Sunday, 5 June 2011

A Novelist aka Organic Gardner's Saturday Morning

As usual, when I woke at 6.am, I went downstairs to make a mug of green tea sweetened with organic honey, and flavoured with a wedge of unwaxed, organic lemon. While the kettle boiled I turned on the tap to water part of the vegetable plot. I then wasted a lot of time trying to adjust the spray.

By 6.20 I was checking my e-mails and replying to some of them. Recently, junk mail has been appearing. How do I get rid of it? I changed my password for one e-mail address but it hasn’t helped. What satisfaction do people derive from wasting other people’s time?

An hour later, I applied on line critiques to my mediaeval novel set in the reign of Edward II. The novel is part of a planned trilogy. I finished the first draft several years ago and sent it to the Romantic Novelist’s Association New Members’ New Writers’ Scheme for a reader’s report. The report was incredibly useful. I applied all the suggestions and put my novel, Dear Heart, aside while I wrote my new release Tangled Love (formerly published as Tangled Hearts) set in Queen Anne’s reign.

My critique partners thought the chapter I submitted for their opinion lacked emotion. In retrospect, I agree and now know how to add depth to the chapter. The good news is that they can identify with the characters’ dilemmas and enjoy my descriptions of places. In the chapter the hero has returned from the Battle of Bannockburn.

“After all that Nicholas had endured on the battlefield, he could scarcely believe in the reality of this oasis with its luxurious furnishings, a cradle for the babe yet to be born, a loom, a spinning wheel and a prie-dieu. Glad to see everyday things, he gazed at the items on top of a coffer – the box Harold gave Yvonne for a wedding gift, her ivory-framed looking glass, a pair of gold embroidered gloves, a baby’s gold and coral rattle next to a tiny, half-stitched coif.”

I applied some suggestions, corrected grammatical errors and inserted notes about revision in the text.

In between applying critiques I turned off the hose and make breakfast – freshly squeezed organic orange juice and porridge. While I ate breakfast I watched the news and decided what I would do in my organic garden.

After breakfast I critiqued a chapter of an intriguing historical novel set in the Bronze Age. It will be the first novel I’ve ever read set in this period. By then it was 10 a.m. time to set aside my writing activities until the late afternoon and early evening.

I had a quick shower and went into the garden. The redcurrants hang on the bush like glistening jewels. I picked half of them with the intention of making a raspberry and redcurrant pie. Today I will pick more to make redcurrant jelly and – if there are enough – redcurrant cordial. The jelly is delicious in cream cheese sandwiches, added to a serving of my homemade yoghurt or in creamy rice pudding. The cordial is refreshing and the pie will be delicious.

Next, I planted out beetroot which I grew from seed in the greenhouse and sowed turnip seeds and white radish seeds. The leaves and long white radishes make a delicious curry. I then did some weeding. By then it was very hot so I had a drink made with homemade yoghurt and cold water and a pinch of salt. It is a very refreshing drink on a hot day. I sipped it while leafing through a vegetarian cookbook and deciding what needs to be done in the garden on the next day, a Sunday.

On Sundays I feed my tomato plants which I grow in pots and hanging baskets. Last year Idli tomato plants provided masses of succulent sweet, yellow cherry tomatoes, which my grandchildren ate like sweets. I decided that other urgent tasks would be picking the last of my broad beans, potting up bush basil and leeks that are growing in the greenhouse and sowing some more French beans. And, of course, there is the never ending task of weeding and pruning.

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