Where did (summer and) the writing go? Research time …

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A sunny day at the local farm, when we picked raspberries for jam

So, finally, August was summer! Then September began with dank, wet, days under a lowering, deep grey sky. After a few moans about the annual angst of shoe-buying for kids, all the writing Mummies I know began lively blogs on the happy theme of new coloured pencils and shiny notebooks… new clothes, new shoes, new thoughts, new space to write! …Autumn is not the End of Summer but a happy time of New Beginnings!

True to history, autumn begins the academic year in the northern hemisphere, since it was time to plant the crops. So summer counted as year’s end, with the harvest brought in … then back to school, back to the desk. Thankfully, the sun’s also back. New beginnings are looking brighter and more possible.

We have a new (and first) grandson so there’s a new beginning in our family … All

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Beginning to  know a new little person

grandparents are besotted with a new little one. He is a magical baby, growing by the day and beginning to observe the world around him—colours and shapes beyond Me and Mummy! After a jumbled year interrupted by computer problems, and deep doubts about writing and publishing, (and with the weirdness of the political happenings here in the UK), back to the desk. To revive the Work in Progress. And with a revised Hodge website  which embeds the blog.

Though quite honestly, (see  Altruism the British Way of Life) the world scene, “Brexit” and the American election prospects put fiction writing into question: is it pointless? Is it irrelevant?

But would giving up change anything?

Where is Love You to the Moon, caught in the events of this crazy year? At Hawkesbury Litfest, on the fiction writers’ panel discussing ‘Write what you Know – or Not?, we all agreed that even if the novel is centred on your own locality and workplace, it’s very much not autobiography. Even a family story is more than that.

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Research, observation – or autobiography?

Fiction demands research, facts to build the skeleton which shapes the plot. This is (mostly) as true of contemporary fiction as of historical. If political or medical facts, say, don’t fit, it’s the plot which has to change. What makes Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings stand out amongst fantasy fiction is the verisimilitude of the languages (they work) and his enormous knowledge, accumulated for decades and beginning in his teens, of mythologies.

Thankfully I’m not writing fantasy so my inability with languages won’t spoil the story. And my  novel’s set in 2007, not 2016, so nothing about the current complications facing our government.

Where my research will be centred

The science driving the plot in Love You to the Moon, and how this affects and is employed by the characters, needs firming up. Will one of the strands work better driven by research on diabetes or mitochondrial diseases – either, or which?

And what’s on the school curriculum for teenagers of 13 and 15? How have they reacted to the rise of terrorism? What are they reading, in 2007, and what’s the career path for a woman academic scientist with two children and husband with a time-consuming job and a social conscience? Which iPhone belongs to what years? Small details and large ones …

Emotional and physical growth, increased insights for characters and author?

Meanwhile, the characters wait in the wings —but ten years older…What is different for them? Are Max and Jenny still together? What’s Daze been up to?  What kind of a teenager is Alice?

research booksAfter a break, concentrating on reading, painting, enjoying our local nature reserve, and not thinking about whether or not I would actually write this third book in the series, I’m going back to re-reading about the Edwardian scientific research that made possible Dolly the Sheep, which first excited me into writing Baby, Baby.

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And the books from non-Western writers who convinced me to explore diversities nearer home, and develop a cool and unemotional writing voice. Back to new beginnings around hidden cultural diversities, the impact of medical science on social attitudes, the ups and downs of family life.

And am hoping the sun shines (not metaphorically, factually) through autumn …

4 thoughts on “Where did (summer and) the writing go? Research time …

  1. dunelight September 12, 2016 / 2:00 am

    Autumn here is spectacular but I am loath to give up summer, it’s warm waters, boating, swimming, ..the sun… you speak of grey skies, my area of West Michigan has more grey days than Seattle..which is the place we in America poke fun at for being gray. I empathize for your grey skies pain.

    Liked by 1 person

    • MariHoward September 12, 2016 / 8:33 pm

      Thanks! Yes Oxfordshire is pretty good at grey too … and humidity! I notice the difference in London when I go there (grew up there …) pollution apart, the atmosphere is better and they have more sunshine. We’ve had such a short summer this year … I try to work hard to see autumn as a new beginning time…

      Like

  2. MariHoward October 16, 2016 / 7:51 pm

    Wise before his time, hey? We have the funniest video of him ‘dancing’ on his back, all limbs going in time to music with a strong beat! And concentrating …

    Like

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