poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘words

writing a novel – words, day by day

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I have reached Draft Four of my novel ‘Crossing at a Walk’ and the story is all told.  I want to see how I reached my current word count of  78,598 words, so I have created some graphs showing my progress. I began in 2013 with 8 days of writing. I did a little more on one day in 2014. And this year I have worked steadily since early March.


Crossing at a Walk


My daily writing goal was 2000 words, as Stephen King recommends in his book On Writing (Scribner, 2000).  I was quite variable in the number of words written each day. Early in the writing, in 2013, I had three very productive days when I wrote more than 3000 words.


Cummulative Words


A graph of the cumulative number of words shows I was steady in my progress.  Now, with editing, the total number of words should stay steady, or decrease.

If I compare this to my progress during the writing of ‘Open to the Skies’ (‘Saving the Landing Church’), my progress was similar.  You can see below where I began editing, at about 25 days.  For this book, it took 27 days to reach this point.


Open to the Skies


Keeping track of the number of words I write has three purposes:

  • the daily number of words is a tangible record of progress and for me, a reward at the end of the writing day.
  • the cumulative number of words shows me how long the book is getting; may aim is for less than 90,000 words, usual for books of the type I am writing.
  • I report the number of words I have written to my husband, keeping him ‘involved’ and making him extra joyous as the day comes when I will read my book to him.


For your writing, do you have an aim for your daily number of words?


Copyright  2015  Jane Tims 


Written by jane tims

April 15, 2015 at 5:15 pm

harvesting colour – a reference library

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To begin my poetry project ‘harvesting colour’, I have created a small reference library.   I will keep my library by my desk in the loft I use as my studio.  I wrote most of the poems for my ‘growing and gathering’ manuscript there.


on my desk

To decide what books to order, I followed some suggestions made by Pia, an experienced dyer (follow her dyeing adventures at Colour Cottage –


I started with three books:

Rita Buchanan, 1999, A Dyer’s Garden (Dover Publications)

Jenny Dean, 2010, Wild Color: The Complete Guide to Making and Using Natural Dyes (Watson-Guptill Publications)

India Flint, 2010, Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles (Interweave Press)


I am sure I will be adding others as my project goes on, but for now these books have lots of great advice for a beginning dyer.  Along with these books, I have my entire library of illustrated botanical guides, including floras of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and North America to help me identify the plants I will need.



my growing dyers library


Roaming through these books as an ‘armchair dyer’ reminds me of the thrill of looking over seed catalogues while the snows of winter are falling.

Although I have not read any of these books in their entirety, I will give you a brief description of each:



Rita Buchanan, 1999, A Dyer’s Garden (Dover Publications)


Rita Buchanan’s A Dyer’s Garden is a straightforward guide to using plants for various cottage craft purposes.  The guide includes information on using plants as dyes, as well as for stuffing, soap-making and a source of fragrance.  The chapter on dyes provides a step by step method, as well as an in-depth description of various plants useable for dyes.  I love the black and white line drawings for some of these plants.  The book includes practical information throughout on growing these plants and on the history of their use. 



Jenny Dean, 2010, Wild Color: The Complete Guide to Making and Using Natural Dyes (Watson-Guptill Publications)


Jenny Dean’s book, Wild Color, is a riot of colour.  Easy to flip through, it has detailed sections on various stages of the dyeing process.  A useful feature for me will be her illustrated guide to some common plants used as dyestuffs.  I particularly like her colour charts of results obtained with various dyestuff, mordants and modifiers.  She also includes some background material on the history of dyers and dyeing.



India Flint, 2010, Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles (Interweave Press)


Eco Colour by India Flint is a well-illustrated book, full of photos of the author’s work with plants and fabrics.  You can tell she has been there every step of the way – included in the photos are her handwritten notes.  She describes well the process of dyeing and provides practical information.  She also includes lots of examples of colour transfers (eco prints) – leaves are applied directly to the cloth to make colour prints.  The book includes an extensive list of plants sorted by the colours they produce.


I can hardly wait to thoroughly read these three books.  Besides looking for a step by step approach, I will be on the hunt for words from the dyer’s vocabulary to include in my poems.


Another resource I will use for my project will be the Internet.  I read the blogs of a few dyers regularly, to learn something from their experiences, to get their advice and to better know these people who turn their appreciation of colour in nature into capturing colour.  I’m sure you will enjoy these blogs about dyeing and fabrics as much as I do:


Now that I have my reference library underway, I am gathering ideas about what I will need to begin my project.  My next post will show you some of the items I will be using.


Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

February 14, 2014 at 7:22 am

from the pages of an old diary – words and phrases

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My great-aunt’s diaries are very easy to read.  Her handwriting is neat and her words, though brief, clearly convey her meaning.  Occasionally, she uses unfamiliar words.  What do you think these words mean?  My answers, assisted by the Internet, are given below…



‘silence cloth’




‘snow pudding’



April 18, 1957                She washed the curtains and ‘tidies’ from the upstairs rooms.

The Free Online Dictionary defines a ‘tidy’ as ‘a decorative protective covering for the arms or headrest of a chair.’  ‘Tidies’ could also have been her name for the hold-backs on curtains, or the small linen cloths used to cover dressers and other surfaces.

March 12, 1957             She bought a ‘silence cloth’ for the table ($2.00)

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines a ‘silence cloth’ as ‘a pad (as of flannel or felt) used under a tablecloth.’  This cloth would have protected the table from scratches and marks from dishes.

July 31, 1956                She and her husband sat out on the ‘pizza’

This was a frequent entry.  I think it was her word for ‘piazza’ and referred to the front porch or a small sitting area in their side-yard.

Feb. 1, 1957                   Her Red Cross group made a ‘layette’ for a local woman and her baby.

Wikipedia says this is a collection of clothing for a newborn and can include many items, including sleepwear, cloth diapers, wash cloths and receiving blankets.

June 29, 1967               She received ‘snaps’ of their anniversary party.

I know this one, but some in the digital generation may not.  It is short for ‘snapshot’ and refers to processed photographs.

December 18, 1967    She made a ‘snow pudding’ and took it to a neighbour who had a sore tongue.

I am not a cook, so many recipe names are not familiar to me.  I looked at the Internet for a modern recipe and found the following:

Snow Pudding

2 T. unflavored gelatin
1/4 C. cold water
1 C. boiling water
1/2 C. lemon juice
1 C. sugar
3 egg whites

soften the gelatin in cold water;

dissolve the gelatin in boiling water;

add lemon juice and sugar and stir until the mixture thickens;

add stiffly beaten egg whites;

beat until the mixture ‘stacks’ (holds firm peaks).

The finished dessert looks like snow, hence the name.  I don’t know if using raw egg whites is OK today, but the equivalent from a carton of egg whites would be safe to use.


©  Jane Tims  2012


two of the six diaries my great-aunt wrote from 1944 to 1972 ... the quilt is one she made during the last years of her life

Written by jane tims

March 16, 2012 at 6:54 am

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