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Showing posts from May, 2018

Holding True to Beauty

I've never believed in the idea that you should try to find beauty and fulfillment where your feet are. To me, that seems to deny so many things - your true heart, your self-love, your hope for something better, and your will to move towards what you would prefer. Of course, try to be happy where you are. Look around for loveliness, and appreciate what you have for your sustainment. But never lose sight of what beauty really feels like for you, and never stop striving for it.

photo gingerlillytea

My ideal beauty is an English countryside in the early summer. It is impossible for me to live that dream, for all kinds of practical reasons, unless I was to suddenly come into possession of significant wealth. (Anyone want to buy my next book for two million dollars? I'll use your name for the heroine.)  It is also difficult for me to make a similar dream come true in my home country, because we simply don't have things like oak woods lush with wildflowers, or hedgerows, or the b…

Self-Regard for the Nurturer

This morning is very cold, almost zero degrees celsius, which is not cold to those of you in the north but has that fierce bright chill of a sea-borne cold, which somehow makes it feel icier. I have many things I should be doing, but can't manage to extricate myself from my soft cosy blanket.

Last week, after a summer of gentleness, I found myself returning to my winter mood, just in time for the freezing southerly winds. This is the mood of brown wool, brown bread, old smoky tales from eastern mountains, incence. I thought it would last as it usually does for several months (whatever time of year it comes), but after only a few days I am veering back towards gentleness. It frustrates me. I can not write about Russian witches, as I am trying to do, when my heart inclines towards English rose gardens. (And although I have just had an image of Baba Yaga standing with a suitcase in Heathrow Airport, that is not a book I'm brave enough to write! Although now my imagination has go…

Measuring Mother Time

Many years ago, I set aside my writing dreams so that I could raise my child wholeheartedly. For me, writing isn't just the act of typing down words, but imagining scenes, viewing the world through the lens of characters, changing my speech patterns so I can get into natural rhythm with those of the story. I feared having all of this warp my mothering, and so I did not write. Instead I knitted, sewed, baked, made fleece fairies and gnomes, taught, drew, and expressed my creativity so fully in a myriad of ways that I never missed that one.

But I am a writer in my soul, and as soon as I felt it reasonable to return to that, I did. At first, it was difficult, because I had always been a closed-door writer ... which is to say, I wrote in a room alone, with the door shut and the world forgotten. I had to learn how to write at the heart of the house, with noise all around me and frequent interruptions. For I understand that mothers need alone time of course, and I took that time myself …

Fear As An Invitation to Love

The winter mother is singing me back into the slow, smoky, wild dance of the dark half of this world's heart. I can see stars everywhere I look.

I've been thinking a lot lately about what I should be writing. I've been looking for more than just an interesting story to tell, a vessel for my words. I want to write something true to my heart and resonant with my sincerest imagination. They say, what makes us afraid, we should write that. I've never believed it. I think we should write what we love. 
But isn't it true that all too often what we love opens us to fear? Fear of not being accepted, not being good enough. And so we fall into imposter syndrome, and ultimately silence. Or we let our creations and dreams be stolen. I've done all that. And I've relinquished what I love so I don't have to feel fear, and chosen another love instead where I can succeed in a small quiet way that almost, sometimes, feels halfway good enough. There is comfort in choosing…

The Memory of Stars

The sky is a velvet silence tonight. It has rained on me twice today. but that's all right. That's winter's kind of love. I am trying to figure out how to take the dark and the rain and turn them into story, so in the meanwhile here are some of my favourite old blogposts about the sky ...

Instructions For When the Sky Falls
My Heart Is Hooked By the Sun and Stars
Wise Child
The Moon & The Water Magic

In the early days of the earth, a piece of it was broken off and sent into the deep sky. I know the scientific reasons. But I can't help thinking of a brave child going out alone to hold light for us in the dark, at the threshold of forever. Is the light her only consolation? Or does the silence give her peace? Can she hear the wolves and cats and poets singing her name? Maybe in the oldest days to come, she will return home.

photo credit: sakura rain

The Fairytale Princess

They said it was a powerful moment of modern feminist independence as Meghan Markle walked alone down the aisle. But all I could think of was how profoundly it reminded me of Cinderella. The bride presenting herself with dignity, beauty, and a pure heart, to her prince. For that matter, it made me think of the earth after night, rising to her sun, becoming luminous and warm with his light - the goddess coming before the god, the soul before the divine. That bride entering alone into the church was sacred; she was all of us approaching Love. The sight of her touched something deep in my soul.

For days there has been social media commentary about how not every girl wants to be a princess. Clearly, people have lost the old understanding of what being a princess meant in stories. In most of the classic tales, the heroine was a strong character who worked against adversity and risked all to bring change to her life, while all along staying true to herself and keeping a good heart, until at…

Rain and Romance

Today I walked home in a downpour which soaked me so thoroughly, I might as well have been swimming. By the time I got indoors (having had to detour to the back yard to bring in my sodden laundry from the line) I felt painfully cold and really quite wretched. It was wonderful! I love being out in a storm, getting drenched, coming home to warmth and comfort. True, I would rather remain at home the whole time, watching the storm from within shelter. And I don't ever like getting wet on my way somewhere other than home. But to me, cosiness is made all the more lovely by having been slightly miserable beforehand.

