Tortoises are great; ambling along, munching on grapes and carrots, basking in the sun and sleeping away the winter. No wonder they practically live for ever! And they were name checked in the second-to-last-ever-episode-of-Spooks (sob, gulp) when ex-FBI agent turned politician soon to turn wife killer announced portentously that his house in Moscow had a tortoise in the garden. It sounded like some brilliant password to which the only reply could be 'the Hare is asleep in the field' but actually was a metaphor for a soon to be shattered post Glastnost life which is why I will love Spooks forever and mourn its passing along with other TV greats such as ER (sob), Buffy (sob) and Gilmore Girls (do not judge me...).
Anyhow I love tortoises and my perfect cottage by the sea will have a tortoise in the garden (and a hare in the field) and hopefully my dream tortoise will co-exist peacefully with my dream red setter and dream dachshund.
In most of life I am a Hare, rushing madly around, ears flapping (metaphorically you understand), no time to stop and enjoy things until I drop exhausted by the side of the road whilst tortoises plod calmly past me. But I am a wannabe romance writer who works 4 days a week and volunteers with a local Cub group, whose 8yo has a schedule of activities which neatly sums up crazy 21st Century parenting – although no Mandarin, I live in Yorkshire, not Wimbledon. I don't have time to plod however much I want to.
As a writer too I am mostly a Hare, especially when self imposed deadlines loom. Half of last year's never-to-be-seen-again Nano was achieved in a mad sprint during the last 10 days. The last three chapters of just-submitted Summer Fling were written in week; don't worry it has been extensively edited since. But sometimes, especially at the beginning of a project I plod. I sit staring at the page. I type, delete, type again. It hurts. And I feel a fraud. What kind of writer doesn't actually write?
But I am thinking. All the time. Turning my characters over in my head. They accompany me every where – except work OF COURSE - In the shower, in bed, on the school run, shopping. And then, slowly, surely the characters and vague plot I have formulated begin to make sense. I can't do Nano this year much as I want to but was hoping to take advantage of the writing-frenzy that is November to really make some inroads into Minty. Six days and 1000 words later I have clearly failed, because although I knew where I wanted my characters to go I just couldn't see how. This morning though (whilst washing my hair) I began to see the way.
So I'm plodding on for now, allowing myself the luxury of thinking my way into my plot, my characters, the conflict. Not for too long though. At some point this tortoise needs to turn into a Hare and sprint towards just writing the damn thing!