Lost

I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about relationships. This poem resonates with me because I think it is easy to forget yourself in a relationship; to give so much that you lose who you are, what you feel and what you want.

No Talent For Certainty

It’s strange the way I lost myself.
It happens, though. It does.
I thought I had things figured out.
But that all went, because

I lived within delusion, thinking
I was good — and fine —
And then, the moment came I knew
I was more hers
Than mine

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He’ll break her

As a writer, I’m interested in relationships and how they can impact positively or negatively on people. A mutually beneficial relationship is a partnership involving equality and communication; each partner is free to follow their own interests without fear of jealousy. Unfortunately, not all relationships benefit both partners. There may be one partner who is dominant or even abusive, which results in a loss of confidence and independence for the other partner. This poem explores this theme.

 

He’ll break her

She shall bend to him

Like field grass in Autumn wind

Her spirit is his

The distractions of poetry

Sometimes when I sit down to work on my novel, my mind wanders and is unable to focus. I am stuck or uncertain where to go with the story; I feel frustrated, empty of ideas, completely hopeless.

Sometimes I find myself working on a poem instead; my novel left untouched. I’m not sure if it’s a distraction or a kind of procrastination. I hope it’s a continuation of the creative process.

Poetry opens my imagination. I can express thoughts and ideas. I can experiment. I can develop my skills as a writer; use description, imagery, play with words. I must not worry. The more I write, the better I will get. The important thing is to write. Write anything, write everything and write as often as I can.

So this morning, when I sat down to think about my novel, a conversation with my husband popped into my head. At the moment, the weather is particularly unseasonable. This is an interaction we have on many nights, it’s almost a poem:

 

Get your hands

off me, they’re

freezing.

Cold hands,

warm heart. Your

heart must be a

fiery furnace.

Get your feet

off me, they’re

ice blocks.

Cold feet,

poor circulation. Your

toes will

fall off one day.

You’re an

iceberg. I’m not your

personal heater.

Yes, you are. A husband is

your very own

hot water bottle.

 

Thanks for reading.

Novel ideas

Where do ideas for novels come from?

Having decided to take this novel writing thing seriously, I then panicked. What would my novel be about? Would my idea be ‘good enough’? Could I make it fill out a whole book? My mind went blank, as it typically does when put under stress. Then I took a deep breath and relaxed a little.

Writers use their experiences, so ideas for novels can come from many places. It might be a passion, or an interest, or a hobby. It might be something that happened to the writer, or to a relative, or to a friend or to somebody vaguely known. It might be a news story from the TV or radio. It might be a book, or a film or a picture. It might be a word, or some music or a sound. It might be that interesting old man who walks his dog along the street everyday.

The truth was, I knew what my novel was going to be about. It was a story I had been developing in my mind for many years. I’d even once started to write it down. The seed of my novel had begun with a sense of place. My place was the last home I lived in. An old, damp stone house nestled in the woods with a stream running past. This house and its surroundings inspired in me a feeling of poignancy. I wanted to write a story which reflected that feeling.  I began to create scenes and characters in my mind during my daily walks in the woods along the stream.

When you are a writer, your mind is constantly searching for and thinking about stories. We are story collectors. We find inspiration anywhere and everywhere.

Where do you get your novel ideas?

 

Thanks for reading.

Only connect

White supremacist marches in Trump’s US, racist hate crimes in post-Brexit UK, wars in the Middle East, resentment of refugees, the threat of another war starting with North Korea. These recent news stories, and plenty of others like them, make me feel sad and hopeless at times. The rise of fear, hatred and nationalism is a worrying trend.

As human beings, we create boundaries where we should be encouraging acceptance. Race, skin colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation should be celebrated not feared. Yes, we have differences but we have similarities too. We are all people. We all have similar thoughts, feelings, desires, fears. If we can look beyond the differences, we can surely find recognition. As E.M. Forster said, ‘Only connect.’

Now is the time for us to believe in this more than ever.

 

If we could open ourselves for exploration,

to read and decipher like a map,

a foreign country to discover.

Then you might place your feet on fresh soil

and I might walk new pathways.

For a while, travel a road together,

reach a place we recognize.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Open a door, discover a whole new world

I woke up this morning to find I had a handful of followers. This was completely unexpected and it gave me a thrill of excitement. When I started my blog, only a couple of days ago, I never thought anyone would actually read it, let alone enjoy it enough to like or follow me. I assumed my work would disappear into the vast universe of the internet, never to be noticed by a soul. To see those few followers gave me enormous pleasure and pride.

I went into this blind, not understanding that starting a blog is a social interaction. I have opened a strange door and discovered a whole new, fascinating world full of interesting people. Writing my blog and reading those of others is energizing. I have joined a community. Together we can share ideas, inspire and learn from each other.

For that reason, I want to say thank you to my followers. Your interest has encouraged and motivated me. I look forward to my future as a blogger.

