The month of misrule

December – the end of November NaNoWriMo craziness and the build up to holiday craziness. I’m now a three-time National Novel Writing Month winner, which really just means that I’ve churned out 50,000 words of a new novel in 30 days. There’s a Winner Certificate, banners to post on social media, and discounts on a number of software programs/tools for writers, and the satisfaction of having gotten that early start on Book 3 that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

My first win was super-exciting, because I wasn’t sure I had it in me. The second win was a thrilling foray into the ongoing adventures of my protagonist, which also meant that I’d completed Book 1. This year’s win was challenging on so many levels.

To begin with, I’ve been sorting out some health issues, so distraction was a big factor. There was also the knowledge of embarking on the final ‘chapter’ for my heroine Romy, which means a big climax to finish off the trilogy with a bang, as well as the need to tie together a lot of plot parts that have been dangling intriguingly since the very first Prologue. Not to mention the Epilogue, which will give a little insight into what life will be like after the ‘big bang’. I suppose it would have been a lot easier to produce a single novel, but Romy’s story is just too rich and enthralling to put in one book, and was always going to be played out in a trilogy.

And for those reasons, among many, I feel like this December in particular is under the sway of an imaginary Lord of Misrule. For anyone not familiar with the concept of ‘misrule’, in medieval times December was a month of revelry in all its forms – including wild partying and lots to drink – presided over by an appointed ‘Lord’, who was usually someone much lower in class than the actual rulers of the period, either religious or secular.

This practice of inversion dates as far back as ancient Roman times and the Saturnalia festival, during which every Roman held equal status and all normal rules were upended.

The medieval Lord of Misrule’s alternate title was Captain of Mischief, and he would lead the people in all the activities that were frowned upon the rest of the year. Quite a few writers of the time complained about the general noise and chaos.

This year, post-lock downs, we’re all able to cavort socially again, although we can choose not to get back on the December hamster-wheel. As for me, hubby and I put up our Christmas tree two weekends ago. We buy a fresh one and decorate it with a lot of memorabilia from our travels, and we love to sit by the beautiful tree and a warm fire every evening. We’re doing a couple of low-key gatherings with family/friends this month, and Book 3 is largely on a shelf.

However, I’m not overly happy with the start I made on it and it’s bugging me. Writing ‘stream-of-conscious’, as you do during NaNoWriMo month to get your 50,000 words in, is very freeing in some respects – you just let ideas flow while you transcribe them. But then you have to deal with the rough mess you made.

One bonus, though, is that some really cool ideas can present themselves, including a fabulous plot twist that even I, as the author, didn’t see coming. Those are the really exhilarating moments, where you think, ‘Hot damn, that’s good!’ Book 2 was so much fun to write, and I’m having inklings of that in Book 3, but not the full effect yet.

I’m not writing this month, but I’m making copious notes on my substantial plotting spreadsheet of things I need to fix. My brain has been shoving thoughts at me at all hours: glaring inconsistencies, the feeling that I haven’t done my heroine’s transition proper justice, and so many plot points to write her through to the big climax that it’s a little overwhelming. So I do what I always do when faced with seemingly herculean tasks: I break them down into manageable chunks.

Then there’s the process of getting Book 1 ready for publication. That’s pretty much on hold until January, but quite a few people have been waiting for the book to come out and asking about it, in different formats including printed copies, and I’m doing research when I can. It’s all very exciting, and intimidating, and momentous as it leads up to the day the whole world can lay eyes on my ‘baby’ and comment on it. But that’s a chunk for down the road; lots of chunks to knock off before that.

In the meantime, Book 2 has gone out to my loyal beta readers, and I’ll see how they react to all the tumult inside its pages. For all of you faithful blog readers, I look forward to sharing some previews with you as I count down to publication of Through the Monster-glass, Book 1 of the Chaos Roads Trilogy – what the cover will look like, a sneak peek at the Prologue and/or first chapter (in a newsletter I’m developing), and other cool stuff. Friends have already suggested some possible merchandise too, and I’ll look into what I can arrange.

Try not to let Misrule turn your month into complete chaos (unless you thrive on that sort of thing, of course). Take some down time, to just enjoy the charm of the season, and to share good food and laughter with people you care about. And remember the people who can’t do either of those, and help them out however you can manage. Because those are the things of value in this crazy world.

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