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Sometimes things in the world are just beyond my comprehension.  I find myself deeply saddened by decisions made, or feel as though I have no voice, no representative who sees the world as I do.

That’s when I write, of course.  But sometimes I can’t find the words, and have to seek out someone who can say what I want to say.

So I looked for poems that would make me feel less hopeless. and found one called Peace, by George Herbert, in which a man wanders in search of peace.  The third stanza struck me for its imagery:

Then went I to a garden, and did spy

A gallant flower

The crown Imperiall: sure, said I,

Peace at the root must dwell.

But when I digg’d, I saw a worm devoure

What show’d so well.

I can’t find the words for my own poem at the moment, although I am sure I will over the coming days.

It helps to have a little poetry inspiration to guide me.

Happy writing,

EJ

 

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This week felt good, writing-wise.

I got my Christmas poem done, just in time for publication of the local newsletter, and despite not a lot of time to refine it I was quite pleased with how it came out. It had a rhyme scheme which isn’t my usual thing but I thought would be better for the audience who would probably be more comfortable with that style than with blank verse. It also incorporated the ideas I wanted to convey about thinking of others and kindness to each other – it was a bit less subtle than I would normally like to be but I was time-limited and quite honestly I don’t know that subtlety would have worked in any case. It’s out there now, at any rate, and I hope it gets a few people thinking and a few more enquiries about the writing group.

I have also organised the first writing group Christmas meal – following the positive feedback on Thursday, it makes me feel quite proud of how far we’ve come!

So – what next? Well, I have a lot of work to do to get me back on track with the whodunnit; I really did stop completely with this when my nana got ill and I haven’t gone back to it. I want to get this completed before Christmas and move on to something else.

Specifically, I want to move on to my completed novel: re-read it, polish it where required, and decide on its future. I have an idea, a plan if you will, but it’s going to take a bit of time so I want a clear run at it. I don’t want the whodunnit hanging over it making me feel like I need to rush or that I have to split my attention.

I also want to review my poetry – I have a lot of bits of poems in folders and on my computer and I need to organise them into a proper portfolio of work, then start doing more open mike events and performances.

That’s probably my New Year Resolution in a nutshell – do more with the writing I’ve done!

So this has been a good week, because I’ve finished a piece and submitted it to the human gaze; I had a positive writing group; I made some writing decisions.  Next week, I need to have a good week closing in on the whodunnit ending so I can put it away and go back to my firstborn novel.

For the first week in ages I produced something in my writing time, and I want to build on the buzz that has given me.

Roll on next week!

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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This week, I’ve been trying to get into the spirit of Christmas; a little early, but it’s due to the fact that I promised to write a poem for the local newsletter, a sort of advert for the writing group, and the deadline was this weekend. Well, I sweet-talked the editor into an extension (easily done, as I’m married to him!) so the deadline is Tuesday.

I know not everyone who reads this will celebrate or even mark Christmas, so saying I feel ‘Christmassy’ might not mean much. That made me think maybe I should write a poem about what being ‘Christmassy’ means to me.

So I did a little word association, and here’s what I came up with:

Butterfly tummy
Family
Friends
Sharing
Joy
Thoughtfulness
Cold noses
Twinkling lights
Charity
Welcoming
Excitement
Decorations
Carols
Traditions

I am sure over time other words will crop up, and people will feel different things, but this is at least a part of it for me.

Looking at this list, I noticed something important.  See those words I have highlighted?  Those words are about peace.

Those words are fundamentally a part of a peaceful worlds: being part of a community with family and friends; sharing what we have so people are safe and secure; being joyful and thankful for the positives in our lives.  Being thoughtful about others and about our own actions and responses.  Being charitable – this doesn’t just mean giving money out but also being kind and caring, giving the benefit of the doubt.  Welcoming others into our lives as new family, new friends.

Put aside the religion for a moment, if you can, and take away the veneer of commercialism that has made Christmas a slick advertisement for all the latest things.

What remains is an opportunity to focus on, and make time for, other people.

That’s the spirit I want to get into, and that’s the message I want my poem to convey.

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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This week I did some planning, although not as much as I’d intended, because I ended up building on something from last week and completing a really integral part of an interview. So I’m about 50% where I had hoped to be…

But in getting the interview structured and some of the crumbs tied in, and thinking through the plan (even if not in the detail I had intended) I feel like I can see the finishing line. This week coming will be all about tying up the loose ends of the story and twining them into a rope for the murderer to hang herself, metaphorically speaking.

I have also decided on a final scene complete with the last words of the story, and it feels good to have that. It’s something to work towards, and something to keep me focussed so I don’t go off on a tangent, as I so often do.

