Living Between the Lines

30 Days has November

Today is my birthday. I do not ask for birthday messages, I only mention it because it gives me a reason to be a little selfish for a while. Don’t we all need to be just that at times?

Today, I have the house to myself and time to write. I am excited because I have just begun a new novel. I didn’t know I had begun it until I read back my notes from the other month and thought,

“That’s it! That’s the one!”

It was that “Eureka” moment that writers long for.

Life since my middle sister died has been busy to say the least. If we are not driving back and forth on the M25 between Hampshire and Essex, we are making telephone calls, writing letters and emails, arranging meetings. It is a tiring job to be honest, not that we would complain. My sister entrusted the well-being of her son to us and as readers of my blog will know, it does have its humorous side. Along the way though, we have learnt so much about the care system in this country. We have learnt what it is like to be disabled and have viewed life from our nephew’s perspective as well as from our own.

It is hardly surprising then, that the subject matter of my new novel should be tied to Asperger’s Syndrome, nor should it be a surprise that it will be full of humour. I am drawing on every bit of experience gained over the past year and much from the past, based on my sister’s experiences when James was growing up. This book is not about James. That would not be fair. This book is about a fictitious 14 year old boy and his family. I have the first chapter, the outline of the plot, the main characters and the sub plots building. I have a title and I have the entire story in my head. Now I need to get it on paper.

Since caring for James, not to mention the dog – did I mention the dog?- there has not been time to breathe. Not only have we had to deal with cases of bullying and financial abuse of James, we have recently had to find a foster home for the dog at short notice and get him ferried down to Hampshire for emergency veterinary treatment. This was a result of neglect and the failure of the support team to step in. Theo is now living on a farm near us and is recovering well. A new care company have been engaged for James and we are hopeful of better things to come.

As I was saying, since caring for our nephew, we have had little time to think about much else.

Today though, I actually logged on to nanowrimo (the “write a novel in November” website.) I have heard of it in previous years but have never quite seen its use. The idea of nanowrimo, is that one writes at least 50,000 words in 30 days and ends up with an unedited and possibly quite horrific novel.

The unediting bit is the hardest pill to swallow. I tend to edit as I write and no amount of telling myself not to will stop me. However, I can see the sense of not agonising over a sentence or a paragraph that is not written quite as one would like and not bothering to spell check every five seconds.

What this might to do continuity I do not know as I tend to write scenes as they flash into my head if in free fall mode. I must adopt that, “get it down at all costs first and consider later,” attitude. This is not my usual way of doing things though fits well with my current way of life I have to admit. I have been throwing random words at the computer for months giving rise to several half-baked novels along the way. Why not actually challenge myself to finish something?

So, I signed up and decided that, as today is my birthday, (have I already mentioned that?) it is a good day to start.

I already have 2,080 words logged on the site and if I wasn’t writing this post, I’d be adding to that. According to the site, at this rate I will finish my novel of 50,000 on 24th November. I smile as I say that. I can write enough words but finish the novel? I am not so sure.

However, this year I have signed up as a personal challenge. There are apparently, some wonderful people to meet and swap information with but where would I find the time? So, if I do not speak to another soul during the process, even if I find that on 30th November, I am nowhere near done, it will be a personal triumph if I manage to actually write on each and every one of these coming November days. It will be a triumph if I can look back on 1st December and say, “By golly, I have the entire story here – I can go and edit!”

If all else fails, I can still say, I tried!

I am an Author, wife to one, mother to five and grandmother to six. I live in the English countryside in Hampshire, UK, with my husband and two dogs and am a non exec Director for Glow


  • Dr. Brown

    Hi Deborah,

    Happy birthday! (I just celebrated my birthday a couple days ago as well…the big 4-0!)

    I’m excited because I’m going to try Nanowrimo this month also! I tried it last year and failed miserably because I wasn’t able to stop myself from editing and overthinking everything. This year, I’m just going to go for it and see what happens (these characters have been in my head like imaginary friends for over 15 months now.)

    Good luck to you this month…and happy birthday!


    • Deborah Barker

      Thanks for the birthday wishes Robert – a fellow Scorpio! I am a few years older than 40 but whose counting? Good luck with your novel and I hope the imaginary friends come through for you. I also find I know at least one other writer on Nanowrimo now so thank you 🙂

  • Teresa

    Happy Birthday – what a brilliant time to start a new novel. And it sounds as if yours has been brewing for a while and hopefully will flow now you’ve started – it sounds like a winner to me with all your experience of Asperger’s – and the humour you’ve always shown in your posts.

    I tried doing NaNo (unofficially) once and I got fifty thousand unedited words down, but I’ve never looked at what I wrote since. I’m like you and I have to edit as I go along – it’s so hard not to.
    Glad Theo is settled okay 🙂 x
    ps Did I remember to say Happy Birthday 😉 x

  • Deborah Barker

    Thanks for the birthday message(s) (I wasn’t fishing, honest!) Thank you also for your encouragement. I will let you know how I get on and I do hope I don’t let this novel languish at 50,000, unedited words because right now I am quite excited about it. I daresay I will edit but maybe I will allow myself a little slack here and there. I have been known to hold up a day’s writing because I cannot think of the right word, or need to research a fact. This time I will just soldier on! 🙂

  • patricia

    I just out right admire all the folks who do the November writing experience…Good luck to you and I bet it will work out in your favor…exciting. I reviewed one of the novels written in 2010 called the Brevity of Roses on my blog…it was a good story.

    Then about that birthday – I will send my standard words:
    Just Think. Your Birthday could cause a ripple effect of happiness that eventually leads to World Peace. Age locally. Celebrate Globally. Happy Birthday! Wishing you the best

  • Hilary

    Hi Deborah – Happy Birthday for yesterday and I do hope you enjoyed that day you were looking forward to .. some time alone and just be – yet with many goals ahead.

    I’m delighted your book is going to be about Aspergers … you certainly have a tale to tell … and with all the aspects you’ve been dealing with. I’m sure November will provide many thoughts – and I do hope you can get it all down … NaNo is a great opportunity …

    Good luck – I’ve often thought about you and James and wondered where you were at – this post tells me a little about the back story … systems are systems and people are people with a job – the twain don’t really seem to tie together … I’m very glad you’re able to keep a handle on James’ life – he doesn’t need any more hassles than he’s had.

    With much good cheer for the future and NaNo .. Hilary

    • Deborah Barker

      Morning Hilary, off to the Cotswolds in a while for a birthday/anniversary weekend but yesterday was lovely with a surprise lunchtime visit from my eldest son thrown in and plenty of time to write!

  • screenscribbler

    Happy Birthday Deborah, I too am a November baby. I’ve just come to your blog after finishing a post of my own. By co-incidence it’s partly about Nanowrimo, but I’m not taking part, this year at least, because I want to finish my current project.
    Good luck with your novel Deborah, it’s going to be great, and I’ll be one of the first in the queue to buy it.

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