Camp NaNo Catch-Up: Gardeners and Architects

Apparently, there is a George RR Martin quotation out there about how writers are gardeners or architects.

Some writers have an idea and run with it; others have an idea and plan the story. Of course, as with all things, most people are not really one or the other, but a mix of both. Normally, I get about half way through the planning stage and then start writing and see where it takes me. I’ve never been very good at endings, though. I might be seeing things, but I suspect there’s a link between that and where I cease to plan…

It’s been an interesting time for me, this month, with my focus being on planning; every now and again I get the urge to just start writing, I have enough notes and plans, and anyway that part of the story won’t happen for ages, and by the time I get to that bit I’m stuck on, an answer should have presented itself. Right?

I’ve written before, with just an idea. It was a struggle. Especially when I got stuck, and all I had for inspiration was how the entire story was supposed to end. Not knowing how to get there – not really a good way to write, I found. Led to a lot of writer’s block. I don’t, yet, know if writing from a comprehensive plan is going to be any different – no doubt I shall meet with other problems causing the same effect – but I’m not going to know until I try. And the hope is that I’m going to be addressing the most major plot-holes in the planning stages, and not half way through the writing. Starting over is never fun.


I find, with the planning, that I enjoy it more. It’s easier to see progress and to feel optimistic about the story. I’ve found a couple of things which help me. They might be simple; they’re the sort of things you already know, but kind of ignore.

The first is good old pen and paper. I carry my notebook around, and write on any old scrap of paper to hand. Ideas, plot-points, problems, they’re all ticking away at the back of my brain, figuring themselves out. My brain is always half away with the fairies.

The second is my desk. Or, if I decide to work on the sofa, my table-top ironing board, which makes an excellent substitute. And means that it finally has a purpose, since I think life’s generally too short for ironing.

How do you write? Are you a gardener or an architect?

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.