Writing On The Move –

Writing on the move – or NOT as the case may be!

Begun at 10:00 am Monday.

So I am writing as I go, on my phone, as I have had to read the road atlas for a bit as we took a ‘detour’; I was desperate for the loo, and then we took a wrong turn, so what should have taken an hour to get to the position we are currently at, has taken almost 4 hours. Sometimes we have reached London from Wirral in the same time!

I should have written my post this morning, but due to circumstances – travelling in car, using phone (which incidentally is rubbish , Windows, don’t buy one), I have resorted to making a word doc en route.

The occupants of the field I used were extremely curious.

Hey! we’re moving at 40 mph! Woo!

Why oh why do ‘they’ do roadwork’s when people are trying to enjoy the summer? Not only the motorway; M6, but the surrounding A roads, so can’t win either way.

Getting peckish now, its 13:50. Both of us fed up. Oh, another queue.

More delays, now junctions 15 and 16. Aarrgghh!!

I do not think I have seen so many traffic cones in all my life. That regular rolling thrumming you get in a car, a combination of engine, air blowing through the vents and tires on tarmac, becomes like an itch you can’t scratch, my ears are feeling ‘bunged up’ from air pressure and the temperature in the car is way too warm for me, but if I open the window too wide there’s lorries and wheels and noise…

To misquote Apocalypse Now, “ Stoke, shit, we’re still in Stoke.”

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After 3 hours we are nowhere near London, in fact we are further away!!

Why are there so many effing lorries on the road?! Why can’t they do deliveries at night, to releave congestion?

Where are all the service stations?! 14:05, really hungry now.

Typing on the phone is like making a humongous text, and the worst thing is, I don’t even know if I’m going to be able to post it when I arrive – internet connection and all that.

I’m reminded of when I was a little kid, my mum used to dread the holiday drive. I think I was about 3 or 4 years old and when we had been driving for what seemed like forever, I asked that question parents hate, “Are we there yet?” My mum tells me in recollections, she could have cried, we had a days drive ahead and we were at the bottom of our road!

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How most of the English countryside looked today…

Welcome Break, it is indeed. I have taken the wheel for the past 2 hours and my clunky hips and knees are burning and screaming for relief. Ahhh…

Quite a pretty spot, with a water feature, bull-rushes and a lily pond.

Most of these service places look alike, don’t know where I am.

Im riding shotgun again; His Nibs has offered to do the last leg. Hence the writing again. Don’t get me wrong, I love driving, I especially enjoy motorways; I get to pretend I’m a racing driver.

OMG! The rain! Visibility reduced on M40; on the bright side, the temperature is cooler. At this rate, we are going to hit the London rush hour, oh joy.

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The road only looks empty at this point because we were all travelling way away from each other…

Wow, it just went dark, as if someone turned the lights off, dark; quite weird. So it seems like the only way to get a clear run on the motorway, is for it to lash down, but then speed is reduced for obvious reasons.

You know when you are writing, you often have a ‘soundtrack’, or when you drive you put on some tunes? We’ll what has been todays accompaniment? Test Match Special; yes, a full day of cricket. It’s been the fourth day and England have just beaten South Africa; I also know the names if some cricketers now! Cook, Broad, Anderson, Ali, Root are who I remember off the top of my head, as we crawl along the end of the M25; yes we are back to that…ho hum.

A question: What the f*** is a ‘Smart Motorway’? That apparently is what is being constructed, hence the hold ups and queues and irate drivers and sore knees and backsides. I keep seeing notifications that they are building a ‘Smart Motorway’! (Sorry I didn’t get any pictures of the signs, but they were really boring, not very smart at all)

Will this Smart Motorway be able to take us painlessly and quickly to our destination with ease? Will it be able to recognise when a driver is tired and usher him/her to a quiet lay-by and provide a soothing cool flannel for the forehead? Will it even remove Incident signals when the aforesaid incident is long gone?! Will it do your kids homework? Or write my blog for me?!

Until the Smart Motorway can do any of this, the journey from North to South will remain a pain in the proverbial.

So….how did this get posted?

I am in London, I made a successful connection to the internet and had to e-mail everything from my phone to my laptop.

It is now 20:40.

We arrived in London at 19:00 – that is an 8 hour journey, twice as long as it should have taken.

Thanks Road Maintenance of England (or whoever you are; I DON’T CARE! JUST BUCK YOUR IDEAS UP!)

Thanks for reading guys. I’m off for a couple of glasses of red wine, Shiraz if you must know.

