Saturday, March 01, 2014

A writing lull

I'm not writing anything for myself at the moment. It feels pretty strange as I can't remember the last time I wasn't working on a book. But now Harbour Ways is out and feeling its way into the world, I have a Masters thesis to write and finish, so I'm trying to resist the temptation to get started on another book. That said, I don't know if I'll be able to resist the temptation for very long! 'Tis a terrible urge, it is!

So on that subject, Chris Hill's asked me on his blog this week if I would write another book about the harbour, and my answer was a probable no. However... that doesn't mean I'm going to stop writing about the waterways world! I still have a couple of ideas in mind that I want to develop.

The first is a second Skipper's Child book, only this time about Arie's sister, Jannie. It won't be a sequel, but it will be about the same family. I'm very, very interested in knowing what it was like to be a girl growing up on a barge. It must have been pretty difficult a lot of the time, so I'm looking for stories from skipper's daughters as background. That might take me some researching and interviewing, though.

The other idea is to write about our experiences of life in Belgium where we've spent a good few years of weekending on and off. I had a barge there once too (some of you might remember my mentioning that). As and when I write this, it will be a sort of Wallonia Ways, but more like my first book African Ways in that it will be a collection of individual accounts rather than the ongoing story of the Rotterdam pair.

Then I have another idea for a novel set in South Africa (I know..the old brain box never stops grinding away). This one is quite well developed in my head already, so it might just get written first. I don't know. I'm going to South Africa for a week at the end of this month, and I'm hoping to immerse myself in the atmosphere of the country again. I might even get to the area where I want to set my novel; better still, I hope I can take a train ride just to re-live that kind of journey again. I'm looking forward to it so much, I can hardly wait.

For the time being, though, I have a big paper to finish on second language teaching, so I need to knuckle down and get that done.

For now, here are some photos of South Africa I took during my last visit when I went to Postmasburg in the Northern Cape province. Just a (tantalising, I hope) glimpse of the background setting to my novel.

Buck in the veld - always a beautiful sight

Typical dirt roads

Yep, that was me, cycling to the Burning Sands of the Kalahari

Can you believe that's a nest?

On the road home. Mo and I got a bit lost and ended up dirt tracking 


  1. I love that 'nurturing ideas' phase - anything is possible!

    And have a reason to go back to South Africa - what's stopping you? (I know the Masters thesis - are you going to tell us about that?)

  2. Hi Val, you have so many wonderful ideas for writing, and I hope you manage to do all of it. I am amazed that you are doing a Masters degree on top of everthing else; you really are a busy bee.
    I would like to buy Harbour Ways, but don't have a kindle. How do I go about buying a hard copy?
    Happy writing :)

  3. Jo, it's wonderful to be going back to SA again. I'm very excited at the prospect of breathing in that wonderful spice air again. As for the Masters, it's been grinding away in the background for the last two years. I've finished the main research modules now, so when I come back from SA, I will be starting the actual thesis. I'm doing my thesis on the effectiveness (or otherwise) of peer feedback on second language writing - and I do find it a very interesting subject, so I will enjoy it. It's just that it won't leave much time for other writing. Thanks for the interest!

    Patricia, thank you too. As I said to Jo, I've been busy with my Masters studies for two years now, so I'm looking forward to getting my thesis written and having it all done.

    As for Harbour Ways, I'm so pleased that you would like to read it. Unfortunately, I had to stop sending copies out myself as the postage costs from here went up so much I was ashamed to ask people to pay them. I don't know what your technical options are, but if you have the Adobe digital editions on your laptop, you can get the e-pub version from

    Here is the link :

    Or you can get the same version from the iBookstore (just look for books with my name)

    Or you can buy the paperback from (expensive postage),

    from (the US site) or
    from the Book Depository (

    The Book Depository has free postage worldwide, so that's probably the best deal, but it takes the longest.

    I hope this gives you something you can access without too much trouble. And thanks again!

  4. You have some great ideas there, all sound really interesting, my appetite is whetted! Good luck with your thesis. It is important to choose a topic that you are going to enjoy, it takes the pain out of it a little! Mine was on Alcoholism in the works and lives of Hemingway and Fitzgerald. Gave me a great excuse to get the wine bottle out!!! It is always interesting to read peer feedback, I think that we as teachers can learn quite a lot from reading our learners comments about their fellow learners.. Have a good week xxx

  5. Thank you, Fran! Your thesis sounds much more exciting than mine :-) And of course you had to sample the wine too! Thanks for the encouragement dear one! xxx

  6. Hey thanks for all those purchase links! I am taking a break as well...too much other stuff on, am looking forward to the time when I can get back to writing. Sounds like you have tons of cool ideas floating about though!

  7. It all sounds very exciting Val especially going back to South Africa and perhaps seeing some sun. You must be so busy juggling all those balls. I vote for the story set in S.A.

  8. Hi Val - only a week back in SA - seems way too short .. still better than nothing.

    You have got lots of ideas running around .. I guess you could draft some bits up, while concentrating on the thesis ..

    Good luck with all processes .. cheers Hilary

  9. How exciting to have so many story ideas in your head. Make notes while the ideas are flowing. Don't ever trust your memory to store them all!

    Don't like the look of that dust road. I would have panicked!

  10. Thanks String, good to see your creative energies being manifested at Sunn Creative there!

    Anne, thanks for the SA story vote. I'm still not certain which one to do first, but I might make things easy for myself by doing the Belgium one as it's easier to write while I'm still doing my Masters.

    Hilary, that's a good idea. I might just do that! Thanks!

    Ros, yes, it's good to keep being inspired to write isn't it? About the dirt road, I was a bit nervous too, especially as the brakes on my daughter's pick-up were not much could and some of those hills are very steep!

  11. So many great ideas to run with. All the best.

    Awesome photos, thanks for sharing.


  12. Val, what beautiful pictures! Love the bike pic! Nah, surely you are writing something by now! So Un-Val of you, slacker!

  13. Thanks Nas. Yes, the ideas never stop churning around!

    Denise, you're right :) I won't be able to resist the temptation for long though!

  14. I'm also impressed that you have so many terrific ideas! Enjoy your next trip to South Africa, and be careful riding so close to that nest! Beautiful photos!


  15. Something to be said for having the same characters or locations in a book. I'm told that this is a really good way of increasing Amazon sales for instance. You have some great ideas for projects!

  16. Thank you, Julie and Jenny! I'm looking forward to getting on with a new project!


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