A mess and a muddle to sort:)


I have been missing from this weekly check-in for the whole summer at least for which I apologise.  Life has loomed large. Great political upheavals and continuing morality issues around the world have all threatened my new found relief from long term depression. My arthritic wrists have become so painful the amount of work I can manage, involving them, has been reduced dramatically. Unfortunately I am allergic to anti inflammatory drugs and really don’t want to be taking painkillers all and every day.

I have been using my hands in the garden. I began last year to re-jig my outside space to enable me to cope as age continues its inevitable journey, I think, I may, just get it finished in time.

All the beds have been replanted with shrubs, bulbs and hardy perennials. Vegetables , time consuming if delicious, have gone. Fruit bushes and trees relocated to the wild garden; I no longer make jam or chutney – so  am giving up the yearly fight with the birds, I have given them to wildlife complete with no strings attached:)

The wilderness was mostly tamed last summer, this summer has been about a massive pruning programme and also filling the beds with lovely cottage garden and wild flowers. Next year – fingers crossed I get to sit and enjoy:)

Now I am in the process of closing the garden down for the year I will have more time to concentrate on the writing/editing.

Mostly The Children’s Tale was written, but over the course of three or four years of illness and depression, it had been written in many guises; several POVs, several frameworks, started-put aside-started again, time and time again.

It was a mess and it is with that muddle I have been struggling all this summer.
At last it is taking shape – I hope the final shape:)

So what for THIS ROUND  of ROW80

Yes, I’m finally back! Hi there everyone:) I hope nothing goes wrong – the children are growing more insistent their tale is told:)


Editing, editing and yet more editing! I cannot in all honesty say it is my favourite occupation but it is happening. The Children’s Tale marches forward apace and is becoming cleaner every day.  I also have to locate what’s missing and write fillers/connections. The slowness of the whole process this time around is about changing the tense and rewriting some scenes entirely to fit the new structure. Not quite a major overhaul but pretty well near.

Blogs: They have been non existent for months so am hoping to get back into the flow. Not committing as it depends on hands; do have lots of ideas and topics I want to write about. I have posted on albertareads for Musing Monday

Reading: Have read a great deal this summer complete with pillow on my lap so I haven’t had to hold the books. On my Goodread challenge I am up to 100 out of my challenge of 110. About the only aim which has been achieved!

Others: I did start a Pinterest board for The Children’s Tale, an idea I picked up here on ROW80. I will need to create cover and trailer for The Children’s Tale later in the round, have thought about it during the summer and have some ideas – good I hope.

Otherwise life progresses, a little to fast for my liking, but it is still fun. All the best to other ROWers.

A magical quality to names: Writer’s Quote Wednesday

Greene quote

There is a magical quality in names – to change the name is to change the character
Graham Greene 1904 – 1991

I like playing with names and have renamed myself a few times in my life – the first time when being fed up with the abbreviation of my name – it was my middle name (which I had not chosen, an unfairness I have forever felt:) I declared I was going to use a different variation of the name and would not answer to anything else. It took a while but in the end the family largely complied. My grandmothers couldn’t bring themselves too.

Well I let them off:)

When I travelled around the world I would often develop a new name or gather nicknames – I gloried in most of them. I was a different person in each place I travelled to, so why not have a new name? Names should be flexible, if one changes style, character etc, in my opinion anyway.

I am just as arbitrary with dates as well, you don’t like the month you were born into – too hot,too cold, change it to a month you would be happy to celebrate in. Festivities can be held at a different time if circumstances dictate, I have had Christmas in July and Febuary.

Multiple names though do make any card list a problem; I have to remember what name to sign each card with. A minor problem. Some friends have not made all the transitions and officialdom still calls me by my first name which I have never been called, not even by the family.

It’s fun:)

However names for my books have given me a constant headache since I began writing seriously. Names are a problem and I read that many authors have the same difficulty naming a cast of characters.

I am told, naming your children can be a minefield if one wishes to honour members of the family, or one has a fancy idea and the other hates it. Well multiply that by a cast of dozens.

The more people one has met in life and made judgements on the more names are rejected. One doesn’t want friends to walk away if you use their name for a character they don’t like, neither do you want to use a name of that skinny child in primary school who pulled your plaits.

This particular name may be in fashion now but in a few years time it will date the work, that name might be pretty, cute, sexy or whatever but it was the name of that liar, the creep, the hurtful, so the list of discards grow.

The names are important.

Sometimes a few of the characters still don’t have a name until the book is finished, I have to wait until I know what character the person has. It has to be a name which fits into the family, community. There is no background at the beginning to graft the name onto.

However occasionally there is no problem, the name just pops into my head. Ellen and Bix came so naturally they could never have been anything else.

