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[sticky post] WELCOME TO THE HALLS OF DREAMING

Naiad
Thanks for stopping by. I'm Jenny Gordon and I write magical 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.

Dreaming Tree

Skywatcher
Dreaming Tree 30 Sacred Sisters
                                                                                                                  (Dreaming Tree: Sacred Sisters)

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."

Eleanor Roosevelt

Leave of Absence

Naiad
A fly-by posting from me today to let you know I'll be flitting in and out of LJ rather sporadically over the next few weeks, as I'll be ..... MOVING HOUSE!!!

I know! Finally!

HURRAH!!! (and further excessive use of exclamation marks).

I'll catch up with you all when I can, but for now, here's a picture of some baby horses (and their Mums) to keep you going ...

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Twists and Turns of Life

Star Gazer Lily
I'm in the middle of a horrible stressful time at the moment, and one of the few things that are saving my sanity are books. Trouble is, I need to be reading books that are completely immersive, otherwise my mind wanders and starts to play on the stressful stuff instead. A month or so back, I latched onto one author in particular who did the job for me, but after reading my way through her back catalogue, I floundered with what to read next. I tried a couple of different things, but neither held my interest. Then I picked this one up in a discount bookshop:

The Burning Air

It's perfect! I read 'The Poison Tree' by the same author a couple of years back, and really enjoyed that too (it bears little resemblance to the less-than-great TV version of the book). I kind of surprised myself at the time that I would enjoy a psychological suspense thriller, which isn't a genre I've especially been drawn to in the past. But reading 'The Burning Air' has confirmed for me that it's a genre I'll be seeking out more of in the future.

'The Burning Air' is so gripping I resent having to put it down to go to sleep. It's beautifully written, with intriguing, layered characters, and a mid-book twist I didn't see coming, even though I've read reviews that mention that there is a mid-book twist. Moreover, I'm reknowned for seeing the twist long before a book or film reaches it. This one? Didn't have the faintest clue. In fact, I was so taken aback that I misunderstood the 'reveal' for a fraction of a second before the penny dropped. Then I had to go back and re-read that section of the book just to see how clever the author had been.

I still have a good third of the book to go. Can't wait to get home so I can run a lovely bubbly bath and read and read until I turn pruney!

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Best Laid Plans ...

Blue Butterfly
Turns out I had a headache all weekend, so I wasn't up to staring at a computer screen, which meant I couldn't get on with FallingBook. Never mind, I found way to take my mind off the headache. It involved getting glue everywhere, and poking my poor fingers with a needle. The end result looked like this:

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They're tealight holders. The one on the left is made from a ramekin, with twigs glued around it. I think you can just about see from the rather fuzzy picture that there are a selection of twigs from at least half a dozen different trees. I think of it as my Ogham Tree Tealight Holder. The one on the left has hessian ribbon, lace, pearls and sequins glued to it.

And, once I'd cleaned up all the glue, I moved on to making these:

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And these:

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Which I've stored in this little crystal bowl, which I picked up for 50p at a car boot sale, while I'm deciding what I'm going to do with them:
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Come to think of it, they look so pretty I might just leave them where they are.

When I was a kid, I was always making something. I loved crafting. But, as time went by, it was one of many things that got left behind in the rush of life. I'm so glad I've rediscovered my crafting genes in recent years. It's so much fun, and Pinterest is jam-packed with ideas.

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Distraction and Decisions

Rossetti - Veronica Veronese
Talking of pretty notebooks, as we were last time, I spent a chunk of days earlier this week with the one I've allocated for working on ideas for the reimagining of PaintingBook. I had a constructive few days figuring out what's wrong with it, where it walks a line too close to the ideas and themes of FallingBook, and how to engineer a divergence so I don't come off as a one-trick-pony. I now have a clearer idea of my path, but more importantly, it's become clear to me that playing with PaintingBook was just a distraction from FallingBook.

