jennygordon: (Froud)
Oh no!

You know how important it is for us writerly types to find the perfect notebook? And you remember how I've talked about my lovely sparkly purple notebooks that are gradually filling with the tale of my MoulderingBook, and how I love them?

Well, last week I went to stock up on some more, and ... where were they?

I asked the very helpful lady in the shop, and she head-scratched for a moment, then remembered that they had gone into the sale. She rang another local branch to see if they had any left, but no luck.

I dashed home and searched online, and there they were! Hurrah!

Oh.

Line discontinued.

"But, but, that's not fair!" I wailed. "They're my most favourite of favourite notebooks. I love their narrow-ruled lines and their ivory pages, and how there are so many pages in the book that they are stable enough for me to prop them on my knee to write without need of additional support. And the pages are stitched into the spine, so they don't pop out. And they're perfectly big enough, but not so big they're unwieldy. And they're just so pretty ..."

I pulled myself together and went browsing for an alternative, but it was no use; there simply wasn't a notebook to compare.

So ...

... I've written a letter to the Mr Boss-Man of the company, asking him, everso nicely, if he might reconsider withdrawing my lovely sparkly purple notebooks.

*Sigh*

All I can do now is cross everything and hope.
jennygordon: (Froud - Green Man)
So, this weekend, I got crafty and completed a project I've been working on for a few weeks now. I thought you might like to see.

First, I gathered together my materials. I wanted to keep it all in very natural materials and colours. Top left is a hawthorn bough from Avebury. (Hawthorn stands for protection, love and cleansing). Looped onto that are circles made of woven willow withies from near where I live. (Willow stands for dreams, inspiration and intuition). The old-fashioned crocheted doilies were charity shop finds, and the rags and taggles of feathers, lace, ribbon, beads tapestry and embroidery thread are treasures I've collected over the years.

IMG_3561

I stripped the bark off the hawthorn, and sanded and waxed it. And sewed the doilies to the willow circles.

IMG_3566

And set out the design for what would go where (large expanse of carpet necessary for this!)

IMG_3578

I spent several hours attaching the various ribbons, beads and feathers to my willow circles. And when I was finally satisfied, I hung it on the wall above my bed where it catches dreams and inspiration and whispers to me as I sleep:

IMG_3582

I'm utterly delighted with it. It's so rare that a plan comes together the way you envisaged it at the outset, and this really has. What's more is that I'll be able to add feathers and treasures to it over time.
jennygordon: (Clematis)
I have five pages of prompt words, and I select each week's using the highly technical method of picking a page at random, shutting my eyes and letting my finger drop onto the list. Then I use whichever word it lands closest to. I confess, this week's prompt word had me stuck for a while. I frowned and pen-tapped, and eventually came up with this:


50-Word Vignette #23

Prompt: Competition

We lined up at the chalk. Racing is character-building, teacher said, good for the health. But in my satchel was a half-complete short story, and the deadline was tomorrow, so I left the chalk and walked away. I had more important characters to build; better competitions to fill my time.


Anybody else like to join in and write their own? Just post it in the comments. All welcome.
jennygordon: (Skywatcher)
Ideas for stories are always wafting through my head. I jot them down in my beloved Moleskine in case they want to come out and play at a later date. Some of those ideas have been around for a long time, and show up on a semi-regular basis, sometimes with increasing insistence.

It's one such idea that's back to whisper at me at the moment.

It's not a plot bunny (i.e. something that's going to distract me from MoulderingBook). It's ... a surfacing. A seedling that's ready to germinate and reach for the light.

In other words, I think it may be the rousing of the project I'll be working on once I'm done with MoulderingBook.

I have a number of semi-ideas for possible projects on a backburner, but this one seems to want to jostle to the front of the queue.

I love the sense of all these ideas simmering away inside me, bubble-popping to the top of the cauldron from time to time, then sinking back into the stew for a while longer. Some end up stuck to the bottom of the pot and never evolve into anything more. Others may require a notebook of their own at some point ...
jennygordon: (Tortoiseshell Butterfly (purple))
It's everso-terribly exciting.

