Daisies on a Teacup [26]

He stayed away for three years. Each term, when his fellow students would pack their trunks and shout their goodbyes, he stayed on. Always finding an excuse to stay. One summer he worked as an assistant for an old doctor who lived in a village not far from the Academy. Another, he found himself inundated with work that he had not managed to complete during term, and had a letter from Master Jeffman himself to say he required the services of one Thomas Norton, if his family would be so kind as to excuse his absence.

Each holiday when John stepped off the train alone, or arrived home alone, or exited a carriage alone, her eyes would lose some spark. Nobody noticed. She was still her energetic, cheerful self.

Nobody thought it odd that Tom did not come back. Not even John. He would cheerfully remark on his friend’s ability to throw himself wholly, completely into his studies. He would detail how well Tom was doing, the praise Tom received from Master Jeffman, praise which any for other boy was hard to come by.

And she smiled when her brother spoke of him. Gracious smile, and then a change of track in conversation.

Nobody noticed.

Until one day, she could not take it any longer.

She sat down, picked up her pen.

Dear Tom,

I do not know but that I despise December. It is cold. It is grey. Darkness arrives not long after it lifts. When I see the dawn, I see no colour, save for the few days of sunshine we are so blessed to have. Perpetual GLOOM, Tom. Daises on a teacup. The only thing I look forward to in December is John’s much anticipated arrival. We all wait for him at the station, you see, since he writes which day he will be here. Mary waits, too, and your mother. She expects you, even if you have written to tell her you will not be on that train.

We get up early in December, before the dawn struggles its way up our side of the hill. The Lake has finally, finally frozen around the edges. Not enough to skate on – never enough for THAT, but we still dream, Mary and I. She is preparing to set off to new horizons. Come February, she too will be gone and then it will be just me left. She will be an Educated Woman, and I shall be the last remaining farm girl.

I could spend the rest of my life here, Tom. Everyday I love it more. I love the wind blowing over the hills and meadows. I love watching the sun set itself over our lake. I love the rustle in the forest. I love the smell of pine and rose when I fling my windows open in late summer. I love, yes, begrudgingly, I love the frosty mornings of December when every leaf, every twig, every branch, every blade of grass is iced most delicately, the most beautiful handiwork ever seen. I have no desire to take myself off into the world, or throw myself into studies, or teach, or marry a rich man and sail the seas with him. I want to stay here. With my roses. With my beast.

Daises on a teacup, Tom.

Our John tells us you are doing so well. So brilliantly well. He says you will be a doctor so renowned one day that none of us shall ever hear from you again, you shall be wanted all over the world. Is that true? I know my brother, he embellishes a lot. He flourishes one’s positive traits until one becomes faultless in his description. You are not faultless, and I know you are excelling, but I want some grisly detail. I want to hear of the fun things you get up to. I want to know what you do when you are not wearing the tip of your nose away on the grindstone.

With Affection,

Laura

P.S. Can we possibly be friends again?

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Letters [17]

It was a mundane life she chose to lead.

Her brother was off studying to be a doctor. Her younger sister had married a sailor, and was off traversing the oceans. They received a letter from Phyllis every six months, like clockwork, detailing one grand adventure after another. Small notes in the margins to outline the many illnesses she had managed to catch, but mostly tales of escapade after escapade.

Her dearest friend; they were joined at the hip from the tender age of four, had taken herself off to university.

‘What will you become,’ Laura remarked one day, a week before Mary was set to leave.

‘Nothing,’ Mary retorted, ‘I shall become knowledgable and learned, and then marry a rich man and raise some beautiful babies.’ Her eyes danced with laughter and light.

Everything was a possibility for Mary.

Everything was possible.

But for Laura, nothing beckoned to her from the distant, shimmering paths of the years ahead. She had no plans. Her sights were set on nothing.

When they all left, one by one, and she took up her pen at her desk by the window, looking over her rose garden, a deep desolation settled on her shoulders. It shrouded her like a cloak of misery. Her eyes scanned the roses, the trees of the gardens beyond, the acres of forest behind, all with her name on it. And beyond, the hills rolling away pale and blue in the distance.

They all wrote.