See, after hitting the 18K mark with the FallingBook reworking, as I did two weeks ago, I reached a sticky point where I will need to do more thinking and planning to work out how to tackle the next part. And that's hard! So, of course, my brain scrabbled around for distraction, and settled on PaintingBook, because thinking about that was so much more fun.

But I wasn't kidding anyone, least of all myself. It was a temporary distraction, albeit a fun and constructive one. No time spent writing, planning writing, or even thinking about writing, is wasted time, after all.

So, reworking PaintingBook is earmarked as a project for the future, and this weekend, it's back to FallingBook I must go. Ee-aye-ee-aye-oh!

One Can Never Have too Many ...

Magpie
It's no good, I simply have to share my latest notebook excitement. And trust me, I'm very excited about these notebooks! I confess, I'm something of a notebook fetishist (as are many writers, I suspect), and when I spotted these little lovelies for a bargain price, I couldn't resist. I bought two. Yes yes, I know the picture shows ... um ... six of them. What's your point? Okay, I went back and bought five more (I have two of one design). Look, aren't they beautiful, and so shiny, with designs from my favourite art era (all but two are still in their cellophane wrapping, which is why they're not quite as shiny as top right and bottom left):

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They're even pretty on the back. I've already begun to fill this one with notes for my reworking of PaintingBook:

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And inside, they have the same lovely paper as Moleskin notebooks, and even include the Moleskin-style pocket inside the back cover (everybody's jumping on that particular bandwagon these days, and who can blame them?)

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Since 2010, I've been keeping a Moleskin notebook to collect random ephemera and story ideas with a small 'i'. My plan is to use these notebooks for story ideas that grow into Ideas with a capital 'I', assigning one per notebook. Because, honestly, who wouldn't want to keep picking up one of these beauties to add more notes inside? In fact, who wouldn't want to keep picking them up to pet and admire them, and talk to them lovingly? Or is that just me? Er-hem.

Avebury Retreat

Clematis
Yesterday, I spent the day at Avebury under the New Moon, a week after the Midsummer Solstice. It appeared to be Ladies' Day there, as I was one of many lone female strollers soaking up the peace and the power of the place. A power that felt as though it was slumbering in the late June sunshine.

"We have always been walking though this land ... The track is strongly felt," sings Carolyn Hillyer on her album, 'Songs of the Forgotten People'. I feel the pull of that track in Avebury. At least, I feel an echo of it, and it makes me wonder how much more strongly our distant ancestors felt the energy of the place that it led them to create the great henge, and stone circle. In truth, it's hard to get your head around the immensity of the place. In this picture, I've tried to capture something of the scale of the site. You can see the curve of the bank that surrounds the village and the stones continuing behind the trees:

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And here, showing the height of the outer bank (when it was first built 6,000 years ago, the ditch would have been at least twice as deep and gleaming white from the chalk the grass now covers). Unusually, the higher bank is on the outside of the ditch. At hillforts, which also have such bank-and-ditch structures, it's the other way around. This has led to the theory that Avebury's builders wanted to conceal what lay within from those not permitted access; a veiling wall, if you like, as opposed to simply a defensive bank.

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While I love walking the site, taking in its awesome immensity, and wondering how in the hell prehistoric man created it, I'm more drawn to individual stones; building a relationship with the place on a smaller scale, if you like. Though 'smaller' is relative when you're talking about Avebury!

It struck me this time how the personality of individual stones changes. For instance, when I visited a couple of months back, the great paired stones of The Sanctuary pulsed with a forbidding energy that quite literally stopped me in my tracks. Yesterday, however, sheep were drowsing at their feet, and the stones were drowsing too.

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This stone at the start of The Avenue felt friendly and almost cuddly:

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While the most tangible energy was emanating from the stone on the right in this picture, one of the pair of vast guardians of The Cove. As I stood beneath it, I had the sense of it looking down on me with great and ancient superiority. A powerful Guardian indeed.

