"FUIMUS - We Have Been"

"FUIMUS - We Have Been!" motto of Clan Bruce

All material on SHIMMERCASTDREAMS copyright of Marie Bruce and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.

Friday, 17 January 2014

WRITER'S DREAM; 2014 - My Coming of Age Year!

This year marks my career's 18th Birthday and my Coming of Age as a Writer.

It is something I fully intend to celebrate 

18 years in the business and still publishing...worth celebrating!

 2014 is a significant year for me because it marks my coming of age as a writer...it is exactly 18 years ago this spring that I had my very first piece of work published.  At the time I didn't get paid for it; I didn't even get a by-line initially; that came later; but it was a break through nonetheless. I was published and people I'd never met in life would be able to read and enjoy my work.

That small step led onto far bigger things.  I went from publishing poetry...to writing home-study courses for a leading esoteric distance learning school...to writing the odd magazine article...to being an author of M,B,S books...to a regular columnist in national magazines...to guest writing sleeve notes and poetry for a New Age record label... to writing and singing my own original pagan songs as a recording artist with another record label...and so it continues to this day.

I often wonder where I might be if I had been too proud to write free, funny poems for a pub guide in my early 20's.  If I had turned down that initial opportunity, or given up on it due to the stick I took from friends for doing it, would the publishing industry have remained closed to me forever?  Maybe.

I do believe that a large part of my success is down to grasping every available chance in the early years. Once you have established yourself in your chosen field, you can be more selective, but to start with you just need to show up and be happy to be there. No-one owes you a dream come true.

If I was given £1.00 for every occasion I've heard the dismissive phrase "Marie's been very lucky" I wouldn't need to write at all. But it isn't down to luck, or even just hard work and a positive attitude.  Of course those things do help but talent, ability, productivity, reliability and professionalism must all be present to manifest success.

I also believe that my resilience is a key factor in my longevity as a writer.  Being published also means dealing with rejection and I've had my fair share of that too, yet it didn't stop me turning up at my desk every day and writing, working away at projects with no promise of publication or financial remuneration.

I think it is sometimes easier for people to tell themselves that I have just been lucky, rather than admit that while my peers drifted along, I set my goal at a young age and I worked steadily towards it, making sacrifices along the way. It's just easier for those individuals with a deep sense of entitlement to dismiss my success as a stroke of good fortune.

Lucky chances are fleeting and soon pass.
I have been consistently published for 18 years - that's not down to luck.
When people ask "Who is your publisher?" I respond with "Which one? Books, magazines or music?" That's not down to luck either.

I do feel very fortunate and I don't take my published status for granted. It isn't something I feel entitled to, it's something I am privileged to be. But I didn't just 'get lucky'. I have worked hard for years, in a low paid and sometimes non-paid industry and I deserve to be where I am today.  I am excited by the thought of where the next 18 years will take me and my work. I am proud of all that I've published so far. I have achieved almost every personal writing goal that I set.

Almost... I still have one or two goals up my sleeve and plots to be hatched!

Monday, 13 January 2014

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Stepping Stones

I have always viewed life as a series of stepping stones - not every stone will get me where I want to be, so I have to choose carefully which route I am going to take.  Sometimes I need to go the long way round, veering off course for a short time, before coming back a little closer to the ultimate goal.  This is when I can get disheartened and when my enthusiasm begins to wane a little bit, as I temporarily loose sight of my goal. I have to keep telling myself that even the smallest of steps will take me closer to the desired result.

Having passed my college course last autumn, last week I started night classes again, at a higher level.  There was a mix up with the course fees and every student has had to pay an extra £150.  This has knocked much of the enthusiasm right out of us, as the course was expensive enough to begin with, and to add insult to injury, we were not informed of the mix up until 24 hours before the first class!  At that point I seriously considered telling them to stick it where light can't travel!

