Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Poetry Pressure

I find myself not envying the Poet Laureate. My current course of study is poetry and I need six poems by the end of the week. The instructions said to “make these your masterpieces” and to “show off your skills”. Result of instructions? No rhyme or rhythm. The words are refusing to line up or make sense. Poetry to order does not work for me I think. Remind me of this please if ever I am offered the Poet Laureateship or something similar.

The ideas are percolating though, so at least that is something. The bones of six poems have appeared on the paper but they are fuzzy and unformed. I think I need to relax, detach and let the magic happen in its own time. Forcing my mind through the mincing machine is producing, as you would expect, minced up poems that won’t gain me any accolades.

Please can I have a poetry angel assigned to me? Preferably today.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Where did it go?

If I blinked, I think I would have missed Christmas this year. All the planning, buying, cooking and shopping and then it seemed gone in an instant. I can't help thinking we should be trying to do it differently, the meaning has got lost along the way.

Add to this the powder keg of sticking families together for prolonged periods and tensions are bound to arise. No wonder marital problems are rife at this time of year.

Mothers harassed, trying to juggle overexcited kids, getting impossible Aunt Flo a present whilst writing Christmas cards, making sure the fridge is full, on top of normal chores, are bound to be tetchy.

Children are excited about the prospect of Christmas gifts, Santa arriving and being off school, but suddenly find themselves aimless and bored with the adults in their lives acting out of character.

Husbands are often oblivious to the extra work demands on their wives and take little part in the Christmas frenzy, apart from a last minute dash to the shops on Christmas Eve to get their wives something which smells awful or doesn't fit. And woe betide the man who buys his wife something practical like a food processor - I can still remember the frosty Christmas produced when my father did this one.

Family parties which throw together relatives who wouldn't normally dream of spending more than half an hour together. I generalise of course but you get the picture.

I hasten to add that our household was peaceful at Christmas with no arguments. That didn’t stop me getting rather tense, especially when my pastry decided to resemble a brick on Christmas morning.

I awake on Boxing Day with tensions eased, no particular agenda and enjoy looking at my new books in my dressing gown. Blissful peace in the house and the sun shining. So why do we get so caught up in the Christmas machine, when our modern version of it has no link to the real meaning of Christmas? I vow to do it differently next year - but will I?

Monday, 21 December 2009

Let it Snow!

Woke up to a smattering of snow this morning but it barely covers the ground. In my normal, busy existance I can think of nothing worse than the restrictions of snow - I hate slipping (Being out of control in general). Can't help wishing it had snowed more heavily this time though, but maybe that is selfish. I have all my family members tucked up safe and warm in the house, did the Sainsbury's shop yesterday so can withstand a siege and have all my Christmas presents. A little snow cacoon with snow play, warm drinks and no pressure to go anywhere would be lovely for a couple of days. But then...

No doubt hubbie would insist on a trip somewhere just to indulge his daredevil ways scaring me to death in an out of control car. Big son would no doubt still be out until the early hours with me fearing snowdrifts and broken bones. Little son would just be happy to stay in with me and watch films, do jigsaws and cook mince pies. If we all had the same needs, desires and interests life would be boring.

Oh well Universe over to you - more snow or a thaw I'll wait and see.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Christmas coming early!

I feel as if the Christmas roller coaster has got its grip on me and I am been dragged towards the 25th December. Going through the motions of buying presents and writing cards, but do not feel any emotional attachment to it this year.

It reminds me of a wonderful quote which I once overheard a work colleague saying on the phone. I obviuosly couldn't hear both sides of the conversation but he must have been apologising for not having completed something on time. He said, "What with December being a short month this year and Christmas coming early." Strange, at the time it seemed funny, this year it feels true!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

May the Force be with you

I awoke feeling uneasy today. As I have no particular reason for this it set me thinking about vibes in the air and telepathy.

If I were in the cast of Star Wars I would be saying that I felt a disturbance in the Force. But is the uneasy feeling part of me? Is it the residue of a dream, an unconscious worry, a premonition? Or am I picking up wider vibrations of family unease or even world-wide events?

When I was a teenager I was fascinated by telepathy. I discovered that nine times out of ten I could summon my mother to my room with concentrated thought - or was that just wishful thinking.

How many times do you speak about or think about a friend only for them to ring you a few moments later or else to meet them in the supermarket? There has to be some connection, doesn't there?

So does telepathy exist? I did have one lover who was particularly susceptible to me thought waves and this was very useful for achieving complete satisfaction but most of the time my attempts at telepathy are rather hit and miss.

Can we develop this skill? Just think how much it would save on telephone bills!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Quotes from a Writing Course

I attended a very useful course on Saturday called "Faster Novel Writing Techniques." It was inspirational and thought provoking as is already helping me to progress my work and my aspirations to be a published author. It has been particularly helpful in rejuvenating those ideas which have been festering at the bottom of the drawer.

