Starting Again.

Gosh it’s been an absolute age since I last thought about writing a post. And there are lots of good reasons why that has been the case. It’s just I hadn’t realised so much time had passed. Oh, gulp.

So, here I am, taking a deep breath, mucking about with the design of this thing (procrastination much!), and starting again.

Hi.

How are you?

Are blogs still a thing, now? Sod it, even if they aren’t, I’m still going to (re)do this.

So. The reasons why I haven’t been writing AT ALL for the last nearly two years:

Separation, followed by online dating (absolute hell), followed by feeling Very Low Indeed, followed by discovering hygge (yes, I know, and it helps me) followed by preparing to move house, followed by actually moving house (the first bit always takes longer than you think), followed by settling in and loving it, and looking at the sky a lot, followed by a realisation.

I haven’t been writing. I’ve edited, a bit. A very little bit. And I’ve been having thoughts and making notes, but I haven’t been actually writing. And now it’s been so long, that sometimes I wonder if I should even try. Resurrecting this blog is a way of beginning that process. Because I feel guilty, I feel less than I think I could be. I’ve become a lurker in my own life, never mind how far I’ve pulled back on the social media thing. The world has changed so much, so fast, and the lunatics are in charge and it’s all going to shit and what can you do?

I want to not feel so hopeless (helpless is a given, while things are the way they are in the wider world, and you’d better believe I am LIVID about all of it – but I can’t live like that, burning up all the time), and then it came to me, that as my world has shrunk, as I have withdrawn, because I needed to, I have been living without passion. And it’s awful. I must reignite it. Fuel it. I must write.

Here it begins, again.

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Ampersand

I’m reblogging this as a reminder to my self to be open to possibility, and to the possibility of magic. There is always more…

Flying, Not Falling…

Sometimes, or rather, more often than not, it takes something simple to remind me that Life, capital L, Life, could be as limitless as the sky. Could be. Living in the subjunctive mood means being open, to wish fulfillment, to fantasy, to the dream world, to the possibility of magic. There is everything under the sky, and, perhaps more. Perhaps.

The world is everything that is the case, said Wittgenstein, a statement that is both austere and beautiful. But this photograph reminds me that there is more. There is the world we can know through our senses, and there is the world we can know through our dreams. We were not made to fly, except in dreams, and wishes, and fairy tales. And yet, we found the way to reach the sky, to touch, and surpass it.

AmpersandMy daughter, my beautiful ten year old daughter took this photo. She sees…

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Some things I like

Here are some things I like, some new, some rediscovered. They help me feel a little bit better.

 

These sneakers are new, and I love them. The socks are not new, but are very purple, and, unusually for me, not stripy. But that’s okay.

Converse All Stars

 

Here is my new lipstick by NARS, Dolce Vita: a natural looking my lips but better sort of colour. Here also is my new favourite eyeliner, Charlotte Tilbury’s Colour Chameleon in Golden Quartz. I like how it makes my eyes look. (No I don’t. I bloody LOVE how it enhances my eye colour. So there.) Here also is Elderflower eye gel, from the Body Shop. This soothed my overworked and aching eyes through A’Levels, back in the last century. It smells so simple and clean and fresh, and is perfect for those enervating late nights in front of the computer screen.

Lovely things

 

This is why I love the eyeliner.

Eyes

 

And a lovely film that I rediscovered recently: it’s romantic, and sweet, and funny and hopeful, and it has La Boheme threaded through it too. And it’s keeping me company right now.

An Unexpected Gift

I love to give presents. Finding something for a particular person, that I know they will love, gives me a thrill – for birthdays, Christmas, or just because it’s Tuesday. The act of giving makes me a bit happy.

And this is the time of year when gifts are exchanged – and not just between the giver and receiver, but sometimes the receiver and the retailer too. Whether because the receiver already has the item, or it is faulty, or because the person giving the gift really didn’t ‘get’ the person they were giving to… we all know it is better to give than to receive, but isn’t it so much nicer if you receive something that you like – love, even – something that shows the trouble taken, the thought that went into finding that perfect gift, for you. (And don’t get me started on the passive-aggressive side of gift-giving, those insidious digs from disapproving relatives, or co-workers, or frenemies (ghastly word, but perfectly encapsulates the signified) that are designed to demean the receiver… really, you’re prepared to spend money just to be petty? Baffling!) I have been the lucky recipient of perfect presents. And of odd ones too. Christmas can be such a minefield. But I digress.

