May I present Miss Martha . . .

I am happy to report a surge in motivation since my last post. I’ve accomplished a lot today on one of my assignments and I’m determined to have a complete, 2500 word draft finished by today. I wondered if you might like to read the opening and tell me what you think. It’s a day in the life of a modern woman looking back at her life, with fairytale/folklore influences. I would love to read your comments.

 

There was an old woman who lived in a shack by the seashore.

           

            She lived alone, blissfully happy in her solitude. When Martha Browning moved in to the bungalow by the sea, the first things to go were the clocks. Martha rose with the sun and slept in the moonlight, sometimes daring to extend her daylight hours by candles. The mirrors she was once devoted to were also shunned. Martha knew she was “portly” as her mother used to say, she could hold handfuls of flesh at various points around her body. The naughtiness of the rebellion always made Martha grin. Every day, she curled her arms around her own sizeable waist and tightened them. This daily affirmation reminded Martha of how lucky she is to be alone.       

            She awoke one morning from her nest of blankets and pillows. The skies were grey and the sea, like a stubborn sibling, resolutely matched it. Martha smiled as she rubbed her eyes. Grey was her favourite colour. She would never be disturbed on a grey day. She padded from her sleeping den to the bathroom, a miniscule room that could only cope with a basin and a toilet. But at least the running water was a luxury available to her in this house. There once was a time where Little Martha had to potter to an outside lavatory and find her way back using a length of string. Martha had aged several decades since then.

            Martha was inclined to wash her hair in the sea, but only when she felt the need to, not this morning. There was no one within miles to berate Martha for having dirty hair. It was a blessing. She washed using the basin, soap and her hands. When Martha splashed her face with cool water, her fingertips lingered on the crevices around her eyes and mouth. She brushed her hair, pulling it in front of her gaze to see ever-increasing strands of silver. Sometimes, Martha wanted to see herself fully in a mirror, a mirror on the wall. But she quickly banished such cruelty from her mind and went in search of breakfast.

            The third and final room of Martha’s humble house was her sanctuary. Although it led to the Outside, Martha still felt comforted by everything she held dear in this room. There was a tiny kitchen area in the corner where Martha would use her rudimentary cooking equipment to bake the day away. Bookshelves squeezed themselves against the remaining walls, some of their inhabitants spilling over into piles of books on every available surface. Martha spent most hours of the day in her cosy paradise, especially during the off-season. She would read for days and her knowledge garnered from books was vast. Nobody bothered to send electricity all the way up here, so Martha was not chained to the black box like others she used to know.

            Firing up the gas stove to make porridge was an intrinsic part of Martha’s morning. She kept her perishables in an inherited dresser from her mother. The milk was still good so into a pan it went whilst Martha went to fetch the oats. The cupboard was fruitless. Each one she opened had the same empty space, occupied only by a pepper mill and a bag of dried herbs. The garden could offer no treasure whilst in the stranglehold of Winter. Martha felt glum. She liked the grey, but didn’t want to be in contact with it. Martha had never enjoyed grocery shopping.

 

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A suffering artist? No.

I have two creative piece due in on the second week of May. I know what I’m writing for both of them, they both have clear direction and strong preliminary characters. But I can’t seem to sit myself down for long enough to actually work on them.

            I wonder if it’s because the deadline is too far in the distance. Because it’s not looming over my shoulder, I can forget about its presence from time to time. But that is not a productive mindset. I made that mistake before Christmas, allowing the pressure of deadlines to swamp me. One of the key things I’ve learnt in second year is how hard work truly pays off in stories. Chipping away at the mountain makes it a lot easier to climb.

            I also wonder if I’m too fussy about my writing conditions. I like to have as long as possible, a whole day preferably, to working on something. I have a habit of “pretending to be a writer” in order to focus. Do you do that? It’s where you picture your favourite writer and imagine what they do when they sit down to write and you try to emulate it. I think of Candace Bushnell at a huge desk with a tall glass of fancy coffee, so I sit down at our dining room table with a large mug of tea. I think seeing yourself as a writer is a real confidence boost.

            I find it extremely difficult to squeeze in an hour here or there. I don’t believe this gives me enough time to immerse myself in the story. Every one works in different ways, naturally, and it might even be beneficial to my writing to stray out of my comfort zone. But when you know how you work best, maybe mixing up the formula is detrimental. I like days filled with writing, so my day off on Monday has officially been allocated as a “Uni day”.

            A thought crossed my mind that I puzzled over for awhile – have I got writer’s block? I always thought The Block occurred during writing, where your pen freezes, the setting blurs around the edges and your characters turn to you and shrug their shoulders. I have a symptom of writer’s block, being unable to put ink on a page, but I don’t think that’s my affliction. I can see my stories panning out in my head, see all of the characters patiently sitting in the waiting room of unwritten ideas. I diagnose myself with an acute lack of motivation, to be cured with a large dose of time spent at my desk tomorrow and copious amounts of tea. Buck up Pen, get well soon.

