A.J. Walker


Come in No.2, Your Time is Up

Hell, yeah!


It's been a bit of a bumpy ride but I have got there. I've gone and done my second NaNoWriMo following the completion of one back in 2016. I'm pretty sure I wrote every day, or certainly almost everyday last time. This year I missed six days of writing. I haven't done the maths here but I reckon that that is almost a week.

Looking back at that if I could even have just written 500 words or so on each of those days it would have made the end a little less 'seat of the pants'. It does go to show "write little and often" is very much worth doing.

I've hit the fabled 50k mark this afternoon and whilst I've achieved that marker I have not by any stretch finished the story. I'm reckoning its about two-thirds finished. So I've a way to go. It's very much been an organic process with my fingers taking the story to places I had no idea it would end up, with stories of gangsters and leaving someone at the altar and all sorts of shenanigans- and I know there's much to come too. It's strange how much different it has been from the first one, but it's been a lark.

You Won

The main thing I found I had to introduce which I didn't have originally was some jeopardy. The original plans really had a travelogue with some people going from a to b with things happening. But there was not enough to drive it along to create an interesting narrative. As soon as I put in some danger and an interesting history with current implications to the story it held together a lot more and made the writing easier. An experience worth learning for me. No matter how much planning you have for every little detail some big picture stuff needs to be there to hold it together lest the whole thing fall apart.

Anyways, I am made up to get to goal and I now aim, by the end of January, to finish the first draft off (December is a bust with work).

If I've learnt one thing on this odyssey it is write a little every day. And if I've learnt two it is; chocolate hobnobs do not a breakfast make, but when needs must...


Late in the Month NaNo Progress?

It's the 27th November which means just four days to complete NaNoWriMo. I can say that this generates a real "Eek!" when you've only done 35,901 by then. That's 14,099 words to write in four days, which equates to 3525 words a day to get it done - assuming writing each day. I've achieved that three times this one this NaNo so it can be done. But that four days writing is a big assumption when on one of those days (tomorrow) Liverpool are playing PSG - and I'm not going to miss watching that. So really it's more like three days and 4700 words/day, which I've not done once during this month. Like I said, "EEK!"

That said I am off today and Friday so I thought this morning when I got up that maybe if I got three to four hours or so writing done on both those days then I could get there.


Well by lunchtime I have got to 39,113 words, which is a good hit. If I can do another two thousand minimum - and I can't see why not - then I could see me completing NaNo for the second time. Even if I can just do a thousand or so tomorrow on top of what I finish with today then that will leave Thursday and Friday in the right ball park.

The story is still clunky and will require vast redrafting at some point in the future, but pushing it out there and along the track is all I can do for now; the chasing unlikely drugs dealers are now leaving Manchester by train - having had their car impounded - whilst two of the protagonists are in Leeds with the other one accidentally in Newcastle. Standard.


Having not done much more I reached 40k at 5pm. Still, it is a bit of a milestone at 80% of the way there and pretty fine from where I started the morning.


But I'd set myself the aim of getting to 41k, so I set to it for another hour or so to get there. I ended up writing until 6.40pm and where did I end up... only bloody >42k. In your face! Assuming I don't write tomorrow I have two days left to write 7800 words, having done 6081 today.


The story won't be finished at 50k, I reckon it would still be at least a 70k story - depending where the main characters end up and when...but my second NaNo on my second attempt is within sight if not quite within my grasp.

Happy? Me? Yup.

VSS365 Stint: The End Is Nigh

It's almost four weeks since I took the role of VSS365 prompter on and it has been fun. The words, the stories, the sagas, the one liners and so so many people out there getting involved. I must say big thanks to @Voimaoy for trusting me to do it and to @RozLevens for handing it over to me with such aplomb. And talking of handing it over just make sure you're following Camilla @TheWritingKind in good time for December so that you do not miss the prompts. I'm not sure what time she'll be putting them out there, I just picked a random time myself!

