Archive for the ‘myth’ Category

Balance is important to me.  If something is out of kilter in my life I can feel it strongly; whether it’s too little time studying, or too much time alone, or not enough time with my family, the lack of balance seems to affect the way I feel about the world.

When that happens, I know I have to take action to fix it before I topple over, metaphorically speaking – I have to act before it affects my life in a negative way.




This picture was taken in a slightly damp field in Cornwall.  It is the centre stone of a group called Men-an-tol, around which many myths have grown of special properties and powers.   Like so many of these sites, it stands in a quiet spot, alongside cattle and a great deal of greenery.  There is no pomp and ceremony to it; it is a part of the landscape that pre-dates much of the world around it.

It’s also a reminder that anything can find balance, if it has the right tools.  In this case, a strong foundation was needed.  In my case, there’s a web of inter-connected points – writing, family, friends, reading, studying, alone-time, working, cooking and so on – that all need to be given the appropriate level of attention.

It took me a long time to realise the importance of balance in my life; it seemed such a small thing to have such a big impact on my outlook.  But it does make a difference to the way I perceive the world, and my own role within it.  When I am out of kilter, my thoughts get blocked up.

Blocked up thoughts are bad for a writer, but they are also bad for anyone trying to get the most out of life.

So I’m going to put this picture up on a wall somewhere and remind myself that seeking balance is about making my life the best it can be.

Maybe these stones do have special properties, after all…

Happy writing,



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I finally managed to finish two in a week again – although the first of these has been hanging around for a while so it’s not quite the success it sounds!

Book 29 – Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne.

This book was a difficult one to enjoy, and it was a slow starter.  40% in I was still waiting to get into the proper adventure – whose house you stay in for a night and what the food tastes like is not much of an adventure.

When we do get started we move quickly through, with many of the terrors over and done with in the course of a few pages, and resolved very easily.  They ran out of water – and soon found a stream running alongside the lava tunnels.  One person got separated, and they found him through the magical power of sound-conducting stone.  When crossing the underground sea, the storm they experience brings them exactly to where they need to be.  If all else fails cause a volcanic eruption you can ride to safety…

I found it hard to suspend my disbelief reading this story (the negative side of learning about geology and geography, I guess) and what could have been exciting and amazing was simply unbelievable.  If I’d liked the characters I might have been more invested but the three men who undertake the journey are not interesting or complex enough for me.

Jules Verne was one of the first writers I read as part of the challenge, and I enjoyed his writing before so to have found this much more difficult to enjoy, and the characters much less personable was a bit of a shame.

Book 30 – The Romance of Tristan and Iseult by Joseph Bedier.  I remember writing a short assignment on comparative mythology and part of this story brought that to mind – if you know about Theseus on his return from killing the Minotaur, you’d spot it!

This book was a welcome change of pace; it was in effect an updated version of a medieval romance, and has a lot in common with the Arthurian stories – Arthur is even mentioned in this one.  Even the more violent events that take place are steps along the way in the romance of the two named characters.

After various events, Tristan wins the hand of Iseult for his uncle, King Mark.  On their way to Cornwall from Ireland there is a terrible mistake made and they are given a potion that makes them love each other with their whole souls (the potion was meant for Iseult and Mark).  From this point onwards we see the impact of that love – deceitful but pure, disloyal but faithful, the two are torn between each other and the lives they have to live.

This love is a tragedy because of all the pain and damage it causes – you cannot help but feel for them, for their feelings are outside their control and they are ultimately destroyed by it.  However, the love makes them deceitful to the people who they should most care for, and their twisting of facts to cover up this deceit means they have no moral high ground.

As someone who enjoys reading stories of this nature, and from this oeuvre, I am really pleased I’ve read this version – I’ve watched the film (and couldn’t help picturing Rufus Sewell as King Mark as I read!) but the story in the book is much more satisfying. I would definitely recommend this story for anyone interested in the myths and legends that grew up in the medieval period.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!




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Welcome to the first of my new Thoughts on a Thursday, which replace my old inspiration posts.  Some will be more different from those posts than others!

This week is about fairytales.  You probably think of them, if you think of them at all, as children’s stories.  They begin with the words ‘Once upon a time’, those words are like a doorway into a far off magical land, a long time ago.

I love the freedom of ‘once upon a time’; it allows the writer to right the wrongs of society, which you can’t do in realist books.   This may explain my enjoyment of the fantasy and magical realism genres too, both of which allow the reader to suspend their disbelief very admirably!

But there is a huge amount of material within those stories that goes well beyond the happy ever after of some fairytales.   There is danger, violence, cruelty, beauty, goodness, salvation.  There are life and death struggles, persecution and freedom.

And there are outcomes too: fairytales are a form of morality tale, when actions and inaction have consequences.

For example, in the non-Disney Cinderella we see Cinderella abused and mistreated; her step-sisters in their turn were crippled (cutting part of their feet off to fit the golden shoe) and then blinded.

from Childhood’s Favorites and Fairy Stories; Project Gutenberg etext

Of course, not every fairytale is like that, but it is true that they are often quite bleak in tone.  There are blindings, poisonings, immolation, stabbings, imprisonment and many other horrible things – and although most of the time the ‘baddies’ pay for their mistreatment of the ‘goodies’, before this happens the ‘goodies’ suffer greatly.

The book I’ve been reading talks about updating these ideas in paranormal tales, but actually I’m more interested in bringing the morality concepts into realist writing.  The Mysteries of the Greek Detective novels do this really well (well the three that I’ve read so far, anyway!); there is often no legal remedy but there is almost always punishment.

I’ve said before that I like a sense of justice in books and maybe that’s a side-effect of reading The Brothers Grimm as a child!

All in all, there’s a lot of ideas, themes and motifs in fairytales that are worth investigating from a variety of angles – find the right one and your writing ‘once upon a time’ might be much sooner, and much closer, than you think!


I have decided to refer to my reading challenge on separate posts from now on, as they make these posts far too long – I was at about 1000 words with this week’s books covered as well, which is double my intended maximum!

Look out for ‘Challenge Tuesdays’ instead, where I’ll tell you what I’ve read and what I thought of it, and hopefully you can suggest some more things for me to try.

So, until Tuesday, happy writing!



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It’s been a long time since I did a proper inspiration post, and this week I thought it would be a good thing to do otherwise all you’ll hear about will be editing or studying.  Again!

Back when I started these, I had intended to use this picture taken looking over the Irish sea.  I didn’t at the time because I wanted to give it more attention, but actually that just means it has never been used, and I really wanted to share it.

So here it is.  With super-giant watermark, where I’ve been playing with Photoshop, sorry!

Invisible sun

I love this picture.  A better photographer could have made more of it I’m sure, but to me it’s absolutely magical.  The hidden sun gives it a mysterious element and the lighter patch of sky makes me think of a pantheon of gods and goddesses looking down.

This, in other words, is a landscape that could launch a thousand legends.

I didn’t write a poem, or do a freewrite for this: the location is tied to so much history (my reason for being there!) I knew I’d end up with something based on Druids, the Mabinogion or Arthurian legends so I simply thought about how this scene could tie into stories I’ve heard.

For example – there is a long-held idea that King Arthur was a Welsh king – and can’t you imagine the shining lights underneath the water being a sign of the Lady of the Lake, reaching out to the hero of ages?  Or perhaps those shimmering clouds are the Celtic gods looking down at the place their followers were destroyed.  Or can you imagine being in a ship setting sail for the unknown, unseen land on the other side of the horizon?

Perhaps this image brings something to mind for you.  Think of it as a dreamscape, where anything is possible – and let your imagination run free.

Happy writing



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