At the end of every season and with the beginning of a new one, I write a blogpost that’s a bit like a newsletter, of where things are up to for this #writer.
If you follow my posts, you’ll know I’m in the editing phase of my latest hist.fict novel, Reliquary – the last couple of posts talk about that.
You will also know that I’m doing the odd bit of research-reading for Book Two of the new series.
As to publication dates?
That depends on a couple of things, but more about that in the future…
So what else has been happening in this writer’s life?
Mostly, it’s family-oriented. We have a 2+year old grandson and we care for him a day a week – more if needed, and that time is heaven-sent. I spend so much time laughing, and he’s now at an age where he understands so much more so we talk and teach and he parrots back at the oddest times. But we can see his little sponge mind just soaking up knowledge. What a wonderful thing childhood is and how we value looking at our life through his lens.
Husband and self also had a summer break. Not that it’s been very summery.
This year, we’ve been plagued with the La Ninã weather stream, which has meant many grey sky days, more rain and much more wind – so our boating and beach days have been curtailed.
But one takes much joy in the days when we can get onto or in the water – much joy, as it’s what makes my world go round.
There’s been occasional kayaking too, and how I value catching up with my coastal friends on a much more regular basis. We’ve been a part of each other’s lives forever, and every little hiccup is shared, every excitement celebrated.
However, the perverse side of La Ninã’s presence has meant one of the best years ever on the farm.
We’ve harvested hundreds of round bales of beautiful grass hay and hundreds of round bales of delicious lucerne hay which we supply to equestrians and farmers. We’re also future-proofing our farm for the return to El Ninõ, when the ground will dry out, pasture will burn off and we’ll be back into the Big Dry. Thus, the barn and silos are full, our stock is healthy and despite the war of words and actions between China and Australia, our merino wool has been exported overseas.
The Big Garden hasn’t liked this summer at all. The long border gave up and the perennial garden made a half an effort to flower. The whole place has struggled with the wind and lack of sunshine and its lacklustre appearance has honestly made me crave autumn. Thus I began cutting it back, composting, mulching and feeding. It’s looking better and less pressured just with that. The Matchbox Garden (which anyone who follows my SoS posts knows is super-small) has coped very well though, blooming its little socks off.
But we’ve managed to grow food which is always a summer aim. And by the way, despite that he is a northern hemisphere gardener, Monty Don is my God!
My embroidery has kept my mind at ease. Making hearts for www.1000Hearts.com is something I cherish because there are so many people of all ages who need acknowledgement across the globe. Recognition of the difficulties they’re facing. The little hearts are sending compassion– hugs in a pocket and reaching far and wide internationally. I’m so thrilled to be one of the many heartists that volunteer to stitch for 1000 Hearts and I’ve seen first hand what receiving a heart can do.
On a larger scale, I’ve relish tackling new stitches, new designs and finding colours that sing to me. This summer, I’ve liked stitching when I’m watching Nordic Noir, sub-titles notwithstanding. Concentrating on a detailed stitch with silks and needle removes my attention from the bloody bits as I’ve got a very weak stomach! Likewise, as I watched The Witcher and The Last Kingdom, difficult stitches were saviours at the gruesome times.
(I do plan a post after this on what I’ve read and watched though the summer as it’s been an excellent season of entertainment.)
Cooking hasn’t been as robust as other years, when we’ve filled the freezer for our winters. After the concentration of writing, writing, writing, the last thing I’ve wanted to do is spend time stuck indoors. But my husband and I have filled the pantry with delicious jams and chutneys and we’ve perfected a bit of teamwork at the bench. We’ve got enviable teamwork in the gardens, so it’s a natural extension.
I think Lockdown 2020 taught me a few things, not the least of which was to keep active, enjoy solitude and value every moment with one’s family. Apart from online ballet classes with the Australian Ballet and which are done at the kitchen bench or the bathroom vanity, every moment not writing has had me outside. Walking with the dog or in the gardens, with family, on the beach, in the paddocks or just breathing the Great Outdoors, despite ongoing tendon and ligament problems that plague me constantly (genetic apparently!).
As for my family – they’re my raison d’être. Writing or not, they’ll always come first.
I have no preference for one season or another really. I love something intrinsic about each. In summer, it’s being able to swim while not wearing a wetsuit, or boating without being cold. Eating mangoes and fresh berries, herbs and crisp veg straight from the garden.
In autumn it’s the clearer air, the intimation of cool requiring a cardi or a light sweater, picking the first pears and making conserves. The astonishing blue skies and the ochre, garnet and umber colours of our trees.
Winter is breathing the crisp champagne airs, the crystal sparkle of stars on a winter’s night and how much more energetic I feel! Then there’s winter shoes and scarves.
Hot chocolate and marshmallows and soups and herb scones.
Spring? Ah, the garden bursting forth – tulips, crocuses and fritillaria. The promise of eating outside, wearing short sleeves and bare feet. Daylight saving…
There’s a dependable rhythm to the seasons that I love. It’s sustaining … predictable, and predictability can often be so grounding.
I imagine I’ll have quite a bit of editing to do once Reliquary returns and I’m one of those who loves the work that editing creates. It means I don’t have to let go of my characters. That comes soon enough, sadly.
But it also means that despite the mellow colours of nature that urge me outside, I shall have to put nose to the grindstone and polish my story with love, a wad of lambswool and a dose of expertise.
So have patience, my friends. It won’t be long now…
Oh PS: If you really want a visual on what this writer does apart from writing, pop over to www.instagram.com/pruebatten/ There’s a few pics that you might enjoy…