Monthly Archives: November 2013

I’m not lost

Today’s Much Love Monday is brought to you by the title track from James Morrison’s debut album Undiscovered.

Boy, that man can sing.

10 July 2006. This album was released, and The Guillemots released Through the Windowpane –  very good day indeed for music.

Anyway, I am hoping you can forgive me for my blog absence. I’m 37,000 words into my NaNoWriMo novel and desperately hoping I can write 3000 words a day to get me to the deadline. Unfortunately, it is not going to be a completed thing on 30th November, as I reckon it will be half-written (and most novels come in at around 80,000 – 120,000 words) but it’s a start. I’m really enjoying writing it, which is great. I was struggling for ideas that wouldn’t come right at the beginning. It’s a post-apocalyptic quest to topple the global empires. It wasn’t very much of anything at first. Now it has a plot and an ending. It even has characters – which it didn’t at first. However, it’s been a bit of research too, in the name of accuracy, like how best to kill and skin a rabbit. Because what post-apocalyptic character doesn’t need to know how to do that?

Unfortunately, I’ll be hard at it in every spare moment to meet the deadline. If I miss it, tant pis pour moi. I have other deadlines and other tasks to get through which have to take precedence of course. And the dog walking, in the bitter cold, is about the only thing I can manage this week besides work.

I have, though, finished one of my craft projects – a new bobble hat. Heston ate my favourite pink hat, which I am wearing in this photo in Morocco.

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It was a fluffy pink Kangol angora one and I loved it. It now has a Heston hole in it. That dog is lucky he doesn’t have a me-sized hole in him. Mostly his chewing days are over, but from time to time I see a towel with a little nibble out of it. Mostly his chewing days are over because I have removed every edible thing from his reach.

Anyway, now I have a new hat and I simultaneously learned to use double pointed needles for the first time. Always a bonus. Now I have two craft projects left to finish, one of which is 70% completed. These autumny days leave a lot of room for craftiness.

ladyjustineautumn10 ladyustineautumn11

 

I am still loving my new camera toy.

Apart from that, I am mostly loving dogs eating toffees. I know sugar is not good for dogs, but I do love watching them work a toffee. It’s pure comedy.

Hopefully I will return to full blogger duties in due time. Give me a week and I’ll be back on it. Suffice to say I will be very glad when it is next Sunday.

Until then,

Have a lovely day!

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I fall on the floor and I’m laughing

Is there a better way to start a Monday than with a bit of Simon and Garfunkel with Cecilia? 

Okay, so the girl’s a tramp and she has someone new in bed by the time Paul or Art (or both?) get back from washing their face (unless they’re very OCD and it takes them a very long time) but it’s still a bit of happy-clappy jubilation to start off the working week.

I profess I have a ridiculous name. It has caused me no end of grief. From being Emily or Emma-Lee or Emily Milly-Lily or Emma Bed or Emma Reads, you wouldn’t think so few letters could give so much trouble. Lucky for me I didn’t end up as Isabella Mintball. That was going to be my other name. Isabella. Although my Nana thought people would call me Isabella Mintball. I don’t know why. The only references to that phrase on the entire Internet are on this blog. In fact, were I to choose an author pseudonym, that would be it. Nobody else is called Isabella Mintball.

However, I am very thankful I am not called Cecilia or Caroline or Diana or Angie just because you’d have to put up with drunk men singing it to you all the time.

Point in case: when I worked in a pub, I used to tell the sex-pest drunkards I was called Caroline. I don’t know why. I think I thought they would find me less approachable. However, I was often regaled by a chorus of drunken “Sweet Caroline”s every time it got to last orders.

Lucky for me, the only song dedicated to me is the Hot Chocolate ‘classic’ of EmmaIt has an unfortunate chorus with Emmeline that is just a little too much like my full name, but it’s not such a hit that most people think to sing it to me when they’re drunk. I’d like to think that I was young enough when the song came out that my parents could have renamed me as Justine or something that doesn’t really have a song or a connotation at all. It’s not like I’m a dog and I need the name for recall purposes. At a push, Pink Floyd’s See Emily Play can also be a bit of a grievance.

You don’t really think to say thank you to your parents for giving you a fairly sensible name. Or thank you to the media who don’t come up with something ridiculous after your birth that tars your name for ever. Isn’t that right, Verity Treacle?

Imagine being Dirty Diana all your life?! Or Roxanne?

