That Monday feeling…

The holiday is over, normal life will resume shortly. Until then, I have been in a holding pattern of alternating tiredness and complete absence of brain. But the post-holiday laundry mountain has been conquered, the fridge restocked, so eveything else must fall into place shortly.

Two weeks ago today, we were taking the scenic route to Sofia after some sort of technical glitch brought Gatwick (catflap to the world) to a standstill, which meant that we missed our connecting flight from Budapest. We ended up being rerouted via Munich, arriving at Sofia nearly eight hours late. Our luggage caught up with us two days later, coincidentally when the weather improved from sullenly thundery, to clear blazing heat. The rest of the holiday went swimmingly, with good food, good company, too many mosquitoes, and plenty of good Bulgarian red wine. Dipping into Twitter occasionally via my phone, I learned that the UK was taking the fast track to Hell-in-a-Handbasket, and the Home Secretary throwing her weight about declaring all police leave cancelled. (A decision that was not hers to make, but rather the Chief Constables’, and not a decision that they backed; this amuses me.)

Apart from the food and drink thing, what did we do on our holidays? My husband spent a great deal of his time heaving the mower about the hayfield that is the garden at the house where we stay: by the time we left, there was even the suspicion of stripes. My daughter flitted about with her little cousin, or playing in her inner world of fairies, rabbits and The Hobbit; and I slept a lot, drank a lot, read a lot, and scribbled a bit. We went up the mountain, (and came down again), we caught the sun, watched the moon and stars, listened to the cicadas. In short, we relaxed. Bliss.

Next week my daughter goes back to school, and the routines will change again. My hours per week at the Bookshop will be increasing – hurrah! – and who knows, I may even begin the <whispers it> Second Draft?

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I want to write like music

So it’s December. At last! The rest of the country appears to be largely snowed under, while in my corner of the Cotswolds we have barely more than a few really hard frosts to contend with. It is bloody cold though – I’m typing this with two blankets over my knees, a pashmina swathed around my shoulders and head, wearing fingerless gloves while the fire blazes.

I won. By November 29th I completed 50000 words. Sadly the last 4000 words were nothing to do with the rest of the novel. Owing to a madly busy weekend of real life stuff, I lost my focus, and could not get it back. So I resorted to off the cuff stream of consciousness, a rambling, drivelling cascade of puerile rubbish. I uploaded the file for verification, achieved winner’s purple, and then deleted the whole sorry mess. So the work in progress is still a work in progress, and I’m stuck in a scene that I cannot remember the point of, or how to get to the end of, because my focus has evaporated. This is beyond frustrating, as you may imagine. So I’m conducting a little experiment. This month I intend to write as little as possible. I’ll still be thinking, and plotting, and scribbling in my notebook, but until this scene properly coalesces again, I’m not going near it. And there are plenty of other things with which I must fill my days and hours in the meantime. The Christmas shopping has begun; the cake is sitting, quietly tipsy, in its tin. The sloe gin lurks in the back of the cupboard, darkly luscious in its promise of a late night fireside tipple. There will be Christmas cards to make, parcels to wrap and post, paper stars and small felt stockings to make, the food list to compile etc etc etc. (Which reminds me, what on earth have I done with the Christmas card list?)

I have just looked out into the garden – it has been snowing. Everything is covered in a thin layer of royal icing.

During NaNoWriMo, I was listening mostly to film scores; their epic sweep helped me to focus. Thinking back over the previous month, thinking back over what I have been trying to write, the magic that I have been trying to capture, to infuse my words with, the emotions that I hope to instill, I realise that I am at an impasse.  For what I want is to be able to write like music, that seemingly effortless flow from note to note, that draws the listener into the narrative by the heart as well as the head. And  the grafting crafting side of me knows that the writing of that music was likely as filled with effortfull anguish as the words that I try to arrange into the sense that will make my story flutter. And yet, and yet… It’s all in the redrafting, and the editing. Or it will be, once I finish the first draft. And I will. But not this month.

In the meantime, I will endeavour not to burn the mince pies.