I’m on retreat this weekend. If you’re anything like my family, you’ll be saying ‘again?’. If you’re like my writing friends, you’ll be saying ‘again?’, but with a very different inflection.
There are six of us this weekend. We’re staying in a little place near Maleny, in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. We’re on the top of the mountain with a magnificent view and totally exposed to whatever the weather wants to throw at us. Last night it was a huge windstorm. We sat in the living room with the fire going, toasty warm, while all around us the wind howled and twigs and branches slapped and crashed. It went on through the night, gaining in intensity, until, suddenly, it stopped. That was about 2.00am.
At 3.30am the possum came home. I woke to scrambling and thumping in the ceiling above my head. I count myself lucky that the possum doesn’t seem to have access to the whole ceiling so didn’t go running all over the place.
I finally got to sleep around 4.00am, only to wake before 7.00am with the sun streaming in my uncurtained windows. The courtyard is filled with leaves, half a tree came down in the neighbour’s yard and all the mandarins fell of the tree in the front yard. Luckily, where we parked the cars seems to have been protected, so there’s no damage there.
Oddly, after spending all night editing, and with the prospect of more writing this morning, I’m not feeling tired at all. That might change after a few hours.
Last night was really productive. I finished the line edits on Warrior Pledge - just the global edits to do before Tuesday. I also critiqued a chapter for a friend. Today I'll be working on character profiles, plot and first chapter of the sequel to Warrior Pledge.
Things come along in life and pass you by. Sometimes it feels so real it tears you apart, or fills you with unbearable joy. Sometimes you're so numb from everything bombarding you, none of it feels quite real. And then it's gone. It becomes the past, when you haven't had time to become accustomed to it being the present.
The last few weeks have felt a bit like that.
Twelve months ago, we welcomed a new member to our family. A week later, we lost someone dear to us: our father and father-in-law, the thread that held the families together. We lurched between joy and grief, but I can't help feeling the gorgeous little baby who joined us helped to soften the blow of loss.
Every day he brings joy to our lives, and everything else falls in behind that. His presence in our lives has muted the losses we've felt.
A few months ago when a dear friend's father died in his sleep (himself a friend of more than twenty years), I was distraught, inconsolable... until I hugged a tiny little boy whose first reaction when he sees me is to smile, grab a handful of my hair and hug me hard.
It doesn't mean we miss our loved ones less. The ache of loss still grips us. Each day brings with it a new realisation that Al is gone, and now Frank is gone too. We won't see them again, or talk to them, or see them smile.
But watching a new life unfold, watching a little boy discover the world around him, where everything is new and interesting and wonderful, helps us remember the joys we experienced with those who are gone. He helps us remember that life is good.
Meet Artemis. He lives in a volcano and that glorious purple changes colour with the heat. Artemis is quickly taking over my mind.
I worked out last night that I've been editing or rewriting since before Christmas. That's six full months where, while I might have written new words, there were no new ideas. No new worlds. No new characters or problems to solve.
A few days ago, I wrote the first words for a brand new story. It's a sequel to Warrior Pledge which is coming out with Dreamspinner Press in November. I took the first scene to my critique group last night, knowing it was still unfinished, unpolished.
They read it, put it down, said "I love it". I picked up my pen and waited. I didn't have to wait long. The questions came thick and fast:
Everything is nebulous, like shifting fog under streetlights.
It's been so long since I began a new story, I'd forgotten what a complete buzz it is. The whole world is there for me to discover. Yes, Warrior Pledge is set in the same world, but it's set in the middle--the desert and the Aylmer Mountains. This one is going to be set to the south and north of that. New ground. I have a lot of work to do and I want to get started, already becoming impatient with parts of my real life because they're taking me away from it.
It's a good thing I have a writers' retreat in a couple of weeks and another two weeks after that I can block out for writing. July is Camp NaNo too, so that's another intense writing time. Let's see how much I can write before August...
Image from: http://www.deviantart.com/art/Purple-Dragon-90438073. I bought a copy of the print just so I could use it here. It's going to look great in my office.
It's that moment when you look at the map you created and you think: I wonder who lives there.
It's that moment when you make a change in a manuscript and think: where will he go after this?
Then it becomes an avalanche:
I'm late with this week's post because I was on a deadline for edits on Warrior Pledge and trying to do them in the middle of a massive four-day headache. As I was editing and referring to the map I'd painted, my brain kept throwing all those questions up.
I have three books in various stages of completion, with plans to finish and submit them all by the end of the year.
So what do I do?
I start plotting a new story.
What else do you do when you're time poor and under pressure, but start a new project.
So, to make up for being tardy this week, I thought I'd leave you with a teaser from the new book that has no name and no focus, just two characters who have to find their way to each other. The character's name will also change: it's just a place-card at the moment.
Temis draped himself over the crest of the volcano. His forelegs hung comfortably over the uppermost rock while his hindlegs rested sturdily on rocks, propping him in exactly the right position. His tail swished slowly side to side in the warm air rising from below and his wings twitched where they sat folded against the spines that ran down the center of his back. He rested his chin on the rock and stared at the sky.
The two moons, Makai and Nayeli, would come together this night and fight for supremacy. He knew Nayeli would win. She was larger and brighter and closer to the Isles than Makai could ever hope to be. But Makai never gave up. Every thousand years he’d try once more to be the most powerful and for a few seconds, it would seem like he could win. Then Nayeli would move in front of him, swallow him whole and spit him out the other side. Temis knew Makai would regain his strength but in those first seconds when Nayeli rejected him, he seemed ragged and dull, ready to concede defeat. He wouldn’t, though. By the next night he’d have moved farther from Nayeli and would be as bright and beautiful as he always was, his face a calming motley of cream and brown.
Shortly before the first time, his mother told him Makai would bring love to him. Then she’d flown north as was her destiny. He had waited but his mother never returned, and no one came for him. Decades later, he decided it must have been because he’d been too young. The next battle would be the one.
The second time Makai and Nayeli battled, Temis had sat eager and watchful, sure it would happen then. He was an adult, with wards of his own to watch over and protect. But again, Makai limped away and left no one to watch over Temis as he watched over his wards.
This would be the third battle Temis witnessed and he held no hope he would be granted love. He had traveled far in the intervening years, returning a mere fifty years before. There were no others of his kind left in the land. Even his mother had been reduced to blue ice in the wastelands far to the north. His destiny was to live, adored and worshiped by his wards as much as he was feared by them, but alone.
E E Montgomery
About writing, life, and random thoughts.
All Author Interview Books Characters Coming Soon Conflict Cover Reveal Editing Excerpt Family Fantasy Free Stories Goal Holiday Holidays Maps Memories Miscellaneous MM Romance Motivation NaNoWriMo New Contract New Release Plotting Poetry Publications Reading Reviews Setting Special Events Synopsis Writing The Gingerbread House Travel Website What I'm Reading Words To Know World Building Writers Life Writing Writing Courses Writing Habits Writing Retreats Year Of The Novel