I think I am a writer. If you have to earn a living at writing, then probably I’m not entitled to call myself that, I suppose. I write every day, and have done all my life. When I started writing seriously, I thought of it as a very private pursuit, the results not to be shared with anyone. Despite my many years as a teacher , the day that I stood up in front of a group of other writers on my first Arvon course at Moniack Mhor was the most terrifying experience. It changed me. It made me believe that I had something to say that others might want to hear. It made me trust myself.
Over a year later, I’m still writing, and sharing. Today I finished two drafts of poems for my writing group meeting tomorrow and I am looking forward to sharing them. A while back I got stuck at a purple door and shared that idea with you. I hope you got somewhere with it. I thought about the colour purple in the end and what it suggested. Here’s a bit of the draft I wrote, just to show you that I took my own advice to just write, and see where it takes you…
On Aegean shores,
slaves grub up
flower bud shells,
their milky blood
rainbows green to Tyrian purple.
Clytemnestra spreads its glory
beneath Agamemnon’s foot.
Born to the purple,
Caligula claims its hue,
Too rich for common man.
Feathered wisteria clusters droop
faintly about hidden doorways,
Pan’s grape-stained mouth,
where jewelled pomegranates,
bitter blood oranges
Wimbledon Fortnight, Ascot, Cricket, Tour de France- I have been known to watch minutes of them at a time. But the World Cup remains one of those events that will require no effort on my part to miss. I was brought up in a family where the only football worth speaking of was oval and covered in Welsh mud, and any other football remains a kind of weird mystery to me. Over the years, people have tried to convince me of its beauty; one boyfriend tried to get me interested in Norwich City, by telling me their nickname, the Canaries, as if that was cute enough. It wasn’t.
The thing is, I don’t want to know. Normally that doesn’t matter, is quite acceptable, but at the moment even friends who I know have no clue what is going on, become pundits, informed by the tsunami of football based programmes and newspaper articles. I went to buy some bread, and had to wait while the shop assistants preferred to put up bunting around the shelves. That wasn’t endearing either.
I have stocked up on videos , books , jigsaws, notebooks, pens and pencils. I will use the time when everyone else is holed up in the living room, yelling at the tv to finish reading the stack of books by the side of the bed. I will watch box sets, lie in the garden listening to BBC 4 extra and be able to get some peace to write.
So Wayne Rooney and co- have a great tournament. Enjoy Brazil and that silly round ball. Hope you do well – let me know.
I’ve really set myself a challenge for the next few weeks: not only have I signed up to an online course, I’m now going to two separate writing groups, both with different writing challenges each week. In addition, I am venturing into the ( for me) new world of entering writing competitions. The thing is that if I tell you I’m doing it, I will have to follow it up with actual entries and poetry or short stories. I’m that sad sort of person who absolutely has to hand in work!
Last week I struggled with my ‘Purple Door’ assignment but it taught me that even the most unpromising start can lead you to places you never thought of. I started thinking about the colour purple and why it seems to have such appeal. I found out all sorts of fascinating facts during my research, including that Imperial purple came from thousands of tiny molluscs, whose liquid turned from green to deep purple. That made me start to think about metamorphosis and mourning, Welsh valleys with indigo slate, and Sevillian pomegranates.
Now I am going to write a short story about a Welsh mining village, and a poem about Calke Abbey State Bed. Wish me luck!
Details of Calke Abbey State Bed Hangings:
For two weeks now I have been staring at purple doors. Don’t believe me? See my Pinterest board. This is because my wonderful reading group leader, Deb Tyler-Bennett kindly set this as a stimulus two weeks ago, for a poem or story. Her only stipulation was that the door must be purple. That was the problem. I cannot get past that purple door. It has become a looming bruise of a barrier. I cannot open it to see what could possibly be beyond. The thing is that I am one of those sad people who cannot go to a group meeting and say, ‘ Sorry…’ And the meeting is the day after tomorrow .
I’ve looked at sites to do with writer’s block and nothing is working. Therefore I am just going to do the pen to paper thing and see where it takes me. It occurs to me that I am just over-thinking it as usual. If anyone out there would like to have a go, and post their results, that would be amazing. Meanwhile here’s a bit of inspiration for us all…
Good morning! As you can see, it is a particularly fine morning, and probably the last one before the rain returns. I had planned to get up at 7 to write the short story I am due to have finished by Thursday. It’s now 10 am; I’ve been out in the garden to speak to the newt, said good morning to the bumblebees that have invaded our birdbox (thank you, bees) and eaten porridge. Yesterday’s paper was very stimulating reading; even the Giles Coren article with all its name dropping and faux cool references was appealing. I’ve sorted my pens into colour order, found a new notebook (good, shiny paper) and made a pot of tea.
Now I have started thinking about garden chairs, and whether buying a seat for under our cherry tree would be a way of motivating me to write. I have soft focus images in my head of me with floaty clothes- some lace, some indian cotton, a large sun hat , Birkenstocks, jugs of iced lemonade… Given that nothing I own floats, this is dream territory. As is my story, at this rate.
Fat bees busy by,
blossom bursts from apple trees,
shadowed blackbird sings.