To Do

I haven’t been writing very much lately. I’ve been too busy with real life, scrapping my way through end-of-year marking for my film students and working on videos for Kendal College and Cumbria Wildlife Trust. I’ve still some way to go, and there’s plenty more to do – my Dad’s popping up to help me build a fence, and I need to build a log store. But hopefully the end is in sight. Most important, I should be getting Jane‘s notes for Riptide in the next few weeks, and then I need to work my way through that final draft.

For a bit of a change, I’ve been using the odd evening to (slowly) teach myself the basics of InDesign, trying to put together a booklet of my flash fiction. It’s no big deal – twenty-five stories between 50 and 500 words, provisionally entitled ‘Marrow’. I’ve also booked in my next two readings – first for the Spotlight open mic in Lancaster in July, and then as a support slot for Dreamfired in Brigsteer in October. And in the background, I’m reading and researching towards my next novel; quietly brewing on the story, blocking out the plot. I still have some narrative strands to tidy up, though I know where the book will finish emotionally.

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For the moment: research. I wrote about rediscovering P.V. Glob’s The Bog People a few months ago, and I’ve finally had a chance to actually read the thing. For a 1970s archaeological review – even one designed for jumblies – it’s surprisingly well-written. Some of the bog bodies have held astonishing secrets in their graves. One poor woman was staked down with crooks and buried alive. A man was stabbed through the heart, smashed on the head and strangled. It’s all great stuff for the novel, generating context and building ideas. By happy coincidence, one of the jobs I’m doing for Cumbria Wildlife Trust is on wetland restoration, so I’ve been spending some time ankle deep in peatland. I need some more books, and I’d like to take trips to fen country at some point.

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It’s a thrilling stage, all the researching and blocking and plotting, preparing the ground before the hard work starts. I learned a lot from writing Riptide, and I’m excited to start work on a new book. Just need to clear away the hundred other things on my To Do list, first.

It hasn’t been all work. Friends Steve and Clare took us to Chester Zoo yesterday. We went straight to the orangutans, and spent a gloriously peaceful 20 minutes with them before a dozen school trips caught us up. Dora especially loved the bat enclosure, a vast warehouse where the bats swoop and skitter in artificial night. This morning we’re off to Dentdale Music & Beer festival, too. I’m going to take my story dice and drink ale.

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