Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness

Autumn is already turning into a fruitful time for me.

2015-10-02 17.13.07Autumn is my favourite time of year. I love the turn of the season, the explosion of colours and smells; I love that transitional blend of chill mornings and still warm, sunny afternoons. I love to see banks of blackberries ripening in the park. I love it when #Strictly starts up again on the telly.

One month into a(nother) healthy eating/exercise campaign and already a notable few pounds less lumbersome, a simple commitment to an early morning walk (weather permitting – I’m not yet a friend of Parkas and Pakamacs) has begun to embed itself into my routine, sending oxygen to all the parts that need waking up as the day begins.

In the park this morning
In the park on Sunday morning

So it is that for the last few weeks I’ve been feeling increasingly fruitful where I have for months been feeling, well, a bit… stale.

2015-09-10 21.24.42My fruitful phase got off to a good start in early September when I retreated with the folks of Circle of Missé in France, spending six intensive days working on the structure for Novel Number Two. It took me a little over 4 days to nail it – that’s what happens when you push everything else aside and make the story your priority. Wayne and Aaron at Circle of Missé know just how to create the perfect environment for writerly focus. In a sublime setting, and with the opportunity to socialise with other writers and enjoy amazing meals every evening, it’s somehow easier to dedicate yourself to the writing – or the thinking and planning of the writing – throughout the day.

I came home with a roadmap and some very positive feedback on my ideas. Now I’m back on my horse, and back to that bare-minimum 500-words-a-week commitment – the one that should see me in perpetual motion (ideally a great deal faster than 500 words a week) through my first draft.

2015-10-04 14.13.45

On Saturday night, autumn brought yet more writerly stimulus – courtesy of my local library service, who have organised a month long festival of literature, arts and music in my borough, called Culture Bite. That’s already amazing, when so many other library services are in decline. Even more amazing, no less than three exceptional new authors came to talk about their debut psychological novels. Clare Mackintosh, with her Sunday Times/Richard & Judy triumph, I Let You Go, which begins with a tragic accident; Rebecca Whitney with The Liar’s Chair, a dark tale of a toxic marriage; and Renee Knight with Disclaimer, about a woman who finds her own darkest secret within the pages of of a novel. These are the kind of books I love to read, and the kind of books I aspire to write. All three writers were so generous of their time, their enthusiasm and – when they learned I had written and self-published my first – their warm encouragement and support. Thank you – all of you – for a fabulous evening, and for sharing your insights and experiences so openly.

Did you realise, you’re living my dream?

8 thoughts on “Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness

    1. Thank you – and happy fall to you too! I certainly enjoyed my writing retreat, a warm and reflective week in the Loire Valley in France, with the pleasure of the company of other writers over sociable evening feasts.

    1. I can warmly recommend it, Carrie. Take a look at the Circle of Misse website to see how their courses and retreats work. Numbers are small and you can’t beat a rural retreat in the Loire Valley for inspiration and reflection.

    1. There’s always something special about reading books written by someone whom you’ve met – or even ‘met’ online. All three authors kindly signed copies of their books for me and I am already part way through the first. The problem was deciding which one to begin with. Interestingly, not one of these three much admired debut novels had found their way to being traditionally published, via the submission/slush pile route.

  1. Apologies for the delay in commenting, Jools! I’ve been up to my neck in narration and have been a little more absent than usual. 🙂

    I would definitely like autumn more if freezing winter didn’t follow hard on its heels – I find it a challenge to bask in its glory when the frigid cold lurks around its golden corner.

    I do miss being able to pop across the channel to the continent! A writer’s retreat is something I could really sink my teeth into about now. I’m so glad you got to go and erect the scaffolding for your next book. Can’t wait to read it!

    1. I know that feeling! I’ve been prioritising many other things over social media lately – client work, personal health/fitness, writing that second book…

      I love autumn but I agree, it signals the long, chill winter season. Nevertheless, I cannot help but be cheered by the explosion of colour, especially when the autumn days are warm.

      Book Number Two feels ‘real’ now, as a result of that detailed planning time. i’ve learnt this is how I need to work. I need to be able to see the whole, in order to pick off the chapters, one by one. I can be spontaneous in life – sometimes – but with writing, need to know where I’m going!

      Lovely to hear from you, Wendy – and very pleased you’ve been so busy 🙂

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