August 10th, 2006

International Kittens of Mystery

Busy Times

Busy times at the ranch - harvest is proceeding apace and with much abundance. Onions and garlic have all been picked, trimmed and are now drying on the shelves in the barn. Early potatoes have all been bagged and 80% of the maincrop (we go for Sirtema earlies and Charlotte maincrop for those of an enquiring mind) Currant crop was so huge we had to leave half of it on the bushes for the birds - who are now far too fat to fly and lie around all day in the Wisteria shouting abuse at our kittens.

Dwarf bean crop's been excellent and runner beans and pole beans are coming out of our ears - it's the way we eat them. And we had to stop picking cherries when we ran out of buckets.

The only failures, so far, have been the broad beans which cropped poorly and then almost spontaneously rotted; the tomatoes - which have blight; the blackberry - which, for the second year running, produced nothing but tiny fruits; and the calabrese - which succumbed to a foul smelling rot, the stench of which hung over the garden and much of Northern France for a week.

Still to come we have the plums which are looking excellent; the apples which are not; the sweet corn which looks a little thin; the figs which are looking pensive; and - for the first time ever - kiwis (we have 8 very cosseted little kiwi fruits hanging from our vines. And talking of vines we have a massive crop from our Chasselas grape (white) and a reasonable one from our Muscat (red).

And (whispers) our carrot fly counter measures, as detailed here: http://chrisdolley.livejournal.com/10817.html worked. A huge and unsullied carrot crop.

Meanwhile, back at the computer, I'm 6,000 words into Hidden in Time so I should have the first draft of the first three chaps (est. 7,500 words) ready soon. I'm not a fast writer. I start each day by reading and editing the previous days work. I know it slows you down but I find it a good way of immersing myself into the narrative style and making sure I don't stray off voice. It does mean that my first drafts are pretty tight but I also know that anything in the first three chaps - which, being the critical part of the book, I tend to hone and polish in true obsessive compulsive frenzy - is likely to get re-written. One day I'll learn:)

And I've already done a lot of rewriting on chapter one. I think the problem I had initially with this book was that I was getting too close to the main character and filling the chapter with lots of detail, emotions and issues that, while interesting to me, was irrelevant to the story. Now that I've swept them away I'm much happier and the book much tighter.

And I've also updated my website, adding my Confessions of a French Film Extra. A task not helped by Mambo throwing itself into a heap every time I tried to enter the word enhancing. It was fine with inhancing or even nhancing but ran screaming through the ether every time I tried to spell it correctly. Obviously a feature.