I was one of those weirdos at school who was good at both English and maths.
I craved both pretty things and books. I liked to be girly and have adventures. I loathed wearing trousers but despite always wearing a skirt, I could climb trees, could go exploring and when necessary, could slap a trouser-wearing bully in the face.
I’m still that girl really. My mind has two distinct paths of travel.
My day-job is project-based and I plan, process-map, analyse and present data etc etc in meticulous detail. But when it comes to writing….
I really do try. The plans for my first two novels (neither of which have seen the light of day) were intricate. But one is convoluted and illogical and the other is miles too long. The thought of all the editing required to make either of them readable is enough to make a statue weep.
I’ve since learnt a lot. I’ve accepted that creatively, I’m more of a panster than a detailed plotter. (That’s a writer flying by the seat of their pants. Perhaps I should I say I’m a skirtster.) I’ve stopped shoe-horning characters into a plot and instead let the characters decide what to do with the situation chucked at them.
So if they do something stupid, it’s not my fault, it’s because of the contradictions in their personality. Margaret while analytical and scientific, relaxes by sketching. She’s independent, capable and brave, but underneath afraid of letting people close enough to let her down. How rationally she behaves depends on which aspect of her personality is predominant at any given moment.
In the ‘novel in progress’ (set around 14 months after Murder Durnovaria), the main character Fabio (last seen in Murder Britannica) wants to be left alone to create music. To do that, he needs to tune out of what’s going on around him. But he’s also an excellent hunter for which of course, he needs to tune into what’s going on around him. At the point I’ve got to in writing, he’s got things the wrong way round and hasn’t noticed the pack of wolves watching his every move…
So depending on how they respond, Margaret might end up in even deeper trouble or equally she might gain something important. And Fabio might end up as a tasty meal unless the wolves want something else and he needs to react emotionally rather than logically.
Meanwhile, I’m trying to balance opposing things like: writing about a bitter winter when for me, it’s midsummer, and describing busy taverns when pubs have been shut for over three months.
The bird in the picture below clearly thought being in two minds gave her options. In a pub garden last year, she risked getting close enough to snaffle a piece of ready-salted crisp to add to her nutritious beakful.
My analytical mind wonders whether crisps are a good accompaniment to earthworms.
My creative mind says ‘yuk’.
I know which I’m listening to this time.
Words and photograph copyright 2020 by Paula Harmon. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.