Writing About The South

 

Right now I’m writing at university because it’s warmer than being in my house. This is a legitimate reason. I am not kidding. But writing on campus can be fun because:

  1. There are no distractions
  2. It’s a working environment (so I actually feel like I should be doing something instead of tweeting.)
  3. It’s really quiet here right now because it’s evening!

So I’ve set myself a deadline. By the end of tonight, as in midnight, I will have written 1000 words to the opening of my new novel-in-progress which is – ta dah! – all about the Deep South … as in Texas.

Because I love it.

This new novel is a project of mine which I have been striving towards since the very first year of my degree. I’ve been holding off until now to write about it and now it’s here it’s kind of terrifying. The novel project is a part of my dissertation, which is all about the Deep South and the ideology of the cowboy as a romance figure in literature.

So my novel is a cowboy romance set in Texas. *unbelievably happy about this*

I’m writing different beginnings to the novel so far and I’m going to keep writing until I hit the one which I know is right. So far, I have four different openings. I think I know which one I love best, but I know it’s not quite there yet. More work needs to be done!

But, like Hemingway famously said, “the first draft of anything is shit.”

I think I always come back to that piece of advice when I’m writing a first draft and finding it hard. Because if you can’t have faith in Hemingway as a writer, then who else are you going to believe in?

For research, I’ve been reading snippets of DEEP SOUTH by the wonderful travel writer Paul Theroux which came out late last year. (I don’t know how many times I stroked it in bookshops before actually buying it. Sorry Waterstones.)

I read this book in the sunshine today and it was bliss. I’ll probably write a raving reveiw of this book once I’ve finished it but I’ll tell you right now that this book is amazing. It really gets you into the mindset of the South and opens up a world perhaps not so explored in travel writing. It’s a world of vivid colour and backroads and thrift stores located on old highways, where “the past is never dead” and where “poverty is well dressed in churches, and everyone is approachable”.

It’s a world I can’t wait to get into and one which I find hugely inspiring (hence the idea for the novel). I’ve always loved the South ever since I was first pulled into country music.

So today I pored over its pages, ready with a bright pink marker pen to highlight certain passages, and fell a little bit in love with it all. So tonight, I aim to write about it. Or at least develop some ideas about it which I can one day turn into fiction.

I’ll try and keep you updated on how it goes along as I try and figure it out.

In the meantime, it’s back to writing!

Hey, look, I’m writing!

This is my seventh cup of tea today while writing and planning and eating croissants. I’m having a productive day and I wanted to share that feeling with you all.

So far, I’m happy.

I’ve written 12,624 words of my novel and reached my goal of 500 words today. This is something of a struggle for me lately because I’ve been juggling my degree with friends, family, working for the magazine company I help run, and doing daily basic human-like things such as eating, washing and sleeping.

Oh, plus I read a lot so that too.

So I haven’t been able to write chunks of my novel so regularly as I would’ve liked. I know it’s a pathetic excuse, but where is the time? I’m trying to fix this and I love the feeling I get when I actually write it and revisit the characters I’ve gotten to know.

I write YA fiction which I love on many levels I just can’t explain. So I love my two characters who are hell bent on not falling in love, but do. Well, one of them, at least. I love their relationship and the dynamic it takes. They’re two of my favourite ever constructed characters I’ve created – and I didn’t even plan this novel.

Listening alongside to country and folk music gives me a release I simply just love. Silence can do this too. But today it is country and folk and I’m happy.

Who cares if I haven’t eaten properly today, or showered, or brushed my hair? Writing really does need to take priority sometimes.

Walking with Inspiration

Earlier, I blogged telling you tall tales of how I was going to spend the afternoon walking around the lovely place where I live and see what inspiration struck me with. I planned to write, and walk, and indulge myself in the luxury sights that are contained at harbourside Cornwall. 
And you know what? I did!

Taking routes I’d never known before it was such a pleasant experience to walk without haste in an environment I was unaccustomed to, yet everything around me was still so familiar. It was my own little adventure.
I had quiet.
I had solitude.
I had grace.

I was so inspired I wrote a little something:

 

The house was languid and fine, with a little bit of wear and tear around the edges. It was a large house, with black iron railings and an archway standing boldly before the pathway to the garden. A balcony, on the second floor of the house which passers-by could look upon if they so desired from the boundaries of the outside. It was a grand house, one that distinctly belonged to another time. It was old, with a great brass knocker on the door with chipped paint, yet it still resonated beauty with its old age.

 

Inspiration struck me with joy when I was avidly scribbling this down in my notebook.
Writers see. Writers see, and then they write. And that is what I wrote. And I’m embarrassed to admit I’m a little proud. 

Who knows? Maybe one day that little passage will spark a novel, one day.

Have you ever been inspired by a certain place/landscape? I’d love to hear about it.