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Ancient places speak to me in so many ways. As a historian and archeologist by training, the facts and figures in my head in no way detract from the spirituality of such sites; rather, they enhance them, give them context. The track is indeed strongly felt; all you need to is open yourself to it. However, the type of monument that speaks to the loudest isn't the great stones or vast sacred sites this country is famous for; it's the burial mounds of our ancestors. This is one you can see from the outer bank of Avebury (look between the trees in the foreground, and to the left of the copse on the horizon, and you'll see a mound; it's a Bronze Age barrow).

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People have asked me what it is about these monuments that so excite me, and I struggle to explain. They're places where one or more people were buried, often hundreds or even thousands of years apart, as the mounds were recognised as being sacred by subsequent peoples who inhabited the land, and so were reused. I think it's the human aspect that moves me. We will never fully understand why our ancestors built such places as Avebury, or for what purpose, and it is their very mystery that enchants us. Barrows, however, were where people were buried. People. Human beings, like us, from thousands of years ago. That kind of connection to the past is easier for me to grasp.

And talking of grasping, I shared my packed lunch with this little chap, who came so close I could have grasped him. Poor fellow, he's looking a little scratty from spending all his time running around feeding his babies:

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The Failings of Time

Froud
Well, I say "the failings of time", when in fact I mean only the one; that being, there's never enough of it!

Something about returning to FallingBook after all this time has brought memories of other old projects out of the closets of my mind. One in particular. For the purposes of LJ, I'll refer to it as ... oh, I don't know ... let's go with PaintingBook.

PaintingBook was the adult novel I wrote immediately before the 2010 version of FallingBook, which means I was working on it during 2008-9. In fact, I wrote a lot of it longhand while I was off work with a badly broken arm during the winter of 2008-9. While it's a ridiculously weighty tome, it's also the book that's brought me the most success with agents  — I even had one agent ring me a couple of times to talk about it. I didn't get any further than that with it though, and I'm not surprised; there's a lot to like about the book, but there's a lot wrong with it too. The premise explores some of the same ground as FallingBook, but I've had an idea for a different direction I can take it in so I don't come across as a one-trick-pony.

Which brings me to my current ponderings. See, I'm wondering if I might earmark it as my next project after FallingBook. And that's where the cursing of time comes it. I've only just begun reworking FallingBook; that means I won't get to PaintingBook for a couple of years! Maybe I could play around with PaintingBook at the same time as FallingBook? Hmm. I've never been any good at working with multiple writing projects at the same time; I need to immerse myself in just the one or my brain melts.

What I might do is read through the old MS and maybe sketch in some thoughts about how I might approach it when the time comes. In the meantime, here's the image that inspired it (or near as dammit, anyway. The actual image is a wonderful sepia postcard I've had since I was a child). *Sigh*. Just looking at it gives me the itches to write!

Delighted!

Tortoiseshell Butterfly (purple)
I have just spent a glorious few days working on FallingBook.

Yep, you read that right - I've been writing! (*crowd goes wild*)

In fact, I've had something of a mega-writing run, having reworked something over ten thousand words of FallingBook during this four-day window. Excuse me while I type that again ... more than TEN THOUSAND WORDS!

My word count is already up to 18K, although that's mostly illusion at this early stage. Still, it's heartening to cross-check with Blake Snyder's Beat Sheet and note that I'm hitting all the beats pretty much dead on so far, which means my instinct about the new shape of the story is playing me true.

I've been playing around with the opening Act of the book. This has meant rewriting some of the existing early chapters, and rejigging material from elsewhere in the 2010 MS to move it to the early part of the book instead. It's all very rough and first-drafty. In fact, I'm thinking of this as a 'Zero Draft', mainly because there's something liberating about the term. I know, I know, the games we play with ourselves!

Ten thousand words sounds — and is — a lot, but beginnings have always been the easiest part of any story of me; it's when I reach the middle section that I start to stall out. More than anything, what I'm doing is creating the scaffolding for the work to come. I know the story like it's my own life story (although it's absolutely not!) Getting under the skin of the characters again is like meeting up with dear friends I haven't seen for a long time. Messed up, extremely difficult friends, some of them, but friends all the same.

It's so much fun!