I have another problem outstanding; in the present book I am writing, I have three characters beginning with ‘K.’ I like all the names equally but, one has to be changed. Two have appeared already in previous books; the trouble though, I know this third  character well, he is the name. How can I find another which will suit all the thousands of words already written about him?

Green was correct, change the name and you change the character,

A problem:)

This quote is part of Silver Threading’s  Writer’s Quote series. Writer’s who have helped inspire my writing and my life. Pop over and follow other quotes there are many inspiring posts

Nothing heard or seen is ever wasted: Writers Quote Wednesday

the boy stood 3

The boy stood on the burning deck; whence all but he had fled;
Felicia Hemans 1739-1835

From the age of seven my two grandmothers lived upstairs. I could and frequently did pop in and spend time with them I liked visiting them and I also liked the chocolate or sweet they could always ‘find’ for me:)
They would tell me stories of when they were young, teach me tongue twisters and introduced me to poetry.

My grandmothers loved this poem, my father’s mother in particular.When I was very young I would thrill when either of them recited it, which they would frequently. I would cry as well, as they would, mourning the brave little fellow who would not leave his post until his father said he could.

‘Speak, father!’ once again he cried,
If yet my task is done!
And but the booming shots replied,
And fast the flames rolled on,

I imagined the captain telling his young son to stay at his post, be a brave boy. Imagined the boy watching all the crew jumping overboard, manning the boats, or dying at his feet. Imagined the captain croaking on his last breathe to save his son. Ah it was beautiful:)

But the noblest thing which perished there
Was that young faithful heart!

Then I grew a little older, joined the swinging sixties, and began to to see through the sentimental romanticism of it all. Why did none of the men fleeing scoop up the boy,save their captain’s beloved son? Why did the boy not run from the flames and save himself, surely he would guess his father didn’t want him to die.

No I was disenchanted with this poem for a long time. Discovered it wasn’t even about a British boy, a true story but one of the enemy! An event that happened in 1798 for goodness sake. I was living in the present. My grandmothers had died I no longer heard it recited with passion. Forgot it.

Then years later I read the poem again. Trying to figure out what had appealed so much to them. I was old enough by then to imagine another time, another mindset. Go back to 1800s – their time. Back to Empire, their days, to when brothers and cousins were sent to far off nations to bring glory to these islands. when they all hoped their menfolk would behave bravely against all odds. Back to a time of heroes and the English stiff upper lift. We haven’t always been known for stiff lips it is a comparatively new even in the British psyche.

The women left back home, while their menfolk wandered through endless dangers far from home, were fed a steady diet of hope and propaganda.

Heroes were not made at adulthood, heroes were trained from infancy. With the drip feeding of a code of honour, of an attitude, of the ‘stiff upper lip’. This poem is about the young hero, a boy full of duty, keeping promises, willing to die for honour. The grannies as many other women wept over the little fellow taken to heaven so soon, it didn’t matter what nationality he was, it was the bravery which mattered , the courage so admired.

Yet beautiful and bright he stood,
As born to rule the storm-
A creature of heroic blood,
A proud, through childlike form.

This boy may have grown to be a Shackleton, a Scott or even a Titus Oates leaving his companions to go out into the blizzard and certain death to help give his friends a chance at life. He could have.

My grandmothers were patriots through and through and they had their heroes. Not film stars, not footballers, but the brave(if foolishly so sometimes), full of dare and do. I grew up on tales of these men and women.

Then the world changed after the mess and loss of two world wars, the loss of the empire people’s tastes turned away from those heroes of old, away from romanticism bravery and nationhood. Our stiff lips grew weaker and then dissolved into a different kind of romanticism. I imbibed the grandmothers version and haven’t embraced the new.

I like my heroes old fashioned. The heroes in my books have all the old fashioned attitudes I grew up with. I admire the qualities my grandmother admired. Honesty, honour, truthfulness, loyalty. Grit and endurance, never say die and get on with it attitude. That little boy I wept over in childhood probably promised his father he wouldn’t move until told to and though he was scared he kept his promise. He didn’t desert the ship he was his fathers son and went down with the ship as the son of a captain should.

The flames rolled on – he would not go
Without his father’s word;
That father, faint in death below,
His voice no longer heard.

I have revisited this poem again now, older than my grannies were when I first heard it, because in my latest book a scenario with similarities has just been written, after I have finished the writing of the chapter I was reminded again of the boy. It had obviously lingered in my self conscious all these years. My boy (a girl) does get away from the flames, and feels guilt for having not obeyed her mother. The poem plus my common sense 60s attitude come together.  Nothing heard or seen is ever wasted:)


This quote is part of Silver Threading’s  Writer’s Quote series. Writer’s who have helped inspire my writing and my life. Pop over and follow other quotes there are many inspiring posts