10/29/2016 “Learning to let go should be learned before learning to get. Life should be touched, not strangled. You’ve got to relax, let it happen at times, and at others move forward with it.” – Ray Bradbury Photography by Restless Soul
34 years, 4 months, 6 days
Severed with a short
You walked away
You flew to Italy
A honeymoon beginning.
Left behind, I struggled.
Stuck with you so long, I’d lost
All sense of me.
Just…. a maiden name now
When you write me
There is no moment’s reverie
For who you once were.
We shared a flat that fresher’s year
In truth we shared much more
Fledgling girls – unspoken pact between us
Bound so tight we were unassailable.
I shared your hopes, your fears, your dreams
A hundred late night shot fuelled schemes
For eighteen precious months
A falling out, with just one
And I am nothing.
It is as if, I never was
Cast off, invisible
Days are spent searching for the sin
So great to warrant such a loss.
You don’t tell me. You don’t speak.
Indifference is total.
What hurts me most
Is that Iike all of you
I am fragile too,
But you will not remember
And I do not have the courage to ask you
Inside this velvet pouch
Is a medal – a memento mori
To salve the loss of someone dear.
When I hold it in my palm
I am a child again
Riding the funicular with foraged tickets
My hand is warm in hers.
As we descend, ascend and repeat again
The cars draw level and I hold my breath. Mesmerised.
When I hold it in my palm
I remember the last visit.
There is no fire
Its absence makes the house feel chill
The radio tuned, or not
Is strangely silent.
I realise there will be no drawing today
No return for me, now Margot’s gone away.
When I hold it in my palm
I see her once again and my mind
Brims with memories
After all this time, she still imbues encouragement and calm.
The face on the medal
Rubbed to a soft sheen
Holds me in her gaze
Just one of many she has seen across the years
I am transported. I am safe.
Four flights up. My room
Is bathed in light.
A school made shelf where rainbow spines jostle.
Each inscribed 606d
A gift to me.
Fairy tales reliant, on being good and kind.
A wooden maiden laid on its side
Whilst I drive
Inanimate friends fill the rungs
Never questioning our destination.
Pink Panther beams down, as beneath ridged blankets
I dream. An only child then, but
Orange and blue
Halved the horizon
Down towards the steaming flow
A fragment of fire in the brightening sky.
I am stillness.
From the flow the glistening bird erupted
Climbed and turned
Kindling towards a memory.
It’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog, but I’ve got plans…..
Plans to make some plans! Yes – it is time to get organised! Time to get the whiteboard and pens out; the calendar – the full shebang.
The prompt for this sudden flurry of activity? Several missed competitions and submission deadlines which have annoyed me more than I expected. Submission windows that only come round once a year which means that I will have to click my heels for another eleven months before I get another opportunity.
The problem is that while I have checked for upcoming opportunities I have not been checking websites regularly enough. The chances that have interested me have then sneaked in under the wire.
Well..no more. I have set up reminders for at least two months before submission windows close. Am I expecting raging success as a result? Truth be told, the answer to that is no, but there are benefits. Competitions give me deadlines to work to and a framework for the coming year. I am far more productive when I have defined goals.
On the whiteboard so far I have the following:
complete my piece for the anthology that my friends are compiling (the excellent group of people I met whilst at Lumb Bank at last year),
enter the Buxton Poetry competition (it would be rude not to as I live here),
complete five flash fiction pieces before the end of 2016,
finish my ghost story,
start my novel.
I am going public with the above because I know that I am far more likely to achieve my plans if you know about them, so thank you in advance for helping me.
I have already completed some short pieces this year, but cannot post them at the moment because of competition rules saying that entries must be unpublished (including on blogs), but watch this space and I will share in the future.
Robert Burns famously said, “The best laid schemes of Mice and Men oft go awry“.
Given the above just applies to rodents and men folk, does that mean I am exempt? A cheeky interpretation I know, but let’s see how I get on.
In September I went to lunch with a good friend and in addition to much laughter and putting the world to rights, we touched on the tricky topic of expectations and what they meant for us in the context of writing.
After we parted I found myself wanting to unpick what expectation means to me. A quick look in the dictionary gave the following definitions – looking forward; anticipating; hoping – all positive.
Hold on I thought – are all my expectations positive? The honest answer is no. In the past I have set myself up to fail so many times mainly because I have set myself unrealistic goals or been trying to live up to other people’s expectations.
It has been a while since I updated this blog and in the past the rubber mallet would definitely have been deployed by now! What is different this time, is that writing is something I really want to do – for me.
I haven’t written every day as I had pledged on the return trip from Lumb Bank, but I have thought about plots and stories every day and some of my better ideas will come to fruition one day. Since my last post I have been to poetry readings – Carol Ann Duffy at Tideswell Arts Festival was a particular highlight. I have been to a Spoken Words Evening where the group sat and read one another’s work aloud. It was so good to hear writers bring their own interpretation to other’s work, including mine.
