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Showing posts from August, 2018

A Sudden Change in the Weather

Dear friends, I am moving to a new webspace. I understand this is a bad idea, I will lose about half my audience, and few bloggers can afford such a risk these days. If I was to explain myself I would say I can't go on with something that makes me unhappy just because of the risk in change. However, I can't explain myself. I had no intention of change at this moment in time. I was too busy being sick with the flu. However, it appears change had intentions of its own.

You can now find me here. 

The fact that for the first time in many years a name I wanted was actually available, not only with blogger but also everywhere else I tried, seemed to encourage the endeavour.  I am now also here at twitter, and here at instagram. I remain simply Sarah Elwell at Facebook.

Thank you for following me, I hope so very much to see you in my new space.


Books As Refreshment

I have had the flu for the past week and have been able to do nothing more than watch dull Netflix movies and scroll through instagram. This is not to say that's all I've been doing - infact, never mind able, I've been kept fairly busy for the sake of other people. Which is probably why I still have the flu.




One thing I haven't been able to do at all is read, which is uncommon for me when sick. At the very beginning of the illness I went through Dragonsong one evening, as is my sickness habit. Otherwise, even the very thought of a book has been exhausting. I was forced to the library yesterday by the looming overdue status of about ten books, and stood swaying miserably infront of the Recent Releases shelf, trying to choose one, ultimately failing. When I can once again delve into the rich loveliness of imagination, I will select something calm, familiar, amusing, from my own shelves at home. Something to refresh the mind.

Books as refreshment. I've been needing th…

The Trauma of Anne With An E

Apologies for the long post but this is important to me
Life is not always easy. I myself was a lonely, hurting child tucked away alone in the school library, reading for magic, reading for hope; or sitting halfway up a tree, listening to the world sing to me. I read the books supposedly written for children like me - the dark, powerful stories which embraced trauma. They didn't make me feel less alone as they were apparently motivated to do: they added to my shadows, lowered my mood, and kept me from other people by portraying the world as a horrible place in which adults and other children could not be trusted, and even heroes had their dark side.




The stories I loved best were those in which a vulnerable character found joy, dignity, and love within a community that uplifted them and connected them to the wider world. This gave me such hope. It says something that the book I always read when I'm sick is Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey, which about a sad, hurting girl who runs a…

A Few of My Favourite Scenes

Last thing last night, I drifted off to sleep thinking of my favourite moments from the stories I've written over the years. Just to be obnoxious this morning, I thought I'd share them here.




From Deep in the Far Away: Emma stepping beyond the woodland boundary ... Richard trying to convince her to get up out of her chair ... in their attic bedroom before going to bed ... Emma waking from nightmares.

From stories in Driftways: Gareth singing through the door to the troll ... May meeting Nettle in his house at the end of the story ... Carrie's confrontation with her neighbour ... Hannah's husband telling her about the fox ... the bear coming through the door.

From stories in The Coracle Sky ... Fiann watching Igrane across the dinner table ... Fiann and Igrane talking to peasants in Erland ... Isolda and Aedan meeting for the first time ... Isolda and Aedan's fight ... Lily with the old women in the cave ... Rosamunde inspecting the doctor's invention ... Gawane lis…

The Unreliable Woman

Writing my current manuscript has been different from the others as I'm not using my usual organic style but engaging my consciousness more. As a consequence, I go back repeatedly to make all manner of changes to the language, characters, settings (although the plot hasn't changed, which also is unusual for me - typically I only know how a story is going to end when I write the ending.) And yet, more often than not, I revert all my changes, which means I have about three drafts at any one time, and get confused about which is the most recent.




One of the changes I wrestle with is the narrative perspective. I originally set the story in first person, but about three times now have tried to rewrite it using third person. (I am getting very sick of my first chapter, I can tell you!) I keep giving up because most of the characters are women and all those shes and hers become confusing. I do wonder if the narrative style would be better served by third person, but right now it's…

Dragons in the Southern Sky

I went for a beach walk today. But I do not love the sea, so my head was in the clouds as I strolled first one way then back again. And up there was a realm as familiar to me as any old neighbourhood, for it has remained the same since I was young.




