Free Writing In The Lake District


Standing in the grounds of the hotel as there’s nowhere to sit. Everything is covered in a fine layer of rain. The air smells clean, earthy, like a box of button mushrooms and the only sound is the wind rustling the leaves on the trees. Even the birds are fed up with the incessant wetness. They sit huddled on branches and dry stone walls, their feathers puffed up.

Is this really summer? The only animals that seem to like this weather are the Llamas in the field next to the hotel. They lay down on the wet grass and click their tongues at each other. I guess if I had a thick wooly coat like that I wouldn’t mind it so much either!

The Lake District…a place loved by writers, poets. An inspiration to artists so they keep telling me. But is that because it just seems so miserable? A place that suits a tortured soul? Perhaps I’m just not depressed enough to appreciate it. I just want to go home now, back to my concrete town where everyone shops at Icelands and where the Llamas would be well advised to wear a bullet proof vest over that warm wooly coat.

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It’s not really that rough where I live….a slight exaggeration, but only slight ;)

No seriously, it’s a beautiful place but I didn’t find it as inspiring as I thought I would, or was told I would. Perhaps it was just too cold and wet? It got me thinking, what place would I find inspiring? And it has to be the beach, no doubt about it :)

What kind of place do you find inspiring?

Faber – Session 2 Creating Ideas/Planning


I arrived in Bloomsbury with plenty of time to go to the London Review Bookshop. I discovered last week that they have a cafe (oooooo), but as I started the diet (again) today, it was just a Latte and a writing session. The cakes looked amazing though, I have to say *pouts*

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A quick butchers around the shop (oh dear, how did that Philip Roth find its way into my bag?) and it was off to class :)

Really enjoyed last nights session/class :) We talked about planning, our concerns (mine was/is endings lol) and we were sent away with the first piece of work (by a fellow student) that needs critiquing :) Ive got a date for mine now…. 26th November, which means I have to actually submit it the week before *gulp*

We talked about different methods people use to plan their novels. Tim is in favour of index cards, but also gave us some tips on what files he uses on his computer.

We did a couple of writing exercises (a quick synopsis and a descriptive piece) and some free writing. I was shocked that some of my fellow class members had never done free writing before.

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So in the way of homework this week i have to read and critique my fellow class mates work, read the 2 handouts, and do a bit of research on some of the books that came up in the discussions (fiction and writing guides).

Ok, but I bet what you really wanna know is what exactly I’ll be submitting?

Well, I spoke to a fellow student in the break who gave me a bit of advice (on whether to use a new novel or one I’ve got further on with) and then I collared Tim as we were packing up. And the news is….. Tim advised me to compromise lol (actually I had to twist his arm up his back because initially, he refused to comment saying that he couldn’t make that decision for me….but i persisted lol). The plan is to submit 5000 words, 1000 of those being a synopsis, of……But Not Forgotten, and let my class mates give me an opinion, on whether they think I should continue with it…scary huh? If they think its a no goer, as my second piece, submit The View Outside. I told him that But Not Forgotten is a mess, not finished and that I’ve lost heart. He said that all that can be sorted, and that after the critique, I’ll have a much better idea of where I’m going.

So I guess I’m feeling relieved :) But, still a little anxious. I’m going to change The View Outside into 3rd person, see how that feels and then quietly work on the synopsis for But Not Forgotten.

The question is…. Do I write the synopsis using the exact same messy plot that it has now? Orrrrrr come up with a new one?

I dunno, I don’t make things easy for myself do I? Lol

Free Writing In Bath


Bath the city, not in my bathroom….although, that’s not a bad idea lol ;)

I was up at 5am yesterday morning, sitting in the grounds of the hotel with my cup of tea by 5.15, and of course, with my notepad.

I was sat on a bench with this pond in front of me:

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And with this view to my left:

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A perfect setting for some free writing :)

My fingers are numb from the cold, but the ducks don’t seem to mind. Preening themselves on a rock in the middle of the pond. The only sounds are the cascading water from the fountain and the seagulls, calling to each other high above the tree’s. I’m surrounded by sandy Bath stone, drawn back in time to Jane Austen’s Georgian elegance. The trees towering over my head envelope me in an enchanted forest and remind me of just how insignificant I am. I’ve been coming here, on and off, for 17 years now, but i am such a small blip on this historical city. Nothing really changes, apart from the people, the constant stream of tourists. The stone facades weather and age, just like the people’s faces.

