World building: still in recycling mode, and looking through my sketchbooks I chance upon the King of Swords. I think the King deserves a realm so I make a whole world for him, from pictures of places I've passed through and maybe will never see again. Mixing memory and imagination to create something fresh and new. What will the King's story be? At the moment he's an archetype, black and white, but I wonder what character he will become in these landscapes.
Reading through old notebooks and diaries can be like receiving messages from yourself in the past. I'm always delighted to find pages of ideas, sketches and letters thought to be long buried and forgotten. I'm also amazed at the links between the creative process now and then - similar themes recur in a spiral throughout the years. I found some pages of free association towards a script for a performance, The Flower Show––
––which I'll probably use, along with the script, as raw material for a piece of new writing.
Doodle Art - from the margins of an old diary, among the dates, budget notes and meetings, lurk miniature sketches of characters and costumes. And here's an old painted box with some more buttons inside, and a small blue dancer.
I found a cache of old buttons recently. Yesterday I focused on them as a creative warm up for writing and editing: I find it works well to do something visual - and I got to thinking about how 'the devil is in the detail'. Buttons are something we don't really notice but they keep things together, and when you look at them closely, they have their own patterns. They're useful and decorative. I added the buttons to my sketchbook just to see them in a different context. A halo, a moon, an amulet, flowers in a landscape. They are a great idea generator.
Sleek grey cat of ill repute
who sneaks round here in search of loot
please go elsewhere to ply your trade
because, you see, my nerves are frayed
by finding perfect corpses, shiny
feathers, bloody feet, so tiny
left beside the kitchen door
gifts too ironic to ignore.
Along the path with measured stride you tread.
Go kill some tiny things at home instead.
Our road's Winter,
The one the witch made,
the everlasting kind.
We took the road
we never should,
in the frozen wood.
The wood's cold and dark,
there's no light in our hearts
to show us the way -
no more spells left to say.
At the empty shack
a board bangs uselessly in the wind:
GONE AWAY FOR GOOD
Once we were friends,
but we took the witch's Winter Road
through the endless frozen wood ...
Being part of a writer's community really feeds the authorial soul. Only fellow writers will really listen to you talking about your book for hours on end without their eyes glazing over. So this is a shout-out to the fabulous people I've been hanging out with in cafes for the last few years, with paper, pens, coffee and laptops: you know who you are - thanks for the companionship, the generosity of spirit and keeping the sense of wonder in the words alive and well.
I've been tagged! Join me now to find out more about how a random chicken, a skull, and time stopping are part of my writing process!
Sooo … the Art Of Blogging.
Not a good medium for someone who wakes in a cold sweat over an ill-chosen adjective. And wait! I’ve thought of a MUCH BETTER way to describe the freak thunderstorm that swept the hero into the Lost City Of Unknowing ... but it’s too late! Gah!
Because blogging is instant! You write! You press Go! And it’s published!
But - sweeping blogging angst aside - on to the official blog tour questions:
What am I working on? Several projects at once: it’s like plate spinning. Which I tried at circus skills workshops and it wasn’t all that easy. And what are these projects ...?
“I would love to tell you. But then, of course, I’d have to kill you.” (The Hound Of The Baskervilles)
All I CAN tell you, in a mysterious whisper, is: something pantomime funny (my fiction has been described by editors as 'fantastically anarchic', 'packed full of humour' and 'pacy and engaging'), something magical, and something from the Otherworld. With a handful of funny verses thrown in, via www.thefuneverse.com.
Mainly I'm working very hard at developing my editing skills, as most of writing - the part of the iceberg hidden beneath the sea - is editing.
Who knew? (Tongue firmly in cheek)
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Erm - Characters? Voice? Awful jokes?
It’s hard to know what’s unique about your own work. Maybe it’s best to have an outside eye on it for that:
“Every viewer is going to get a different thing. That's the thing about painting, photography, cinema."
... And stories! Everywriter's brain (alert: the serious, scientific part of the blog. No really) is a bubbling cauldron of stewed memories, experiences, books they loved when they were ten, exciting words, something they just saw or thought or heard that evoked a feeling, a sensation ...
“Things that I grew up with stay with me. You start a certain way, and then you spend your whole life trying to find a certain simplicity that you had. It's less about staying in childhood than keeping a certain spirit of seeing things in a different way.”
Why do I write what I do?
“I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing a poem is discovering.” Robert Frost
Scratch a writer and you'll find a reader. I spent my childhood with my head in a book and never quite managed to get it out. I believe 'The Veil Between The Worlds' is thin, and stories lurk in between, waiting to be told. I’m endlessly fascinated by what lies just beneath the surface, what might have happened or be about to happen in a different version of the world. I love spending time in alternate realities. And my dream is to create story-worlds others love to inhabit and make their own. I'm very grateful to all the storymakers who have inspired me. I love children's and young adult fiction.
How does your writing process work?
There’s a spark – a word, an image, a place, a news report, a random chicken, a skull or a name - and the flame is kindled. I see, in my mind’s eye, scenes, settings - the spirit of a place is important. I hear the voices of the characters. And the characters need a world to live in.
It’s not just one idea, off the shelf: it’s filtered through dreams and visions. I write and see where the story goes. I leave gaps where it isn’t clear, and come back to fill them in later when I know what happens at the end.
I love the surprises that happen when the process is working well. That’s the positive side of this way of working: the other side is when some of the surprises are red herrings: they can make for a confusing plot which has to be sorted out later.
Setting and a sense of place - I don’t know about you, but I have themes which recur in my creative work: the sea, and the dark woods of fairytale are powerful motifs. So I spend time where my characters have their adventures, taking photographs.
Although I’m not sure I actually follow my characters into the Otherworld, Time has definitely stood still on more than one occasion.
©Lesley Moss 2014
What rhymes with ORANGE?
Let's peel one and see ...
One Quarter Of The Orange
O, the colour and feel
of sweet orange peel,
the tempting torment
of the scent!
But Luce stole the juice
intended for Bruce,
he was left with
the peel and the pith.
And although Luce denied
it, Bruce soon espied
juice and pips
dotted all round her lips.
So he fought her
for the last quarter.
The part where I talk about a dark, stormy night, in a galaxy far away, and offer you a virtual cup of tea. Maybe bring out my photographs. Daydream. Lapse into verse.