Saturday, 24 January 2015

Winter Scene - and Pubowrimo 2

Joan Lennon, author and poet, often gives us beautiful photos - she's given us some this year of the snows in Scotland.

So I'm answering with winter scenes from the Clent Hills, near Birmingham - and invite you along on the walk my friend and I took.

Icy ruts and puddles at the bottom of the hill.

There wasn't a lot of snow, in fact. Much of it was thick frost. But it was proper cold. Colour us blue.

Near the start of  the climb.

Climbing up - cold but sunny.

The top of the hill - blue sky and snow

On top of Clent Hill there is an entirely fake stone circle. It's made of concrete. Despite that, it can look quite dramatic.

Oooh, but it was taters up there, in the teeth of the wind. We started thinking fondly of the pub.
On the way back down, a favourite old tree.
Back at the car we spotted this character on the mooch. He hung about, posing hopefully for quite a while, but unfortunately, we hadn't any mealworms, or even bread, about our persons. Perhaps next time.

 With cold fingers, toes, ears and noses, we went off to the pub for another pubowrimo. Soft leather sofas, cider, and scribbling on scrap paper or in notebooks. Again, it worked. The friend wrote over 700 words - not as many as last week, he says, because he crossed out a lot. He's still very happy with what he did write, as it's all good, solid progression - and without pubowrimo he probably wouldn't have written it at all.

I'd made a couple of previous attempts at writing my piece at home. It's a part where one character - first person narration - realises that another character is not the nice, ordinary person she took her to be, but, in fact, a malevolent danger to her family - and who has caused most of the trouble they've experienced recently.

The problem was making it convincing that the POV character would come to this conclusion - without making the character herself appear deluded - and keeping the reader engaged while the reasons for the conclusion are spelled out.

I hadn't made much progress at home. I kept thinking, not enough reason! - Boring! In preparation for pubawrimo, I went back through my file and made a list of all the clues that, taken together, might reasonably set alarm bells ringing for my character. I took this list, and the last couple of printed-off pages of my book to the pub with me.

And again, once in the pub with a cider, the words just appeared from whatever strange, subconscious cave they were lurking in. There was some fairly arresting/interesting chat going on at the table near me - "It's by far the best house up there, but it's haunted by the ghost of a child," for instance, said in a completely matter-of-fact way, as if mentioning that the garden was a bit small - but somehow the writing went on despite this, for the full hour.

I managed 2,235 words. I'm not totally happy with it. I think I can improve on it, make it more darkly comic - one of my aims in the book is to make it frightening and funny - but it's something to work with.The words wouldn't be there at all if it wasn't for this exercise.

And my agent is phoning me this week, so useful to have on-going work to talk about.


Joan Lennon said...

Love the winter photos - and pubowrimo IS a great idea!

Susan Price said...

Thanks Joan. Pubowrimo seems to be working for now - and it's a great wy to push something on. I daresay the usual law of diminishing returns will set in if we keep it up, but am already thinking about a third sometime next week.

Jenny Alexander said...

Next week too? Excellent! More photos please, and an update on how it's going :)

madwippitt said...

Two and a bit thousand words sounds good to me! And that is an awfully fancy glass they serve your cider in oop North ...
The walk looks nice - try a handful of porage (rolled) oats for the robin, not as worrying in your pocket as mealworms. Frost nipping your nose, standing stones, pretty white stuff coating things ... only thing missing to make it perfect is a dog ... :-)