Sunday, 19 December 2010

The north wind shall blow and we shall have snow - again?

Sue Purkiss, in her excellent blog about snow Dark Lords,Witch Queens, and Snow on ABBA yesterday, said -
'Snow changes what happens, we all know that: ordinary life holds its breath. You can't work any more, so you might as well play. 

But there's something else, something much deeper than that. We are taken back to an older time, when we were bound more closely to nature; to a time when people must have wondered if winter would ever end, and if they could possibly survive it even if it did.' 

We have just had almost two weeks of incredibly deep snow.  When it arrived so early it seemed quite beautiful and a lot of fun, but soon almost all travel was impossible, except on foot through snow that lay a foot deep.

That was when, as Sue says, ordinary life held its breath.  But it felt much more than that.

When day after day we looked out on this altered landscape through snow-crusted windows it should have been an opportunity to get lots done at home, but perhaps we are more instinctive beings than our modern lives would suggest?

Are we more tied to nature, making this deep wintry weather trigger some kind of survival instinct or dread that it would never end?  Is that why some people seem to have reacted strangely to the enforced holiday.

After the first day or so when we cleared paths only to have them as deep in snow by the following morning, it should have been easy to settle down to working at home or doing all those things that there never seems time for.

But instead I was unable to concentrate on anything for very long, as if life was on hold, breathlessly waiting to see when this force of nature would melt away and everything would return to normal.  My friends and neighbours reported the same sense of  waiting, of not-quite-holiday, when day after day we woke to more and more snow, just when we thought it was beginning to disappear, it all came back again, worse than ever.

Most of it finally melted away leaving behind small mountains of hard-packed ice and snow where it had been cleared from the roads.  Most of the deep snow may have gone but many icy paths and pavements are still covered by snow, hardened to solid ice by sub zero temperatures.  It is currently -7 outside  but the latest fall of snow seems to have avoided our little corner of the land and is currently immobilising the north and south.

The forecast threatens - as the nursery rhyme goes -    ' The north wind shall blow and we shall have (more) snow...'   Will we still hold our breath until it all goes away again? Will our instinct for survival make us fight the lethargy or make us want to hibernate until the spring?

Friday, 17 December 2010

Presents - what would you buy your characters for Christmas?

Do you know what to give your nearest and dearest this Christmas? Do you find choosing gifts a pleasure or a chore.

Perhaps there was a present you desperately hoped for as a child, but never got, or one that delighted you so much that the memory is still vivid?

Do you remember the worst present you have ever received or the present you wish you had never given someone else?

A great way of creating real, living, breathing characters is to get to know them as well, or better, than we know the people around us.  So here is a thought - what to get them for Christmas. or what would be their ideal Christmas present?

If you understand your characters well enough to breathe life into them on the page,  you should be able to think about what they would want for themselves, but also what some of the people around them would choose for them as a present.