November Writing Challenge (1)

My challenge for this month is to write 500 words per day towards my book.

I bumped into a friend the other day who suggested that a good way of doing this would be to just pick a subject at random, whatever is on my mind for that day, and write 500 words about it. The idea is that at the end of this month I will have a bulk of writing upon which to build into some sort of memoir.

Throughout the month I will share some of my writing on this blog.

This first piece is about my ninth birthday, my last birthday before my parents divorced:


June 2nd, 1990. A Saturday. My ninth birthday. My dad didn’t go to work, which I think was unusual; I think he usually worked Saturdays; the mornings, at least. I remember it being a bit of a big deal he was home. My sister needed new shoes, and her feet were exceptionally narrow; none of the shops in town stocked shoes in her size. So we went on a little day trip to Andover, to a shoe shop that had a fancy, electronic foot measuring device, to buy her new shoes. I don’t remember the shop; I don’t remember buying her shoes. Pretty much all I remember from that day, is buying my first ever bottle of nail varnish. It was irridescent and pale and hardly worth the effort; it came from one of those pound shops that seemed to spring up everywhere in the late ‘80s. It had a gold lid, and I felt terribly grown up. I seem to recall buying something else too, but I couldn’t tell you what it was; just that I had two things in my hands as we all piled into the car to come home. We had an old, bronze Citroen ZX estate car; my parents sat in the front, my brothers in the middle, my older sister and I in the back.


My mum prided herself on our elaborate birthday cakes; we would choose the design weeks, sometimes months in advance and she would always produce these amazing creations, decorated perfectly with butter icing. Roland Rat, a cat, a ballerina, a dragon. One year I remember there was an ice cream cake; another, a “cake” made entirely of home made meringues and whipped cream. For my ninth birthday though, I have no recollection of what cake I had. I don’t remember the family singing to me as I blew out the candles, though I know they must have. I don’t recall my nan being there, though I know she was living with us at the time.


All that I remember is, later that evening before bed time, I went out into the garden. My parents smoked in the garden, because I was prone to coughing and they thought their smoking made it worse. It was a nice evening, and my dad was pulling up weeds from the patio. I remember crying; I didn’t want to go to bed, because then it wouldn’t be my birthday any longer. I had the nail varnish in my hand. My parents hugged me, and sent me to bed telling me not to be so silly; you’re not supposed to cry on your birthday, and we only get one a year.


That was my last birthday with my dad at home. He left a few months before my tenth birthday. I think perhaps this is why I remember that birthday so much. I barely remember anything of any of my previous birthdays. That one sticks in my mind though. Even though we had a day out in order to buy my sister shoes, it was still my birthday, and it was still a big deal to be going out shopping somewhere other than Salisbury. And my dad was home, which rarely happened.


Vicky Charles

Vicky is a single mother, writer and card reader.


Catherine · 07/11/2014 at 19:29

Good luck with the 500 words a day. I’m doing PiBoIdMo and trying to come up with an idea for a picture book each day, it’s not 500 words but some days it’s not easy fitting the writing time in. Good luck and have fun :)

Caroline (Becoming a SAHM) · 07/11/2014 at 21:48

Good luck with the 500 words a day, I like the idea of writing what is on your mind, somehow makes it seem less daunting than trying to write something more concrete, if that makes sense. Amazing how clear your memories are for parts of that day but I guess it makes sense if it was your last birthday with your dad at home. Xx #weekendbloghop

Sara (@mumturnedmom) · 20/11/2014 at 17:41

That’s a really good discipline, to write 500 words a day. Someone recommended a 1000 word challenge to me this week, not sure I’m quite up for that :) Memory is a funny thing isn’t it, something’s so clear while others fade. #Prose4T

Louise · 20/11/2014 at 18:04

Love your friend’s idea of writing 500 words per day – that’s a good way to keep chipping away and writing towards your book. I can see why this particular birthday stuck in your mind, even though there are lots of things you don’t remember about it. It must have been hard for you when your parents divorced. #Prose4Thought

mummytries · 20/11/2014 at 18:31

I think 500 words a day is a great target, and you’ll get such a sense of accomplishment out of seeing the words when there are thousands of them. Writing little scenes here and there and piecing them back together is a greatmethod. You should join our writers linky too over at Writing Bubble and Muddled Manuscript on a Tuesday #prose4t

Verily Victoria Vocalises · 26/11/2014 at 16:11

500 words a day is such a great target and it means that you don’t over think it either. This piece is really well written and, although it must have been hard to write and it isn’t an easy subject, I did enjoy you recalling your memories. Thank you for linking to Prose for Thought – and welcome! Hope to see you tomorrow xx

Maddy@writingbubble · 01/12/2014 at 22:03

I hope you achieved your November target – I like to set myself targets to work to as well – it’s good motivation! Good luck with your book!

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