Regional settings: Chesil Beach

I recently posted about the rich literary tradition of the South West, in terms of writers from and inspired by the region.

Ian McEwan’s novella On Chesil Beach was inspired by the Dorset coastline. I like to think about that breathtaking 17-mile stretch of beach and the fact that it brought about such a beautiful, heartbreaking story. Time for a soothing stroll on those pebbles very soon, I think. And a reread of the book to feel its intensity again, in that shorter form.

I was pondering the novella factor, and I think my interest partially stems from my DH Lawrence days at school; studies of The Fox spring to mind. For an interesting insight into the novella as a form, take a look at this post by Ian McEwan on the New Yorker website, entitled Some Notes on the Novella.

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Seeds and composting

In my local writing group, we’ve been given a summer challenge to write a story set in Lyme Regis. I’m using this month to let the possibilities compost, as I look around me and take visual inspiration:

The idea is that some of the above – along with some other bits and pieces and books and poems that are swilling around in my mind –  will ferment into something that works. For now though, it is merely a collection of seeds, which I’m sure will sprout when they are ready and compel me to start writing a first draft. That’s how my composting process seems to work. How does your process unfold?

Half empty or half full?

For a while now, I’ve been saying I’m about one-third of the way through my novel. It’s nearly time for a change.

A word about process. The story arc notes I’ve just made – more the manner in which I made them – was a revelation. Not a lot of time taken, but absolute clarity about what was required and a keen focus on the job at hand, which resulted in new scenes composting, preparing to be written. After that, an entire section on the timeline will be complete.

It’s made me realise that a short sharp focus elsewhere may well bear fruit and iron out nagging questions such as ‘how do they get from there to there?’ that have been bothering me.

Either way, as I approach the (almost) halfway point of the novel, I’m definitely seeing it as a glass half full thing, rather than half empty.

Places I write: Part 2

It’s amazing what a change of scene and a cup of tea can do. At this point I must mention Amid Giants and Idols, my favourite café for the good company and excellent leaf tea in a bag. Plus an understanding owner who lets me hog a table and scribble away. After a few weeks of mulling things over novel-wise, I completed a coherent story arc for a character in a 40-minute notes session while drinking my cup of Darjeeling.

Speaking of places I write, my Eriba caravan is entering the final phase of refurbishment. It still sits on my drive thus:

After a thorough search for the right interiors, a sneak preview of some elements:

flower power

flight navigation wallpaper

Exciting. The little writing room on my drive should be up and running by September.  Just in the nick of time, then, to have a chance of writing uninterrupted and undistracted and nail that first draft by the end of 2013. That’s the theory, anyway.