Well what a wonderful weekend it has been. Firstly, Friday night when my friend Liz Shakespeare visited Buckland to share her story of Edward Capern The Postman Poet. Edward, who penned some of his work sitting in what is now my kitchen, wrote songs as well as poems and Liz was accompanied by Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll who played for us in appropriate style. Add to that the excellent food and a great evening was had by all.
Saturday afternoon’s interesting Devon Family History Society meeting saw Philip Browne talking about ‘The Unfortunate Captain Peirce and the Wreck of the Halsewell East Indiaman.’ I am afraid that this well-presented session, with its account of some painstaking research got rather lost in the other excitements of my weekend. Definitely worth checking out the book of the talk.
The first draft of the cover for Barefoot on the Cobbles aka #Daisy has been done. It isn’t quite ready to meet its public yet but I am very pleased with it – thank you Blue Poppy Publishing. It does however, thanks to Clovelly Archive, incorporate this photograph. Having a cover somehow makes it all seem more real.
The equally brilliant news is that Barefoot has a companion song! A few years ago, I was commissioned to work on the history of a local shipping disaster that took place in Clovelly in 1838. This resulted in a meeting with Princess Ann but I digress. My brief was to trace the descendants of the victims. This was harder than it sounds as many were young unmarried men. In the course of the research I got to know Dan Britton, whose family members were amongst the victims. He wrote a haunting song The Storm about the tragedy and this became the title song on an excellent album Safe Harbour, which Dan, together with the other half of his duo, Chris Conway, launched last year. A few weeks ago, Dan got in touch with a family history query and I said I was working on a novel that was partly set in Clovelly. Almost as a throw away line I suggested that this too might make a song. I sent a brief synopsis along the lines of ‘it is about a murder, motherhood, the Devon landscape, a shipwreck, the women’s suffrage movement, WW1, the death of a child, oh, and a few lighter moments.’ I also sent a couple of draft chapters. Almost within minutes came back some incredible lyrics. The uncanny thing was that somehow Dan had included hints of things that I was intending to write but hadn’t actually told him about.
At a concert last night I heard Daisy’s song performed live for the first time. I thought I was going to cry but I managed not to. We are not yet sure where this will lead but Dan says that this might be the start of a new album for Chris & Dan and we have spoken briefly of the possibility of a joint launch next year. I think it is a case of watch this space. I would also like to pay tribute to Liz Shakespeare for being unfailingly supportive and generous, despite the fact that I do seem to have inadvertently pinched her idea for a literary/musical collaboration.
The word ‘launch’ in the preceding paragraph is a sobering reminder that I do actually need to have something to launch! With this in mind, I have sort of half-heartedly been playing along with the NaNoWriMo November novel writing challenge, which is supposed to encourage people to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. I suspect that I could probably write 50,000 words in a month if a) I did nothing else at all and b) I wasn’t too fussed about the quality. The month began well and I did 4000 words in five days but I have now slowed to a more manageable rate and am probably accomplishing an average of 500 half decent words a day of the novel. I am slightly distracted by writing things like blogs. I guess if I counted other writing I would be coming close to the 50,000 words in a month target. I would also probably get on faster if I didn’t spend so much time counting words! It has at least meant that the pretty much finished sections of Daisy are now nearing the half way mark. Remember this week’s Victorian privy research? In the course of this, I discovered that today was world toilet day. Seriously doubting that this is really a thing but Twitter says it is, so it must be so. (PS Yep. It’s a thing. It is to encourage folk to think of those in the world without access to decent sanitation so it not only is a thing but a good thing!)
I am discovering the drawbacks of basing a novel on fact. I have just found out something new about the life of one of my main characters. I could re-write the best part of a chapter, a chapter I am quite pleased with, or I could just ignore it – still debating that one. As I write this, I am being told by one of my beta readers, aka a fisherman of my acquaintance, that I have donkeys carrying luggage down hill, when they would only carry it up. I feel some re-writes coming on.
By the way, on 8th December, I shall be with some other cool authory types in Green Lanes shopping centre, Barnstaple trying to sell some books that I have actually finished writing. Do come and say hello if you are local.
Now to fiddle about Tweeting because I decided that I wanted the Tweeted link to this post to be my 3000th Tweet #OCD.