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.
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.
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!
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 (http://writerunboxed.com) to see what my fave Writing Master may think. In 2007, when being interviewed by Therese Walsh, Donald Maass said the following:
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.
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.
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.
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.
A few months ago, Writer Unboxed had a discussion on the advisability or not of creating names and languages in fantasy. There’s no doubt that Tolkein was the master. But I have put more fantasies by other authors back on the shop-shelves than I have bought, simply because many of the names and languages read like a Scrabble box of letters. My feeling for what it is worth is that the English language, ancient and modern, has a mammoth reservoir of words into which one can delve. In addition, if a fantasy author chooses to model parts of their world on a specific culture, I feel it’s more than okay to pilfer the odd foreign word and use it for one’s own needs. As a reader though, I need to be able to roll words around like a lozenge and taste them. It’s an idiosyncracy and one I use in my own writing.
My vision of tweeting and blogging is of little words flying around in techno-space, rather like the Golden Snitch, and someone as fast as a Seeker has to scoop up a word and make sense of it. If the Seeker misses, then your words continue to fly around . . . unread, unappreciated and with no followers. When a word is caught and a comment is left on the blog, its like a point being scored in the afore-mentioned match of quidditch. Its all about synchronicity I guess. You go seeking for the right words just as I put them up. And with luck and good hand-eye coordination, you catch them in your hands and read and enjoy. This is what I want to happen when I write my books . . . that you the quidditch player will catch my Snitch words and score a goal!