The topic of todays musing is writing every day, hence the title. I haven’t posted since before I moved house and had Christmas and New Year one after the other, but that’s enough excuses and back now to the point . After my brief stint back in the real world I am feeling really, really rusty. Come on Brain, you’re a genius, stop letting Fingers get in the way of us rulling the world. It’s you haven’t had ideas left, right and centre, it’s just that Fingers keep running off to unpack and change nappies!
But anyone who knows anything about writing knows that you have to do it every day. Have you heard of Morning Pages? A dear friend once gave me a book called The Artists Way. It’s about cultivating creativity and insists that one must write three A4 pages of handwritten free flow of conscienceness every morning. It works. I was really successful and I felt really creative, then it was report time and I had to spend every hour thinking hard about how much my students had learned that semester. It’s not easy to keep up, but Alexander McCall Smith is living proof that writing every day is not only possible, but also profitable.
When I was studying to be a teacher I also read from an expert who stated that students would learn to write better if they were given time to do a Quickwrite every day – so I insisted that every afternoon my students write for 15 minutes, but they were not as enthusiastic as I imagined they would be. A tip to morning pagers or teachers using Quickwrite – sometimes having a clear path, shall we say, can really aid creativity. For your school students perhaps you could ask them to retell their favourite story or movie till they become more confident. For the more practised writer it can be fun to write in the style of an author you admire. I call this one “What would JK do?”
Last year I read Land of the Painted Caves, the eagerly anticipated, and hopefully conclusion, to the Earth’s Children series. Like many fans of the series I love it, and I hate it. Basically there is far too much description, it’s overly wordy and yes, there is quite a bit of S. E. X. But Jean M Auel has a very distinctive voice and it is sooooooo easy to imitate. I have loved Ayla, and accepted her relationship with that idiot Jondalar since I was a teenager, but I was so thoroughly disappointed by the entire book, and in particular the ending, that I was moved to write my own ending. Here is a teaser:
Alternate ending form page 614
Jondalar’s first thought was to get his horse as far away from the herd as possible, as fast as he could, but he was unable to turn the stallion around. Racer surged forward, drawing nearer and nearer the lead stallion, taking Jondalar further and further from the camp. The red stallion bucked mid stride and threw Jondalar further forward, he almost slipped off, but his powerful hunter’s arms responded to his life saving reflexes, wrapping around the horse’s short stocky neck. The horse’s hard hooves continued to pound across the steppes, and thrown slightly askew as he was Jondalar’s toes skimmed the grass. Other stallions from the wild herd bumped past him in the stampede, bringing Jondalar ever closer to loosing his grip. His palms became slick with perspiration at the thought of what would happen if he fell. His body would be trampled beyond recognition. The image of his mother, of Ayla and Jonayla trying to identify his remains strengthened his resolve. He heaved again and swung back up onto Racer’s warm back. He buried his head in the stallion’s coarse sweaty mane and held on for dear life.
He gripped tightly with arms and knees, but allowed the horse to take control over the direction, and hoped Racer’s connection to his human family would overcome his wild instincts and would lead them safely out of this situation. The sun burned his back, whistling wind and the pounding of hooves filled his ears. As he rode out of camp this morning he’d longed to ride far away and perhaps never return but now that his wish was coming true he could not bare the thought of never seeing his mate and the child of his heart, the child of his essence again. Burning tears stung his eyes and a tight knot choked his throat.
“Turn, Racer! Turn! Take me back to the Summer Meeting! Take me back to Ayla!”
Jondalar shouted in the stallion’s ear and pulled hard on the harness. He felt Racer respond to the command and pulled again.
“That’s it, take me back to Ayla!”
Jondalar’s heart beat faster with anticipation. Realising how close he’d come to being swept away forever, he felt an enormous wave of relief as Racer’s pace begin to slow as he turned. Jondalar sat higher in his seat and waved one fist in the arm in celebration. As the wind blew through his hair he could think only of his Ayla and the way she looked at him, not that day at the pool in the small of the river, but every other day of their lives together, alone in their valley teaching her the Gift of Pleasures, riding and hunting together all their long journey from the land of the Mumutoi to his home at the Ninth Cave, and every morning since they were mated. He’d made mistakes, terrible mistakes, but the biggest mistake of all was not trying to make it right.
He arched his back and closed his eyes, giving himself over to the rhythm of the horse’s pounding hooves, he knew in his heart he would see Ayla again, and hold her in his arms.
He was about to pull again on Racer’s halter when a spear struck the stallion in front of them. The spear landed true and the young grey stallion dropped mid stride. Jondalar felt his mount falter and opened his eyes. Racer leaped over the prone body of the fallen horse but as he landed Jondalar was thrown forward through the air. He reached frantically for the harness, for Racer’s stand-up mane, for anything, but his hands closed on nothing but air. He saw the the cloudless blue sky slide away beneath his feet and he the last thing he heard as he landed hard on his shoulder was a sickening crack.
Read page 615 from paragraph 5. Continue reading to end of page 616. Delete “. . . had grown tired of walking with the melancholy man, who did nothing but shuffle along, and had come back to find Jonayla. He . . . “
Continue reading to end of page 629.
