Thinking of NaJoPoMo
Posted Oct 12, 2018
Are you planning for NaJoPoMo 2018? I've been wondering what to do this year. I've done haikus, alphabet soup (twice) talked about food, and written a story about a murder in a town council. I don't want to write a kind of diary, because it would be very boring.
I don't think many people read serious poems, though I could try limericks and clerihews (at the risk of being rude.)
I've got one or two ideas for stories I could try out on you, but I might not know when I start out exactly where they'll go...
Harvest of a Sort
Posted Sep 22, 2018
When we arrived at our old house in France, the sky was cloudless. There was a hint of mist at the horizon, but pure blue at the zenith. Everything was parched. Leaves hung shrivelled and one of the old fruit trees in the orchard seemed to have died. The grass, which is usually rampant when we arrive, had bleached to the colour of straw, leaving patches of bare earth and yellow thistles.
If we had hoped for a plentiful harvest, we were unlucky. In our garden, most of the plums were over, with only a few mirabelles on the tree. The grapes had shrivelled on the vines. The only trees with a significant amount of fruit were the cooking apple and the quince. The persistence of the quince tree impressed me, as two big branches broke off a few years ago.
I watched as a couple of men on tractors finished the plum harvest in the commercial orchards at the end of our garden. Both tractors were equipped with trailers and attachments that looked like upside down umbrellas. These close round the tree trunks, shaking them and producing a rain of plums. Plums are an important crop here, as they are dried and sold as prunes, called ‘Pruneaux d’Agen’.
If the drooping leaves were sad, the saddest sight in the garden was the wreck of the willow tree. It used to grow on the boundary between our house and that of the neighbours. It was a big tree, draped with ivy and Virginia Creeper, which gave shade on the hottest days. One day, our neighbour rang us up in a panic, saying the tree had fallen in a storm, and was threatening her property. We spent some time on the internet and the phone, trying to find tree surgeons who could cut it down. And communicate with them in French. When we arrived at the house, all that was left of the tree was a stump, a pile of branches and big slices of trunk. We will have enough firewood for years and we went home with bags of apples and quinces.
Posted Aug 16, 2018
I sit at my laptop and think
why am I wasting my day?
It doesn't use paper or ink,
the laptop doesn't need pay,
but why do I bother to write
when no-one will publish my stuff?
It's not imbecilic or trite
but I need more relevant guff.
The story's not bad, I believe,
although descriptions are pale.
If I could write stuff to weave
magic spells and sent it out mail
no agent would give me a look,
let alone knock on my gate,
they wouldn't get me signing books,
because I'm now sixty eight!
A June Walk
Posted Jun 3, 2018
June in England can be glorious. This is a day of blue skies, dotted with fluffy white cumulus clouds. We drive to a place we know at the foot of the South Downs and walk up. It is quite a steep climb, between ash, oak and beech trees, in their full foliage. Wild garlic still covers the ground beneath, but is turning brown. Our path takes us over a stile, across a meadow, then up steps through a stretch of wood. We come out into a clearing full of flowers, where the grass is dotted with Common Spotted Orchids, Twayblades, Butterfly Orchids and a few White Helleborines. We turn a corner onto a bridleway which is still deep in mud. Although the Downs themselves are chalk, the lower slopes coat the rock with the heavy clay of the Low Weald.
Having climbed another stile, we emerge onto open downland. The sky is clear enough for us to see not only over the Low Weald, and across the sandstone of the High Weald, but as far as the chalk of the North Downs. We can hear skylarks trilling high above and the flowers attract butterflies, including Common Blue, Small Heath, Wall Brown and Small Blue. Towards the top of the hill, we cross banks and ditches which are remnants of ancient defences. From the summit, we can see the sea shining to the south and the Downs stretching westward into the distance.
Contouring round the hill, we find a slope where Fragrant Orchids bloom. Further down we find the Man Orchid, which is not much to look at but is quite uncommon. Soon we are returning to woodland, where the cool green contrasts with the bright sun outside. This has been a good walk.
Writer's Block Again
Posted Mar 15, 2018
I am coming to the end of my second draft of my so-called novel and I've got a problem.
As the current draft stands, my heroine Danielle and her son Jeannot return to the garage where they were living before they had to flee and find it deserted. The owner breaks the news that my hero, Michel has been killed.
This is such a sad ending, I think I need a framing narrative. I need the whole story to start with Danielle as an old woman, receiving a letter from her brother-in-law Henri, expressing a desire for reconciliation with his brother's family. Then the book ends with Danielle and her son (now a middle-aged man) going to France, meeting Henri and putting aside old grievances.
I could let Michel live and give the story a happy ending, with him and Danielle meeting again. But this is not such an interesting narrative.
Or I could provide that, at some point on her travels, Danielle meets another man she likes. I wouldn't want this to be more than a friendship. But at the end, he turns up and she has a chance of a brighter future.