Posts Tagged ‘space’

Today I have split my time between the poetry and the new novel project plan. After some fairly painful attempts to find the root of words in my giant dictionary, I remembered that google is my friend and searched for words that have come into English from other languages.

There’s many Wikipedia pages on this, so I wrote a whole load down to have a basic vocabulary to choose from for the space poem.  From this, I could look at the word in more detail in the giant dictionary and decide if it fitted into my vision.

I have now started writing up the first one and feel a lot happier that I’ve got it under way – the words have such different sounds that they add a lovely texture and I’m hoping to exploit that to make it work both on paper and as a performance piece.  In effect, the sounds should exaggerate the story I am telling.

After working on that for a while I needed a change for a bit, so I returned to the woods novel plan.  I had a ‘eureka’ moment when I was looking at it, that seems to have answered all the outstanding questions and given the context I was looking for.  Basically, I moved a specific, defining incident back by a generation, making one of the main characters the result of this instead of part of it.

I am really pleased that I came to this decision: it means a few changes to my plan for November but it allows me to do what I really want, which is leave the story with a twist in the tail!  It also makes a big section seem more pertinent to the story and justifies my change of point of view character.

So on the list for tomorrow is to get some more work done on the first new space poem; to re-revisit the plan for the next novel, and to start pulling together the various notes I have for Codename Wedding Belles as the timeframe for that has just been moved up!

I love it when I feel I’ve achieved something – I think this project month is proving to be quite a useful exercise!

Happy writing,



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What a mixed bag of a day – I started off thinking about the space poetry, went on to Chinese, dug out my Welsh/English dictionary then went back to poetry via the baking of cookies…

Dictionary number one is the simple one in the back of my ‘learn Chinese’ book.  I have now learnt how to say ‘Hello, I am called EJ,’ but whether I’ll remember tomorrow is another matter entirely!  As this is a basic conversation set, I am not learning how to write the words in Chinese script, which is both easier and a little sad.  Maybe when I’ve learnt a bit more I can explore that.

Dictionary number two came out when I started on the space poetry (I’ll come back to that) – I decided to look at Welsh words for my mixed language piece.  The words are mostly too unfamiliar to fit into the poem but I might sneak ‘cariad’ in if I get a chance, what a gorgeous word!

So onto the notebook: I have chosen my space images (I am starting with 4 as I already have one space poem) – all of them will be approached in different ways, using different themes.  Two are very visual, metaphorical pieces, one is all about the sound and language and one is possibly an analogy for something else – I am not sure yet, the notes I have taken are quite visual but use descriptions of another environment entirely!

My notebook is a bit messy on these, actually – there’s crossovers, metaphors, references to mythology, biology, romance, the natural world, spirituality, chemistry… but this is also the joy of writing: you start with a blank sheet of paper and fill it up and then you can shape your work.  It’s a bit like a sculptor chiselling away excess stone – we writers chisel away excess words.

The third image takes me onto the third dictionary, which I have yet to delve into in detail for this project, but which has taken up residence next to me: my giant Oxford Dictionary of English – which incidentally includes ‘cariad’!

I have found a few words that come from Latin that I want to use, which I think is inevitable, but I want to find some more unusual root words to give the different sound qualities.  I may be digging into the dictionary for some time!

So add in the cookies and that’s been my day – tomorrow I hope to actually get something typed up, so wish me luck!

Happy writing



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As part of this project month, I am going to start learning conversational Chinese.  I probably won’t use it in my work, but I think it will be fun to learn another language; it’s good for my memory if nothing else.

One language I have used for my work is Old English.  Old English pre-dates the Middle English of Chaucer by 400 years or more, so when I use it I have to take some liberties and mix it in with modern English.  What I love about it is that it seems designed for the oral poetry tradition: the language is musical and when speaking it there is a definite rhythm.  You can hear extracts of OE poetry read out on the web if you’re interested.

I want to learn some Welsh for the same reason – it’s a musical language that will suit oral poetry.

Incorporating different languages in poetry is for my own enjoyment though; I don’t intend to publish this type of poetry.  Some people do write in multiple languages, and there is an art to making this work accessible.  I have not mastered this art!

However one way to explore the rhythmic quality of speech in a more reader-friendly/listener-friendly (and writer friendly!) way is to use words that have their origins in other languages.

This got me wondering whether I should try something different with one piece of space poetry – not a different language throughout, but a different form,  incorporating recognisable words from other languages.  The result should be a mixture of hard and soft sounds.

