Writing journey

The Curse of the Abandoned Writer’s Muse

ElsieLast time I introduced the world to Elsie, my  Dr Marten stomping fairy muse. She has been busy sharing ideas and gossip at silly o’clock in this morning. One of thoughts was what happens when a writer’s muse gets ignored. Do the ideas get flitted away to someone else more reciprocal to them, do they vanish in a puff of smoke or does the fairy responsible for them become despondent and depressed? Maybe the muse gives up and looks for attention elsewhere leading them into the criminal  shady underground world of the fairies where alcohol and drug addiction is rife. When their assigned artist/writer finally takes note their muse is battered, bruised and shared ideas are half remembered, distorted, scary and on the verge of madness or not there at all. The writer fumes he or she has writer’s block leading them to become despondent and depressed so a vicious circle commences.

November is coming and with it NanoWriMo. Old writers, new ones beginning their journey and those who have lost their way all open their minds and become enthused with the idea of getting words down on paper or screen. At the same time, muses everywhere get themselves ready.  Old ones iron out their wrinkled wings, despondent ones dust themselves off and patch themselves up as much as possible to give it one final chance while new ones nervously set off to find their creative mind to work with.

J M Barrie said you have to believe in fairies or they will die. Maybe he is right and knew something about these muse fairies. If you have an idea jot it down. If it keeps coming back, develop it into something. Keep your muse happy, believe in them, your ideas and let them flourish.

Happy Writing!

Illustration by Debra McFarlane. For inspiration for your own fairy muse visit

https://www.instagram.com/debimcfarlane/

http://www.debramcfarlane.co.uk/

https://www.patreon.com/DebraMcFarlane

 

work in progress, Writing journey

Addicted to words

September has brought the distinct warm light of Autumn that transforms the rural landscape from pleasant to stunning. It is one of my favourite seasons with the trees changing colour, temperature dropping slightly so snuggling up with a good book and cup of tea is even more pleasurable.

My reading pile  has expanded dramatically in the last couple of days after listening to a talk at York Library by Mark Edwards and Rachel Abbott. There is nothing quite like listening to enthusiastic authors to give you kick to finish your own story. I couldn’t resist a signed copy of one of their books as well as a jazzy pen from Mark Edwards. The flashlight on the end will be very useful while I burn the candle at both ends in the attempt to reduce my expanding TBR pile, write reviews and Amber’s tale while visiting relatives.

The problem with writing regularly is once imagination is allowed some freedom, it is a hard beast to control. I have been told not to read or use my phone (scribble notes for writing, research and  the dreaded lure of  social media ) all the time while I am away. The thought of not having a book in my hand or ability to write when needed, makes my hands tingle and heart panic. I am addicted to words. Being a bookworm was bad enough but now the joy of writing has been rediscovered, it has become harder.  Past experience says if my imagination is contained and kept into reality for too long without a release, it has an inspiration explosion. Ideas flurry, plot bunnies come out in force and sentences materialise fully formed. Not being able to get these out in a tangible form makes me angsty, fidgety and it is all consuming. I am not a good house guest. Everyone wants to socialise and I long to hibernate with my phone and its writing apps. Like a secret smoker, I make excuses to be out of the room, snatch a few minutes to jot things down but I am  inevitably caught. Judgemental tuts and the rolling of eyes always follow making me feel like a naughty school child.  Other hobbies such as knitting, sewing and crochet are seen as acceptable in company but sadly writing and reading are not. Silly thing is, I am more grounded and less likely to drift off into daydreams if my hands know I can do something about the random thoughts that pop up.* I wonder if sketching and drawing stickmen is classed as anti – social too. If there is ever a time for writer’s block to loom, it is when I am in the company of others.

My local  writing group has  begun again after its summer break so I can indulge in   two blissful, guilt free hours of writing, coffee and cake. These treasured hours keeps me sane and I may share some  ramblings and flash fiction with you soon.

*Please tell me I am not the only one who feels like this. Maybe things will change and my addiction will become more accepted if I ever become a real published writer.

 

 

work in progress, Writing journey

Peeking in secret diaries

My current WIP has been in the making since my teenage years when I was obsessed with astral projection, magic and Nightmare on Elm Street. It has evolved since the first draft written at that time. I hope so, since the ending to that one involved a visit to McDonalds. It is a YA fantasy/supernatural story with some reality thrown in following 15 year old Amber as she is trapped in the world of Ellfaen with only her alcoholic father to help.

It has always been my plan to release Amber’s diary online to accompany my novel The Hollow * as a sneak in to the world of Ellfaen. Her story begins at the beginning of the school year so it was only appropriate (or complete madness)to release  it now. If you want be nosy and sneak a look into her private diary you can find them here.

Her first entry is The Diary of Nobody followed by Sweat and Fear; they are back

Amber comes from a female line of journal writers so other journals maybe opened in the future.

The journals are a WIP which I hope will become something readable for my readers to enjoy so any suggestions or comments please let me know.