Night Owl: The Walls Have Voices

An intimate venue, a glass of wine and a bag of Haribo Tangfastic. It’s all very relaxed at the venue for my first poetry performance night. I await the start with bated breath. It’s not an evening I’m used to, but new experiences are wonderful in their uncertainty.

DSCN1229Hurrah for complementary drinks!

            We were introduced to the evening by host Antosh Wojcik, a witty student with clear enthusiasm for his craft. He briefly informed us that each writer would be reading from a different area of the room. The various outposts of the large room worked perfectly with this idea. It became clear that the poets were performing. This was not a boring, monotone reading off the page. Individual voices rose from all corners of the room to immerse us all in delicate verse. The effect of hearing poetry from several different locations was mesmerising. You could hear every word, which is understandably important for poetry. I didn’t know if it was to be a sombre evening, what with poetry being a fairly intimate writing style. My doubts were unjustified as there was laughter in the first few minutes which continued throughout.

I enjoyed the fact that each poem was different and they clearly hadn’t been hurriedly written in order to fit a certain theme. Ideas of entrapment, death and inward questioning seemed to appear in more than one poem, but there was no stark moral being shoved down audience’s throats. I appreciated that. It allowed to me to appreciate the poetry for the craftsmanship and emotion that goes into it. Each poet had a definitive style which kept the whole performance light and interesting.

DSCN1224An upwards view of our venue.

            It surprised me when our host introduced a musical act. I’m not sure music has its place in a poetry performance night, I almost want to keep the siblings separate. Matt Jones has a beautiful voice, but it undeniably interrupts the smooth flow of the poetry. He performed with his guitar from a balcony perch that I couldn’t see due to my positioning. Even my fellow audience members gave up craning their necks to watch, instead opting to stare ahead with a glazed expression. The music is wonderful, but I did not buy a gig ticket.

I wonder if it is the intellectual connotations of poetry that is the reason that I’m relishing the evening. Perhaps. But the poems are making me laugh. I’m with friends. The free glass of white wine is going down a treat. Although our adventure with poetry performance ended at the interval (my companion had an early start), I still thoroughly enjoyed myself. This will not be my last poetry performance night.

Am I a squirrel?

I think I have managed to define my inner animal. For the article that first sparked this thought process, head here, uplifting and amusing.

            I am a squirrel. A red one if you please, one does not wish to be known as “common”.

           

Reasons I am a squirrel:

I have a habit of storing food. I’m never content unless I can open the cupboard (or in my case, pull open the filing cabinet) and find it full. I take great joy in the fame of Tetris it takes to get all of my supplies neatly arranged. My fridge drawer is exactly the same. I have learnt how to be creative with my limited space.

 

I enjoy being outside, but then nesting in the evenings. I’ve never been a successful gym bunny, the metallic machines jar with my old-fashioned vibe. I like to stay active though, walking is my favourite. I’m fast discovering the benefits of yoga as I strive to do it every morning. Squirrels need to be agile and flexible!

There is nothing better when the sun goes down to build myself a nest of cushions and blankets and spend time on a hobby of choice. Sometimes it’s writing, most of the time it’s cross stitching (old-fashioned vibe coming through yet?).

 

I get through an awful lot of vegetables, nuts and seeds. I’ve started sprinkling a seed mix (pumpkin, sunflower and linseed) on my morning porridge. I love the crunch compared to the creamy porridge, and yes I do come from the Nigel Slater school of thinking.

I visited my sister last week and she showed me her latest recipe book, that I have resisted buying, so far. The Covent Garden Soup Company is renowned for their fresh soups and their books are a delight. My sister was so enamoured with it, she bought a blender. Guess who came home with her barely used hand-blender? My adventures with soup making deserve a post of their own. Suffice to say, I’ve definitely been having my 5-a-day recently.

 

Reasons I am not a squirrel:

 

I don’t climb trees and do not have the slightest inclination to try.

 

I’m almost positive that squirrels do not have Marxist essays to contend with that keeps them away from fun activities such as blogging. I have missed far too many posts as of late, but with the Spring Holidays upon us, I have more chance to write posts and more time to do things to write about. The looming responsibility of a degree certainly doesn’t interrupt your average squirrel.

 

I lack the anatomy of a tail. Although all the fresh air and good food is certainly giving me bright eyes.

 

            I’m quite enjoying channelling my inner squirrel. It’s prompting me to go outside and enjoy the new season, particularly as it’s getting so warm. The weather makes a huge difference to me, I can feel myself coming out of hibernation. Hurray for Spring!

 

Please note: I do believe this post is a direct result of reading too much Redwall books by brilliant author, Brian Jacques. Excuse me whilst I go defend Redwall Abbey in full squirrel maiden regalia. Eulaliaaaaaaaaaaa!!