Back in the olden days of LiveJournal, when only birds twittered and a face book was a collection of mugshots, I had a go at stemboy for using the word My at the start of his entries, in homage to the episode titles of medical sitcom Scrubs. I never did apologise for this insult, so if he's reading this, I admit I was wrong to tell him how to write his entries.
November is generally a busy time for me. This year, all the madness seemed to mash into one mighty ball of pandemonium. It all seemed to be centred around one theme.
Primarily, National Novel Writing Month commanded the full thirty days of November. The challenge, if you don't already know, is to bang out a 50,000-word novel in this time. Naturally, anything written at this speed – 1667 words per day – is going to be a first draft. But that's fine, it can be edited in the future.
With the sole exception of the very first day, my word count always reached above the daily target, and I reached the 50,000 on 27 November, at which point I stopped as I'd run out of material. The actual total was 50,029 words, thirteen short of my very first attempt in 2010. Last year, by contrast, I reached 60,000 by the last day, and I'd barely scratched the surface of the plot.
I always knew that my evening class would clash with this, a life writing course at the University. This concentrates on memoir, autobiography, and also touches on biography. The tutor has had books published exploring the losses in her own life, and she tries to draw ours out through prompts such as an early memory, a map of the favourite place, and discussion of an abstract noun. There will be a second run of classes in January, and I've just received confirmation through the post today. So far, I've kept up with the homework, but I haven't yet looked at this week's prompt.
On top of this, my regular writing teacher Zoë Venditozzi began a new run of her own classes at a recently-opened café. The inside is panelled like an ancient cargo ship, with wooden crates covering every surface, and it's very conducive to writing, even when some customers came in on the first week and were treated to a free story reading. As usual, it's given me a lot of ideas for new stories, including the two that have been published.
And now is as good a time as any to plug them. The first one is still available: A Big Leap, published in an anthology by The Fiction Desk; while my complimentary copy of FourW, included as part of a collection by the Wagga Wagga Writers' Centre, arrived just yesterday from Australia. It's very exciting to see your name in print beside a high standard of writing from other authors, and although I'd read the proof, I was a little concerned about errors creeping in, but there were none.
On Friday of last week, I was invited to what was billed as a night of poetry and cabaret as part of Book Week Scotland. I arrived early and met some of the performers, a poetry duo known as Rally & Broad, and a woman called Lake Montgomery who played moody tunes on an acoustic guitar. A lot of the material from the other three poets' acts within the Dundee dialect, which I can translate but I don't naturally speak, and I don't think a lot of the audience understood it. Still, it provided some inspiration for a poem of my own.
I wasn't invited to read at that event, but I intend to perform that poem on Monday, along with three others, at the writers' open-mike night Hotchpotch. If you’re in Dundee and want to read or just listen, that begins 7:30pm at Caffé Borsa. Other upcoming highlights include The Lament Room on Thursday at The Little Theatre, beginning 4:30pm, then a Literary Salon in the Central Library straight afterwards.
With all these writerly happenings, I intend to ease back a little in December. This is not a break, but an overdue opportunity to catch up with the films and TV box sets that I've bought this year, but never had a chance to watch.
November is also my birth month, and I took a little time out my writing schedule to go with my parents and my former hospital radio co-presenter Marc to a surprise location that turned out to be the Glenturret distillery in Crieff. There, they make one of the whiskies that goes into the Famous Grouse blended malt.
We booked the tour, which takes you through each part of the building and explains the various processes that make up this spirit. The air in the area is so thick with unrefined alcohol that you’re asked to switch off your phone and not to take any photographs in case there's an explosion. It was frustrating because I brought my new semi-professional camera to record the day, although I still did manage to take some excellent snaps in places such as the restaurant, where we ate haggis, potatoes and turnips.
We'd already tried their newest brand Snow Grouse, which is designed to be drunk cold, but ended up back in the restaurant as we’d also booked an enhanced tour to sample three more whiskies from an etched wooden tray including: Macallan, Black Diamond, and the last one, whose name I'm sure will come back to me once I've posted this. I didn't manage them all, since my companions were giving me theirs, but we all have a souvenir glass from the day. It was a wonderful surprise, and I'd like to go back there in the future.
More immediately, my work's Christmas night out is tomorrow. One of the reasons I keep my job is to hear the gossip that comes from the party. No, you're not getting to hear about it.
And finally, a reminder of where else you can find me on the Internet. If you want to hear more about my writing, head to www.gavincameron.me.uk, or if you know me personally, this is my Facebook profile. Anyone can also follow me on Google+ or on Twitter. And if you would like to send any Snapchat photos, I'm LadyGavGav.