NaNoWriMo and the Ghost Story

4 Nov

Last year in November I joined NaBloPoMo (not a bad word), November’s month-long challenge to post a daily blog piece.  Because I am a driven, crazy, person, I eagerly posted all month long, through holiday, through illness, through moving house — really kicking off this blog and meeting some great fellow-bloggers who have been enriching my online life ever since.

In 2009 I participated in NaNoWriMo (also not a bad word), a similar month-long challenge to write 50,000 words — one novella — in the month of November.  Because I am a driven, crazy, person, I wrote madly all month long, through childhood firsts, through illness, through school holidays — and in the end I squeaked by with 51,000 words and a novella about motherhood, secrets, assassination, and making the perfect clafoutis.

The two experiences were very different.  In blogging, you receive nearly-instant feedback.  Comments, followers, site statistics making a climb in cute bar-graphs (thank you, WordPress analytics).  In writing, the exercise was almost entirely private.  I didn’t share my novella with anyone (except the recipes), but I was just as addicted to seeing the word count rise and in finding stories everywhere.  In both exercises I learned new things about the discipline of writing.  (Like, I can be a good editor for someone else, but I am a terrible self-editor.)  (And I can’t stop using dashes — dashes — and dots … )  I have a soft spot for melodrama and the absurd, which makes it hard for me to take myself seriously.

Anyway, this year, because I am a driven, crazy person, I am going to give NaNoWriMo another try.  I don’t expect that to take away any time from blogging, to be honest — more likely, the overflowing spill of words to the NaNoWriMo page will simply flow over into blogging.  We’ll see.  This year, inspired by my fear of the days of darkness, I’m writing a series of ghost stories.  You know, graveyards, dark hallways, psychiatrists offices, the usual.   Melodrama?  Check.

Living in England makes finding ghost stories easy.  We walked past this watery stair just yesterday, in Wales at Raglan Castle (or let’s call it, more romantically, Castell Rhaglan).  The stairs are at the base of a Great Tower, which sits inside an interior moat — yes, that right:  The Castle fortification sits on top of a hill, and inside the castle walls there is a moat which encircles another, small castle.  It’s like those Russian dolls, but with castles and towers inside, smaller and smaller.  We had to wonder — was the inner castle there to provide a last bastion of safety from exterior attack — or did the castle surround the inner Tower so it could lock in something horrible?  A monster, perhaps?  One who liked to creep down wet and dark stairs and hook fish from the moat with clawed fingers (since it couldn’t reach anything bigger)?  Or maybe a princess in a tower?  One who, oh, let’s see, has beautiful long hair and a mysterious past, maybe some inherent magic which could either save or destroy her kingdom?  I was reminded of the legends of Melusine, and ran home to add a short conversation to my ongoing franken-story:

You must be a woman for me, my love, for I must love you as a man.  As a man I will be king, and as a king I will rule. 

Then come to me as a man, my love, and I will love you as a woman.  And as you are a man, I will be a woman; and as you are a king, I will be a queen.  And when kingdom, rule, and man have fallen away and decayed, I will love you still, as myself, Melusine, lady of the waters.

Wish me luck!


9 Responses to “NaNoWriMo and the Ghost Story”

  1. satnavandcider November 4, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

    Good luck! And may your full spectrum light carry you through the “dark” days.

    • Monique November 4, 2012 at 2:53 pm #

      Thank you! And lots and lots of coffee …

  2. haitiruth November 4, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

    You’ve read Possession, by A.S. Byatt, right?

    • Monique November 4, 2012 at 2:53 pm #

      Ooo, no, I haven’t! Putting it on the TBR pile …

      • haitiruth November 4, 2012 at 8:28 pm #

        That book is where I first heard of the Melusine myth. Great book!

      • Monique November 5, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

        Cool! I grew up with Melusine as part of the fairy tale rotation — my bit of french background peeking out. 😉

  3. Zazzy November 4, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

    Very exciting and I hope you share more of your writing with us. I think you have a great voice and I really want to read more! And…. a moat inside a castle? Oh surely it is there to keep something hideous inside. 🙂

    • Monique November 5, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

      Something horrible! 😀


  1. Day out: Raglan Castle « Crumpets in Camelot - November 14, 2012

    […] One view of the Great Tower, the castle-within-a-castle I mentioned in an earlier post. […]

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