Our last stop in Scotland was Aberdeen and what a gorgeous city! What an amazing beach!
Aberdeen is a lot about ships, so I’d picked a hotel both because it was near the harbour where our ferry was going to arrive and because it was on a street called Shiprow. Love it! The great thing about being on Shiprow was looking out at the harbour (I love ships), and it turned out we were also right opposite the Maritime Museum which made for an easy afternoon visit.
Our first day, we got off the Ferry from Kirkwall (in the Orkneys) at 7am, so we had a whole day to (after a nap) go exploring. First stop was the beach:
A beautiful day at the beach
Then we wandered around the city and I thought it was jaw-droppingly lovely. All the buildings in the heart of town are old, as you would expect, but they are also made from this amazing pale, gray granite. In the sun it just makes the place so bright and beautiful to look at. I find it pretty awesome that the masons carved the granite into beautiful shapes (granite is hard) and there’s so much detail everywhere you look.
Probably the best statue of Robert the Bruce we saw (outside the Marischal College buildings)
The city isn’t big, but it’s very walkable and there were so many lovely corners to bump into, including a tiny fishing village on the river Dee and a shady park called Bon-Accord Tce Gardens…great name!
I loved the Maritime Museum. All manner of ship, sea, oil drilling, whaling and lighthouse stuff there to geek out about! Including message bottles that had spent decades drifting in the sea, a whale’s eardrum and everything you ever wanted to know about oil platforms. Plus a block of tea. Yes tea. So important to trade in Japan at one point it was used as currency.
I have had a hellish two weeks with the PAR! After being sooooo excited to start on a second draft, I hit a total go-slow in my writing brain (not sure what Mr Daemon has been imbibing!) and it’s been damn painful. What I needed was a completely new chapter to slip between existing Ch1 and Ch2. That turned out to be way more challenging than expected!
The reason? When I read the draft, I was jarred by the large time-gap between them and it needed a ‘bridging’ chapter. This was a better way to show the aftermath of Ch1 and the protag’s change through to the time where the bulk of the novel is set too, so it seemed simple. Totally not.
I discovered it was hard to:
- pick a point in time between the existing chapters that made sense
- decide what to cover in terms of aftermath/growth without completely gutting the existing Ch2
- choose events which gave the new chapter a good justification for existing, beyond the simple time-jump-bridging.
I think I may have written 7 different scenes. Some were variations of the same scenes and some were alternate scenes. The result was a new chapter that is about a thousand words too long! Sheesh.
At some point I’ll get that word count down, but for now I moved onto re-working the original Ch2. Also painful! Editing so it fits with the additional chapter has turned out to be its own hell.
For some reason that chapter just wants to be all dialogue. I don’t know why (secretly suspect a certain winged beastie has been watching too many movies) but it’s done my head in.
Maybe it’s a good thing to get the really tough stuff out of the way at the beginning? I’m pretty sure nothing else in this 2nd draft will be as tough.
Blurty is about to have a final edit (squeeeeeeee)! But having given it to a fellow writer for a writerly look-over may have led to an unexpected consequence…
You see my reader (you know who you are) thought this was part of a series and was VERY disappointed when I said “no, it’s a stand alone”. I’d never envisaged those characters having another story – in fact, I felt that Blurt was their story.
Then… I was sitting around one lunch time at work, doodling things in my notebook when I got curious about what a further story could be and BAM! I had an idea. A good idea.
Just to check it was a good idea I ran it past my reader and she agreed! So… well… Blurty might have a ‘sister’ down the track somewhere. My first attempt at a sequel.
I know there’s at least one reader in the world who’ll want to get their hands on it!
The last city of the trip was Manchester and I felt bad each time the hotel staff asked if we were going to see a show etc while we were there, because for us it was a nice wind-down place; a place to do not much at all!
We did go for a lovely long walk around town after a big fun-run had been held and ended up at the Cathedral which I absolutely loved:
Aren’t the gargoyles and faces fantastic?
Aside from my general love of gargoyles, this is a stunning cathedral and has some fascinating stained glass.
Opposite the cathedral was the cafe at which a final scone for the trip was eaten and, on the way to the cathedral, a visit to Waterstones had furnished me with two short books for the plane ride home, including the 39 Steps which is the source material for one of my Hitchcock films!
The upside of a quiet night in the hotel was that the FA Cup Final was on… so happiness inducing.
I will say that big, busy, gritty Manchester probably suffered a little by comparison to Aberdeen, where we’d flown in from, but I’m looking forward to going back some time and checking out the sights properly.
Last week I realised it was time for me to read PAR draft I finished back in March. Dutifully, I organise a copy I could read on the train and sat down on my morning commute with it… I almost missed my stop I was so engrossed! Same thing when I decided to ‘just read a chapter’ before sleeping one night: Hello midnight!
Should I be embarrassed that I’m enjoying my own book this much? Is it a bit like laughing at your own jokes? I don’t know.
Still, it’s getting me pretty keen to start the next draft, so it’s kind of useful…
I’ve decided I’m going to talk about Scotland backwards… not entirely sure why this appeals to me, except maybe that I seem to be talking about the end of the trip a lot because our last stop was Manchester and that has understandably been in people’s minds. So, I’m going to start where we finished and work backwards to the glorious beginning.
I should say one of the only really stressful things to happen on the trip did happened right at the end, so this first post gets to be the ‘dramatic’ post! When we were in the lovely Changi Airport in Singapore and I’d just gotten my usual degree of childish glee from riding the Skytrain between terminals (it’s a train lovers’ thing) when I realised my wallet wasn’t where it ought to be! It only had a few pounds and my cards in it, so I fatalistically wrote-it-off the moment I discovered it missing, but it seemed like a sad way to finish the trip.
Then the lovely Singapore Airlines people found it! And rushed it over to the gate so I had it back in my pocket before we boarded our next flight. Which made me feel particularly lucky and grateful to the travel gods.
One of the things I liked about Changi was it has a butterfly house and a koi pond…and random pieces of art:
After spending a wonderful month in Scotland (a whole month!!) I’m back in Oz and back to normal life (sigh). The one nice thing about that is being back to writing and editing. I just can’t get anything much done when I travel – my brain is way too overstimulated by new and interesting environments.
Having said that I did manage to review some drafts of things while on the interminable 13 hr leg of the journey over and, on a rainy day in Glasgow, I did also find a new opening for one of the novellas which I’m very pleased about. The total word count for the month of May was a mere 1,000 words, but that was bonus productivity!
Since my feet touched home soil I think I’ve written something like 3,000 words on some random story that popped into my head the week I got back. I don’t think that story is going anywhere, but it felt good. And now I’ve got a bunch of editing lined up on the novella, I’ve had more feedback on Blurty which needs integrating and I’m feeling about ready to read the PAR draft I finished in April!
Daemon looks pleased.