Jam every other day, that was the rule, as the White Queen told Alice; jam yesterday, and jam tomorrow, but never jam today. In the last six weeks or so since I finished the First Draft, I must to confess to feeling as though jam today was an unobtainable pleasure.
But jam today is steadily becoming something tangible – and without being sticky. Although the prospect of redrafting the WIP still fills my soul with a sort of apprehensive horror, other ideas are beginning to filter through to the front of my brain. So far I have two ideas for short stories, one tentative and one strong; and the other morning in the bath I had a blast of inspiration for the next big project after the WIP. It’s a long way off being ready to begin in earnest, but a keystone in one of the supporting arches to its world foundations has magically slotted into place; it will work, its internal logic will be – reasonably – logical. It may even – gasp! – be able to slip into the interstice between hard SF and space opera.
It ocurrs to me to wonder why it is that inspiration seems to strike so often when I’m wallowing in hot lavender or geranium scented water. It almost never happens in the shower. Perhaps I should indulge in baths more often? If only to wash off the stickiness when it is at last jam today.
NB. By stickiness I suppose that I mean the ache of sitting hunched over the keyboard, heedless of the passage of the hours. Either way, writing will soon be taking place. The Muse is returning.
There’s something about this December… whether it’s the unusually seasonal cold snap, or whether it’s because I’m busier than usual, so have less time to spend foozling online, or because my daughter’s rising excitement at the imminence of Christmas is becoming infectious… who knows? But somehow, I feel oddly hopeful. I’m not writing – I’m still feeling burned out after last month’s marathon – I’m not reading either, which given the tottering state of my to-read pile, is cause for concern. But the endless list-making appears to be under control, and the present buying gathers apace. The Christmas card list on the other hand… I suspect that I will most probably blitz that during this weekend, with the help of a glass of something suitably blotto inducing. Nothing wrong with starting the merriment early!
Thinking about the reading pile, perhaps I should make a list of the next five that I WILL read? I still have one to finish – Dimitra Fimi’s Tolkien, Race and Cultural History: From Fairies to Hobbits, that I started reading in October. It’s detailed, it’s very interesting, and it does require dedicated concentration. I’ve been highlighting bits of it as I’ve been reading, so I will have to go back over it to make notes relevant to my own exercise in on-going world building, both for the thing that I haven’t finished yet, and for the next project that I haven’t started yet. Even when I take time off from writing, it’s all still there, whirling endlessly in the back of my mind. It looks like January – normally such a drearful month, might be rather fruitful instead.
So if I haven’t been writing, or reading, what have I been doing? Sewing little felt stockings mostly, and cooking, and trying to stay out of my husband’s way as he stares thoughtfully at a bit of the house before firstly pulling it to bits, then putting it back together and painting it. There is much use of expressive language when things don’t go back in quite the right way, or he loses something, or drops something on his toe etc. I just keep the cups of tea coming and refrain from commenting. He’s certainly grateful for the tea…
Not so much of a NaNo post today – although I am slightly ahead of target and currently happily sitting at just over 30.5k. There were a few days where not many words would come, but those hemming walls of blankness have been kicked over, and there has been some jumping up and down on the ensuing rubble. Carnage is always good for wordage.
The words to sleep ratio has been increasing in favour of the words. I do a fairly passable impression of a human being when doing necessary things like the school run, and going to work. My family seem to still recognise me, although there have been a few Kubla Khan moments of the flashing eyes/floating hair variety. Thank goodness for Frizzease!
So it’s a Thursday, and I’m older today than I was yesterday, and reflecting on what I have done, and what I hope to do in the coming days and years, both in my writing life and my life day to day. Camel racing still features heavily, as does getting a novel finished and putting it ‘out there’. Both are a tremendous challenge, although only one offers the possibility of broken bones. But the exhilaration! I’ve been feeling some of that while writing this month – not exactly flying, but certainly gliding – or at least falling in style. Hmm; so much for this not being so much of a NaNo post!