As you get older, birthdays inevitably bring with them a sense of loss. The idea that we’ve wasted years, thrown away chances and allowed ourselves to be pushed and pulled in directions we didn’t want to go. The hopes and dreams of childhood are long gone and the realisation of an ordinary life are what’s left. Most of us, just sit by our pond, like the ducks, with no attempt to make any impact on the world around us. Perhaps I don’t want to be a duck any more, not even one that lives in such beautiful surroundings.

Ooooo, that was a bit melancholy lol. Actually, I wasn’t in a melancholy mood, but I did continue this piece of writing further. It turned into the start of a story about a woman who walked out of her home on the eve of her 49th birthday. I haven’t got a clue why, or where she is going….yet ;)

Bath is my favourite city outside of London. I love the history of it, the Georgian elegance, and so did Jane Austen, who set 2 of her books there. I like the idea of writing a novel set in a place I love. And of course, you’d have to spend a lot of time there for research ;) So whats your favourite city and why?

The “Place” Experiment Part 3


I’ve finally completed the 3rd part of my ‘place’ experiment.

Part 1 was ok on the success front, but Part 2 was better.

Location: Rochester Castle Grounds
Time: 3.15pm
Date: Saturday 24th March

The thing about us Brits is that the moment the sun comes out, so do we lol. The Castle Garden is full of families with children this afternoon, laughter and fun. It makes me think about all the lonely people in this world. I am the only person there on my own. What do lonely people do in the summer? Do they stay in? Do they sit dozing in an armchair, a book open on their lap? I’ve never lived alone, peace and quiet is something relatively new to me. I’m happy on my own, but I also like to be round others. I recently wrote a story that ends with 2 lovers standing in this place. I can actually picture them, standing by the tree, it’s quite surreal. Unfortunately nothing here is inspiring me. It’s too noisy, too busy…..perhaps I’ll come back on a week day, see if Dickens ghost will walk across my path…..

The view infront of me

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The view behind me

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CONCLUSION
Hmmmmm, I think the exercise has proved that place is really immaterial, for me, it’s the atmosphere that makes a difference. I can free write anywhere, but, if I want to come away with something I can use I need to find quiet places that make me feel something :)

Yesterday’s prompt ended up being the start of a story about a guy who meets this girl when they are 14….he goes off to Uni and then bumps into her again when they’re in their mid 20’s. I have a plan for where it’s going, so yesterday I was feeling pretty damn good :) Today’s prompt is someone’s playing the piano and at the moment all I can think of is Casablanca lol.

The “Place” Experiment Part 2


The second place in my experiment :)

Location: One of the piers at Chatham.
Time: 11am
Date: Monday 12th March

I listened to the seagulls sqwarking (sp? Lol) overhead and watched the small group of swans on the edge of the mud banks stretching their wings. They eyed the passing tug boat with suspicion. In the distance, the silent cranes rise up through the mist, waiting for the next cargo ship to arrive. There’s an eeriness to this place. I could imagine sitting here, developing the plot for an intricate thriller. A body, washed up on the mud, it’s bare white limbs a stark contrast against all the shades of grey. The whole area seems frozen in time. It could be 2012 or 1912, I don’t think the scene would have changed. Embedded in the mud, an old shopping trolley, the only trace of modern life. I was intrigued by the wreck of a small fishing boat, it’s mast and a small part of its hull poking out through the mud. I wonder what happened to it. Did it set adrift on a stormy night? Or a more sinister explanation. Regardless of the reasons it’s fated to stay embedded, a reminder to all of the dangers of the river and mud banks.

WOW….. This was a great place to write :) I’m not sure it would have the same eery feeling on a warm summers day, so I’m really glad i went when it was misty. It was freezing though, so I didn’t stay long. Definitely inspiring, not for a romance, but if I was writing something that needed lots of atmosphere, this is the place to come…. I will be returning :)

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I managed to get both of the prompts done yesterday. The one about the voices in the night prompted the start of a sorry tale about an overweight woman who’s husband leaves her. My hubby gave me that idea as he said about food calling you from the fridge in the night he he he ;) The one about a ceremony was fun (as I expected), I now have the start of a story where a woman is attending the wedding of her ex, the one that got away if you know what I mean ;)

I spent yesterday afternoon editing and rewriting a couple of stories, and then submitted them for comps. So my “out there’s” now stand at 17 *squeals* Today, I’ll be trying to make that 20 ;)

The “Place” Experiment Part 1


Do you remember my idea about The Place Experiment? No? Ok, read this post first if you don’t ;)

It was a horrible yucky, cold, wet, absolutely miserable week in Kent. To the point where Sunday was my first opportunity to start the experiment (Saturday was nice but hubby was at home all day lol).

