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What happened?

Woodland Joy

We saved the forests, at least from the awful consultation and Public Bodies Bill. Only time will tell if we have to save them from the “independent” panel. I put this term in quotes as the validity of the panellists independence is yet to be established. The list hasn’t been published by Caroline Spelman yet.

There is still work to do, a lot of it. Now our public forest estate is safe from the threat of sale (at least for the time being), it’s time to seriously debate the next steps towards a sustainable management plan for the use of not only publicly owned land, but privately owned forest land too.

I’m a little hazy and sketchy on this right now. There is a lot to be learnt in a short space of time but if there’s one thing the last six weeks have taught me it’s that anything, absolutely ANYTHING is possible.

Reasoned, considered, intelligent argument based in truth and factual knowledge expressed through sincere, open hearts will always win. No matter the spin thrown, an open heart will always win.

Today, though, I crashed. A brick wall appeared and smacking it so hard made me miss the Get Writing Conference I’d been looking forward to. Small price to pay for saving the forests from the Public Bodies Bill. How heavy a price it will be on the next phase of my life will be revealed as all continues to unfold.

What’s next?

Who knows? But the plan goes something like this. The story idea I’ve been kicking round for some time now must come out. There are piles of notes, character lists, back stories, timelines, half-written chapters and research books that need to be gathered together and strapped into a case. A trip is planned. It’s been planned for a while and I’ve been living the last couple of weeks in a state of absolute panic about how to maintain the same level of Save Our Woods campaigning with Hen and Nick. Thankfully the government came through to at least ease some of the pressure, even if personal financial pressures are now more crucial after not earning a penny for the last six weeks.

But I’m going to forget about that. I’m going to forget about the mill I’ve felt squeezed through. I’m going to forget about 16 hours days, seven days a week. I’m going to do something I’ve been waiting for the time to do for years. I’m going to write my books.

I’m definitely saying books, plural, not book, singular. There is more than one. Some of the half-written chapters are out of book two, I see that now. And there are two reasons why now is the right time:

  1. The SOW campaign has informed my learning about character motivation and opened a tap inside to allow a clearer vision of the direction of the books.
  2. Somebody read the first four chapters and has asked to be my editor.

It’s the second one that has really lit the fire in my belly. Others have read chapters. Others have said they are good and they can’t wait to read the rest but these people already had a positive connection to me – never ask a loved one for a practical criticism, never. I know this so didn’t place any value on their opinions of my writing and therefore didn’t value my writing myself. I suspect it’s the same for a lot of writers, this constant dissatisfaction with the quality of creativity. I needed an independent panel to say “stop making websites, write instead”. Someone did, so I am.

This doesn’t mean I will stop campaigning for our forests, it just means there is other stuff to release from my brain. Stuff that is clawing at the asylum walls waiting to get out, hidden in the darkest corners and flying through the bluest skies. There are landscapes to vision, characters to talk to you, fight with, maybe even kill off. There are monsters to create, to allow to escape through the cracks of sanity. There are heroes to set off on quests, battles to be fought, wounds to be tended. There are secrets to be learnt and others to be hidden away in dusty cupboards behind ancient skeletons. There is stuff going on that has to come out.

And it will.

The plan is to get on a flight to Australia and completely disconnect from everything except the raging madness, to give characters room to breathe and fight and live, or die. There’s a cabin in the Blue Mountains with my name on it and a few thousand words to be written. It might be hard work; it might turn out to flow as easily as the rest of the chapters when there’s space for expression.

Cabin in the Mountains

While I’m away I won’t be tweeting or blogging. I’m sporadic on The Cloud Factory anyway so I doubt you’ll even notice. But readers of Mesmerising Moments will have a bit longer to wait – know this, I haven’t forgotten about you. And I suspect a good number of my Twitter crowd will be glad of a break from the hat for a time (and I apologise for taking a diversion from my normal level of tweetage as the SOW campaign took over).

I hope, when it’s over, there will be a good first draft ready for presenting to my own independent panel.  Whatever happens I will be giving this the same open-hearted dedication and focus the SOW campaign has had over the last six weeks. I hope the “independent” panel possibly determining the future of our forests gives the same consideration and respect to our land.

And you can bet, when I get back, it’ll be the first thing I check on.

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question-markNot a How-To, more of a How-Do. There are literally thousands of books offering advice on how to write a novel, but they can’t give you the spark, the idea.

I see a scene in my head; a landscape, a character, an interaction. I watch it like a movie and can zoom in, slow it down, focus on tiny details to get the scene down. I get these scenes often but then, like Columbo, I have to work out what on Earth is going on. (more…)

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