#CampNaNoWriMo Week 4 (& A Bit!)

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Final April Word Count: 5,759 words.

Nearly doubled my word count since the last update. Not bad considering everything that has been going on personally in the background. To quote Homer Simpson, DAMN YOU REALITY!

The scenes that followed on from where I had left off from last time did indeed write themselves with ease. Before I started writing again, I have had to be looking stuff up about UK courts, youth justice, murder sentencing, 5* hotels and high end fashion. I guess it is true what they say about a writer’s Google search history. I promise, it isn’t as random as it appears!

When I did get writing, I had a couple of short scenes, a glossed over travel scene before going into a new bunch of unexpected descriptive and expositional material. This helped my word count along nicely and introduced Hallie into a new world of luxury that she is going to be living in, as well as a few new characters that even I didn’t know about. It has been fun discovering the new characters, including one that I can feel myself getting attached to already.

It has been fun to write this contrast and it feels right as the character’s background is so different to what she has and is about to experience. I guess it is an unintentional theme throughout this particular WIP: the differing living experiences of the poorest people in society versus that of the richest people. (I am sure someone can explain it much more succinctly than I have). Hallie has experienced being dirt poor, then a middle class life with her foster family and is now living life (somewhat) of the very rich. It will be a nice bump as well for the character for when she begins school. It will give her a differing view of things when she interacts with her future classmates.

Now that April has ended up, I will still be working on this WIP obviously. I know where I am going and what I am doing with this one so I may as well keep going and put Steampunk Dragon Rider (SDR for short) on the back burner to jump into when I hit a wall on the Hallie WIP. I did get a Steampunk Comic as part of Free Comic Book Day yesterday so that could get the cogs whirring on that WIP when I need it. Life yet could get very unpredictable so going with the WIP that is easiest for me to work on right now seems to be the right thing to do. Something to escape into when I need it.

How did your Camp NaNoWriMo go? Did you win? Did you have fun? Whatever happened, you are amazing for going for it and I hope you are going to continue on this crazy writing journey we are on together.

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Too Early?

Source: Adventures of a Yorkshire Mum

First things first, sorry for not posting much this week. Second of all, this is a bit of a ramble, sorry. Again.

Perhaps it’s because it is the horrible back-end of January, I am bored and have, let’s face it, very little to do beyond job hunting but my brain is already thinking about Camp NaNoWriMo in April. And it’s started planning the story already.

I am not going to go into details now about the story (I need something to write about come end of March!) but me thinking about it has also got me thinking, is it too early to start planning anything? And what can I do between now and end of March? I am trying to write what I can at the moment, which is very little if I am being honest, but I am finding myself at a loose end. February brings Valentines Day, Shrove Tuesday and Chinese New Year, things to write about but back-end of January can be so boring because it is back to the daily grind.

This past Monday (19th January) was the most depressing day of the year. Yes, we’ve had snow here in the UK with all the usual grinding to a halt that usually happens but beyond that, nothing. January is so quiet, it leads to me thinking and to me planning for April. I know it’s not a bad thing to plan early but considering I want to give myself stuff to do later in the year, I just don’t know what to do with myself.

Anyone got ideas? Are you bored this January? What has everyone else been doing to keep boredom at bay? Also, is it too early to be thinking about April Camp session?

Chocolate and Fiction

Things happening in my personal life got me thinking about this. Christmas being just around the corner and being almost synonymous with chocolate makes now a good time for me to post about it.

Does chocolate show the light and dark of societal inequality? Source: GoodSearch Images

Food is often read about in books, both to tell the reader more about the characters as well as to fuel the characters. I have been thinking specifically however about chocolate and it has led me to realise the possible symbolism of chocolate in children’s literature (as I could only think of examples from children’s books).

The first story that came to mind was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the obvious one. Now, I want to admit I have only seen the original and remake films of the books and have never read the book. Please bare with me! In the classic Roald Dahl story, chocolate, in my mind, represents childhood and wealth. Charlie Bucket is poor. He buys the chocolate car with the little money he has. He is one child among many. In comparison to the other children who are desperate to get a coveted golden ticket to visit the fabled Wonka factory, he merely wishes to eat the chocolate because it is so rare for him to be able to have chocolate.

