The time for delaying tactics is over. I need to write something. Anything. Especially anything longer than a haiku! Just to get back into the swing.

So here are nearly 500 words of a possible novel for middle grade. Nothing to write home about (excuse the pun) but until I see what I’ve written, I usually don’t know exactly what I wanted to write! And clearly this won’t be right for today’s middle grade children (at least if you want a publisher), but then again, I do know some kids who would lap up a mystery novel just fine. Which is what this beginning has in mind.

Anyway, I don’t do funny very well, I don’t do bottom humour, and I don’t do – oh, I don’t know, clever stuff. So into the bin with it. But do have a read first 🙂 All writing needs a reader!

For the zillionth time that afternoon, Oriel leaned out of the hotel’s attic window and stared down into Chatfield’s medieval cobbled square. Her eyes scanned the sunlit groups of shoppers from right to left, as if trying to find a hidden thimble. Then she stiffened and caught her breath sharply.

That’s him, I bet, she thought. Young and alone, with a leather suitcase, and foreign-looking. Definitely Josef Ahlenburg, our first guest… And in an awful hurry to reach us.

The boy in question looked about fourteen or fifteen, a few years older than Oriel, and he was sprinting – not like you sprint when you’re late for tea (which he nearly was) but as if training for his school football team. He was running a short way and then stopping, running and stopping again, as he came down the final stretch of road that led into the square. Every time he paused, he turned to glance warily over his shoulder at the lingering groups of Saturday shoppers. Then he darted past another group and looked round again. She wouldn’t have been surprised to see him dribbling a football, as if wondering who to pass it to.

Who was he trying to avoid?

She was slightly alarmed. Josef Ahlenburg couldn’t be trying to escape anyone. He wouldn’t know anyone yet, let alone have enemies. He was coming to England to take part in an international music course at the Grange.

Oriel stared, mesmerised, shading her eyes from the sun that streaked in from the south-west. It was still high above the beech trees flanking the park on one side of the square.

The boy paused again. Looked around, this time scanning the street higher up. Maybe he was searching for the Red Tree sign that hung from its black metal bracket outside the hotel windows two floors below Oriel.

Suddenly, he gazed straight up at her, as if he might have seen her. Oriel waved frantically to attract his attention.

She thought he nodded briefly before setting off again. But he still walked zig-zag around the cobbled pavements, as if his feet simply refused to go directly to the hotel.

Oriel frowned. She was sure this was Josef – the violin he carried was a dead giveaway, now that she noticed it. He wore a navy blue blazer, white shirt and grey trousers, which must be his school uniform. But he didn’t look at all like the posh boy she’d imagined, knowing his mother was a German countess. That must absolutely be the most awful thing to have to put up with – no eating in bed, no talking with your mouth full, no leaving the house without a bodyguard…

And then she remembered her father. Maybe being posh wasn’t the worst thing to have to survive.

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Well, if nothing else, the haiku form is short enough to be dreamt up when I don’t have time to write a novel. But I was designing my own shell drawings into a surface pattern and was in the mood for a real beach and some more summer. And the haiku grew from there.

So here are two of my photos superimposed to illustrate my haiku.

Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 11.46.59

beachcombing haiku

In for a penny, in for a pound, as my dad used to say! So here is my unicorn image and here is a haiku. Another haiku, um, or three 🙂 Can’t choose between them this time. Maybe I should move on to some other poetry form! But I did say I would start writing again in September and maybe I’m easing myself in. That is, to fiction. I’ve never stopped writing factual stuff for journals.

Unicorn screenshot

unicorn moonlit circle

 

I can’t believe I last posted on a haiku and now I’m doing it again. Am I hung up on writing haiku? Badly??

Nope. In between I’ve done some editorial work (both in words and art) and tended to my Redbubble shop. It’s just that now, tonight, after time in the fresh air on a lovely sunny day, I was thinking of how vast nature is and how cramped I feel in trying to put that awe and wonder into words – and the haiku form entered my head.

It started off badly – you know how it is when you fiddle with the words and they don’t come out quite right. So two failed attempts. They went like this:

Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 21.55.11

In fact they were totally awful haha!

And then the third try hit the itch I was trying to scratch. And immediately I thought of two images I had made on separate occasions that would illustrate this idea nicely.

One, an acrylic nighttime land/skyscape; the other a pensive person watching. So here is the result, amalgamated in Photoshop with the proper haiku superimposed. Feels satisfying to have done this 🙂 Hope you like it.

nature haiku

Of shoes and haiku

Posted: September 9, 2017 in Art, fiction, poems, thoughts, writing
Tags: , , , , ,

Was sketching feet in shoes because it’s something I do badly when attached to a human figure – even if the figure looks good overall. So I’ve been observing more carefully.

But they also looked lonely by themselves, so I wrote three haiku. All describe the same feeling – that drawing shoes is probably a slightly easier task than getting a human foot correct. Which is weird, because shoes should be more manufactured/structured, but the human foot has a lot of variations after their owners have lived for a while! Anyway, here they are – both shod feet and haiku attempts.

shoes haiku screenshot

graphite shoes

And (she says, continuing from the last post as if a couple of weeks hadn’t passed in silence!) – in the last month I have opened my shop on RedBubble. How tickly tricky it feels in one’s chest to be so brazen as to assume that anyone at all anywhere might want to buy one of your designs printed on a product! But they have.

And, after a panicky week or so when I didn’t go public and actually ‘open’ the shop, I’m now having fun. Perhaps some of that fun is using my art for something that isn’t aimed at editorial or books. When we’re consumed by a need to draw and paint and design and illustrate, it’s quite hard to always be driven by the need to do the kind of thing that might prompt someone else to commission a work.

In part, my daily sketching solves that. But this, too – this “make your art into a design for a product” – is also scratching that itch. I get to choose – and I do think that if I love something I create very much, someone out there will too.

It still feels a bit tickly tricky to actually tell you about the shop – but how else would you know??! Here is a sneak preview. I bought that rose design on a black top for myself, and loved wearing  it yesterday 🙂

RB shop sample

 

 

I will start writing again next month. I’ve found myself some time by stopping counselling young people and running drug and alcohol group work. All really fulfilling activities and worthwhile in terms of outcomes, which I’ve done for the last 13 years. But I don’t believe in an afterlife and there are only so many hours in this one! So I really want to spend more time writing and illustrating and that is what I shall be doing with the time I’ve freed up.

I’ve sold many articles, stories, novels (and puzzles and brochures) over the years. It’s something I can do. It just got pushed out by the editing and proofreading, both of which bring in a more reliable income. So, encouraged by last year’s win in a short story competition and the knowledge that I know how to write and sell, I’m embarking on bringing together some threads. I shall write about or for children and young people – perhaps articles to pitch to magazines and newspapers, as before (but specialising in my more recent experiences professionally) or stories that are either real or fantastic but contain an emotional or mental health truth. As indeed all stories must. These will also be inspired by the needs of young people I’ve met over the years.

It feels like a plan. But in this month of ‘not working much’ (by intention – some people have foreign holidays!), I’ve designed two book covers for two slightly updated fairy tales. One goat is a girl, so no “Billy” in the title! And the Pied Piper is a girl – plus the person refusing to pay her is a business man. I enjoyed drawing and painting the components in watercolour, and also used Procreate App and Photoshop to assemble them. Maybe I’ll write the stories too!

two fairy tale covers