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Showing posts from June, 2018

Something Rich & Strange

Over the past few months, I have written some of the most beautiful paragraphs I've ever managed. And yet I have not been able to sit with them, to turn them into story. These days are so dark in so many ways, my heart seems drawn to lightness. For me, magical enchantment has always been moonlit in my mind, and lately I've been needing sunlight.

And so I've been writing a romantic comedy. The people who are reading it as I go along seem to like it, and I guess I'm writing it for them as well as for my own self. Writing to bring in a little laughter. Writing for fun.

And yet I worry. Will I lose the ability to compose lyrically that I nurtured and worked on for decades? It means a lot to me, it is a matter of craft, of love. If I lost it, I would grieve. But I have always been an organic writer, working with the story given to me. And right now I've been given something wry, light, plainly languaged. It's the exact opposite of what I intended to offer the world …

Beautiful Resistance

I beg of you, do not be civil to evil. But that does not mean to be evil yourself, or to become less than who you wish to be. The only thing that truly overcomes evil is beauty.

No, I didn't say that love overcomes evil, because I've seen what love can look like when it has grown out of a cracked or confused heart. Love is not always wise or even good. (The purest core of it is, of course, but I'm writing today in human language, of human experience.) Beauty however is indisputable. Oh, we debate what it might be in regards to a woman's body, but that's not real beauty, is it? Our souls recognise real beauty and our best selves know what it feels like to act in its name.

We are living in dark days. Almost always, people have done so, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't discount this darkness now. Civility will not defeat the evil that squats in America, Syria, North Korea, and so many other places, that shreds our climate, and that hurts the gentle minds of …

The Trauma of Living A Fairytale

You had a violent stepfather? So your life was kind of like a fairytale. When I read these words today, directed to someone else on the internet, my heart stilled for a moment. Over the past thirty years, I've been using fairytales as a healing tool for people. Stories of hurt children forced into the dark forest ... disenfranchised girls ... transformed boys ... They speak of the suffering so many people experience. I too have know suffering (haven't most of us?) and fairytales help me work through it.

And yet, when I read those words, my first reaction was no. Even though I appreciated the sentiment, I feel that to be locked out in the cold, mentally tortured, or whatever other torments occured beneath the phrase "you had a violent stepfather" can not be described as a fairytale. Because while many fairytales do depict awful experiences, they do not tell about the crush of the soul, the pain of the cold, the terror of blood in the mouth and stars in the darkening v…

The Winter King

The world is crowned these days with flowers, but below the waist she is cold. She is sitting in a pool of tears, and the head of the winter king is in her lap. He has hair the colour of rain, and eyes that have seen everything. If you speak to him, he will answer in thunder, or in ungentle frosted silence; and yet he loves you. His head is in your lap. His tears are making you shiver.

I used to adore winter. I wrote a story about a girl who was stolen by the storm king. I wrote more poems to him than I can count. I have always pined for him through the other three quarters of the year. But this season I'm not so sure. Maybe I'm just getting old, or have seen too much of winter. Maybe it would be different in another environment - in the hills, in the valleys, where winter sheds leaves like poetry and the sky tucks up the world all cosy. Here on the plains, it just gets cold, not much more.

And I wonder if Old Woman World teaches us that we need both flowers and storms, warmth…

Every Little Light Is A Star

It's been a hard week. Surely there isn't a parent alive who, aware of the news, hasn't suffered to some degree, whether emotionally or intellectually. (And not just parents, of course, but any person with a moral centre.) Actually, it's been a hard few years.

What can we do when it's so hard? I'm finding my way only slowly towards an answer for these questions. But I'm pretty sure that, as always, it is love.

I do not want to rage at America, for I know the majority of people there are both horrified by what has happened and terrified about what will come. I want to encourage, support, and love those people. I want to do anything I can to build them up so they feel strong enough to take the hard road ahead. I want to remind them of their past heroes, men and women who overcame the shadows that have previously darkened the nation, and of their current heroes, those who hold up the light, be it a spotlight or a small, flickering candle.

