare second to do something so silly and awesome.

What happened to your NaNoWriMo writing after November?

Nothing. I always hide mine. They are so embarrassing! This is something I obviously need to work out in therapy. But if you want a good time, check out Twitter for silly first lines of NaNoWriMo novels. So when you are writing your great November Novel, just remember: that’s your bar. That’s your company. Now get out there and take a jump!

 

This month’s best fiction

The following titles have been chosen from our monthly new fiction selections. They are all highly recommended for great reading.

Syndetics book coverA non-judgmental tragic story of grief and betrayal revealing the futility of the Israeli-Palestinian.

Syndetics book coverA breath taking tension filled tale of revenge and psychological trauma.

Syndetics book coverThis is the third mystery featuring the character Sebastian Bergman and it is as grippingly thrilling, and as suspenseful as the previous two.

Syndetics book coverA clever mind bending noir science fantasy novel from a much acclaimed writer.

Syndetics book coverA wonderfully written shattering novel, that has a shocking, so realistic ending, that will definitely leave a lasting emotional impression.

NaNoWriMo: Librarians’ recommendations & resources

To help out all of our budding author’s this National Novel Writing Month, we asked all of our librarians across the city for some of their best recommendations of books, online resources and more:

Paul and Zoe recommend Syndetics book coverBird by bird : some instructions on writing and life / Anne Lamott.
“If you have ever wondered what it takes to be a writer, what it means to be a writer, what the contents of your school lunches said about what your parents were really like, this books for you. From faith, love, and grace to pain, jealousy, and fear, Lamott insists that you keep your eves open, and then shows you how to survive. And always, from the life of the artist she turns to the art of life.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBoth Fiona and Debbie suggested  The exercise book : creative writing exercises from Victoria University’s Institute of Modern Letters / edited by Bill Manhire … [et al.].
“Writers of all skill levels can give their minds a work-out with this extensive book of writing prompts and exercises. Brimming with stimulating trigger ideas, the exercises help readers explore the nuts and bolts of the craft, from poetry and short fiction to scriptwriting, while helping to find inspiration everywhere.” (Syndetics summary) So obviously this one must be good!

Syndetics book coverMonty’s suggested you check out On writing / Charles Bukowski ; edited by Abel Debritto.
“Sharp and moving reflections and ruminations on the artistry and craft of writing from one of our most iconoclastic, riveting, and celebrated masters. In this collection of correspondence, letters to publishers, editors, friends, and fellow writers-the writer shares his insights on the art of creation. On Writing reveals an artist brutally frank about the drudgery of work and canny and uncompromising about the absurdities of life, and of art.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Jess & Celeste, both Stephen King fans suggested Syndetics book coverOn writing : a memoir of the craft / by Stephen King
“Immensely helpful and illuminating to any aspiring writer, Stephen King’s critically lauded, classic bestseller shares the experiences, habits, and convictions that have shaped him and his work. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Celeste also rated the Goodreads list ‘Best Books on Writing’ which (suprise suprise) has Stephen King’s memoir as number 1!

Max from Karori loves Pinterest! You can search for writing hints, tips, tricks or images to help inspire you, and follow the WCL boards for recent picks.

If you’re like Jess and eBooks are your thing, make sure you check out the collection of Writings on Writings that she put together for you. Just download the Libby App or visit the Overdrive webpage to get started.

Paul had a bunch of suggestions for you, take a look at:

Syndetics book coverThe writer’s journey : mythic structure for writers / Christopher Vogler.
“The updated and revised third edition provides new insights and observations from Vogler’s ongoing work on mythology’s influence on stories, movies, and man himself. The previous two editons of this book have sold over 180,000 units, making this book a ‘classic’ for screenwriters, writers, and novelists.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAnd Zen in the art of writing / Ray Bradbury.
“Bradbury, all charged up, drunk on life, joyous with writing, puts together nine past essays on writing and creativity and discharges every ounce of zest and gusto in him.” — Kirkus Reviews. “Zen and the Art of Writing is purely and simply Bradbury’s love song to his craft.” — Los Angeles Times” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAnd The Paris review : interviews, I / with an introduction by Philip Gourevitch.
“How do great writers it? The Paris Review has elicited some of the most revelatory and revealing thoughts from the literary masters of our age. For more than half a century, the magazine has spoken with most of our leading novelists, poets, and playwrights, and the interviews themselves have come to be recognized as classic works of literature, an essential and definitive record of the writing life.” (Syndetics summary)

And Tim, a former NaNoWriMo survivor swears by writemonkey.com. It’s a minimalist text editor which goes full screen so you don’t have any distractions. He used it for all his incredible poetry and clever short stories. His other recommendation for would be to throw one’s phone down the back of the couch.

