Another Plague Doctor

I’ve got another slightly discounted Plague Doctor bird on Etsy. He has a little blob of metal in his eye — maybe a plague boil?

I’m picking up new stock from the foundry on Saturday. Can’t remember which pieces, though there should be some snails.



Neeble: the last little bit. Expected to take 2 hours, actually takes all day and half the night.
Neeblefutting: completing the neeble.

Everyone in the fridge before going to the foundry:


Strophanthus gratus

If I ever have another tropical garden, Strophanthus gratus (climbing oleander, rose allamanda) will be one of the first plants I buy.

Its flowers are very pretty and smell like roses, or to be exact, Turkish delight; and the glossy leaves are attractive when the plant isn’t in flower. I’ve never seen a pest on either of mine (the plant is poisonous, which may have something to do with it), and they’re doing well in their pots, with one growing as a vine and the other as a rambling bush. I’ve seen pictures of them pruned into tidy little trees — they seem quite malleable!




Staying Fresh

Now and then a scene just comes and hardly has to be altered — it starts fresh and stays fresh. That’s nice of course, but it’s not that common — or not for me, anyway.

I keep multiple drafts backed up and often revisit early ones to try and salvage material as the needs of the story force changes on the writing. I’m all too capable of wandering miles away from a first draft then coming back closer to it after realising I didn’t need to wander so far — but I probably needed to see what was over there in order to decide to come back. (And I might find something useful over there, too.)

I always fear that redrafting will produce a laboured product — maybe an odd fear for someone who likes fancy language, but there’s fresh fancy and stale fancy. The reader’s going to find it how they find it, but it has to seem fresh to me. I like to keep dialogue pretty close to its original state, if plot permits. Sometimes the characters come up with lines that are obviously better, but I seldom feel compelled to extensively revise dialogue. But I almost always rewrite descriptions, sometimes many many times. Sometimes the right words don’t come until I’m tired or doing something else. And I find that action scenes can ask for a lot of revision, though that’s a bit different as it’s as much about choreography as aesthetics. When I was writing TEC I did a fair bit of climbing around on furniture trying to work things out.

I’ve been redrafting this story a lot. Additions to plot give me no choice. However much the story may be improved, I always feel a certain regret for the lost first draft. But onwards and upwards. I’m enjoying it.

Back to dialogue for a moment — I was having trouble writing some lines. Then I imagined Yul Brynner saying them, and some better words came. Whether it was the added persona or the cadences of a distinctive voice, something helped. So next time I’m stuck with lines I’ll borrow an actor.


A New Year Visitor

Went outside this morning and found this delightful little serpent in a tree. Neighbours say it isn’t dangerous. I think it’s an Asian vine snake (Ahaetulla prasina). Mildly venomous but not considered a threat to humans.