Camp NaNo, July 107

I made a decision a few weeks ago that the only way I am going to get to do what I want in life, as opposed to a series of pay-the-bills jobs, is by creating the job I want to do. To take control, in effect.

This might sound simple, and a bit of a Duh! thing to say, but taking control is not something I do. I am not a leader; I can only just decide what I want to eat from a menu, usually when the waiter appears to take the order because everyone else at the table has already decided. At that point I just pick something.

You may have noticed some small changes around my Cocoary. This is a part of my Taking Control.

I have found, though, since making this decision, that I am generally happier in the life and job (which I dislike) which I am currently living and doing. I have also found that something has clicked and I have more energy and enthusiasm to pursue my dreams. This is the most important change, I think. Never underestimate the power of having energy and a clear head. The job I dislike no longer gets me down like it did. My brain, which previously wasted a lot of energy thinking and dreaming of ways out, is free, now, to concentrate on the Way Out.

And so, to Camp NaNo July 2017.

I believe I have an account, but you won’t find me in the campsite. I’m not a people-person, sorry. Bit too busy for me.

Anyway, my plans for the camp which begins in the next few days are reasonably simple.

I have two story ideas currently competing for attention; they have been for the last few years. One is the story which I wrote for the first NaNoWriMo I completed in 2013, and still haven’t rewritten or polished to *er-hum* someone’s exacting standards, and the other is one which has been expanding, slowly, since the first scene wrote itself in my head on the way home from work while it was supposed to be working on the first story. Ideas are like that. However, both are at the point where they could, conceivably, be written (or rewritten in the case of the former) probably without too much difficulty.

In the spirit of taking control, though, and with the experience of writing without a plan something of a painful memory, my Camp NaNo goal is thus:

To write a plan, a synopsis, a detailed description, of both stories.

Rules of Writing: Tea and Biscuits

Someone once said that there are only three rules to writing fiction. Just a pity no one knows what they are…

But lots of people try and explain them. Successful writers, not so successful writers, and non-writers who think it’s all easy anyway, because anyone can do it.

I think the most important after a love of words and language, though, is a plentiful supply of tea or coffee, whichever you prefer, probably accompanied by a plate of biscuits…

POTM June (2)

After The Storm

I didn’t realise quite how much time writing my novel actually took. Didn’t feel like much time – it’s taken me over three years from first getting the idea and beginning to sort-of plot and begin writing to now (ten if you include the characters I requisitioned from a previous, incomplete world). I finished the latest draft this week. I’m hoping none of the readers I’ve sent it to will find anything horrendously inconsistent or fall into deep plot-holes. I’d rather not have to do a major rewrite. Again.

But having finished it, and sent it off to the readers, I find myself with free weekends. This weekend, anyway. I’m confident enough to start considering the next one: research and planning, but not just yet. Such a weird feeling – nothing to do. Well, obviously that’s not true – just nothing pressing, except make a Grasshopper Pie as requested by my husband for his birthday (recipe will come later).

Waking earlier than is really necessary on an almost completely free day, especially since I have no children, I, amazingly, found myself with sufficient energy to write a quite long To-Do list:


Okay, some of the tasks aren’t exactly chores – I like going to the library – but that’s more than I’ve done over an entire weekend for quite a while. And I’ve nearly crossed everything off. In one day. (I’m not looking for plaudits or anything, I hasten to add – I’m just quite pleased with how much I can get done now I’m not writing all day.)

I feel virtuous enough to at least ignore cleaning the bedroom. I’ll take the rubbish out as I go for a walk in the sunny evening…I feel quite virtuous.

Hope you’re having a lovely weekend too! 🙂



I’ve spending more time than I ordinarily would with my stitching. Normally I try to spend the day typing at my computer, and the evening stitching, but I’ve had a week off.

Well, I say a week off – it’s not like I have a busy social or professional calendar at the moment – but away from my computer. I’ve been busy binge-watching The Good Wife on Netflix. It’s the mark of a good story, I think, if it can get you so sucked into it that your normal life has to be suspended, whether on paper or on screen, until you get to the end.

I wasn’t sure what to expect of The Good Wife before I started watching. And then I watched it, mostly out of curiosity, and I was hooked. So the stitching got a boost. It probably helped that I’m at a sticky spot in my writing anyway, and I’m still working my way out, so I was in the right sort of mood to be distracted.

