The weather over Easter has been grim; has it been anything else this year. Okay, Easter Sunday showed us sun and rainbows but it was water and mud underfoot. Most of this week I have walked the dog in horizontal rain! After which I have spent almost as much time drying her and then drying myself before we could re-enter the house as I had spent on the head down squelching walk. So as soon as I was inside I sought the comfort of a hot drink and a jigsaw.
A jigsaw is a marvellous waste of time. While I am engaged in searching for those elusive pieces, from of the 1000, to perfectly fit a particular spot I am completely unaware of how many minutes, hours, have disappeared. I like it also because in is one of the few times when I can multi-task; have a conversation at the same time. I like it because I ponder on the meaning and context of the picture. I have decided that it could, in my case, be considered a form of meditation or I am simply dithering.
I was contemplating the title I have awarded this blog and decided the words I selected required a little further contemplation and explanation.
I like the word ‘dither’. It points to a spontaneous and momentary hold up in the proceedings; longer than a hesitation but nowhere as long as a postponement. I also like the word because it so aptly describes the fiddle-faddling I engage in before I take the plunge and launch myself at the desk. The sort of dithering I do before I jump in cold water, go out into the rain or blazing heat and at the front door when recheck I have all that is necessary. It does not have the negativity of procrastination that ‘thief of time’ Dickens/Edward Young against which so many politicians, reformers and philosophers rail; see the raft of internet stuff on beating the problem. (I liked the words of Martin Luther King Jr. ‘You don’t have to see the whole staircase , just take the first step.’) It is a much less sinister word than equivocation which infers moral dodgem cars about shouldering proper work; Shakespeare explains it so much better than I do in the Porter’s speech, Macbeth Act 2 Scene 3.
I also think that delay is relevant description of my approach to my work. A delay implies a considered and necessary hiatus in the planned programme. It is tactical rather than impulsive; a logical response to unforeseen circumstances or a social interruption to the routine. Delay is about choice. Though I do bear in mind Pearl S. Buck’s admonition that one ‘should not wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that … just get down to work.’
I must make a ‘shout out’ for my dear, diverting companion when I consider the intensity of words.
I took some books to Yorkshire recently. It is 150 miles away across the Pennines. ‘It’s not a boy!’ is about growing up in Yorkshire. The books went to the Georgian Rooms where I did a book signing at the end of last year. All was well. So far so good. Then while I was there I received an e mail from Lodge Books also in Yorkshire – could I drop some copies off? Some people had been asking for them. I hadn’t taken enough books! I would have to go to the bother (and expense) of posting them. And the customers may have gone.
Always carry spare copies of your book in your car.
I am not driving to and from Northumbria (when I am a passenger the time is reserved form reading; unless it is dark in which case I am assisting driving); I am not in the garden due to a cold, bitterly cold wind; nor am I writing up minutes or writing letters but still I am not writing stories.
I did write in my journal and I have been reading a gripping fantasy by Tanya Huff and I perused the papers and I cooked lunch for our visitors. And now it is essential that I watch the rugby. Thus it is that another day whizzes past and I have not transformed my notes and journal jottings into a cultivated, polished piece of prose or poetry.
New copies of my Robin book have arrived at last!
Available at Whittington Castle shop.
Visited the little shop today and met the treasurer helping behind the counter. He told me that Whittington Castle is the only castle in England owned by a village.
Thank you, John. Fingers crossed it will all make sense in a while.
We’ve obviously bored poor Dennis to sleep. Never mind, Dennis. That’s what IT stuff does for me too.
Progress has been made. I have hurdled family matters, indolence, house, garden, travel and the dog and Iave put together a collection of short stories that I am pleased with. Now I just have to negotiate the input from the publishing team. I am waiting thus there is a lull and I have escaped from my desk.
It is four layers weather as the wind is blowing cold from the snowy Welsh hills. On the top lake I see a kingfisher and a heron. The dog chases a grey squirrel. Grazing on the grass beside the bottom lake are fifteen Canada geese; that pair were very successful.
Home for porridge and toast and my addiction, strong coffee.
Hi there readers.
I’ve received an email telling me how much one of you enjoyed ‘A Perfect Alibi’ and that you were eagerly awaiting the sequel. Well, I’m sorry, but there will be quite a wait. The sequel consists of only 23,000 words at present, but is growing daily. Meanwhile here is an extract from Chapter One.
Jack turned to the boy. ‘When did you see what had happened to your father?’
