Posts Tagged ‘writing’

I really believe in the benefits of drawing something every day. I always start with a proper sketch, which I upload to a sketching thread on ArtTutor, or sometimes maybe a few thumbnails for an illustration I’m planning to make. I try to fit in some writing too – and that’s all before breakfast!

But at Christmas, a friend gave me a Moleskine Accordion notebook:

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I’d never had one before but have many times followed Lynn Chapman’s adventures  as a resident artist doing similar things (with greater skill haha!).

So I set about it, documenting bits of my life every few days or when I felt like it. And today I got to the end of the second side. (You work through it one way, then it sort of folds over and you work your way on the reverse until you get to the cover again.)

It has been such a fun journey. Here is one of my spreads from a month or so ago.FullSizeRender 8

I might have to buy another, but then I also need a few other things, like, um, food! Although art does tend to become all-consuming 🙂

Back in July 2016, I posted about a new version of Humpty Dumpty I had invented on a whim. You can find it here.

This morning I got up and found some new words to another nursery rhyme going round in my head. I jotted them down and then added some pretty primitive sketches.

Maybe I was inspired subconsciously by having seen one-day-old lambs yesterday (ours are late up here), but anyway, I thought I’d post it here tonight to amuse you.

Enjoy!

Mary had a little lamb

Every now and then I remember to practise drawing the same character from different viewpoints doing different things. You may remember this attempt. I was at it again in the last couple of days, only this time I gave him (or is it a her with shortish hair?) some huge objects to manhandle. I was just being whimsical. But then some ideas came to mind.

Maybe:

He feels little in his family. Maybe he has a skill no one really notices. Maybe there is some incident when he knows he could help but no one even glances at him.

So what happens? *shrugs* Well, maybe he has to surreptitiously assemble the things he needs, in order to do whatever he needs to do to sort it out! So, stretching my brain a bit… he, um, steals the sharpener to sharpen the pencil, then draws the image and finally paints it.

That latter image was meant to be pastel sticks but looks more like watercolour paints – except for the lack of a mixing lid! He struggles to lug this one to his bedroom…

So yes, I don’t have time right now because a 400-page book has to be proofread this week for a publisher. But this is how a story could grow in my head, needing many revisions obviously, but perhaps it could be made to work if I really wanted to.

Nice to have conjured up a spark on a cold, icy day 🙂 Happy new year to you all.

dragongirl-pen-zigbrush-boy

As promised yesterday. How does this work for a pair of writings? Any comments welcome 🙂 Criticism welcome too!

An open book (2)

Knowing the library manager was out till tea time, I made straight for my favourite place down one of the aisles and started picking out all the books in that section that needed mending. I didn’t have to think about it. I’d mentally clocked them up when they came back in less-than-perfect condition. Numbers, facts, photographic memory… If only I didn’t have to work in a library. But it would have to do till something better came along.

Then I heard the main door open with a sough of chilly air, and my heart sank. This dark shut-in building was my womb – and wombs are best left in peace while things develop inside them.

I reluctantly stood up, picked up the damaged books and staggered with them over to the entrance. ‘Can I help?’ I called to the girl. ‘You look lost.’

There. She’d feel as if someone cared. The exact phrase was on page 25 of the training manual, bullet point 3. I could see it in my mind.

She handed me a list. I stared at it in amazement. What sort of person goes into a library with a list? And worse than that, a doctor’s scribbly handwritten list, naming self-help books for the weedy. I now recognise every doctor’s handwriting in this town – they’re all at it, this bibliotherapy thing. What we should do is charge them! And then replace these stuffy old shelves with neat lines of matching, pine-coloured shelving with desks at exact intervals so that people can sit near to where they’re browsing. I could make a proper go of running this place, given a chance.

I offered to fetch the first book on the list, and then, following rule 2, page 30, kept eye contact while asking her for identification. I did start to lose track when she rambled on about eBay and charity shops. Obviously out of work. Probably no good at anything. Anyway, if she was broke, I wasn’t interested in her.

‘Sorry?’ I murmured dutifully. (Rule 10: Keep your complete attention on the client from the moment they ask for help.) ‘Oh yes, I buy my books, too,’ I told her, hoping I’d got it right, and handing her the somewhat dog-eared copy of Managing your Moods. I’d need to add that to the mending pile when she returned it. ‘Yes, much better to own books than borrow them. Though I shouldn’t say that, should I? Not working here!’ (Rule 12: Maintain a sense of humour at all times.)

Of course, I wouldn’t be working here if I could find another job. It’s those stupid interviewers out there who can’t cope with suggestions for improving their businesses. You’d think they’d be grateful to employ someone who could think widely as well as remember all the existing protocols.

‘Have fun with this one, Lucy,’ I added as she turned away. I’m not sure why she looked so pleased – I mean, that book’s dumb.

I toyed with writing something in the first person from two different viewpoints of the two people who had a chance encounter. This is what resulted.

It would be a bit longer than usual for a blog post – 500 words each – so I’ll post one half today and the other half tomorrow.

If I wish you a really good drawing and writing new year (I’m not above a bit of bribery!) will you find time to read both?! Thing is, bribery apart, you only get the point if you read both. Same encounter but interpreted very differently by the two people involved.  I’d love to hear whether you think it works.

And thank you very much for the support in Likes and comments during the past year. Much appreciated in your busy lives.

An open book (1)

I was about to pass the library and pretend the doc hadn’t given me this note, when I found myself stopping. I fished in my pocket for the booklist: bibliotherapy indeed! Oh well, it wouldn’t do any harm to try – might even pass the time. There was precious little to do at home. Nothing interested me any longer.