It surprises me sometimes when people say that they can't find the prompt easily, but I suppose not every one uses Twitter quite as much as some of us (i.e. especially me). But my suggestion for anyone who doesn't want to follow a new prompter each month the easiest way to find each day's prompt is simply to search Twitter. It's not rocket science and I don't want to teach grandmothers to suck eggs or whatever. But just in case you're not used to Twitter or any general searching methods just do this:

Search: #VSS365 #prompt


It automatically lists in terms of some sort of wrangled algorithm (aren't they all) and may come up with top answers equating to previous days or weeks prompts, so once you have that list in front of you just select Latest and hey presto you should have it. Just bear in mind that there are some people (not many but you do see it) who put #VSS365 along with random #words which have nothing to do with the community. Go figure. But if you see more than a couple of Tweets relating to the same word on the same day then that should be the day's prompt. Simples.


With regard to the prompting scheduler I have been using twittimer.com it's basic and not quite as user friendly as Buffer but I needed a second scheduler for this monthly stint. It worked every day without any messing about so I can certainly recommend it if you want to schedule up to ten tweets at a time and perhaps need a second scheduler like I did.

Anyhoo enough of that, there's only three more prompts for me to go after today's word: Tap. Wonder what the last one will be?


Remember, follow @TheWritingKind to get December's prompts without having to search for them.

Open Mic 2

Yesterday I went to play a few songs at the Open Mic in the Sanctuary Bar on Lime Street. It was the second time after playing three songs there a couple of weeks ago. Last time there were fewer people in attendance which made it easier to play after I'd heard a couple of people playing. This time there were more singer guitarists I'm not sure if I hadn't played the other week whether I would have got up in front of them.

I was second up and played three songs: Van Diemen's Land, the One I Love and Better Be Home Soon. Struggled a bit with the One I Love which is daft, because its the easiest one to play - or at least the one I've played the most. I think the nerves of like playing probably made me play it too quickly. Still I managed to force myself into the high notes and then did the Crowded House number. It's the first time I've played that in front of anyone and it wasn't too bad.

Following me on to the mic was Dave Glyn Jones, who I've never seen before and bloody hell he was good. If he'd come on before me there is no way I would have gone up and played. Very very accomplished. Great guitar and a gravelly blues voice and funny with it. Damn talented. The next two came up, who I didn't catch the names of, and they were great too. It was an enjoyable night and my mate who had never seen me play before had come along. Surprisingly he really enjoyed the night as he's not really into bands that much, but he found it all excellent (especially Dave).

Dave spoke to me afterwards and kindly told me not to be so self deprecating up there and that I had a nice voice (?) and good musical taste. I'll take that. Just need to play the guitar a lot more often and learn some new tunes. I know if I keep at it and keep throwing myself in front of an audience I should get more confidence and with that get better at the whole thing. It's been a nice distraction to start doing this and I'm looking forward to seeing where it will go.

Blank Friday

Forget that Black Friday nonsense, what about Blank Friday? Maybe that's more relevant for me. I've been struggling a little, or a lot, with NaNo and I'm still not sure about the whole story as it's going. I'm just over 33k words in and looking at my original 'plan' which to all intents is kinda defunct now, I think in broad terms as a buddy travelogue I'm not even sure if I'm 40% along the timeline. That would make the story end up over 70k at this rate. If that's the case I'm not going to finish writing the story by the end of the month, but I could still get to the magic 50k if I keep at it - it would take about 2100 words a day from this point.

Thinking I need to give it a basic replan from where it stands now as it's turned into a different monster than was envisaged. For a start I've ended up with the three protagonists being chased across the country by a couple of drug dealers, which wasn't in the original plan at all. And that could well be the main storyline. I mean FFS, from not being in the plan at all to becoming the principal storyline; all that planning time wasted?

So is there a point in planning again from this point or do I just type away and see where my fingers take me? I'm currently of the view that a wee bit of planning is worthwhile to keep some sort of order to it, else it is likely to go well of the rails.

It's definitely harder work than my last NaNo. Fingers crossed I'll get there.


Several aims today included getting the scheduling of #VSS365 and #ClassSongOfTheDay up to date and updating the Class Song page with this week's links (Talking Heads).