My Mouldy-Meter currently looks like this:

IMG_3575

Which means I'm at the third-way mark!

Okay, okay, it's as drafty as a first draft can possibly be, but that's what first drafts are for. The most important thing is that I'm having such huge fun writing it.
jennygordon: (Rossetti - Veronica Veronese)
I love receiving letters, don't you? Emails are wonderful, but there remains nothing quite like the real thing, especially if they're hand-written on special paper. I love handmade paper with bits of petal and leaf embedded in it.

Following an enlightening discussion I had with [livejournal.com profile] cmcmck a couple of weeks back, I realised this week's offering works as a poem, so have formatted it as such.


50-Word Vignette #22

Prompt: Letter

Spice-scented, ribbon-tied
and sealed with a smear of wax.
She flicked the letter between her fingers,
unopened.

Promises, bargains and lies.
No matter how prettily scribed the words,
She'd had her fill.

Poison-pen, they might say,
but her poisoned ink was far more effective
for the reply she would send.



Anybody else like to join in and write their own? Just post it in the comments. All welcome.
jennygordon: (Froud - Wood Woman)
Once upon a time, I wrote fiction for adults. I'd be more specific and tell you what kind of fiction it was, only ... I can't, because my stories were always tricky to pigeonhole. Which was all well and good, as I'm adverse to pigoneholing generally in life. Except, if I wanted to be taken seriously by agents and whatnot, I needed to be able to tell them where the stories sat in terms of genre.

The genre freedom within the Young Adult market is one of the things I love about it, and one of the reasons why I now write Young Adult fiction.

'Young Adult' is, of course, an age category, not a genre in the way that 'crime', 'chicklit', 'fantasy', or 'literary' are. In fact, the entire Children's book market is subdivided by age, not genre. Which means you'll find historical novels shelved alongside horror, sitting beside high school romance, beside high fantasy. And, more importantly as far as I'm concerned, you'll find single books which offer a glorious mash-up of all four. And no-one minds.

There's always been such freedom in Young Adult fiction (and Children's fiction more widely) to throw together whatever bundles of oddness you feel like writing. It's immensely liberating for both writer and reader.

The book I'm currently reading is a good example. On the face of it, 'Cuckoo Song', by Frances Hardinge is a changeling-child story set in the 1920s, yet it's also gothic and fantastical and literary. If it was written for adults, who knows where it would be shelved, or whether it would even be published at all, or rejected as 'uncategorisable'. However, since it sits in the Young Adult age range, it has no such concerns. It can be precisely what it wants to be and still find an audience.

It's just as well, since MoulderingBook is a Gothic, Poe-esque story set in a historical period that never really was, with sort-of Steampunk nuances, and an Addams Family undertones (thanks for that contribution to the list [livejournal.com profile] readthisandweep!) Since it's for the Young Adult age range, its fluid identity doesn't matter. I'm free to simply keep writing and let it be what it wants.

I hope the Young Adult market doesn't ever feel the need to start pigeonholing by genre within itself. Long live genre freedom!
jennygordon: (Tortoiseshell Butterfly (purple))
This week, my vignette is a nod to [livejournal.com profile] seaivy's "Dragon Story Wednesdays".

50-Word Vignette #21

Prompt: Treasure

"Me? Breathe fire?" The dragon raised a delicate spiney eyebrow at the young hero before him, all sharp, pointy things and bravado. "Are you completely nuts? Can't you see this isn't a pile of gold I'm sitting on; what's the use in that? My treasure is a mountain of books."