Have a good week!

*this is a working title and will probably change.

Writing journey

Unexpected characters 

I have been dreaming, plotting and writing my WIP for too long but recently, as I stop procrastinating, it has developed its own twists and unexpected characters have turned up. They were not planned but I am happily writing a scene when my MC, Amber looks up and sees a guy larking around and he smiles. That unintended smile has led to him becoming part of her story when he was never supposed to be but it works, I think.

A more insistent character, Roo, has squirmed (literally) into a bigger role than planned. He was meant to have a small but significant role in linking the real world of Amber to the fantasy world she finds herself in but he was not happy just being a cameo part; he has demanded more action and with the back up of Amber he is appearing in more scenes, creating trouble but also encouraging  the story along.


He is a hard character to contain because he is based on our ferret, Randall, who is as demanding and quirky in real life as in fiction. His antics and determination inspire every time he has cuddles, plays and gets into strife. His real life has not been easy after being rescued when we discovered him and his brother (sadly deceased but postmortly named Hopkirk) at the side of a road years ago. The trauma led to him to be agoraphobic for a while and he faces difficult health problems but his grit and zest for life gets him through.  He is loyal and extremely affectionate. I hope my depiction of him does him justice and people grow to love him as much as those who know him.

Writing journey

The insecurities of writing

I recently I read a blog  about releasing your insecurities of being a writer and it asks you to share your own. So here goes…

Am I a writer and when can I justify calling myself one?

It has been a topic of discussion recently on social media with polarising views.

I am definately not an author as I do not have a published book but in an age of self publishing I could cobble together a manuscript of gobblygook and send it out in the world but would that entitle me to the label? I don’t think so but the boundaries are no longer black and white and there are many shades of grey. Do you become an author when you have written a book or is it after so many sales or reviews? 

As for a writer, I believe that yes I am a writer. As summed up in the quote:

I am a novice in this craft but I hope to learn it well enough to become a published writer but then grey  shades appear again, I  have published this post so does this count or does it require an external source publishing your work (I refuse to count letter I had published in a magazine at 12). I could go round in circles with is topic and it still not become clearer.

If asked what I do, I would cringe  if I said   “I am a writer” as it is just a hobby and dream but one day I would  like to say it for real.

 Am I competent or good enough to write? 

Ultimately, that is for my readers to say when my novel or stories are released  into the world after my word count increases but one day I hope I can develop to be. Some books enter the world and draw many in with the authors storytelling or clever marketing while others have a small loyal following. My aim  is to write ‘The Hollow’ and if my daughter enjoys it I will be happy.

Will I ever have the courage to share my stories with others? 

Blogging and sharing work at writing group is a start but will I combat  fear of publishing The Hollow – watch this space!

Have I got the stamina to finish?

Not only finish this draft but to edit, find a publisher and do the marketing. The illusion of posting my manuscript off like Jo in Little Women and be published has been shattered with reading other peoples experiences. I want to write – nope, need to write but living with a chronic illness I know life can throw obstacles at you that are difficult to climb over. This is my biggest insecurity  as I struggle daily to balance medication, health and family life with writing. Luckily, I live in the age of technology so when I can’t write, I can type or use apps on my phone and if that fails, once I have mastered the art of Dragon and he listens to me, I can talk. If I can’t manage any of those,  I can imagine other scenes and stories for when I can.

I have many other  insecurites but they will just have to stay  contained for now.

What are yours?
 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing journey

Going on a Dragon Hunt

Following on from my last post, a cake was baked. Not strictly parkin, a Yorkshire ginger cake because of the lack of oatmeal in the house (I don’t think rice crispies would have been a good substitute)  but a ginger cake made to my Mum-in-laws recipe. It hit the spot creatively so the scene is written and my main character, Amber is happily going on a dragon hunt armed with a cake to Filey.

Filey Brigg drawn by D. Backhouse

Filey Brigg is a long, narrow, rocky peninsula in Filey on the East coast of Yorkshire. Until recently, I just saw it as part of the scenery to enjoy while drinking hot Horlicks overlooking the bay but then I discovered it was supposed to be a parkin-loving dragon turned to stone after his death. This fits perfectly with Amber’s story and gave me the opportunity to introduce Iggy, a very floppy toy fabric dragon who played a large part in her early childhood.

Iggy; A beloved friend or a judgmental fiend depending who you ask

He may or may not play a pivotal role in the book depending on where the twists take me. It always amazes me how something you read followed by a prompt of a sketch can inspire you to write scenes you would never have thought of otherwise.

 

 

 

More of the folk tale of Filey’s dragon can be read in a delightful book called East Yorkshire Folk Tales by Ingrid Barton as well as here.

July has arrived so Camp NaNoWriMo has begun so it is time to put the kettle on and get this draft done.

Happy July!

 

Writing journey

The Joy of Illustrations

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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.

 

20161119_114844 (2)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.