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This week I was intending to focus on setting, which I have, to a degree. I’ve thought about spaces, locations, elemental/environmental factors, and I was getting on with that relatively well.

But today is snowed, and although I have weather in my notes it made me think I have been a little too prescriptive.

I have the weather as an environmental factor either enclosing a space or impacting on the experience of an external setting.  Standing outside in the snow I realised it is more than that – it is about safety, or danger, comfort or discomfort, enclosing people in the setting of their own bodies, seeing nothing but their own breath or blinding them with brightness.

I will focus now on the wider experiences of setting and how it impacts on the physical body and the emotional and mental experience.  That will be the task for the next week.

Meanwhile, I have also found myself doing something I haven’t done for a long time: writing down ad hoc conversations between as-yet undefined characters.  It’s those weird little conversations that run through your head when you are inspired by something you see; those little moments that somehow spread out into an entire scene in your head.  I am keeping records of them so I can use them once I have finished my work on setting.  Maybe if I have enough, I will be able to link them like spiderwebs and they will make a whole story!

So although I missed an element I am glad to have the opportunity to continue working on it.  I’m pleased I have given myself time, as well – it’s taken me back to the basics of writing, and thinking more deeply about what to put on my page.  I feel like I am working at my craft, not just throwing ideas on a page and seeing what sticks.  It’s a good feeling 🙂

I hope your new year is going well too!

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

 

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It’s been a long week and I’m not feeling it. The weather is rubbish, the roads are awash with bits of field that have washed down in the torrents, and it’s cold.

British Summer Time at its finest!

I can’t even summon up the energy to write the post I’d planned for you. I will share the picture I was going to use though: I took it last weekend and it’s a reminder that, every so often, we are blessed with a beautiful summer’s day.

Tractor Summer

Sometimes – happily – the British summer gets it right!

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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…or something of that nature.  Although I’ve never ridden a horse so maybe it was a bad choice of words.

Anyhow – I’m back from my jaunts and slowly trying to get back to some sort of normal. My return isn’t normal though, it’s exhausting! I barely unpacked my suitcases and was straight into preparations for Christmas, I have had to jump into panto rehearsals, I was in Belgium buying chocolates yesterday and today I have started going through the wedding paraphernalia trying to find a home for 100 candle holders and half a tree trunk…

Writing – what’s that?

Now, before it seems like I have been completely useless I will say that one of my gifts when I got married was a beautiful notebook which my parents gave me to write down my meandering thoughts when I was away. I just made a few disjointed notes at the start of the honeymoon but as the days went on it became a journal of what I had seen, felt and experienced, almost like a travel memoir. I could see the lure of writing in that environment – it was sunny, warm, beautiful and unknown.

I have subsequently been thinking about my writing, and my writing style. I think I write for the damp air and soggy grass of home, it is part of the world I explore. But what could my world be if I moved it – if my ghosts weren’t in the foggy winter of an English house, but existed in the sun-baked streets of Morocco, or the sultry Mexican coastline? What if my stories were about colour, brightness, light? How well would I be able to maintain a world that I only know for a handful of days at a time?

There’s no answer to this yet. My mind is wandering through countless possibilities and in the meantime I am thinking about poetry and imagery. Still, it’s given me a kick up the posterior to get myself back into the writing fold – and to really think about what exactly I am doing, and why.

In other news – I missed a fair few books on the 100 novels list but to keep this brief I have not read 59, 60, 61 or 62.  That’s not likely to change any time soon either, there’s too much on my to-read list as it is!  However, The Big Sleep is one I’d like to look at in the future, because for some reason I feel drawn to it.  No logic there, I know – but reading isn’t really about logic, for me 🙂

And finally – you may have already spotted this story about people generally preferring to read books written by someone of their own gender.  I thought this was interesting after my last book review when I talked about possible differences of style between male and female writers.  Maybe I had a point after all.

It does happen, you know…

Until next time,

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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I’m going to be very British and talk about the weather briefly.  With ice storms in  Canada, extreme snowfall in the US, floods and gales in the UK and a heatwave in Australia, plus who knows what other environmental issues to face, I hope everyone is keeping safe and as warm/cool as they need.  Take care of yourselves and those around you.

Other than worrying about flooding and a few blown down trees, this week has been about getting back into the habit of writing.

I’ve been working on book two, but also had a foray into another idea I wrote down last year, based on a dream I had (it’s not exactly Frankenstein, but it has potential!).  It’s not ideal to work on two at once so I’m going to carry on with book 2 but prepare to explore the other idea more extensively once this draft of book 2 is done.

In fact, I’ve even ordered a new reference book for it!  I already know I want to approach it differently from the first two – it is a complicated idea and I haven’t fleshed out some of the transitions so I’ll need to do that, but I want a full, in-depth plan before I start.  So many of the issues I have had with book 2 are due to my decisions about planning and writing in a particular way, I want to see how things work when I try an alternative path.

Besides, if I’m got to work then my writing time needs to be far more structured than it is at the moment – I can’t write at three in the morning, or space my writing time out throughout the day, so I need to make the time I do have more practical.