My neighbour’s dog is called Roxanne. Every time I see it, I sing the song in my head. That’s what happens. It’s alright if it’s a nice song, like Lovely Rita, but nobody wants people going ‘you don’t have to put on the red light’ every time someone says your name. Strangely, I have taught two Jolenes in my life (okay, one Jolene and one Joleen) and I feel obliged to ask the question: what parent would do this to a child?

It’s tantamount to child abuse.

In France, it used to be the case that you couldn’t name your baby a certain thing if the mayor didn’t think it was a good name. As the central government tried to stamp out regionalism and separatism, they forbade certain regional names and thus your maire, who signs the paperwork, could decide yay or nay. One of my friends here is from the Pyrenees and she wanted to call her daughter Quitterie, a regional name. She had to get special dispensation to do so because the baby was born in Paris. The dispensation only arrived in the nick of time. I still have visions that a mayor might decide a name is inappropriate and call the child Claud or something on a whim. I bet that’s happened. There is this interesting post about the name – you can see that it was not at all popular from 1900-1950. Emma, par contre, is enjoying a resurgence in France – as in England – and it begs the question about why so many French people look at me with suspicion when I tell them my name, as if it is some whimsical English or Welsh name like Gwendolyn or Doreen.

Anyway, I have Much Love for not being called Diana or Angie. That’s always a bonus. I got to quite like Caroline after all the singing, so I could live with that.

So, for what else do I have Much Monday Love?

For the laughter of friends. I had a moment where I got all hysterical about fabric last Friday and I’m thankful nobody walked out and left me. It wasn’t even anything particularly funny to be laughing at.

For finding many people who I can safely say I wouldn’t mind living in a small village with, though I don’t think much work would get done if we all lived near each other.

For warm fires. It’s nippy this week. And yes, Colin, I am wearing my thermals.

For electric blankets and hot water bottles. Yes, it’s that time of year.

For Mexican bean soup. Top marks, Mr BBC Food, Top marks.

Not much love for my inability to finish a project off. Would you believe I’ve started two craft projects and not finished them. On Friday, I thought about starting another. I’m rubbish at anything other than initial enthusiasm. It’s my aim this week to finish at least one of them off. I’m back to the to-do lists and order!

Le train-train quotidien

I’ve not done a Silent Sunday for a while, not because I have been doing anything exciting, but because I have just been following a daily routine of sorts. Dogs’ breakfast. Chickens’ breakfast. Fire. My breakfast. Shower. Work. Walk. Lunch. Work. Work. Dogs’ tea. My tea. Knit. Watch a little television. Bed. With a little dog butlering in between.

Everything is soft and faded now. It is the end of the year.

LadyJustineAutumn1 LadyJustineAutumn2 LadyJustineAutumn3 LadyJustineAutumn4 LadyJustineAutumn6 LadyJustineAutumn7 ILadyJustineAutumn5

Winter is coming

I’ve waited a year to say that. Well, not waited a year for winter (that would be silly!) but waited a year to say ‘Winter is Coming’. It’s a Game of Thrones thing.

Having finished the last of the Game of Thrones published books in May, I can’t tell you the eagerness with which I await the next edition and also the next TV series. I love epic books that are so long that it takes me at least a week to read them – the kind of books you cannot put down. 

Anyway, winter is coming because a little birdie told me so…

IMG_0061On Monday morning, I saw this little flock of birds flying over to winter elsewhere. By Wednesday the sky was full of them and local newspapers picked up on it. Over Aigre on Wednesday, the sky was full of birds on long haul flights.

I hope they all had a safe journey. I worry about them all getting there alright.

As for the other wintery things, we have not yet had a frost. Can you believe it? It’s almost mid-way through November. It hasn’t yet dipped to 0°C and I don’t know why that is at all exciting to me because as soon as it’s been here five days, I will be wishing it was summer again.

We’ve been bathing under dirty grey skies down this end of the country and I’m mourning the cold blue skies that seemed to mark much of autumn, winter and spring a couple of years ago. That weather system really seems to have brought Manchester Gloom right to my doorstep.

So I did what every Northern girl does when I went out for my Tuesday walk: I put on layers. At one point on the walk I realised I was wearing pink fluffy ear muffs, an orange scarf, a purple jumper, leopard-skin leggings, navy blue gloves, grey and blue ski socks and a poncho on top. I must have looked divine. As if it were not enough to look like this, I saw several people. I never see people. This is what happens when you go out on walks without paying attention to your outfit.