It was held at the wonderful Farncombe Estate in Broadway, Worcestershire. I love going to courses there. It is worth going for the panoramic views of the Cotswolds and the delicious food almost regardless of the course which attracted you in the first place.

Participants on a course obviously decide individually that the content of a course appeals to them, apply, pay, wait and then travel to the common destination, often from all over the country. I find it fascinating given this that the assembled group always feels so right and that there are usually links between the students. One could almost say that the group was meant to be, either to teach you something (beyond the course content) or to enable you to impart some information which needed to be shared.

As we went through the day, wrestling with our plot lines and characters, some super quotes emerged. "It's never too late" referred to the fact that you can write at any age and any stage in your life. You can allow poems and stories to lie unfinished for a few days or a few years, but it is never too late to finish them and put them out there into the world.

Of course when you do send off your precious pieces the chances are a high proportion of them will be rejected first time and it was when we were discussing this and how to cope with the rejections that the next useful quote emerged - "Don't get knocked off your perch." You need to stay true to your writing and believe in it and then with a little persistence you will eventually find a publisher who totally gets what you are trying to say.

I am a Virgo and as such I tend to be a perfectionist and quite structured in my approach to everything in life, unfortunately this has a tendency to restrict my spontaneity and creativity and means I am highly self critical. Any technique that can get me thinking in a less structured way is very helpful, which is why I liked the next quote. We were putting together scenes which could go together to make up our novels and as usual I was thinking in a linear way and had produced a list. Someone else on the course had items dotted all over the page and as she rightly pointed out, "you can't make a patchwork quilt out of a list." The tutor, Sue Johnson, had earlier referred to a novel as being like a patchwork quilt, so this quote was particularly apt.

Maybe I'd better get back to writing those novels......

Friday, 30 October 2009

It's okay not to be perfect

Being a Virgo, I have tried all my life to be perfect! I have very high standards for every aspect of my life and it can lead to deep dissatisfaction if I don't achieve them.

The problem with being like this and a writer, is that I do not send out many of my pieces to competitions and publishers because they never feel good enough. Then I look at the winning entries and think that mine was better than that.

I have recently been reading some books by Elizabeth Chadwick and they have helped me enormously with this problem (I hope!). The first book she had published, "The Wild Hunt", was good but by the time she wrote "Shields of Pride" her writing had developed and I am now reading "Daughters of the Grail", which is in a different league entirely. the point I am making is that maybe I should allow my writing to progress, rather than expecting it to be perfect from day one. Incidentally, Elizabeth Chadwick has a very good website

My resolution, confirmed be posting it here, is to send out more of my work, rather than keep getting disillusioned with it. Otherwise Morton Gray will only discovered posthumously.

Right. Where are those envelopes and stamps?

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Excuses for not Writing

It seems to be that I can find so many excuses for not writing:-
  • Housework - ironing, washing, vacuuming, dusting, tidying, cleaning bathrooms, watering plants.
  • Family Needs - ferrying, homework, finding things, mending things.
  • Garden - weeding, planting, tidying.
  • Paperwork - insurance, banking, letters.
  • Catching up with friends, coffee with neighbours.
  • The internet - Facebook, blogging, surfing.
  • My body - headache, not feeling well, not in the mood.
  • Shopping.
  • Sleeping.

The list could go on and on. Maybe I need to see if I can write a similar list for excuses for writing. Mmm....that feels more difficult.

Perhaps I need to work on self belief....

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Growing things

Our first foray into growing edible things has proved a great success. We haven't bought tomatoes or chillies since August. My husband seems to think it is easy - but then I guess he planted the seeds and has been harvesting - he seemed to miss the bit in the middle, transplanting, re-potting, feeding and watering.

The fridge has three different types of chilli chutney, we have chillies drying in the airing cupboard ready to be made into chilli flakes and the plants are still overflowing with produce. You should see the size of some of the chillies!

The romantic in me has thought of turning more of the garden into a planting zone, but then with my recent hernia is this a good idea? I'll only get upset if I have a weedy patch and can't dig it over. Also, do I really need any more distractions from my writing?

Monday, 12 October 2009

Why does everything fall on the floor when you can't bend down?

I have been pondering some of life's laws today. Having just had an operation, I realise that one of these universal laws is that everything falls onto the floor when you can't bend down to retrieve it.

One week after the operation and I can proficiently retrieve quite a few things from the floor with the end of a coat hanger. Having said that, my six year old had to pick up a tomato from the kitchen floor and help me get my pants from where they had fallen at the side of my dressing table this morning. I guess all the parents at school will now know that I wear big pants like Bridget Jones, as my little darling ran out of the room laughing about the size of them - cue red face in the playground, or maybe all will be forgotten by the time I can drive again.

As a first time blogger, I'm feeling a little unsure at this stage, but then I think I'll just go for it and see what happens.

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