I know many of you work full-time and write – how do you organise your time?

In other news – the 100 best novels is up to number 15 – David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens.  I grew up in an area almost overwhelmed by Charles Dickens references, but I have never enjoyed his writing and have barely made it through any of his work.  When I was little I found Oliver Twist – well, more specifically the musical Oliver! with Oliver Reed’s Bill Sykes and (spoiler) the scene of Nancy’s death – incredibly scary, and this put me off reading that book.  Since then I have read Martin Chuzzlewit (which  I can’t remember at all) and tried to read Great Expectations, giving up on many occasions.  I enjoy watching good adaptations, such as the recent Little Dorrit, but will happily admit to not wanting to read Dickens again at the moment.

I’m hoping for a more favourable next book!

Also – my next round of courses is due to start shortly – although they may be a step too far time-wise, I am looking forward to getting back into learning!

And finally – as the Christmas decorations come down, and the tinsel is packed away for another 11.5 months, I have decided it is time to start developing a plan of action for the next few months – I love a plan, and with work beckoning I need to make sure writing is both regular and focussed.  So look out for a few deadlines being set in the next few weeks.

I’ll leave it there for now – it is raining hard and very windy so I’ll post this whilst my electricity and broadband are still fully functional.

Until next time – happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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Ah, King Lear. I studied this play at school and really disliked it, and yet some of the lines come to mind very readily…

The reason this particular quote has surfaced is that I’m sitting waiting for high winds that have been forecast over parts of the UK.  I can already hear the howling noises so am hoping I get this posted early in case we lose power tonight!

This week has been another one of those up and down ones, and a lot of my writing time has been very administrative – editing, filing, formatting, reorganising, submitting and so on.  I am struggling to get to grips with editing book two, and am ignoring the two courses I should be doing – ignoring them studiously, actually!  Everything has seemed so fragmented that just spending a few hours archiving old poetry drafts seemed a good way to get some work done without having to focus too much on anything in particular.  My friend and I have also discussed a music and poetry performance for Christmas, so I’ve considered which pieces of poetry might work for that.

But I have to get a grip on book 2.  I have a target of the end of November, and about 130 pages to read.  I am rearranging so much that there will be significant amounts of new writing, and I have barely scratched the surface, with 5 weeks to go.  I can’t focus on the courses now – I un-enrolled from one and will make a decision about the other in the next few days.  If I can watch a few videos and feel they are useful, I’ll stay on the course but if not, I’ll un-enroll from that too. It’s frustrating and disappointing, but it’s been a really challenging few weeks and quite honestly, I think trying to do two new courses on top of everything else means nothing will get the attention it needs.

So I am setting myself a new plan of action.  I will go through – correcting and revising – 30 pages of book two each week until I am done.  I have 5 weeks so there’s 20 extra pages of contingency; if I fall one or two behind I’ve got a bit of leeway.  This will be my personal NaNo, and rather than aiming for a word count I’ll work on edited pages.

I want to get this done before I lose faith in my ability to salvage the strong core of the work – wish me luck!

In other news – well, I lured you here with Shakespeare so I thought I’d better go back to him!  I read this article about Shakespeare being performed in schools.  I love the idea of plays being treated as plays – they are, after all, written to be seen and heard.  If you’ve read Shakespeare and never enjoyed it, watch a performance and see if it changes your perception.  The worst thing that’ll happen is you get an afternoon/evening of theatre or film!

And finally – we’re onto book 5 in the 100 best novels and it’s another one I’ve never read.  I am not doing very well with this list at all.  Roll on next week, let’s see if I can tick one off!

That’s it for today – I’m off to find some candles and torches just in case…

Until next time,

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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Today, I started my plan proper for the next novel.  Of course it will take a few days to sort out but it’s really brilliant to get something on paper, finally – and it’s progressing nicely and relatively easily.

I had mapped it out in my imagination long ago, but as I look at the story development and the key scenes, I think the ending will be stronger if I change it slightly – I will continue to work the kinks out for the next day or so and see how it looks then.  But watching it all take form is very satisfying, even if it means less actual creative writing.

I should point out that my planning may be very different from yours – I am focussing on where the story should be at the start and end of a chapter, particular episodes, environment and key character reactions.  I am being much more explicit this time that I was for the first novel, because I learnt from that experience.  I don’t want to identify gaps in the story again – filling them has unintended consequences!

I am also lucky that the weather in the book (cold, wet, miserable) reflects exactly what is going on outside.  This helps me get my mind into the emotion of the main character very quickly!  I have to look for the silver lining to these rain-filled clouds, don’t I? 🙂

Having gone through my earlier notes for this tale, I have incorporated what I felt was useful and left the rest.  It’s still there as a reference point but if something is not going to take the story forward I’m leaving it out.  Even if I love the idea, or the scene I’d drafted earlier.

This is a good point, actually – sometimes you write something that you love, a beautifully crafted scene or some wonderful lines, that don’t fit the piece you are working on.  Keep them because one day you might find they work in another context.  Waste not, want not!

So, I’ll leave it there with the hope that tomorrow will be another productive day.

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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