Best of luck! and make sure you check out wcl.govt.nz/nanowrimo and follow us on Facebook, and Instagram and Twitter @wcl_library for more survival tips and tricks.

Wellington author interview: Pip Adam

Author image by Victoria Birkinshaw

Spacious open plan living. Nest or invest. Classy urban retreat. If you’ve spent a bit of time browsing real estate brochures, you’ve probably read these words before. But there’s another, darker story of renting and home ownership in New Zealand, one without floor plans or glossy full-page photos: The New Animals, by Pip Adam.

Adam’s work has appeared in a range of journals and anthologies, with her short story collection Everything We Hoped For published in 2010 and her debut novel I’m Working on a Building in 2013. She’s been described as “the woman who is making literature subversive fun in this country again… The most wired-in to the seething discontent below the housing bubble.” So put down the brochure and get a copy of The New Animals today!

The blurb for The New Animals references intergenerational tension, however the story also looks at tensions of class, wealth and gender. What was it like shaping a story around these conflicts?

I always think conflict and complexity give ‘life’ to stories. It seems like a boringly obvious thing to say but it is also constantly a surprise to me. I often use writing to sort out things that confuse me about life and I guess confusion is often a state of conflict for me – one idea against another, or maybe things acting in ways that don’t gel with my world view that cause a disruption to the things I believe and understand. For me it is always scary writing about people who I am not, but I have always loved the idea of trying to imagine myself into a mindset that seems confusing to me. Like often I might see someone do something and I have this idea that people always act in ways they see as ‘good’ or ‘right’. I’ve met lots of people and no one ever seems to make decisions by thinking ‘this is wrong thing to do’, even people who have broken the law. So yeah, I am always interested in trying to imagine myself into a mindset that would see decisions I see as odd as the ‘right’ decision.​ I enjoyed it particularly in this work because it was a bit like Sudoko or those tile puzzles, where someone would act and there would be a domino tumble of other people being forced to act.

You recently talked about your relationship with fashion – its power and ability to answer societal questions, but also its environmental impact. How did you approach this in The New Animals, especially with fashion playing such a large role in the story?

I am really interested in design of all types, particularly the form and function, or form versus function. Before I started the book I had this love of fashion which I think was a hangover from my hairdressing days. Like I loved seeing how fashion changed and yeah, also I really like looking at beautiful things. For this book I started taking a more intense interest. I became a rampant foll​ower of fashionable people and people in the fashion industry. I just consumed everything I could. I visited shops as well, touched the clothes, saw them on the hangar and on people. I was also really interested in the history of fashion and some of the theories around fashion. I am especially obsessed with the work of Rei Kawakubo and the way she deconstructs the human form. I love the play of her work but also the real seriousness and almost horror of some of her work. I am also quite obsessed with Alexander McQueen’s life and work – in a lot of cases the violence of it. One of the hard things about writing about fashion is that it is often talked about in quite ‘light’ ways. I had to read very deeply to find the language that had weight and importance. There is a risk that fashion can seem shallow because, I think, it is ephemeral and seems to be about adornment when often it is about so much more.

The New Animals is very grounded in Auckland. How do you think the city’s geography helped with the story?

