Another month has nearly gone and memes on social media are telling me it is only 25 weeks until Christmas so I had better get my skates on increasing my word count.
July means Camp Nanowrimo; something I had never heard of until recently which means I need to decide whether to commit again to another goal or not. My writing routine is all over the place. Maybe this will ground me enough to organise and write the story rather than have snippets of scenes and ideas all over the place; on random bits of paper, phone apps and pc programs waiting to be weaved together to form a chapter or two. It seems more lenient than November’s challenge with you being in control of your target. There are also cabins to join. That idea thrills and scares me in equal measure. It conjures up images of midnight snacks, storytelling around the campfire and toasting marshmallows but also emotions of being the weird, shy kid in the corner no one wants to talk to and being in the company of perfect children as depicted in Disney movies. Decisions, decisions!
More pressing is deciding on a recipe for parkin to make. For my writing group homework I received a prompt in the form of a sketch of Filey Brigg. My brain cells whirled remembering the folk tale from the area concerning a tailor, hungry dragon and some ever so tasty parkin. Since then my taste buds have been craving the distinct gingery taste of this Yorkshire cake so today it needs to be made. It is research after all because you can’t write a realistic description of your character eating it without having a slice yourself can you?
I love art and adore illustrated books. Maybe it is a throwback from being a child holding a picture book in my chubby hands, in awe of the story coming alive in the drawings next to the words. The relationship between the author’s words and the artist’s imagery, when they compliment each other is sublime. They become so entwined that you can not think of one without the other. If you see the drawings of Quentin Blake, you automatically think Roald Dahl or if you read the wisdom of Winnie the Pooh, the sketches of E.H Shepherd form in your mind. When I read the words of Tolkien I see the art of Alan Lee followed by scenes from the Lord of the Rings films; a rare case where the producer manages to capture the essence of the novel in its cinematic splendour.
I grew up immersed in several books by Brian Froud and my treasured possession is the illustrated version of The Lord of the Rings and these have heavily influenced how I see my current novel in my mind. As a wannabe writer, I always had images of how I would like my book to look like. Forget planning wedding dresses in idle times in class at school, I was planning my book. I wanted illustrations to bring compliment my story, art to make my book become more than a tale to be read but an object that calls to be placed on the bookcase. My artistic skills are not up to bringing my images alive but luckily a close friend Debra McFarlane has, so we spent our time on wet, cold break times huddled in the art room discussing stories and sketching characters. Maybe one day, I will write a novel worthy of illustrating.
An artist I have come across recently who I love and has the style I envisaged as a teenager is Emily Hare. The world of unique creatures she has created is a wonderful example of how the alchemy of words, drawings and imagination can form magic on the page. Her Kickstarter campaign ends shortly but it is worth looking at. It is already successful and I eagerly wait to hold her book in my not so chubby hands and immerse myself in the world of Strangehollow just as I did with Froud’s Labyrinth.
It is May already, the garden is making tentative moves towards its glorious summer display. The daffodils have been replaced by the tulips. It is a complete change from the grey skies of winter, bare trees and shrubs and the muddy lawn churned up by excitable Jack Russells. There is hope we may have a lawn again in time for sunny weather.
My novel with the working title of The Hollow has been plotted on the plotting board and cork version on Scrivener. The characters created are eager to tell their side of the tale. They have been jostling each other demanding they should be heard first but then nothing. Zilch. No words have been written apart from random notes hastily written on various apps or scraps of paper when the voices refused to be ignored or inspiration for a scene hits. I feel a failure before I have really begun. Life has got in the way; mainly ill health with the overwhelming fatigue it brings and the medication that numbs the pain and allows you to type/write for short bursts has the effect of zapping any creativity like a writer’s kryptonite. Even going to my writer’s group has fallen to the wayside but as I head towards another year older this month, it is time to regroup and grab the words when I can so this work in progress gets completed, no matter how slow or sporadic I will be.
2016 with all its surprises, turmoil and heartache is over and a fresh year has begun. Yesterday, flying around social media was this message.
It is true and I hope to fill every page, every day this year with something, however small. A calendar to track my progress, a new notebook and stationary has been purchased* so this years adventure can begin.
My to-do list for 2017
complete the course I have signed up to A Novel Idea and have a first draft of my WIP (The Hollow) written by 2018.
Write for 10 minutes at least everyday
Read 10 minutes everyday – not a hardship for an avid reader who needs books like she needs to breathe
Connect with others with similar interests in writing in cyberworld and locally
Learn the craft of writing
Write short stories
Enjoy the process of researching the facts my stories need.
Visit places for research with the added bonus of a cup of tea if I am lucky.
And the one I am most looking forward too is release my imagination and allow it to go wild.
I hope you all have a wonderful 2017 with lots of books, inspiration and happiness.
*no writer can resist a new notebook with crisp clean pages full of promise and potential. It is the only time an empty page is a positive rather than the daunting sign of the dreaded writer’s block.
The Christmas tree is up, lights are twinkling and dressed in all its finery with each bauble having its own memory or story attached – a plot idea maybe? I love this time of year though the festive atmosphere makes it is hard to focus on the current work in progress. It would be so easy to let it wander into the realms of a Christmas tale. Will setting the novel in the run up to Christmas add to the tension or make it twee? Maybe as I curl up with a hot cup of Christmas tea, my dog and my laptop perched precariously on my knee, I should write a Christmas short story to get it out of my system?
Nanowrimo went as well as I expected. I did not reach the required 50,000 words – not even close with my measly 7,828 words but I have made in roads in planning the plot, knowing my characters and place. I am trying to focus on this rather the dismal lack of words. I am plodding on with a course run by the energetic and enthusiastic Shaunta Grimes. It has helped so much to keep me focused and write every day. It may only be a snatched minutes during the day or longer if I awake early but words are being typed. If I am not writing I am plotting or allowing my imagination run riot. I have spent so long keeping my imagination in a box, it is enjoying its freedom. I may never be the writer I aspire to be but I am happier for releasing this side of me, talking about writing with others and gaining support from fellow Ninja Writers. Every place I go or experience I have, whether it is being mesmerized by shops in York or waiting for a hospital appointment, the emotions, scenes, and senses are stored for another day when I may need them. I am looking forward to what 2017 brings in relation to the ideas I may have, the places I may visit and the characters I may meet.