Its 4.30am as I write and as usual I find myself conversing with my Muse more freely in these hours of darkness. So here I am tucked up in bed, laptop on my knee, a mug of eggnog latte beside me and my cat, Pyewackett, curled up asleep at my feet. The Yuletide festivities are over and my thoughts are turning towards the New Year. I really enjoy the New Year, though I must be honest and admit that I generally celebrate quietly at home, as I find the crowds in the city to be a little overwhelming. I always dream of celebrating in Edinburgh, but as soon as I see the masses of people on the TV I am always glad I stayed at home! The Scots do know how to put on a Hogmanay show though and the 2nd of January is a bank holiday north of the boarder, giving folk a chance to sleep off the festive headaches.
The New Year is a time of reflection and anticipation. We look back on what the past year has brought our way, deciding what we want to carry forward into the next year and also what we need to let go. It is a time of remembrance - old friends are in our thoughts once more, distant relations come calling and reconciliations warm even the coldest heart. Memories are fragile things, sometimes lying hidden deep in the mind only to bubble up to the surface of the conscious once again many years later. At this time of year it seems natural to look up old pals, or to offer an olive branch to someone you have had words with in the past. It is all too easy to misplace people; but one can never replace them.
I recently remembered some friends I made in the Highlands several years ago, when I was on holiday. There I met five boys and a soldier and we had a fantastic time hanging out in an army style tree-house in the woods. It was a forest full of princes and they taught me many things; like how to climb a rope ladder (you go up the side); how to glide down a zip-wire (one must always wear the wrist straps!); how to row a boat (if the water feels heavy and solid, you're doing it right). The soldier taught me how to follow my instincts in the Danger Zone without being afraid, while the fifth boy showed me how to feel the true love residing in and around an ancient Pictish marriage stone - I could hear the humming of the stone! The boys were set on joining the army and they could be serving anywhere in the world now. I hope they are all safe and well and if by some magical miracle any one of my six forest princes is reading this post, I would love to hear from him and catch up, so drop me a line on firstname.lastname@example.org
The run up to New Year is a great time to bring people back together; it is a time of love and forgiveness as old rifts are healed and stronger relationships are formed. All relationships have bumps in the road - some bumps seem so big you might think you will never get over them but little by little you can smooth things out. So if you have had a falling out with someone in the past and you have their number, take time this New Year to give them a call. Life is too short to bear a grudge. And if a bridge is going to be built, someone has to be strong enough to lay the first stone...
Thursday, 22 December 2011
I grew up in a tiny terraced house where the view from every window was of more terraced houses, concrete pavements and tarmac roads. I wanted to look out of my window and see trees...to notice the leaves changing in autumn and falling away to reveal the spooky skeleton tree beneath. Now I look from my window and I see lots of trees and greenery and the wildness of it all makes me smile.
This picture totally captures my childhood dream of what a tree-house should look like. Its so fairy-tale! I love the Gothic door and diamond windows; the Juliet style balcony; the thatched roof; the swinging bench beneath, just perfect for dreaming away or reading a book. A tree-house is the perfect book nook.
Gazing at this picture I can almost smell the lush green forest, and hear the birds singing along with the humming of the bees. I can feel the swaying of the house in the breeze and hear the creaking of the bark. I could be quite happy here, with a stash of chocolate, home-made lemonade and a pile of books to read...go away world, I'm busy dreaming. Who knows?.. maybe one day I will have a tree-house of my own where I can write songs and poems of the forest. Until then...dreams cost nothing and give much. Where would you live in a dream world?
Wednesday, 14 December 2011
One of the things I like best about Yuletide shopping is the excitement of finding a gift which is just perfect for a loved one...when you know without a shadow of a doubt that they are going to love it! If you have a lot of people to give to over the festive season December can be an expensive month. Home-made gifts are a lovely gesture, especially if you can make them with a magical significance for pagan friends. I always have a Big Bake day with my Mum each year, where we spend the day in the kitchen - not normally my favourite place to be, but she makes it fun! - baking cakes, muffins, mince pies, tarts etc. We have Yuletide songs playing and it is always a laugh. This has been an annual family tradition since I was a little girl; it used to be myself, Mum and Nan and I thought it was great fun to watch Mum being told off by her mother for sampling the cakes and getting her wrist slapped! Now my Nan has passed away, its just me and Mum and I'm the one getting my wrist slapped...well, someone has to uphold the tradition of Chief Tastser :)
Wandering through the shopping centre tonight I have witnessed a variety of moods and emotions from young families brimming over with enthusiasm for everything, to cross harassed people just trying to buy something for everyone on their list and have done with it all. I am somewhere in the middle - I enjoy shopping for friends and family, but it can be stressful getting through the crowds. I make it more fun by choosing my diary and calendar for next year and by taking advantage of 3 for 2 deals - the freebie is always for me! I like to save an extra stash of cash so I can treat myself after a job well done...this year I decided to indulge in a scented candle spree as I love Yankee Candles, especially the autumn and winter fragrances. This was not my best idea...already laden down with gifts, I had to lug two bags of heavy jar candles right through the shopping centre and across a massive car park...in heels. By the time I got them all home...arms...dropping...off!
Note to self; buy candles online and get them delivered! At least my house will smell beautifully festive throughout the winter months though, and I have some lovely Candied Ginger bath and body products from The Body Shop that I am going to indulge in tonight. They smell absolutely gorgeous - all warm and spicy, like Yuletide in a tub! I cannot wait to sink into the fragrant bubbles, with a new candle burning and a tub of body butter waiting on the side with my pj's and cosy bed socks. After a day of shopping, a girl needs to pamper herself :)
Happy shopping guys!
Sunday, 4 December 2011
It is a cold, wet, windy December day; just the kind of day to curl up with a good book or to indulge in a spot of Internet book shopping. I love reading novels as much as anyone but I also try to ensure that I read books which will inspire me and enhance my career in some way. These books might not be linked to writing; books about art and music, dance and theatre, biographies of people I admire and so on, have all had a positive effect on how I write.Filling the creative well is often even more important than drawing from the creative juices; if you don't fill you mind with new thoughts, feelings, people, places and experiences then what will you write about? Inspiration is all around us all the time and simple things can often be enough to light the creative spark. With this in mind I spent time this morning perusing the bookshelves in my study to find books which will help those of you who wish to write. I have chosen five books which are invaluable to new writers and which focus on the business aspects of writing and being published. In my opinion these are must have titles for any writer, at any level.
Top Five Writer's Books for Getting Published
1. How NOT to Write a Novel by David Armstrong
2. Writer's & Artists Yearbook
3. Write Right! by Jan Venolia
4. Solutions for Writers by Sol Stein
5. 501 Writers' Questions Answered by Nancy Smith
The Writers & Artists Yearbook is a directory of agents and publishers in the UK and abroad. Published each autumn, it lists editors names and contact details, submissions guidelines and publishing type so it is the go-to guide for those trying to find a way in; if an agent or publisher is not listed here, then be very wary! Jan Venolia has written a guide to correct grammar and punctuation to help you produce good, clean saleable copy, while Sol Stein offers a book of solutions to common problems. Nancy Smith's book of answers will tell you everything you ever wanted to know including how many copies you need to sell to be a best-seller, which is surprisingly few. Finally David Armstrong offers a truthful account of what the life of a mid-list author is really like; I love this book and it is one of my favourites. It tells is like it is rather than perpetuating the myth of the instant millionaire publishing deal! It makes me laugh out loud and nod in shared experience; but if you prefer the myth then this book will cut too deep for you. Good Luck!