In a world made of colours it was white. Like snow, like parts of clouds, like small round pebbles, like the stab of sunlight on a naked eye. In winter places where ice and snow prevail, where my beginnings lie, white is the colour of camouflage, the colour of hell and death. In the damp green heat of always-summer where life bursts from the ground and grows up walls in hued frenzy, white is a conspicuous uncoloured spot. I cupped the frayed wings against the glass, the tiny protesting feet tickling against my palm. Only for a moment I murmured. The darkness is only for a moment. Then freedom. The white wings erupted from their prison out into the singeing glare. White is made of all the colours. I let the sun pinprick my skin with all of its colours while the butterfly flashed against the deep dark greens. How could it hide its brilliant self in the safety of the shadows? Then in only seconds worth of time the little white creature vanished against the blue sky. I forgot, white is also the colour of ghosts.
She put her hand to her lips. They were warm and moist. She could feel the tip of her finger as it ran lightly over the curves. Was she smiling? It was possible. It was so long ago it was difficult to remember what smiling felt like... what breathing felt like ... what anything felt like. The light was so bright it hurt but she didn't want to close her eyes. They had been shut for so long. She was floating up, no, she was not floating ... she was being held. Someone was holding her. Warming her cold flesh, brushing her hair from her face, murmuring words she did not understand but words that felt soft and safe. She blinked the water from her eyes. Tears. They were called tears. But she was not crying. Then she saw his face. His bruised and weary face. She traced the clean path of the tears with her finger. Her warrior had come for her, as she knew he would. They would leave their story for others to tell. Let them populate it with dragons and briar forests and vengenance. A castle, a citadel, a spaceship, a cryofreezer ... It didn't matter. That was an old story. They had a new one to live. A warm breeze hugged her briefly before hurrying on to embrace the rest of the world.
There was patch of paint-box blue between the wisps of rain cloud. In the gap a rolling bleach white cloud curled in on itself, heedless of the world below. What did it care about the crawling things far below? What did it care if it's seconds of unique beauty were only seen by birds and creatures in silver tubes? It sang and danced on the unseen current of a wind high in it's own element. Unworried by thoughts of falling, of failing, of being anything other than what it was - a dance of a thousand million droplets of water vapour. Why should you be any different. Why don't you dance and sing with all the joy of the millions of cells in your body? We are at the beginning of things - always. Between now and the next moment is a new beginning. Leap joyously into the void between the moments.
This is a time for new beginnings and to celebrate I've decided to write a Friday Flash blog post based on whatever the moment's void decides to show me. Should be an interesting exercise.
So here it is the final day, or so, of my sort-of writing retreat. So what have I achieved? Well, some words of course, and as an extra bonus, reassurance that I’ve got this. What I mean is, that the first book wasn’t a happy accident.
I’ve spent the last three or so years in the good company of Mr Google hunting down writing resources. I’ve read blogs, posts, articles, books and watched interviews and listened to authors talking about writing. I am now happy to put words on paper, or whatever. The words are in the right order, almost all perfectly spelled and make a pleasing story taken all together. I should be content, but I am not. I know that the words could be in a better order, make an even better story. So the story is not an end in itself but a process like breathing, where one breath follows another. One idea follows on the heels of the next.
But it is not a regular process for me. Yes, I write every day. Some days are filled with words. But they may not be part of any story. They are like this blog, droplets. The real story brews like the dark clouds outside of my window. Slowly rolling across the blue, rumbling with the promise of rain and tempest. That’s my writing process, the brewing storm.
It is day 3 of my cat-sitting house-minding writing retreat. So far I have picked cherries, outlined my book, worked out why my hero was where he was and am writing a lovely scene in a garden where in a moment my hero and heroine will share one of those small uncensored moments that offers a glimpsed vulnerability of the soul and ties the first binds of love.
There is something that readers and writers of romance seem to do well and that is get together to eat and drink. Regardless of whether your preference was tea, coffee or champagne it was all books and glam last Saturday at a high tea in Brisbane's Room with Roses. I was just fizzy happy to be sitting with Anna Campbell and then she gave us all book pack gifts. Haven't done much work since - who can let a stack of books with bronzed male magnificence sit on the bedside table without at least a peek in side the covers?
What I found interesting was that although our corner was supposedly the regency or historical group there was ready fraternization with the the contemporary and the steamy, even a little spot of champers with the tea and scones. As a reader I often wander from my genre and will pick up a book if it is a good read. I wonder if there is really any value in this genre classification and division aside from ease of shelving books. I've noticed that the e-book shelves are mighty flexible when it comes to categorizing a story. We certainly didn't turn up our noses up at any of the offerings on the day. Who wouldn't love a free book! Thanks ARRA for organizing such a lovely event and the authors for their time, Anna, Kylie Scott and Tina Clarke.
Just a scant few months ago I was just another aspiring writer, somewhat ahead having at least a finished manuscript. I did not yet have a respectable number of rejections and was therefore unprepared for the publishing offer which appeared, like a Djinn from a bottle. I approached the offer as cautiously as a bubble collector. Even now, having signed contacts and launched social media pages and re-read my words until I developed a Pavlovian distemper towards them, there is a feeling of unreality. My characters have moved on and are busy adventuring through the next phase of their lives and although I have attempted to keep up with their travels, there is this feeling of it all having happened to someone else. As if I had actually written the entire episode in a book about my own life.