Lost for Words: Love

Now, normally, I’m the unsentimental variety who doesn’t do anything for the fast-approaching “holiday” that is St. Valentine’s feast-day. I don’t think a smidgeon of romance on one day because the commercially-minded tell us to is worth forgetting about it the rest of the year.

However, with all that in mind, while I was meandering through the OED, I  happened across the verb ‘to love’, and thence to the noun.

I once had a discussion with a more linguistically minded friend, and we came to the conclusion that the verb ‘to love’ should, grammatically speaking, be: First Person Plural Present Tense and a couple of other things I can’t now remember, and I can’t find the scrap of paper I wrote it down on. I forget how verbs are analysed grammatically. That was never my forte.

What I like about the word ‘love’ is that it has cognates in most Indo-European languages. The same base in languages from the Germanic to Latin to Sanskrit, with (almost) the same meaning in each – of feeling affection or being pleasing or being agreeable.

The Sanskrit root lubh- apparently originally meant something along the lines of ‘to be confused’. Which, to be fair, probably isn’t too far wrong, given all the songs and whatnot about love being confusing, and fools in love and so on. Sanskrit later gave it the meaning everyone else had, of feeling desire or affection. I think it should have stuck to its guns one the whole confused thing, although it did chuck greed into the later definition. Which, I suppose, is fitting for the modern Valentine’s Day, at least as far as the retailers go…



A Room of One’s Own

Completing a novel is all about writing. About finding the time to write, every single day, whether for five minutes and a hundred words or eight hours and two thousand. It’s also about having the space to settle down, hopefully undisturbed, to use that time to write.

I lost the habit of writing in the last six months of last year, except for blog-posts. It’s easily done when Life makes other demands. Life does that, sadly. No time, no energy.

It didn’t help that the room I meant to use as my Stitchery and Office was filled with all the junk we hadn’t managed to get rid of just yet. There was barely space for my laptop, let alone me. No space, either. I can write while curled up on the sofa, but there are distractions.

Last week, though, the spare room became this:

Stitchery Office

Clean, tidy, and available for use. So far (touch wood), it’s working. I am writing again.

There is much to be said for Virginia Woolf’s claim that a woman requires money and a room of her own in order to write. Certainly the room is indispensable. Money would be nice, too, but we can’t have everything…

And yes, I do sit on the giant bean-bag, and yes, I do know how bad it probably is for me to spend so long hunched over the desk with no back-support.

It’s comfy, and I like it.


Lost for Words: Fire-Flaught

The internet is a many-coloured thing, with lots of wonderful resources. Is there anything more useful than knowledge at one’s fingertips?

I like knowing things. Nothing specific, just things. Lots of things. Random things. Obscure things. Details.

But of all the resources the internet has to offer me, one of my very favourites is the OED Online. For those who don’t know the OED – basically, I like reading a dictionary. But not just any dictionary. The Oxford English Dictionary.

The reason I like the OED so much is that it doesn’t just tell me what a word means. It tells me how the word joined the English language and how long ago. It tells me who has used the word, and when, and in what context. It tells me the history of the word, and its spelling variations.

And I am incredibly grateful that my (several) library cards grant me free access to this wonderful resource. Sadly, at about 26 volumes and around £1K, I cannot afford the space or money for the paper copy, much as I would love one. And yes, I collect library cards. One day I would like to have joined every public library service in the UK (a bit ambitious the way governments like to close them, but I can dream).

Anyway, the reason I mention all this is because I thought it would be fun to share words. I like words and languages (although I’m not generally very good at speaking them).

My chosen word today is the noun  Fire-Flaught, which is a flash of lightning in the Scottish/N. English dialect. Apparently it was used interchangeably with fire-slaught by some authors, which is the older of the two, but that is now rare (interestingly, though, the most recent citation the OED has of it is 1999, whereas fire-flaught was most recently used in 1996).

The origins of fire-flaught seem distinctly Germanic, with fire having many cognates in the dead languages of the Dutch and North German tribes, and flaught  probably having roots in the Old English and Norse words for ‘flaying’.

I quite like the image of a lightning bolt as flaying the earth with fire.

Which words do you like?