Anything is possible

The question I have been asking myself for a while now is should I acknowledge the monumental lack of blogging activity, or just start up again, as if by ignoring the gap it won’t have happened.

But I can’t treat it like the elephant in the room; it is just not in me to do that. Just how did I go from such sparklingly-awesome blogging, to the desolation and tumbleweeds which have been prevalent the last year? Seriously, if Bright Meadow had been a puppy, you’d have called the RSPCA on me long since. What happened to the blogger at the peak of her game?

Would that I knew.

Was it Twitter taking all my thoughts? A job I adore in my dream sector? Living in a new and stunningly beautiful city? Perhaps it was just that I grew older.

Or a combination of all of the above with other things I don’t want to acknowledge in the mix.

What next? I genuinely don’t know. It hurts to think that Bright Meadow has reached the end of the line, but at the same time I just don’t know what I would write about if I was to start blogging daily/weekly again. I had a moment a few months back when 9rules went through more change and, what with one thing and another I gave up the leaf. It was a hard decision to take. 9rules was this HUGE thing that happened to me back in the summer of 2006. You cannot underestimate the sense of pride I had when I first put up the leaf. So to let it go?

Even now it makes me blink a bit in shock. But I just wasn’t the same blogger any more and the leaf wasn’t where I was at.

Yes, a part of me, a large part, wants to kick Bright Meadow back into gear to see if I can earn that leaf back. Just to see if I can. Because I still have it in me somewhere.

But should I? What would I get out of blogging consistently once more? Surely my efforts are better spent at writing that blasted book and living my life.

Bright Meadow though… It’s something special to me. I want it to have a future. I just don’t know what the future is.


Dark and Stormy


It was a dark and stormy night and they were gathered around the central hearth.
“Tell us a story, lei-lei sa”.
“Then listen well, all of you, whilst I tell you a story true. A story about lord and men, thieves and ladies. This story has love and war and death and betrayal and redemption and honour. This story has it all; and this story is about my father…”

I think I might have found the voice of my narrator for the story. The annoying thing? I actually found the voice in a burst of inspiration whilst sitting in the Botanic Gardens back at the start of September, but I’d forgotten about it. Most of my writing gets done on the MiniMe or, in a scrape, on my phone and then transfered to the MiniMe. But every now and then I am tripped up by my addiction to notebooks. Sometimes I just can’t stomach tapping away on the computer; I need the feel of pen and paper, especially when I am making random jottings and notes. As I was doing that day in the Botanic Garden.

So a snippet gets scribbled down as it floats through my brain, without me really making a connection to anything else, then I put the notebook away and forget about it. Till three months later I am sitting bored at my computer, browse through some old photos on Flickr, see a shot of a notebook I’d taken, check what I’d written, and… pfft! the connection is made.

Not that my story really needs a narrator and nor am I sold on the efficacy of narrators (they can be a trite and over-used device) but it is nice to have, in my head, a framework of how this story came to be told. It isn’t just a random story of some people going on a journey – it fits into a wider context and becomes the history of a particular group of people. We hear the story because people in the future are telling it to their kids…

Whether or not this telling will be made explicit or not is another matter. I’ve got to get the first draft on the page before I get to think about wider stylistic points.

Just don’t ask me how close I am to getting the first draft onto the page, please…

Life at 27

This should be my post-birthday summation post. But it’s not, because I just don’t feel like it. I’ve done them before and I’ve nothing new to say really. I’m getting older, my life is getting better, I am seeing more and more clearly the path I want to take… All good, happy things.

There, birthday summation complete 😉

How was my writing week, more importantly. Not quite as good as I could have hoped for the first week off the blocks of my new regime, but everyone has to start somewhere. Total word count now stands at 1916. Which, when I only really wrote on one lunchtime and for half an hour on a train on Friday, isn’t too shabby! Already I am running into things that have to change, which is vindicating my ‘start-from-scratch’ as opposed to re-write policy. Changing the main protagonist has meant that all the other characters are reacting differently to him – he’s not so easily loveable as his predecessor, so even the book’s Mr Happy is finding it hard going to be welcoming. Poor Kriss – he just want’s to be loved, like a stray labrador puppy, and Ben isn’t having any of it!

Why is Ben so bloody grumpy? Quite possibly because I was in one HELL of a bad mood when I was writing that scene on Monday…

Other cute counting things from this week: Muffins? One. Flapjacks? None. Bus rides? 5, and I was only in work four days. Not so good! Amount of birthday cake eaten and birthday cocktails drunk? I refuse to answer on the grounds that it is plain embarrassing. People kept making and buying me cake and drinks! It would have been rude to refuse!