Next week I hope I’ll get the bulk of what’s left written and the week or so after will just be filling in a couple of blanks. That’s the plan, anyway – let’s hope there no banana skins on my path!

In other news – A couple of weeks ago, I shared some of my poems with another writer. He had kindly given me his poetry book, and I explained to him I was working on rhyming poetry as it wasn’t my usual style, but the ones I shared were blank verse. He told me, in effect, that poetry which doesn’t rhyme isn’t really poetry.

I don’t agree and simply shrugged this opinion off as irrelevant to my personal style. However, I shared the comments with a friend who has read some of my work and she was incredibly offended on my behalf.

This got me thinking about my own response.

I will never be able to make everyone happy, and the more I try, the more I lose my own voice. I have and will try all sorts of different styles because experimenting is fun, but every piece of writing has to be a reflection of me.

I ignore people who tell me what writing ‘should’ be – writing is many different things, and there really are no hard and fast rules.

We write because we have something we want to say, a force within us driving us to mark out our thoughts and ideas on paper. That force is like our own personal engine and if we let someone else tamper with its workings, who knows what damage they could do.

Yes, it can be helpful to learn the mechanics – but the time comes when we have to trust our engineering skills!

Happy writing,
EJ
🙂

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Today is National Poetry day here in the UK and this year, the theme is Light.

It’s been a long time since I shared a full poem with you all so here’s one I originally began back in November 2011.  Iit’s the opposite of the theme really, but the closest I could find quickly!

I last worked on it in June 2012 so it may get a light dust over but I’m pretty happy with it.  It’s about me sitting in my lounge working on the computer and being too lazy to get up and turn the lights on – you really can make a poem about anything 🙂

I hope you enjoy it.

Light, Left off

It’s darkly night: the laptop glow falls onto

Fingertips painted like papal robes.

Open curtains show a shadow world

Where distant windows light up,

Like animal eyes on the side of the road:

Watching, and waiting, for a moment to pass.

 

A streetlamp I can’t see appears,

Refracted, on the rain-stained glass,

And car doors shut – the sound, a full stop

On the working day. To the rear,

The garden is a black hole, the darkness

Eating the room around me

 

And bringing with it November’s chill to,

Snakelike, twine around my body.

Isolated on this island of cold light, I

Feel the draw to the otherworld;

So, I claim a blanket, turn off the screen, and sit.

Become another secret in the unseen world.

 

Happy National Poetry day, everyone!

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I’ve just got in from writing group, where we have decided to set ourselves a little winter challenge – to each produce something for our local newsletter for publishing between December and January.

To get us all in the mood we spent some writing time on a few seasonally appropriate haiku. Now, as I’ve said before, I love this form of writing as it’s so accessible to writers who are new to poetry or who lack confidence in writing poetry.

I thought I’d share one I wrote today, just for fun:

An eiderdown fall:
The world is feathery white –
Our noses are numb.

Happy writing

EJ

🙂

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After last week’s joyful discovery on my bookshelf I rummaged and found something else I’d forgotten about!

Book 35 – The British Museum Chinese Love Poetry, edited by Jane Portal. This is another short book of poems, this time written by Chinese poets covering a period from around 600BC (if not earlier) to the late 20th century. The poems are all on the theme of love but the nature of that love is not necessarily romantic – friendship and familial relationships also feature. As with last week’s book, the poems are written in English, and accompanied by a beautiful piece of art. Each poem has one phrase written in Chinese calligraphy next to it.

The short introduction to this book did not give me as much of an insight as in the book on haiku – that was exploring one style of poetry whereas this was giving general information about conventions covering centuries so inevitably couldn’t be too definitive. However, I personally would have appreciated more information. However, the information was fascinating – to understand the poetry, you need to understand the messages within the poems that are culturally distinct, and the introduction helped with this. For example, a fish in a poem is a symbol for a happy marriage – which I would not have picked up simply reading the work

I really connected with some of the poetry, but inevitably due to the different styles and approaches some were not so successful. However, the imagery of many was beautiful and evocative, and I think with more time spent learning the symbolism I would understand and appreciate the messages more.

I was blown away with the thought that some of what I was reading dated back to before the birth of Socrates: for written poetry to exist in a cultural tradition for so many centuries is inspiring and humbling.

Overall, I enjoyed reading these poems but some didn’t engage me as much as I’d hoped. I think part of the reason is that the meanings are hidden behind a veil – once I get to grips with that, it’ll be like opening a gift.

Happy reading,
EJ
🙂

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This week, I got a lot of words written, and a big step closer to the end of the whodunnit, but I still won’t finish it before I meander off on my trip to Germany as I’d hoped.

