Wednesday, 21 April 2010

The End

Today I finished the first draft of The Forest Dwellers. I typed the last line, punched in the last full stop and wrote with great satisfaction, 'The End'.

Of course, it is nothing like 'the end' for now the hard work is just beginning. Now I must be hard on myself, objectively criticise my own voice, sift the wheat from the chaff and cast huge chunks of my manuscript into the recycle bin.

There will be parts that need entirely redrafting, characters that need to be taken in hand, given a good telling off and put firmly in their place. Some sections will be expanded, others stripped bare, but at the end of it all I hope to find a solid, marketable novel.

I have written The Forest Dwellers via the perspective of several narrators, a new experiment for me, and I do have some worries that their voices may be too similar, that my own voice will be heard above those of my characters. The editing process will hopefully reveal any such weaknesses in the narrative so that I can really get inside my characters heads, differentiate between them; highlight turns of phrase, characteristics and opinions.

But, before I do any of that, I am going to take a break from The Forest Dwellers, perhaps work on some short stories or poetry and begin to think about my next novel. AElf and Alys, Leo, Giles, Thurrold and Tyrell are all so firmly in my head just now that I need to step away from them, try to forget them so that, when I do come back, I can approach them as a reader and discover them all afresh.

Monday, 19 April 2010


Something strange has been happening in Wales this week; there is a vast golden ball in the sky. It pours down warmth, opening the flowers and encouraging the bees. This phenomenon is rarely seen here but, when it is, a new, optimistic mood falls upon the people of Wales. They linger in open spaces, talk with neighbours, mow their lawns, light trays of charcoal to cook their food al fresco.
I am convinced it is a good thing, this rare and noble body in our sky but it does have one detrimental effect; it interferes with my writing. I have not managed more than a few sketchy paragraphs for almost a fortnight now. I keep finding myself bent over flowerbeds, trowel in hand, filling wheel barrows with buttercups. It cannot go on and, in all probablity, it won't. So, I will therefore make the most of it, enjoy the warm splendour that is issuing from the heavens and get back to Aelf and Alys next week when a damper, more familiar feel to the weather reappears.

Friday, 9 April 2010

A Saga of bed and chocolate

Well, maybe I shouldn't have moaned about the weather last time because, when the sun did come out on Easter Saturday, I rushed outside to do a little bit of gardening. It was so nice to take off my cardigan and get stuck in that I got stuck in a little too much and spent the next five days in bed with a bad back.

The first two days were the worst. I was unable to move without excrutiating pain; my long suffering other half even had to help me on and off with my knickers - something we havent indulged in for a while now :D In the following days bed was the only place where I could gain any comfort, half propped on pillows. Sitting upright just made me lock up again and lying down is very dull, all I learned is that the ceiling needs repainting again. It wouldnt have been so bad had i not suspected that the males in the family were rather glad; gardening and diy were abandoned without the 'gaffer' and it was football and cricket from dawn to dusk. Not that it affected me too much, although I did have a long wait between cups of coffee.

A few more paragraphs of The Forest Dwellers emerged but the pain was distracting and I couldn't access my research notes very easily. Thank the Lord I had chocolate eggs to ease my long, boring days. And, curtesy of my friend, Brenda, the whole of the original Forsyte Saga to watch.

When I began to watch the early episodes I thought, 'Oh, Lord, this is dreadfully dated.' The acting seemed a bit hammy and I had never realised that Victorian women indulged in such heavy eye make-up. However, as I became absorbed in the wonderful tangle of Soames and Irene, shared thier joys and sorrows, (poor old Soames) I forgot all that and I forgot about The Forest Dwellers for a while too.

It is such a shame that they dont make Television like that any more; ok, so the make-up is flaky and some of the acting a bit OTT and the scenery rattles about like the walls are made of cardboard. None of that matters, I don't know if it is the depth and scope of John Galsworthy's novel or the superiority of the cast but, almost fourty four years on, The original Forsyte Saga is still one of the best series I have ever seen.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

A traditional British complaint about the weather at Easter

As I type this it is snowing, not a few little flurries that you can pretend you haven't noticed but great flakes of madly swirling white stuff; a blizzard, as if we haven't suffered enough.

I remember Easters spent in the garden, reclaiming the flower beds from the rigours of winter, swigging bottles of chilled beer in an effort to keep cool while the barbeque slowly warmed up on the patio. Easter egg hunts with the children crying because the dog, Toby, was better at finding them than they; picnics, trips to the zoo, even to the beach. O.K there were a few here and there that were rained off, it wasn't always perfect but this Easter takes the proverbial biscuit.

The question is what does one do for four days of Easter holiday when the weather is inclement? At one time we could rely on the springtime to provide at least one bright, hopefully not too damp, day in which to enjoy ourselves. But, no, this year it will be snow, too much chocolate and second rate television; you could almost think it is Christmas!