|Art by SlaviART on Etsy|
Had such a good day writing yesterday. One month to write 10,000 words, three days to write 5,000 - that's how the mood takes me. 1k on Thursday, 1k on Friday, 3k yesterday. I woke knowing that I had nothing else to do and that I wanted to break the 30k threshold.
It is a wonderful feeling to know that you've not only succeeded in your writing goal for the day, but done the job well.
I still feel as though I'm struggling a bit with this one, though. The words are falling into place one after the other, they make sense, they're even poetic in parts. Yet I still feel like I'm writing a little on autopilot. It's only in the past couple of days that I've woken up really excited by writing again.
Honestly, I think it's just because I'm still enamoured by Rosy Hours. I've been browsing back through it and, at times, it feels as though I didn't even write it. I don't remember anything about the physical act of writing it: where I was, what the weather was like, what I had to delete and re-write. At times I am impressed with the writing as though someone else wrote it. (Which, for copyright purposes, I must point out they didn't - it was me, all me).
I think I'm still letting go of it, my fingers prised apart with each new publicity gig. Being in the throws of the pre-release promotional build-up makes it hard to forget about it and move on. My fingers hit the keys on this new novel almost mechanically, which makes it fairly astounding that, reading back, I'm happy with what I've written.
It is coming, though. I go to sleep thinking about the next part of the plot, the conversations to be had between characters and unexpected events I can throw into the mix. I'm on top of the research and starting to enjoy delving into a period of history that seemed so intangible at first. I'm at the right place for 30k, building momentum.
I think I just need to give it time. I'm not editing at all as I go, just trying to keep myself going. I'm loving the fact it's Christmas but really doesn't feel like it. I wake to a normal working day but no e-mails to answer or actual work to be doing because everyone's winding down for the holidays. It affords me the space to think and write that I have been missing these past months.
Here's a couple of rough-edged wee snippets from the new one. Young lad discovering himself, my favourite character:
For a moment I did not understand what was happening, or I did not want to.
I struggled backwards, supporting myself on one hand. Before I could think to stop myself, I bunched the other into a fist and punched him square across the lip.
Climbing to my feet, I hobbled away into the night, leaving him there beneath the silent sky. Feeling each stab of pain in my ankle helped to ease the pain in my heart. I found a quiet hut on the outskirts of the fort. It was abandoned, used for grain and flour. I bedded down against one of the soft sacks and allowed myself to weep openly.
I had no place for love in my heart. So set was I against this union of my father’s that I had felt appalled by all affection. Before that night I had known our friendship ran deep. Images of those writhing bodies, of flesh against flesh, both female and male, had returned to my dreams many times since. Sometimes I woke sweat-drenched and short of breath, and in those first few moments I will admit it was Caílte my eyes searched for in the shadows.
Yet my father had changed everything.
An encounter in the woods:
Eventually, out of breath, we broke through the line of trees into the star-clustered night. The moss peeled back to show the ground made of granite. An unusual grey stone that rippled like water. The whole of the head of the mountain looked like the wind blowing gently upon the lake. As though winter had frozen the waves to stone beneath our feet.
On the crest of the hill stood a shelter. Not the daub and wattle roundhouse of the forts, but something older. Something that belonged to the Aos Sí, those ancient spirits who preceded the ancestors, who formed this world and permeate it like silent sentinels.
The shelter was formed of three large, flat rocks and a capstone, covered in turf to prevent the elements from rattling through it. As we approached, I could sense the children waking, their attention drawn by this mysterious place.
I knelt before the opening, drawing from my satchel a clay lamp. I filled it with oil and struck flint against birch bark until it caught, allowing me to light the wick. With the lamp help in the palm of my hand, we entered.
“It’s beautiful,” A--- breathed. “What is it?”
“A map,” I explained.
All across the walls, patterns were etched into the stone. It glittered softly beneath the candlelight, as though grains of snow had been trapped within it. Spirals and circles confused the eye, whilst diamonds and serpentine snakes sprawled out from the centre. Here and there, small pockmarks had been chiselled deep, marking places of importance, anchors in the ever-changing landscape.
“How do you read it?” he asked.
“It is the language of the Ovates, those who possess the second sight.”
“Like the dark juice?” F-- asked, her eyes wide as she traced her fingers across the scarred surface of the rock.
“Yes, only the Ovates never truly seem to wake. They live their lives as in a half-dream. Sometimes their words are wise and full of insight, other times they mumble like madmen. Somewhere in between the two they are able to see the past and the future. These maps have many meanings. They are the land, the sky, our inner thoughts and time itself.”
“I do not understand,” A--- said, struggling to see a pattern.
“You know when you go wandering down to the Black Vale?” I asked him. “How do you get there? Describe to me your journey.”
He thought for a moment.
“I leave the gates of Sidhe Fionnachaidh, down past our crannog on the Blue Lake. I keep going until I reach Anamcha’s tree, then I follow the trail down through the Vale of Caoimhe until I reach Bear Rock. From there I cross the shallow ford and it’s the next valley over.”
“Now, tell me, young lord. If I were a stranger to your lands, would I be able to follow your directions so well? The Blue Lake, is it actually blue?”
“Only in summertime, when the sun hits the clay beneath. Then more sort of grey-blue,” he conceded.
“And Anamcha’s tree, how would I know which that was?”
“It’s the tree where Anamcha thought himself a bird and tried to fly, only Taranis caused the sky to shake and he fell to earth, breaking his neck. They buried him there beneath that tree.”
“If I did not know that story, I would not know which tree,” I smiled.
“Aye, but you’d recognise the Bear Stone, you couldn’t miss that.”
“So I would have only half a map, because I did not know all the stories of the landscape.” A--- nodded. “Well,” I explained, “this is a map of those stories. If you know the right story, or the right song to sing, you can navigate your way through all worlds.”
Onwards and alongwards.