October 2009


The novel is going well, and I’m over the 50,000 word mark, climbing steadily towards 60,000. The story arc is starting to plateau, and I can nearly see the endgame ahead of me. Nearly.

But there is a problem.

The main character and I are having a bit of an argument. An altercation, if you will. Sky, being wilful, has just dumped me in the middle of a writing situation that I’m not entirely sure how to get out of. It happens, sometimes.

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Today is National Poetry Day in the UK, a fact which my Mum alerted me to this morning as we were driving to Sainsburys. We discussed Carol Ann Duffy, poet laureate, who has written a poem for the occasion entitled Atlas. You can send it as an e-card on the National Poetry Day website.

Duffy’s poem definitely captures the theme of this year’s National Poetry Day, which is Heroes and Heroines. When I set out to write a poem once we got back from shopping I didn’t know there was a theme. I sat on a bench in the garden and felt autumn all around. I thought about the changes of the season and the changes my family is going through at the moment.

Specifically, we are moving from Surrey to Somerset, something which has been on the cards for more than two years, ever since my parents bought Perry House in the Blackdown Hills. Now that I’m back from Spain and living with my parents again, I’m right in the middle of this change. I’ll be moving to Perry House, for a while at least, until I set down my own roots and independence again. This move though, it has the feeling of ‘no going back’ about it. The house I’ve lived in since I was ten is being sold, and my family is moving down here for good.

All change!

Change envelops me and envelops the whole landscape at the moment. I wrote Changing Season with this in mind, and I’ve copied it below.

Finally, in the spirit of the occasion, here’s a link to one of my favourite poems, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, by Robert Frost.

Happy National Poetry Day, everyone!

 

Changing Season

Autumn air, packed full of earth,
woodsmoke and falling hedgerow harvest
raining, death and life all at once. 

Life, warm within seeds, hidden hearts
that lie in the earth,
dormant –
waiting to burst into life,
struggling to stay alive.

The fight goes out of some.
Time to go, quietly
as the broken branches of
a crippled buddleia lean, haphazard,
marked for amputation.
To lose a limb,
marked for death?
A butterfly bush in its last blooming –
a flotilla of coloured souls vanish.

Cold Autumn scours the soft
and dampens the hardy,
slow rot sets in.

Time to change
as the chill wraps up your skin,
prickling.

The air turns rich and damp as
mist billows in the valley,
the time of year speaking in tongues
of rain and soil.
A new bloom opens,
a dark flower with the scent
of smoke and cloves
and blackberries,
warming you to your
chilly bones.
The beating of your heart,
warm like a bulb
planted in rich, wet earth
and decorated.
Fallen leaves,
red and ochre, blazing orange.
The epitaph of Autmn:
to be reborn,
change.

I said I’d let you know what was happening with my novel work-in-progress. Well, I still haven’t come up with a decent title for it, although it currently lives in a folder in my hard drive entitled ‘Guardian’. This was my first idea for a title (I won’t say why – this is a strictly spoiler-free post ;)), but ever since then I haven’t been able to look at it without thinking of the English broadsheet newspaper which my parents buy every week. I now think of it almost like a code word for my novel.

Hah! My novel has code words.

Since my last post on the subject (the previous post in this blog, in fact – proving that I am consistent in my subjects, if not in regularity of updating), I have written every day. This is immensely satisfying, not only because I’m finally creating good writing habits and sticking to them, but because it proves that the writing techniques I learned last year during NaNoWriMo were not just flashes in the pan of inspiration: what I learned back then has stuck with me over a whole year, and I am applying it to my writing outside the NaNo zone.

Which means – *drum roll* – that I may actually have it in me to finish a novel this time around. Touch wood.

In between feverish bouts of writing, which average at around 1,000-2,000 new words not-all-in-one-go per day, I have found several ways of distracting myself from the task – opportunities to break off and do something else for five minutes. Or several hours. This is admittedly dangerous – if I find the perfect distraction, who knows when I might get back to writing the actual novel? But since I’ve managed to pull myself back from each of these distractions in turn, I think I can safely say that I’m not in danger of abandoning my story just yet. Still, to give them their due, here’s what I’ve been doing in between writing (on top of the obvious things like making unnecessary cups of tea or coffee) …

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