Things to do before 1st November

The significance of the first of November, which unfortunately falls on a Tuesday this year, is of course that it’s the first day of the annual trial of strength known as National Novel Writing Month. When I say trial of strength, I really mean it’s a trial of persistence and stubbornness against all odds. I know it’s only my stubbornness that has carried me through various Novembers. I think the hardest year was when I was writing and directing a children’s play, as well as working full-time and helping with props for a pantomime presented by a different group. I have no idea how I managed to produce a novel at the same time. As far as I can recall, that was the novel that eventually turned into ‘Crime in the Community’, although it started out as ‘Community’ because I used to think one-word titles were really cool in those days. My first three NaNo novels started out as ‘Independence’, ‘Community’ and ‘Reunited’.

I am so organised this year that I’ve already ticked off one of the most important items on my list, which is: buy more coffee. I’ve almost run out of coffee twice recently, and in one case I was only saved from serious caffeine withdrawal symptoms by actually going into work early because I knew there was still some coffee in a jar on my desk there. Anyway, I now have a huge jar of instant, and some ‘real’ Italian coffee as a back-up. Obviously I am too lazy to make real coffee very often, but I do have a special mug that doubles as a cafetiere.

I’ve also just ticked off something else on the list, which was to make a temporary cover design and upload it to the NaNoWriMo website as a sign of my commitment. Here it is, and I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise in advance to regular readers for not writing Pitkirtly XIII in November. (Hmm, maybe I should skip XIII in any case and go straight on to XIV) It will be immediately obvious to many people reading this that I am returning to my 1950s series instead. In mitigation I should explain that I’ve been waiting for well over a year to write a novel set in Berlin, and in fact I organised our whole family holiday round this last year as part of my research. I think I can safely say it was a bit more popular than previous family history research trips to assorted Scottish graveyards! So here is the temporary cover. It may turn out to bear no resemblance whatsoever to the final one.


There were other things on my to-do list, mostly reading books about Berlin in the 1950s, which weren’t quite as grim and depressing as I expected them to be. Apart from that I should of course have done all the housework and written my Christmas cards, but needless to say both these have gone out the window in favour of taking part in a short story anthology and a historical novel promotion (more on these later).

By the way, in case you were wondering why it is unfortunate that November starts on a Tuesday, that’s because I won’t have the chance to get the novel off to a flying start because of being at work all day and then probably too tired to write much afterwards. However, in anticipation of this I already have the first few lines in my head, although it is strictly against the rules to write them down just yet.

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