"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, 25 March 2016

POET'S CORNER; The Music Box

The Music Box
(sung to Brahms Lullaby)

Once upon a time
In a land far away
There a girl
Wronged in love
Chose to put her heart away
She made a music box
With a sweet melody
And there in every note
She poured all her grief

As she wept and as she cried
The magic music box played
The charm was made
The spell was cast
As her pain began to fade
So she took her bleeding heart
And she laid it within
Then closing down the lid
She let the magic begin

Her heart is gone
Her love long lost
She’s now colder than ice
Her wounds still bleed
Within the tune
As she turns the key round thrice
But soft, the heart still beats
Longing to heal
And yes, the heart still bleeds
For to hurt is to feel

"Let me out
Set me free
Please don’t give me up so lightly
It’s not the way; I cry within
Won’t you let me love once more?
I beat only for you
These wounds will not heal
If you keep me locked away
 Because one love was cruel..."

The years have passed
The maid is gone
The magic music box plays
Its melody
Each time will be
A lament to lonely days
So heed its gentle tune
If you hear it one day
A heart still beating true
Hopes to find love someday.

By Marie Bruce

Sunday, 13 March 2016

WRITER'S DREAM; Read Like A Writer

I have always been an avid bookworm, devouring one book after another with an insatiable appetite.  I'm a big reader too - I read everything I see from bill posters to shampoo bottles - if it's written down, I have to read it. I can't help myself.  I respond to texts, emails, letters and social media messages much more efficiently than phone calls or surprise visits. Basically, if you want my attention - put it in writing. 

A love of books is essential in a writer; not only novels, but all types of books.  The books I pulled from my study for the picture above are an eclectic mix of poetry, history, art, witchcraft (that's one of mine!) nature and epistolary. It is a random selection to illustrate diversity in reading habits, because as a writer, you just never know where your next piece of inspiration is going to come from.  You need to be open to both fiction and non-fiction. 

Oftentimes I can be reading something, or flicking through a book of fine art, and it will suddenly trigger an idea that sends me rushing off to get my laptop and start writing before I lose it. Inspiration is fleeting - if you don't act on it, it doesn't hang around, so you need to pin it down in that first flush of excitement.  

Reading a book that isn't remotely related to your usual subject as a writer, can be very inspirational - some of my recent Spirit&Destiny columns have been inspired by military books; two topics that are poles apart and yet a moment of inspiration can bring them together to create something completely new.

I have also noticed that since writing books myself, I read differently and I am more difficult to please as a reader. Over the years I have learnt how to read like a writer; I am constantly looking for what it is that is engaging me. What is it about certain books/authors that keeps me coming back for more?  Why do I choose one author over another when both are writing similar books, say Philippa Gregory over Hilary Mantle for example.

When reading novels I seek out the bare bones of the story arc; I try to define the muscle-tone of the sub-plot that fleshes it out; I look for the ligaments and tendons that hook it together. Seeking out the anatomy of the book in this way enhances my enjoyment of the novel, because I can see the technical expertise that has gone into crafting the book. I never read this way before I was published and it is a skill that I've developed in my years as a writer. Now reading a book by a favourite author is like watching a master craftsman at work.  But I had to have years of experience in writing and editing myself to develop this level of critical analysis, which has been a gradual and natural development, rather than something I planned to do.  Writers become very deep readers.

It isn't only books that inspire either; I have been inspired by films, music videos, a piece of music, a Kylie concert, my counselling training course, Scotland...inspiration is all around you if you look with a writer's eyes. So next time you pick up a book to curl up with, try to read more like a writer and ask yourself why you are enjoying it. If there is something that moves you, makes you laugh, that you can relate to, make a mental note of how that sentence has been constructed. Where are the hooks - in other words, what keeps you reading and turning the pages? Do you have a preference for 1st, 2nd or 3rd person narrative? And if you are bored by a book and don't finish it, again ask yourself why - the answer will be a tip on what to avoid in your own writing. 
All reading is research to a writer, providing it is read in the right way and through the eyes of an author. 
Happy reading!