Once upon a time – and it feels such a very long time ago, now –  I was seventeen, and awkward, and confused, and hopelessly, stupidly in love with someone who turned out to be very bad for me. And I had a pen-friend, a friend-of-a-friend, who was also seventeen, and awkward, and confused, and of whom I was platonically fond. That Christmas (1988) he sent me an unexpected gift:Chanel No 5

Obviously it was full, then. It contains the echo of the scent, now. Not yet fading, still potent, still elegant. Timeless. And the most romantic thing I have ever been given. I wish I could have thanked him better.

Now, Chanel is the gift I give to myself. A bottle of scent – though not No 5 – a powder compact, a lipstick. Now, at last, I feel grown-up enough – sophisticated enough –  to be a woman who wears Chanel. But this was my first, and it remains a treasured icon.

Dr Johnson

Dr Johnson’s dictum that if one is tired of London, one is tired of life, always springs to mind whenever I visit the city of my birth. It is an exhausting place, but I never tire of it; there is simply too much to see, and to do. And it always gives me something new to think about, especially when I get to visit without my daughter in tow. But of course, it is wonderful to be able to show the city to her, and see it afresh through her eyes, and remember how I too was taken around town as a child. And she will do the same with her children, one day. And so it goes.

But this weekend is about being the me who is not the mother. And today I have had the pleasure of going to see the David Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy, the hottest ticket in town this spring. I must confess to feeling indescribably smug as I walked past the hideously long queue, my ticket nonchalant in my fingertips… And the crowds inside were a fearful crush. But it was worth it. I was occasionally treated to a prolonged view of the side of a random stranger’s head, and there were of course, the usual personal space invaders (not to mention the chap who apparently came only for as prolonged a view of my cleavage as he could get away with. A charming smile and a flicked V-sign told him he’d been rumbled), and the ones who came, not to admire, or even appreciate the paintings, the sketches, the films, but rather to make loud display of their indifference. A good exhibition is worth the crush not only for the art, but for the opportunity of people-watching en masse. Call me cynical? That’s fine by me.

The landscapes were quite beautiful; the same lane, the same trees, visited and revisited through each seasonal change. The fall of light, the depth of shadows as they alter according to the time of day as well as the year’s progression; the changing tones of green, and the changing colours of the wildflowers of each season, all recorded and presented in the artist’s fearless way. The films made using 9 cameras mounted together on a grill and attached to a Land Rover were quite strangely powerful, particularly the winter films. The bare trees, the brilliant cold clear cleanness of the snow, and the pale blue blazing sky above, had a magic quite separate from the verdant glamour of the other seasons. And more than any other image, it made me long to be able to walk into it, and keep on walking. And that feeling was worth the crush alone.

Tomorrow I may possibly venture north of the city, to Highgate Cemetary. We’ll see…

Working

So the second draft is under way; five chapters redrafted, and the sixth about to be embarked upon. Bits of it have simply flowed, and other bits are a struggle – chapter four was particularly sticky. Copious notes for the third draft are being made concurrently, in my super-large bought for that purpose Moleskine. And I’m fairly happy with the progress made so far.

Last night I printed off the first draft of what is about to be the sixth chapter. And I looked at it, and looked at it. I stared at the words on the pages, and they danced before my eyes, but they would not let me in. So I went back to the beginning, to the original short story that six years ago started this narrative chain-reaction in my head. And in the file next to it I found a printed copy of an essay by Neil Gaiman. I re-read it, and when I reached the final paragraph, I realised that I had kept a printed copy for exactly this moment of uncertainty. Here’s why;

You never learn how to write a novel. You just learn how to write the novel that you’re writing.

Gene Wolfe

I’m going to frame that.