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Monday, 14 November 2011

Blogging NaNoWriMo 2011: At Night

I spent this weekend with a friend I haven't seen for too long (I'll swear here and now this relates to my mad November writing endeavour). We went to see The Vagina Monologues and I spent Saturday night on her very comfy sofa. She has a sixteen week-old kitten, though, who is a bit, well, mad. She was leaping around in the dark, bashing into walls and startling the very haughty and stately older cat (think Hyacinth Bucket in feline form). Every so often I would hear a bang then a hiss. The funniest part of proceedings was when I turned the light on to see why the kitten was so distressed and found her attached to a shoe insole which was flapping around and whacking her on the head every so often.

The point is, what goes on in and out of the house after your average human being goes to bed is usually a black spot. My novel is set in a laundrette where my protagonist works between the hours of ten at night and seven in the morning. What I have to be careful about before introducing customers is making certain I know why they choose to do their washing in the early hours of the morning rather than at customary times and why they haven't got their own washing machines. Here are my conclusions.

  • Students - As a student I used to do my washing in the early hours of the morning. I have vivid memories of sitting on the floor of the laundry room in my block of flats and finishing off Middlemarch for a seminar the next week. How I expected that to keep me awake I'm not sure! Anyway, students generally keep more flexible hours and the likelihood of those living in private residences without proper washing facilities going to a late-night laundrette is not out of the realm of possibility. None of my major secondary characters are students but it's inferred they make up a large proportion of customers.
  • Viv and Dot - Viv comes in once a week to wash her husband's overalls. She does have a washing machine of her own but just doesn't want to muddy up her own kitchen. Since she and Dot both work late shifts at a call centre their sleeping pattern accommodates their nocturnal visits to the laundrette. Dot tags along with Viv, mainly because she's slightly intimidated by her on occasion and wants to stay on good terms.
  • Alan - He doesn't really come to the laundrette to do his washing. He did a few times to get away from his domineering wife but then he encountered Dot and fell madly in love - in his own special way. He coordinates his visits to fit with hers and brings a few shirts each time as a pretext.
  • Ben - Here is another man who doesn't really need the services of the laundrette. He was enchanted by manager Shelley on a visit when his washing machine was broken and now patronises the place on a Saturday evening in order to manoeuvre his way into her life.
  • Mavis - She was a character who came out of nowhere but I've got her pegged now. She brings all her washing in on a Tuesday evening in a trolley stolen from the local supermarket. She doesn't like people and she hates authority: she comes at the time she does in order to avoid all that rubbish. Also, she's a dangerous driver as far as the trolley is concerned and empty streets suit her purpose. She's an OAP who can't afford a washing machine of her own in the pokey flat in which she lives.
These are the conclusions I came to while listening to a kitten throwing itself down some stairs in the early hours of Sunday morning. I already knew it deep down but it's all concrete now. And, in case you're wondering, my word count's on target. I'm exactly where I'm meant to be at the moment. Let's hope that lasts!

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