Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Writing a novel: I need new shoes

I'm about to write my first novel. And my shoes are in a sad state.

These two things are connected.

My shoes are wrecked after two years of walking in them almost every day. I walk because it keeps me sane, and because it's often the only way I can think of the next line I'm going to write. Most of the time the next line is copy for a client. Sometimes, though, I'm trying out a storyline, or some dialogue.

On the day I took this photo - just last week - we'd just scrambled down Pillar, an especially steep mountain in the Lake District. We'd reached the top in a 40 mile-an-hour wind and hail and ate our lunch huddled behind a stone wall. Then we scraped our way down to the valley, a rock fell on me, and we squelched through miles of bog when the path vanished. We carried on, because what else can you do? You have to get to the end of the path somehow.

This week I've begun to write a novel, and I suspect it's going to feel like that walk on Pillar - exhilarating when the clouds lift for a moment, revealing the glorious views and the rush of being up so high, but for the most part simply gruelling.

This novel has been waiting in my mind for years. It's time to quit fussing, admit I don't need new shoes, just a whole load of determination, and get writing.

(I've signed up for the Unthank School online novel writing course - if I ever come up for air, I'll let you know how it's going, but don't hold your breath. Or is it me who's holding her breath? I'm dazed and confused already.)

Monday, 7 September 2015

I should cut back the marigolds and write my blog

The marigolds along the edge of my veg patch have gone to seed. I've been meaning to cut them back for a couple of weeks, but something else always comes along.

My blog's been sitting here untended too, for much the same reason.

I've been busy, is what I say to myself. And it's true: I've been seeing plays, reading books, at festivals, singing in choirs, thinking about new stories, making notes.

But is that excuse enough? Writing my blog forces me to reflect on what I've been doing, to consider it and find words to describe how it's affected me. That's why I like writing it.

This time, though, I'm going to leave it all to go to seed, like my marigolds. Next year I'll have a whole new crop of marigolds, self-seeded in surprising places. I'm hoping my unreflected summer will set seed in unexpected places too.