Not so easy . . . whether in purdah or out!

Yesterday, I flew through the first 37,000 words, in 8 hours of editing.  Finnian had entered the souks of Fahsi and was being seduced by the offerings, not the least of which were the hashish and opium dens. Oh, said self, this is all going so well, I’ll be on the beach in no time.

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Writing purdah . . .

I read today’s blog from the inimitable Stephen Fry ( where he says he must withdraw from the world to finish his next book.

He says: ‘Some people can write with ease in whatever circumstances they find themselves. Up a tree, on a bus, in a log cabin, a steamy-windowed café or a tropical beach. Some don’t mind noise, distraction or a broken up day. I, unhappily, am not made of this material. I need peace, absolute peace, an empty diary and zero distraction. I enter a kind of writing purdah, an eremitical seclusion in which there is just me, a keyboard and abundant cups of coffee, all in a room whose curtains have been drawn against the light.’

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Writing next week . . .

Rheban beach.

This is why writing takes a second seat right now.  There’s beaches, lots of them, blue skies, water and swimming and I try so hard to feel guilty that I am not getting on with the editing but I just can’t.  Tasmania is a delight with its coastlines and deserted spaces and summer or winter, one can always find a stretch where there is no one or just one other person.  Husband and self walked along the beach and I tried to think of plot, characterisation, pace . . . the best I could come up with was to store reactions to the senses.

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The muse has left the building . . .

There are times when its impossible to write even though the intentions are there in the back of your brain.  Do it, now, turn the computer on, just write! But it’s the day after Boxing Day, the Sydney to Hobart race fleet is streaming down the Australian east coast and out on our own little bay it has been a corker of a day till mid-afternoon when the nor-easter dragged heavy sea-cloud behind it and the temperature cooled a little.  I however, was out early this morning, not long after 7.30, to go kayaking.

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Christmas gift:

A gift for all those who over the year have become friends and who take the time to read just another blog among millions. It’s a bit of a long blog if you can bear it.  Stick with it friends, let’s face it, this is a time of year, with blizzards in the Northern Hemisphere and dust/rain in the Southern Hemisphere, when we all should just be sitting with a good book. Please enjoy and Happy Season to you all!  See you after Christmas!

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Gift to self for Christmas

I’ve almost finished darkening my male protagonist in Paperweights (working title) at the request of the London editor.  I want the new shade of dark to have quite a dimensional effect on the manuscript and wondered how to best approach the next stage before I send it back.  So I referred back through Writer Unboxed ( to see what my fave Writing Master may think.  In 2007, when being interviewed by Therese Walsh, Donald Maass said the following:

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Odd inspiration . . .

Sometimes the oddest things inspire, arriving in one’s life at just the right time.  I’m working on the first draft of a fantasy fiction at the moment, entitled The Shifu Cloth.  Part of it takes place in a Far Eastern inspired country called The Han.  My female protagonist, Isabella, meets a character at the time of the Lantern Festival which heralds Spring.  And I wondered what this character should look like . . . clothes, mannerisms etc. I had done much research on China and Japan but the research pressed no buttons.  And then my dearest embroidery  friend gave me a notebook (see left) and suddenly my dilemma was solved.  This was my character . . . except in the story, I have given him glasses.  He needed to appear myopic and studious, as well as inscrutable and I’ve always liked the way occasionally light shines on rimless spectacles, effectively blocking out eye expression.

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In the Night Garden . . . a fantasy

I’m a fantasy writer and it was perhaps inevitable that I chose that genre.  Although perhaps more correctly, the genre chose me.  If I look back to childhood, I can see that fantasy and fairytale always played a huge role in my reading and my thinking and play-acting.  As a teenager I moved elsewhere, historical fiction mostly.  But then in my twenties I went to Southeast Asia and as I was travelling on my own, I thought I needed a good book for the single seat in restaurants and on planes (you know, so that people would leave me alone).  I took The Lord Of the Rings Trilogy.  Which sort of took care of my excess baggage and companionship, after all I had Frodo et al to stave off lonliness.

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The writing doldrums . . .

Some days aren’t meant to be writing days, or if they are, the inspiration is so low that one seeks diversion.  Time away from quill skill.  So the dogs and I go to the beach.  They do their obligatory sniff and so do I, although mine is just to breathe in the scent of waves, salt and seaweed  with my nose twitching in the air, whilst theirs is at ground level.  I look along the beach: 2 kilometres of white sand.  And we do it, the dogs and I.

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Novel history

Niccolo Rising

For some reason this year, I’ve had an insatiable desire for historical fiction.  I’ve always loved the genre, ever since I was a school reader.  But the devil they say, is in the detail, and it’s the more intellectual detail I love, especially from writers of the calibre of the late and most wonderfully great Dorothy Dunnett and the most current and thoroughly popular Phillipa Gregory.  I have also enjoyed Sharon Penman, SJA Turney and Posie Graeme Evans amongst many others.  Eleanor Of Aquitaine and Henry I sit comfortably with Caesar, with  Claes van der Poele and with Francis Crawford of Lymond.  Apart from the unique plots, the height and breadth of research is what thrills me.  I try and soak up just a little bit more information each time I open the books.

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