Monday, February 25, 2013

Reaching the End

I'm sitting at my computer, fingers tapping on the keys. The Crystal Tree sits open before me, and I'm writing my way towards the end. It's been three weeks since I started the draft and I'm making my way towards the end. We're in the final scene. I'm trying to compose the last words. Endings are so hard in so many different ways. My fingers are moving quite slowly at the moment. I don't want the story to end. Not yet. I don't want to leave my characters and my world just yet.

But there, the last words are typed. Probably the worst last words in the history of writing. Endings never were my strong point after all. But it doesn't matter, that's what editing is for right? I sit back then and look at my nice long document and think over the story just written. It has to be the best first draft that I have ever written, thanks to a bit of planning.

And suddenly I'm not sad any more. I'm happy. It's done. It's finished. I wrote this draft, made up this story myself. It's not the best story, not yet. But it's getting there. And there is editing to do. Hang on, don't I not like editing? I should be cringing at the thought. but instead all I want to do is jump straight back in and edit the book until it shines and matches the beautiful picture in my head.

Nope, can't do that now. Must let it sit and stew for a while. Now it's time to be proud of finishing the draft, and then I'm ready to jump straight into planning the rewrite of another novel. Time to start laying the groundwork for another great story. That's the good thing about writing. The fun never really ends. When one story finishes, there's always another to take it's place.

And there's always a chance to make a mock cover for one's book too...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Celebrating a 21st Birthday

The night before Callum's 21st birthday we walk into the local Italian restaurant.Going out to dinner as a family is a rare occasion for us and we're all excited. A table for nine, we'd asked for. We're rather a large dinner party. The waiter pushes some tables together in the middle of the room for us, making one long table to seat us all.

Once we're settled down, the waiter brings us the menu. I flip mine over and over, looking at all the meal options. More than half the names of the meals are in Italian. I'm trying hard to look like I know what I'm doing, but how is one supposed to do that when you have no idea what the food actually is?

Callum's done this before though, and, seeing quite a few blank looks round the table as my sisters also look at the menu, quickly directs us to some appropriate food. The owner of the shop herself stops to take our orders. She's very friendly, and our dinner is soon ordered quickly and easily.

We're sitting round the table, chatting and laughing, when suddenly two pizza appear on the table in front of us. They look and smell fantastic, but they weren't part of what we ordered. We're quickly informed that it's a treat from the owner, who somehow found out it was Callum's birthday.

From delicious dinners of pasta and pizza, to even better desserts, the meal is an amazing success. I forget to try and pretend that I know what I'm doing. It doesn't seem to matter really. We laugh and talk and take lots of photos, and celebrate Callum's 21st birthday in style.

As we walk out, back to the car at the end of the meal, my sisters and I agree, we wish it could be a 21st birthday every week. Celebrating one is such a special and fun occasion. Especially when it's the birthday of a special brother.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Running with Clouds of Butterflies

The sun shines down through the branches of the gum trees above me, not yet too hot to be unpleasant. The ground under my feet changes rapidly from sand to rock and back again. My shoes pound a steady rhythm on the earth. It's one of those mornings where it's a pleasure to get up early and run down the bush tracks with my family.

As I run in the rear of our running pack, I look forwards, between the shoulders of my sisters, to where the track is leading us. And all at once I see something unusual. A cloud of monarch butterflies hangs in the air, right in the centre of the track.

A few more paces is enough to bring us into the middle of this cloud. There are butterflies everywhere. They brush past my face, and dance between my flashing feet. They fly next to me, as if they too are out for a little exercise. Maybe they are out to stretch their wings. For a little way they keep pace with our group as we head through the bush, before finally falling behind.

The next day and the next, they are there, flying along the bush track like they've been waiting for us. Not always so many. Not always in the same place. But there are always some butterflies waiting there to greet us as we run. I look forward to seeing their small shapes flitting across the track as I pound towards them.

They won't always be there I know. When the weather turns cold, the butterflies will all disappear. Winter is too harsh for them. But I know that, come spring again, they'll be back, and this time, we'll be there to welcome them.

Monday, February 11, 2013

There's a Pink Flamingo On My Front Lawn

What the flamingo lawn ornament thinks it looks like.

There's a pink flamingo sitting in the middle of my front lawn. He perches there on one foot, day in and day out, watching life going past. He doesn't ask for much, just a patch of grass to stand on, and the occasional person to admire his beautiful bright pink feathers.

The pink flamingo feels quite superior. He is, after all, ths only bright pink animal in the whole garden. The rest of the animals are so drab and brown. Why, some of them are even showing signs of rust in their iron sides. But he, he is glorious in his radiance.

Anyone could be like the dog, faithful, rusty and old. The flamingo is quite glad he doesn't have the dog's tail on a spring. What a nasty clatter that tail makes whenever it moves. The flamingo is thankful it doesn't have a tail like that.

And who would want to be like the peacock? Large and unwieldy, taking up space on the concrete path? The flamingo is proud of it's compact size. It doesn't need to take up much space in this garden.

And honestly, who would want to be the giant spider? Even made out of metal the spider isn't good company. Really, the nerve of it being so much larger than a real spider. Someone might get scared. No one is going to be scared looking at the pink flamingo.

The bright pink flamino stands in the middle of the front lawn, balancing precariously on one leg and contemplates the very great honour it is conferring on the garden by gracing the lawn with it's presence. After all, which other house on the street,surrounded by bush, is home to a magnificent, bright pink bird like this one?

There's a pink flamingo on my front lawn, and I think it has a high opinion of itself for a simple metal lawn ornament!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Deep Characters

I've spent the last three or so weeks finishing up my planning for "The Crystal Tree", and while I've been planning, I've also been thinking about what strikes me about some of the books that I've read recently and have really, really liked.

The book that struck me the most was The Help by Katherine Stockett. I read the whole book within a few days, and by the time I'd read the last page there was just one thing going through my mind. 'I wish I could write characters like hers. I wish I could write such deep, individual characters.'

I have found that the characters I like best are the ones that have depth. I like the ones that you can feel have a story away from the pages, a life that has been lived outside of the confines of the story. I like deep, well thought out characters who feel like they have a past.

And thinking about this made me think harder about all my characters, not just the main characters. I wanted to know, what were their stories? What had happened to them to make them the way they are now? Why does the noble girl bully the other students? What made the villain choose his course? What were they like as children?

Thinking about these kinds of questions has really helped me build a better picture of my characters. Before, my villain was just a bad guy who wanted revenge. Thinking about his past showed me that he never felt that he was good enough, and that he made bad choices to try and prove that he was good enough. He was a deeper character, and, I think, a better one for it.

Despite the time it took to work out the histories of my characters, I hope that my book will be all the better for it. Because if I love to read about deep characters then I should definitely write them. Because I'm sure that there are other people who like well thought out characters too.