Here’s hoping next week sees a return to 1) more writing and 2) more healthy. Only nine months, give or take, to the Big Wedding, and I need to look HOT in my Not-Bridesmaid-Dress.

Name and Shame

There is clearly nothing for it but to name and shame. Time over time, it is made clear to me, that if I don’t have some kind of stick poking me I’m (1) never going to get back into the blogging groove and, perhaps more importantly, (2) I’m never going to knuckle down and finish the story I’ve been yabbering about for so long now.

So here goes.

Words written this week = 300 (total word count = 300 approx).
I’m starting from the beginning again. I’ve written a lot more over the last six months, but it’s all in the way of prep work. There’s nothing like discovering 20,000 words in, that your main character is a douche bag you would cheerfully push off the Clifton Suspension bridge to really put a spanner in the works! Still, at least I’ve worked through that particular problem now.

Because I work best with a deadline, RugbyLass has given me one: she wants to read a first draft (or 80% of one at least) by the end of October. I’ll give it a go… Which means:
Days till the end of October = 50.
Eek! If I’m ball-parking 100K words, that’s 2000 words a day!?!!??!?!?!!! Or if I’m going for 80%, that’s 1,600 words a day. Sigh. I wish I hadn’t just worked that out. So I am perfectly capable of bashing out 5,000 word blog posts in an evening, but doing that night after night? Even if I’m going to settle for giving RugbyLass just half a book, I still need to be spewing out 1,000 words a day. More to the point, those 1,000 words need to be well written words.

I’m stopping working it out now, because it is just depressing me. A little while back, I had a goal of 500 words a day. That seems a little bit more doable? But if I am supposed to be hitting this deadline, what am I doing wasting time blogging?!

Characters in the book who are fully fleshed out with back story = 6.
That is, six I am sure of right now. The way things are going, their back stories are sure to shift some over the coming months. You think you’ve given them cast iron motivation and then, they rebel.

Characters still to fully give a back story to = 4
Though this number will grow I am sure. Characters keep popping in to say “hello!” and never end up leaving, like the house-guests from hell. There’s one in particular who was only meant to be a name in a back story, but all of a sudden I have had to rewrite the entire introduction just to give him a chapter in which to shine. The blonde sod (I love him to bits and pieces, he deserves a book all of his own!)

Characters who have changed their name = 3
And counting. I expect all of them will have changed their name at least once more by the time I’m finished. Right now, our cast of characters includes Ishabel, Thaniel Bengiaric, Pirael Giacomo, Nahen, Jariel, Kriss, Rofan, Kirk and Artosi. There’s more, but they’re the main suspects. Where’s Luk in all of this? He took a swan dive off a high bridge, sorry.

Place names fixed = er, 1.
I have place-holder names for all the main locations, but they are going to need some major tweaking before I am happy. I am fairly fixed on the actual geography though, even going so far as to have drawn a map to help keep it all straight.

Lost siblings to give the plot drive and focus = 1.
I’d be quite happy to have this number at zero, because lost-sibling is a bit of a fantasy cliche, but cliches are cliches for a reason I suppose.

And to have some non-writing counting:

Times got the bus this week = 10.
The aim is for it to be no more than 4. I’ve fallen off the exercise/healthy eating wagon BIG time and I’ve got less than a year till the Big Bruv’s wedding, so it’s time to kick some flabby butt. My flabby butt.

Muffins from the staff canteen had for breakfast = 2.
This should be ZERO (or one at the outside). Followed by…

Flapjacks had from the staff canteen = 3.
This should ALSO be zero (or one if it’s been a really tough week).

Books read this week = 6
Aren’t local libraries just great?

Which brings us to the end of our counting spree. For the purposes of the blog, the ‘week’ will run Friday-Thursday. You can expect one of these recap posts at the end of each week. I’m also going to aim for a few other posts scattered throughout the week. We’ll see what happens. I’m not ready to say goodbye to Bright Meadow just yet, but there’s no denying it is getting harder and harder to stay fresh and interesting. Jump into the comments, peeps, help me bring back the magic! BM was always more than just me – we can’t all have decamped to Twitter!


Holding Pattern

cascartoon Please watch the tumbleweeds for a few days more, dear readers. I’m digging my way out from beneath a contracts, and filing, and catalogue designing pile of hell right now. I think I can see my way clear… Blogging will resume very, very shortly!


Chess 2.jpg Chess. I don’t think I have ever told you all about my love-affair with chess, have I? Forgive me if I have – six odd years of blogging; it’s inevitable that I repeat myself occasionally.