I also have the aim of writing over 3000 words for NaNoWriMo. At the end of today the par word count is 31,667 and at the start I was only at 25,081 so I need a decent amount to close the gap a little. It's got to the point now where a par daily count is around 2000 words, which sounds fine, but when you think of a missed day adding that to the fewer remaining days it all adds up quite quickly.

Well first things first was VSS365 and I've updated the Twitter Scheduler to bang in the next words. It being the 19th and the scheduler having a maximum of ten then it takes it up to the penultimate day of the month. So tomorrow I can schedule my very last VSS prompt tweet. Ahhh! How sad. It's been great fun so far anyway and have been loving all the stories, though I have been able to read them all. There's so many. It's been good to meet so many new people on Twitter through it to. Top flashers.

Talking Heads

I then updated the Class Song scheduler with the remaining songs from Talking Heads and next week's band (which will remain nameless until next Monday but it's one of my fave from uni days) and sorted the Class Song page links. Huzzah! Click on the link to get listening.

On top of that I have written 2500 words for NaNo. Want to write another 1000 or so to dig into the total just a little bit. It's hard work and I think it may be about fifty fifty if I get to the end at the moment. Onwards and upwards and all that.



My Muse Zevonia

It's past half way through November and my residency at VSS365 Towers. So it may be time to introduce you to the Occasionally Free Peoples Republic of Zevonia, I know not many of you know of it, so I've sourced a wee map of the state. It's an interesting place and rarely visited, in fact it's less connected to the outside world than North Korea. That's probably why you don't know much about it. You may see a few familiar place names and sights on the map because, yes, i's where I've sourced the words for VSS this month.

Zevonia sketch

I do have a second map (including the poorer relation Zevonistan) but I can't put that up as it would give away the remaining words for the month. And you wouldn't want that would you.

The first sixteen words for November have been:

Aurora Bottles Calypso Cascade
Castle Cavern Chapter Craft
Crown Crystal Dispensary Endeavour
Fleet Globe Hatch Hole

Wonder what the next two weeks will bring from Zevonia (and maybe even Zevonistan)? Well I'm not wondering; I know.


Half Way to Comatose

It's halfway through November tomorrow which means in theory I should be at around 25k words by close of play tomorrow. It's not going to happen. But I'm over 20k at any rate. The story is still very much stuttering along at the moment. It ain't gonna be a quick one to revisit once it's finished for sure - if it ever is finished. We'll see if I hit some kind of eureka moment.

It also means I'll be halfway through the hosting and posting of the VSS365 words. It's been a lark. The scheduling has been working fine, which is a bonus. It's great to see how many people are straight on it as soon as it goes out. Great work people.

On top of that I still haven't had chance to strum my guitar anymore. Been considering a few songs to practice in case I go and play another open mic night in the coming month(s). I must get some more practice in soon.

Anyways, whether you're doing NaNo or VSS365 or just ploughing your own furrow just keep writing folks!

One Busy Week

A busy week last with all sorts going on. VSS365 has been going well. The scheduling site I use has continued to successfully upload all the Tweets at the right time... happy days. And so many people getting involved, it is great. Yesterday a few people suggested I should have been writing my own VSS365 rather than just setting the words free and so I wrote a quick ten to catch up with the rest of the guys and gals. I promised I'd write for all of them now.


At the same time I have been doing NaNoWriMo and up until Saturday have been right on track. Yesterday I wrote nothing though and don't think I'll get any - or at least not much - done today, so I will end up being some 3200 words down. Eek! Some catching up to do.

Meanwhile on Saturday and Sunday my #ClassSongOfTheDay tweets weren't sent out on time. Shock and horror guys! A handy reminder was sent to me from my listener in chief and I had to send them both out yesterday. Today I have scheduled the next ten days on Buffer, so there won't be another gap for at least that time at any rate.


Last Thursday I played guitar (and sang) in front of some people in a Liverpool pub - The Sanctuary - which was the first time I've sung in front of anyone publicly since 1997. There maybe some video evidence of it somewhere apparently, but I am yet to see it. That may well be a blessing. In the meantime I am contemplating doing it again but picking another song or two to do. Made a couple of CD playlists to see what may be easiest to work on: should time to work on playing guitar suddenly appear.