Jondalar opened his eyes in the dim light inside the cave. The walls and ceiling were close and the entrance partially blocked by bushes. Smoke from a cooking fire filled the air and he could smell meat burning.
Jondalar turned to sound of the familiar voice, but his head pounded and his vision danced with the effort of it. The pain in his left shoulder was white hot, but he breathed easier knowing he was safe, under shelter and with someone to take care of him. He couldn’t quite place the voice though in his pain addled mind he knew it was one he’d heard often..
Another voice spoke and the words sent a chill shiver of fear down his spine.
“I told you we should have left him on the steppe. Are you going to be able to kill him now, as much as we both want to?”
“We couldn’t have left him there. It would have been to obvious. We needed the horse meat. Who will leave a man out in the open to die?”
Jondalar lay very still, with his eyes closed, listening to the two men discussing ways to kill him and dispose of his body. As he lay there, breathing quietly he, realised that he recognised both voices – they were the voices of Brukeval, his cousin, and Madroman, the man he’d almost beaten to death in his youth. Both men had gone missing shortly after the ceremony in which Ayla had revealed the final verse of the Mother’s Song, but how had they found him? Jondalar realised the answer was obvious. It must have been Brukeval’s spear that felled the horse and caused Racer to throw him. Jondalar was in no doubt that it had been at Madroman’s insistence, but how could his cousin have brought himself to do it? Perhaps the hunter had not seen the man riding amongst the wild herd, but Jondalar knew this was unlikely. More likely the spear had been aimed directly at him and he had only been spared because Racer was slowing at the time.
But where was Racer now? And how was he going to get away from here alive? He knew he had to try. He had to get back to his Ayla, to hold her in his arms again, and beg her to forgive him.
He tried to check his injuries without arousing the suspicions of his captors, but he doubted they would notice as they argued over what to do with the tall blonde man they both hated.
His shoulder blade was broken, that was obvious, and his head pounded like a raging river, but he wanted to know what damage had been done by the stampeding stallions. He was surprised to find he hadn’t been trampled to death, but surely he hadn’t escaped entirely. He glanced down at his body and saw that everything still seemed to be in the right place. He tried wiggling his fingers, the right hand moved easily and the left too with concentration to overcome the pain in his shoulder. When he came to wiggle his toes he discovered his right foot had been crushed, but in all he’d been very lucky.
“They’ll be looking for him soon,” Brukeval argued. “We should leave him and continue our search for a new Cave. This is fine for a few nights, but I don’t want to be caught here for the winter, and with the Ninth Cave so close.”
“The Mother has sent him to us.” Madroman’s voice sounded hysterical and Jondalar could hear him pacing. His head must be almost brushing the low ceiling of the cave. “The Mother has sent him to us as punishment for Ayla. She claims the Mother spoke to her. She claims the Mother sent her a message. The Mother would not speak to a Flathead lover. Mother what do you want us to do with the mother of the Flathead lover?” Madroman placed his hands on the wall of the cave and spoke these last words into the solid stone.
“I will meditate on it.” Madroman slumped to the ground sitting by Jondalar’s shattered right foot. “I will meditate on the Mother’s wishes and you will stand watch outside.”
Brukeval gabbed a spear and went outside.
Jondalar looked around the cave and found that it was empty save for Madroman and his pack. The former acolyte was sitting with legs crossed and eyes shut, and now and then he brush at his face as if it were covered with cobwebs or insects.
Now’s a chance to escape, if I can get past Brukeval or convince him to let me go, Jondalar thought. He gave no consideration to how he would find his way home, or how he would get there on his shattered foot even if he knew the way. He only knew he had to try. He felt around with his right hand and eventually he found what he was looking for, a large rock. He closed his hand around it and considered using it on Madroman. He’d almost beat the man to death before he learned to control his emotions, but now he felt reluctant to strike him again. He realised he was more than justified on this occasion, but reasoned that he didn’t know how far away Brukavel was and if he was unsuccessful at knocking Madroman unconscious he’d have two enemies to deal with, alone and injured.
Jondalar heaved himself up and almost passed out from the pain. Bracing himself against the wall he hobbled to the entrance of the cave. He glanced back at Madroman, who seemed to be in a trance, then pushed his way out through the bushes. The ground stopped abruptly in front of the bushes and with a drop of 20 feet to the rocky ground below. Brukeval was standing with his back to the cave along the narrow path that led down to the steppes. Jondalar glanced around and saw that there was another possible exit behind him, leading up and over the cave, but with his injuries he’d never be able to climb it.
He hobbled towards Brukavel. He hoped that the Mother would understand and forgive him for raising a stone against his cousin, but before he could carry out the deed there was a cry from behind, followed by a sharp blow to his head and blackness.
A good website which encourages fans of the Obernewtyn Series (Isobell Carmody) is www.obernewtyn.net . If you follow the link below you will find examples of fanfiction in which fans have re-written scenes from the novel from a different point of view.
Please excuse any typos etc. Madam 3, nearly 4, informs me the bubba is awake. Happy morning pages!