A writer’s mind

icebergstory copyI think a writer of any genre gets accustomed to a certain degree of lunacy taking place in their brain at any particular moment. Whether it be coming up with plausible ways to kill off a character to meticulously establishing the detailed properties of dragon snot; the brain of a writer is a mysterious instrument of imaginative innovation, the clogs always ticking.

Though my aforementioned hiatus in writing has taken a toll on my creative output, what’s been going on in the mystery-that-is-my-head has remained consistently reliable in its “creative vision”, otherwise known as:

les crazy thoughts. 

The other day I was taking one of my favourite walks through a local piece of glorious countryside. I had a river to my right, pastures to my left, the sun on my face. In a rare moment of total tranquility I found myself not thinking about anything other than how great life was in that moment.

And then I saw them.

Just ahead of me were two sheep on the bank of the river. Beside them in the river were two wading ducks. All four of them were looking at me.

It was as if I had caught them in the middle of some secret convention. A conference on the decreasing quality of bulk bill manure, the latest polls in insect activity, the next Miss Quacker 2014.

As is to corroborate my speculation, they looked to each other once more and through the bleats and quacks I could almost hear the words,

“We’ll continue this later.”

In a moment of absolute synchronicity, a reverse Avengers assemble, they dispersed. The ducks turned their tail feathers on me and waded together across the river, the sheep wandered off as a pair into the pastures, heads down. Nothing to see here, folks.

Whatever the blank page in front of me might have to say about it, inside my head stories are happening in unlikely places. I’m talking Titanic iceberg proportions here, guys.

Granted, most people might express some concern at the thought that the local wildlife were having an actual conversation. Me however? I take comfort in knowing that the writing wheels are still turning.

And that’s okay. Because despite recent evidence to the contrary, a writer doesn’t ever stop being a writer. Whether you’re writing stories, telling stories, or simply thinking stories, you’re creating new ideas throughout even the most mundane moments in life. Some will make it to print, others will just carry on building on the foundations of creativity inside your head, nurturing the characters and places that do find their way onto paper.

It’s a mysterious place, the mind of a writer, but for my part, there’s no place I’d rather be.

Scene of animal encounter. Animals refused to comment.

Scene of encounter. Animals in question refused to comment.

 

 

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On Finishing

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Hello people of the Internet! Remember me?

Probably not.

You see, I’ve been absent for a while. A good long while. I’ve been slack. You know it. I know it. We all know it. And the worst part? I have no better excuse than life and procrastination.

Truth is, the longer I left it, the harder it became to return to the blogosphere. Often I’d casually click on my dashboard, peruse over past posts, and feel strangely as if I was reading someone else’s words. The words of someone creative, peculiar, and sometimes even a little bit witty. The words of someone who wrote every day. And I felt a little bit sad that that person had gone away, and wasn’t quite sure how to find her again.

“Start a new blog!” I told myself. “There’s no hope left for this one. The dust on the shelves is too deep, the weeds in the garden too many.”

But I couldn’t quite bring myself to do it. So I’d go away again and try to forget there was a little piece of the Internet waiting just for me.

This time last year I was living in Edinburgh and a few days away from submitting my final 20,000 word extract of my novel-in-progress. Since then, I have jumped the border and now live in a little town in England, am working at a castle where they filmed Harry Potter, and spend my days either dressed up as a medieval peasant, flying broomsticks*, or taking guided tours around a medieval fortress talking about very old things. Life is good. In fact, it’s bloody good. But there’s one thing missing…

…the writing.

And it occurs to me that since submitting my novel extract this time last year, I have spurned it the same way I have this blog. At first it was a case of a well-needed mental break after several months of intense writing. It felt as though I had sucked every last creative word out of my body and needed to replenish the supply. But then, like the blog, the longer I left it, the harder it was to return to it. The words already written became the words of a stranger and finding that voice again seemed like very hard work.

“Start a new story!” I said. “Shiny new characters, spectacular new places!”

But was I really prepared to let a full 50,000 words already written go to waste? Some of which scored me a place at last year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival?

Not likely.

And then, as if the stars were looking down on me and giving me a little extra nudge, I stumbled across a Neil Gaiman quote:

Most people can start a short story or a novel. If you’re a writer, you can finish them. Finish enough of them, and you may be good enough to be publishable.

It’s taken the better part of a year, but in the last month I’ve started jotting things down again. On scraps of paper, in my lunch break, when I hear something curious or interesting or lifechanging or funny or sad or odd. The creative bank is replenished and the words are beginning to trickle again. Slowly? Yes. The creative brain needs exercise like any other muscle, and mine is long out of shape.

This blog will never be finished. Such is the beauty of a medium with few expectations but those the author applies to it. Here flow my thoughts, my hopes, my ideas and my tribulations. These are constant, regardless of whether I write them down and publish them on the Internet or not. But I hope to do better, to write more, and to connect with the blogosphere like that girl I used to know. Because giving up is not an option.

I am a writer. And writer’s finish what they start.

Neil Gaiman said so.

* Just in case you didn’t believe me about the broomstick thing, I present photographic evidence:

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This is what having the best job in the world looks like.