Southward, dragonlords stand with their faces to the white wind and their shadows elongated by the vast, elegant wings of wild-hearted, wise-eyed dragons. Their domain is a harbour full of trade ships, students ambling across the lawns of a great university, the beautiful white house of the duke. Where ever I am in the world, whatever lies south in reality, that is the world I see.

North-west are old stone towers amongst briar roses, dreaming roads, enchanted old oak forests in which live creatures so shy we have never learned their names. The women of this realm wear richly embroidered gowns and have an ornate, secret, embroidered language; the men carry swords but are ruled by an ancient ideal of gentleness. The king's house overlooks…

In the Old Winter Garden

A golden veil lies gently on the glade.  I love this afternoon hour when the earth seems for a while like a luminous bride come to her wedding bed. I especially love the winter tenderness of it, the delicacy of light and the quiet, more than the fervour of summer's golden hour. Most people don't understand that, they prefer the rich and the fabulous. Only a small group of us are watercoloured spirits, wanting the hushed.


photo credit

The sky is spring-coloured but still evening rises early, winter-cold and starry. No matter how bright the days, it still takes two of them to get a lineful of laundry dry. It still requires a cardigan for going out, and slippers indoors.

There's such a loveliness in that need to unexpectedly take care, despite the sun. Just as I think late winter flowers are the most beautiful because of their unexpectedness as well as their courage.

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I have been reading through the Anne of Green Gables series, as I often do. I fell into it by randomly, h…

Gentle, But With Dragons

My sitting room curtains are luminous with soft winter magic this morning. A deep peace lays on this little part of the world. I can hear glints of birdsong but the cottage is tucked up in on itself,  holding its warmth, keeping its softness. Soon I'll open windows, start making noise - dishes in water, furniture hauled about the room. But I do love this gentle hour when it seems nothing must be done, only being, only loving.




I have been quietly contemplating changes to my online spaces in the months to come, hoping to focus better on what I think I most naturally offer, and finding the right name or title to encompass it all, in the anticipation of perhaps being able to settle in a proper nice webspace with better design than little old blogspot. I've started gathering colour samples and key words which mostly come back to gentle and wild-hearted. I recognise that, for all I may bemoan the dwindling blog culture, responsibility for developing an audience also lies with me and…

Stories Unfurling

I haven't posted much in my usual dreamy style for a long while, have I? There are three reasons, first being that the dwindling away of non-commercial blogging has got to the point where I find it hard to keep alot of momentum for my own blogpost writing, and second, that life is intricate right now. I actually find it hard remembering what I have written here; everything feels like I'm repeating myself, because to be honest my brain doesn't do well with intricacy.

The third reason is that I'm currently working on two novels which take most of my currently rare free time. I'm uncertain of my plans for these novels, but really at the moment am just writing because that's what I do. I write. Always. The universe will respond as it sees fit.




The first manuscript, which is three-quarters complete, is a romantic comedy about the grand-daughter of a witch. I haven't any excerpt to share from it, as pretty much all of the book is spoilery, but I can tell you that…

Romanov Fiction

Have you ever read a book which affects you so strongly, you have to tell someone? I just read I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhorn- or at least, read the first couple of chapters then dipped in to others - and honestly I can not rest until I've spoken about it.




I have researched the family of the last Russian tsar since I was a teenager. There are many reasons why, but mainly something in the eyes of the three eldest daughters speaks to me. They seem to have a gentleness and depth of soul that calls out for friendship and recognition even so long after their deaths (one hundred years ago on July 17th). For years, I read everything I could about them. This was in the days before the internet, and even before interloans, so I took many trips to small, obscure libraries in order to find Romanov biographies and watched old film footage on microfiche in basements. I studied Russian history and literature at university. When the internet revealed hundreds of private photographs, letters, d…