I’ll try some new things out and see how they work!

Let me know if you write in different languages and how you think it influences your work – it would be really interesting to see if different subjects work better in different languages…

Happy writing,



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Today I am heading off for my spa and have packed a book of images taken by the Hubble Telescope.  With these, and a notebook, I will be able to map out two or three poems over the course of the weekend.

I haven’t decided yet whether they will all be specific to a certain thing, like an ode to Orion, or a sonnet to Saturn, or if I’ll work more generically.  My first space-related piece was about a galaxy, but underlying the piece was a contemplation of mortality and that’s not something I intend to revisit.  Perhaps I will write a companion piece about birth…  I will decide as the images take me; it’s hard to know with poetry sometimes, I think I’m going in one direction and as the work develops it becomes something entirely different!

I also think it will be good to step away from the novel planning.  The more I reflect on the plan I have, the more I wonder if perhaps splitting the two ideas off was a mistake, or at least if I need to add more context to the experiences and background of the characters so the reader can see links from the beginning.  I want to make sure that the planning is right this time round, and am prepared to look again from the start if necessary.  I need the break to see it more objectively.

It’s quite frustrating but I guess that’s the nature of planning, and I’d far rather sort it out now than halfway through November!

Tomorrow I won’t have access to update a post so am going to write a general post and will be properly back on Sunday.

Happy writing,



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Happy National Poetry Day!  I am glad to see the theme this year is stars, as over this weekend I will probably be working on space/sky poetry in my hotel room…

I have spent most of my writing time over the last few days working on my October project plan, so it will come as no surprise that I haven’t really focussed on exercises to inspire me.  Instead, I am using the experiences of the day to power my writing – the conversations, the weather, the images on tv.

But as the planning for the second novel continues, I am thinking more and more about the reference materials I collected last year.  So this post is all about keeping records of places and experiences you might want to draw on in the future.

Way back when I first started this blog, I wrote about keeping a scrapbook when I ambled off of my holiday/research trip.  Actually, that was the last thing I did before deciding to focus on the family story first – and that just shows how good an idea it was to record everything, otherwise it would just be a faded memory!

The scrapbook was specifically related to The Woods story that I am now planning with far greater detail than I had at the time.  In particular, it was about a specific period of time in which the main character found out something about her own family history.

My partner and I took pictures of everything I thought might be useful, from close-ups of the stones in the remains of iron age villages to a picture of the wet earth so I could accurately reflect the colour in writing.  There are images of mountains, beaches, rocks, a wood burning stove, the render on a cottage, the sun on the sea…

Going back over the images, two things have struck me.  1. Whenever we looked to the East, mountains formed a backdrop to the scene.  They were always there, brooding and slightly blurry in the damp weather, separating us from the rest of the country.  2. When we were on the west coast, all we could see was sea.  The horizon was empty of any lumps and bumps; no islands, no big boats.  That’s not to say they weren’t  visible from different places, but from where we were there was nothing.  It really did feel like the edge of the earth; I can understand why our ancestors thought the world was flat.

I don’t think I was as aware of the relationship between these two elements at the time, but now I can see they form two natural boundaries that I can utilise.  Having the pictures to hand, alongside the notes of where I was and an understanding of the landscape (including story notes I took at the time) really does allow me to bring the setting to life.

So that’s my idea for this week – when you go somewhere you’ve never been before, write a few notes about the texture of the land, and the weather, and the colours as well as taking some photos, because one day you can explore it all again in writing!

In project news today – I finished my first plan for The Woods and it’s progression through NaNoWriMo.  I am still not 100% happy about the ending, as the new change is still not as strong and satisfying as I would like, so I will continue to think about it, and will work on it again next week.  As I am away for a couple of nights I will be working on notebook pieces – space poetry  primarily, although I may continue with the Skype story if I can drag myself away from the spa!

Because this is supposed to be a relaxing break, I am not taking my laptop so the next couple of posts may be fairly short and sweet!

Happy writing,



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Yes – with a whole 10 minutes left until midnight on 31 August, I completed my read-through – phew!  I have a couple of elements to check for continuity and to give a bit of a signpost for new content that came from the additional sections, but that should only take about one hour so I’m pretty happy with that.

