March

March is a pretty month.

A fair month.

A blooming month.

March starts out grey but ends up golden, a full spectrum from bare branches to boughs dusted in pink and white. 

March is the gateway to longer days.
Brighter evenings.
Warmer rays.

March breathes and her breath is sweet.
She roars and her wind is fresh.
She beams and her sun is a ray of promise.

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My Tottering TBR

This is part of Diana from Myths of the Mirror‘s writing challenge for January. Check it out here!

My TBR

My TBR is tottering over me. She has claws, and stern eyebrows, drawn tightly towards each other.

Some would call it a monobrow.

She wears tweed, and always looks so very cross.

Brown clothes, brown hair, whisked back into a knot.

Oh the tightest knot you ever saw.

My TBR is tall.

So tall that her shadow looms over my shoulder whenever I deign to do something she doesn’t approve of. Which, come to think of it, is EVERYTHING.

I wonder what makes her so mean?

Diary

I think writing is incredibly important. I have been writing since I was about 11 years old.

It started with a story I wrote based on a literacy assignment my father set for me. The story was about a little girl who got stuck in a lift (elevator), and how she managed to escape by finding a hatch and sliding down the ropes, and exiting onto some crisp white snow through a hatch at the bottom of the shaft. I can’t remember the details – there were many – but I remember the catharsis of writing that story. You see, I had a crippling fear of lifts. I was so afraid we would get stuck and that thought was a roadblock in my mind. As an adult I am still scared… and as an adult with two young children who has to use lifts often because of having a pram… whooooooosh. Every lift journey I think about all the possible things that could go wrong and how I would deal with it… all while smiling jovially at my kids like my heart isn’t about to thrust itself right out of my chest.

After that lift story, I began to write. I found scraps of paper at first and wrote my thoughts. Then at school as an end-of-semester gift, my teacher gave me a notebook. A flimsy little affair with shiny blue flowers on the covers and paper thin enough to look (and feel!!) like tracing paper… but I treasured it and wrote in it religiously for a month… until the paper ran out. The entries are so childish now, when I read them back sixteen years later, but to me they held a glorious feeling on their pages. I had just discovered Lord of the Rings, you see, and we had got out hands on the video tapes of the movies. My mum’s friend had recorded the movies that played on the TV that afternoon while we were all at school. My pages were filled with that stomach-churning eleven year old excitement .. that excitement that you rarely feel as an adult. Why is life so exciting to an eleven year old?

Anyway. Since then I always kept a diary. Sometimes I would have breaks from journalling… if life got too exciting or I was doing something nefarious… but for the most part, I recorded my thoughts and ideas and feelings most days.

Fast forward to today, and I now have a yearly diary. A page per day entry. Mainly to record important events or feelings or experiences… but as a mother of two young children, my entries have lapsed. I haven’t recorded anything in the entire month of November. This is certainly not because I don’t want to. I desperately want to. I think of things I want to write down and tell myself I will, later, later, soon.. but when later comes my brain doesn’t have any capacity to do it. It’s like treacle in there. It’s mind-bogglingly hard to take care of two small children every single day. Nothing much to look forward to and just the daily guilt of feeling you aren’t doing enough or being enough for them. And are they learning enough and adequately? And do they have good opportunities? And am I giving them those good opportunities? And why can’t they do things other kids their age can? And and and and… and so journalling takes a backseat.

But it’s good to journal. It’s good to write. It’s catharsis. Like crying. Reliving the day, the thought, the emotion, and really feeling it before letting it go.

Do you journal?

She

She was a jellyfish, floating under a wave. Bobbing gently with the ebbing current. Her translucent hair swaying silently around her still face, eyes tightly shut, sealed like death merged with life.

She was the calm in a strong wind. The centre of a storm. The silence as the raging destruction hurled life over a precipice and into the unknown. The deep breath, pregnant with dread.

She was the shadows when you slept, the coat behind the door, the woman silently watching as you tried to coax yourself to sleep. She was there, even though you convinced yourself she was just the dressing gown. Everything looks frightening in the dark.

She was surreal reality, dread behind a closed door. She was the exhibit they ignored, because it made them feel uncomfortable. She was the haunting in Connecticut, the dried eyelids in a box. She was the soft breeze that blew out the candles when the windows were closed. She was the buzzing sound of a wasp when there was none to be seen.

She held her breath for as long as she could, and when she surfaced, life flooded into her in the gasps she took of the air which hummed with oxygen. Her eyes flew open, and reflected the vivid blue stretched over her head. The waves crashed on the distant shore, and her muscles ached with the struggle for life. She kicked, hard, and glanced back. Silhouettes stood on the beach, children’s laughter carried off by the wind.

