You have probably heard the saying that Ireland often has all four seasons in any one day. This is often true, and it certainly has been true this week.
To a point.
The problem, this week, is that three out of the four of those seasons have been different shades of winter, and someone forgot to add in the warmer days of spring; the balmy days of early autumn, or any hint of summer. In short, it’s freezing. Out of my front windows, the sky is deceptively blue. Out of the back windows, a hail storm is rattling down with all the noise of someone throwing gravel at a tin roof. The wind is blowing, not just rustling through the trees both front and back, but also in chilling swirls around my ankles as it forces its way past the plastic bag stuffed up inside the open chimney beside me. Brr…
But, cold as I am, you didn’t come here to talk about the weather. As soon as I have warmed my hands and my brain, I will think of something more interesting to say. Maybe.
Nope… still cold.
Meanwhile, nothing very interesting has happened here this week. There are signs of spring (amid the hailstorms and Arctic winds) and I heard the first bumblebee of the season last Friday. We’ve (My husband and I, not the bumblebee and I) been working in the garden on the dry days, and on the dry days this is my favourite time of the year. There is somehting very magical about seeing new growth bursting from twigs or bare earth. In our new woodland, the trees are mostly taller than I am now, and most are budding up nicely. I could spend hours just mooching around amongst this baby woodland, wondering at the catkins, watching the hints of green leaf pushing out of loosening buds, and gently stroking the kitten-softness of the pussy willow. My camera strains with the weight of spring flower photos. The bird feeders are in constant motion as birds flit between them. In the polytunnel, newly sown seeds are already poking up from the warming brown soil.
Signs of spring
Simultaneous to all this growth, my cosy mystery sequel is also beginning to blossom. I had a small block, where my characters had acted on their own impulses and led me away from the planned direction of my story. I procrastinated in the garden, out walking, taking more photos of more flowers, and then, eventuallyfinally fed up with procrastination, I had a long chat with myself about how to get around the problem. I haven’t exactly solved it yet, but I have found a way to write on from it.
Usually, I write in a linear fashion: I write in the order that the book will be read in. I write chapter one, and then chapter two, and so on, all the way to the end. Usually. Of course, this may still mean that when the book is ‘finished’, I need to go back and add another chapter or another section in somewhere to fill a plot hole or address something that I missed, but largely, it means that the final book is presented in the order I wrote it, with only a couple of small additions later.
This time, however, the ‘stuckness‘ needed a new plan. So eventually, I jumped ahead. I had already mapped out some scenes that would come later in the book, and I knew pretty much which characters would be involved in those scenes and how those scenes would push the story along, so I left my ‘stuck’ part to brew. I will have to go back to it later to find out how to bridge the gap. I may need to change parts of it, or scrap parts, or do a major rewrite of the scenes where the characters have gone rogue, but the good news is that the story is back to being written instead of being stuck.
In my garden, the hail and wind will halt growth for a day or two. Then, the sky will brighten again; the sun will warm, and the plants will be ready to continue from where they had got to already. The storm that flattened my daffodils has already passsed. Most of the daffodils recovered. Most are upright, bright, sunny, cheerful yellow. A few still lie flat. Those still-flattened daffodils are the scenes that got cut; the parts of the story that didn’t make it, when the rest moved on. At some time in the near future, I will have to decide what to do with the scenes where Jess O’Malley (she’s the main character in my mystery series, remember?) deicded to go off plan and do her own thing. Whether those scenes will become a dead daffodils, or will bounce back, taller, stronger, brighter for having overcome the obstacle Jess threw into my writing path, is yet to be determined. I can never decide whether I am pleased when my characters make their own stories, or whether I prefer it when they stick to my story. Here’s the daffodils. I’m off to write another chapter.
After the storm, and recovered after after the storm