The bit I’m less happy with is the ending.  I’ve talked about openings to stories before, but now it’s time to think about closings.  I want a last paragraph that encapsulates where the narrating character is in relation to where she was at the start, without making it too obvious.  I have often found it difficult to finish stories, preferring the openness of a view into the future than being too explicit – leaving characters at the start of a new story, as much as at the end of the one I am telling.  It then gives the reader a chance to think about where they would like to see the character as well as giving the sense that their story exists outside of the writing.

At the moment, the story ends with a short piece of dialogue then a description, but I dislike the used of dialogue at the end of books and think it’s a little too predictable, so that is something I will continue to think about.

I also think, having added the new sections, that I will dispose of the prologue, but I’ll read it all through as a whole before I make a final decision…

As ever, in the eternal balance of the writing world, one successful outcome means that somewhere in the world there is a less successful outcome.  That, sadly, is my submission.  I have put the one I started to one side, looked at some old notes, scrapped them and started again.  This is not coming as easily as I would like, and I have to really push on with it – unfortunately, I am supposed to be having this week and next week off – but that’s writing for you!  At least I can fit it in around other things.

In other news – I read this week that it’s 200 years since the publication of the Grimm Fairy Tales.  As a child I was given ‘The Complete Illustrated Works of the Brothers Grimm’, a book I still have.  It is an amazing feat for their work to still engage people today, either through films, books or plays.  I wonder if my love of fairy tales, folk tales and folklore (and related areas such as mythology, imagery, ritual, superstition etc) comes from access to stories like these when I was young.

Also this week – Having talked about the brilliant HubbleSite in the last post I found myself watching a couple of documentaries about space this weekend – and this has really spurred me on to start working on a project that I have wanted to undertake for some time: a set of poems about space.  This all started with an assignment about love; of a non-romantic type – I chose to write about the Whirlpool Galaxy.  After that, I wrote a few notes and watched some programmes outlining different galactic events, celestial bodies and doomsday type scenarios.

After this holiday I would like to dust these things off and really get to grips with the project.  So I will use October as project month, and would love it if some of you guys would join me – giving a little time each day to something we really want to do, but never prioritise.  It could be creative or practical but whatever it is, we’ll all try to do a bit each day.  At the end of the month we win a sense of achievement!  Anyone want to have a go?

Now, submission work notwithstanding, I am on holiday for the next two weeks – I don’t know if I’ll be able to post blogs, and for one week I don’t know if I’ll even have internet (the horror!) so please bear with me if I’m not about.  I promise I’ll be doing something creative, some of the time…!

Happy writing,



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Because I am still spending most of my time on the novel, this week’s post is really just a few links and ideas as to places to go for inspiration…

I’ll start with a sporting theme – the Paralympics.  As you know from my previous posts, the Olympic spirit has really lifted me this summer, and I am hoping that this buzz continues through the Paralympics too – I am lucky enough to have tickets to an event so am really looking forward to that!  I love the advert for this (which hopefully you can watch here even if not in the UK) – and every time it comes on I dance a little…

If you get a chance, find out about the journey some of these athletes have been through – they really are inspirational, in the truest sense of the word.  There’s a link to Team GB here, as a starting point.

The second is a writing theme, as there had to be one!  In particular, I wanted to point out Maya Angelou’s poem ‘Still I Rise‘ (you can check out other poems on poemhunter too).  This is a poem I am drawn back to time and time again: every time I read it I feel the power of it.  It makes me feel like I can do anything – and surely that’s what inspiration is all about!

Again, if you don’t know much about Maya Angelou, a quick internet search will tell you about her life, which will give you some context for the poem – but I hope the power of the poem reaches you regardless!

The third is the British Museum – I used this site a lot when I was studying Prehistoric Rituals and when I studied Old English (random mix but excellent courses!), and I fell in love with seeing the artefacts.  Sometimes in a museum you skirt past a display for all sorts of reasons – time, crowds, lethargy! – but this allows you to really look at a piece.

This is also great if you don’t know what to write about – just pick an image and see where it takes you – freewrite, or make notes, or whatever works for you!

The fourth, and one of the sites I go back to time after time, is HubbleSite.  I love space, have written poems about space, and secretly want Star Trek to be real…  Ok, maybe not the last, but I find the gallery of images here awe-inspiring.

There’s something for everyone here I hope – look at the gallery and see what you think!

I’ll add more in the future but this is a good start!  Sorry this post is a bit short but if I want to get back on track and finish this read-through by the end of tomorrow, I have to get on with it!

Please feel free to post links to any sites you find inspirational, hopefully between us all we’ll find a way to beat any creative block…

Happy writing,



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