Category Archives: Spontaneous

Bank Holiday Bonus Quickfic: Hats

Laurence Fox as James Hathaway and Kevin Whately as Robbie Lewis in ITV's 'Lewis'.

Laurence Fox as James Hathaway and Kevin Whately as Robbie Lewis in ITV’s ‘Lewis’.

It looks like I’ve got my writing mojo back!  Hooray!  Two fanfics in two days, though Sherlockians will be disappointed that they aren’t Johnlocks but Lewis fics.  Never mind, there is more Sherlock to come, I am sure.  In the meantime, I knocked off this shameless bit of slop and couldn’t wait to share it with you.  I hope you like it as much as I do.

Here’s a little taster:

“They stared into the glittering surface of the river. A fish was lingering amongst the weeds. James could see the grey-brown sliver of its body amidst the golden shimmer of the evening light’s reflections. A pair of couples came out of the pub and sat down at the picnic table nearby, chatting together.

‘Tried on any new hats lately?’ Lewis asked after a while.

‘Hats don’t really suit me, sir,’ James said. ‘You know that.’”

Read ‘Hats’ here at AO3, or here at FF.net.

Don’t forget to comment, I love your feedback!

Happy Creating,

EF

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Inspiration Monday: Commuting

I’ve written already about the wisdom of walking for the creative life.

No reason why I shouldn’t repeat myself, of course.  Especially now we are in a new year, with new Intentions and new opportunities.  I have promised myself I will walk more this year.  Sometimes, this is not an easy promise to fulfil.  There are appointments to be met, after all; there is the filthy English weather (and believe me, filthy is what it is at present), and then there are my physical limitations.

Yet, in spite of the mud and the commitments and my low energy levels, I am trying to get out most days.

And there are so many things to see.  Some of the best walks I’ve ever had have been the repetitive ones to and from work, or school, the continual plodding on the pavements that sets up a meditative rhythm.  This time of year, walking home in twilight is especially evocative.  Not only can you see into other people’s houses as you pass, because many people don’t draw their curtains too early, but the landscape changes when industrial lights are switched on.

As a teenager, my walk home from our nearest bus stop was a route that skirted fields and woods.  Behind those woods, though, lay a huge industrial area, lit by massive floodlights in the dark hours.  The entire night sky glowed with this statement of manmade power over the environment.  To me, it looked uncannily like one of those landing pads on strange planets from the Star Wars films, and it fuelled my imagination continually.

Walking is not the only way to travel home from work, of course.  Sitting on a bus is great for inspiration too.  You can see so much more from the height of a bus seat, and not just into people’s windows, and thus into little vignettes of their lives.  Tableaux of office workers frozen in time as you pass their workplaces will catch your eye: someone handing over a file as the recipient reaches out to take it over a low  desk partition;  a group of besuited workers sitting around a conference table working out details of a deal; a pile of files teetering in an in-tray.  What are they talking about, these people who are so busy?  Whose lives will be changed by the outcome of that meeting, for better or worse?  What details, sinister or otherwise, are contained in those files – the potential for a fraud conviction, or the much-cherished hope of an adopted baby?

On a train, disparate people gather together and ignore one another.  They listen to hissing music on iPods and phones, tap at laptops or iPads, read books and newspapers, stare out of the window or fall asleep.  Each one has a story.  Can you be Sherlock Holmes and deduce their tale?

Viriginia Woolf, my heroine of writers, snatched up just such an opportunity in her short story, ‘An Unwritten Novel’, in which the narrator sits on a train and tries to guess the tale of a woman sitting in her compartment.  If you have never read it, I enthusiastically recommend it, not only as an example of how you can take a moment from your everyday life and make a work of art from it, but also for its fine stream-of-consciousness style and its sheer wit.  People’s occupations on trains may have changed since it was written, but the way we react to them, I should hazard, probably has not.

Creative Exercise:

How do you travel to your daily occupation?  Do you take the bus, train or Tube?  Do you cycle or walk?  Whichever you do, you may view it as a necessary evil, a time to catch up on your email, or some extra sleep.

What about reframing that view?

What if your daily commute to work, college or school became a special time set aside for creativity?

You could take a sketchbook and a biro and draw portraits of your fellow commuters.  This might develop into a whole series of painted portraits that depict your daily travels and those who accompany you on your journey.

You could compose a story about them in your head, and use it as the basis of a short story or novel, as Woolf did.

You could even go all ‘Brief Encounter’ and come up with a passionate love story between two of your fellow travellers!

(Probably best not to do this so much if you drive.  A vehicle is a life-threatening weapon, so you need to be alert and aware when you are in charge of it.  But maybe at traffic lights, you could look into other people’s cars and see what they are up to – applying mascara, fiddling with the radio, texting or picking their noses!)

