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[sticky post] WELCOME TO THE HALLS OF DREAMING

Naiad
Thanks for stopping by. I'm Jenny Gordon and I write fiction for adults, both old and young. You can find out more about me and my writing by clicking on the 'Quick Links' on the left. This journal is a space for my ponderings about writing and books. You can friend me, or just lurk if you prefer. Either way, I'd love to have your company and hear from you along the way.
Froud
So, for various reasons (some of them out of my control, some of them not-so-much) I've been in a bit of a grump with Writer Jenny recently. The necessary hiatus from writing over the past year has roused all those Doubting Demons and the Pesky Piskies of Procrastination have me pinned in a corner.

So this weekend, with gritted teeth and grim determination, I'm going to stand up and faced the lot of them. I will write, dammit. And if I end up producing a steaming pile, then so be it!

It's been a year since you've written properly, for goodness sake, I tell myself. You're bound to be out of practice. Give yourself a break!

I spent some constructive time at work this morning (when I should have been doing other things — shhh!) re-reading posts and pieces by other writers who have inspired and encouraged me in the past, including this line by Laini Taylor:

"You write to discover the story."

And that led me on a train of thought which ended up at this old blog post of mine, and it's subsequent discussion among us. I read with particular interest something bogwitch64 (who I miss seeing around these parts) said:

"My "outline," when I do one, is what a lot of people would consider the first draft. I end up with about 30K words of a story told in a stream of consciousness sort of thing. I imagine it's much like someone's NaNo. But I don't say that's draft one. It's the outline I work from--but my first draft is actually much cleaner for it."

I replied at the time that it was an approach I may try at some point, and I wonder if that time has come.

See, in the dozen-odd handwritten pages of AutumnBook I have managed to produce, I've increasingly found myself writing the scenes which shine the brightest, rather than writing sequentially, necessarily. Maybe bogwitch64's approach would lend me a hand: chunks of freewriting, interspersed with notes and comments to myself. It'll be like writing with a friend nearby to chat with as I tentatively find my way and regain some of my writerly confidence.

And maybe some time spent freewriting would lend me a hand, since one of the problems I've been having with the story is that, while I have a shiny idea, and a rough outline, I can't hear the voice of my MC yet. It's going to be written in first person, so finding that voice is crucial. Perhaps some nice, unstructured freewriting ambling would help me discover her.

*SIgh*. More than anything else, I just need to sit down for some decent chunks of time and get the hell on with it!

The 50-Word Vignette Challenge

Skywatcher
Roll up, roll up. See the Bearded Lady, the Rubber Man, the Terrifying Man-Eating Demon from the Depths. Gasp at the daring of the ladies on the Flying Trapeze; chuckle at the clowns (readthisandweep and seaivy I'm looking at you! Lol!)

This week's prompt is ..... "Circus".


50-Word Vignette #8

Prompt: Circus

The circus in the woods is always there for those who know how to find it. Elodie Lee was one such, a hundred years past. You can see her still, angel-winged and sweet sixteen forever as she flies high on her trapeze through the branches of the greatest oak trees.


Is it just me, or does everything to do with circuses now read like a shadowy mimicry of "The Night Circus"? I guess that's a tribute to the power of Erin Morgernstern's writing and imagination, but dammit, it's annoying!

As ever, anybody else like to join in and write their own? Just post it in the comments. All welcome.
Froud - Green Woman
* Alan Bennett.

One of the cases I lingered over the longest on my trip to the Pitt Rivers Museum was that containing keys — all kinds from all eras.

The keys to what? I wondered as I gazed at the pretty filligree examples from the sixteenth century. What did that huge hefty one secure?

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When did keys cease being objects of beauty and art and become merely the mundane, ubiquotious Yale kind?

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At various points during my life, I've worked with historical and archaeological artefacts, and those that always speak to me the loudest are the small, intimate, personal items such as keys. These are the objects that carry stories of the lives of folk like us: everyday folk.

Keys are symbolic of so many things. Only a few days prior to my museum visit, a straying muse dropped by to let me know that the MC in AutumnBook has a key. It is the key to a mystery, to the story of her ancestors, and to what she has inherited from them.

Imagine my delight when, on my way to the Pitt Rivers Museum, I wandered through an Antique and Collectables Fayre and found me a key of my very own.

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It's Georgian, which means it's over 200 years old. Imagine the hands that key has passed through down the centuries before it reached mine. What did it once unlock? And what might it now unlock for me? I hold it in my hand as I think about AutumnBook, and it grows warm with possibility.

The 50-Word Vignette Challenge

Water Lily
Maybe it's the time of year, or maybe it's the shape of my imagination these days. Whatever the case, I'm finding myself writing about ghosts and shadows and forgotten things rediscovered at midnight. So I have this 50-Word Vignette to offer this time around, with an appropriately almost-Samhain-ish prompt:


50-Word Vignette #7

Prompt: Phantoms and Shadows

The carousel turns faster, memory's shadow astride each painted beast. I sing my weirding charm to the midnight fairground, and collect those shadows in my jar. The world has need of their remembered gaiety, and I am the only one of my sisters who still knows how to share it.


Anybody else like to join in and write their own? Just post it in the comments. All welcome.

