Total words: 60942, (personal goal was 60,000) and I am two scenes away from the end of this stage of the story – it would be nice to think I could wrap that up in another, say, 2000 words. Maybe tomorrow.

Middle words: and walked (this phrase is used 16 times)

First line: Marion woke up and it was all a dream. (I’m going to lose this, but I’ve wanted to start something that way for a while).

Last line: Marion said, “I am sure that when the idea occurs to them, poison will take their fancy.”

Most pointless adventure: Duplicated a character and had to kill off one version with a carnivorous waterhorse. This failed to make the surviving half any more interesting.

Favourite part: Bloodthirsty rose maze.

Favourite story-within-story: A ghostly version of LRR in which the grandmother gets to say, “My, what big eyes you have!”.

Worst parts: Aimless angst.

Best realisation: That there were some themes emerging – paths between worlds, beast-people and truth-despite-love.

Part that would probably be the most embarrassing to read out loud: any of the indirectly reported lyrics.

Best lesson: Lay clues, foreshadow, and give ominous predictions. These are more fun if you have no idea what they are clues to, and prove invaluable down the track. The double-sided coats and talkative convent students and wolf-faced old women and mysterious cups that I littered through the story last year for no good reason (other than having no idea what was happening) turned out to tie in with curses of truth, and timid teenagers, and roads that go through more than one forest, and lost daughters and pied pipers and tides of gnawing, chittering things. Maybe next year they will even feed back into the main plot.

Secondary lesson: If you mention archery in the working title, it is pretty much a given that you will never, ever be able to get anyone in the story anywhere near a bow and arrow. Well, someone found a golden arrow in their roast, but that only happened last night, and out of desperation.

Things to do once November is over: Write short stories! Read novels. Talk to people. Answer emails. Tear out all the secret-project-scribbles and pin them to corkboards around the house. Be civilised. Take the plastic wrap off the mop. Rearrange chairs. Sketch in my sketchbook. Design Christmas cards. Not resent mealtimes. Move. Look at photos of tiger farms in Brisbane and wonder whether I can work that into a secret project. Eat vegetables. Not feel guilty about working over lunchtime instead of writing. Go to movies. Think it’s realistic that I might go to bed at a reasonable time. Remember the existence of things like “editing” and “proof-reading” and “spelling”.