I do want want to rag…

Behind the Quiet

I'm not writing much here lately for two reasons. Firstly, I'm working on my next book and it's taking up most of my words. I won't call it a leech, I'll say, hmm, oh yes, it's a bulb being watered so that one day it will become a lovely flower in the world. Secondly, I don't actually believe there should be anything said in the public arena at the moment that doesn't involve the atrocities occuring at the American border, and this weblog is not a political platform. Therefore I find myself uncomfortably quiet.

But while quiet in this space. I am active elsewhere. On twitter, I mingle political outrage with thoughts about writing. (As a citizen of the world and a moral being, I feel entitled to my outrage even though I live far away from the atrocities not only in America but also Israel, England, Yemen, and sadly too many places to mention.) On pinterest, I collect mostly peaceful images which help me get through the day. And on instagram I try to make…

Having Empathy For Each Other

Empathy ....The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

I am reading the beautiful memoir, In Shock, by Dr Rana Awdish. It is her story of falling desperately ill and how the hospital treatment she received taught her to become a better doctor by developing empathy for patients. It's beautifully written and a powerful message.

However, I found myself bewildered at times by various things she struggled with. During her first surgery, she heard one of the doctors say, "We're losing her," and she was horrified and offended that they said it. Try as I might, I can't stir an understanding of why. If I heard those words, I would be terrified of course that I was dying, but I'd also know that someone recognised the situation, cared about it, and was determined to fight for my survival. Similarly, while Dr Adwish was disgusted that a doctor told his colleagues during morning rounds that "she's been trying to die on us," I personally wou…

Truth & Beauty

I've been at a loss as to what to write here this morning. I have been in despair about the state of world affairs for a long time, but things just go on getting worse and I don't seem to have the ability to numb myself to it, nor to switch things off. Of course, I live in a small quiet village at the end of the world - others caught in the heart of the situation must feel so much worse than I. After many discarded drafts, I've decided to simply share links today, instead of my own words. I hope they fill your mind and heart. There's a mix of truth - because we need to face the truth - and happiness - because we need to take care of ourselves and remember how to smile. Generally speaking, it's a beautiful world out there. But each of us is responsible for keeping it that way.

We are losing our elders A tragedy few people know or care about
Caring for our young people There are so many people in this world who are truly a blessing
"We're just taking them for …

Hardy Women, Dreaming Women, & Poet-Magicians

The world is swaying in a white embrace of winter this morning. Strange how a storm can seem so calm. I imagine that is what the great poet-magicians of Old were like - for instance, Gwydion, Math - tranquil in their self-assurance even as they upended the world.

Days like this, I want to run away to the countryside where I can sit wrapped up in some old house, writing, drinking tea, reading by candlelight, while winter has his way with the hills. Mind you, it's all writing, drinking tea, reading, here where I am now too. But I do wish for hills.

Only sometimes though, and only if I'm taken there, then brought back again. I really have no inclination to be a hardy woman. I like a village nearby, and little roads through the hedgerows (not that we have hedgerows here). I like chimney smoke from other houses, and people to meet along the way. I wasn't always so - I had my half-empty house in the forest in the hill-roots. I did the wild thing. But I've come to value comf…

This Is For You

Let me tell you something about you. Oh sure, I've never met you, but I know this just the same. You are beautiful. You are special. We need you in the world.

Infact, without you the magic won't quite work. Because we're all in this together, like layers of a rose, or threads in a weave, and you bring what only youcan to it. You are a valued part of the work we do together, creating the great enchantment that is life here in this strange lovely bubble of earth, sea, weather.

You bring you, and it's wonderful.

I don't care whether you're homeless or a millionaire, fashionably pretty or all the supposedly wrong things. I love the angle of your finger bones, the corner of your eye when you smile, the silence you set around yourself when it all feels like too much. I don't need to have ever seen or heard these things to love them. To know they exist is enough. I've never seen the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel either, but the mere fact such wondrous art grac…

The Writer's Truest Thing

I am not a particularly creative person. I can do the technical things to build a story, write a poem, take a photograph. But the wild magical imagination that births really beautiful and unique books and visual imagery is not inherent to me. I spend a lot of time studying other people's creativity to think about how I might do something similar myself, without actually copying them (because then after all it wouldn't be creativity).

