Things To Do Before You Grow Up

 

Being a writer allows you the freedom to experience anything. If you want to do something – you simply conjure a few characters, add a problem or two, whack in some research and voilà…you’ve  pretty much experienced it. If only it were that easy.

Creating believable worlds and the characters that inhabit them is fun but at the same time, hard work. Whilst inspiration is everywhere, sometimes it appears only fleetingly and lingers only briefly. Sometimes, you need a little help from your friends.

As I journey through the first draft of my novel, I am noticing a pattern. It links to my reading habits. When I’m not reading, I’m not writing as much. When one pool runs dry, it isn’t long before the other empties as well.

I came across a book the other day. A big red book of inspiration. In it is 1001 stories that I must read before I grow up. It’s jam packed with fodder for any ailing reading habit, covering stories from the early 1700s to modern day.

Each page offers information about the author, illustrator, publisher, awards given, and general theme of the book. There is also a brief rundown of the story. It might take me 1001 days to get through the book and I’m not sure if I’ll get to read the 1001 stories before I grow up- but I’m going to give it a go. If nothing else. it will give me at least 1001 ideas and endless inspiration to keep on writing.

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Back in the Water

I have been a slack blogger, of late.  My writing mojo shrivelled into nothingness the minute NaNoWriMo began. I figured all the writing energy was being sucked up by everyone else and there was simply none left for me to use. Strangely, as the month of November draws to a close, I am itching to get back into it again and am wading my way through hand written notes that I have made over the past month.

I struggle some weeks with a way to make the process easier. I love writing straight to the page but hate transcribing pages and pages of notes. The end of my day sees me tired and feeble minded. Rewriting pages of hand-written notes ranks equal to sticking pins in my eyes. It’s nothing short of painful.

I started swimming this week. After three long seasons out of the water, I plucked up the courage to unleash my tog clad self on the general public. (Sincere apologies to the general public…) It was hard (for me and them but for entirely different reasons).

Those first few kilometres, I felt I was drowning. I had no direction and barely enough strength to get from one edge to the other.  I began slowly. A big bag of swimming toys to help me along and with each passing day, it has become easier and my stroke has become stronger and smoother, more effective and far more enjoyable.

At some point in the swimming journey, during a sun-drenched blissful glide through the water, I realised that writing is no different to swimming. The longer you leave it, the harder it is to get back in your togs and get going again. But when you do, nothing else feels as good. I realised I always have a big bag of writing toys to help me on my way. They are called ‘words’. As I mentioned to a friend the other day – when I swim and when I write, I feel like an OMO ad – lighter and brighter and all sunshiny inside. So I cling to the knowledge that with one stroke at a time, and one word at a time, I  will get to the other side if I just keep going and paddle like crazy.

Here’s to a safe and bountiful passage!

The Great Trial of Style

dog_grassIn this past week, I have laid my writing pen down, taken up pencils and paints, and re-ignited my love of illustration. A couple of years ago, I completed a Diploma in Graphic Design and Advertising. The fruits of that labour have remained bare until this past week, when something twigged in my brain. My head is now crammed with images. I see them at night, as I teeter on the edge of sleep. I see them in patterns of nature, I see them in day to day shapes, day to day life; images that I long to pin down to paper. What I haven’t found yet is my style.

I have been researching illustrators and their techniques. My favourites so far include the works of Aaron Pocock, Arthur Rackman, John Bauer, Shaun Tan, Stephen Michael King, and  Jules Feiffer. But there are so many more, and so many to learn from. I am dabbling, right now. Trying on styles until I eventually see my own shining through.

It’s been a great week of immersing myself in the world of colourful inks but my novel calls and it is time to refocus on it. Wish me luck – I fear once bitten by the Great Bug of Inkiness – it will be hard to stay away. We’ll soon see…