How re-subscribing has helped me write again

Okay, so it’s not just a new subscription (or, more accurately, a return to a subscription) that has helped me to write again. Lots of things have contributed, including a change in career & working hours, which has given me enough “head space” to read more. I took the decision to take another look at an old favourite, Mslexia magazine.

I’m glad I did; a brand new design with exciting content to match, writing prompts, opportunities and inspiring interviews. I had previously fell out of love with Mslexia because it had become a bit too feminist-socialist for my liking*.

So the new-look magazine has all sorts of writing prompts, both narrative fiction & non-fiction, flash fiction, poetry and more. One section of poetry was about formal verse, in particular, canzone, villanelle and sestina forms.

I love villanelle poems. I love the form and how so many poets have used them wittily to get their point across, or simply to entertain. (Link: an old post on villanelle poems)

A sestina poem was discussed in the magazine, and used as a writing prompt. The ever elusive “Regeneration” poem I have never seemed to fully perfect came running into my mind. So yet another re-write, or more accurately, a reworking of my original poem began:

 

These buildings were beautiful once
Still are, in a way
Lost in regenerative ideals
Apathy and contempt,
Forsaken, forgotten
left to rot and decay

Facades crumble with decay –
bricks and mortar once
steadfast, sniffed at with contempt
permissive planning ideals
left alone, forgotten
as Progress tried to carve its way

History and sentiment stand in the way
And gradings only help to further decay
these heartlands of deprivation, driving contempt
for districts once
grand and well-heeled. Ideals
of modernity packing old memories into forgotten

dusty boxes in rooms in forgotten
annals of office or apartment blocks that once
were a decay
in the mouth of a city already treated with contempt
as The Armpit of The North, a dirty hole to be hidden away
after decades of pursuing different ideals

too radical for the politicians, whose unforgotten ideals
once tough as iron now burn with the contempt of the The New Way
Regeneration is over; dig out the decay, plaster the cavity in paint

 

It’s still a bit clunky in parts, and I will work on that, but I think sestina poems might be my new poetry-crush!

 

 

 

*Now don’t read this wrong. I am a woman. I do not believe that I can only be “completed’ by a man (and yes, I am heterosexual), but neither do I buy into the opposite, the, “we must do everything by ourselves, forget men – in fact hate them all” Germaine Grier kind of feminism that has plagued women’s rights and women’s issues for decades.

I am a woman who believes that I can do anything through God who created me, and by Jesus’ death and resurrection. 

I also believe that we can all be feminists. Male and female. It’s a matter of perspective. That is what Mslexia has done so well in their re-design. They’ve shifted perspective – they are still feminists, but less “we hate men” and more “we can do this – who’s with us ladies!!”

 

 

 

Picture it & write – the long stretch

Here’s a late entry to last week’s picture it and write over on Ermilia http://ermiliablog.wordpress.com/

And Here is the picture prompt

creative-writing-exercise

For more information about this picture and the week’s prompt, pop over to http://ermiliablog.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/picture-it-write-15/

 

The Long Stretch

As soon as my leg had healed after the accident, my friends and family told me to “get back on the bike” or I “never would again and regret it.” Nothing I’d not told myself, like. I knew that never going my usual route to work again (I like the scenic route) would cause all sorts of regrets.

So I got back on my new bike (the old one had an imprint of my leg in the back wheel) and took a leisurely ride down the ever familiar road. That’s when it happened.

My panic attack. The world began to spin. My heart raced and I thought I would hyperventilate. I knew I was veering all over the road – just like the car that hit me, despite me riding off the road to get out of its way – I quickly got off the bike and began walking slowly towards the area I was knocked over. The attack didn’t ease much – the road simply warped and stretched forever in front of me.

Picture it and write – memory

A Couple of weeks ago, Ermilia put this picture up for Picture it and Write

by DiggieVitt on Flickr

For more information on this picture and the prompt, please see  http://ermiliablog.wordpress.com/2013/08/11/__picture-it-write-62/

and here is my contribution for this

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Memory

He kept running.

 Somehow he had to get the crows away from his sister. The crows had stolen his memories – and most of hers. But there were two memories she kept deep within her.

 He had to make sure they were kept safe.

 One was of their mother; who she was, where she was.

 The other was of his wife and child.

 

Picture it and write – Shipwrecked

Here is this weeks prompt for the regular Picture it and write over on Ermilia

tumblr_mrleeqyeU41qzwhyzo1_500

For more information on this image and prompt, see http://ermiliablog.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/__picture-it-write-63/

And here is my contribution:

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Cerri had been swimming for hours – or was it days – since the shipwreck. A few hours ago she had managed – somehow – to wrap herself in a rope that was attached to a floating piece of old fishing boat that she had come across.