She was alive, not dead. Death hadn’t captured her yet. The current was far from her curled toes, and she pushed her chest forward with strong strokes of her slender, young arms. Back to the shore.

Back.

To life.

‘Darling, you were away for so long!’, Mam said, as she meandered with long, swaying strides towards the blanket which lay slightly rumpled in the hot sand. She bent over and towelled her hair dry.

‘I was drinking the sea,’ she murmured.

‘Do you want a sarnie? Before Chris eats them all. We’ve got egg mayo and tuna.’

‘I nearly died, mam.’

‘Don’t be silly, we were watching you the entire time.’ her mother said, cheerfully, handing her a sandwich out of a fat orange Sainsbury’s bag next to her foldable beach chair.

She took it, a fat rectangle stuffed with filling and molded like a pillow in saran wrap. She looked at the sea, crashing gently on the shore. Swimmers splashed as the sun beamed down beautifully.

I could have died, if I’d wanted to. 

On 7 Years

Happy WordPress-i-versary to me!

It’s been 7 years since I started a blog on WordPress.

This was my first ever post.

This was my second ever post.

I was a little old 19 year old back then, I had a very messy bedroom and fancied myself quite… well I don’t know. I remember feeling happy and comfortable in my skin and rather excited about life – I think it was because I had just met my husband-to-be and that was a Very Exciting Time.

It was better than being 18 and being manipulated by a psychopath but that’s another story.

I am now 26, and look back on those times wistfully. They were simpler times. I am glad to have lived them.

In seven years I have moved 5 times, got married, had a baby with another on the way, had six jobs, travelled 10 times, lost a lot of friends, gained some very special friends, and jolly well grew up.

I did not write a book, although do have three or four in various stages of being written.

I still love this blog, and blogging, and I don’t anticipate that I will stop blogging for a while.

It’s not a long time, 7 years, but a lot can happen in 7 years.

How long have you been blogging for?

I Miss Summer

I miss summer, with its sudden thunderstorms and endless light.

Hot, silent, still.

The grass crackles and folds and pales under the glare of a ferocious sun.

And then the rain gushes down in a torrent akin to a waterfall. As quickly as it started, an invisible tap turns off, clouds scudding away to reveal the bluest skies.

Endless deep contemplation in the vast azure.

Stretching over the world and into the distance.

Paling even as it speeds away, until it dissolves into ethereal nothingness.

Hours seem endless, meditation and reflection come with ease. Welcoming atmosphere. Gentle breeze.

I suppose there is a beauty to autumn too. Summer has to burn itself out, and bow to the change in season. Accept the rain, accept age. Accept that life must stand still after months of ravenous growth.

There is a beauty to lashings of endless rain, droplets light enough to dust eyelashes like the smallest jewels. Smooth conkers, waterlogged grass, windfalls aplenty. Trees become sparse, pale, and then explode in a plethora of colour.

Amber and saffron and gold.

The earth sighs and releases her deep essence. The aroma of life. Mud and grass and dying vegetation, rich even in their demise. Generous in their sacrifice. Nutrients seeping into the soil, waiting to sit through icy months, feeding the dormant seedlings that will once again spring to life when the earth turns her face achingly towards the sun.

I miss summer, I do. But I know that in order for us to have a summer, we must also have an autumn and a winter and a beautiful spring.

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Fancy Yourself a Writer?

Writing a book is an incredibly hard thing. I fancy myself a writer but I have never properly finished writing a book. Sure, I’ve written drafts, but it’s a mammoth task turning a draft into something that flows with the smooth syrupy confidence of authentic maple syrup over some self-assured pancakes.

I have read plenty of books and judged them mercilessly. Some books feel cheap to me and I can SEE the potential in them, the words leap out in broken shatters, begging to be re-strung, imploring the author to please re-dress them, as they tumble about their pages in clumsy clusters. Some books just need a good editor.

Then there are other books that lift my feet right off the ground. I find myself amazed and defeated all at once. I find myself nursing an ache that won’t go away. How do people put pen to paper and release such magnificent things? Worlds and vivid imagery and passionate characters with all the dimensions of a kaleidoscope.

As an example, I was reading Ian McEwan’s Atonement, and when I reached the end I felt despair when I realised that he had attempted to dumb his novel down, since it was written by his heroine, Briony. I opened the first page of Gerald Durrell’s ‘My Family and Other Animals’ and was floored by the ushering in of a leaden August sky by a biting wind that blew out July. The life in their words seethe and sizzle on the faded pages on which they were printed. And I don’t know how. 

