Tag Archives: writing

Heya stranger

Snippets of writing, the sharp line of my pencil as it scratches, dancing across the page. Where did my passion go? Nowhere. It is huge and breathing, like a dormant expanse below the surface. It is always there, I just forget about it, cover it up with busy-ness. Times passes, suddenly three months are gone, and still I do not feel the itch, the crave for a pencil between my fingers.

Then it creeps in, slow, lazy. A warm afternoon, the comforting rasp of the couch against my book. The early morning, before the dawn seeps beneath the curtains. Suddenly that need, that excitement. As though I have something to share with the world, as though I am waiting for a gap in the conversation, my mouth opening and closing at each false attempt. I have an idea… so NaNoWriMo 2012, here we go.


some summer photos

I haven’t written in a while. Too busy with summer, with new work. It makes me guilty when I think about it, when anyone mentions it. Oli says it with a quiet yearning that causes my eyes to flicker to the black mesh of the laptop case, tucked and forgotten underneath the wooden bowl full of keys.

And that guilt keeps me from writing. It makes me scared, afraid to open it up and clatter loudly on the black keys, as though stage fright dogs me even in quiet reflection. I think that nothing will just fly out from fingertips ready to be put on show. And because I think that, nothing does.

I wrote half a book in November. The problem is I have no more words. I have no more twists, and whether that stems from the lack of beaches and language barriers or from the lack of decent previous twists, I don’t know. I read more than I write now. Beautiful books, full of haunting personification and blissful description. But what good is inspiration if you don’t put it to use?

When I write I am in flow. Even now, while my writing is so inane and predictably daily my mind is away, thinking above, skipping a line below, all the while knitting and weaving the words together. Sometimes I don’t pause in my typing for what feels like hours.          Then the pause happens, and I almost lose it, like a receipt snatched away by the wind, grabbed at by a desperate outstretched hand.

And so the photos, photos of a busy summer and smiling sisters, heavy skies streaked with gold. I hope you all enjoy them.

so this is what it feels like

It’s finished. All is written and done, and all that is left behind is a slight echo of typing, a sweet nothingness. November has been amazing. Busy, wonderful and awe-inspiring.

We left Spain with its strangely rainy skies and overpopulated coast and caught the train up through France, to visit Nice and Monaco. We ate a baguette with camembert overlooking the beach in Nice, and shared an over sized beer, shivering a little in the weak sun.

I wrote thousands of words over thousands of kilometres, in speeding trains, on rickety hostel computers, in cold train stations and on pretty park benches. There were late nights filled with writing, and always, no matter how far we had come in a day or how many countries we had passed, I knew I still would have to write somehow. And so the words came, because they had to.

The story twisted and changed with each new place, if the sun shone, the sun shone in my novel too. If there was wind twirling around me, there was wind around my characters too. I made them clutch at scarves whipped away from their necks and pull at stray hairs stuck in glossed lips.

The cold hit us when we arrived in beautiful, clean Switzerland (which deserves another post, big enough in which to convey my love for that wonderful country). We spent eleven happy autumn days there, dreaming of staying forever. We left through Liechtenstein, much to the confusion of the many train conductors who helped us. ‘But why do you want to go there?’ was a frequent question.

It turns out they were right, and the highlight of Liechtenstein was the ten metre stretch of crunchy leaves that we happened upon. We trained on through Austria, and Venice, and then up to Slovenia, a vastly underrated beautiful country. I wrote in an old prison in Ljubljana, maybe including a little too many symbolic trappings in my writing.

From Slovenia we travelled to Budapest, Hungary, and spent two days exploring the famous ruin bars of the city, and soaking in the amazing baths. We found a wonderful Christmas market and ate until we couldn’t anymore, and then just sat and watched the children ice skating beneath the millions of twinkling lights, hot steaming cups of mulled wine cradled in our hands.

And it was in Budapest that the glorious, long awaited day of November the 30th arrived. I wrote and wrote that morning, sitting on the rickety bed in our huge €8 room, pouring my entire heart into the story, giving my characters every emotion that I had. The intensity picked up and kept going, and I felt my heart racing as the word count jumped up, higher and higher, almost erratically.

Then, all of a sudden, it was done. The little word count on the bottom of the screen said Words: 50,003 of 50,003. I stared at it for a second, a deep flush of pride sweeping up from somewhere around my stomach. I had finished it.

When I was at primary school I was given an award for my writing. I was only nine, and the ‘story’ was just a few lines, but a few lines that I had poured my heart and soul into. I didn’t finish the story, and my teacher said as she was awarding it to me that I never finished my stories, and she wished that I would. I laughed it off like all of the other children, but that comment has stayed with me for the fifteen years since.

So when I saw the word count I paused, but only for a second. Because I wasn’t finished yet. And I realised something then which made me smile as I kept typing. I’ll never be finished. This is only the beginning.

spanish sun special

After a week of ‘Spanish Sun Special’ up the eastern coast of Spain, we are almost ready to sleep in a bed again. We have been travelling from Malaga to Barcelona in a Wicked van, and have seemed to time it spectacularly badly. The Mediterranean was whipped into a frenzy this week. The usually placid, lapping waves roared, crashing onto the calm sand of the shores as though hungry for it. We drove for days with the rain, watching blue Autovía signs shimmer through the wet windscreen, the rain flecking incessantly at the dirty glass while we tried to navigate, frantically avoiding the toll roads. We fell asleep listening to the soft patter of the first drops onto the thin metal roof, feeling vulnerable and exposed underneath that tiny sheet of aluminium, under the vast expanse of thunderous sky.