Anybody else like to join in and write their own? Just post it in the comments. All welcome.
jennygordon: (Magpie)
When I was a kid, one of my favourite books was 'Charmed Life', by the late, great Diana Wynne Jones.

http://www.bristol.ac.uk/media-library/sites/penguinarchiveproject/migrated/images/charmed-life.jpg

'Charmed Life' contained one of my favourite characters, Gwendolyn Chant, who was selfish, devious and greedy, but so entertaining and fun you couldn't help but love her. I think that book is where my fascination for such likeable-unlikeable characters took root. A few years later, the wonderful Miss Weston, my favourite English teacher, had my class write a story titled 'Antihero', and the fascination blossomed from there.

Black and white hold little interest for me when it comes to protagonists; and we all know the best characterisation — the most true to life — consists of shades of grey. For me, the most interesting of all characters are those whose grey leans towards storm-clouds and the edge of night.

I've tried before, on several occasions, to write protagonists who weren't very likeable, and who were sometimes downright rotten, but who had certain qualities that meant they were engaging nonetheless. With MoulderingBook, I find myself playing with the idea again.

As couple of my earliest notes for the book say:

"This is a story about bad people doing good things, though not necessarily for good reasons."

and:

"The heroes are antiheroes, yet you root for them all the same."

It's a challenge, but one I'm enjoying immensely. I rememeber something Sebastian Faulkes said in a documentary a while back: "It's more important that a hero has vigour than virtue." His example was Thackeray's Becky Sharp. Me? My touchstone for the MC in MoulderingBook is Gwendolyn Chant.

And the delicious, decadent, deadly* family at the heart of my story? Well, I have no excuse for them other than my warped and twisty imagination.


(*apologies for the frivolous alliteration).
jennygordon: (Water Lily)
Why three things? Well, because I've just has such a great weekend, there's simply so much to talk about.

So:

1. I love my local library. My home town has such a fantastic library service that when I dropped into the local branch on Saturday, in 10 minutes flat, I found eight books to borrow and two more to buy in their 10p sale. The majority of those books are from the Young Adult shelves, as it's time I got back to reading the new releases and popular sellers out there, to update my knowledge of the current market.

2. I realised I haven't baked since moving into my current home, so I decided to find out if the oven knows how to. Turns out it does. I made teabread using rosehip tea. (Rosehips are full of vitamin C, so I could convince myself the big slab I had with my afternoon tea was good for me!)

3. Once my chores were done, I settled down at my PC in my sun-bathed study and typed up 5K more of the handwritten words of MoulderingBook, which was a record for one day's session. It only leaves a couple more thousand to type up, then I can return to writing new stuff.

So, the job for today is to tackle the final couple of thousand and then to find my way back into the story before this headache I can feel brewing kicks in.
jennygordon: (Roe Deer fawn)
I have an aversion to cliche; it brings be out in an unsightly rash. Which is why, when I drew this week's prompt from the pile, I ran screaming in the opposite direction from the obvious, and ended up with this instead.

I know, I'm a little strange ...

Also, look — we're at Vignette Number 20!

50-Word Vignette #20

Prompt: Kissing

The oldest of old say the edge of the world is all frost-fire and mist.

Well, I have travelled there and back in search of my missing soul, and I say there are wrong.

At the edge of the world, I found two trees, willow and birch, bowed together, kissing.



Anybody else like to join in and write their own? Just post it in the comments. All welcome.
jennygordon: (Froud - Green Man)
My grumbling last time about the dratted Rampaging Doubts got me thinking about this bizarre condition that is 'being a writer'. It doesn't matter whether you're published or not, famous, mid-list or a nobody, anyone who writes with any degree of seriousness suffers from the same condition.

Sure there are the Writer Highs, when words flow like blackbird song, and ideas flood through us like moonlight. But to counter those precious times there are the endless solitary hours spent setting down one word after another, deleting, repeating, struggling with plot and character, while our friends and family are playing with the dog, or visiting the cinema. We sacrifice parts of our life in order to find those hours. We deny ourselves a social life in order to pace around, plagued by the Rampaging Doubts that what we're producing is little more than rubbish.

And yet, we return to our notebooks and our computers regardless, to set down another word, and another —

Is it a strange sort of courage, or simply sheer bloody-mindedness that keeps us going through draft after draft, parking our egos in order to open up to critique, binning vast tracts of what took us hours to shape in order to shape new, hopefully better words?

