Wednesday, 29 February 2012


Today is Leap Day - that extra twenty four hours that we get every four years. A couple of days ago, my seven year old son asked what it meant.

"What can you do on Leap Day?"
"Well, women can propose marriage to men."
"Oh." For a moment, he looked rather disappointed then with a cheeky smile, he said "I could have an extra birthday on leap years."

Leap Day has always been a bit of a non event for me. It comes and goes without celebration or cake. We think 'oh, it's Leap Day this year' and then we pass back into our normal lives, but maybe that's ok. Maybe we don't need to add special meanings and traditions to it. Perhaps it's just there as a reminder that not everything needs to be planned. Sometimes we just need to take a leap.

I don't mean a safe little skip from one steady rock to another. To me, taking a leap suggests jumping out of our safety net or comfort zone without the reassurance that we're heading for a dry, steady foothold. We may fall. We often do but then we just pick ourselves up again, brush off our bloodied knees and get on with things. Some leaps will be blinded by bright sunshine. Others will be blurred by miserable fog. Many people won't take the leap. They'll stay where they know what to expect, even if those expectations aren't happy ones, because the unknown, what lies beyond the cliff edge seems so much scarier.

Over the years, I've taken many leaps. I've applied for jobs that I thought were beyond me (and got a couple of them). I've moved to a different city to be with a new lover whom I had only just met. I've turned down a secure salary for the chance that a project might work out. None of those choices were safe. All of them bore the possibility that I might fall. I often did but just as often my feet found new ground.

Taking a leap can be the most terrifying and wonderful thing. They are never 'sure bets' or guaranteed. They are simply choices for brave hearts. What leaps will you make this year?

Friday, 24 February 2012

More Writerly Advice

I do like it when inspirational gems drop into my email account. These three articles tackle different aspects of writing - dialogue, painting and animating 'pictures' in your novel, and distraction. Enjoy.

Bubble Cow on Dialogue Beats

Writers aren't Painters, they're Magicians by Nathan Bransford

Distracted? by Write It Sideways

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Photo inspiration

I can feel it setting in. The greyness of the season is slowly creeping into my bones. I need colour, and plenty of it.

Red berries

Peach roses

Yellow daffodils

Blue skies

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Discoveries on the way

I've been rather quiet on here this week. It's half term and my husband is off work too (voluntarily - kind of - he caved to pressure to spend quality time with the family) so a lot of my time has been taken up with family trips and board games.

Progress on my novel has been slow but I have managed a couple of hours and I've come to a conclusion. There are some things you just can't plan before you write. However in depth your chapter plan and character outline may be, your literary friends will still hang onto their secrets until they think the time has come to have a quiet word with you.

My writing this week has brought me just such a revelation. A character who has been with me since I first came up with the idea for this novel decided to tap me on the shoulder and say, "By the way, did you know I could do this?" I didn't know before that moment but now it all makes sense.

Make up your plans, by all means, but don't forget to also converse with your characters. They may just surprise you.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Monday Moments

Unlike much of the UK, we don't have snow. We have rain, the kind that doesn't appear very heavy but gradually drenches you. The sky is grey. The garden is muddy. Everyone is walking round staring at their boots, grumbling at their children and generally rushing through life to get out of the weather.

It's easy to join the herd on a day like this, hood pulled over your eyes, mind on the day's to-do list, but why not take the other, more writerly path? Look up, look round, just look. That's what I did today. Here's what I found.

  1. Looking from my kitchen window around 7.00 am, I saw a black cat sat on a ledge staring into a bedroom window. It stayed there for about ten minutes before jumping down to the ground. When I returned from the school run, the cat was back in its place, continuing its vigil.
  2. I first heard the chattering call and then saw two hefty magpies chasing each other around the branches of a tree which swayed in response.
  3. Two twins, probably around four years old, proudly made their way to school dressed as pirates - matching bandanas on their heads, cardboard swords in their belts and curly moustaches drawn on their faces.
What moments have you found today?

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Writerly Advice

I'm a sucker for subscribing to emailed newsletters from writing related sites. The resulting mail is often disappointingly filled with comments on posts or requests to buy things but on occasion, a real gem wings its way to me so I thought I'd share a few with you.
Have a wonderful weekend.