I did something drastic in November – I entered National Novel Writing Month and wrote a novel in a month. It was gruelling but I achieved what I set out to do, and that was to write daily, with fervour and push myself as hard as I could.

The result was a novel “Belonging Places” which came from the seeds of thoughts that had been permeating in my gut [another name for mind, heart and psyche] for a few years now. I wanted to look at why people sometimes felt they didn’t belong in the places they found themselves. That deep, knowing feeling that something is not right and there is more. I wanted my characters to go on a journey to find a better place; to resolve the disconnect between what they knew they should be doing and what they weren’t.

How familiar is that?

At some time in the course of a lifetime we feel that familiar tug that tells us we are not doing what we should be doing, working where we should, or living where we should. Worst still, is when that feeling is connected to a marriage – that we are not with who we should be. Whatever germinates that feeling of not ‘belonging’, it’s a powerful tug that needs to be resolved.

Some people do it through a mid life crisis – where they radically change their lives, others do it through dulling the tug with things that deny the way they’re feeling. Still more have the courage to undertake that journey that ultimately will bring them back to themselves; their true selves.

So my manic (some would say) writing during November was a test. I wanted to see if I could do it. I wanted to see if I had the mettle to take plots and characters and thousands of words (50,000 in fact) and under the red hot fire of pressure, see just how serious I was about becoming an author. What I found during the month of November was profound.

Firstly, I found I could write a good, sound, well structured novel of 50,000 words in a month. I also found that the process of writing daily suited me because it pushed me towards continuity. Previously I had written my books in a piecemeal way – during weekends and on holidays. In November I discovered I could and should be writing daily, and that there was much joy, peace and inspiration to be found in a daily dose of creativity.

Of course “Belonging Places” needed a few edits after I had finished and I’ve been doing that through December. What a joy it has been to edit my November novel and perhaps see the characters and plots for the first time, without the haze of fervent creativity.

For the critics of National Novel Writing Month – those that feel they need to take an opposite position on something – writing a novel in a month worked for me. It’s not how I would like to write all my novels, but the one month gestation of “Belonging Places” gave birth to something special.

So now that the writing and editing has finished, what’s next? Well, I’ll join the ranks of thousands of other writers in trying to find a publisher, or an agent  for my labour of love.

But there’s something else. I’ll also try and write more often, and more regularly. There are more stories to be told, and I want to tell them.

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