 

Thanks for reading.

Write about what you know

When I first starting to think about writing my novel, I decided it might be useful to enrol on an online course on FutureLearn, Start Writing Fiction. I signed up with the worrying feeling I was about to make a fool of myself, but it turned out to be a genuinely useful experience.

Considering it is free, the course is excellent and I recommend it as a warm-up to beginning writing again. There are lots of helpful tips on writing rituals, keeping a notebook, developing plots, inventing characters and generally getting going. The best thing about it for me though, was the fact I had to share my work for peer review. I hadn’t shown any of my writing to anybody for years. Everything I wrote had been screwed up and dumped in the bin. Sometimes, I’d gone further and burnt it.

The first time I clicked the mouse to share a piece of my work, I felt physically sick. My hands were shaking and butterflies were beating frantically at the walls of my stomach. It sounds pathetic now but I was terrified. I thought if someone tells me my work is worthless then my dream of getting this novel written is finished before I even begin. As it turned out, I received some positive comments which gave my confidence the boost it needed. There were one or two less positive remarks too. I agreed with some of them but not all. Those comments helped me to improve my writing and also realize that you can never please everyone. Getting the chance to review what other people had written was useful too. We should always be learning from other writers.

One of the first lessons on the course was writing about what you know. This is the advice given to all new writers. It had me in an immediate panic because my mind was yelling at me, your life is ordinary and uneventful, what do you know? What can you write about? Of course, no writer actually writes about their life exactly as it is. We are story tellers, after all. Writing about what you know means using your experiences, observing the detail in the environment and the people around you. Everyone’s life is a novel. We all have stories to tell. I knew I had a story brewing inside me. It had been there a long time. I’d begun writing it once before but it had ended up, you’ve guessed it, in the bin.

So to begin with, that lesson about writing what you know had me in a state. I wrote this poem about my feelings:

Write about what you know

Write about what you

know.

But what if you know

nothing?

Empty head; a vacuum, vault, void.

Memories, dreams, sensations

slipping; sieving out of

time.

Imagination once projected colour

cinema in the brain.

Thoughts now pile in corners; collect

dust.

Grasping at the whispered straws of an

idea.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

 

So, why a blog?

cropped-dsc06770-1024x576.jpgI have no idea really. I’m computer illiterate and totally phased by this whole setting up a blog page thing. I have very little idea about what I’m doing. In fact, I’m terrified. What am I so scared of? Everything at the moment.

I’m a mother of a daughter and son who are leaving the nest. I’m on the rapid downhill to fifty. I’ve spent twenty years bringing up a family, looking after my husband, home educating said children and keeping the house together. I haven’t had a ‘proper job’ in all that time, although I have worked pretty hard for free. My career was side-tracked long ago when I decided to be a full-time mother and home educator. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret it. I loved every minute. It was the best decision I ever made and I was good at it. I’m proud of what my children have achieved through my guidance. They are intelligent, independent individuals with a strong sense of who they are. We have all learned so much from the experience and are a close, loving family because of it. But where do I go from here? Who am I now? What do I want? That’s when the fear kicks in.

Fear of what? So many things. My failure, my success, not being good enough, not being capable, not having any ability or skills. I guess when you’ve put so much time into other people, you lose a bit of yourself. I need to rediscover me, what I am, what I’m capable of, what I want. I know some things I don’t want. I don’t want my old career back. I was a teacher and it saddens me to see the way education has changed. I don’t want a job that sets my life in boring routine. I’ve loved the freedom of home educating where we threw out the timetable and every day could be different.

I know some things I want. I want time to spend with my family. I want time to be on my, very small, smallholding with my animals. I want to be creative, do things I enjoy, for myself and possibly others. A little extra income would be helpful so I can do those things. I want to have a go at writing a novel.

There, I’ve said it. I have ambitions to be a writer. Like many other people, I have secretly scribbled away in notebooks for many years, all my life really. I have rejected these scribblings with disgust and consigned everything I’ve ever written to the bin. Like many other people, I am riddled with self-doubt. The absolute terror that everything I write is complete rubbish and unworthy for other eyes. Well, that has to stop. I’ve decided this is an opportunity for a fresh start.

I’m at a crossroads in my life. Change has been thrust upon me. I knew the day would come when my kids would move on. It has happened. I don’t like it. I am afraid. Call it a midlife crisis, call it an unrealistic fantasy, call it ridiculous but I am going to summon up all my courage and try, really try, to get this novel written. Somewhere inside me is a book, a story to be told. My youthful creativity and confidence can return. Those early dreams, lost in motherhood and everyday living, can become a reality.

So, I’m starting this blog. Without a clue how to do so. People have suggested it might help. It might encourage me to write. It might make me accountable. If I announce here to the world that I’m a writer and I’m writing a novel, then perhaps I’ll do the work, I’ll make it happen, I’ll develop some faith in myself.

I can do this.