I really love Auckland. I grew up there and I visit a lot.​ It’s interesting you ask about geography because I think it is a really interesting city that way. Like you have that massive volcanic basin that is the harbour and then you have that network of volcanoes that have formed Mt Wellington and Mt Eden and, yeah, I often think of Auckland as this volatile place. My parents live close to Stonefields which is a development built on the site of an old quarry. Auckland has this feeling for me of land acted on. Land in flux, land in change and to me this book is a lot about that, about change and fluidity and evolution and I think walking around Auckland, travelling over it which I did heaps of for this book it’s impossible not to feel that. For instance, the train I catch a lot from Glen Innes travels over the Orakei Basin, this incredibly changeable place. If the tide is in, it looks like a body of water, but when the tide is out it transforms into this muddy almost wasteland. Everything that was covered by the water is exposed. I like that as an image as well, the way things can be exposed by changes in environment. Tides are a big part of my thinking around this book. The way the moon pulls these huge bodies of water around, the way they kind of create these weather patterns deep below us. And then don’t even get me started about how humans began as fish, how the ocean must have some strange pull on us still.

One aspect that really stood out was the friendship between Carla and Duey, with the contrast between their interactions and their personal thoughts, and their awareness of the friendship’s decline. Was this relationship a difficult one to write?

For a long time, in the writing process, Carla and Duey had been lovers and it just wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do. We so often place the ‘sex’ relation above all other intimate relationships. I am really interested in friendship. I find it so interesting. What keeps friendships alive is so complicated but also so purely unselfish. I liked the idea that Carla and Duey were at a stage where the relationship (as if it were a separate thing from the two people in it) was in decline, like despite all their care and thought for each other nothing was going to save it. It was difficult to write because I don’t read many books about friendships that are like that, so in a way the models I had were very much about love and sex relationships. So it took some sorting out, like some real close work. The other thing that I loved about writing that relationship is that I think it is pretty cool how humans can think one thing and then act in a better way. I love how we do that for each other. I guess also, finally, I was interested in deconstructing some of the ‘work’ we do in human relationships. Like, I find people pretty confusing sometimes, a lot of the relating stuff doesn’t come automatically to me. So, I am often thinking a lot about what the right thing to say is or what a person is saying (like actually saying). It was fun to make some of that work apparent, to sort of uncover that and show it.

Reviews of The New Animals have generated some discussion about New Zealand literature and the reviewing process. What has it been like seeing the passion your work has brought out in people?

Writing is a weird thing. I really like the part of writing that takes place in a room by myself. I love working on something, like really working on something – crafting it and messing it up and having to fix it and ​living with it. I find I get so ‘into’ that work (like I literally feel like I climb inside the story) that I forget that other people will read it. So yeah, sometimes publication is a bit of a shock. Like I remember after my first book was published someone I didn’t know said to me, ‘I read your book,’ and I was like, ‘I never said you could.’ I just forget that people will read it. So, it’s pretty amazing when people I respect say they like what I’ve written. People will email me and tell me in person and it means heaps because I’ve sort of ‘shown my hand’ as a human. I’ve said, ‘I made this. I think this is how life is awesome,’ and when someone says, ‘I see what you’ve made and it made me think this is how I think life is awesome,’ that is just incredible. I love how art can do that and I’m not sure much else can. I put a lot of stake in passion. I love the way, in my life, I have been granted the opportunity to come into contact with many people who make me feel passionate and I just get fired up about the idea that our work sort of sparks off each other. Like no matter what is going on. No matter what other people are saying about our work, we can sustain ourselves. It’s like the biggest collaboration. Because although I love those times by myself working, I am never far from the work of others, I will be reading those writers to keep me going, to keep me passionate.

Pip Adam's The New Animals

Ngaio Marsh Award winners announced for 2017

Syndetics book coverRecently the 2017 Ngaio Marsh Award winners were announced. The Best Crime Novel was awarded to Fiona Sussman for her novel titled The Last Time We Spoke.
The Best First Novel prize was awarded to Finn Bell, for his novel titled Dead Lemons.
The Ngaio Marsh Awards originated in 2010 for excellence in New Zealand crime, mystery, and thriller writing. In 2016 the award for best First Novel was added and in 2017 another category was also added for the Best Non Fiction.

Come write in @ WCL for #NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is an international event where novelists from around the world pledge to write 50,000 words in the month of November. Anyone can take part, and you can write anything you want (it doesn’t even have to be a novel).