X

 

 

Writing is like…keeping an allotment

 

I have had a plot on the local allotment site for approximately 12 years.

I find it to be good for the body and soul – exercise, fresh air and fresh food. I get off my backside and potter about in the greenhouse; mostly I am clearing weeds and overgrowth. You just can’t beat the pleasure of taking home produce that you grew yourself, without pesticides, with your own fair hands.

I have grown and eaten all the usual fayre; potatoes, onions, peas, cabbage, carrot (though these are never very successful for me), lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, swedes, plus many varieties of beans, pumpkins, courgettes, beetroot, rocket, mint, parsley and so forth. Until you have tried, you cannot imagine the complete joy when you dig up your first potato crop – like buried treasure, they tumble across the fork tines, you brush away the soil and grin as you fill your bag.

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Writing is similar in that…

First, you need a plot, in both cases! An allotment plot is usually about 10 poles; or 250 square . A story plot is, well, immeasurable; short story, flash fiction, novella or novel, all require a plot of sorts. You will have had an idea for what you want to produce, let the idea settle and grow in your mind first, let it get a foothold – but not a foothold like the weeds, no, you don’t want that. Water it, with note taking; plants do not grow without watering, so how do you ‘water’ your story idea? Get on a bus, sit in a café, wander about with a small notebook and ‘collect people’. I always carry a notebook to jot down things I have seen or heard, could one of the people around you be a character in your story? Make sketches, take pictures on your phone (ask permission if photographing people though!) be on the lookout for even the tiniest things that will add sustenance and ‘reality’ to your plot.

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Prepare the ground for sowing – research – for your story. Often you can use preparatory products to aid in soil richness. Soil is not the same wherever you go, you’d be surprised; loamy, clay, heavy, sandy, silt or chalky. And this will determine, to a degree, what you can grow in it. Similarly, you as a reader and writer, have preferences – genres, and this will be the ground in which you work for the coming days/weeks/months/years! Make sure you have a good idea of your overall plot, some writers know exactly what they will write from the get-go, and others work it out as they go along.

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As you write, you will need to weed out sections that do not work. And you may go and do more research on a particular topic as you go: *But don’t do like I do and get lost in the world of the internet – you were specifically looking for 17th century carpentry tools, and ended up following some loosely connected route through 17th c clothing, housing (through history!), food, Jewish recipes, famous Jewish comedians, the Jewish diaspora, and then you’re too depressed to continue writing. But occasionally, the allotment of life will throw up a beauty, a single item can grab you and you just have to have it, even though others may consider it a weed, to you it will be a beautiful flower.

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Editing can be a bitch. Pruning is the editing of the horticulture world, and sometimes you will have to be ruthless. When a fruit bush has completed production, or even rose bushes, you need to cut them back. This can result in a sad, stubby, almost unrecognisable plant, but the following year, it will come back stronger and more productive. Similarly you have to chop back the dross in your writing; be firm with yourself, read your work out loud, does it sound right? No? Then cut it out. I once wrote a story and had reached 80,000 words; when I edited it, I cut it by 30,000. Of course I had to re-write, but it was better. I hate editing, I make no bones about this, in the same way I hate weeding – but it has to be done people!  I hate that it has taken me ages to write the damn story, and now I have to read it all again and weed out the dross, if I could afford it, I would have an editor do it for me, simply because I want to move onto the next idea. There is no getting away from editing, so, bite the bullet and go for it.

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The compost  heap can grow to enormous proportions. Continuous weeding, editing, cropping back will result in a metaphorical heap of words at your feet; like the cutting-room floor of a film editor. Or the allotment pile. But panic not, this is all grist for the mill, it may look like you ‘lost’ chunks of writing, but what you gained was skills; editing skills, recognising what works and what doesn’t. and you never know, you might riffle through that heap of discards and be able to reclaim a line or two for another story; that sentence that seemed out of time in your historical romance, might be perfect for something more contemporary, or even futuristic.

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Stop and smell the roses. I spend a lot of time, perhaps too much, simply doing nothing; just enjoying the environment on my allotment plot. I watch bees – a lot! – and the visiting blackbird (he was the inspiration for a poem), bugs and flies and the flowers and worms and the resident fox – but mostly bees. Take time to enjoy your writing. Isn’t it wonderful that you have this ability? Creativity doesn’t come to everyone, so be thankful you are. Read books and enjoy someone else’s world. Don’t worry about what others think – it’s your work! Take a break – don’t lose your mind.

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