Monday, November 29, 2010


Routine is to writing what pens are to paper. Or in other words, you/I can get an idea down with lipstick on the tailboard of a ute, or with a stick of charcoal on an envelope for a minute during our chores.

But to get real substance, we need routine. I sort through my dream-generated ideas while making my breakfast on automatic. I eat it and write while I sip three mugs of tea, in my case by pen into my scrapbook journal.

Routine is sitting down at the computer every day at the same time to type. I do chores first. Running around outside and in. Pegging out the wash. The dishes. Vacuuming. I stop my chores at 10 a/m no matter what I’m doing. It will all be waiting the next day. I write until 12.00 or 1.00 p/m.

This morning though, a tradesman rang. He’d be early.

My routine tends to be secondary to people. This morning no exception. He arrived at 9.45. No matter, I will re-arrange my writing times today.

Because, what you/I write when, also needs consideration. Usually in this first lump of high-value concentration time, I write offline, my major work in progress, a short story, this or that. Today, because I began later and will have less time before lunch, I’ll write my blogs and start that article for the local Landcare newsletter.

After lunch I will shop if I can carry what I need. Post Office, loaf of bread, printer cartridge. A walk in the weather and a talk with whoever I meet up the street. The beauty of living in a small town.

My second major writing time is after I walk the dog, and myself, the distances needed to keep us fit. A two part effort, since the dog is old and crippled, and can handle only about a third of what I need. I take the car, walk her her third, then me the rest while she rests. Her in the car keeps her out of the way of other dogs galumphing around.

However, this is a writing day. Work, doctor's appointments, elder care, builders and trades people onsite, getting repairs done etc etc you know what i mean, all take time.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Non-fiction: Leading at the Edge

Kes the new character in my novel Lodestar needed to grow into a leader among his people so I re read Leading at the Edge, one of my favourite books. It details how Ernest Shackleton brought back his whole crew from a failed attempt to reach the South Pole. This back in 1914-1915, before the days of lightweight waterproof snow gear, gps, motorised ice transport and other conveniences without which we could now not make such an attempt. Shackleton's expedition had linen tents without floors, wooden boats and dogs to pull their sleds, to name but a few differences.

The book starts with a eleven page precis of Shackleton's amazing achievement. Then the ten characteristics of a really good leader are described and related to Shackleton's strategies during his journey. Modern situations in industry and commerce are also quoted though these lack resonance for me. Shackleton remains one of my favourite hero-type characters.

Kes, in chapter 23, is chained to his least favourite person, Jeb. Their relationship so far has been one of snipping and sniping. Now they are required to somehow get into a mode of co operation, save their lives along the way of making it back to their people's tents. 

This is the midpoint of the story. Both Ahni the main character, and Kes, her lover, are climbing out of the mid-point depths and I needed a way of growing Kes towards the hero that he eventually needs to be. 

I've written the what-happens, the narrative. Next I need to assign the motivations, why things happen. The way that narrative is turned into plot, as I understand it. I'll probably pick a couple (for this stage of the story) of characteristics of leadership and match them to the events.