Anyway, I am off to build a fire and get warm again. Five kilometres and Heston is sitting by the door this morning looking for all intents and purposes like we have not had a walk at all.

Bah.

 

What counts for fun around these parts?

Yesterday someone posted a comment on my Anglo Info blog asking about ballroom dancing and social lives in these here parts. I’m afraid I will have burst her bubble over what happens in rural areas. Rural areas are the same the world over I think, be it Brazil or Australia, Thailand or France.

My answer was this: if you need a social life, you might be better to move to the city. Or near a city. Or near a big town.

But Latin American dancing out here in the sticks?

No so much.

We do have thé dansant events from time to time (by which I mean once or twice a year). I have no idea what thé dansant involves except to say I imagine it like a village hall full of old people copping a feel during a waltz. Tango and Salsa it is probably not.

Though I could be being judgemental.

Line dancing is very popular in some parts. Zumba has definitely arrived. Step aerobics are still massively popular. I last did step aerobics in 1994, so we’re only about 20 years behind the latest fad, I guess.

That is not to say that villages are without life. My village has an organised walk once a month. There are PLENTY of committees a person can get involved with, especially if you speak French. And if you don’t speak French you can move to a village like the next one up from me where the phone book is filled with English names and there are at least three rival committees of purely English-speaking gens. 

I would say mostly such English enclaves are fairly thick on the ground in these parts and it is easy to find one if you ask an estate agent. I do not live in an English enclave. There are four or five English folk in the village but mostly they are either of an age or they are married to French people and they work or have families.

So when I have finished work, I am usually an anti-social soul. I have too many dog walks to do and too many crafty things I want to do.

That is not to say I don’t have social outings or hang around with other people. This week is atypical, but has been remarkably social. This is good. It is still raining. My garden activities are limited to looking at it from a window.

Yesterday I took advantage of the bank holiday to go to a fabric sale in Brillac. Brillac is a lovely little village – it’s how people imagine France. I suspect therefore that it has a large continent of ex-pat owners, though I could be wrong. Anyway, the lady is parting with a collection of fabric that she had picked up over the years, as well as a good few boxes of vintage buttons and patterns.

I apologise in advance because I’m going to make it seem kitschy just because of what I bought.

In fact, she had vintage fabrics from the 1930s and beautiful, beautiful buttons. Is there a girl alive who doesn’t love a button box? I still remember my mum’s button box and many of the buttons in it. I loved the big chunky rounded ones most.

And, as far as I am aware, I didn’t swallow any.

The lady saw my obvious raptures (I was not alone: Sylvie and Nic also got all giddy and at one point I looked at Sylvie and I’m convinced her eyes had turned to buttons, she was that enthralled) and we talked a bit about my sewing heritage.

And what a heritage.

Sewing is in my genes from both sides of the family. My grandmother was a machinist in the big textile lines in Manchester. I still remember poking inside-out belts through with a knitting needle at her house for gaberdine belts. She made suits for many of the big names in the fashion world and I still have many coats she made, including my favourite Red Riding Hood coat that I have worn every winter since she made it. It is a beautiful coat. My Nana made clothes with sharp lines and good cloth. She knitted and she made other things too, but I never remember her embroidering or doing any sewing for pleasure.

On the other side – well, is there any sewing my mum can’t do? From frilly dresses to ra-ra skirts, dresses I wore on holiday, curtains, blinds, cushions, embroidery, detail. My mum loves it all and is immensely talented at it. I’ve not seen her knit for years, but she is also very good at that too.

Anyway, I digress. After I had given the lady my fabric-loving credentials, I set about finding treasures. I found two patterns I just had to buy.

One is this:

IMG_0065From John Lewis don’t you know?

Anyway, I’m not interested in the pattern on the left. No. I am interested in the ra-ra skirt. I have decided I am going to relive my eight-year-old life and make a ra-ra skirt just for kicks. My mum made me a pink-and-white polka dot ra-ra skirt which I loved very much as an eight year old, so I am going to make one again. They are in fashion so that is okay.

I might even make a Strawberry Switchblade one.

handsonhipsBut this was not my only find.

Oh no.

I found a knitting pattern.

Well, several actually.

And I couldn’t not have it.

IMG_0066Because who doesn’t need a range of knitting patterns for bedroom wear??!

You can even, should you so wish, make knitted underwear.

IMG_0067And not just underwear but ‘shapely’ underwear. Shapely!

I love that this book is filled with advice on style as well… there is a triangular shawl and the book advises ‘for breakfast in bed’.

