Post Cambridge writing bliss (3)

I’ve been home a few days now, and one of the things we talked about on our writing course was that we were afraid the magic would go away once leaving the gates of Madingley Hall, where we lived and created fantastic landscapes.

Porthouse and gate seen from Wonderland.

Preserving the feeling of hours of deep dive into text is hard when normal life is waiting for you at home.

Workspace in library, and the front garden of Madingley Hall.

I’ve had to make a few changes to prioritise writing. If I want it to be a larger part of my life, I also have to make more room for it.

Ladybug crown in the hall’s gardens.

So I did. I’m usually up early, so instead of starting my day with emails, news and coffee, I’m starting my day with fantasy worlds and coffee. I spend aprx 15 min every morning with my characters. The 15 minutes are sometimes productive, sometimes not, but staying away from the story too long and the writing spree fades.

Went for a stroll in a forest and happened upon someone’s laundry.

I’ve also made a designated writing space, which made writing time tangible. I used to write in the same workspace as I draw, but that just made me feel I didn’t spend enough time on either. Having a place just to write made me look forward to it, rather than thinking about how little I had managed to do. I write both by hand and on the computer, and like to have my books around me, so I nicked a part of the living room at home to do creative writing. Editing I discovered I can do wherever – my writing habits split in two along the way.

My room over the arch, and the view from one of the turrets.

Another thing I changed was how much time I spend on side projects and volunteer work. Which is a sad one, because Bergen Game Jam, Jul på Bryggen, Piratfestivalen, and Trolldomsakademiet have all been wonderful places with good people I’ve loved working with, and have learned alot from. But this leaves space to attend writing courses in castles, so I guess I’m good.

Steps to front garden.

Taking last autumn’s writing course made me fall in love with the craft, so these changes weren’t hard to go through with. The changes were also not all made in one go. It was something that happened along the way, and now that the changes have been in place for a while it will maybe be easier to keep them.

Porter’s Lodge and the church seen from the Hall’s gardens.

As a result, the novel I’ve been playing around with over a year ago is no longer an utopian wish. I’m actually done with the first draft after 6 months of playing around with it, and 6 months of dedicated writing. The visit to Madingley Hall was what I needed as a final deadline, and the time spent there was magical. Hard work, hours and hours typing and editing, frustration over non-rising word count – and epiphanies when I learnt new things and my characters took the lead.

Lights lining the road to the hall, seen from Porter’s Lodge.

When I came back to my “fantasy-worlds-and-coffee-mornings” I finished my novel’s first draft the last day of January. I still have a lot to learn, editing to do, and make desicions about design and illustrations.

Right now though, I’m going to enjoy the feeling of a job well done.


More Cambridge here (1) and here (2).
My first writing course in fantasy writing here.