NaNoWriMo Day Five – collateral damage

salt in timbuktu

Another early morning, another 2,149 notches on the NaNoblock. I didn’t wake up at first when the alarm went off at 3am, but my wife shook me awake. ‘I’ve been awake for hours,’ she said, ‘and I’d just got back to sleep when your phone went off.’

Novel Writing Collateral Damage (NaNoCoDa?) is a very real phenomenon.

‘I’m sorry,’ I say.

And I really am.

ZoFaDuBre – Zombie Face During Breakfast – is proving another problematic aspect of November. The urban dictionary defines book hangover as When you’ve finished a book and you suddenly return to the real world, but the real world feels incomplete or surreal because you’re still living in the world of the book.

If it’s true of reading, it’s even truer of writing. After four hours in Salafist-occupied Timbuktu every morning, it is difficult to concentrate at breakfast.

‘Is there salt in the porridge?’ asks my wife.

Salt. Hmm. Salt comes from the north, gold from the south, and silver from the country of the white men, but the treasures of wisdom are found in Timbuktu…

‘Did you add salt?’

If a blind man’s salt falls among stones, goes the Fulani proverb, he will lick everything he picks up.

‘Hello? Porridge?’

The Sufi saint Sidi Ahmed ben Amar was in debt to a local merchant, to the tune of three camel-loads of salt. One night in the year 1456 he began to pray earnestly that God would help him repay the debt, and as he prayed, slabs of salt began to fall from the sky. They fell so hard and fast throughout the night that they made a crater in the ground outside his house. You can see that crater in Timbuktu to this very day – the Crater of Takaboundou.

Bertie Wooster’s inimitable manservant Jeeves had an eye-poppingly effective hangover cure made from Worcester sauce, tabasco and raw egg. I wonder what he would whip up for the NaNoWriMo-induced book hangover.

Published by

Stephen Davies

Children's author: picture books, chapter books and YA novels

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