NaNoWriMo 2017 Day 12


Words written today: 5,031. Running total: 20,414.

Actually, that’s a three-day total of sorts. As I predicted, Friday turned out to be a total non-starter. I did a decent chunk of writing on Saturday, but didn’t blog about it or even update my counter. Still, after a few sessions spread over Sunday, I’m back on track word-count wise. I didn’t get around to building my tracking spreadsheet for the novel, but that can wait. This week I’m jumping on and off planes a lot (even by my standards), so I’ll have to try and make my time in air productive.

NaNoWriMo 2017 Day 9


Words written today: 1,740. Running total: 15,383.

Still on track, despite a very fractured main writing session with numerous interruptions. I know that on the weekend I will need to spend some time actually mapping out what I’ve written so far, noting major and minor character names, lengths for each chapter, and other details, so I can make sure I’m keeping my main narrative connected and rhythmic. I enjoy that part of the process, but it rarely helps boost the word count!

NaNoWriMo Day 8

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Words written today: 1,709. Running total: 13,643.

Keeping the pace, with another 1,700-odd words completed, in line with the day 8 goal of 13,600 or so. Something I need to factor in: this year, I actually write faster with a pair of 1-hour slots than with a single 2-hour marathon. Time for some calendar jigging!

NaNoWriMo 2017 Day 7

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Words written today: 1,716. Running total: 11,934.

I wrote half of today’s words on a plane, half in my lunch break and in a quick dash after work, and then headed out to a Pretenders/Steve Nicks concert. Not bad hey?

NaNoWriMo 2017 Day 6

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Words written today: 5,096. Running total: 10,218.

This is clearly going to be a stop-start NaNoWriMo for me. I’m now slightly ahead of the scheduled target of 10,200 words, but I did basically no work on the weekend. So I’ve hit that target due to an extra (planned) day off work and a marathon writing and planning session.

It’s definitely not the ideal way to produce a novel. On the upside, I now have so many different chapters and elements sketched out that there should always be something for me to dive in on during the week. So my simple goal for the next three days is the make sure I hit the 1,700 words per day target on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Friday already looks questionable but we’ll see!

NaNoWriMo 2017 Day 2


Words written today: 1,704. Running total: 5,122.

I was correct in my assumption that I would get no writing done on the day of the Finder Awards. But I’m back on track today, knocking out my required 1,704 words in a little under 90 minutes. In an ideal world, I’d get even further ahead, but life is busy. And I’m happy that I nailed a crucial plot insight.

NaNoWriMo 2017 Day 1: Smashing targets

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Words written today: 3,418

The daily target is 1,700 words, so I’ve well and truly smashed that – but there’s a reason. Tomorrow we have the 2017 Finder Awards, and I calculate I will have zero opportunity for writing. So I’m knocking off enough to cover the first two days.

Writing more is usually easier at the start of a NaNoWriMo project, because all the ideas you’ve been mulling in the run-up come pouring out. That said, it was a long work day and I really had to push myself to dive into writing. Got there in the end though.

NaNoWriMo 2017: Let the journey begin!

So once again I’m taking part in NaNoWriMo, otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as trying to write a complete novel of at least 50,000 words in 30 days. I have successfully completed NaNoWriMo three times before, but I’ve failed nearly as often, including last year. Nonetheless, I’ll be taking a crack at it again in 2017.

I have an idea, I’ve blocked out two hours in my calendar every day (with extra sessions on days when that just seems not doable), and I’m excited to begin. I’ll be posting daily updates here, mainly because I want a degree of public accountability and it’s too hard to fit everything into a single tweet.

To reach 50,000 words, I need to write 1,700 words every day. So I’ll be tracking how much I write each day and what my total is. And I’ll be offering random observations about the process. Let the novel drafting commence! (Well, it can commence on November 1. Starting earlier would be cheating.)

Undies ads in 1960 and today

Reminder: the times, they change. In 1960, this mens underwear advertisement caused a sensation in New Zealand, where apparently the site of so much bare flesh was so scandalous it was initially rejected for broadcast. It was allowed on appeal.



Jump forward a quarter-century to 1984 and you could show far more skin with no problem at all, as this (still) vintage Bonds ad demonstrates:

Add another 25 years and the sky is apparently the limit:

My time as a “scary girl” on Doctor Who

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Sylvester McCoy was Doctor Who in 1987, when Julie Collins appeared as Leader of the Red Kangs in the TV show. Source: BBC

Julie Collins, University of New England

In 1987, I appeared as Fire Escape, the Leader of the Red Kangs, in a Doctor Who tale of dystopian mayhem: Paradise Towers. In a dilapidated Tower Block, colour-coded gangs of “Kangs” — delinquent teenage girls — ran amok, whilst behind closed doors, sweet and endearing old ladies lured unsuspecting visitors into their apartment for tea, so that they could eat them.

