Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Making a Map

Recently I’ve started thinking about Nanowrimo again.

I had intended to plan this year out. I’ve never planned a single first draft before and I like to try something different every November. With editing my first manuscript weighing on my mind I just haven’t got around to even thinking about what I’m going to write in November.

I was a little disappointed in myself for not having thought of anything yet so I decided I’d give Holly Lisle’s Map and Essay a go and see if I could conjure up any ideas from that.

I have made a couple of these maps before but find myself agonising over where to put trees and mountains! I decided this time that I wouldn’t work on plain paper.

I grabbed myself a load of paper from my discarded print-outs pile and started to age them with a tea and coffee solution (I went for Instant Carte Noire and PG Tips!). Colour print-outs look so gorgeous when they’re tea-stained. The colour from the ink becomes very diffused and anything can look beautiful – I used an HP print test page which has a beautiful butterfly on it and some print outs of Frida Kahlo paintings. I also used some worksheets that I printed out for a textiles workshop I taught a few years ago.

My first experiment hasn’t been too successful – I decided yesterday that I would make an Atlas.

I have the vague image of an island in my head and I was thinking I’d like to try some sort of fantasy adventure with lots of travelling. So, I figured I needed lots of maps.

I took a really old diary of mine and started to paste together the pages. I decided I’d only give myself 6-8 double page spreads so I needed to glue all the other pages together (stopping the pasting at interesting spots of writing and doodles which might make good backgrounds for my map).

Unfortunately this has led to one big soggy mess that I’m trying to dry on the towel rail! Maybe it’ll be beautifully distressed like an old map once it’s dry, who knows – it might take a few weeks though.

My second attempt has been a lot more promising.

I took one of those cardboard pieces that Amazon.co.uk use to send books out, unfolded it and pasted on some of my favourite print outs. Hopefully it’ll be dry tomorrow and I can carefully cover the other side too.

Once it’s dry I’ll start to draw in my islands and mountains and volcanoes and so forth, drawing on the imagery and words in the background.

I’m thinking about leaving the actual essay until the first day of November and trying to make it more into a story.

I already have an idea about this map being passed down to a girl. I’m going to let that thought compost during October.

Find out more about my Nanowrimo experience here.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Knitting the Plot


I’ve started this knitting project which is perfect for the story I’m currently working on.

It’s called Oceanstream by Jane Thornley and I’m working on it whilst editing my novel – well, I say editing but there’s a lot of rewriting and fresh plotting going on too. It’s a loose top which Jane refers to as “notaponcho”.

Jane’s instructions are written like we’re on a ship following a map that takes you out of deep water, past an island and up to shore (at the top of your not-a-poncho).

This is great for me as my current (no pun intended) story is all about the sea and I’m composting a new nautical story for this year’s NanoWrimo.

It’s a free range pattern so there’s a lot of making it up as you go along – kind of like starting out on your first draft of your novel.

I’m still at the beginning of the pattern so I’ve just started knitting the moon in amongst dark streams of deep water. This is a mysterious place – a deep well of ideas. Maybe if I cast my most sparkly yarn down into them there waters I might catch a jewelled fish.

As I knit further up the piece I’ll come to a lagoon and an atoll.

I’m carrying along a lot of yarns as I work the different colours of this piece and they keep getting tangled on the back. Every now and then I keep untangling them – like making sense out of all those places where your plot explodes on you.

I started thinking – wouldn’t it be cool to have a knitting project for every story – a way to keep my mind thinking about what’s happening plot-wise whilst I having a sneaky break.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

The Monster that Swallowed a Hairball

I started off yesterday morning by beginning to work on story for Tricia Ander’s The Monster that Swallowed a Hairball Giveaway and finished it tonight (complete with run-on sentences - but as I haven't written anything short and eperimental for a while I hope I can be forgiven).

Check the monster out – I think he’s adorable but I think my story might be getting a teensy bit too cutesy. But I think that’s me all over – I take after my Nana too much.

The hairball immediately made me think of my brother’s old girlfriend who had a crazy number of furball pets.

It’s been quite a while now since I last wrote a short story but I had so much fun with it. It reminded me of all the little bits of detail I like to put into stories that I completely forgot about whilst working on editing my novel-length story.

At the last count Lucy owned 7 rabbits (2 angora, 1 English giant, 3 dwarves and an American fuzzy lop), 8 dust bunnies (of varying sizes and countenances), 3 guinea pigs (2 of which were long-haired and regularly needed bathing and brushing), 9 cats (3 Persians, 2 Siamese, 1 tortoiseshell, 2 tabby cats and a ginger tom), 11 white mice and 2 puppies (pugs of course).

Lucy would sweep her tiny cottage from noon until twilight and still she would sneeze from the wisps of fur tickling her nostrils.

She would spend the rest of her time in the garden whilst the rabbits nibbled grass with the guinea pigs (fighting over the dandelions - whose heads would grow enormous and yellow like the sun and later make the most amount of seeds which would add to the fur balls in the cottage), the cats would stalk imaginary foe along the weedy flowerbeds, the white mice would nest in Lucy’s hair and the puppies would roll around the long grass, making grass pugs (like snow angels but with less snow and more pug) and scratching their backs on tree roots.

The monster arrived one evening when Lucy’s sweeping duties were over. Her broom had swept so much it was close to spontaneously combusting from the friction of its bristles on the William Morris tiles that Grandma Flowerpot had laid in place throughout the cottage (she had been an avid gardener and “Flowerpot” was an easier name to say than “Grandma Eustacia Eulalia Eugenia” which was her name).

“Oh!” Lucy was surprised by her uninvited guest who at first she had mistaken for a piece of fudge brownie (the kind that has extra large chocolate chips and icing sugar) that she hadn’t swept up.

The monster’s tummy grumbled with the strength of thunder on a hot summer afternoon, scaring away 5 of the cats and 3 of the rabbits which had been sniffing at him.

He put his hand on his belly and the bits that Lucy thought were his cheeks flamed a cherry colour.

“Oh dear,” said Lucy. “What do you eat?”

“Marf!” he said, which Lucy rightly took to mean that he ate fur-balls.

“Excellent,” she said and the very next day he was put to work eating the fluff balls that were whipped up by Lucy’s broom.

Lucy’s cottage was swept clear in no time at all and she could greatly reduce the budget she set aside for the shea butter quilted toilet tissue that she used to wipe her nose after every violent sneezing session.