Because, much as I'm still feeling disillusioned about MoulderingBook at the moment, come the weekend, you can guarantee I'll be bundling those Doubts out the back door and ignoring them while they pull faces at me through the window. I'll be picking up my pen and settling down in my Nook, battling onward in the hope that my next Writer High is just around the corner.

Why? Why do this to myself? Why not do something more fun with my time instead?

We talk about the 'need' to write that is an essential part of us; the unquiet creative mind that plagues us; the drive to express ourselves through our stories.

But honestly, when you think about what we put up with in order to answer that calling, I'm not sure it's a medal we deserve, or a padded cell!
jennygordon: (Tortoiseshell Butterfly (purple))
... or maybe not so funny, depending, is that when you pause for a moment to revisit the 20K words you have down so far, all your delusions about how wonderful it is look at you with a jaded eye.

Yeah, despite what I told some of you last week, found myself oddly lacking in enthusiasm for writing fresh stuff over the weekend, so decided that I could at least make a start on typing up the existing 20K of MoulderingBook. (I did also write a couple of thousand fresh words onwards from the 20K). I made good progress, and typed up about 7K of the existing stuff, without getting too bogged down with fiddling. But somewhere along the way, the dratted Rampaging Doubts decided to pay a visit.

"This is tedious twaddle," they grumbled. "Jeez, would you stop repeating those three particular words; don't you have a vocabulary?!"

Is the beginning too slow? I wondered. Is this all really dull after all? Who on earth would want to read this crap anyway? Why am I wasting my time here? Who am I kidding?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not seeking comfort or reasurance. I know these feelings are par for the course; every Writer High is liberally interspersed with generous dollops of Writer Lows. But isn't it just so frustrating that those Rampaging Doubts insist on coming round uninvited like this?

Come lunchtime Sunday, I decided, to hell with it. I'm going to use the rest of my weekend for something less depressing instead. So I stripped the bark form a hawthorn bough (you'll find out why when that particular project is finished), watched some episodes of 'Sex and the City' on DVD, and drank hot chocolate.

And that's fine. See, one of the many lessons I've learned in recent years is that it's important for me to give myself permission NOT to write sometimes. It's easy to allow writing to swallow my free time and energy, and is has done so for long periods in the past, and that wasn't good for me.

I need balance and variety in my life. I need to read, write, walk in green spaces, spend time with other creative projects, and spend time doing nothing creative whatsoever. All work and no play makes Jenny a dull girl ...

.... hang on, isn't that a variation on a quote about a writer who becomes possessed by malign spirits ...?

Hmmm ....
jennygordon: (Skywatcher)
I seem to be channelling my little Gothic MoulderingBook for this week's vignette.

50-Word Vignette #19

Prompt: Dare

Is the window of my attic prison filth-rimed, or has the world been swallowed by perpetual fog these many centuries?

Every day, the same questions.

Every day, the same regrets.

Why didn't I heed the warnings? Why did I enter this, of all houses? Why did I accept the dare?



Anybody else like to join in and write their own? Just post it in the comments. All welcome.
jennygordon: (Froud)
As I mentioned the other day, I've reached Act II in MoulderingBook. (I'm using Blake Snyder's Save the Cat structure for this book, and it's working nicely so far). Act II ("The main character makes a choice and the journey begins; a strong, definite change of playing field",) puts me at the point where I introduce the 'B Story' ("Often the 'love' story; gives us a break from the tension of the A story; carries theme of story; often uses new 'funhouse' version of characters.")

What with reaching the 20K word mark, and the end of my current sparkly purple notebook, I find myself facing the conundrum of whether this is a good point at which to stop and type up what I've written.

Hmmm.

There are pros and cons.

Pros:

1. I'm starting to get a little paranoid that sparkly purple is the only version of the story I have (you can't save a hand-written draft to a datastick!)

