The Butterfly Net

butterflies 007
The computer has gone from working a speeds of a derisive ‘you’ll be lucky’ to an emphatic ‘you’ve got no chance’. Whether it is downloading things behind my back, updating things I’d prefer it to leave well alone or simply exhausted and going on strike, I have no idea. All I know is that the post that was supposed to go out is full of photos that it won’t let me work with. Nor will it allow me to access the email account I need. And it may be arthritic. It keeps seizing up. I can sympathise with that at least.

I closed  down the internet and decided to try and catch up on some other stuff. I came across something I’d written years ago for a ‘blog hop’. I was curious, as the questions had all been about the writerly-authorly thing. I had to chuckle, because, even years later, it seems that little has changed…

butterflies 025‘Describe your personal writing process’ came as a bit of a shock.

There’s a process?

I read back through the chain of blog hop articles by other writers… they have structure and a defined, professional approach… Panic! Think, woman… what is your writing process? Come on now, you can do it…

At a first pass I would simply have said lots of coffee and something to write with… and I can, at a pinch, dispense with the coffee*. Of course, when you really start to think about it, there is a bit more to it than that. My bag is usually full of scrawled words on the backs of receipts, notebooks… anything that comes to hand at the time.

It starts with an idea. You have to catch the little blighters. They are as elusive as will o’ the wisps and if you don’t pin them down they disappear in a puff of fairy dust, usually to an anthem of ‘Oh, I’ll remember that for sure!’ It might simply be a phrase or a title and my desk top is littered with blank documents holding a single line; aide memoirs that stare me in the face every day until I get to them. That often works well, especially if I have also jotted down the odd key phrase or two. Some, however, do leave themselves wide open for misinterpretation once the moment of inspiration has passed and the original compelling idea has faded. ‘Stretching the knicker-elastic of time’ for example, may turn out to be interesting…

Quite often it is an image that sets me thinking, or a quote, or a snippet of conversation. You find the mind wanders off in its own space-time continuum, joining the random dots of a half glimpsed picture, constructing an entire story in the millisecond between breaths. It is brilliant… a masterpiece… unique and sparkly…bestseller material… and gone with the next breath because the butterfly net of attention missed its mark.

butterflies 009I suppose if I were to put my writing process in the proverbial nutshell it would be that I write… and specifically that I write things down; the present ‘me’ communicating across time with a future ‘me’ who might just have time to sit and think things through.There is something about verbalising an idea that fixes it in memory, and whether that is done with voice or pen seems to matter very little. It takes the idea and, from the nebulous realm of inspiration, brings it into the crystallised form of manifestation. It makes it real in a way that memory can grasp.

I am lucky enough to be able to write with others as well as alone. In 2012 “The Mystical Hexagram” was published, written with Gary Vasey a long-time friend who remained unmet until long after the book was out. Stuart France and I have written ten books together. These books are born in the landscape and are a fictional account of a real and continuing adventure through the ancient sacred sites, the hills and mysteries of Albion… the hidden heart of Britain. We talk a lot; that is the central part of our writing process. Throwing ideas and theories around, exploring myths, symbols and concepts… crystallising the thoughts that might otherwise be lost, cross-fertilising ideas and watching them grow… and it is a joyous process.

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Whether it is that inner voice of inspiration that drags you from sleep and sends you scrabbling for the notebook in the dark, or the whispers of the past on a wet and windy moorland that pass a story down the ages… or whether it is other writers whose thoughts you hear as you read their words, teaching lost secrets across millennia or sharing new, exciting ideas fresh from the press… when you get right down to it, writing is all about communication. And everyone has a story to share.


*No I can’t… not really. But I should. A lot of it does end up spluttered over the screen when I read something that makes me laugh.


About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
This entry was posted in Don and Wen, Doomsday: Scions of Albion, Doomsday: The Ætheling Thing, fiction, Friendship, Humour, Photography, Stuart France and Sue Vincent, writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to The Butterfly Net

  1. Pingback: The Butterfly Net — Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo | dale1025

  2. Leeby Geeby says:

    For evety five piece I start, only one makes it to blog completion. Easily I have a year’s worth of backlog. I have occasional purges. Of half written stories. Just cause I know I need to make space for new mojo.


  3. I love your idea of internet arthritis ! Something is going on over here as well. Maybe political hackers, Hillary’s e mail team, Wikileaks ?????

    I gave up and did a reblog myself this a.m. Yours is a worthy one, so all is good. Thanks, Sue. ☺


  4. i tear my hair out with techie stuff – and by the time I’ve learned how to do something some super guru aged 10 hiding out somewhere changes the goalposts – sigh! 😦


  5. First, my heart goes out to you in your time of trouble — referring, of course, to your ailing computer. The computer is the one, single part of MY process I no longer know how to live without. I could write it on paper, but no one but Garry would ever see it and I don’t think even he is up to making sense of the incoherent scratching that makes up my so-called handwriting these days.

    As for process … “What process?” applies here too. The only things I absolutely require are a working computer, a functional brain and fingers. The rest will (usually) follow 🙂


  6. dgkaye says:

    Seems so many have been going through computer blues this month, breaking down, getting possessed by Windows, etc. I have to wonder if it’s something with all the strange energies in the air from these powerful moons. 🙂


  7. Woebegone but Hopeful says:

    I think computer AI has already arrived and there are times when they simply cannot be bothered to deal with our humble requests preferring to do tricks with thirty digit numbers.
    There’s a writing process??????????????


  8. I hope your computer is behaving itself better now Sue. Between that and WordPress you are not having much luck. However, you made me laugh with your annoyance at both!
    I agree, that everyone has a story to tell, but being able to write it articulately is the problem! You always do it so well, so your ‘process’ is definitely working! 🙂


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