What do you see as you travel?  What landscapes or buildings do you pass?  What could be going on inside that floodlit brick bunker that looks like a government establishment?  What story is being lived out on each floor of that block of flats you stomp past every morning? (I recommend Alaa Al Aswany’s superb novel, The Yakoubian Building’, for an example of this.)

Take your writers notebook and make notes of the ideas that come to you.  Make this time a time for your imagination to be unleashed.  Make a chore, a daily misery, into the highlight of your working life.

Happy creating,

EF

Friday Quick Fic: Dead Men Don’t Make Toast

This is an experiment.  I don’t think its a poem, but its not prose either.  Its Post Reichenbach – Sherlock’s dogged determination to break down John’s resistance.  This fic will not be published elsewhere.  Please comment, I want to know what to do with this to polish it more.  Thanks

Dead Men Don’t Make Toast

I.

‘You’re dead!’  John shouted and slammed the front door.

Sherlock picked the lock.

II.

Sherlock made tea.

‘You’re dead,’ John snapped.

The tea sat there, and grew cold.

Sherlock made another one.

That grew cold too.

III.

John curled up under the covers.

Foetal.

Sherlock pulled the duvet up around John’s shoulder.

‘Go away, you’re dead,’ John muttered.

IV.

Sherlock made toast.

John said, ‘Dead men don’t make toast.’

Sherlock had to agree.

V.

They were running out of milk.

What with all the cold tea, and everything.

Sherlock went out and bought more.

And some other bits they needed.

John said, ‘Dead men don’t go food shopping.’

VI.

Sherlock made tea.

‘You’re dead, go away,’ said John.

But he drank the tea.

VII.

Sherlock warmed the pizza in the oven.

It was pepperoni, John’s favourite.

‘Dead men don’t make pizza,’ John said, as he chewed resentfully.

VIII.

That night was cold.

John shivered under the duvet.

Sherlock kicked off his shoes and climbed in.

Wrapped John in his long arms and his tweed overcoat.

John said, ‘I hate you.  Go away, you’re dead.’

IX.

In the morning, Sherlock made toast.

John said, ’You make a lot of toast for a dead man.’

X.

John made tea.

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Enjoy your weekend – I’m off on my writers retreat!  See you Monday xxx

EF

Friday Quick Fic

51989793_SHark_224346cBecause I’m still feeling unable to do much, I came up with a new feature, the Friday Quick Fic.  The idea is to share a short fanfic with you which has not been through my usual polishing process.  Just something off the top of my head which I think you might like.

Today’s Quick Fic is a ‘BBC Sherlock’ fanfic, something I knocked off this morning, between naps, and is inspired by my husband, who has a ‘shark bite’ of his own.

Shark

John first noticed it when Spring came, and Sherlock started swanning around the house in his sheet.  A ragged scallop of raised keloid tissue that scooped around Sherlock’s right elbow.

‘Shark bite,’ Sherlock said, with surprising nonchalance.

John examined it.  The scarring was deep, and he could even see the indentations of those cruel razor teeth.

‘Holiday in South Africa when I was in my teens.  I was swimming, and the next thing I knew this shark had my arm in its mouth.  I punched it on the nose, and it let go.’  He shrugged, as if it were an everyday occurrence, and then regaled John with details of the beast’s species, hunting habits and vulnerabilities – namely the aforesaid sensitive nose.

John found out the truth a few months later, during one of Mycroft’s little episodes of abduction.  The subject of Sherlock’s sojourn in South Africa came up, and Mycroft laughed.

‘Oh, God, he’s been telling that stupid shark story again!  Sherlock’s never been to South Africa!’

John scowled, but put his head on one side, curious about the truth.

‘It was one summer when he was about twelve.  He was told not to go playing in one of the woods on the estate because of the forestry going on there.  Felling trees and so on – it was dangerous.  But being Sherlock, he went anyway.  Typically, he didn’t get crushed by a falling tree.  He fell off his bike, and got his arm tangled up in some barbed wire in a hedge instead.  Cut it to ribbons, terrible mess.

‘Father was absolutely furious, wouldn’t even look at him because he had disobeyed, insisted it was just a graze and Sherlock was making a ridiculous fuss over nothing.  Wouldn’t take him to have it stitched either, and Mummy couldn’t drive, so she just had to bandage it up as best she could.  Of course, it healed badly, and left that dreadful scar.

‘When he went back to school after the vac, the other boys saw it and wanted to know how he got it.  So he made up that silly story about the shark.  It got him quite a lot of attention to begin with, but of course, being Sherlock, he overplayed his hand, and got too full of himself, and that was the end of his brief acclaim.’