However, I paid up and attended the first class last week. I enjoy learning something new and it's good for me to leave my desk every now and then. There is a lot to do to achieve accreditation, but I'm trying not to think too far ahead or allow myself to become overwhelmed.  Because it's an academic course there is all the usual pretension - the way each course requirement is presented as a matter of life and death, when in fact, it's just an essay or a presentation.  If you've attended Uni you will know what I mean. 

On this particular course I dislike the way basic common-sense is repackaged in psychobabble and presented to students as 'a very subtle skill which can't really be explained' - so I've paid £500 to learn something that cannot be explained? What exactly is the tutor being paid for then?  Honestly, it makes my eyes roll and roll again. I'm hoping the course content really steps up over the next few weeks so that I feel like I am actually learning a new skill and that my intelligence is being stretched somewhat. 

At the moment I feel like I am expected to accept the smoke and mirrors gig as value for money and not ask too many questions regarding the course structure and content, or the profession it represents - but that's not my style.  I question everything. I am always going to look behind the curtain to see what's really going on. I pride myself on the fact that I am never afraid to ask the difficult questions...it's one of the things that makes me a successful writer.

On the other hand, it's nice that I'm finding the course work involved so easy. I'm staying positive and taking it as a compliment, rather than an insult, to my intelligence.  I am keeping my main goal in mind as I track along the stepping stones to get there, class by class and lecture by lecture.  I don't really think beyond what I need to do for this current week - that way I can concentrate only on what needs to be done, rather than getting anxious about future course requirements, clinical hours etc. For the moment, all I need do is turn up, pay attention and put the work in on time.

I haven't found returning to an academic course difficult or even particularly challenging, so if it is something you have been considering doing yourself, then I'd say go for it.  Starting anything new or returning to education after a long break is always a little nerve-wracking, but the new year is the perfect time to make a fresh start.  A positive action is certainly stronger than a half-hearted resolution. What stepping stones will you take this year?

Friday, 3 January 2014

BOOK NOOK; Wicked Kisses by Arantza

Immerse yourself in the stunning art of Arantza 

"I do not want the man with the tender eyes, the sweet look, the intense fire. No, that is not it...what I want is only in your kisses...
It is not the man of the shadows, or the true friend, or the savage beast, or the fairytale prince.
What I want, my love, I can only find in your kisses..."

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope you all had fun.  One of the best things about the festive season for any bibliophile and art lover is finding a beautiful new art book beneath the tree. This lovely book was under my tree this year and I have spent happy hours perusing the stunning artwork within its pages.

Wicked Kisses by Arantza is a picture book, being a collection of artwork and pencil sketches and if you like the work of Victoria Frances then you will certainly enjoy this too. The blurb states that the artist intends to 'show us the thin delicate line separating love, pain and grief through the desolate stories of her delicate protagonists'.   There are 25 glossy full colour images, plus a further 15 matte pencil sketches, all finely detailed and brilliantly executed.

Arantza has also written some evocative poetry to accompany each image, such as the quotation at the top of this post which is taken from the book.  It really is a beautiful combination of modern Gothic art and poetry and I was completely captivated from cover to cover.  The book depicts solitary maidens in various states of love, rapture and repose.  Reading Wicked Kisses is like walking through a dream, as each girl tells her tale of lost love and heart ache. I was reminded of the work of John William Waterhouse - Wicked Kisses has that same dreamy sort of feel to it.

From warrior princesses and lonely spirit maids haunting cemeteries to winged sylphs and mermaids, Arantza has compiled a book which celebrates womanhood in all Her darker moods - strong and resilient, yet at the same time delicate, fragile, tormented.   Arantza's heroines are often sorrowful and solitary; sometimes traumatized by battle; or they are fragile wisps of forgotten love...but they are no less beautiful for all that... they are the pure essence of womanly sorrow.  

I wish I could put together a book of poetry and art like this, but alas, I can't paint - I can only write.I highly recommend this book if you like studying collections of art, or if you enjoy reading the modern Gothic and dark romance genres, or if you just want to throw yourself into another world for a short time. 

Wicked Kisses by Arantza is available on Amazon UK.