John from medical school. Mary from her dorms at university. Phyllis.. yes baby Phyllis still sending bi-annual letters. The days melted into weeks, into months. The letters became scarce.

She was busy enough, of course. She taught at the school on Tuesdays. She wrote for the paper, and soon her published pieces were so numerous that Aunt Martha, her mother and Mrs Norton no longer exclaimed over them with the same gusto.

‘Oh, Laura, another piece! Well done, dear,’

Their eyes did not match their words. They scanned her. Scanned her. Expected her to do things.

They invited young males over – parading her. She said as much in one of her letters to Tom, ink spattering indignantly on her face.

And Tom, TOM, they PARADE me. Can you believe the audacity? Your own mother invited Colonel Williams one evening and then decided she had a headache and could not possibly stay to keep him company, and ‘Laura dear’ would you please be so kind as to take the good colonel out to look at your beautiful roses. YOUR MOTHER, TOM?! Of course, my own mother is no better. She informed me we would be seeing Lady Betsy and to wear my best dress, you know, with the rosebuds. So I got all het up thinking the worst. It was all a wonderful conspiracy. Lady Betsy and Mama walked arm in arm ahead while a tall, gangly fellow whose name I cannot for the life of me recall regaled me with tall tales of life in the Navy. THE NAVY?! I informed him I much preferred the life a doctor leads – the only profession I know most about, since I have a bi-monthly summary from you and my brother.

And then Mary’s engagement. To John. Of all people.

She had a fat juicy letter brimming with the details from Mary. A short concise letter from her brother, the few words he had so clearly carefully selected not concealing the great joy leaping out at her from beneath. Leaping at her and stabbing her right in the heart.

She ought to have been happy. So happy. Leaping over the hills happy.

But she was not.

Evening Interior by Jakub Schikaneder

October [4]

The most darling month of the year, she would like to argue.

Make a case.

Type it up.

Send it to court.

Not court. That would be too drastic.

Somebody must declare it for all to know. It would be a travesty if nobody were to be so absolutely certain of the superiority of October over all the other months.

In October, her roses still bloomed. Less enthusiastically, but they opened their soft delicate petals to the grim clouds above and strove towards life. Something she always took inspiration from.

Briskly tying her boots, brightly buttoning her coat, tucking the old brown umbrella that belonged to a certain someone that she would not name under her padded arm.

Every morning at ten o’clock she exited from the kitchen door to inspect her beauties. She had twenty varieties which she had cultivated lovingly over the last six years. She had climbing roses winding their way intricately around metal trellises and wooden archways. Shrub roses adorning every inch along the pathway which curved its way around the little rose garden, and in the middle an orchard of tree roses. Yellow, white, pink and lush peach. The scent in the summer was overpowering, wafting towards the kitchen on cool gusts of wind. In the winter it was a mess of thorns, with some roses struggling their way through the dreary storms of the season.

In October, however, there was still beauty.

The trees surrounding the rose garden were alight with colour. Fiery, furious, yet lovely and soft at the same time. Tame flames. And the rose bushes still nodded with blooms, even as the season’s change wrestled around them. In the morning they were bejewelled with droplets of glittering dew.

She would cup an ungloved hand under a deliciously fat rose, and bend her nose to it, closing her eyes.

October is the most darling month of the year.

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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?

Eggs

I am challenging myself to write a post every single day in May, to kickstart my writing again. I will be following some prompt words that I ‘stole’ from somebody on instagram. Here is my fifth post.

Eggs. Where would we be without eggs, huh? There is something fine about eggs, for all their unsavoury texture when raw.

Eggs are the epitome of health, according to sumo wrestlers. The rumour went, when we were kids, that sumo wrestlers had raw eggs in a glass of milk for breakfast. Makes them strong, the children would nod wisely at each other, and mime disgusted faces, but I could NEVER do that!

Some people do, though. Like what is it about carbonara and eggs? I feel like the eggs are raw still, even though they supposedly ‘cook’ in the heat of the pasta. If the egg is still runny then to me it is raw. So for that reason I can’t bring myself to enjoy carbonara.

Same thing with eggnog. Gross.

Also, eggs Benedict. The hollandaise sauce contains raw eggs.