In December, I am looking forward to starting a fortnightly Play Writing workshop at the Royal Exchange in Manchester. I also have the opportunity to volunteer at my local Museum as a digital hero for different collection pieces. I have swapped ideas and encouragement with my nearest writing friend at Scarthin Books in Cromford. They have an excellent cafe for when you need to stop browsing and re-hydrate!
Finally, next week I go to Halifax to see a play written by my tutor from Lumb Banks – Stephen May, before then meeting up with more writing friends the following day.
Could I be doing more writing? Yes, absolutely, but I am finally embarking on a journey I have yearned for, for nearly all my adult life.
My expectations….. well, I see good times ahead, especially now the rubber mallet has been decommissioned!
I wrote the following poem after recalling a trip to Portmerion – a magical little village in North Wales where they filmed the cult 60’s series The Prisoner, starring Patrick McGoohan.
I’d rather be a prisoner, than be free in my life now
Jump off this daily treadmill and quit this rat race hell
I waste so many hours pinioned in my car
Tamping down frustration. Not getting very far.
At my destination I swap driver’s seat for desk
This sedentary existence, a never ending test
Of boredom, disappointment, blank faces, déjà vu
A daily re-enactment, that somehow I get through.
Through a million different lenses they watch my life unfold
Know everything about me, even stories I’ve not told
When finally, I do get home to sit and watch tv
The news channel says we’re all doomed, while I choke on my tea
Unable to relax or think, I like awake at night
I know there is a better life just hidden in plain sight
I’d rather be a prisoner
In the village, by the sea
With a penny farthing emblem – that’s where I want to be.
Where jaunty capes are de-rigueur and parasols abound
Where names are swapped for numbers and maps cannot be found
No traffic jams to vex me, little golf carts take the strain
Hidden tannoys make pronouncements on the likelihood of rain
And everyone is friendly. Be seeing you they say
They tip their hats and stop to chat, exhorting me to stay
But what if I got itchy feet, unlikely as that seems
Would number 2 know what to do to foil my escape schemes?
I could fight my way through undergrowth past statues that revolve,
Run from huge inflatables. They’d catch me and convolve.
After all this exercise I’d reappear anew, all glowing skin and rosy cheeked
I know what I must do.
If number 6 wants out, I definitely want in.
I’d rather be a prisoner still
Than risk becoming mentally ill!
I’d rather be a prisoner
In the village, by the sea.
Am I more productive at home or elsewhere? I have been pondering this question since I took a day’s leave at the end of last week and traveled into Manchester. I had a particular destination in mind when I caught my train that morning. A new bookshop/cafe has recently opened in the city’s Northern Quarter called Chapter 1 Books (https://twitter.com/chapter1uk) and I was keen to have a look round and also see whether I could get some writing done out of the house.
I’ll hold my hands up. When I am home I do sit down to write, but not as often as I’d like to. One of my excuses is time. I work full time and commute to work by car. Traveling one way can take between 50 minutes on a very good day to double that and more, during term time or snowy conditions. The result is that by the time I get home and have cooked something and cleared up, the last thing I want to do is sit down and start to write.
I try to combat this by leaving work in progress where I can see it. It draws me over to read it; tweak it and crucially add to it. Its not foolproof, but it works some of the time.
At the weekend when I’m writing, I have to adopt tunnel vision. If I glance up from my work, I guarantee I’ll spot something else that my conscience tells me I should be doing. It’s painful. It really is. Which brings me back to Chapter 1 Books. How did I get on?
Surprisingly I started writing before I actually got there, scribbling away in a notebook for thirty minutes on the train. Feeling ridiculously pleased with myself, I then headed for Chapter 1 – a bookshop; a cafe and a performance space in one. I ordered a pot of tea and then headed in and found myself a wingback chair tucked into a corner.
I dug out my notebook and got started, only breaking half an hour later to order another pot of tea (absolutely essential to my creative process!) and take some photos of my surroundings. I sat in that bookshop for two hours and wrote a lengthy poem from scratch and in doing so I realised I am much more spontaneous when I am away from home, when the distractions of domestic chores are removed.
The ambience in Chapter 1 certainly helped. Surrounded by books and writing booths with the low hum of voices and laughter in the background I felt inspired and motivated to write. I’d really recommend a visit if you are in the Manchester area.
Back at home I know that it is more realistic for me to try and do the bulk of my writing at home. To minimise distractions I’m going to invest in a desk so that I have a dedicated area that is just for me. I’m also going to have a couple of days a month where I take myself off to the local library or a cafe and write there.
Hopefully this strategy will pay off. In the meantime though, where did I put that ironing board?…