Last night my most esteemed and excellent writers group listened to a lovely talk in our local library by Professor Peter Roennfeldt author of Madame Mallalieu, an accomplished and remarkable musician of early Queensland. We were bold enough to ask him if he would like to stay and chat with our group, as it was our usual meeting night. He told us that his own relationship with his book was one where although he felt like it was a child of his mind he did not have any desire to read it. I understood completely. As much as I have loved my characters I do not wish to read their tale again - it's a little like listening to Great Aunt Millicent's story number 26 about how she had an interesting experience on the train as a young girl travelling in central Bulgaria. The first few times it's charming and interesting, after about the tenth time you start to check your texts under the table.
Now all I have to do is wrestle the Facebook and Twitter button on here so they link through and this job will be done.
I wonder what Maximillian and Charlotte are up to?
We are all alone in our thoughts, perhaps except for those afflicted with telepathy or madness. Writing is very much a task for the confines of that inner space. But it is also a task that demands release into the wider spaces of the world once it is done. This is the most difficult aspect of being a writer. Taking those inner private workings and then releasing them into the daylight glare of the world. It is absolutely no wonder writing forums and articles lie thick with angst and self-reassurance. What normal person walks up to complete strangers and blurts out their inner most thoughts? And if we continue the analogy, this stranger then corrects our English and sends us away to rethink our words. We then back away and gratefully accept their advice, hopefully not too damaged by the encounter, to try again with another stranger.
In the wider world our endeavours are always assessed, commented upon, compared, and in the writing world this equates to book sales, competition wins, dollars in the bank or literary awards. And yet a writer may have few or none of these things and still be a writer. An artist must paint, a singer must sing, a teacher must teach and a writer must write. If you were a psychologist would you call this an obsession? I don’t know I’m not a psychologist. I can only write the question while I am pondering the processes of writing.
Maybe it is the difference between the person who likes a morning walk everyday and the person who is driven to compete in a marathon against the best. Neither of these people are doing it because a multinational company is going to give them money if they wear a specific graphic on their shirt. But the athlete may very well be able to make a career of running very fast exactly because they can run very fast, and they love to run very fast.
Back to writing.
Writing is about writing. Not about the business of writing. There is no business of writing without the words. So the words come first, always.
Listen to the voice in your head.
You should be writing.
Had a bit of rain as they say, well those that specialize in understatement. Someone from the Bureau of Meteorology might say it was a category 5 cyclone eventually developing into a tropical low. Suffice to say, a lot of water from the sky, resulting in a lot of water on the ground. As a result of this purifying deluge the air is brilliantly clear and although the temperature has returned to it's normally warm summerness, it feels clean. For other people this might spur them to plant small green things, or brown things which will become green things. For me it spurs a return to my keyboard. The words want to spring from my fingertips like the sprouting green things. There is a muse in the air and it is whispering her seductions.
This is a time when I store away the sensations and awareness of where I am for another day. I will now forever have the feel of clean warm breeze against my bare arms stored away in the filing system of my mind. The damp smell of earth and rotting leaves is there somewhere too. The soft white noise of the fan doggedly pushing a small breeze into my little writing corner. Magpies shouting warning cries over the clang and hydraulic roar of the waste removal truck. Little patches of silence filled only with the breezy paper rustle of shredded palm leaves. All this is now mine. Copied, stored, kept somewhere in my brain. So when my heroine needs to look outside her window I know exactly how the grass will smell and what sound the trees are making.
I never grow weary of stepping into a new world, most of the time I have no idea what I am going to find.
Well a busy week and a half of little writing but much thinking, which as it turned out was very productive. When I did get to the keyboard the dialogue just flowed onto the page. I've started on the second of my regency paranormals, this one is tentatively called The Sailor's Lass. I'm on the second scene and so far so good. I have plotted out the beginning of this one but haven't got much further. The characters didn't care and started without me. Charles, Charlotte's brother from The Soldier's Woman, seems to be much more of a pivotal character than I had ever envisaged.
It was interesting because the characters took up the story as if I had just walked back in on them. I have an idea of where my story was going but now I'm not so sure. The landscape is much richer and the characters are bringing along their friends.
I could say the same thing of the other books I am working on. Yes, I know you not supposed to work on more than one thing at a time, but I have never been able to be so single-minded. The exception being deadlines, where I seal myself into my 'mind palace' and ring the walls with explosive devices. My short 'environmental fairytale' with romantic elements has taken itself off the back burner and plonked itself on my keyboard.
All this activity was triggered by one thing that had been percolating somewhere in the grey folds of my cerebral cortex - dialogue. There comes a point in my storytelling where I can hear and see the characters. This is the point where it becomes necessary for me to document their dialogue. And yes, it is really is documenting what they are saying. For most of the story I am the director, but at these moments I am listening to my characters. At the 2012 Writers Festival Maryline Hume (MD Hume), who writes the Arthurian historical fiction, said she just ran after her characters madly writing down what they were saying. I totally get that.
A strange mix of plodding slowly through the plot and flitting from one exciting adventure to the next.
Ecologist and environmental scientist, tea-drinker and editor, futurist and student of irony, reader of romance and science fiction, practicing cat-herder (nobody can ever be a Master cat-herder). Frequently succumbs to the need to write. Rarely succumbs to the need to vacuum.