|Southerscales - Credit J Richards|
We started out at Southerscales, an unearthly landscape of limestone high up in the western Dales, pulling sycamore saplings out from between the grikes. The limestone itself was very slippy and some of the cracks very deep but, armed with just a pair of loppers, I searched out and cut down as many saplings as I could find - once I'd managed to differentiate the sycamore from the ash. The next day (after a night in a bunk house so well equipped it was luxurious) we went to Grass Wood, a beautiful woodland full of autumnal hues. Here I got my inexperienced hands on a hackshaw and leaned how to cut down a tree. An actual tree. Me, a saw, a tree and one yell of 'Timber' (well, me plus my brilliant, patient colleague). It was pretty primal and maybe, just maybe I might survive an apocalypse after all.
A few days anyway. Foraging for food is still beyond me.
|Grass Wood Credit J Richards|
There was lots of time to think, especially on Southerscales, when I wasn't concentrating on not slipping and breaking my leg and imagining how mortifying it would be too be rescued by the Air Ambulance and I came up with a new black moment and resolution for Minty. I also realised how similar chopping trees and rewriting are. They are both brutal, irrevocable and essential. When I sit down to rewrite I keep the full text of the old draft in front of me because I figure I can reuse bits of it, especially my favourite bits. Surely in the end they can be worked into a new scenario?
*shakes head sadly*
Never happens As I work it all gets chopped, cut. Deleted. No matter how much I love it, how witty it seems, how integral to the character. The characters have moved on,evolved and the book needs to move on to. The cut bits are left as habitat piles to feed the characters' growth. They served their purpose and now it's time to walk away, hacksaw in hand, and cut some more.