I have, however, got a plan.  When I am away, I will be spending a lot of time travelling, and I had intended to use this time to read and catch up on the 52 book challenge.  However, if I split the time 50:50 between reading and writing, I should still be able to get plenty of reading done, and keep up my writing momentum.  Win-win, I hope…

I do feel a little bit more positive about my writing this week for other reasons, though.  A chance discussion with a friend at work led to a discovery that his father is a poet, who has published his own anthology after many years of his work appearing on the radio.  Not only did I get a copy o said anthology as a gift, which was lovely, but I also passed him a couple of my favourite poems for some feedback.   I feel ludicrously brave!  I also shared them with another work colleague who said very  kind things indeed.  I think she was surprised how much she liked them.

I want to get back to my poetry sooner rather than later.  I have so many thoughts and feelings about the world right now that the best thing I can do is write it out – that’s one of the ways I process things I am unable to verbalise.  I’ll definitely be taking a notebook to carry about when I am away.  I might even try to work in some German words, which are often perfectly precise although rather hard-sounding.

I read an article today which discussed the formation of German words but due to the nature of the article I have decided not to link to it; still, it’s given me something else to think about over the next week.

I’m pretty sure there will be a lot of thinking when I am away.

In other news – following on from the 100 novels list is the start of an alternative list for me to look through, although I also have a number of borrowed books to read plus this week’s lazy one to finish off first.

And finally – due to the travels this week I won’t be doing my normal update-type blogs but hopefully will at least have a chance to get something written before I go.  No promises though – I haven’t even started sorting myself out yet!

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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I know this one is a bit of a cheat, but I looked back at the challenge and it says ‘books’ not ‘novels’ so I’m going with it. It’s all I have to offer anyway!

Book 34 – The British Museum Haiku, edited by David Cobb.  This is a beautiful book of about 70 haiku by writers spanning five centuries, presented in Japanese (calligraphy as well as transliterated), with English translations.  The haiku are accompanied by some glorious images from the British Museum’s Japanese art collection.

I love haiku, as a form of poetry and as an example of cultural differences in the way ‘traditional’ poetry is composed.  I also love Japanese calligraphy and brush painting, so this book is a literary and visual gift, to me.  The opening notes on style and form of haiku, and the way seasons can be structured and inferred in the writing, were short but incredibly enlightening and have made me want to try this form of writing again, with more knowledge behind me.

It didn’t take long to read – I sat and read it over a single lunch break – but some of the haiku have really stayed with me, and there are a couple I’d like to put up in my office at work so I have something beautiful there every day.

I adored this book and I will be dipping into it over and over again, finding new inspiration and new understanding each time.

I just wish I’d read it properly before!

Happy reading,

EJ

🙂

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I’ve been feeling a little rough – these really busy weeks have taken their toll and although it’s lovely to have lots going on sometimes I need to have a day’s holiday to recharge my batteries.

So yesterday, my husband and I went on a little ramble.  We headed out to see an archaeological dig which was open to the public, then off on a coastal drive with a stop at a country pub before heading home for a rather marvellously French inspired afternoon tea.

On our travels I got this picture.  It really was a gorgeous day; sunny and warm, with a light breeze to keep from getting overheated. Those cliffs on the far left are the White Cliffs of Dover, and the two tiny white blobs are ferries going into or coming out of the harbour – you can just about make out the harbour wall.

Just a bit of Dover

 

I always love to look out from the southeastern coast of England and see the coast of France.  I like to think when I wave over, someone there is waving back 🙂

What you can’t see from here, although I got some photos of these too, are the imposing Dover Castle or any of the Martello Towers that dot the coastline in this area.  It really is a reminder of how relationships between European countries have changed over time – and I for one am glad I’ve grown up in a time of friendship and community with our neighbours.

I do love to see the history of a place uncovered.  I watch a lot of documentaries, and even those with a decidedly unlikely theme often give me an insight into a part of the world that is unknown to me: its geography, history, folklore, culture, all tied into the roots of its existence.  This often influences my poetry, and the courses I take are frequently determined by whatever random programme I have seen that sparked my imagination.

I can’t ever know everything, of course – and the more I know, the more aware I am of the limitations of my knowledge – but the more I can learn the more I understand who we are, and how different people understand the world we inhabit.

In turn, the more I can bring to my work either in terms of language and imagery or in terms of creating peace poems.

This weekend enabled me to learn new things, and remember things I was once taught.  It gave me a chance to see, literally, what was buried in time – a real, live dig is a very different place from a visitor site and it was great to see the earth being treated with such respect.  It gave me a chance to sit back and be lazy, and learn, and absorb.  It gave me some ‘me’ time.

So I’ve had a chance to rebuild my reserves, and in a way that has invigorated my imagination: next week I’ll use that to expand on the work I did this week, and get the whodunnit another step closer to its conclusion.

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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