Personally I don’t like the yolk to be runny when I have fried eggs. Sometimes I like a soft boiled egg but oftentimes the smell just puts me off. There is something divine about fresh organic eggs from happy hens. They cost a lot of money but they taste wonderful.

What do you think about this whole raw eggs business?

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On Type

Today I felt like just picking up my pen and writing something. By pen I mean, of course, my figurative pen. Does anybody write their writings with real pens nowadays?

Since I took up typing as the default means to save my thoughts down, my handwriting has become atrocious. I do keep a journal and sometimes, reading back, I can barely read what I’ve written! Do you reckon proper handwriting is a dying art?

Back when I was a mite or a tot or a youngling, I used to write with pens a plenty. I hated the keyboard because it took so long to find all the letters and by the time I had, the words had vamoosed from my mind.

Sometimes you just gotta get those words down before they go, and keyboards back then just didn’t cut it – mostly because I was inexperienced and we got our first family PC (a large bottomed affair) when I was 10. Now I can type quicker than I can write, and writing gives me wrist-ache!

Not to mention, of course, the tediousness of having to type up everything you have written, meaning you’re spending double the amount of time writing the same thing.

Apparently they now have these new technological pens that literally scan handwriting into text. So you just run it over what you’ve written, like a highlighter, and it scans the sentences into text format on a screen for you. How marvellous is that?! It’s relatively new and you can only get it in the US for about 80$ but look how the world is changing.

Do you prefer to type your writings, or pen them down as the great writers of yore would have done?

October Pledge

It’s Friday again. Hello Friday, how do you do? And how do you do?

In England, shops already have their Christmas decorations out. My mind is numb to it, because just a blink of an eye ago it was summer.

Oh, how I have lagged behind, folks.

Life is very difficult, and there are a lot of bends and twists along the way. Some are happy, and lots are bleak.

I have some big plans, though. Let us see if they come into fruition!

One of my large plans is to knuckle down for real this year and do NaNoWrimo like it’s meant to be done. I want to finish this novel once and for all, even if it is a shoddy mess by the time it is done.

SO, I pledge to write 30,000 words this November. The maths is very easy. That’s 1000 words a day. I think I can do it. I will also be taking off around 5 days of work this month, to focus solely on writing and planning and creating things that have been put on hold for way too long.

I have drafts of blog posts from FEBRUARY, that were meant to be published. I just didn’t have time! Life hit me like a tonne of bricks, and work is just an all-consuming, all-encompassing presence. It is stressing me out. Commuting for 2-3 hours a day, plus running my house, plus keeping mentally sane and maintaining relationships without being a selfish, paranoid arse, pardon my French, is making me fat, miserable, lonely and inadequate.

SOMETHING has got to give.

So this November, I am promising to make a new start. If my novel is finished properly by the end of December, I will have lived up to this new standard. But, first, 30,000 words in November.

Can I do this??

How have you been, fellow bloggers? Do let me know in the comments below!

 

Anomalous

I am always looking for odd things within the normal. It is never good enough.

I am waiting for a plane to drop out of the sky. Is that too morbid? Hair made of cloud. Running so fast my feet lift off the ground, and I am leaping through the air. Not flying, no. Powerful through the kinetic force of my leaps and bounds. Why is a sunny day just a sunny day? It can’t be. There must be more to it than that.

What are brains whispering behind the closed doors of faces?

How many universes really exist, through the perspectives of billions of people.

Can the heavens and the earth sense our tread? And if so, are we hurting them?

A piece of heart. I pick up a ‘piece of heart’ with my toes when I am too lazy to bend down. It was a paper, but all the girls made fun of me. They said, ‘Eurgh you have real human hearts lying around your house!’ Cackling in that cruel way six year old girls have. Tears sprang to my eyes. I was only trying to be part of the conversation. I glanced at the boy who was my friend. He looked away.

A pair of knobbly, bright-red feet under a door.

A cluster of girls.

One brown face looking up at me.

‘What do you want?’

Hurt, walking away from the group I always associate with, because one newcomer decided she didn’t like this foreigner.

Or maybe it’s because I was weird.

But none of the other girls stuck up for me. None.

Why?

