Tag Archives: productivity

Autumn Awakening

The summer seems to deaden my creativity, only to reawaken this time of year. I’d blame it on the sunshine baking my brains, only this was the wettest summer on record so no help there. As soon as the mornings start to get that sharp chill and the mustiness of dead leaves rise like smoke through the air, that’s when I begin to itch for a blank document. I also start knitting a lot, but that might be more about self-preservation in my cold house than anything else.  It’s an exciting time of year to be a falconer as well, and the Goshawk is coming down in weight in preparation for the hunting season.  Autumn is definitely my favourite time of year, and I thrive best in it.

In particular, I’m gearing up to write a new novel. If I can carry out this project to its potential it will be the best novel I have written, as well as the most adult piece of writing I have ever accomplished. By “adult” I’m not meaning the subject matter, nor genre of what I’m intending to produce; this will be the first novel that represents me, the writer, as an adult.

I feel that all my previous novels have been trapped in my childish psyche, small attempts at adventuring in a world of make-believe. I’m not saying I will abandon Fantasy as a genre, but I won’t be defining myself by it, either. Those novels have certainly represented me in a way, but not as a whole, merely one facet of me. This will attempt to be all of me, both ugly and fair, in a way I’ve never accomplished before.

It’s a terrifying concept, as exposing as taking off your clothes in a room of strangers. And it’s as visceral as a knife in the stomach, spilling out entrails across sheets of virgin white paper. This is not a comfortable endeavour, but it will force out very good writing and I won’t be able to hold back as I have in the past.

I’m starting from a concept this time, and in fact I’ve taken inspiration from a poem which makes the part of me which thrilled in completing my degree in English Literature crow aloud. This will be a work that can stand up to literary criticism, though I shudder to define it by the “literary” genre. In a lot of ways it’s easier to write from a concept, instead of a plot or character, because depth is already present whereas in the past I have spent a lot of time trying to search out (or fabricate) meaning in a meaningless romp. In a lot of ways it’s also a lot harder because I have so many choices to make, characters and situations to build out of a nebulous concept. Not to mention how much I desperately want this to be finally, finally something I can be proud of.

No pressure, right?

Currently I’m just trying to get my thoughts in order, and this post has helped me. However, apart from research, I will be mainly avoiding the internet while pursuing this venture. I wonder if there have been studies done to prove how much general productivity among first world nations has dropped since the invention of Facebook and other social networking sites. I’m also not allowed to turn on my television, expect if I’m really good I might be allowed to watch Star Trek: TNG at 7pm tonight as a reward!  To help me be productive, I’ve also finally got our second bedroom made into a study, with the judicious placement of a patio table as a “desk”.  I think this will help me a lot, as I need a space that can be set away from the distractions of the rest of the house in order to think more clearly.

Right now I’m mainly trying to formulate a story out of this concept, or at least a persuasive character at the centre of my narrative. I forsee many long walks with the dog while  I try to work these things out. I love my concept, and I adore the poem in which I found it, so hopefully the forward momentum from that will carry me forward. I realise I sound a bit cryptic not going into specifics, but that’s just necessary at this stage in my writing so don’t ask for too many details unless you’re happy to be disappointed!

I’m going to go and disappear from the internet now and listen to the calls of stags in rut as they roar from across the fields, the pheasants in the cover and the wind rattling through the dying leaves. This is a good time to start something new, when things are in motion for a changing season. I’m ready to explore the limits of my creativity, my mind and my recurring carpal tunnel syndrome!  Wish me luck!

Seasonal Prose, Lack of Productivity and The Scarf That Looks Like A Scarf

*

Before long, Cobault’s streets were swept by the high winds that characterised Autumn’s approach. Debris rattled on the cobblestones, thrown under the wheels of carriages and making the streets somewhat more hazardous than usual. Ladies’ long skirts twisted around their legs, tripping the unprepared and making men stare with knowing smiles to see the outlines of appendages hitherto unseen. These men had to be careful to remain at least somewhat self-aware and mind their hats, however, for not a few were stripped from their wearer’s very heads. Chill fingers of air groped pedestrians, raising gooseflesh in their wake.

This was an unfriendly season, and Euphemia was more aware of that than her peers – because of her peers, in actuality.

*

So I think I can handle moving forward in time, now, to some degree.  It’s been one of my struggles, and I have to say it took reading all of Harry Potter to give me the idea.  Every single book, J.K. Rowling uses the time device of the seasons to shift us through the academic year:

“As they entered November, the weather turned very cold.” (The Philosopher’s Stone)

“October arrived, spreading a damp chill over the grounds and into the castle.”  (Chamber of Secrets)

“Two weeks before the end of term, the sky lightened suddenly to a dazzling, opaline white and the muddy grounds were revealed one morning covered in glittering frost.” (The Prisoner of Azkeban)

And so on.  Notice how much purpler the prose of these descriptions get with every book?  Oh, J.K. Rowlz, I suppose the fame started to get to your head a wee bit there.  Not complaining, mind – I think the word “opaline” is sorely underused.

It makes a lot of sense but I don’t want to rely upon it.  Just like I began to notice that every single HP book relied upon seasonal prose to move forward through time, it can become clunky and expected.

And readers are a fickle bunch, and you can’t let them get what they expect – they’ll get bored and leave you!  Contrary bastards.

In other news, as noted by the excerpt, I’m writing Cobault again!  It’s kind of a big deal, because I’ve been a bit Blah and not writing for a week or so now.  You can generally tell how productive I’m being, writerly, by how many posts I’m posting here in a given week.  I think this week there has been a grand total of two.  So not very productive.

However, I’m feeling rather proud of the scarf I’m knitting.  It’s very fuzzy and actually looks like a scarf.  It’s impressive.