… and so I find myself here without Man of the Woods. He is back in East Anglia, irrigating the potato crops which become ‘Charlottes’.
The science behind the ‘new’ potato’s nurture is surprisingly exacting. It is not a question of the agronomist instructing the farmer to: “give this an inch of water any time in the next three weeks.” whereupon he could hurl it on and then leave for his holiday.
No. It is more along the lines of: “These will be sprayed Monday morning, and will need 20mm of water within a 3-day window of that application.
I used to stamp my feet and look surly that I was married to someone who put his job before his time away with the family. Many friends used to raise their eyebrows – while eating potato-based products – and insinuate he was being awkward and boring. What’s more, I’d often agree 🙈.
Now I’m just proud. Speaking to him for half hour a few minutes ago, sat on the floor nursing my now 3/10 migraine (in what is a stunning holiday apartment that he would love) I can hear in his voice the acceptance that this time he cannot join us.
And although his 72 year old father tried to persuade him to drive down and that he would cope with the irrigation alone, MoW will not leave his father with that worry. Machinery has a habit of breaking down, pipes become blocked, the irrigator can sink into the mud just before you’re due to move it twenty yards along the field for the next ‘pull’. It’s hard physical work and while MoW’s father is relatively strong and fit, I know it would worry my husband to leave him to it.
So there it is. The reality of a farming way of life when you don’t have farm-workers; no-one to do the work when you’re not there.
Enjoy your crisps today and give a thought as you crunch that real people produced those for all of our pleasure 🤣
Meanwhile, in other news, I brought with me a journal for notes to develop my Book 2 idea.
‘Save the Cat’ was also packed because I wish to plan this novel with more care than Book 1! I’ve studied for over a year now this art called fiction writing and while I shall never know all there is to know, my goodness, I have a greater understanding of what makes an okay book into a really good book. (Whether I’ll be able to transfer that knowledge onto the paper remains to be seen but I am excited for the process of Book 2).
Yesterday, as the sun burned away an early haze, I set to work on a synopsis and a tag line.
I had always believed you could never write a synopsis until you’d written an entire novel, because how would you possibly know what to include? The chapters will jostle for position, as we know they always do as we write, and therefore a synopsis surely should not be contemplated until after the book is written to at least a first draft?
For those of you who have been reading my posts for a while, you’ll remember I attended a course in Devon at RetreatsForYou to study alongside the talented Julie Cohen who has written over twenty books; here are just a few:
Many of her tips have stayed with me, but one particularly.
She asked us all to pause and think about the theme of our novel; the thread of aim or goal for the protagonist through the pages. Without one, even with quality writing, we simply end up with prose about things happening. Julie went even further and encouraged us to think about narrowing it down to a one-word pitch!
It was a hard exercise as we all grappled for words that narrowed our story down but the lesson has stuck. As I contemplate Book 2 (even while Book 1 is in the ‘system’ and being critiqued right now) I find my approach is completely different this time.
I know roughly my story outline but before I type a word, or even map out the chapters I wish to narrow it down to a synopsis, an elevator pitch, a tag line and even one-word. Without telling you yet about Book 2 in detail, let’s look at what I mean in regard to this exercise. Below is a potential 3 star piece of mini fiction;
She walked to the beach and dipped her toes in the Atlantic water. The icy chill took her breath away.
However with a theme, we have heart and soul. For example, let’s give the previous sentence a one-word theme and re-write it slightly;
The knowledge she would be alone when she had least expected it cut through her plans like a sword. The laughter she’d known they would share was silent before it had chance to exist and as the icy waters stole the warmth from her feet, so too did the wind her hopes. She pulled the jumper closer to her skin in a desperate attempt to protect the shred of courage her journey there had given her ….
We have a real vision of someone now, and how she might be feeling. We have a question – why is she alone yet wasn’t expecting to be so? That’s the hook.
Do excuse me while I pause for a coffee. My migraine is receding and usually around now I can eat without feeling nauseous.
I’ll be back!