Strange to think that after next weekend, normal life will have to resume once more, at least for the run up to Yule…
So here we are; the last hours and minutes before NaNoWriMo begins. For the next thirty days I will be consumed by the words that need to be written. Real life will get from me what needs to be done – Parents’ Evening, the school’s Advent Fair, work, the necessary stuff round the house, and most importantly, my daughter’s birthday – but for the rest, there will be only the words, and the frustration, and the coffee gone cold, and the little piles of satsuma peel, and the midnight forays beneath the stars, staring for inspiration, and finally, the exhilaration. If I’m really lucky, I’ll be flying with the words. That’s the feeling I’m always trying to recover, that flying feeling where the words are unstoppable; the momentum of writing carries both me and the narrative relentlessly onwards through the hours. That’s the feeling I first found about halfway through NaNo back in 2008. I didn’t find it last year, though I tried. It remained elusive, for several reasons, mostly relating to depression. But I’m in a different head-space now. Not where I was in 2008, and most mercifully not where I was last year. And I am excited. I know that at last I will be finishing that which I began back in 2008, the first draft of my first novel, Leaves to the Wind. And fyi? ‘Excited’ is a massive understatement.
Right. I need to read the last couple of chapters from last year’s installment so I can remember where everyone is, and what they’re doing. Why don’t you join me? It’s not too late to sign up…
I have the day to myself. Bliss. I have a stack of things to do. And so far I have done none of them. Instead I have foozled about with a few word games on Facebook, messed about on Twitter, drunk twice my usual intake of caffeine, and stared out of the window. As I type this (something I’ve been meaning to do for a few days), I have the second episode of the BBC4 series, In Their Own Words, British Novelists on in the background for company. I find the plummy accents of Doris Lessing and A.S.Byatt strangely comforting. I also like that this episode begins with the publication of The Fellowship Of The Ring.
The day feels strange though. Not quite real. Outside alternates between clouded gloom and blinding brightness. Autumn is beginning to makes its imminence felt. The roses have given up – the only colour in the garden at the moment comes from a few deepest purple buddleia, splashes of an orange flower that isn’t hemerocallis (I can’t remember what it is, and my husband isn’t here so cannot remind me), a few late honeysuckle, and the last of the apples out of reach in the tree at the bottom of the garden. Everything feels in between; everything is waiting for the signal for the next phase to begin, waiting for the bridge between Now and Then to be completed. I saw this in the sky yesterday evening, the ending of summer, the beginning of autumn. The sky was a metalled grey, and the sinking sun had left the valley depths; the woodland directly behind my garden was in dark green shadow. But the trees on the hillside behind were bathed in warmth of the last light of the sun (I love that phrase), glowing golden green – a startling contrast to the sky. And through the sky directly above arced a perfect rainbow. And then last night, the waning moon lit up the woodland, and a few constellations hung in a sky finally clear of clouds. And it was cold. I shall miss the warm summer evenings.
I love looking at the night sky, although most of the time I don’t really know what I’m looking at, beyond a few of the constellations. But before the recent rains came, and before the moon was full, there was a perfect night, of such clarity as I rarely see, even in my sheltered valley. I went out; the air was chilled, and it seemed that only a few stars had spread their net of light. But more and more appeared, brightly small yet sharp against the blackness. Then more appeared, and still more, as my eyes adjusted in the darkness, and the trailing clouds of the Milky Way spun webs between star clusters far from this Earth. And as two shooting stars in quick succession blazed their trails in the south-eastern sky, it occurred to me to wonder how the stars might look from the Kingdom? I really should get on with those maps.
NB: The orange flower is crocosmia, my husband has informed me.
The holiday has been, and gone. The weather was wondrously hot, with an occasional spectacular thunderstorm (sometimes three at a time) to keep things loudly interesting – there was even a mighty hailstorm, that left the garden flooded with lumps of ice ranging from marble to golf-ball size. The wine was potent, the food delicious. I finished the books I took with me – although not The Iliad, I ended up not packing that – and enjoyed them immensely. And I made notes. Lots and lots of notes. I’m world building again. I’ve even drawn a map, which I will shortly be redrawing and expanding, on ever larger pieces of paper… the socio-economic structure has worked itself out, as have the social mores, some of the laws, and the traditions tied to the seasons. The music I will need when the time to write this story finally comes, is building its list in my head. Once my daughter goes back to school, I will begin. I’m quietly excited.