Living Between the Lines

Winning words

“I am a winner!”

NaNoWriMo Winner!
NaNoWriMo Winner!

Yes, I went to 50,000 words and beyond in November. I surprised myself with my appreciation of this challenge. Hitherto I had heard about it from others but not felt the inclination to enter into its spirit. Now I feel I could do this every month, well, maybe every other month because I really do need some time to edit. I do not quite know the ending of this story – whose characters have taken me on twists and turns that I could never have imagined back on 1st November when I started writing it. I am sure it will reveal itself to me during the edit. I am sure the typos and grammatical errors will also reveal themselves to me during the edit!

Continuity errors will abound but it was strangely liberating to just write and let the story take me where it would.

On 29th of November my novel gave birth to a new title and the new title excites me because it embraces everything in the novel – writers among you, do you ever get that feeling when writing? I bet you do! It’s that moment when suddenly, the title is set in stone and nothing, will persuade you to change it. Well, nothing for the time being at least!

I am particularly pleased to have managed this task during a busy month when my two daughters moved house, one out of this one and into a new one, the other into this one temporarily while her new house has work done on it. My youngest grandson Leon has been as good as gold, as I tap away on the keys for a lot of the time. He has played by my side as my own children used to. Still, he is not yet 20 months old and not always as obliging. He has had colds and tantrums that have kept me away from the keyboard in equal measure.

I have still cooked and cleaned and shopped and worked. In days gone by I could sit up until 2am and write while the children slept. Alas, I can no longer do that and get up in the morning but I can fit writing a few hundred words at a time, into all sorts of pockets of the day.

So, what is the biggest lesson taken from this experience?

I have learnt that one can still find the time to write and should find the time to write, whatever else is happening around one. I have been reminded that there is an exquisite pleasure to be had from letting your characters surprise you and lead you. There is a sense of enormous excitement to be had from finding that the plot has thickened, the course has altered without you lifting a finger. I have learnt that this exercise is worthwhile and highly beneficial whether you have been published or not, whether you have written previous novels or not.

All in all it has been quite an eye opening experience and I am very glad I chose to take part.

I say quite proudly, that I am a winner!

So, what else has been happening in the big wide world of ‘family’ while I have been slaving over the keyboard? Well, last night we were out celebrating. Zoe turns 30 soon and she invited friends and family to a Christmas themed, “Hollywood” event at a local Golf Club. Ours was the only birthday celebration, the other guests were on Company Christmas outings. We were seated in a private room off the main venue so had a bird’s eye view of the other guests. The DJ had a limited repertoire of music and a faulty microphone that distorted what he said so that none of us understood it half the time.  Mid-way through the evening, when the food was eaten and the guests had taken to the dance floor, Zoe was chatting to friends when the DJ called out (or so we thought)

Zoe Barker, where is Zoe Barker? Can Zoe Barker come forward please?”

“Zoe, go on, it’s you!” we all urged. The Dj called out again.

“It’s not me!” Zoe insisted but we were all adamant. We had clearly heard the DJ call her name.

“He said Sally,” she insisted,

“No, it’s you!” we were convinced.

How nice, we thought, the Golf Club has recognized it is her birthday and are calling her up for something.

Reluctantly, Zoe pushed through the throng and made it to the DJ’s stage.

A second person had also made it through to the DJ’s stage. The second person was very tall. Zoe is very small. The DJ looked from one to another,

“Are there two Sally Barber’s?” he asked, confused, “Which one of you is Sally Barber?”

“I am,” said the tall, larger than life lady,

“Then this is for you,” he smiled, handing her a bottle of wine.

“So, who are you?” asked the DJ, turning to Zoe.

“Zoe Barker,” said Zoe.

Oh dear. Zoe was understandably cross with us, her friends and family, for sending her on this false errand and not a little embarrassed to boot.

When the hysterical laughter had died down and we had wiped the tears from our eyes and Zoe had plucked up courage to go back on the dance floor, fortunately, seeing the funny side, we did the decent thing and made amends. We organized a bottle of champagne to be on hand and asked the DJ to call her name later in the evening to wish her a happy birthday. He was only too happy to do this. The trouble was, when her name was called out, Zoe was not keen to make the same mistake twice. It took a lot of cajoling to get her to go back to the DJ who handed her the bottle of champagne and said,

“This time it is for you Zoe Barker! Three cheers for Zoe!”

The room erupted into cheers and thankfully, Sally Barber was nowhere to be seen.

We are still laughing about the mix-up of course and images of Zoe, 5 foot one, with her long blonde hair and Sally, exceptionally tall and larger than life, standing side by side in front of the DJ remind us all of Miranda and her side-kick Stevie – you get the picture?

Oh dear, better get back to editing and stretch this novel to 80,000 words by Christmas!

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


  • Hilary

    Hi Deborah .. well done – so pleased it’s all worked out for you .. and the birthday party/Christmas party sounds just lovely .. what a funny mistake.

    Lots going on around the Barker senior household … and now very good luck with puffing out your novel … enjoy your snippets of time … cheers Hilary

  • screenscribbler

    Congratulations Deborah, that’s an amazing accomplishment, and one that I would find too daunting.

    I think in your shoes, I would, by now, have got in my car singing:

    “Hit the road Jack, I ain’t gonna to Wri Na Mo No Mo Na Mo No Mo,
    Hit the road Jack I ain’t gonna NaNoWriMo no more.”

  • patricia

    Oh you are a winner writer Deborah and this post just is icing on the cake of your writing joy. Happy Birthday to Zoe – enjoy the champagne!

    This post also tells me that I am not a writer – I am not driven to write and when I have cleaning days, well I do not even try to mix media and I am taking 2 weeks off to be with my family over the holidays. I do not think I could write a linear story and my essays and book reviews take me hours, which I might not even write down except that most of the time I have no one to talk to or with. All these ideas just pop into my head and I will hear 2 or 3 ideas that will trigger an integration that will create something new or solve a problem….When I am teaching a class this happens all the time. I described myself as a prophet recently…. but I do not know what to do with this….I try to back up and break it down into tiny steps and then write an essay

    I can hardly wait to read your book and review it….This experience was truly a gift for you and it makes me happy to read about it today. Thank you

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