What I do have is an intuition for sentence structure. My thoughts move with a particular cadence, and when I write them down I am able to stay true to that cadence, so that what results is something sincerely my own. Never borrowed, seldom edited, always authentic to its beginnings as a whisper, a stirring of old silence, deep inside me. My words aren't precious to me - words belong to us all; and besides, I like to keep them simple. But my style is valuable to me, because it is me.

I've had people use my photographs without crediting the…

Soften Your Mind With Roses

How do you stop nightmares? I was asked this question recently and thought I'd share my answer here since it is the same answer I give for many things - how to prepare myself in the moment before I must answer a phone call; how to calm an anxiety attack; how to get myself in the right mental space for writing; and so on.

Soften your mind with roses.

At least, it's roses for me. Roses and wedding dresses, sunlight drifting like gauze through English woods, tea cups on a white lace cloth, cottage gardens. I have several pinterest boards which I use for the purpose of bringing peace to my mind and my body. So when I see the landlords are phoning, or the noise in town gets too overwhelming, or I have half an hour to do some writing and need to shift quickly into a creative mood, I mentally reference those boards, and fill my mind with gentle beauty.

Changing our responses and biases is entirely possible with the practice of reimaging. After all, the reason we have those automatic …

The Rules of Popular Blogging

Following yesterday's post, Sue commented that my idea for posting was resonate of instagram, a fact with which I had to agree. She referred me to a post by A Bookish Baker which discussed how "the rules of blogging" had led to its decline. I do think rules have something to do with it - or rather, the feeling of inadequacy that drew people to follow rules which might make them more like the popular bloggers. It sent me into flashbacks of primary school, where the gorgeous sparkly bit of fabulousness who was Most Popular Girl in our class used to tell me all the rules of her playtime games - for example, no mention of bunnies or kittens, despite them being the key to inclusion only yesterday. Yes, the rules kept changing. The system was set up to keep her popular and in power, and I was never ever going to be admitted to her circle no matter how many of those rules I followed.

I have no doubt that girl went on to be hugely successful in her life. She understood her power…

Rain & Sorrow

how you always remind me to leave it at the lovely dreaming peony

After the rain, the world shines. Have you seen a woman after sorrow? How she shines. Not the heartbreaking kind of sorrow but the one that nourishes, the tears we know we need to soften us, feed our roots and heal us; the sorrow like rain.

In the combox I'm going to write about my decision regarding this little webspace. I'm doing it there because it feels a bit messy and I want to keep things quiet here. (It's not anything bad.)

Your True Voice

When does a writer (or creator of any kind, from artist to parent to gardener) develop their true creative voice? Is it something that comes from years of immersion in other voices, of education, practice, and maturity, until they winnow out what they like best for themselves? Or are they born with it?

I don't remember when I first knew I was a writer, although looking back I can clearly see I followed the path the craft itself followed through the millennia: telling stories orally before I eventually evolved into putting words on paper. My earliest stories were mere repetitions of what I had read, mingling with influences from the world surrounding me. Since I read a lot of classic fairy tales, and my world was an enchanted wood, I tended towards telling magical stories.

But one of my most enduring memories is of the day I encountered a typewriter. It was at the house of my mother's friend, and I was given permission to use it. As I touched my fingers to the keys, I felt my s…

Thinking About Blogging Identity

For years I have rummaged about within myself for a steady blogging identity. Homeschooling used to be my focus, and when I stopped writing about that I was unsure what to do next. I have rambled through lanes and meadows ever since, and while I don't regret that, it has made things a little difficult for me - never having much of an idea what my next post should be about, never being sure what my readers will appreciate.

I thought for a while I should just write about daily life. But I live very quietly, go on few interesting adventures, don't do crafts any more, and my current milieu is not even close to attractive. What I mostly do is write (or angst about not writing) and read and take photographs on the few occasions I'm able.

And so more and more lately I've been contemplating a shift here at my weblog towards focussing on writing, reading, literary matters, and the thoughts that arise in me from various reading experiences. I believe it would help me to feel hap…