Tonight I was scanning the blogosphere for interesting things to read and comment on, and I found this: [How to Prepare for NaNoWriMo: Your 4-Week Success Plan]. When I saw the abbreviation, I knew what it meant, although I can’t tell where it was that I first saw it. I remember it generating a lot of Twitter activity last year, so maybe I’m thinking of the hashtag. Anyway, a while back I wrote a post about the futility of writing for writing’s sake, by churning out 500 words of absolute drivel. But there’s something about this that seems appealing. I have ideas for a few books, and I attempted to write one a few years back. Unfortunately I was suffering from undiagnosed depression at the time; and so everything was a huge mental effort, and my self-motivation was non-existent. But now, I’m on the road to recovery. Some days can still be So. Damn. Hard. But I am well enough to function at least some of the time. I’d like to give it another try. Maybe the focus and intensity of NaNoWriMo will help me with its targets and goals. Maybe the rigidity of it will tempt me into not bothering. But I have to give it a go. I’ll let you know how it goes (and include a link to the finished masterpiece, of course).

One thing I’m unsure about is whether or not to include my planning and reviewing time within the month of November or not, like in the link above. The NaNoWriMo community is based around word count, and I wouldn’t consider my disordered planning scribbles to necessarily even be words, so I guess that planning it beforehand is ok. Or maybe I’ll start writing now, and use November as a way to rack up 50,000 words of the total

I’m undecided as to whether I want to take part in the actual contest or not. If I do write a novel, I want to get published for sure, and NaNoWriMo is great publicity. But it may also thrust me into the spotlight a little too soon: I’m very particular about things being finished just right (this is a symptom of OCD, but you don’t have to have OCD to be a nitpicker). This is also completely antithetical to the creative writing process. I don’t seem to believe in drafts or rehearsals, yet these are a necessary part of the production of a work of literature. Maybe I need to practice leaving things unfinished. Perhaps NaNoWriMo could be just the therapy I need.


How exciting, I’ve embarked on a new project!  Taking my inspiration in part from Bojack Horseman, and in part from my desire for it to be Hallowe’en every single day.  And so behold! My new CafePress store, Hallowe’en in January:

Hallowe'en in January




There’ll be tons of creepy designs to choose from, and not just for Hallowe’en!  Expect spooky everyday gifts, and seasonal items with a macabre touch.


Last year, I decided to give up (shop-bought fancy-pants-type) coffee for a month.  This did save me a lot of money, but there’s no way I could’ve completely given up the cheapo stuff – it’s one of the basic things I require to survive – food, water, shelter, freshly-ground coffee…

I’ve not done anything nearly so foolish since then, but I did design some shirts in an homage to my favourite hot beverage.

The first one is available through Science Lady’s CafePress Shop:


caffeine t-shirt


And the second, from Hallowe’en in January.  I’m sure you can empathise with the scenario depicted here.


The Undead Rising - with the help of coffee


“I went to church and I liked it;
hope my boyfriend don’t mind it”

Is what I’ve had going round in my head for the last 24 hours (thanks, OCD!).  But at least it helped me to remember to write this post.  I’m pretty sure that Mr. Science Gentleman will be concerned about my Skeptical Muscle after I confided in him by text that I actually felt really positive about attending a church service.

The occasion was a family funeral, and I felt strongly that the local church was the right place to hold it. My relative had been a regular attendee, and part of the “family” in the church community. Their funeral was well-attended by people from many parts of the community – turns out that my relative was something of a social butterfly (amongst the pious, at least). The service was conducted by the old vicar who was brought out of retirement for this funeral. They knew each other well, and the vicar’s family was almost like a distant branch of ours (I may be the first instance of an atheist being on first-name terms with the local clergy). And I felt it was totally appropriate for him to conduct a traditional Church of England ceremony in a church that I’d not set foot in for almost 20 years.

The experience really reinforced the attraction to religion for both those who are strong believers, and those who are not.  The church back home has over 1000 years of history (I grew up in a place that was pivotal to British history in almost every era – it’s kinda cool, here‘s a good starting point if you’d like to find out more), and that history is a part of what made me who I am.  Even though my relative’s funeral was a religious one, it was highly personalised and because the minister knew them well, he relayed some anecdotes about them in the sermon – some of the stories were things that I didn’t even know about them.  Even though I have a lot of anxieties about churches and religious figures (again, thanks for that, OCD) being inside The Abbey felt comforting and safe.  It was a known quantity, and a place of familiarity after so many years away.

So what now?  Am I going to convert back to Christianity?  Not likely.  I still feel strongly that a church is not a place for me, and not only do I not want any of my milestones celebrated in a church ceremony, I also feel that I would be a hypocrite if I did.  The experience has alerted me to the role that humanism can play in meeting the needs that religion often caters for.  A need to celebrate and affirm life events, a sense of togetherness, something to identify with.  I don’t buy into the idea of a humanist congregation, or feel that my humanism is part of a faith group, but I like the fact that humanism is flexible enough to accept everyone without forcing a set of rules on those it serves.  For me, losing religion was about leaving behind the shackles that chained me to a limited life.  As a result, I don’t like the ideas of the “humanist community”, or “sceptical community”, even though I participate in both.  I am a humanist, and a skeptic, but that’s not all I am.  Defining me only as that would do an injustice to the exciting, varied, and unrestricted life I have chosen.  You don’t gain freedom by choosing a new captor.

I would strongly recommend a humanist ceremony to anyone who wants the experience of a formal ceremony, but without the “God” bit. I’ve not attended any humanist funerals yet, but I have been to a few humanist weddings. These were a far better reflection of the couples’ aspirations and beliefs about marriage than a rigid, religion-based ceremony could ever be. My relative’s funeral was a perfect send-off because it shared with humanism so many of the aspects that made the ceremony appropriate and memorable; not because it was in a church.