So yes. Writing a book is a very difficult thing. And I am sure the people who wrote the ‘badly written’ books must have thought that their books were ‘well written’, else they would be ashamed to have them out in the world. So, that begs the question, HOW do you know your writing is ‘good enough’?

 

Can a blog be hacked?

I think my WordPress account has been hacked or something. All my newest posts have vanished, and replaced with a sentence which contains a link. When you click on the link an odd document immediately gets downloaded onto the desktop!

It’s really weird. Has anybody else experienced this?

I am going to have to investigate the matter. How annoying!

Write in Good Times and Bad

Some people do their best writing while they are depressed. And others write beautifully when they are happy, their emotions lending wings to their minds and their fingers. It’s all down to emotion at the end of the day, and how one perceives feelings, and reacts to them.

I’ve learned that people react so differently to the same emotions and situations, which is why you can never win at situations no matter how hard you try. If you can’t get through to someone, you can’t get through to them.

In my previous life I have managed to write the best during my times of depression, but now that I am 25 and feeling a way I have never felt before in my life, I find that words somehow escape me.

I don’t know why this is. I thought that if I let my emotions out in stories they would somehow live a life on paper that they couldn’t live inside my mind. But it doesn’t work. On paper they seem mundane and mismatched. They teeter and totter on the edge of a cliff and fall off. They are the missing planks in a swaying wooden bridge, and you just fall right on through when you try to follow the track.

They just do not do the truth any justice, and it leaves me feeling frustrated and sad.

So I have come to the conclusion that my best writing happens when I am marginally sad, but not overwhelmingly so. When I see hope shining like a beacon at the end of a time period. Now time appears to stretch endlessly before me and hope is dragging her heels behind. Why, Hope, WHY? Well, she replies, I really don’t think that time has anything for me at the end of her path. I feel like time is shaving pieces off me as each of her seconds drip off her chain, like desolate, worthless diamonds.

Did you know that diamond rings are worthless if you want to resell them? Jewellers will only charge you for the price of the band, whatever metal it was made from. A fascinating piece of knowledge I got from my husband’s friend’s wife, who is a jeweller. I’d always wanted a diamond ring but now I am glad I don’t have one. But I digress.

You see my sadness cannot be fixed with time, or so the naive youth in me bemoans. It knows it will have to go through a harrowingly narrow tunnel before anything changes. Or it could get solemnly worse and I will just end up old and regretful and the vicious cycle continues.

So there. I am an in-between writer. I can’t write well when I am happy and I can’t write well when I am desolate, but there is a good in-between niche that hits the spot just fine.

Apparently L M Montgomery wrote her later Anne novels when she was in depression. Perhaps that is why the Anne voice we know and love recedes massively in her later novels.

Some people can write when they are both happy and depressed. Others can channel their particular emotions while writing and produce work that is representative of it, challenging themselves marvellously and being just ridiculously talented at making terrific use of their mental state, whatever it may be, to produce written work.

What kind of writer are you? Do you write best when you are happy, or sad? Or both? Or do your emotions not feature in your creativity at all?

Also, secret question, are all men afraid of conflict? Is it an inherent trait of a man? Is that why they don’t communicate with their wives/partners?

Kindness

Today’s prompt word is kindness.

In my life I have not been very kind to those I love the most. I don’t know why I do that. It’s something I can’t control at the time and then regret immediately. I’m not unkind all the time but I do it a lot when I feel irritated.

At the same time, I’ve been told numerous times that I am a kind person. When people say that I feel like an imposter. As a child I was kind, I remember being so, but I also remember being distinctly unkind.

There are many quotes floating around about kindness. The general consensus seems to be that it is an attribute people should strive towards. An action to be carried out without the need for a reward – expecting a reward for an act of kindness makes the act unkind. Despite the fact that it’s still the same action being carried out.

People have been kind to me when I have least expected it. For example once my bike chain broke on the side of the road and there were a bunch of skinheads smoking by the verge. When they saw me battling with my chain they approached me and I panicked thinking oh no they are going to be racist or attack me – but no they asked if I was ‘alright love’ and they fixed my bike chain for me whilst making merry.

They didn’t expect anything in return because they sauntered off once I was back on wheels again.

Being kind makes you feel good inside. Having someone be kind to you makes you warm to them. Humans need kindness, it helps us thrive.