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Unfortunately, the wool mentioned is long since gone and I’ll have to find an approximation. I won’t be touching the crochet ones either as I am not good at crochet. However, I may very well knit someone a bra and bloomers for Christmas. I think it would be rude not to.

So as for what people do for fun around these parts, speaking only for myself, rummaging through 70s and 80s patterns, button boxes and vintage fabrics is an afternoon well spent!

 

Who knew that she had the goods?

Today’s Much Love Monday is brought to you with a simple little funky beat from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie. 

If Lou Reed has been there from time to time in my life, forming a strand in the tapestry, the RHCP are the canvas upon which it was built, I’m sure of it. They’d be my desert island band, no doubt about it.

Today is Armistice Day in France (it was Remembrance Sunday yesterday in the UK) and though there are a few souls who have made it to the war memorial, for most of the country, it is a day off. November is good to us in France if you have to work – the 1st of November is Toussaints or All Saints Day when it is compulsory to go and take a chrysanthemum to your dead relatives’ graves – and today is Armistice Day of course.

Though I am not really having a day off (because Monday is kind of my one day of rest during the week as my weekends get subsumed in work) I did take the dogs out this morning. Unfortunately, jours fériés mean that although there is no regular, organised hunt today, there were odd old guys out at the crack of dawn. They wander around in their camouflage with a shotgun and a couple of dogs, usually after birds I’d have thought. I don’t know whether I trust these guys more or less than the organised hunt people. The organised hunt people don’t seem to catch very much though they make a lot of noise.

Luckily I am not of a hunting disposition. I’d be the type to shoot my dogs by accident, or a passing cyclist.

The game is definitely afoot at the moment.

Luckily, today the rain has stopped. This is a good thing. The Tardoire returned last week and the Charente had broken its banks in several places. This is unusual. I’ve never known the river to be back so early. Let’s hope it dries out a bit. I daren’t voyage down my garden and see what is happening. It’s like a mud pit.

So, what am I loving this fine Monday?

Firstly I am loving picking up my knitting needles. It feels like autumn is well under way.

And though it has been wet, it has also been unseasonably warm, which is also a good thing. No indoor hats as yet. It means that I am enjoying this autumn, wet as it is, and am not spending all my time thinking about how cold I am. It is nice to enjoy fires and soups and autumny things when it is all still new and fresh. I will, of course, get sick of it by February and March, and be itching to get my fingers stuck into some compost. I will be tired of the fire and tired of being cold and tired of sleeping in socks under two duvets. Right now, I am loving it.

Anyway, it is now late on Monday. I’ve spent the day coveting buttons and patterns and fabrics which I will share with you some other time. It’s time to hit the sack in fact. Today has been a day much like that. A day of putting things aside and coming back to them. I’m now wrapping things up and thinking tomorrow I need to finish what I start!!

The smartest dog in the world…

… or the dumbest.

The jury is still out.

IMG_0002Never let it be said that having a dog is easy. Last week I slept on the couch all night because of a needy dog. I go outside with Tilly on rainy days because if I do not she will do her business in the house. I walk Heston every day if I can and usually for four or five kilometres. I train him constantly and try and make sure he is kept occupied. Really he needs to be herding stuff or catching stuff with a very experienced dog handler. He was made to work.

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As it is, I have an eighteen month old dog who has real problems with too much energy. He’s not destructive and I’m glad of that. He just gets fidgety and a bit itchy and a bit agitated. But I wouldn’t have taken him if I didn’t take exactly what he is (although I was kind of hoping for a bit of a slower dog… but you get what you get!) We do at least 30 minutes of varied clicker training every day. He can sit on mats, knows left and right, can high five and give me a paw and show me his undercarriage. He can relax and play dead. He knows stay and move. He knows stop and he knows go. When we get to a cross roads, he stops dead and waits for me to direct him. He knows where we are going in the car and he wags his tail when he knows we are going to stop.

That is one smart dog.

But he is a very nervy dog and he is also a very highly strung, energetic dog. It’s not easy to keep him calm at the beginning of a walk and it has been hard work training him around other animals. We worked all summer on not chasing crows. And on not barking at cows that look at him funny. He still barks at wild boar. That’s how I know he has found one. He yips like he did when he was a puppy. He does figures of eight around swallows. He still leaps in puddles. He did a full-on skid through one yesterday and it cost me €6 because I’d just given him a tick treatment and when we got home I had to give him another. But who doesn’t like to see dogs leaping in puddles?