Stupid Sparrows and Other Stories

Great Grey Heron
(I don't have a sparrow icon, so a rather disapproving heron will have to do).

So yes, I've got stupid sparrows. And that's not a new and interesting medical complaint!

I recently bought a bird feeding station: a copper pole with a 'torch' at the top for fat balls, and various hooks and trays for water, feeders, and other assorted birdy goodies. Well, winter's approaching, and I like to look after my feathered neighbours.

The local sparrow gang sat in the trees over the back and watched with eager interest as I built the thing and set it up, then went about filling the feeders.

"Hold on," I kept telling them. "Not much longer, just need to put the fat balls in and top up the water dish."

They waited impatiently, tapping their little sparrow feet on the branches.

"Right," I finally told them. "Finished. There you go.'"

And they all flew off.

I'm trying not to take it personally.

Tags:

Wonderful Things!

Rossetti - Veronica Veronese
A few days ago, I went to one of my favourite museums: The Pitt Rivers Museum of Anthropology and World Archaeology in Oxford. It's been over ten years since I last visited, but the place is just as magical as I remembered. For me, the main part of its charm is the fact that it's a "museum of museums" —  founded in 1884, it has been preserved in its original Victorian state, with dimly-lit dark wood cases squeezed together, and artefacts arranged typologically, accompanied by their original tiny, hand-written labels.

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(yep, that's a boat hanging from the ceiling!)

It's a small museum, with two balcony levels, overlooking a central court. It's tucked away, like a secret, through a heavy wooden door at the back of the Natural History Museum, and down a flight of steps into the shadows. And it's dark in there — to protect the light-vulnerable objects — which adds to the sense of mystery and secrets.

More than any other museum I've visited — and I've visited a few! — the Pitt Rivers is an Aladdin's Cave of wonderfulness. In modern museums, labels tell us what an artefact is, where it was found, what date it was made. In the Pitt Rivers Museum, a tiny label might comment only that the artefact is a bracelet from Tibet, made of scented woods to ward off fever. And not everything is labelled, so you can invent the stories behind the objects, or simply revel in the wondering.


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For those in the know, there's more to be discovered: beneath many of the cases are drawers, full of artefacts packed away for storage. You can open many of those drawers and discover yet more treasures hidden within, safe beneath their protective glass. And the wonderful thing is that that drawers often smell  — of wood and old polish, with a hint of the scent of the objects they contain.

If you find a quiet corner, and listen carefully, you can hear the objects whispering to one another, sharing their stories, gossiping about the visitors, daydreaming wistfully about their past. It's a place of a thousand, thousand tales, and I'm sure a few of them have come away with me.

The 50-Word Vignette Challenge

Blue Butterfly
Do you ever wonder where your own ideas come from? Yeah, me too. It's a strange place in my brain ...

50-Word Vignette #6

Prompt: Second Chance

Water lapped at the mooring; fog made ghosts out of lamplight.

I have been here before, she thought, and stepped into the empty gondola and cast off.

Fog and time swallowed her in their spiral, carrying her from winter to spring, where she slipped free and began all over again.


Anybody else like to join in and write their own? Just post it in the comments. As ever, all welcome.

The Forest and What I Found There

Froud - Green Man
A couple of weeks back, I wrote about how I was wandering in the Word Forest, exploring. I'm now newly emerged, twigs and burrs caught up in my tangled hair, jeans all grubby, blackberry stains around my mouth. But in my fist, I'm clutching an outline for what I'm calling AutumnBook. The outline is pretty grubby too, but it's definitely an outline of sorts, which surprises me a little in a pleasant sort of way.

I've realised that, although I'm always open to new methods, my approach at the beginning of a project tends to follow more or less the same course:

  • I catch sight of a bright, shiny idea. This is often a location, a character or two, and a vague premise. I'm often inspired by an actual image (visuals are important to me)

  • I jot some notes, polishing the idea until it makes a kind of sense

  • I collect a few inspirational images (Pinterest is my scrapbook of choice these days)

  • I start writing, usually throwing down around 5K words to find my way into the story, figure out a bit about the main character(s) and their voice, work out whether first or third person, past or present, works best (this is always open to negotiation further down the line)

  • Throughout, I continue jotting notes until my notebook becomes too unwieldy to be helpful. That's when I hit the PC to type up an outline.

The outline helps me see the shape of the thing and where the gaps are; it brings a bit of structure to my whirlwind of notes. I need some structure at this stage, otherwise I know I'll go rambling wildly off course. Writing the story tends to cease while I'm getting my thoughts into some kind of order.

Mind you, I don't really think of the thing I end up with as an outline. It's more of a map for when I plunge back into the forest; a tool to help me figure out where I go from here.

Right, where did I put my waterproofs and sandwiches? I'm going back in ...

The 50-Word Vignette Challenge

Water Lily
It's that time of the week again. Coincidentally, this week's prompt dove-tails nicely with last week's 'Safe'.

50-Word Vignette #5

Prompt: Guidance

'Are we nearly there yet?' she whispered into the darkness.

A candle flared to life ahead of her.

'Only you can decide that,' Spirit Mother replied. 'When you have journeyed inward as far as it is possible to go, you will have your answer.' And she handed her the light.


Anybody else like to join in and write their own? Just post it in the comments. All welcome.