‘As soon as the…argument…began I got out of bed and ran downstairs. I was already awake. I’d been reading one of my GCSE texts –Lord of the Flies it was- then I saw Dad lying in the hallway, with blood seeping from his head. I knew at once that he was dead.’
Mrs Talbot gave a little gasp, and sobbed again.
‘Was there anyone else downstairs?’
‘No, but I heard a click and saw the back door close. I ran to look, but there was no one there. There’s a little copse at the back of our garden, so it would be easy for someone to disappear. I started to go back upstairs and met Mum coming down. I told her not to come any further, but she’d already seen Dad and she screamed and screamed. I thought she was going to faint so I helped her to down to the kitchen and went upstairs for a blanket to wrap round her. I was just making tea for us both when there was a knock on the door. It was Colonel Briggs, one of our neighbours. He lives in the end cottage, number four. He told us not to touch anything and he went back to his cottage to call the police.’
That’s all for now…
Posted in Ron
For anyone who has read and enjoyed my novel ‘A Perfect Alibi’ I am able to announce that a sequel is on its way. This one begins with a definite murder rather than an unexplained corpse. As usual I am writing the novel in linear fashion, that is I don’t know what will happen until it happens, except for a vague idea about how it all might end. So far I have written 15,000 words and it is growing daily. I usually write from about 5.30 in the morning, for about an hour, and rewriting happens anytime in the day. Several of the characters from the first novel appear again, especially DI Dundee and DS Eccles, but the setting this time is North Shropshire, with Whixall Moss playing a particularly important part. Anyone who has walked on the Moss on a cold wet Winter’s day will know how appropriate that place is for nasty goings on. So, be patient, the book will be ready before too long.
All the best,
I have made some big decisions about my work. I have imposed some order on my short stories, rewritten Chloe’s Story and I have begun to actually, sequentially and properly write a fantasy novel for which I have been creating card systems of characters and plots, maps and extracts for … quite a while. It is fun and absorbing to watch the novel begin to take real shape so you would think that I could maintain a degree of regular attention.
But, well, it is SUMMER. The raspberries and black currants require picking. Also, there is Wimbledon. There is something magnetic about this gladiatorial contest. It is waged with graphite/carbon fibre rackets, strung with multifilament polyester and cow gut strings, by competitors who use them to propel balls of pressurised air in a hollow rubber core with a yellow wool nap at speeds often exceeding 100mph passed each other. They are athletic, have stamina and at times they are balletic. The psychological part of the game is as interesting.
Suddenly whole hours are gone and I am not where I thought I would be in my book.
I have competed the rewrite of the YA novel. It is now being ‘re-examined’ and I am nervous. if it hasn’t significantly overcome the first editorial list of shortcomings I am tempted to put it back in the drawer. In some ways it is a relief to be able to leave it aside for a while as writing a piece of work longer than a short story takes me well out of my comfort zone. I have a couple of short stories that I want to knock into shape.
So I look out of the window.
For several minutes, well almost half-an-hour, I watch an enterprising squirrel gain access to the ripe strawberries in their netted bed. The cunning little animal has twigged that Dave and the dogs are off the property; maybe it actually watched them walk down the hill. It climbs on to the top of one of the four short posts that support the green mesh and it launches itself into the middle of the netting. Its weight makes the net sag so it is in contact with the strawberry plants. For a minute or so the squirrel eats. It then scurries to the edge of the netting, with a wide stance and lifting its paws high, and back onto the post where upon it throws itself onto the netting so that it can access another strawberry. And so it goes on. I am so impressed I almost forget to laugh.
The dogs rush back into the yard, the squirrel dashes into the damson tree and I am detached from my work. I have lost contact with my story about reckless Gemma so I leave my desk to welcome Dave home and to tell him about the flaw in his strawberry defences.
I simply must complete the rewrite, a la editorial comment, to the novel housed in the black laptop whose blank screen reflects the doorway to my desk.
But I am already engaged in DDT – dither & delay tactics. I don’t even sit down. Today the D&DT takes the form of imposing order. How can I write in such a mess? And the paper cycling box is full to overflowing. Where the hell is my mobile? I have to do something about the … and so, again, I begin to impose order and cleanliness on my work station so I can write.
By the time I have filed and aligned and swept and cast an eye over I hear the clunk of the gate which signals that Dave and the dog have returned from their morning walk. I abandon the tidy desk in its pristine environment and scurry to the kettle. Time for papers, coffee and chat.
Wendy Lodwick Lowdon