#Authoring Annals – Writing in Heaven and Plunging into Uncertainty Hell… #BrainfluffblogAuthoringAnnals-1 #SJHigbeeWritinginHeaven


I’m conscious that over the last year, I’ve been writing a lot of reviews and not much else other than my weekly roundups. As you’ll see from the subtitle of the blog, the original intention was to provide more variety – and as I am not only a keen reader and reviewer, but also a writer of science fiction and fantasy as well as a Creative Writing tutor at Brighton Metropolitan College, I think it’s high time I wrote a bit more about my other activities.

At the end of last month, my sister-in-law booked a seaside flat as a writing getaway and invited me to join her, as there was a spare bedroom. I’d never been to Bexhill-on-Sea before, despite it being not all that far along the coast. I joined her on Bank Holiday Monday, expecting the town to be heaving with holidaymakers keen to catch the last of the glorious summer by the sea. However, it wasn’t all that busy. While there were certainly tourists around, overall this town had a peaceful serenity that seemed more in keeping with the early half of the last century, to the extent that the two of us felt perfectly safe wandering around the streets on our own late at night.

As for the flat, it was fabulous. The highlight was the room we ended up writing in – a hexagonal room with views on every wall, so that as we wrote, we had panoramic views of the sea. It was magical – it’s always been on my bucket list to write in a room overlooking the sea. And here I was! I managed to get 16,000 words written on the second book of my trilogy featuring my telepathic alien, Vrox. I rewrote and edited the first book, Mantivore Dreams, earlier in the year and was delighted at how smoothly it went.

When I started the second book, Mantivore Prey, I was confident that it, too, would give me no trouble. I was wrong… I love my main character, Felina Keeper. She is in charge of keeping the village’s produce safe from hungry pests, thieving individuals and selling on anything left over from the quota set by The Council for much-needed cash. The village is perched on the edge of The Arids, where rainfall is scarce and the heat of the two suns is fierce. Trouble is, Felina, who is loud, bossy and very overbearing has marched in and taken over the novel. The plotting and pacing have been stomped flat under those hobnailed sandals of hers and I need to nip in quick when she isn’t looking and wrest control back.

Kyrillia, who is the main protagonist in the first book, needs to get a look in, I think. So, I’ll have to go back to the drawing board and start this one again… I’d love to be one of those indie authors who can happily write two books plus a year, but right now it seems a distant dream. I’m hoping that I can use some of those words I wrote while staying at Bexhill – it was such a happy, creative time. But if not, then I’ll chalk this one up to experience. Favourite characters need to kept on a very short leash!

18 responses »

  1. I remember you mentioned this writing retreat in one of your weekly roundups. That room looks awesome with the windows on all sides. That’s too bad you might be able to use all the words you wrote while there, but even if you can’t at least it counts for experience. And it’s also good to know when something isn’t working or needs a different direction. Felina does sound like a great main character.

    • Yes… She is one slaughtered darling that it hurts to lose as a main character – but she is just too overpowering. I have promised to give her a starring role in a spinoff novel I’ve planned, though!

  2. What a view! I remember writing in rooms overlooking a bay or the ocean during short chunks of time on family vacations. But an actual retreat where all you have to focus on is writing, your everyday care, and being a tourist… That must have been heaven, like you said in the post’s title. (The Iceland retreat counts, I guess… But we were so busy with workshops and tours that there wasn’t a lot of time for actual writing.)

    And as discouraging as it might have been to discover the character issue with Mantivore Prey, I think it’s good that the retreat gave you a chance to reflect on this and come up with a solution of how to remedy it. Yes, you might have to start over, but maybe the new plan forward will help you make this story what it needs to be.

    • Oh yes – there’s no point in getting too wound up by it. Each book is completely different – some more or less write themselves. But others struggle allll the way. I got ambushed by my main character and I know that a few years ago, I’d have been quite happy to let that situation prevail. Fortunately, I now listen to that little inner voice niggling away – and I also have my writing group to bring those doubts out. At least I have a solid solution – I just have to roll up my sleeves and get writing again…:)

  3. JEALOUS! Oh my gosh this sounds so wonderful! I’m hoping that someday I can do something similar: a personal retreat to write in Door County. It’s so gorgeous with Lake Michigan and state parks. Plus it’s driveable–just a few hours away! Ah….someday….

  4. Do you find it easier to write if you take yourself out of your usual surroundings? I’ve never been on a writing retreat but I like the idea. However I find often I go away with good intentions but end up not writing till I get home. I think the environment is good for creativity, though.

    • I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my writing retreats – but looking at my productivity, I’m not sure that I actually accomplished more than I would have done if I’d stayed at home. But they were wonderful breaks and I think they helped boost my creativity regarding OTHER projects while I was concentrating solely on my writing…

  5. Thank you for the pictures. The view is indeed stunning (I love sea views, so I might be biased), and I hope you’ll be able to get back there at some point.
    As for writing +2 books a year – everyone has their process. I write a lot, but jumping between projects means it takes time to finish anything (but when I do, I’ll have like 5 books or so ready to go 😉 ), which isn’t ideal either. It’s hard to not compare yourself with others, but you’re doing great within your limits, means, and time 🙂

    • Yes – you’re absolutely right, Joanna! I have used that as an aim, but that isn’t happening at present. It’s pointless to compare myself with anyone else – I can only do my best within my own limits. And isn’t it a lovely place? I’m delighted to report that I’m going away again this Easter holiday to revisit it with my wonderful sister-in-law – this time for 5 days!

      • Ooooh, that sounds wonderful! And maybe by the time you’re back, I’ll be all caught up with your posts, so I can see more pictures. Fingers crossed that you’ll have great weather.

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