Two-faced January

English: Bust of the god Janus, Vatican museum, .
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As I said at the start of the year, my post on the last Tuesday of each month would be a look back at my month in terms of my reading, writing and other significant/trivial/funny/sad news. So let’s see…

At the beginning of the month, and indeed the year, I resolved to get on with my novel. It’s my second book and it’s two-thirds written. I planned my time and input, set my word count targets and was raring to go. Then as you’ll see below, to paraphrase John Lennon, while I was making my plans – life happened – and my newly gained momentum was stopped in its tracks. I did however manage to continue to take part in the ‘A River of Stones’ 2012 project and have posted a small piece of mindful and observational writing each day this month. All have been posted here on the blog. I also wrote my regular piece for the writers’ magazine ‘Words with Jam’.

My reading this month has included fiction and non-fiction. And, before I tell you about it, I want to share a cool quote from Annie Proulx with you that sums up how important I believe reading to be for all of us who call ourselves writers. ‘Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write. I read omnivorously – technical manuals, history, all sorts of things. it’s a relief to get away from your own stuff.’ I think that says it all.

I began with Sara Maitland‘s ‘Book of Silence‘. Maitland is a long time favourite fiction author of mine. But this was non-fiction – part account of her retreat into silence and part reflection on her own writing and creative processes. It was interesting and, in places, thought-provoking but it was a little slow and rather repetitive here and there. I guess a bit of a tighter edit would have resolved these problems in an otherwise fascinating book.

My fiction reading is a freebie – a pre-publication proof copy from the publisher of ‘Brighton Belle’ – the latest novel from Sara Sheridan. I’m almost finished it and it’s a thoroughly enjoyable crime thriller set in the 1950s. I’ll be doing a full review of it  soon.

And in other news – so, there was I, all organised – ready to go back to work after the festive break – writing plans in place for the evenings and weekends, house move imminent… Then wham! The house move went bosoms skyward, the car had a catastrophic breakdown, and my dear father-in-law passed away very suddenly. Yes, a bit of a stressful time – the muse fled.

However, things are resolved – the house move is back on track, the car is fixed – £700 later – all down to dirty fuel apparently. And although it was tough to say goodbye to ‘Grandpa’, his passing did bring the whole family together and gave us some unexpected time with our lovely, wee, seven-week old granddaughter. A true January scenario –  with our family looking to the past and to the future.

I hope that February will be a bit quieter – although there is the small matter of moving house mid-month – and that my muse will feel safe to come out of her cupboard…

 

 

 

 

Penultimate Stone

English: Mary Pickford writing at a desk
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I have a room of my own – just as Virginia suggested. I look around my little cell. I love it because it’s mine, it’s me. I love the desk, the cupboard, the drawers, the pictures, paper and pens. This is the zone.

Stones 27,28, and 29 added to the river

English: Stepping Stones Stepping stones over ...
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27 My back cramps, my left hip aches and my knees crackle. Fingers ache with arthritis. Once out of bed, I look in the mirror – my late mother appears to be looking back at me. How can this be? How did I get to be fifty-five? Inside I’m still in my thirties. I look at my reflection and smile – it’s not all bad this ageing thing – sure beats the alternative. And as I grow older, I can let my eccentricities and subversive streak rip and people will put up with it. I plan to grow very old, very disgracefully.

28 Saturday pause. I stop and breathe. Catch up with real life. Unwind and recharge. Each day has its own ‘feel’. Saturday feels good – a day of being in the present.

29 Sunday is a split personality sort of day. I like that it’s still the weekend – a lazy day –a looking back and forward day. But it’s always tinged with blue.

Pebble 26

English: A Sleeping moon in a cap.

Insomnia – an old acquaintance. Lights on in some neighbouring houses tell me I’m not the only one who isn’t tucked up. I sit in the night-quiet living-room, sipping camomile tea, reading, hearing the ticking clock, waiting for my eyes to fall heavy. Hoping to get a couple of hours before dawn.

24th and 25th Stones

English: Ornate earrings from Costa Rica

24 My earrings – I have many – today I’m wearing small blue enamel studs. All are small expressions of me – bright, subdued, sparkly, subtle, understated, eccentric…

English: Robert Burns Source: Image:Robert bur...
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25 It’s the Bard’s birthday – Robert Burns, Scotland’s poet . He’d have been ace at writing these small stones. And I’m taken back each year, as I am today – to primary school days – reciting ‘To a Mouse’. What foresight and wisdom in one small poem.

 

In memory

thistledown, a method of seed dispersal by win...

Joy and sorrow – love and loss – recent  moments of happiness –  to a present  time of sadness – all in the same Christmas picture. A happy great-grandpa sits with his new great-grandchild. With hellos and goodbyes – the cycle of life turns. Farewell George, we’ll miss you. (In memory of my dear father-in-law passed away 23rd January 2012)

Domesticity and Meditation

Two stones here – one for yesterday and one for today.

20. Warm soapy water, soft white cloth, Danish Blue bowl. Pretty, functional, precious. How many meals? How many uses? How many memories?

21. Air vents rattle, trees creak, hailstones pelt the window. But inside all is calm, housework done, order restored. Lemon polish and fresh laundry scent the air, and are overlaid by fresh-brewed coffee.