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Week 1 of NaNoWriMo 2023

What a week!

Even if I take NaNoWriMo kick-off away, the week was crazy. Maybe it was because NaNo was about to kick off that the universe thought “Hey, you’ve been cruising for too long, it’s time to shake things up.”

It started like most chaotic periods do – with me messing up. This of course was when I crashed my website, and yes thankfully it turned into a blessing because I designed the best website ever!! But last weekend was meant to be used for NaNo/book prep. Things like an event outline for the story to keep me focused on where I want to take it, or fleshing out some characters. None of that happened.

Then as all Mondays go, work was busy with back-to-back meetings and loads of queries, basically on steroids because I was booked off on leave for Tuesday and Wednesday and needed to get ahead. I’ll throw in here that working for a company that offers unlimited leave is amazing!!! Until you take said leave and remember that you also work in an incredibly fast-paced high-intensity environment (which you also love because you’re ADHD and need that diversity in your tasks) and taking any time off leads to coming back to an inbox that has been shat in from all directions (this chaos is not loved)

But Monday didn’t end there. I caught a late flight to Cape Town, landing at about 10:30 pm. My daughter picked me up from the airport and we went in search of food. You’d be surprised at how few places are open at 11 pm on a Monday. (I’m happy to announce her driving has drastically improved where previously I had to be still highly drugged from a medical procedure to sit in the passenger seat.)

We finally settled for garage pies and snacks before heading back to her apartment, all the while catching up. It had been 11 months since I last saw her in person! Of course, we had regular video calls and chatted on WhatsApp but a face-to-face catch-up is proper. So instead of going to sleep for the intended early morning departure, we talked and talked for several hours. 

Eventually, we attempted to sleep, and I can only say it was an attempt because her furniture had already been picked up that day (for her big move back to Joburg) so our bed was a duvet instead of a mattress on a hard tile floor with a blanket to cover. I gave up trying to get comfortable, accepted that I’m too old for camping on the floor and from 4:30 Tuesday morning we packed up the car and cleaned out the apartment.

At 6 am, we left Observatory, Cape Town and hit the road back to the West Rand of Johannesburg. This in itself was an adventure. Firstly, it was not just my daughter and I, but also her rescue cat Freya. She’s vocal and verbalised her disapproval of being in a carrier many times then took long naps and went at it again. Luckily she was never distressed (much easier than Noah ever was)

I should add that my daughter’s car is a manual. For a while now I’ve been driving an automatic car, and it’s surprising how my brain threw away the ability to drive anything else. Also, I didn’t want my daughter to drive the long road alone, and as I mentioned earlier, I didn’t trust her driving enough to be Passenger Princess for so long. The road is arduous with stretches of single lanes and hundreds of trucks and she’s never done a long haul drive before so it just made sense for me to do it.

Naturally, I was worried I would struggle with pulling away, having to get used to a clutch again. I mean, there was a little extra clutch noise while I applied fuel, but nothing that can’t be overlooked considering the circumstances. It turns out, however, that you also need to push in the clutch when you brake. We stopped though, didn’t we?

The other notable difference to my car is that hers has no aircon (menopause requires aircon). This means we had to keep the windows open when it was hot for fresh air, and when it got cold to stop the windscreen from fogging up. Driving all day with constant wind noise makes your ears feel like you’ve been at a club with loud music. It also doesn’t help anyone’s mood.

The 1,391 kilometres took 15 hours with two pit stops. This is a reasonable time considering the single-laned-ness (I have mad overtaking skills) as well as the many road work stops. (This is when the two-way road is reduced to 1 lane for road works so one direction of traffic is held at a stop while the other side goes. When it’s cleared, the opposite side gets to go. This can delay you up to 30 minutes per session, and of course, there isn’t just 1 session along the way.) 

The trip only became difficult with about two hours to go. It was dark. We’d returned to the greater Joburg region where it was freezing (remember the open windows?) and I’m severely night blind. (Funny story, people think I’m joking when I say this, so they still make me drive at night. Then when I don’t see a curb or something in the road they panic. WTF.) And it turned out this car’s lights were shit. Thankfully it was double lanes so no more overtaking trucks against on-coming traffic and my daughter has 20/20 vision so she took over. I was done with the trip by this stage, even if she still drove like she used to, I was willing to take the risk. I mean, it was a good life.

Finally, we got home, with takeaway food bought on the way. (I feel like I should tell you that when I ran out to collect the sushi we ordered, I couldn’t figure out how the door worked. It was a simple hinged door that was held open with a brick. But I couldn’t get in. There was another glass door right there behind it. Do you know how many times I swung the door back and forth wondering why I couldn’t get in? Only to realise that if I just looked to the left I would realise the door I’m swinging is wide open and I was trying to walk through a fixed panel that was next to the door? I don’t know if this even makes sense to you as I describe it but THIS is the level of tiredness that comes from driving all day. Naturally, I walked in announcing my stupidity and laughed at myself. The male half of a couple standing there could not contain himself but the female half did try to be polite, although I’m sure after I left they had a good guffaw at my expense. I almost want to ask the place for their CCTV footage just so I can have a good laugh too.) We were frozen through, tired, cranky, and just wanted to eat and sleep. 

The all of a sudden it was Day 1 of NaNoWriMo 2023. Yay for still being on leave but there was work to be done around the house to accommodate my daughter and her cat, so I didn’t just get to write.

If a long trip and a messy house weren’t already enough to deal with, try introducing adult cats to each other. Freya is super friendly and wants to meet everyone but Thando is super anti-social and scared of everything, so you can imagine how fun it’s been keeping them separated while also trying to get them used to each other. Ginger cats are dramatic AF, in case you were wondering.

Finally, late in the day, I sat down to write. It was exciting. My goal was 1,667 words and I managed to get just over that. I didn’t doubt that I would hit the minimum though because I had written 4,500 words for the original Here Lies Vincent Jacobs story so I had stock to work from. 

Let’s be clear though, it’s not a copy-and-paste situation. I am using the bones of that original story, but I have to rewrite it.

The extended version needs to unfold over an entire book so I’m telling it from a different point on the timeline and filling out the characters with a lot more detail. It’s a mystery/suspense so unravelling the plot also needs to build up and keep the reader (you) guessing.

Honestly, this new direction for the story is keeping me guessing! I know the end, of course, but I have no idea yet how we’ll get there. The first three days I rewrote the original story elements and on day 4 I started the part of the story that will eventually lead us to understanding who is behind the phone calls. (If this is your first time on my blog, this might not make sense to you so make sure you go read the original short story.)

On Sunday I did the least amount of words but I was tired. Not just from the week, but that morning we went on a zombie survival dash. Yup, you read that right. It was my first time, and let me tell you, the movies lie about zombies walking slowly. Or maybe it’s just foreign zombies. The South African zombies haul ass and the very first one chased me down so fast that I tripped, hit the ground on all 4s then proceeded to roll into a ditch. I’m too old to have ditch rashes all over my body. Of course, said zombie took a life (we got 3 to start with), and I lost the others well before making it halfway through the route. But I had a blast! Next year I want to be a zombie though. 

Anyway, Week 1 of NaNo was only 4 days and this allowed me to ease in a bit. I’m ready for a full week of writing now! I’m obsessed with this story and can’t contain my excitement to see it unfold. 

Check out the NaNoWriMo page where you’ll find each week’s update as well as the daily word count tally. I’m also posting on Instagram and Facebook so follow along and cheer me on! 

1 thought on “Week 1 of NaNoWriMo 2023”

  1. Pingback: About that month when I wrote a lot AKA NaNoWriMo 2023 – Corenne Tavares

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