Beginnings, middles and – if I’m lucky – endings

My studio table is a map of what’s going on in my head.  Sometimes it’s tidy; mostly it isn’t.  At the moment it’s full of half finished projects. There’s jewellery making  stuff still laid out (lots of ideas, must get down to it when I get a free day).  There’s a possible design for a screen printed cushion cover, or possibly two if cashflow allows.  There’s a half finished painting on the drawing board, a half edited story by the computer.  Various bits of admin, a poster design for a sailing event, sketches and general ‘stuff’.

There are also a couple of activity sheets I’ve done for the Wildlife Trust website.  The Trust have been good enough to recommend my ‘Go Green’ book and wanted to add to their range of children’s downloads to tie in with the marine conservation theme.  If there’s nothing on tv and you secretly still like colouring in, you can download them on  There’s nothing wrong with colouring in – I do it for a living!

The trouble with having lots of ideas on the go is that starting things is much easier than finishing them.  On the drawing board is a half finished painting of some blocks and deadeyes spotted at a recent visit to SS Great Britain – well worth a visit, if ever you’re in Bristol.  I loved the shapes, the colours and the spaces inbetween…..

I’ll try and remember to photo this when it’s finished.    Shouldn’t be painting watercolours really, as it’s hard to sell paintings at the moment, but sometimes I just really fancy it.  After a few weeks of drawing to commission, it’s nice just to splash a bit of paint around for fun.

At the laptop end of the table I’m playing with some writing projects, including my ongoing research of sea stories, currently the self imposed marooning of Alexander Selkirk.  I was reminded recently of the ‘three by three’ rule to summarise a story – I’ve come across it several times and it’s a good way to check if a story has a beginning, a middle and an end.  My challenge is to turn my collection  into proper ‘stories’rather than simply narrative accounts of something that happened.   All you writers out there will have the three by three rule hot wired into your brains, but for the rest of you, take a story and reduce it to three statements of three words each.  It works with fiction (though you can try War & Peace if you’re feeling brave!) so I wanted to see if it works on my non-fiction….

Yes it does.  The story of Selkirk,  the ‘real’ Robinson Crusoe’ can be reduced to:

1.  Selkirk stays behind.

2.  Selkirk regrets it.

3. Selkirk gets rescued.

I like this – it works!   Let’s try it on Christopher Columbus:

1.  Columbus looks for China

2. Sailors nearly mutiny

3. Columbus finds Cuba

You get the drift.   Time to finish this post…… and I do need to practise finishing things.  Starting them is so much more fun.  If you don’t believe me, try it on a glass of wine!

1 thought on “Beginnings, middles and – if I’m lucky – endings”

  1. Kath says:

    Does the three rule also apply to wine glasses? Here’s hoping… I love the idea of your desk being a map of what’s in your head, although looking at my desk, that’s a little disturbing. (Note to self: tidy desk tomorrow.)

    I’m glad you’re painting with watercolours. If you have the time, so what if paintings aren’t selling at the moment? I don’t sell (anywhere near) every story I write, and sometimes I just write one because I want to, not because I know where I could find a home for it.

    Your Selkirk project sounds fascinating. Look forward to hearing more about that and reading it when it’s complete.

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