"Not all those who wander are lost" J.R.R. Tolkien

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Since I dropped the bombshell about writing my first novel I thought it would be appropriate to perhaps give an update on the process.  First of all, I began March 21 and since then have written 21 chapters and 260 pages.  That, in itself, far surpasses my dissertation and feels like a heck of an accomplishment.  Come to think of is, it's been a heck of a lot more fun than my dissertation!  Marginally less research though, which, for me, is never work. Geek is not skin deep with me; it goes clear to the bone.

If I could sum up the writing process in one word (and I can because this is my post!) it would have to be:  Surprise.  Everything about writing this story has been a surprise.  What I am about to reveal is going to sound certifiably crazy; I recognise this and, after coming to grips with it, I'm now quite comfortable with it.  Here is my dirty, little secret:  these people are real.  They talk to me (only in my head, duh!); I dream about them; I wake up at 2 in the morning with ideas and have to get up immediately and write.  They say and do things while I'm writing that I never planned for them to say and do.

What, you say?  How is this possible when I'm the author?  My response:  I have absolutely no idea.  But I tell you true.  I recently introduced a new character to the story with just the barest notion of her purpose.  I wrote a full paragraph describing her without once stopping to consider what I was writing and now I'm twiddling with the notion of a second novel with her at the center.  I have pictured particular scenes and then when read over what I had written I discovered everyone did what they wanted to do and I was utterly charmed with the results.  Hopefully some publisher will be equally charmed and offer me an obscenely amazing contract!

The story is set at the end of World War II in one of my favourite villages in northern England.  It's definitely a love story (never my genre of choice so another huge surprise) but there is heartbreak, huge life choices to make, a poisoning mystery, a lot of history and a blue Great Dane named Keeper.  The characters are people who say and think things that depict, I hope, real life in a real time, which means mistakes are made and life is far from perfect but they have to learn to change, grow, and maybe even love again.  Keeper has to learn that shuttlecocks are not his special chasing privilege.

I leave with you my protagonist's musings about returning to her childhood home after five years at war and after her husband has left her for a French woman.  This a vulnerable thing to do but I'm interested to hear thoughts and/or similar writing experiences.  (Someone please tell me I'm not alone in the universe!)

          Oldfields had been a lovely place to grow up.  Aside from its fabulous proximity just west of the Pennine Moor, a fantastic place for a ramble, on a clear day from the back gardens one could just see the purple heathered Penistone Hill, from which one could walk to Top Withens, long thought to be Emily Bronte’s inspiration for Wuthering Heights.  Liz loved everything about the Yorkstone constructed country house, especially the way its appearance altered according to light and shadows as well as the weather.  During an early summer sunrise the traditional rusty red and brown stones blushed shades of pink and deep mauve; if the day should darken into a thunderstorm, those same stones appeared darkened and stained as though by the Viking blood that was the genealogical inheritance of most of Yorkshire’s long time residents.  Yellowish inside, Yorkstone has concretion lines of orange running through the stone, only seen after an experienced delver rives it in two, thus, during a sunset, many times the house smouldered in a blaze of fiery colours.  Liz was astonished at how often the inorganic stone seemed to breathe and change across the moods of a day, as beautiful as its surroundings of living flora and fauna.

            Yorkstone was also liberally used to divide the pastures, surround the garden and hedge off the drive.  The massive, dry stone walls had been present for hundreds of years and Liz marvelled at the half-moon capstones of yellow sitting as sentries on the top of the wall, silently keeping watch over Oldfields, aglow in the moonlight.  As a little girl, on bright, sleepless nights, Liz would lean out her open window trying to count each capstone, losing count and starting again, until the seemingly never ending wall drifted out of sight in the encroaching darkness.
          It was good to be home, a place Liz missed deeply and loved fiercely.  Perhaps more importantly, it was a place where she was loved fiercely in return.  Such a haven is exactly where one takes a broken heart, broken not so much for what Liz had lost in her faithless husband but for the dreams she harboured of her future.  At Oldfields, Liz would find rest, and, sustained by serenity, support and fresh, moorland air, she would heal. 

So, no idea why the last paragraph won't double space and it won't let me fix it even though I cut and pasted directly from the book.  It's sending my perfectionist tendencies into overdrive so I'm going to walk away and feed my family now.


  1. How di I KNOW you would be annoyed by the font change? It's lovely. I can not wait to read more!

  2. Very nice; excited to read the rest!