Steady Erratic NaNo Progress

As the VSS365 words wend their peculiar way through November (I promise tomorrow IS the last C word of this month) I've tasked myself with writing my second NaNo novel. It's progressing most oddly. I am spot on in terms of planned number of words by this stage of the month (just over 13,400) which sounds quite organised and steady, but in reality the story has been stuttering around like a forgetful old woman in PoundLand.

I had written a few ideas for tasks, quests and little set pieces and so on. And so far my biggest set pieces written over the last couple of days weren't even featured as ideas in my notebook. I may as well give up planning the damn thing.

NaNo Day 8

Anyway, I quite like these set pieces and versions of them will no doubt be kept. I now feel like I'm reading a new book rather than writing it, as I've no idea what is going to happen next. Quite looking forward to seeing where it'll all end up.

After Sal mentioning she may put my thirty VSS365 words into her book I'm thinking I could too. I think I could accomplish that without them standing out like a sore thumb - and making myself put a castle and a cavern in there could take the protagonists into unexpected positions. Leading, no doubt, to much hilarity. Haha!

All the Cs

After my first seven days of curating the words for VSS365 I must say I have been mightily impressed with all the storytellers out there and the amount of engagement. I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am - even though I'm not writing any myself. The six words so far for anyone who has not been following it have been:


It's almost like they are in alphabetic order. Weird that. But it can't be another C-word tomorrow can it? Or can it? In fact could it be even be 'can'? Well it could be...but then again that wouldn't be alphabetic. Assuming it's going to be all month.

Haha. Maybe I should run a book on it.

Search for #VSS365 or follow my Twitter account @zevonesque to see the future words for the remainder of November (they are being tweeted out at 6am GMT). In the month of December the new word dessiminator will be coming from @TheWritingKind

NaNo Update

Five days in and I've got 8773 words down for my story so far, which is pretty much on track in terms purely of numbers. But so far the story is not going smoothly. It needs some serious planning and I need to get the flow of the story going from there including the story element and almost as importantly getting the comedy into it. So far I've got lots of chit-chat but not much humour - which is a bit of a critical warning at this stage when it's supposed to be a comedy.


I think once I get the planning firmed up a bit better then I can look at getting the set-pieces in there and the comedy will flow from there. There's not been any proper set pieces yet. I'll need to insert something in early in the book at some point otherwise it'll just meander too much, which is no good to anyone.

On the positive side I don't think I've written anything which would require consideration from lawyers.

Anyways, onwards and upwards.

In other news VSS365 has been progressing well. Only five days in, but I've scheduled the next ten days in which takes it through to half way for me. It's really going to fly by. Will write a blog about VSS365 sometime in the coming week or so. With the words already chosen and being on top with the scheduling then the main thing is to concentrate on the NaNoWriMo.

Very Short Blog #VSB

November has arrived which has meant two things today. One: I took over the responsibility of selecting and scheduling the words for this month's VSS365. As I've said previously I looked at getting a second (free) scheduler to send out the tweets given I use one already for Class Song Of The Day (Buffer) and didn't want to half my quota for scheduling those. I scheduled this morning's Tweet for 06:30 (GMT) with a different scheduler and waited to see if it was working. As I lay in bed I began to hear buzz after buzz of the phone by my bad and knew that it must have worked.

Huzzah! If it works for the rest of the month I may even tell you which one I've been using. But so far so good.

Considered today that given that it is a daily tweet - which is like almost 24 hours usually - it made sense to schedule the future tweets at a round number rather than half past. So from tomorrow onwards it will go out at 06:00. It was great to see so many people get involved again today and I hope that I can see you all through the month to come.

It is great that the scheduler is working and the next ten days are scheduled and can be basically left to run itself.

And the second thing? NaNoWriMo has begun. Not written anything yet after a longish day at work, but going to put some words down later tonight. Right now I'd be happy with three figures and just a start.