We stopped in widely different places. The second night was a shaded corner at the back of a gas station, where we started in our sleep and I woke up each time a shadow fell across the curtain, certain that someone was trying to peer inside at our sleeping bodies. Another was in a glade of trees beside a beautiful river, moving lazily along, steadily towing gallons of water, fish and insects with it under that still slow surface.

I wrote in some beautiful places. On Saturday I sat on an abandoned balcony looking out at an empty beach shore, the entire stretch closed for the winter now that the sun and the tourists have gone. We washed our dishes at another beach on Friday, using sand to scrub the oil off the frying pans, and leaping like kittens each time the white water lapped too close. The palm trees were sideways and our feet were freezing as we ran back to the tiny shelter of the van, shivering and laughing at it all.

The first day we parked beside a city beach, beside a small roundabout and some stone steps down to the sand. It rained all night, the noise punctuating through to my dreams. When we woke it was still raining, and we opened the curtains to the day, the light an overcast sepia, water streaming down the windows.

It was a minute before we realized that the roundabout was full of water, and that the torrent was inching up the tyres of the car across from us. We started the van and drove, suddenly urgent in our delayed realization. The roads up to the Autovía were like rivers, white rapids bubbling and tripping over themselves as the water rushed down to the sea. We sent up wide arch’s of water with our tyres, hoping that we would make it to the top. We did, and some twenty minutes later we heard the sirens go off, slow and rising, signaling that there was a flood. We checked the map quickly and drove, without looking back.

These last few days we have begun to head inland, away from the coast with its commercial beaches and huge apartment blocks. The mountains are approaching, and with the travelling curiousity that mountains always seem to inspire in us, we have decided to make a slight detour to Andorra, before heading back through the orange groves to Barcelona. The rain has stopped now, I think we might have finally outrun it. The sun is back too, but watery, reminding us that winter is coming. I am still inspired and smiling, the changing landscapes constantly sparking new ideas.

All in all it was a good first week of NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo – here we go

So NaNoWriMo is tomorrow, and I’m starting to regret that I don’t drink coffee. I’m both scared and excited, but mostly curious to see what happens. I have a general idea of what I’m going to write about, but I also have a sneaking suspicion that the pressure of 50,000 words in 30 days is going to warp it somewhat. I’m also curious to see what effect that each country we travel through will have on the story. Maybe while we are here in Morocco donkeys laden with spice sacks will wander bewildered through my scenes, and my characters will stop for mint tea a little more often than is strictly necessary.

1,667 words a day is a daunting prospect, but I’m hoping that that pressure is what’s going to make it happen. It feels legitimate, official somehow, now that there’s an organization with a website and thousands of fellow bloggers taking up the challenge too. It’s a comforting thought, that all around the world this November there will be writers suffering from insomnia, writers staring at that blinking cursor, writers drinking coffee around the clock and getting out of bed at 4am for the third time to jot something down. The things we suffer for our art! I also think that the accountability will be the nudge that is going to make me get up in the mornings and go straight to my laptop. Now that I’ve told everyone there really is no backing out, or I will be cast into failed writer-dom forever!

So I guess that my blogging will mostly be travel related this month, with the occasional excerpt from my novel to see what you all think. Hopefully the writing won’t be too shockingly bad! Good luck to all you fellow NaNoWriMo-ers this November too, I’ll see you on the other side.


this is what i love

I love writing. I love the feeling of ideas pouring out of my mind, flowing strong and steadily through my nose, through my mouth, even through my very blood down to my fingers, which tap and tap as fast as they can to try and capture some, to get the words down on paper. Sometimes it’s like trying to keep water in your hands, to stop those thoughts flowing away, or like trying to remember a dream that’s just out of reach, reduced to a flurry of colours in the peripheral of your minds eye. This is what I want to do.

just do it

I used to think that if I had the tools, the writing would come. As long as I had a mechanical pencil and a nice, big notebook with room for my ideas the words would just spill out of me. But that wasn’t the secret.

I just had to start. Now that I’ve started I write on anything, with anything. I am constantly jotting thoughts on my phone, or scrambling for a napkin to scrawl on at a restaurant (which, coincidentally, quite often seem to be the first medium of epic ideas – most of my fathers anyway). The point is that if you um and ah about things too much, you miss it. Don’t postpone it. Don’t miss it.

Just start. Just get out there and do something. Take advantage of the hundreds of opportunities that surround you each day. Create something new. One of my favourite quotes is “if you’re not prepared to be wrong you’ll never come up with anything original”. I love this. So what if some people don’t like it? Some will. And even if no one does you can always try again. Just start writing, or painting, or drawing, or taking photos, or dancing, or singing, or running. And no one will laugh at you, because you’ve gone one step further than they have. Instead of talking about it endlessly, you’ve actually done it.