The Kangs became allies of the Doctor — number seven, played by Sylvester McCoy — who went on to defeat the Hitler-like totalitarian Chief Caretaker, played by veteran British actor Richard Briers. The fans both loved and hated this story. The acting was at times way over the top. But on the plus side, Paradise Towers, a storyline written by Stephen Wyatt, contained great social commentary, critiquing the social upheaval of Thatcher’s Britain. The Kangs were seriously “scary girls”, and the streets were full of them.

The recent news that a woman — English actor Jodie Whittaker – will be the 13th Doctor Who has got me thinking about my time on the set of this classic show. Whittaker’s appointment to the role has been hailed by many and criticised by some purists. I think that it is about time a Wise Woman took control of the Tardis, even if the Tardis does not always do as it’s told these days. Reflecting on my brief time on the show, it is interesting that while women such as the Kangs were feisty, the Doctor’s female companions were there mostly to help show how clever he was.


The author as Fire Escape in 1987. Source: author provided

My own personal association with Doctor Who — apart from hiding behind the couch as a very small person — began in the mid 1980s, when my partner at the time, Mark Strickson, was cast as Turlough, companion to the fifth Doctor, played by Peter Davison. I was so jealous! But over the next few years, I probably spent almost as much time on the set as Mark did. This was the era when John Nathan Turner (known as JNT) was the producer and the series was probably at its most economical.

Production was fast and furious. But despite the pressures, I was welcome on location and in the studio. I watched from the sidelines and even from the control room. One day when I entered the studio, the Daleks were there. They were really very scary, even though you knew the voices were coming from four small and elderly gentlemen sitting at a table in the corner with large microphones.

When I eventually got the call to audition for my own story on Doctor Who, it was unlike any audition I’d been to. Instead of sitting across a desk, having a quiet chat and perhaps reading a few lines of script, which was the norm, JNT and the director, Nicholas Mallett, had overturned the furniture and I was asked to improvise a life and death battle.

Working on Paradise Towers was hard work. You had to stay focussed; if at 10pm, your concentration was about to lapse, the production team was unlikely to retake a shot to fix up your performance.


One of the episodes in which Fire Escape appeared.

This was only Sylvester’s second outing as the Doctor, and he was quite nervous at times but his background as a stand up comic helped — and his wry sense of humour came to define his portrayal.

I met many of the Doctors over the years: the quietly dignified Pat Troughton; the charming Jon Pertwee; the ascerbic Tom Baker; the very kind Peter Davison; and the flamboyant Colin Baker.

In recent years, I also met Paul McGann, the eighth Doctor, who appeared in the movie, and he told me a story that shows how the character has evolved over the years.

The Doctor began his existence as a typical white, upper middle class, patriarchal male. While the casting of Peter Davison in 1981 sent shock waves through the BBC — I mean how could you have a young Doctor? — he was still the wise and nicely spoken patriarch.


Paul McGann as Doctor Who in 1996. Source: BBC

McGann told me that when he was cast as Doctor Who, in 1996, he suggested that he play him as a Northerner in a leather jacket. But the producers insisted he play the Doctor as an Edwardian gentleman.

Yet in 2005, Christopher Eccleston became the ninth Doctor — as a Northener in a leather jacket. The Doctor was no longer quite so posh.

Peter Capaldi who played the Doctor from 2013 until now, might be seen as a return to the old model — the mature patriarch — apart from the fact he is Scottish. And yet Capaldi is quite different, more reflective, more self doubting. Ironically, considering the Doctor is not human, this incarnation seems more human and in need of support from his companions. For this reason, he is my favourite Superhero. The Doctor is in a sense Everyman and therefore, Everywoman.

The idea that Time Lords can change genders has already been established, and the Doctors can remember all their previous incarnations, so I do not think the change to a female Doctor will be earth shattering. Maybe Doctor number 14 will be a person of colour, that would be exciting.

The ConversationPostscript: After appearing in four Doctor Who episodes, the author went on to study zoology and do a PhD in ecological humanities … as you do.

Julie Collins is Lecturer in Indigenous studies at University of New England. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Gusworld note: how could I resist republish an account of Doctor Who from a fellow UNE survivor?