Muck, Magic and a Mystery Man

Lately, I have been mainly composting. Well, that’s the answer I gave Kath Eastman yesterday when she kindly asked during a Twitter ‘conversation’ where I was with my writing. Only, instead of a series of wooden bins in a corner of the garden, I’ve got the notebook/box file equivalent. Hopefully they’re not filled with rubbish either, but with all sorts of ideas which, with a bit of alchemy, will transform themselves into a fertile growing medium for future work.

My current notebook is the one with the raw ideas, all the base ingredients I’ve picked up and collected, hoping to make them into something sparkly. Flicking through at random, there’s a cutting on the use of external landscapes in fiction to reflect internal portraits, a poem by Simon Armitage and a picture of a hamster sitting in a mug. There are lists of names, words, messages to self and stabs at haiku:

Winter clouds sinking.
Sear yellow; summer’s last grass.
Run it in colour.

By stepping back a bit, and this is where older notebooks come into play, I can pick out certain themes that attract me. For my work in progress, I’m drawing on a series of notes and pictures that are to do with... well, I don’t want to let too much light in for fear of spoiling the magic, but it’s both a frustrating and exciting time.

However, there are some things you shouldn’t keep in the dark which is why, if you happen to have a particularly delicious man lurking about the house, now’s the time to put him in the spotlight. The search is on to find the hero of fellow Choc Lit author Sue Moorcroft’s latest novel, Love & Freedom. There are prizes for the winning entrant and the nominee in this fun competition so don’t be shy, go ahead and click HERE to find out more.

Painting is 'Sea, Sky, Early Heather' by Tom Tomos


Fennie said…
Gosh - who will ever own up to such a description? And will not the person who thinks they know such a person merely be living in fantasy land? Might have added Venusian ears and the ability to walk through walls at the same time. Or am I just cynical? Maybe it's a generational thing. Age makes hotness rather tepid, somehow, but then warmth is often rather more comfortable than hotness - isn't it?
Not really sure I like the idea of lingering flavours either - it rather suggests the kind of person you'd rather not be sharing a bathroom with.

But I do like your idea of the composting notebooks.
You even make your word bins sound creative, Chris!

You'd laugh at me. Like you, for every novel/project I write, I have a 'bin'(named inspirationally, 'TITLE Bin.')

The trouble is, I now have more 'bins' than WIP's!

Milla said…
Queen of notebooks, and pencils here. Love them both. I use those cheap propelling pencils - trouble being that when the notebook gets older, the writing, a scrawl at best, gets ever harder to read. I need to feel I can rub out whereas a pen would seem to much of a commitment, even in my very private notebooks.
Flowerpot said…
Love the painting - and intrigued about the hero... will nip over and see more.
Preseli Mags said…
I've been composting too - but actual compost for the garden. I recently burned a load of old notebooks to signify a new beginning and change of direction (from a writing point of view). Nothing as elegant as that haiku within them sadly but they did make a nice fire (and reminded me of the scene from La Boheme where Rodolpho burns his play, scene by scene).
Lins' lleisio said…
So interesting. I didn't realise what went into a writer's creative process. I hope all your notes bear fruit.
Frances said…
Chris, I love the idea of a writer's compost pile, box, bin, whatever.

I expect that your new location will already have been urging you to make notes about all sorts of micro, not so micro things.

Before I type another sentence, I'd like to say how much I like Tom's Sea, Sky, Early Heather. I am sure that his work is also already being influenced by this change of scene.

In the past week, I did a bit of a clear out, and finally dismissed, via a strong bin bag, some of what I might once have considered essential autobiography material.

Well, Chris, my bio has moved on, way on, since I put that dismissed stuff on hold. I loved the resulting freedom once that stuff had left my apartment.

(Of course, I've been accumulating all sorts of more recent bio material, and haven't the heart or cold eye to let it go.)

Pondside said…
That would be The Great Dane - but he's otherwise engaged!
Debs Carr said…
Lurrrve that painting!

I can't wait to read your next book and like the sound of your word bins. I have notebooks where I built up characters etc, but they tend to be very untidy and a bit 'all over the place'.
Posie said…
Ooh that sounds exciting, but I must just leave a comment before I click on the link, lovely to catch up. The painting is lovely as always and your5 'composting' sounds very exciting and inspiring, must try your style of composting!!
elizabethm said…
I love the use of the term composting for this. You can't have too much compost in the garden but I am not sure if the same holds true for writing. Presumably at some stage you are ready to just do it!
Chris Stovell said…
Not tempted then, Fennie? Not even for prize money, chocolate, books and the chance of fame and fortune?

BSM, sounds perfect to me! Good luck with your bins, I hope they flourish and are fruitful!

Milla, interesting that you feel that temptation to rub out. We love it when your words fly free so just let them go, will you?

FP, thanks - lots of prizes on offer there.

Mags, I can't bear the thought of your ceremonial burning because it's sad to think of what we readers might have missed. Good luck with the new direction though - I hope we get to read it.

Lins - thank you, m'dear.

Frances, it's interesting to read about your sense of liberation after you'd cleared out the material you felt you no longer needed. And although I'm grieving for what you and Mags have both cleared away, I guess it was a necessary preparation for the next phase. I'm glad your 'cold eye' didn't let you part with everything 'though. Thanks for your kind comments - the change of location has indeed been reinvigorating with so much to see and take note of.

Pondside. Awwww! *Presses tissue to eye*!
Chris Stovell said…
Debs, thanks, I love that painting too. Btw, I don't think it matters how messy or over the place your notebooks are. Once you're keeping notes and jotting down ideas, it's easier, I think, to see common themes or thread that you may wish to explore.

Posie, thanks. I can recommend the notebooks - I felt self-conscious at first, but now I just let them fly! Good luck.

Elizabeth, that's an interesting point. Probably not, is the answer... although there's always the problem of being up against time when there are so many themes and ideas to explore.
Ooh, composting? That sounds right up my street, Chris!

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