Living Between the Lines

A Little Magic

I am stealing some writing time to pen this post. We are on day thirteen of the NaNoWriMo task. So, how am I doing with my daily word count?

I can tell you that I was very good for the first three or four days. I beat my target each day. Then I got the dreaded virus (the human kind, not the computer kind) and sitting at the keyboard was hard. Between coughing and wheezing, I managed to pen something each day but when I validated it (one validates one’s work as one pleases) the projected finish date was getting later and later. However, I was not going to let this deter me.

I also had that weekend in the Cotswolds – oh, magical it was! I love the Cotswolds, perhaps, partly because it was the place we made our home for three wonderful years, when we first got married.

Thirty three years ago, we bought an idyllic country mill cottage, 20 feet from the river. Cows looked in at our windows in the morning. In winter, we saw snow drifts 12 feet deep, in the lane and 6 foot drifts in our garden. The windows rattled and froze over and we often found snowdrifts piled up on the inside of the windows on the stone sills. We went to bed wearing woolly hats and socks. Our noses froze if we dared to poke them out from under the covers. We had no car, but sturdy wellingtons. We had no heating except for one open coal fire to heat the entire house (it didn’t of course, it heated the immediate hearth) yet I cannot remember being more content either before or since.

Rose tinted specs perhaps? Yes of course but that’s what makes memories so great, we filter them and keep the best bits. I wont dwell on the time the river flooded its banks and ducks swam up to our front door. After all, someone opened the sluice gates in the nick of time and saved us from the worst although we had piled our furniture up and taken what we could upstairs, just in case.

Last weekend, we stayed in another beautiful cottage in the Cotswolds. This one was fully heated and had a roaring log fire to boot. It reminded me of the picturesque cottage used in my late sister’s favourite film “The Holiday” starring Cameron Diaz. It was even situated down just such a lane. It would probably become impassable in the snow.

This cottage was far superior to the little two up, two down affair we had bought all those years ago but just as pretty and appealing in its own way.

We walked round the nearest town, Stow-On-The-Wold, and, as if by some invisible magic, it started to snow. Snow in early November? It does happen here I remembered. The shops were lit up although it was only 10 am. The snow fell thick and fast, though was never likely to lay. We crossed the square to a delightful department store that beckoned us with twinkling lights and open doors.

Stepping in out of the snow, we realised the store was already set out for Christmas. A table laden with Christmas china greeted us, and festive goods were all around. Who could resist purchasing some Christmas gifts as we browsed? Not I!

Since the snow showed no sign of stopping, we took ourselves into a cosy tea shop where we sat in a window seat, sipped tea and ate toasted tea cakes. We looked out at the thick, white flakes. I took a few photographs but no photographs could capture it well enough or hope to convey the magic that the snow lent the place for that one brief hour.

By the time we got back to the cottage, the snow had stopped and a wintery sun had shown itself. In the photo, it looks quite summery. In reality, temperatures had barely risen above freezing.

Cottage in the Cotswolds Nothing could have bettered that moment for me, the snow, the shop, the sudden transportation into an unexpected world of magic. It made my weekend.

I kept up my word count in the cottage, typing in front of the roaring log fire. The virus that greeted my return, slowed my progress somewhat, I must admit, but I tried not to let the fact that NaNoWriMo believed I would finished on December 7th, get to me.

On day thirteen I am back on target. I have the beginnings of a novel. More than that, I have a grasp of the middle and the end too. I cannot say I have not done any editing but I have compromised, inserting notes here and there where I know I should be editing and filling out scenes. I may even have time to do this within the month, who knows? One glorious bonus to not being allowed to edit is that when I have an idea, I write it, there and then, I don’t stop to think whether something else should be changed, I just write. My imagination is being given free reign.

It is a marvelous freedom this exercise has given me, though in my head, I imagine the entire thing will be miraculously pulled together by an invisible hand. Just to help this process, I have inserted little reminders here and there in the text.

On the 1st of December, I will be looking at these helpful notes and doubtless wondering what half of them mean but they are there – little signposts to what I want to evolve.

I have manufactured a mechanism for getting the story out that had not occurred to me when I started it. I am actually very excited about it all. The story has legs – it just needs wings.

I know that December will be a time for editing and pulling my hair out over scenes that aren’t working but with a little magic, it will all come together and after that snow-filled hour spent in Stow, I am definitely in the mood for a little magic…

I am an Author, wife to one, mother to five and grandmother to six. I live in the English countryside in Hampshire, UK, with my husband and two dogs and am a non exec Director for Glow


  • Hilary

    Hi Deborah – sounds like a wonderful time remembering the memories and that break you needed – while allowing you to do what you wanted … and then the odd walk around the Cotswolds … glorious .. so pleased to read you’re succeeding slowly and sneezy sure along your Nano Way – perhaps you could have renamed one of the streets NaNo Lane .. enjoy finishing off as far as you can – so that butterfly can be released in December ..

    Cheers to you – love the cottage photo .. Hilary

  • Andrea Carlisle

    I’ve always been curious about the Cotswolds, and now you’ve put it on my list of places to go next time I’m in England. What year that will be, I have no idea, but I think it should be definitely this season so that I don’t miss what you’ve described so well here.
    Congratulations on your writing. I keep seeing that acronym here and there but have never known anyone who actually jumped in (and have no idea what it stands for except “write every damn day,” I think). Keep going!

  • Teresa

    What lovely memories and what a beautiful picture you paint of your life in the mill cottage. And how wonderful to go back and have a perfect weekend.
    We spent a few days in a gorgeous little cottage in Yorkshire – no internet – and it really was the most relaxing time.
    Hope you are fully recovered and that you can speed away with Nano! x

  • patricia

    I am sorry you had a virus, but so far it sounds like your adventures are going well – and how fun to sneak a weekend away at a cozy spot. We had a rest stop in Stow and we felt we could have stayed for hours. I just will need to come back one of these days.

    I bought a heart shaped purse for one of my daughters there. Maybe at the little gift store.

    A Christmas card come to life?
    Thank you for sharing your delightful words

  • John Cowton

    I’m catching up with your posts and am working backwards, so I’ve already read the post after this, if you can follow my thread. Your lovely story linking thirty years ago and now, have one thing in common… lots of soul. Don’t you just love it.
    Thanks Deborah, for a wonderfully engaging story that warmed the heartstrings, like that other Cotswold story Cider With Rosie by Laurie Lee, 🙂

    • Deborah Barker

      I will be catching up on my own blog reading once the NaNoWrimo period is over! I love looking back on life and perhaps it is the time of year that lends itself to all this soul searching John 🙂 Oh and I love Cider with Rosie!

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