To help support all of our budding NaNoWriMo writers across the city, Wellington Central Library will be available as a ‘Come Write In’ venue and have special places reserved just for you to come into to the library, get together, get writing and smash that word count!

To really help kick things off with a bang, on the first Saturday of November (Nov 4th),  come along to the Central Library for ‘Let’s Get Writing – NaNoWriMo 2017′!

This event will be hosted by your Wellington Municipal Liaisons in the Mezzanine Room of the Central Library (upstairs on the same level as Clark’s Cafe) between 1-4pm.

So come along to get a massive head-start on your novel, meet some fellow writers, get some free stickers, and make it to 50,000 words!

So what about the rest of November?

After that first write-a-thon, NaNoWriMo writers can convene on the 1st floor of the Central Library every Saturday & Sunday in November between 1-4pm, where the computer books area (at the north end of the floor) will be reserved especially for you!

To help you organize you’re writing schedule, we’ve put together the handy table below:

Date Time Central Library Location
Saturday 4 Nov 1-4pm Mezzanine Room
Sunday 5 Nov 1-4pm 1st Floor – Computer Books Area
Saturday 11 Nov 1-4pm 1st Floor – Computer Books Area
Sunday 12 Nov 1-4pm 1st Floor – Computer Books Area
Saturday 18 Nov 1-4pm 1st Floor – Computer Books Area
Sunday 19 Nov 1-4pm 1st Floor – Computer Books Area
Saturday 25 Nov 1-4pm 1st Floor – Computer Books Area
Sunday 26 Nov 1-4pm 1st Floor – Computer Books Area

You will need to be registered at www.nanowrimo.org and have Wellington set as your Home Region to take part in NaNoWriMo. If you have any questions about the event you can post them in the Wellington Regional forum too.

Stay tuned for a special blog post with librarians’ resource recommendations, and happy writing!

Nanowrimo

The Man Booker Prize winner for 2017 has been announced!

Syndetics book coverThe award winning short story writer George Saunders has now become an award winning novelist, with his debut novel titled Lincoln in the Bardo being awarded the 2017 Man Booker Prize. The Texan born Saunders originally trained as a geophysicist. His first of six collections of short stories was published in 1996, titled CivilWarLand in bad decline. He won the 2014 Folio Prize for the collection Tenth of December: stories.

Must reads from this month’s fiction selections

The following titles have been chosen from our monthly new fiction selections. They are all highly recommended for great reading.

Syndetics book cover A wonderfully rendered retelling of this exciting classic novel.

Syndetics book coverOne of the best apocalyptic science fiction novels yet.

Syndetics book coverA gripping highly charged mystery.

Syndetics book coverA suspenseful, almost gothic story of family, love and disappointment in one New Zealand family.

Syndetics book cover An emotionally deep novel about survival, fear and courage.

Kazuo Ishiguro wins the 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature

Syndetics book coverThe Swedish Academy has awarded this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature to British writer Kazuo Ishiguro. Born in Japan in 1954, his family moved to Britain in 1960 and he became a British citizen in 1982. After studying English and Philosophy, he went on to study creative writing, for which his thesis became his first published novel, A Pale View of Hills, in 1982.
He has since had seven novels published and much short fiction, four screenplays and several song lyrics. His work has received many awards including the 1989 Booker Prize for The remains of the Day; this was adapted to film in 2003. His novel Never Let Me Go, published in 2005 was also adapted to film in 2010.
Kazuo Ishiguro’s most recent novel, titled The Buried Giant was published in 2015.

We have Gurgl boxes in our libraries this week

If you haven’t heard of Gurgl before, it’s a new social enterprise that is a library for preloved infant clothing. It provides a platform for parents to recycle their children’s wardrobes and then borrow more, selecting the items they would like to borrow online. The longer you are a member of Gurgl, the more clothing items you can borrow. Gurgl recently won Massey University’s Go Innovate! competition for 2017.

There are Gurgl clothing collection boxes in all our libraries until 14th October: they welcome children’s clothing donations whether or not you would like to become a member of this new service. If you’d like to learn more the service this not-for-profit organisation is offering, visit their website at www.gurgl.nz