Thursday, 19 November 2015

Something different (2)

In my last post, I said I don’t ‘do’ poetry, but when I woke up to fighter planes roaring overhead, a passing muse was so alarmed that she dropped some jumbled words into my brain. That’s my explanation anyway. The result is here.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Something different

I’m a big fan of NaNoWriMo – and would advise every writer to try writing 50,000 words in 30 days (at least once!) – but I’m not signing up to the challenge this year. I’ve got too many other things going on in November.

But I can feel the excitement of NaNo all around me as other people begin their frantic scribbling, and it’s making me think I really ought to commit myself to some sort of writing challenge. But what?

A smaller daily word count?
A set number of new short stories to be completed?
A set number of old, rejected stories to be rewritten and resubmitted?
A set time to be spent on editing The Novel each day?       

As I wandered about looking for ideas, I saw this on my bedroom bookshelf.

Isn’t it beautiful? I was given this notebook for my birthday. Inside its gorgeous covers there are pages of smooth, white paper ruled with faint lines, a red ribbon bookmark, and a clever pocket at the back for storing … Treasure maps? Love letters? Secret recipes?

The only problem is that after drooling over admiring it, I had no idea what to do with it. Although it’s called a note-book, I didn’t want to spoil it with the kind of random notes that I usually jot down in cheap, jumbo pads of A4 or on the nearest used envelope. A beautiful book deserves beautiful writing. Something like poetry perhaps. Except I don’t ‘do’ poetry.

And then I found something else on that bookshelf. A copy of Stephen Fry’s The Ode Less Travelled. This book was also given to me as a present some years ago, but I’m ashamed to say I haven’t read it. I flicked through it when I received it, and thought it looked interesting with lots of examples of different kinds of poetry and exercises to try, but then I put the book away for ‘one day’ which, of course, never came.    

I have decided.
I’m going to work through Mr Fry’s book over the winter, and next year I will sign up for NaPoWriMo – National Poetry Writing Month – a challenge to write a poem a day during the month of April.

Are you doing NaNoWriMo? If so, good luck!
Have you done NaPoWriMo? If so, how did you get on?  

Monday, 19 October 2015

Island by Nicky Singer

A new book is always a treat, but I was more than usually pleased to receive this one ...

  ... especially when I looked inside.

When I came across Nicky’s story about Island on the Notes from the Slushpile blog several months ago, I went into full Victor Meldrew mode.

 I don’t believe it!

Nicky Singer is a successful author with novels for adults and children published by mainstream publishers. She was commissioned to write a stage play for the National Theatre and came up with the idea for Island. The play was produced at the Cottesloe Theatre (now known as the Dorfman Theatre), was also taken on a tour of London schools, and received very good reviews.

After the play finished, Nicky decided to turn Island into a novel in the hope of spreading the story to a wider audience. But when she presented it to her publishers they said – No. Their reason for rejection? They thought the novel was ‘too quiet’ and ‘too literary’.

Fortunately, Nicky thought there might be some people ‘out there’ who like quiet, literary books. And she was right. She set up a Kickstarter campaign to raise enough money to publish Island, and I was just one of 100’s of people who were happy to be able to help. (One of the other helpers was the Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell, who offered to supply the illustrations for the book.) I think we all gave a great, big cheer when Nicky announced she had reached her target and Island was going to be published.       

Island will be officially launched on 6th November. Do look out for it!

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Home again

Back home from a wonderful holiday in Scotland.

We stayed in this holiday cottage in Forres, Moray (traditional outside, modern and comfortable inside – highly recommended) and went out from there to different places every day. Enjoyed lots of good, top down driving (top down on the car – not husband or me!), stopped to explore towns and villages along the way, and also managed many miles of walking up and down hills, through forests and along beaches.    

Good news – I finally got to see not one, but two red squirrels, although not in the nature reserves where I’d been looking for them.

Bad news – I was so surprised I didn’t reach for my camera until they had scampered out of sight.

Oh well, perhaps next time …

The only squirrel I managed to snap!
My plan to take a break from writing worked for the first five days, but on the sixth morning I woke up with one of those Eureka! moments. I found myself thinking about a story I’d started but then abandoned years ago. I suddenly realised what was wrong with it and how I could change it. I was itching to start writing straight away but I made do with a few scribbled notes and hoped they would still make sense when I got home.

I didn’t write anything else, but I did gather lots of inspiration for stories and articles everywhere we went. Just hope it’s all safely stored somewhere in my cluttered mind.

The first week back home was all a bit of a muddle. Lots to do, but I think I was still in holiday mode so everything felt a bit strange and took longer than it should. More or less settled into my ‘normal’ routine now – I think!

Hope to catch up with you all soon.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Time out

      A writer never has a vacation. For a writer life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.  (Eugene Ionesco)

Although I agree completely with the above quotation, I’m really going to work hard at taking a two-week break from my writing. See you when I get back!

 * * *

With thanks to a Writing Map where I discovered this quotation. An attractive and useful distraction for anyone interested in writing – or maps.

 (And there’s a clue to where I’m going in these maps)

Saturday, 29 August 2015

More animal distractions

It was going to be a day for serious work.
Oodles of doodles
I’d been faffing about for too long planning the next assignment of my children’s book illustration course. Today, I was determined to sit down and do a finished pen and ink drawing of cartoon elephants.

I estimated it would only take a couple of hours, and then I’d have the rest of the day to polish off another chapter of my novel. Easy-peasy!

I set out my drawing materials and realized something was missing. Tea. I needed tea.
On my way back from the kitchen, I happened to glance out of the window – and instantly forgot all my good intentions.

The field opposite our house had just been harvested and there in the middle of it, sitting up in full view, was this beautiful hare.

(If you’ve seen my other blog you’ll know that one of my ambitions is to get a good photo of a hare. I’m lucky enough to live in an area where hares are fairly common, but I usually only catch quick glimpses of them running away into the distance.)

I grabbed my camera and took some shots through the window. To my surprise and delight the hare didn’t move, so I went outside to see if I could get a bit closer. With those big eyes and huge ears, I was sure it had noticed me, but it didn’t seem too concerned. It was definitely looking and listening very intently at something though.

It began to move. A few steps this way, stop, turn, a short run that way, pause … A great photo opportunity for me, but what was it up to? I lowered the camera and saw the bigger picture. Its wanderings weren’t as aimless as they appeared. It was carefully zigzagging across the field, ready to run away at the first hint of danger, but gradually getting closer and closer to the allotments.           
A quick dash

Stop, look and listen.

Sneak in here

Now, what's for lunch?

When I came back indoors, my tea was stone cold. Never mind, it was coffee time by then. So I made some coffee and then uploaded my photos onto the computer. I couldn’t wait to see what they were like. (There's one that I'm very pleased about, but I’m not posting it here in case I can use it somewhere else!)

Right, what was I supposed to be doing? Ah, yes, back to the drawing board. Elephants. I had to think about elephants … but while my mind was deciding which would look best, curly elephants or shaggy elephants, my hand was sketching hares. 

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Distraction or inspiration?

I met this little chap last weekend …

… and came home with ideas for so many stories!