I try and vary my routes so he doesn’t get bored (and so I don’t either) and living where I do it’s not hard to do a different walk for weeks and weeks. Today we went up to the White Woods about five kilometres from my house. It’s where they found the casque d’Agris, an ornate Bronze Age helmet, in a cave. It’s a mammoth cave system up there. I thought about going to the forest, but there was a hunt on today and we got a piddling little walk in yesterday so he needed to stretch his legs.

I’d gone up past the cave entrance for the Grotte de Perrault and then we’d got up to a massive crossroads right in the centre of the woods. I mean slap bang in the centre. Heston barked in the distance and then seemed to circle round to my right, yipping. I thought it was boar but saw him shoot off after a huge stag that must have been taller than me. Then it disappeared behind me and Heston was gone too.

I stayed where I was for about 30 minutes, calling him. When he goes, I just stay still now and after five minutes at the most, he comes back. He’s gone twice for longer periods of time, but that’s not a bad record for a dog who manages to walk through game-ridden woodlands for 20km a week – over 1000km a year. Well, double if you count how far he runs compared to me!

So I stopped there and shouted and whistled. Then it got too long and I knew he was out of earshot, so I started circling wider and wider circles. After about an hour and a half, I went back to get the car from the lane where I’d parked it at the lane, and decided to drive around the outskirts looking for him. There is one fast road across one side and then a couple of slower roads with lots of bends that run parallel to each other and intersect with the fast road.

Still no sign.

So I got out again. The heavens had truly opened by this point. Tilly and I were both sodden. I climbed back up to where he first disappeared and called for a half hour or so, then went back to the car. I’d decided it was time to take Tilly back, call my afternoon clients and then cancel appointments so I could keep looking for him.

I drove home in tears. Leaving the woods was like giving up on him. I thought we were too far from any familiar routes, that we were too far from home, that he was probably in the cave system or had stepped in a trap or had even had some kind of dog heart attack. He had never been so long and it had been four hours since he disappeared. My legs were shaking and I was dripping.

I had a last hope that he might have made it back to the house. I’d shut the gate and locked it so I hoped he might be sitting outside waiting for me. It was my last hope. Other than that it would be photocopies of details round to all the vets and mairies and local houses. I would have stayed in the woods all night long calling if I needed to.

I pulled up outside the house and there was no Heston at the gate. Just as I parked up outside, a big black beast leapt up at the gate from the inside. It was Heston, of course.

How he had got back and got in, I do not know. I can kind of imagine if he picked up the trail of one of our other paths he could have realised where he was and carried on home, but it was still a five km trek and I thought the chance of him getting home that way were slim. Plus, he’d have had to have gone through one of two villages to get home – and since they all have outside dogs that Heston likes to bark at, I have no idea how he got past them all. I wondered if some kind neighbour had found him and realised who he was and where he lived. I wondered if he’d been picked up, taken to the vet and scanned and then dropped off at my house. But there was no message on my answer machine and surely they would have called first. And getting Heston to approach strangers is impossible. He barks like mental. I can hear a dog back two kilometres away here and I’d have heard him.

No, there is little else for it other than he made his own way back. Three kilometres to a familiar path and then two kilometres home. And then he got into a garden that is Heston-proof and César-proof.

I wish he could talk and then he could tell me the mystery of how he came home and how he looked still so dry and energetic. Normally he pants like mad for twenty minutes following a chase. He wasn’t even slightly tired.

I called one of my neighbours here who lives in the village just up the road slightly. I thought she might know something as she is often out foraging for mushrooms in that part of the woods. She said the dog obviously thought it was April Fools’ Day and had hidden on purpose or that maybe I was losing my marbles and hadn’t taken him with me.

I realise that people without dogs will be wondering why I was so agitated. But Heston is part of my family. He’s as annoying as most of my family. He probably picked that up from me. Anyway, he is back and I cried for about half an hour.

Like I said, either really smart, or really dumb.

I think my next pet will be a goldfish.

All the words are gonna bleed from me

Unfortunately Tilly does not like this song and she growled at it, but here it is anyway. The White Stripes with Seven Nation Army. 

Possibly the tune that gets most into your head and presses repeat on itself.

I love it when you find bits of things that really resonate with you – when someone says something noteworthy or quoteworthy. Bits of songs or bits of poems or bits of novels. I can’t think of a life in which words aren’t a part of it. In fact, I’ve just read Frank O’Hara’s poem Why I Am Not A Painter which you might not like, but I really do. I think it says why I am not a painter either. I’d be writing ORANGES and never getting to the oranges. One day I will stick to the point.