So the first place under scrutiny is…..

Location: My back garden
Time: 7.30 am
Date: Sunday 11th March

It always amazes me, how quiet Sunday mornings are. Even the birds seem to know that everyone is still asleep at this ungodly hour. There’s a chill in the air, a freshness that you only get with spring. My garden is a mess. Perhaps this wasn’t the best location to start with. I’m finding it hard to find any words other than sad ones when I look around. The weeds, the overgrown bushes, there are no flowers. My Rowan tree has tiny little buds on it’s branches, indicating, hopefully, that it’s survived the winter. I often feel a bit like my garden, worn out and neglected (lol), just waiting for that something to come along and brighten everything up. I’m waffling aren’t I? Because I have nothing to say, nothing to dream about, and nothing to write. Most of the time I’m full of ideas, they bubble away under the surface, just waiting for an opportunity, a chance to escape. But sitting here now I feel strangely numb…..or is that just content? Is this finally a place I find relaxing? I usually find that hard, my head constantly swims but not at this moment. How odd? To be feeling so blank. Is that actually a good thing? Is this where I should come in future to calm my mind? Should I take up gardening as a serious hobby? Ok, Georgie (my dog) is looking at me strangely, wondering why I’m sitting in the garden (she’s not use to it). In future, I’m going to make more of an effort to use the outdoor space around me…..roll on the summer!

Hmmmmm, so was that a success? Did i actually discover something? It definitely didn’t inspire me to write differently or better….I just found it surprisingly relaxing lol, perhaps too relaxing.

Here’s my view :)

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What a mess!!!! :( But something was achieved….I have a man coming at some stage this week to tidy it all up *grins* I’ve decided, I need to use it more :)

This begs the question where is your favourite place to relax and chill?

I found yesterday’s prompt completely uninspiring, or was that more to do with the looming dental appointment lol :( I sat staring at it for ages (there’s always one I struggle with every couple of weeks). I finally gave up and read a book instead lol. I will catch up today when I do attending a ceremony which should be fun ;)

I did however manage to finish a short story that I’m doing as homework for my writing class, the one prompted by a horoscope…..so it wasn’t all bad ;)

Fantasy Time or Wishful Thinking


Yesterday I was thinking about how bored I am with my dining room table lol…..no, I don’t mean the actual table (well, that too but that’s a different post!) I mean where I write *deep sigh*

So I decided to do a free writing session on my ideal writing location and that reminded me of a journal page I did back in, ooooo, must of been 2008 lol

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I love the treehouse idea as a place to write, but, it’s not my ideal writing space……

I’m not greedy, or particularly demanding. A small room would be ok. I don’t need a chaise lounge or a huge desk. A couple of bookcases, where I could store all my notebooks and writing books. A small armchair in the corner for reading and a couple of shelves above my desk for photographs and small nick nacks that have meaning and importance. Some inspiring quotes and pictures on the wall and an old clock, the kind that ticks. The walls would be pale pastel tones, the furniture, natural wood. A stripped wood floor with a large rug and some fluffy cushions on the armchair. My favourite mug on a coaster and a vase of flowers.

A large window in front of my desk that opens wide, with a view of the sea and the beach below. Scented candles and a couple of lamps. A coffee machine or some kind of tea maker (I wonder if you can make tea in a coffee percolator?) and my favourite pair of cozy fluffy slippers. A comfy office chair to support my back and plenty of power sockets for my iPad and netbooks.

White voile curtains at the window that flutter in the breeze coming off the sea. The scent of seaweed and salt filling the room.

Ahhhhhh…..bliss….I’m feeling rather chilled right now lol :)

Ok, when I become a best seller (ha bloody ha!) you just know where I’ll be moving to :)

What would be your ideal writing space?