I tugged open the heavy oak door, and a breath of warm air hit me, sweet and, well, booky. At first glance, the library seemed deserted. The vaulted ceiling and rows of dark shelves reminded me of an ancient church with a preservation order on it – both comforting and off-putting.

I was a bit disorientated because the layout was not at all like the modern scientific collections I was used to at Bellingham’s. There, because I was the chief lab technician, I consulted chemistry books stacked in modern pine-veneered shelves that must have cost a bomb. Of course, if they hadn’t invested so much in their library, maybe they wouldn’t have had to lay us off. It’s depressing how people get their priorities wrong.

This library was so gloomy and uninspiring, I turned to leave.

‘Can I help?’ a voice behind me called. ‘You look lost.’

I turned. A tall young man appeared from behind a stack, with a dozen books piled dangerously high in his arms. His friendly eyes peeped at me over the top. They held an air of alarm.

Caught deserting, I told myself ruefully. ‘No, not lost – but I don’t usually come here. Could you tell me where to find these, please?’ I held out the list, feeling even more like the maiden in distress that I’d become recently.

The man dropped the books in a messy pile on the front desk and took the paper from me. I relaxed a fraction as he scanned the titles. His dark hair was cropped short in a number one, just the way I like it, and his navy fleece gave him an air of cuddly reliability. About thirty. Nice looking.

‘I think they’re self-help books,’ I added, trying not to sound too eccentric. ‘But I only need the top one.’

It took him next to no time to fetch the book from a nearby shelf and return to the desk. ‘I suppose you won’t have a borrowing card?’ he asked. ‘I’ll make you out one if you have some identification.’

I handed over my driving licence and found myself opening up a fraction. Someone choosing to be helpful was a relief actually. ‘I usually buy my books from charity shops and eBay,’ I told him, cautiously putting a toe in the water. ‘We all do. Then, once a month, we go down to the bookshop and choose a new one.’

He looked up with what I took to be surprise on his face. ‘Oh, but not this sort,’ I added hastily. ‘Fantasy and sci fi, crime, thrillers. Nothing too touchy-feely.’ I wanted him to think the self-help books were for someone else.

Surprisingly, he didn’t look pityingly at me. ‘I buy my books, too,’ he said, handing me the somewhat dog-eared copy of Managing your Moods. ‘Much better to own books than borrow them. But I shouldn’t say that, should I? Not working here! Anyway, have fun with this one, Lucy.’

I felt as if life had perked up all of its own accord. He’d bothered to read my ID and remember my name!

You never know what will set you off writing. This morning’s combination of triggers was a surprise.

I had sketch-painted a conker in its shell last night while drinking my last coffee before bed. It was only a quick one and could be improved if that were my main aim, whereas it’s only for relaxation and mind-emptying ready for sleep.

But I got up this morning and thought: ‘Must look up the disease that’s killing our conker trees.’

This gave me information just before I finished off reading about the Mad-Song Stanza that rhymes x a b b a. This info was in an article in Writing Magazine – and the only reason I had a copy of Writing Magazine was on account of having noticed a very cheap year’s subscription from iTunes on the PocketMags platform. [Wow – hasn’t this e-platform become brilliant since I last used it. Thoroughly recommended, for WM at least.]

And the only reason I noticed the subs offer was that I had won a competition WM runs (as I mentioned in an earlier post) and wanted to read the judge’s crit of my story! Strange how life happens 🙂

Anyway, the end result of this trigger chain is a little experimental image with a little experimental stanza underneath it. Food for thought too – nature trying to right itself.

conker

TREE SKIRMISHING

The conker tree’s at war

with moths that mine its leaves.

But friendly mites

take killing bites

inside the pupa thieves.

Over the last year or so I have only written articles, children’s picture books and some (many!) editorials. I do a lot of editing of sentence structure for a variety of reasons. Sometimes to refocus on the main point, sometimes to clarify the point I thought I had already made clear(!), and sometimes to fit the need for brevity.

It occurs to me that this year alone I have got letters published in the Daily Telegraph many times. Not long-winded, knowledgeable, informative ones. I leave that for the experts. Mine have been succinct, salient nuggets destined to cause a grin, a reaction or a very precise point. I claim this openly without pride. The reason is that you don’t get published unless your letter arrives exactly how they like it. It’s a salutary lesson in focus and crafting to editorial need.

Edit and re-edit

What no one knows is just how many iterations I scribe compared to how many I do for an editorial (three routinely) or a short story (a few). The ratio of revisions to word count is astronomical! I cut and move and alter and exchange until the shortness, succinctness and rhythm of the read (sometimes only two sentences) is as perfect as I can make it. And it’s written one day for publication the next, because relevance and fit move on rapidly in the news world.

Here are three of my successes (the first will not make sense without the trigger but that’s how you join in a conversation in Letters. That and starting with SIR!):

SIR: “Somewhat quaintly; not too sentimentally” (Letters, 6 March) is the most likely result, in my experience, if the piece is played on an old harmonium with bellows operated by foot pedals. “Somewhat breathlessly” will certainly apply.

SIR: On reading Shane Watson’s piece on what makes us posh or not (Features, September 6), I vividly recalled being at a small gathering of parents from the local private school. Suddenly a voice boomed: ‘Who cut the stilton like this?’ I glanced at my husband, who raised his eyebrows slightly and shrugged. To this day, I have no idea about stilton etiquette. And don’t care. If that’s classed as not posh, I’d rather be normal.

SIR: Keith Taylor’s simple solution of installing a call blocker (Letters, October 25) is unworkable. The firms involved regularly change their number and I have no wish to stand by the button rejecting each one.

I hope this inspires you to try writing a letter to the editor of your favoured newspaper or magazine. The year has been good to me in my writing world and I’m looking forward to Christmas and a few days’ break 🙂