Anyway, Chess. I am not sure when I first played a game of chess, but I do have very vivid memories of playing my granddad when I was young and he said to me “keep playing, you’ve got a lot of promise”. That one little line has stuck with me for more than twenty years and is, quite possibly, one of my most cherished memories of him. If nothing else, it took a vague interest in the game and made it something personal.

We had chess lessons at school as well (yes, Hogwarts, I know!) and whilst I can’t remember if it was a regular thing, or just a one off, I do remember that I was one of the only members of my class who 1) enjoyed it and 2) ever won a game. I’m sure the teacher tried to show us things like strategy and the like, but none of that consciously sticks with me. What is ingrained in me is a knowledge of where the pieces should go on a board, the ability to see how a knight can move without having to count out the “L” shape, and an abiding sense that this is my game.

And a love of chess sets.

At last count I have eight or nine different sets of varying sizes and antiquity, not including the two sets I made for myself. Something about the black/white alternating squares on an 8×8 grid. The myriad of shapes and characters that the standard pieces can be carved into. The smell of an old polished wood set. The little indentations and knocks that show it has been loved. I just impulse bought set number Nine, the Oxford Set. I tried to play mum on my little travel set which is all I’d brought to Oxford, but it was just too cramped. Yes, I could wait till I got my main set back from Glastonbury (an inlaid agate board with carved Indian agate pieces I got for my 21st birthday) but… Where’s the fun in that? New house, new chess set. It is a basic 12″ wooden folding set, with the pieces stored underneath the board, but already I treasure it. I think the sheer ugliness of the knights is what drew me to it. The poor things look like they’ve been carved by a blind Trobriand Islander who was going by a description of a horse his great grandmothers third cousin had heard from his uncle’s brother’s wife’s father.

As I said, I love the variety sets come in.

I think this love of the set – the whole ritual around a game of chess, settling down across from someone, a drink to hand, for an hour or so of concentration and joking – might have something to do with how I never got into computer chess. I should point out, I don’t claim to be a chess grand wizard or anything. My game is far too reactive and impulse driven. Playing my mother I can win two games out of five (more if I can get her drunk). Playing my brother I win four out of five – one of the few things I can reliably trounce him in actually! Playing a computer just isn’t the same, not to mention demoralising when you loose time after time.

But no one these days seems to play chess. And that is a problem, because I’m lucky if I get in two games a year, and I need the practice.

So… Anyone out there up for a game of correspondence chess?

Excerpt 2

Bare feet flat to the padded floor of the practice room, he just brushed 6 feet tall, making him a good hand-span or two taller than the blonde man stretching in preparation across from him. His limbs were long and toughly muscled, as opposed to bulky – built for distance and endurance over brute strength. When not tied back from his high forehead, and matted black with sweat, his shoulder length hair was the dark brown of polished delan wood. Rough chopped ends testified to his impatience with guild rules which dictated hair could be no longer, and with custom which had short hair as the province of the ruling Houses.

“So you’re actually going to take the trip? Sim hadn’t been at the ale after all?” The other man on the mat gripped his practice sword in a two-handed stance and prepared to attack.

Luk shrugged and raised his own sword in defence.

“Seriously? You’re going past the borders?” the blonde shifted forward and then circled before lunging.

This time the only answer Luk gave was a grunt as he easily parried the blow and started an attack of his own.

“But with Tribal guides?” The shorter man stumbled backwards from the force of the attack, but kept up his stream of questions. “And one a woman?!”

“They’re the best”. Luk swung his wooden blade up under the guard of his opponent, twisting it so the other blade flew to the floor with a clatter, and his own ended up resting at the base of the other’s throat. “You weren’t even trying, Jac”.

“I had my mind on other things!” Jac – Pirael Jiacomo, as he was listed on the guild rolls – retorted as he stooped to collect his blade, then made to return it to the racks at the side of the room. “Enough. The only time I ever could best you was when you’d had the hide thrashed off you by a Master and even then you were fighting with your right hand tied behind you in forfeit. I’ve had about all the humiliation I can handle at your hands today. Time we sat down with a brew and you explained to me how the best mercenary on the Guild’s books got himself marked for guide-dogging a merchant through the borders with just the backup from some tribal scurf of dubious descent”.
“And a scholar. Don’t forget there’s a scholar as is one of those I am to guide too”. A tiny grin lifted the edge of Luk’s wide mouth.
“How could I forget the scholar!” Jac threw his hands in the air and pushed his tall companion out the door towards the changing rooms. “Shower – beer – explanation. And in that order. I’ve a feeling I’m going to be needing as much fortification as I can get down my throat to get a handle on this news”.