Africa, day 15

Word count: 13072
Mosquito bites: 14
Stitches knitted: 3500 (approx)

Yes, I am behind. Just over halfway through my nano-esque attempt to complete the novel, and a good way behind even my back-loaded target (about 3,500 words behind). This is depressing, but I’m not defeated. I’ve written, and what’s more I’ve not written nano-style nonsense just to fly through the word count – the crap that’s generated as part of the warming up process does not count. As I get closer to the end of the story, the wiggle room decreases, and my prose has to be close the button if not on it. Luckily drawing the threads together is also fun.

Which crew would I fit in with?

Which sci-fi crew would you best fit in with? (pics)
created with
You scored as Millennium Falcon (Star Wars)

The world around you is at war. Fortunately you know how to handle that with the greatest of ease. You are one of the best at what you do and no one needs to tell you that. Now if only the droids could be quiet for five seconds.

Moya (Farscape)


Millennium Falcon (Star Wars)


Serenity (Firefly)


Heart of Gold (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)


Deep Space Nine (Star Trek)


Nebuchadnezzar (The Matrix)


Bebop (Cowboy Bebop)


Babylon 5 (Babylon 5)


Enterprise D (Star Trek)


SG-1 (Stargate)


Galactica (Battlestar: Galactica)


Andromeda Ascendant (Andromeda)


FBI’s X-Files Division (The X-Files)


Africa, day 7

Words: 4,483
Mosquito bites: 4
Dead ants: 400,000

I’m 2.5k behind target, but I’ll put that down to the cold (which seems to be getting better at last) and having to adapt to the heat. I haven’t been sleeping – do I ever? – but it has been especially bad. Also I lost yesterday to a particularly difficult scene. I needed a plan for getting Shelley (my protagonist) out of the Angel (a prison hospital) that was rather more developed than “her mates dress up as fairies and help get her out.” The Angel is heavily fortified. Shelley is drugged and injured. I badly wanted my world-building team or my Clarion cohort to be here, so I could throw this one out and get exciting ideas from everyone. It was fun cracking it alone, but I’d have really enjoyed the debate.

It’s moving again now. It’s heartbreaking working from a draft that is *definitely* an old backup, especially as I’m 99% sure that the correct version no longer exists anywhere – I think I’ve lost 6 months’ work – but I’ll have something to hand in in December and that’s all I can afford to care about at the moment!

Africa, day 4

I swam twice today \o/. And I wrote too, I hasten to add. I have written every day since I arrived, even if was a bit of a desultory effort on Thursday.

Last night I ventured out of the embassy compund for the first time – all the way across the road to the Spanish embassy for G & T’s and canapes. Jo introduced me to lots of people, all of whom were gracious enough to speak English once they realised how much I was struggling with the French. My university French is coming back to me, but oh, so slowly.

Later in the evening we went round to the house of a friendly gay American couple and helped make pretzels. I have no natural talent at making pretzels and went at about half the average rate. I was full of gin, mind you.

There was an egret by the pool this morning. A young one, I think; it had a spattering of brownish feathers on its wings, whereas the two that were stalking around on the lawn yesterday were perfectly white. It’s getting hotter by the day though, so I’m spending less time outside. No tan for me!

Africa, day 1

Alone in the embassy, Abidjan.

I arrived very late last night, and Jo met me at the airport. Her driver helped me collect my bag, which I was convinced would not appear, as my connecting flight from Heathrow to Casablanca came in late, and I had to run to make the Abidjan flight. But appear it did, so I have clothes, toothbrush and Lucy Mouse.

Jo and I sat talking a while on the terrace. It’s great to be spending time with her after years of flying visits, although she has buggered off to Ghana for 3 days, leaving me with the run of the compound, and only her staff and the guards for company! The staff have gone home for the night, and it is incredibly quiet. The embassy building is not enormous, but feels it – huge rooms, built around a courtyard containing a fantastic display of tropical plants, and a little fountain. Outside there is a pool, and gardens. It’s like being in a small, luxurious hotel. By yourself. Except that around the compound is a high wall topped with razor wire.

I got up this morning and emerged from my shower to be presented with croissants, coffee, mango juice, papaya and yoghurt. Other meals one has to make for oneself, as the cook only caters when Jo has real guests. The hardship! But breakfast will make all the difference – instant structure, and I’m fed and awake without even having to think about it.

I reviewed my notes on The Boa Constrictor, came up with a plan of attack, did a couple of exercises and wrote a scene. A short, unnecessary scene, but hey, I put one word after another and I wrote something. I need one of those word count wotsits. I’m taking a NaNo approach to this: target 50,000 words in the next month, and then a couple of weeks to tidy it up before I send it to my uni group. I feel good about it. It’s hard not to feel good here. By Friday I may be going bonkers with loneliness (the staff are even worse at English than I am at French) but right now it feels very good indeed.