 

After swimming for a few hours she pulled herself onto that bit of boat to rest.

 

She had fallen asleep.

 

Waking, she found herself on dry land. She was face down on a beach. But how? The boat fragment had now disappeared. She didn’t care how. The rope remained around her wrists and arms. She wasn’t going anywhere. She was safe. She could rest again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m back – and fully writerly revived

Its amazing what a few days away can do for you, and what catching up on 6 weeks of blog-reading can do too!

I’m going to be re-blogging a couple of articles that caught my eye, from Kristin Lamb (http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com). I thought I would share here, why I am doing so.

Article: Take Your Career to the Next Level–Getting Pruned http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/take-your-career-to-the-next-level-getting-pruned/

It’s probably a couple of years ago when I last discussed pruning in my writing, and my poetry. It’s still something I struggle to do, as I never feel I am pruning enough. Kristin’s insights and advice in this blog-post does well to help with this process.

Article:  Learning to Drop the Donkey–Is Perfectionism Killing Your Career? http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/learning-to-drop-the-donkey-is-perfectionism-killing-your-career-2/

In my mind this is a great follow on article, despite it being written earlier than the pruning article. If you remember my article about the disappearing floor, and the struggle to get rid of that novella that never seemed to get very far even after 14000 words, you’ll understand why I like this article.

I am also reminded of a phrase used in the UK “Why don’t you just drop the DEAD donkey?” This is (as far as I’m aware) directly from a British comedy series called “Drop The Dead Donkey” which was based in and around the office of a small-channel TV news station and the not-so-great journalists who worked there. It was a team made up of dysfunctional, unambitious, often lazy people who would try anything to look good. One episode I remember is when one of the journo’s Damien, has made a report from some “war-torn” town. He interviews an older lady, who speaks no English. The final report is aired – with subtitles translating the “hardship and heartbreak” of her living in this town. The cleaner then comes in and translates it properly for the rest of the team – it turns out that the lady has been paid to come on camera! It is somewhere in the You Tube archives of channel 4 on demand. I’ve tried to search for it, but there was a lot of the show made.

Anyway, so why this slightly random link to a TV show? I realised whilst reading Kristin’s column that sometimes we as writers are the dead donkey to our writing. This could be for a number of reasons. For me, and for many years, it was a lack of self belief and confidence. I never expected my work to be read, or to be good enough to be read – and guess what? I delivered just that.

The dead donkey is, in some respects, the perpetual lie that has been told to us over and over again, either by ourselves, or by others, or both, that we begin to believe, and the fruits we produce is a direct result from this. Hence a need to be pruned. Prune out that old wood that hasn’t produced any edible fruit in years. Take out the trusses of tomatoes that are the smallest to enable all the nutrients to go to the bigger, stronger tomatoes (we’re growing tomatoes in the garden – can’t you tell?). What’s your dead donkey? What needs pruning in your writing life?

Picture it and write – sweet dreams

A couple of weeks ago, Ermilia (http://ermiliablog.wordpress.com) posted the following picture up for Picture it and Write

floating-bed

Click here for the full details http://ermiliablog.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/picture-it-and-write-7/

Well, it took me all that time to think of something to write. I knew I had to because it was such an inspiring picture (and quite possibly, I may write more under this inspiration).

Well, this is what I have initially started with. It’s a little dark and surreal but it is also inspired by my own dreams. Please note, due the theme in this, I suggest this not be read by under-16’s

Sweet Dreams

Dreams float on water currents

Tracking rivers to the source

Travels like backpackers in foreign lands

Resting like former royalty in once grand beds and chambers

Trapped as a sleeping princess

Awaiting Prince Charming

Trudging thigh-high in dank water

Pulling nightmares away

Soothing the distress from

What was witnessed by the owl and the pussycat

Kissing her awake to the sound of

Waterfalls and troubled waters

Then carry her to her own

Satin-covered four-post bed.

Picture it and write – Masqueless

With a great thanks to http://ermiliablog.wordpress.com for another wonderful suggested picture for this week’s picture it and write.

ladywhite

Click here http://ermiliablog.wordpress.com/2013/07/28/__picture-it-write-61/  for the link to this week’s picture it and write and to read more about this picture

Masqueless

I slipped my shell; bone hard

Impenetrable

Exposed my real self; fragile

Vulnerable in this thick dark water

The only light from my alabaster

Heart hammering signals in Morse-code

SONAR warning of enemy shipwrecks

With faces like my old self

This blackness doesn’t frighten me

My past is easily left there

The future is somewhere ahead

me, a blog and a big black dog

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If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been the last few weeks/months, I can assure you I haven’t disappeared off the face of the planet; however, I have been hiding in a cave from a big black dog.

