Writing on skis

Happy new year from Switzerland! All the ones – 1.1.11 – that’s a date that truly sounds like a new beginning. I am breathing Alpine air, surrounded by sparkling white mountains and snow laden fir trees and feeling optimistic about the year ahead. Objective: to complete the first draft of a novel and then to get a book deal. But one thing at a time. First, write the thing.

Hmmm. With Christmas and my skiing holiday, I’ve not been getting much writing done. But I’m not going to beat myself up about it because producing a novel involves as much thinking time as physically getting words onto paper. And you also have to live life and ‘fill the creative well’ in order to have stuff to write about. Not that I plan to have a skiing scene in my book but just being open to life can also open the way to new ideas.

There are writers that say their best ideas come while doing something like driving or cooking, where part of the brain is on automatic and the rest of it is free to roam. The roaming part is relaxed and the subconscious is at work. It’s a bit like that craze some years ago – was it geometric patterns or pictures made of dots? I can’t remember exactly but you had to relax your eyes and suddenly you’d see an image in 3D. Well some activities, like driving, get your brain in that kind of state and ideas pop into focus.

It doesn’t work with skiing, however. Not for me. I’m too busy thinking, weight forward, flex knees and ankles, hips into the mountain, one knee forward, then the other knee forward, weight then unweight etc. I actually go down the mountain, repeating such things to myself. My whole mind is focused on staying on my skis. There are so many things to think about at the same time and if I’m not doing one element, it throws everything off balance.

Oh yes. Things have come on since ‘Bend zee knees!’ I have my husband, who is a former skiing instructor, yelling back up the mountain. ‘Puke position!’ By which he means I need to get my weight forward over my skis as I traverse so that if I were sick, the vomit would miss my boot bindings. Nice! Or, a personal favourite, ‘Tits to the valley!’, which means: keep your shoulders square down the hill. But it could be mistaken for some kind of mating cry.

All the various elements occasionally come together and I get into the rhythm and I’m in the flow and it’s a wonderful feeling. But such moments are transitory. Suffice to say my characters don’t get a look-in till the lift queue. At the moment my writing, like my skiing, is still in discreet bits – I’m going down the hill saying, develop character, develop story, develop plot, third person or first person? And then I fall over.

Hmmm. Less skiing and more time in the spa methinks.


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