Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The NaNoWriMo Post.

Well, I never thought I would. But I am.

Fancy that. I'm going to do NaNoWriMo.

But first...a picture!

My rapidly growing elderflower tree. I planted this as a little baby last year and it's gone bonkers! This means that elderflower champagne may be on the menu! Which is what I may need to swig on if I'm going to survive NaNoWriMo.

Apologies for the too-obvious segue there. But that's what I'm here to chat about. 

My last post about NaNoWriMo (shall we just refer to it henceforth as The Madness?) was initially me just going through the motions, exploring an idea about which I'd always been leery. I'd never had an interest in subjecting myself to the fierce regime that is The Madness.  I was perfectly content to slouch languidly upon my chaise lounge, whilst watching from a relaxed distance, as others sweated blood wrote their masterpieces. A bit like an indolent sloth that lolls about on the grass under a shady tree. There I am sipping something ice cold, whilst smugly watching gallant and foolhardy souls run around in the sweltering heat, playing hours of cricket until they faint from heat-stress. 

But now I aim to be one of 'em. 

A mere week ago, I was just toying with the idea. But as I toyed, I investigated further the method of The Madness, and read some more about it and...I was utterly seduced. Sucked in. And by gum, it is upon us already - starting this Saturday, November 1st. Not quite an 11th hour decision, but almost.

If I can fight my way through the Spring jungle that is my garden, I shall be spending an awful lot of time in here, come November. 
People keep asking me whether I am a "plotter" or a "pantser", which I find an odd question really. Because I don't really know anyone who doesn't do at least a bit of both. I tend to do a lot of plotting, dreaming, and percolating, as well as research. I've spent ages this year working out events, story arcs, and pacing. Mid-point reversals and rising actions. Developing my characters, and their quirks. So I know where I'm going with things. I have a few more strands to pull together, and need to immerse myself in the world I've created, (and in the music I now associate with that world and its people), before I free-fall into the wonderful Madness that commences on Saturday. 

I do confess, I'm a bit nervous, but also quietly gleeful. I mean, November is a fallow period for me work-wise, and what better excuse to just get in there, pop a Do Not Disturb the Madwoman in the Attic sign on my door, assemble Barrels of Tea, (possibly jugs of wine to accompany the sobbing ), and just go for broke?

As an aside, if you ever wonder what the value of blogging is, (if you're not actually making money out of it, that is), just think on this: in the month of October alone, having banged out 17 posts at a very leisurely pace, I've logged over 10,000 words. Without really thinking about it much. And that's on top of what I write for work (easily a couple of thousand per day). Writing is writing. And it all adds up to keeping the muscle flexed. Sure, it's different kind of writing, and I will be heading deep into the labyrinth (so to speak); but with a focus and purpose in mind. With my energies directed upon this project, just consider what is possible. Possible for anyone. Word by word, line by line...

If you're interested, I've gathered some articles together here that are all in some way NaNoWriMo-related. I've found some of them quite helpful.

"Life-saving" tips from one who has been there...

Carpe diem!

Are you convinced yet?

For those saggy middles that can show up in the best of stories.

For the private and/or paranoid (erm, moi)...

Encouragement and belly-fire, from the lovely Mr Gaiman.

So...go on! I dare ye! And if you'd like to connect with me over at the NaNo space, and would like someone to cheer you on, (I'm about to sign up any minute now!) please do drop me an email, and I'll give you my details : )

I'm off to gird my loins, and do some more thinking...and may The Force be with you m'hearties! xx

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Weekend that Was: Chickens, Roses, a Spring Festival, and a Green Man.

We've just weathered an almighty thunder storm this morn at Crooked Cottage. There's been thunder, lightning, and all things quite glee-inducing. Fortunately, no damage has been done, and all the animals are exhibiting a kind of "been there, done that" sang froid. That storm that was all exhilaration and no trauma, I'm happy to say.

I did leap out of bed in the middle of the night, anxious about my Sweet Dears, Daphne and Violet, (our new additions to the Chicken Bordello). But they were safe and snug, and completely secure. Which they need to be, because the Foxy Whiskered Lady lurks, as ever.

The storm held off for a few hours this morning before returning with a vengeance that only a Borgia could pull off...
Storm rising: on my early morning dog walk. A brief window of opportunity before the next onslaught.

But without further ado, I'd like to introduce you to our Sweet Dears...
Daphne (at left) and Violet.
This past weekend was glorious, and after all these months of the Chicken Bordello being a little ghost town in the corner of the garden, we decided it was time to inject some lovely poulet de joie (I believe that may be a new phrase) back into the life of our home and garden. For chickens are the best!

We settled on just two at the moment. I wanted to get heirloom breeds, because they live longer and don't burn themselves out with laying too hard and fast. We brought home two 12 week olds - a Coronation Sussex, (the white one), who Moon named Daphne. And Violet - a Rhode Island Red. They are typically gangly and unprepossessing at this age. They still cheep like little chicks, and haven't yet grown all their feathers in all the right places. They're a few months off maturing and laying yet. But they're as sweet as can be.

I have absolutely nothing against people keeping chickens for meat, when this is done ethically and humanely. I find it a very authentic and honest approach to food. However, we keep chickens for the eggs they produce and as pets. If we can keep our girls protected from the Foxy Whiskered Lady (the Bordello is a veritable fortress), I hope they will be with us for years to come.
It was an absolute joy watching Moon, with her big straw hat, settling in the fresh hay of the chook run, with her book and her new companions. She loves them to bits!

Other weekend ventures included popping in to a Spring Festival at a beautiful garden up in't mountains. I won't post lots of pics here, but suffice to say it was stunning! The gardens close to the house were formal and Italianate - quite story bookish in their beauty. But as you move further away from the house, there is such wild magic!

There were masses of rhododendrons, and avenues of trees, bluebell woods, hidden nooks, and dark paths that wind enticingly beneath a canopy of giant trees. My favourite part of the day was stumbling upon this extraordinary tree, and seeing a face peeking out from its trunk...
Hello Green Man!

The Moon and her friend had a ball skipping through the forest-y bits and playing hide and seek in the undergrowth. The air was spliced with the most intoxicating scents, and it truly was an enchanted place.

And when I returned home avec poulets, I discovered that this beauty had popped open. The perfect welcome home...the scent is sublime.
Rose "William Morris".
I hope your weekend was magical, and that you have a moste delicious start to your week!