In March this year, I was diagnosed with stress-related depression. At that moment, six months of brain-fog, loss of concentration and reading ability, drop in motivation and chaotic prioritisation all made sense.

I had not seen that train coming, and it floored me.

 

Oddly, there seems to be a relationship between writers and depression. I am not saying all writers have depression, or that they should, but that there are a lot of writers who are followed by that black dog. Just looking at Amazon.co.uk brought up a ton of books about writers, depression, and – most famously – Winston Churchill, who has been quoted to say that he was followed by a black dog. That’s right folks, Sir Winston Churchill,  the stalwart leader of Britain during and following WWII, who agreed to some harebrained ideas which helped change the course of history, and helped to save our little island from attack.

Maybe the depression helped…

 

For many years, the word depression was NEVER spoken. It conjures up images of straight-jackets, institutions and archaic treatments.

It is still a word that, when spoken, causes most non-sufferers to look at you wide-eyed and become tongue tied. No one seems to know what to say or do.

And guess what – I’m a Christian too!

Churches all over the country, if not the world still cannot consider depression. It is a stigma which can release comments or thoughts such as, “you’re not trusting God enough,” “you’re not a true Christian,” and anything else that you can think of. I can tell you this. It is not true. God is with me through this foggy woodland I find my self in. He has hold of my hand, and has a rifle to keep away that wild black dog. The bible speaks umpteen truths to me, and its longest prayer (Psalm 119), is about depression. I can’t read my bible regularly, simply because I do not have the concentration, but I read what I can, in short bursts, and let God do the rest.

My depression takes all sorts of forms, these are a few of them:

Usually happy to be with a large group of people, more than eight people in one place causes an odd anxiety which makes me want to escape. I feel claustrophobic.

My bubbliness is infrequently apparent, and I have appeared to have lost my ability to calmly cope with rude people. I have to walk away from them; otherwise I will start an argument. Or slap them, whichever would come first.

Logical thought is virtually none existent, so I apologise if this post is all over the place as I struggle to lay out writing logically.

Most annoyingly – and importantly – I have been unable to read anything, nor have I been able to write a single thing.

I haven’t even been able to look at my own blog for ages. Twitter? Forget it! Facebook has forgotten me.

So what have I been doing whilst in the cave?

I have begun making jewellery, and letting out a creative side that I boxed away sometime between 1998-2005. I have met some great people as a result, some of whom have similar experiences to myself, and all who have turned to jewellery making for a release (and some me-time therapy).

I was encouraged to start a creative blog which is here: http://beadsbymel.blogspot.com

In terms of my poetry, I attended my very first open mic night at Gladstones Café & bookshop here in Liverpool, on 8th June. I loved it, and even met a great poet called Mike Richardson whose website is www.poetscode.co.uk (currently under construction). My poems went down well, and hopefully, I will be invited back sometime after the summer.

Oof, so that’s an awful lot to take in. This has taken me the best part of an hour to write, but, at least I have written it!

At some point soon, I will put on one or two newer poems on the sight, but for now, I’ll see you soon!

 

Picture it & write – Online presence

Before you read this, you Must See this week’s picture it & write over on http://ermiliablog.wordpress.com/2013/03/03/picture-it-and-write-special/  if you don’t read it, nothing that follows will make much sense! Hope you enjoy!

Hope this finds you well                                                       You are? Oh,

Facebook recommends                                                       friend of a friend

On top five                                                                            mutual acquaintance-

List of interesting                                                                  strangers, stalking

Profiles and facts                                                                  ex-lovers, gossip

About you, your life                                                                public, unsecure

On-line                                                                                   breached

 

I was once a friend                                                                 Sometime ago

Of your brother                                                                       Frankie dated her

He doesn’t seem to be                                                           daily stalked him

On Facebook                                                                          after they broke up

 

Is he okay?                                                                              Disappeared off-line

I haven’t seen him around                                                       Moved county

Tell him I said hi                                                                     Not a word

And that me and you are now friends                                   She’s mad

I.M. you later!                                                                         Block – right now

Goodbye!                                                                               Goodbye!

Picture It & Write – TARDIS strikes again

I left a poem by the kettle. Had to go back to the TARDIS to retrieve it.

This one is in response to: 10th June 2012; http://ermiliablog.wordpress.com/2012/06/10/__picture-it-write-31/

 

Wet pages

 

Words run from the page

Like red dye from a sock

 

Separated from sentence and structure

Evade recapture

 

Reform to drift on tides

Of time and metre

 

Metaphors slip through fingers

Land with splashes of delight

That ripples like a tidal wave in Lilliput

 

If I were a poet

I would immerse myself in such things

 

Court charming nouns

Make art from recycled water drops