There are lots of things going on in November, with many things to remember and be thankful for. For some its Movember – a month in which to grow a moustache and raise funds for the charity that aims to reduce the number of men’s premature deaths. For others it is Nanowrimo, the National Novel Writing Month. This is what I will be doing. The aim is to write 50,000 words in the month as a way of getting your novel up and running. I did it just after I retired in 2011, writing a fictionalised account of my moving into retirement. It was entitled ‘Transition’ and it was fun doing it. I have been ambivalent about getting published, and that is not my primary purpose in writing this novel. But if it becomes something that conveys hope then it might be that I will offer it to be read by others. I am in awe of friends like Dale Rominger (see http://www.thebackroadcafe.com/) who have managed to achieve the goal of writing and publishing their stories.

This year I am trying to write a personal novel about my allotment, the people that form the community of gardeners and the events that make up the seasons of the growing year. The challenge is to make it worth reading, with characters that are believable and interesting and a storyline that engages the reader. So far, I have a title, ‘The Territory’, a list of possible chapters, a cast of characters and an unconventional twist. Obviously, a lot of the material will come from the actual experience I have had over the last five years working on my allotment and the people I have got to know. However, this is going to be fiction, so names and personalities will be changed and ‘plot’ lines will be developed.

Although I love reading, particularly science fiction and detective stories, and have my favourite authors, recently I have been struggling with the feeling there are too many deaths in the stories. I like Bruno, the French town policeman, based in the Perigord area. Although there is always at least one death in Martin Walker’s tales, Bruno is a warm and positive character and following the development of his personal relationships is the main reason for reading each successive novel. Similarly, I have found the sci-fi and fantasy genres too full of galactic violence or swords and sorcery. I really love Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea stories, and the adventures of Ged. I would like to create a world where out of conflict comes something positive, where there are people who act from deep conviction and are committed to peace and the good of all living things. But of course, this is a novel and not a sermon. Though novels can change perceptions and give encouragement. That is certainly my own experience of the books I have loved. In fact there was a time when I used to read Lord of the Rings every year, just to help me keep faith. Gandalf, Frodo, and Strider were my heroes.

So, although there are no deaths, so far, in my allotment experience, I will ensure that there is conflict. And though how things to grow is sometimes a mystery, I hope there will be intrigue and suspense in the development of relationships. There may even be some romance, with the pains of love in there too. The allotment bench will be a feature, though when I am writing I will not be sitting on it!

The target is to write the daily quota and still be able to live a ‘normal’ life!

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