I feel like an outcast most of the time; but then I slurp some coffee and I am vibrant, energetic; ripples of laughter rippling outwards from my circumference.

Awkward silences. Lots of them. Lack of eye contact. Insecurity. Power. Speeding along country lanes; the sky is a different colour every single day.

If it wasn’t for the clouds, I think our sunsets would be monotonous.

 

But it is never any good. Not good enough.

I want an inspiration to seize my fingers, but I am learning that you have to create your own inspiration.

So this is mine, today. A mixture of memories and daily thoughts.

What inspires you? Do tell me. What makes your brain tick, your fingers itch?

Finding Inspiration

I have my timetable from work, finally. I am swamped. With no breaks. Busy busy. Every minute. Which is awesome yay.

But also means I do not have any time to think. Or any inspiration. So I am still uninspired. Which bodes terribly for the novel I am currently writing. With a deadline in December. I just don’t know how this is going to go down.

I know a girl from college who is a freelancing graphic designer. She designs so beautifully and uniquely. And I really desperately want her to design my book cover. But since I have made zero progress in the last two weeks, I might have no content to present to her for her to design anything!

I really must buck up, if I am to produce anything. And if I am to produce anything close to what I see in my mind.

Lately I have been watching the film ‘Coraline’ on repeat. The making of that film was extremely complex because it was all done by hand, everything, down to miniature knitters and a number of puppets with replacement limbs and different faces with an assortment of facial expressions! Can you imagine the laborious effort it took to create such a detailed movie all by hand? That is so inspirational to me. I watch it and I sometimes slow it down to see movements clearly because it fascinates me how they could pack so much fun detail into a two hour stop motion film. It stands out because it is so unusual, and the story behind the making of it is incredible too. You can read more here if you are interested.

Didn’t they get tired of it, or fed up? I know I would. Their dedication in the end produced something so beautiful to watch and re-watch multiple times.

So whenever I watch Coraline, I let the artwork seep its dainty tendrils into the folds of my brain and maybe spark something there. It almost always produces an idea or two.

So, this is what this uninspired girl has resorted to. Where do you go to find inspiration, when it evades you?

Coraline.jpg

Why do you Write?

Hello.

I love to write. I don’t know why. Usually I fall asleep telling myself a story. It has crackling characters, spitting with energy. They get up to an awful lot. It’s a bit like a soap opera that has been going on since I was about eleven.

It’s not really a soap opera, though.

Ugh. Who am I kidding. It is exactly that. How embarrassing to admit it. I despise soap operas.

Not that I judge soap operas or their people.

Who am I KIDDING. I do judge them. Terribly so.

I like to write because I feel like I can explore aspects of my personality through other people that I have created. I could also make them do things I could only dream of doing – although, if I really wanted to do those things I would jolly well get up and do them, but I’m too lazy, that’s what – so I just write about them doing those things instead.

I write because I could make my characters do things I couldn’t morally do, unless I am having an intrusive and unsociable thought.

I write because sometimes I have a lot of feelings and they want to manifest themselves into words. I sit back and survey these words and I think, ‘gosh, Lenora, that is exactly how I was feeling, you got it so right.’

Of course, that is only true for me. For somebody else reading my words, well, it might just be a clutter of irritation, or inconvenient confusion. Take your pick.

Then I generally have a cup of tea because tea and words get along like peanut butter and jam. (Very freaking well is how they get along)

I love words. I love how some people can twist and shape them into intricate chains that inspire fireworks of thought in my brain. Wow. That string was so amazing, how did he do that? Or, my gosh, that phrase was arresting, was she descended from the angels, to speak to my soul so?

Wordsmiths are kindred spirits. I think people who write so well must be earnestly passionate. Not sexually (although, maybe, right?), but their minds must be enigmatic. Electricity. Like a Mr Rochester (oh, I didn’t like him though.). Or.. or… well, a Mr Bhaer! Or a Ned Worthington (from What Katy Did Next). I fell in love with Ned Worthington and I still secretly harbour a literary affection for him. If I were fictional I might be awfully horrid and try to steal him from Katy. If he looked at me I would probably faint. Don’t tell my husband.

 

So, dear reader, why do YOU like to write? I am sure everybody has different reasons. Please feel free to share, I am so curious.