Shameless Begging……..
I’ve got one of my stories up on Flash Fiction World and I know I haven’t got a chance in hell of winning lol, but, if you do get the chance, click the link and leave me a comment and rating *flutters eyelashes* ;)

Went to my class last night. I always look forward to it….it’s so nice to have 3 writery type groups that I’m part of :) We did some work on story ideas, and we have homework….to write a short story using a Horoscope for inspiration. Guess what I’ll be doing today? Buying magazines with horoscopes in lol

Yesterday’s prompt about the eyes turned into the start of a short story about a teenage girl with a powerful stare that creeps out all her class mates ;) Today’s prompt is at the end of an empty street which kind of reminds me of a few pics I’ve taken over the years *goes off to hunt some down for inspiration* :)

Practice Makes Perfect, Doesn’t It?


I’ve spent much of the weekend ‘practicing’ or should that be ‘honing my craft darling’ ;)

Of course, writing is just the same as any other discipline. You wouldn’t be a brain surgeon without years of training would you? And you can’t speak a foreign language without learning it.

So yes, when you think about it, it’s obvious, to be a great writer you need to learn how to write great stuff (unless you’re just naturally goddam talented and if you are….I am soooo jealous lol).

The problem is…..can writing every day make you get stuck in your ways? Will you ever grow if you continue to write in the same style, using the same voice? Where’s the challenge?

Sooooo, this week I’m going to try a little experiment :)

I read somewhere recently (don’t ask me where, I read so much stuff about writing lol) that where you write can affect what and how you write. Oh dear, we’re going back to the noise/silence issue again lol.

Ok, well I did take on board everyone’s comments to my noise post, so with that in mind I’m going to write (or do my practice) in 3 different locations throughout the week. You are my witness, if it gets to next Friday and I haven’t been to 3 different locations, shout at me, you have my permission :)

I’ve spent all weekend writing at home so we’ll say this is the marker. When I write at home I often struggle, get distracted (the kids, the dog, the cats, the husband, the phone) but I do seem to write in the same style, the same voice……it will be interesting to see if anything changes at other locations….progress report mid week :)

Today’s prompt about the lie remains undone…..but, I did manage to finish all the prompts I was suppose to do yesterday. I spent the evening going through competitions, deciding which ones to enter :) Tomorrow’s prompt is the face of tomorrow so it looks like I’ll be playing catch up ;)

What Makes You Happy?


I recently came across an article regarding Carl Jung’s 5 Key Elements To Happiness……which are:

1. Good physical and mental health.
2. Good personal and intimate relationships, such as those of marriage, the family, and friendships.
3. The faculty for perceiving beauty in art and nature.
4. Reasonable standards of living and satisfactory work.
5. A philosophic or religious point of view capable of coping successfully with the vicissitudes of life.

Which goes kind of nicely with Judy Reeves 10 Daily Habits That Make A Good Writer:

1. Eat Healthily
2. Be Physical
3. Laugh Out Loud
4. Read
5. Experience Another Art Form
6. Practice Spirituality
7. Pay attention
8. Give back
9. Connect with other writers
10. Write

What can I say….. I love lists lol

It’s funny how similar the lists are. So, in conclusion….it’s official…..writing does make you happy :)

Seriously….. Is there anything you would add to the list? I think chocolate should be on there somewhere don’t you?

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I spent most of yesterday trying to write, or rather, trying to bump up the word count on a story for the Writing Magazine competition. I chose to use the story I wrote for the prompt Stolen Goods. I got it up to 750, spent a couple of hours editing (using hubby, red pen, and Autocrit) and sent it off.

Sooooo, now I can say…..drum roll please……

I have 3 Out There’s !!!!!!! *grins stupidly*

Hoping that it will be 4 by tomorrow :)

Yesterday’s prompt, on daydreaming was interesting…..I ended up sitting in Costa (where I also did some free writing but more about that tomorrow). So I was in the ideal spot for people watching and daydreaming :) I ended up with the start of a kind of chick lit story….30+ single daydreamer looking for the job and man of her dreams. Oh well, i might be able to do something with it at a later date.

Tomorrows prompt is crossing the bridge. Hmmmm, all I can think of at the moment is the story of the 3 billy goats *snigger*

Off to my class tonight…..a Q&A session, which should be fun :)