It’s a cold and snowy outlook from my desk as I look at my winter garden, and a fire is exactly what I need to cheer me up and warm the cockles of my heart. I have a very old fireplace in my dining room-my workplace-that’s probably antique now. Sometimes it looks pretty ugly and worn, but I can’t bear to rip it out and replace it. Though today I’m getting a niggly feeling about a new and different kind of fire. A germ of an idea is forming in my head for a new novel. What’s it going to be about?
This is how my Work In Progress planning should go. But does it? Not exactly… but maybe kind of close.
I’m rolling up those paper spills for the fire – not too tight or they won’t catch alight, and not too loose or they’ll burn far too quickly and they’ll have fled like a lost spark up the chimney. I’ve laid the groundwork, but not one that’s too tight or rigid. It can expand or contract, warm up or cool down, as I need. I might even want to ditch bits of it before the match is applied, or place them somewhere else in the grate. Of course I know that paper alone burns too quickly, giving off instant heat, but it has no lingering nourishment or substance.
So what now? It needs some of that kindling that catches alight easily; stripped wood that will help to keep the initial flames going till the fire really gets going. I’ve got that kindling applied now and it’s looking pretty neat.
But I’m not quite there. It’s got no character, none of those individual warm bits that give off emotion and light. Aha! Got it sorted. I’ve added some nice solid and gritty coal, yet it’s also sparkling with personality in those little jagged bits. But it’s a bit wet- I did say it was snowy outside -and might be wet around the ears till I get the pieces nicely warmed-up, and feeling cosy. Later on they’ll maybe shift about a bit like coal does when the burning paper and kindling bed down into the grate. I’ll get that coal placed really carefully though before I launch onto the hot seat!
What’s next? The match. To make that coal come alive – I need to spark it up. Showcase the coal’s personalities and get the mood going. I’m ready to strike now! It has to be done sometime so…off I go!
Tap, tap, tap…crackle, spark. A little bit of heat’s appearing, though I need some more to get the action really going. There’s a great bit of light shining which will shed some lovely illumination on the setting. It’s going nicely now. I need to keep that fire stoked, and feed it up when it’s flagging. Throw it a little more fuel at regular intervals.
What did I want to achieve. Lots of warmth, comfort, a lovely feeling of becoming well-rounded and successful.
Aha! One candle has burned out. What does that mean? It’s time to let the fire begin to die down and let it come to a natural conclusion. By the time the second candle is burned out, and the fire too, the end will have come and I’ll be thinking of the getting the next one started!
A different kind of fire is central to my Celtic/ Roman Britain (A.D. 71) historical novel -The Beltane Choice. In that story Nara, of the Celtic Selgovae tribe, has a dilemma of finding her lifelong partner, and lover, before the fires of the Beltane Festival burn brightly. But can she do that when the mighty army of the Roman Empire descends upon them? The Beltane Choice is a story of war, tribal amity, and different kinds of love.
How about your Writing in Progress? Which fiery stage are you at just now?
Books and Book trailer videos by Nancy Jardine can be viewed at her amazon author page:
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Wishing you all happy writing this weekend!
ps – I’m very conscious of the global warmong aspects of the use of coal and oil, but with temperatures of minus 2 or 3 deg celsius outside I need to use something! The author freezing in the garret doesn’t quite appeal!
- Top 5 Home Fire Safety Tips for Fire Prevention Week (allstate.com)
- The 14 fossil-fuel projects poised to f*ck up the climate (grist.org)