2. This might be a good point to revisit what I've written so far, to pick up on threads I might have forgotten about, and polish the text a little.

3. It'll be a whole lot easier to use the 'Find' version in WORD than flicking through endless handwritten pages next time I want to check how many piglets Master Doubleday's prize sow has.

Cons:

1. I may well be falling into the trap of miring myself in endlessly working the first 20K words, as opposed to making forward progress.

2. There isn't a 2. or a 3. Number 1 covers the entirely of the Cons.

As I said — hmmm — It's a tricky one. So tricky in fact that rather than make a decision about it yesterday, I decided to read some Joanne Harris short stories instead. Procrastinating? Moi?
jennygordon: (Star Gazer Lily)
Yesterday, I reached the 20K words stage of MoulderingBook. I also reached the end of the sparkly purple notebook I'm currently writing it in. I wallowed in the satisfaction of flicking through page after page of my words, re-reading some here and there, and I smiled and smiled and smiled.

I thought of the oft-cited Neil Gaiman quote, "Writing is flying in dreams. When you remember. When you can. When it works."

And then I remembered that it was only two months ago that I was tiptoeing fearfully back into my writing journey after an enforced year-long absence, and wondering if I still could.

I look at that sparkly purple notebook, full to the brim with my new story, and I know that I can.

I am complete once more.
jennygordon: (Rossetti - Veronica Veronese)
The more life I live, the more I come to believe that there is no such thing as coincidence. The things that come to us come, and the things that happen to us, do so at the time they do for a reason. Our job is to pay attention and do our best to understand.

Case in point: I came across this quote in an old notebook this morning. I originally jotted it down back in September, and now that I've found my way into the story I want MoulderingBook to be, it's speaking to me loud and clear:

"I want the difficult stories, the ones that aren’t easy to believe, the twisted ones, the sorrowful ones, the ones that need telling most of all."

Alice Hoffman, 'Green Heart'
jennygordon: (Froud - Wood Woman)
When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Greek Myths. The maiden huntress, Artemis, was my favourite deity, and I remember the original film of 'Clash of the Titans' with great fondness. My offering this week has nothing to do with Artemis, but there is a link with the film.

50-Word Vignette #18

Prompt: Easy

"If it was easy, we'd all be —"

"Don't say it." Her eyes narrowed as she carried on cutting.

"Accept what you are. There's no denying a goddess' curse."

"Give up? You think I want to kill every man who looks my way?" She hissed as another snake hit the floor.



Anybody else like to join in and write their own? Just post it in the comments. All welcome.
jennygordon: (Froud - Green Woman)
In the spirit of Jane Yolen, who is responsible for my title quote, I'm dropping by to share this wonderful article by Terri Windling, whose wonderful blog, Myth & Moor, is well worth following, if you don't already.

So much of this wonderful article spoke to me, and I'm sure it will to many others. For me, today (because I'll likely be a different version of me tomorrow, so other parts of the piece might speak louder instead), these two things hit a note:

"The mark of maturing, as an artist and as a person, is to stop looking at ourselves from the outside in; to settle, instead, deep within our own psyche, our body, our individuality. To look at the world from the inside out, nested deep inside the deeply-imperfect beauty of the person (and thus the artist) that we are."

and

"We're responsible for the gifts we've been given; we're responsible for what we put out into the world; and for being the artists who we actually are -- not the ones we somehow think we ought to be. And not the one someone else wants us to be."

There's so much more inspirational food for thought, and comfort food for the soul in the article, so please do take a look, if you have five minutes to spare.
jennygordon: (Water Lily)
This week's prompt seems to have made me come over all science-fictional. No idea why.

50-Word Vignette #17

Prompt: Treatment

They said everything would be much simpler, afterwards. No more confusion. No more fear. But when I opened my eyes the next morning to find all the colour gone from the world, I begged them, please, restore my full vision: I don't want my life to be black and white.

Anybody else like to join in and write their own? Just post it in the comments. All welcome.

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jennygordon

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