Afterwards, John thought for a long time.  He thought about the barbed wire.  He thought about the spotted marks around the fat ribbon of raised, whitened flesh that looked like the marks from sharks teeth.  He was a doctor, and he knew about scarring and healing, and what kind of depth of wound would leave a mess like that.  He thought about the boys at the school.  And then he thought about the kind of father who, out of pique, would neglect the proper attention that a wound like that would require.

John never mentioned Sherlock’s fantasy visit to South Africa again to anyone.  But he always referred to Sherlock’s scar as a shark bite.  Because in his opinion, that was exactly what it was.

Happy weekend to you all,

EF

Journal Friday: Outflow – Making Lemonade

LemonsPart of being a writer is the dance of self-acceptance.

I have to deal with a chronic illness, which has radically altered my life for the last fifteen years, and shows no sign of waning.  This means I have to manage the delicate balance between self-care and doing too much.  When I overdo it, I end up exacerbating my symptoms and have to face extended periods of bed rest and being confined to the house.  Anf brain fog.

So sometimes I can’t write.  And its not that I don’t want to, its just that I literally can’t.

As I have said before, however, that doesn’t mean I’m not writing.  In my head, at least.

Sometimes life deals us lemons, and the lemonade is hard to make.  But even when I feel like I am buried under tonnes of lemons, the dream is still there.  The memory of how fantastic it feels when I am able to write, when the flow is happening and I am submerged in a scene.

This is where my diary comes in.  At times when I can process language, when I can hold my pen, I write in my journal.  It may only be a few lines, a sentence or two, but it is self-expression, getting the feelings out onto the page, and it feels fantastic.

At times when things are tough, my journal is my life raft.

At the moment, as I struggle with another period of sickness, I am working with this book.  When I have finished squeezing every drop of goodness from it, I will tell you how I got on, a little review of sorts.  In the meantime, I offer you this quote, from the marvellous SARK, patron saint of creative women, quoted by the author, Jackee Holder:

“I love journal keeping because it has helped me to discover and uncover myself, to encourage my own bravery, sort out difficulties with other people, to invent new ways of being.”

SARK, Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper, 2008.

Happy Journalling,

EF

Outflow: Sticking to the Vision

Shadow Selfie

I have a confession to make.  When I started this blog, I was all business-like.  I made an editorial calendar, and wrote down what I was going to post and when.  I made plans.  I’ve got a really scrummy notebook full of notes on what I am going to write for you.  I researched it all for months.

Because this is what you do.

Professional.  Business-like.

All the things I am not.

It was a huge emotional step to start the site.  It took months to work up the courage to put myself ‘out there’, and I guess you could say that a lot of the research I did was just procrastination – I can’t do it till I know all about x.  And then, when I did it, and go it going, I wondered what the fuss had been all about.

And then the SHOULDs came home to roost.

You do what you think you ought to do, and then somewhere along the way it becomes a chore, a SHOULD.  The only SHOULD there is right now is this one:  I SHOULD have known.  Because if there is one thing I have learnt about myself in this life, its this:

Nothing gets done if it ain’t fun.

I missed my ‘Journal Friday’ post last week, partly because life caught up with me, partly because I was not well (long story), and partly because I realised that it had become a SHOULD, and I didn’t know what to do about it.  And then I found this, my Vision Statement for the site:

“The purpose of Evenlodesfriend.com is:

  • To empower other people to improve their writing, to enjoy and rejoice in their own creativity, and to claim their lives as writers regardless of whether they have been published or not.
  • To promote the idea of writing as a healing process and a psychological tool for wellbeing that anyone can use – and to give readers the confidence to use it.
  • To bring my own writing to others for their enjoyment, for my own voice and independence.”

And it occurred to me that I need to take this as seriously for myself as I would for you.  Which means recognising that part of my creativity is spontaneous outflowing.  Something from the Heart.  My Heart.

So sometimes I plan to break out of the editorial calendar and spread my wings a bit.  Sometimes I will share with you about how my writing is going, what problems I am up against, ideas that I have come across, things I am interested in.  I hope that you will get to know me better (and I know I will get to know me better!).  I hope that you will know I am going through the same struggles as you are.  We are all in this Creativity Boat together. (Actually, I may need to do a cartoon on that, possibly with owls and pussycats included!)

So welcome to a new phase at Evenlodesfriend.  You will get your Monday, Wednesday and Friday posts, I promise.  But I hope you will get a bit more, maybe a bit of reality too.

With all my love and Best Wishes,

Evenlode’s Friend.