Anyway, I am mostly loving the return of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) which in my opinion should really be InNaNoWriMo since it is international. There’s a very healthy French contingent and even three people committed to it in Angoulême.

It’s a bit like a marathon. In fact, it’s what I do instead of marathons these days. You write 50,000 words in 30 days. You have no commitment to publish or to seek publication or to share. You have no commitment to finish. I finished one last year and I hope to do the same this year too.

I was kind of stuck for inspiration right up until the moment my fingers hit the keyboard. I had been playing around with an idea about science-fiction and time travel but it all got a bit technical in my head and then it ended up sounding like a bad episode of Quantum Leap. And then I thought about writing one based on life here during part of the Second World War but I am not a history buff and it would need a level of historical detail I’m not comfortable with. And not only that, I’d lose all my time researching the thing.

So I fell upon a kind of dystopian future that is a cross between prehistoric life and being a bit of an escape-and-evade novel. I started writing and it was pretty easy to find those first words and to find a style. At the moment it is kind of a diary with a numerical pattern. That’s as much as I can say at the moment, though if you know the poem Chronic Meanings it will shed a little light, although I intend mine to be a little more readerly. It’s first person present tense which is kind of unusual. I like first person. It’s like De Niro and method acting. You get under the skin of the narrator and you get to be a different person for a while.

At first I had no problem creating the narrator or establishing the setting and the opening. Then I thought about where it was all going to go. I mean, is there a future in a dystopian world? Should there be a happy ending? Should there be hope? I started digging through a few other dystopian novels for inspiration and I was still at a blank.

And it got worse.

I like to read around the subject when I am writing. It kind of puts me in the mood. I usually watch a few films and read a few books and then it gives me a better focus on where I want to go. But the first film I thought I’d watch was a version of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road with Viggo Mortensen.

I began to lose the will to live.

I’d written 5000 words which had the same aimless wandering, the same futility, the same notions, the same bleakness. Not a man and a boy of course. That would have been too close. But the same big brushstrokes: the lack of clarity over what happened; the lack of focus and purpose; the same behaviours from the survivors.

Then I read the book and I felt even worse.

I’d made the decision to write with only terminal punctuation (.!?) dashes and apostrophes. Any commas were removed. I wanted it terse and post-modern. I confess I was a little inspired by The Knife of Never Letting Go. I didn’t want it to be cohesive or clear. I was going for fractured and fragmented, brittle prose. I decided not to give the narrator a name or even a gender. They were to be nameless and genderless so that it could be anybody.

So what the hell does Cormac McCarthy do?

The exact same sodding thing almost to a tee. Not quite the same but almost.

Only he’s a Pulitzer Prize winner who published it seven years before the idea even came into my little brain.

I confess I was a little stuck. It was too similar and I hadn’t got an ending.

But I persevered. I had a little thing going with numbers which relates to my own little obsessive pace-counting. I used to do it when I was running – count paces – and it was kind of therapeutic. And I know numbers have all kinds of vested symbolism. So the main character was going to have a numbers obsession.

And in searching for a title, like Steinbeck, I turned to the Bible. I thought I could get something great from Ecclesiastes or Judges. But then… there is this book called Numbers. It was crying out for use.

And what is the book of Numbers about? A society on the move. An exodus. It’s about a promised land and taking possession of a promised land. A new Eden. It ends with a new generation ready to take over the country. It’s about faith and trusting in a higher purpose, an end-game. It couldn’t have been more perfect.

That gave me a great idea for the ending and a sense of hope. It also gave me a name for the novel as well as some great quotes for the main character. I re-read the Song of Deborah and that gave me some great inspiration too. I got to thinking about giving the main character not only a gender but an identity. I decided on Miriam. In the Bible, Miriam is the sister of Moses. And that gave me another route into the story because I was struggling to introduce another character who the narrator would implicitly trust. A brother can always be that character.

So there we have the process by which I arrived at a plot and some characters who are hopefully not some unplanned rip-off.

So this Monday I am Much Loving inspiration. It accidentally ended up being divine inspiration as well. Weird how that works. Hopefully this will keep me going through all the rain that is predicted this week. Long evenings and rainy days need some kind of occupation, I find. Here’s hoping you find that little flame of inspiration that ignites your creativity too.