Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Fernery (Hospitalfield 4)

The light was so different again yesterday - and so different from the last time I was here in March (and here) as well.  The pinks and greens and grays managed to be washed out and vivid at the same time - and doesn't that broken pipe look like an elephant's trunk?  One of the bigger ferneries in the Lake District actually used to have resident alligators to enrich the illusion of being in a far away rain forest.  One of my colleagues left me this as a next-best thing - 

Sleep is in short supply, partly because it is so hard to turn the brain off when the days are so intense, and partly because, with the best will in the world, it is impossible to be fairy-footed in a house this old.  So I told myself today could be a prose day, editing that needs to be done but uses less stressing skills.  And then I sat down and started writing poetry ... 

Plans?  Not so much.

P.S.  Yesterday I was also over on Girls Heart Books getting excited by photos I so wish I could have taken!

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Picture Gallery (Hospitalfield 3)

This morning there was sun! And where there is sun, there are shadows and lines and shapes.  So I betook me to the Picture Gallery -

Every time I go in there I see something different - one of the staff here said it was still like that for her, after 15 years!  I can well believe it.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Hospitalfield House Post 2

Beginning to find my feet ...

Friday, April 25, 2014

Grey and Beige (Hospitalfield 1)

After a Dark Tea-Time of the Soul sort of night, I went down to the Arbroath shore in a (pathetic fallacy) haar* with my camera and had a beige-and-grey orgy.

Then back to the writing feeling damp, but streets better, in my wonderful room with its view of the walled garden.  More photos to follow!

* A Scottish sea fog.  Very atmospheric.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Thinking about Competition

Been blogging over on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure about competition - does it tie us up in bizarre knots or does it bring out something extra amazing in us?  What do you think?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Week One of the BOOKMARK Job

Week One of being writer-in-residence for Blairgowrie, Rattray and the Glens* has been a whirlwind!  Ideas and plans and diary dates have been spinning round my head like cartoon bluebirds - have a look here for the news so far -

And from the coming Wednesday, there will be a gear change into the two-week Interdisciplinary Residency at Hospitalfield House - crazy timing but, like London buses, good things do tend to clump together.  More of that anon!

* So that would be WIR BRAG?  Maybe not.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Writing Process Blog Tour

I've been invited by Christine Findlay to take part in a blog tour about the different ways various writers approach their work. You can find Christine's answers to the following four questions here - and here for Ann Swinfen's answers.  

Right - here goes:

1. What am I working on?
For the last good number of years I would have had a quick and easy answer to this - I'm working on a children's novel.  Writing fiction for 5-7 year olds, 8-12 year olds, 11+ and YA has been my main focus, and will certainly be so again.  But at the moment I've carved a chunk of time out of all that to branch out into poetry and fiction for adults.  It's exciting! 

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
No two voices are the same, and the stories and poems that come out of my head are going to be different from the stories and poems that come out of anyone else's, because the head they came out of is different from anyone else's. So to speak.  

3. Why do I write what I do?
Stories and poems have a way of insisting.  

4. How does my writing process work?
Ideas have different sizes, shapes and approximate audiences.  I recognise a short 5-7 year old idea or a long multi-voiced adult novel idea, and then I write it.  

I start longhand, usually with the opening scenes.  Then I dot about the place, writing individual scenes as I see them, learning about the characters as I go.  When I start to slow down with this, I get everything onto the computer.  I'll work on the manuscript on the computer for a while, then I'll print it out and work on it that way for a while.  I've been known to cut up pieces of the paper manuscript and cellotape them in order, and then type the changes into the computer again.  Eventually I'll have a complete first draft - print it out, make changes, type it back in.  Continue until it's as good as I can get it.  Then it goes to my agent, who is a phenomenal editor.  Back to me for changes.  Then, with luck, the manuscript goes to a publisher, who will also edit it.  Back and forth it goes until, finally, it's as good as ALL of us can get it.

Job done.   

Interesting questions - thanks for reading!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Wood, Water and Stone

I'm just back from a Quaker retreat at The Burn - a study centre near Edzell in Aberdeenshire, set in the most beautiful grounds with walks in all directions and the North Esk River on its doorstep.  Intrepid hiking ensued for some, but I chose peaceful pottering with my camera.   

It did me good.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

A Sensitivity of Tunnels

Today I am blogging at The History Girls - jumping into a bit more of the sort of thing I only got to toe-dip in The Hidden City.  That was a fun book to research, and such a great cover!  You'd like to see it again?  Happy to oblige: