misty cloud hangs low over the hills
the air is cool, and light rain falls
some leaves lie face up
others bend earthward
heavy drops gather at leaf tips
Over the last few weeks I haven’t been writing very much, and I was beginning to feel a bit worried about this.
But I know part of the reason is that I’ve been more focused on the visual arts recently. I took a few art classes at the end of last year – and I loved it!
I needed to give time to this and find out whether it was just a passing whim, or the start of something new. I’ve worked out that this new learning in drawing and painting is something I want to pursue so that it can become another way to explore my world and to express myself.
And then – thanks to a connection on Instagram and Twitter I was led to Jackie Morris’s suggestion to write a few words every day – just 25 words, no more than 50 – handwritten. She describes this at the end of her January 8 blog post on http://www.jackiemorris.co.uk/blog/more-than-home-from-home/
I’m trying not to stress over how much, or how well, just to write. This feels like both a challenge and an aid. Its all about noticing the world around me and writing a small observation, a reflection.
I started posting my small writings on Twitter and Instagram, but I think they belong here too. I’ll include photos when I can, and who knows – a few drawing and paintings might even start appearing!
I’m happy to use my first “few words” for my January calendar – I’ve been a bit slow getting this year’s calendar off the ground.
Sunday 31 December 2017
Thoughts on the past year:
2017 was a busy year at work, the winter was long and wet and gloomy, and this might be part of the reason why I didn’t get as much written as I’d hoped. There were achievements this year, and sadness too, as I said goodbye to my black cat of seventeen years. The arrival of a new ginger and white fluff bundle helps redirect the love.
I’m slowly becoming more confident to read my work to others. The first steps on this journey began at the very end of 2016 in a writing workshop, and then continued into 2017. I began recording my own readings and posting these with some of my writing.
In November and December of 2016 I took part in a writing workshop. I was initially quite nervous once I realised that many of these were people who wrote for a living, people who had been published, and so I saw them as “real writers”, and I wondered whether it was really the group for me. But they were welcoming and encouraging, and I stuck with it. The plan was to gather ideas and information about one particular day, and then we would meet a few days later and write.
We met in a small de-consecrated chapel and wrote quietly for a few hours. My result was in a piece of work that came quickly and fluently, and the form of it surprised me, a hybrid piece, a poem interspersed with brief pieces of prose. It. It was as if I could hear different ‘voices’ taking turns to speak through the poem.
When it came time for us to read our work (if we wanted to), I knew I had to overcome my nervousness. When it came to my turn, my hands were shaking, my voice was breaking, and I stopped and started over, reading right through to the end. It felt like the scariest, most vulnerable thing I’d ever done. Feedback was positive, and I was pleased with myself for sharing it.
But after listening to the others in the group, I realised most people were writing prose, I wondered if I should be doing that. I tried re-writing it completely as prose, but I missed the sound and shapes of the original piece. So I rewrote it again, bringing some of the poetic elements back into the work. We met again early in 2017 after we had all spent time reworking our writing, for further feedback.
I enjoyed this experience of working as part of a group, and beginning to overcome my nervousness in reading aloud. This was also a lesson in trusting myself, and learning not to be too influenced by others. It was a struggle to finish this piece, and it held my attention during the first few months of 2017. I was so engrossed in the initial focus on the moon that I continued working on a series of moon poems “this imaginal space”.
A weekend workshop with a different group in February continued to boost my confidence, with my writing, and provided another opportunity to read aloud in front of at least 50 people. Nervousness was shifting into excitement and I read one piece without hesitation, without fear. I was buzzing afterwards with the joy of it.
In the last few weeks of 2017 I took a series of art classes. I challenged myself to try the thing I’ve always wanted to do but never felt I was any good at – drawing. It was a revelation! I discovered that with the right tutor, techniques modelled and explained, drawing was in fact something I could do. We explored different media, and I fell in love with oil sticks (oil paint in solid form). The visual arts have always held a special place in my heart, and if I can actually create in that form as well I will be a happy woman.
I’ve spent the last two weeks clearing the spare room to make a creative space for writing, for drawing and painting. I’m naturally a bit of a hoarder and I’ve spent hours and hours sorting and throwing things away. I’ve found a few scraps of poems written in past years and buried among receipts and banks statements and other domestic paperwork. One in particular gives me an insight into my feelings all the way back in 2004 (some 13-14 years ago!!!) just a couple of years after I had begun living in my current home. It seemed that I was finding the green I was surrounded with somewhat overwhelming and that I was questioning my ability to describe it. What it did show was my desire to write was surfacing again. Now that very green is at the heart of my work.
I took to Instagram like a fish to water in 2016, and in 2017 it continued to be a source of inspiration and another forum for sharing with the world. A friend is encouraging me to try podcasting or youtube.
I continue to wonder about self publishing, and I’ve explored different layout options including photographs. I’m wondering now whether any of my own artwork will be good enough to include ??
My thanks to everyone who has taken time to read my work here, and for your encouragement and positive comments.
I hope 2018 finds us all well and looking forward to another creative year.
It’s that time of year – two more weeks of work – then the summer holiday. This is the time of year when I have time to slow down, and reflect. It’s the time of year when I used to explore new ideas, try out new pursuits.
What I’m proudest of this year is that I’ve made time, taken time, for personal interests throughout the year – specially the latter half of this year. I’ve started drawing and learning to paint. I’ve noticed that as I shift into this visual world my writing has gracefully taken a back seat – but I’m sure it’s going to surface again soon.
What I’d love for next year is to find a way to combine paintings and text into artworks that balance both sides of my soul.
all is quiet and peaceful
the white body stretches
fluff and tufts and curls
pink underbelly revealed
sleep takes time and
a commitment to stillness
its all an illusion of calm
when awake, the furred paws reach out
desiring but sensitive to touch
pleasure quickly shifting
to irritation and reactive bite
slowly I’m learning how to connect
keep a firm pressure
just the head and scruff
when awake, the stomach leads, curiosity follows
with long, late night explorations
returning early morning
tousled, leaves hitch-hiking in the fur
strolling in like some careless wanderer
fresh from gallivanting about the neighbourhood
an opportunist, a pathfinder, a rapscallion
you have a history that I’ll never know
for now all that matters is that I am patient
and learn to understand your unique nature
there is an energy around you that I’m trying to read
and if I sit still and watch
your body tells me everything I need
(Prisma app used with original photo of the newbie)
there is an emptiness
my memory cannot fill
the room is quiet, the air is still
you will not cross this floor
nor cast a shadow
but you will meet me in dreams
a tall dark woman with golden eyes
cloaked in velvet, brushed with star-light
you will lead me through the wild world
to the hiding places under trees
I will follow you
my heart beating in time
with every breath and silent step
and we will sleep
curled together in the night
in memory of Frida – my wild gypsy queen – gone to wander among the stars
16 or more years – she came to me as a street-wise, street-child who would not be held,
who would fight for her freedom to roam the wild places
a canny little thing – never once, to my knowledge, in a fight with another cat,
but I did find her watching once or twice
after a year or two of patiently letting her have her way, she walked in one day,
made eye contact, and decided to be more approachable
she loved to be brushed, she’d let her claws be trimmed without a fuss
she had a few health problems – hyperthyroidism, flea allergy, and later kidney problems
she had a love of ice cream I put down to a deprived childhood
during the last night of my handsome Thomas,
she stayed up all night, keeping vigil with me
and after he passed she became closer, snugglier
she’s been by my side constantly these last couple of years while I’ve read and written
my way into a deeper understanding of myself
this little shadow, this feisty willful girl – she deserves to have the best of times
in this new, mysterious chapter of her life
reach out, feel your way, unfold into the unknown
be beautiful in the moment
be wild and brave in uncertainty
Last xmas I made this calendar, writing intuitively in response to the photos I’d chosen.
I had no idea then that these words would be the best I could say to farewell a brave little soul as she leaves this world to find her way in a new one – to “ramble the stars wild-hearted and wondering” (as suggested by @sarah.patience.elwell)
Last night, of all the possible nights, the thin veil parted to let this little one cross over. We talk of Samhain as a time when the spirit world walks among us. Perhaps this is also a time for the living to cross over. A time when all the energy and effort spent trying to stay alive is released and the spirit is freed to move on.
Farewell my dark gypsy queen, my feisty willful companion.