Happy New Year – Again!

2018 spat me into 2019 before I felt ready! The good news is now I’m ready! So, belated New Year greetings!

I have a plan for 2019, well sort of. I slumped my way towards the end of last year after an action packed Spring, Summer and Autumn. I don’t have a crystal ball but this year is not about puppies or kittens or any other sort of fluffy fur-balls as far as I’m aware. This year is about my writing. Thanks to my wonderful diary courtesy of Charlie at Urban Writers Retreats I can hold myself to account. I shall be either patting myself on the back, or slapping myself around the face, depending on how things are going! I’m happy to report so far no faces have been slapped! 🤣 Happy New Year!

The Music of Life…

Picture the scene. I’m sitting drinking coffee (natch) in my favourite coffee house. The sun is shining, the birds are singing – all is good with the world, you get the picture. I am sitting outside, yes that’s right….. outside. For those unfamiliar with the British weather please read ‘ Brave woman, made of steel (and thermals)’.

Sitting ‘al fresco’ is no mean feat in England in May. Maybe it should become an Olympic sport – ‘how long can you sit outside freezing your bits off.. athon’. The ‘athon’ is obligatory, I’m keeping it real! I would lose dreadfully at the ‘athon’ games, no staying power you see, my body is just not designed for it. Something to do with too many fast twitch fibres, anyway, I digress. Back to the sunshine, the birds etc. All is right with the world until…… man in car, sitting in traffic, windows down, bass up and (I have to say) looking a bit too smug for my liking.

I was struck by two things simultaneously (the Hadron Collider is nothing compared to the speed my brain cells bomb towards each other) now, where was I?, ah yes, 2 things struck me. Firstly, I don’t like drum and bass (I know you are completely shocked, how can anyone not like drum and bass I hear you asking yourselves), secondly – OMG  I’m turning into old grumpy guts.  ‘Mrs Angry of Devon’ reared her head not because of this chaps very bad taste in music which, btw was exceptionally dreadful. No, it was the way his world had steamrollered mine. He was an unwelcome gatecrasher at a time when I had been transported to the magical world at my fingertips. I had wanted to own that time and the space. To have my head filled firmly with the narrative of the characters laid out before me.

I had been happily sitting topping up my dangerously low levels of vitamin D. Cup in one hand, book in the other. Then…. bam or rather, boom boom boom. I sat, giving him the evils until the lights changed and off he speed. He had not even acknowledged my death stares. He had, in fact, been caught up in his own magical world. His words however, were louder on the outside than mine. Oh the irony. Both of us had been transported by the power of words but in such completely different ways and almost certainly to completely different places. This encounter unexpectedly reminded me of a truth I had carried with me when writing All Tomorrow’s Parties.  ‘Where words fail, music speaks’. Its a quote taken from an author who was instrumental in shaping my imagination ~ Hans Christian Anderson. Throughout my writing processes I often seek inspiration from music. It helps me sometimes to think in a different way. It helps me to create different structure and pace.

So…To the man who shared his love of loud music in my world that sunny morning, I thank you. You reminded me of how inspiration has many forms, and usually comes when you least expect it. After my initial feelings of loathing subsided, I turned the other cheek and took a proverbial leaf from your book. I found my copy of Thumbelina and I too turned my music up loud…… I, however, chose to wear headphones!

Ponder this thought, another classic from the great Hans Christian Anderson:

‘Life is like a beautiful melody, only the lyrics are muddled up’

 

 

 

Inspiration

A straight forward enough question right? Where does the inspiration for your characters come from? I think it would be easy enough to say that everyone we meet has the potential to become ‘inspirational’ but not everyone is. People come in and out of our lives,some for a season, some for a reason, good or bad.Some we are still trying to figure out .

There are however the few that arrive with little more than a ‘hello’ yet the effect they have on us is overwhelming and long lasting. They touch our hearts and our souls and these are the ones I draw on for inspiration. For me and my style of writing these are the people who help me develop my characters. In All Tomorrow’s Parties I knew I wanted strong lead characters. People who were strong but flawed, because lets face it, none of us are that perfect.The character who eventually became Laine Marshall was an eclectic mix of traits I had seen and valued, inter twined with those which were perhaps not quite so admirable. The thing I was sure of was she needed to be strong enough to take the knocks of life. However, she absolutely needed to be steadfast in her inimitable search for love. I hope I managed to convey this.

Lately I have been taking inspiration from photography. The images photographers can and do create are powerful. With all good works of art there is the immediate visual impact, then the pause and then for me the inspiration. It’s this third part which has led me into many unseen directions. Whether or not an image was supposed to convey those emotions or directions is irrelevant, the joy is, it does. Like the changing of the seasons you can go back and revisit. Everytime you look through the window you  see something new or different. Keep an open mind. Inspiration can come via professionals or via the rest of us. I have been looking back at old holiday snaps, who knew they could send a mass of inspirational sparks flying… but they did. The same can be said of music or literature. My point is to use everything around you as a tool. Yes of course you will always revert to where you are most comfortable but don’t exclude anything. A conversation I had with friends last weekend has sent me off in a completely new direction for my WIP (work in progress).

I have recently come across a body of work called intersections by an incredibly talented photographer called Bertil Nilsson all I can say is Wow. Take a look for yourself, I hope it inspires you as it has me. Pinterest is another great source of inspiration, if you haven’t got to grips with it yet I strongly urge you to check it out. The boards I’ve created are completely random but they get me to thinking. So now enough  chatter its time to get creating….