Tonight I will be watching the royal wedding, wrapped in blankets, with hot chocolate and popcorn. I love these occasions. I remember as a child watching the wedding of Charles and Diana in the home of the only family member who had a colour tv; several others had gathered there for the same reason. I have seen all the Windsor weddings since. (I loved Catherine's dress be…

Roses and Rain

She sat in the garden, alone. Rain was falling profusely yet gently over the roses, and gathering the sky in upon itself. She watched it from beneath her umbrella, beneath a tree. The umbrella was white. Her dress was white. It had come from France. Her scarf had lace trimming its edges. When she was a girl, she had longed for lace, and always smiled with a quiet wonder that she had it now. These little things gave her contentment. There was so much she had wanted for herself that never came, never would. And there was pain, weariness, grief. But for a moment in a garden she could look at white lace, rain on roses, and feel peace.

If you want to read more tiny stories, you can find them here.

Guardians & Drifters in the Holy Land

One of my dreams is that nations never evolved, and that people everywhere had the courage and soulfulness to understand that this world is for us to share, not to claim in pieces for our own particular use. Imagine if we considered ourselves guardians of a certain acreage, rather than owners and exploiters.

Imagine if we felt the privilege, honour, blessings, of being such a guardian. Imagine if people had to train for it, intellectually and spiritually, before being given the chance to care for some land. And imagine if accolades were bestowed upon those who did a good job - who nourished the soil well, sustained a healthy balance of life, and acted as wise, loving companions and guides to the botanical life on their land. Imagine if equal to the guardian was the guest. And that every guest came lovingly, with a gift for the land.

Imagine too if there was honour for the unlanded people, the wind children, whose souls resonate with mapless distance and dreams. They would give us sto…

Stories and Dreamlike Skies

Last night, white clouds rushed across the dark sky like ghosts of morning. Like a Victorian vicar's daughters having relinquished propriety along with their bodies to scud across the moors of their uncouth dreams. Rain fell - wild poetry of the sea.

This morning is dew-laced sunshine and chiffon skies.

The world is not a story but a compendium of tales. Or maybe not even that, but a gathering of excerpts, poems, glimpses, untitled pieces, tossed about. I used to think I was the same, but I'm learning slowly that I am a novel - intricate certainly, and with half-poems in the margins, but a contained body of work nonetheless. It's only that I have been reading aloud from other people's books for too long.

I am the afternoon falling quietly, rose-lit and cold, into a night storm. And you? What weather, what form of story, what strange metaphor, are you? You don't need to tell me, but I wonder, do you know?

The Ageing Reader (and Writer)

When I was younger, I almost exclusively read fantasy novels. This was back in the day when it was uncomfortable to say you read fantasy - or worse, wrote it - because many people, at least in my country, had more lurid ideas of what fantasy meant than dragons, chivalrous knights, wizard-kings. You had to say science fantasy if you didn't want to get weird looks.


I discovered the genre when, one rainy afternoon in my local library, feeling a little sad, I came across Anne McCaffrey's Dragonsinger and fell in love at first sight with the cover. From then on, I became not only an avid fantasy reader, but my own juvenile writing went from sardonic comedies to fantasy tales involving lost princesses, evil elves, and beautiful winged horses in lieu of dragons. I also read an almost equal amount of science fiction, because after all that was the 1980s and there was so much excellent classic science fiction to read, as well as some amazing sci fi posters (sold at record stores) …

The Peace Makers

I have been thinking of how ingrained the attitude of strife has become in our society. Consider all the things we must "fight" every day - the traffic, the crowds, our desires, the elements, other people who might contend for our space. Even in death we are called to battle through our last hours, raging rather than allowing ourselves and our families the comfort of peaceful, trusting acquiescence to nature's bend in the road. Ours is a society that has internalised war.

I was thinking of this as I contemplated how strongly these days society calls women to participate in the fighting. To leave behind caregiving for the pursuit of paid occupation, striving for a dollar. It occured to me that men have been called to this even more relentlessly for a far longer time. Now that both genders are drawn in to the paradigm of battle, competition, strife, who is left to hold peace?

I'm not saying women shouldn't be allowed to work outside the home if they want to. I beli…

an autumn morning

the moon, above dawn-burned trees : my breath contributing to the frost : hard broken beats of hot blood against cold bones : white cosmos with their lithe serpentine stems rising amongst the rigid lavender : a moment of slow, of gentle, of waiting to see what would happen : roses like scripture : the long reach of the light, touching her face, touching his hands, holding the trees so softly for a moment that felt like a moment in an old, unworded marriage : vines, fallen petals, traffic, children : peace in a small street behind it all : peace in my eyes

I haven't been writing here as often as I'd like. There are all kinds of excuses but I don't need to give any, do I? No obligations here. Just a love of writing and a sense of the encroaching silence in blogland and a wish to fight it for as long as I can because I love writing and captions on instagram are not enough. There is a feeling of richness here, even in readers' silent perusal - a feeling of my words being t…

The Consolation of the Sky

The clouds this evening were like honey and milk. I am so grateful for the consolation of the sky. It's been one of those weeks, and the gentle linger of sunset was such a soft, comfortable beauty that it felt actually benevolent, even though I know all the rational facts of the atmosphere, the water cycle, the different formations of clouds. Sometimes I think we need to take our facts and sing them, dance them, and then we'll realise they aren't so much facts as the living poetry of the soul-infused world.

I can not look around me for loveliness. Every time I do, I see another tree missing, another wall or house gone up. Even the occassional flowers have gone now that winter is almost upon us. But I can look up. The sky is an endless source of beauty and conversation. And with the easing of the long bland summer, it is even more interesting than ever. I find it helpful to remember that I stand always within the sky; that it is not up there but all around me, and flowing t…