The same story plays out in the most recent remake film of the story, starring Johnny Depp. This suggests that chocolate is still seen as a luxury item within modern society and possible divides the haves with the have-nots, an issue that has popped a lot as of late in America and here in the UK. This I find quite extraordinary considering that the book was first published in 1964, the original film released in 1971 (starring Gene Wilder) and the remake in 2005.

The inequalities in society that chocolate could represent in fiction then led me to think about the Malory Towers series. I will grant that the books were set in a different time frame but the same themes and ideas are represented. When chocolate is mentioned in the stories, from the first book with Darrell to the last with Felicity, it is bought as a luxury item and by brand name, Cadbury’s. When a scholarship girl or a girl who is at the school thanks to a kindly uncle or other relative sees another buy some chocolate, they are described as staring or being surprised at the ease at which the chocolate is bought.

Specifically in regards to childhood, chocolate and sweets of any kind are talked about much more often in the earlier books of the Harry Potter series. There is an element of wealth involved as Harry buys practically everything off the trolley that the witch brings down the train. In the earlier books, before the stories become very dark, Harry, Ron and Hermione are very young, childlike. There is a certain innocence in the earlier books that’s lost as they grow older and things get darker, particularly after the third book. The third book is about family. Chocolate is also mentioned as a healing substance in Prisoner of Azkaban and I read Goblet of Fire as the story that effectively ends Harry’s childhood specifically.

Perhaps I am reading too much into things but in children’s literature at least, the possible symbolism of chocolate and what it says about our society seems staggering to me. It is especially so, to me at least, that the stories that have stood the test of time (and being remade for a modern audience) still carries the same message that permeates through our society. Have you any examples in other types of literature? Am I reading too much into it or do you think the same? Don’t be afraid to comment below.

International Literacy Day-September 8th, 2014

Today is UNESCO International Literacy Day 2014, a day designed to champion literacy and how it can create sustainable development for the people of the world. More information can be found by going to UNESCO’s website.

If I had known about this before, I would have posted about it a few days ago however it must have been fate that I only found out today anyway as today is also the day that the Daily Mail, a UK newspaper, and BBC News are carrying reports that children and adults alike are struggling with their literacy and, in the adults case, numeracy.

The Daily Mail is reporting that the UK’s literacy levels are down and they are predicted to be even worse by 2025, particularly among white boys from poorer homes whilst BBC News says that adults are unable to gain the vital skills they need because they cannot access the training they need.

You can read these reports if you are interested by going to 1.5m Children “Won’t Read Well”- Daily MailHalf of poor white boys struggling to read at 11: Children more likely to read text messages than books, study finds – Daily Mail and Urgent Help Needed For Adults With Poor Skills, Say MPs – BBC News.

This seems crazy that children and adults are growing up and struggling with the very basic skills that will help them getting GCSE’s (the very basic level of qualification necessary for most jobs in the UK), holding down jobs, doing household bills and administration and so much more. The closure of our libraries certainly do not help as, for many families, this is probably the only place they would have access to books for free to read. We also have a state education system designed to give everyone the chance of getting the very basic skills in literacy and numeracy.

Therefore, I definitely support UNESCO’s International Literacy Day.

York Literature Festival 2014, 20th-31st January 2014

Next month will see the York Literature Festival take place. Featuring talks and workshops from Germaine Greer, Roger Winston and John Humphrys, there will events for children and adults, readers and writers a like. The festival takes place all over the beautiful historic city and will also feature a performance at York Theatre Royal of Birdsong in commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of World War One. Students from York St John University will also be having a showcase of work.

For those who are good at poetry, there is still time to enter the Poetry Competition which closes at midnight on Friday, 28th February 2014. Find out more information and the rules at http://www.yorkliteraturefestival.co.uk/poetry-competition-2014/.

Booking is essential and some events require paying for tickets. Find out more about the festival at the website: http://www.yorkliteraturefestival.co.uk/ The PDF version of the festival programme can be found here.