Thursday, 28 February 2013

Life is a train of moods like a string of beads...

"...and as we pass through them they prove to be many coloured lenses, which paint the world their own hue, and each shows us only what lies in its own focus."

 How wise was Ralph Waldo Emerson? Very wise. In case you're wondering.

I've been pondering a chicken and egg dilemma for the last couple of days.

I'm feeling fit and healthy, happy and creative, making a positive difference to others - and opportunities and exciting prospects are flying into my life as though unbidden.

 That report I dare not read - about Of Night And Light - well, although there's more work to be done, the phrase that sticks in my mind is 'very well-presented, exceptionally well-written.' Usually, it's the negatives that leap off the page...

The animator who said he'd get back to me in a week-ish and in fact took six-ish (busy with Disney, don't you know!) - said, yesterday, "I have read your stories – they are really fab.  My favourite is Belief in Cod though – really great original funny story," - and his  company is looking to pitch to get it, and perhaps others, made.

YET...when I was unwell, unmotivated, withdrawn, lacking in creativity and low on optimism...


 So - which came first? The open heart and cheerful disposition which magically allowed opportunities to flourish - or the great opportunities, which then improved my mood?

I swear it was the first. I created that as much as I created the stultifying inaction that allowed nothing to move forward in my world.

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Wednesday, 27 February 2013

When you work you fulfill a part of earth's furthest dream, assigned to you when that dream was born.

"And what is it to work with love?" asks Kahlil Gibran.

"It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth."

Fiber rainbow
"It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house."

Cathy Nichols
 "It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit."

 "It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit."

Melanie Weidner
 "Work is love made visible."

Do you think it's possible for me to infuse an article entitled "Physical and relational security in mental health services" with love?

Sure it is.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

If you wait for inspiration to write, you’re not a writer, you’re a waiter.

Dan Poynter - American author, consultant, publisher, professional speaker and parachute designer.

 PARACHUTE DESIGNER? I bet he just put that in to make himself sound more interesting.

Stick to the day job, Dan. That's my advice.

Best regards,

Caroline Coxon 
(British writer, housewife, mother and worm charmer...)

Yesterday was a great day. All day long, I felt inspired.

by Dkim on Etsy
I didn't write anything.

But I felt inspired.

Well, it's a start.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.

Good ole Gloria Steinem. (Tsk tsk, now I'll have to see who she is, exactly. I just CAN'T do it - quote from someone I don't know anything about, except I have heard her name.)

Jewish-American feminist icon, journalist and women's rights advocate. Well, that'll do for me.

My dreams are back. Hooray. They've been submerged under a pile of rubbish (that's the polite version) for the last couple of weeks.

Peter The Glass Half Empty Man always says to me that dreams are unrealistic, that people who follow dreams are delusional, that if I dream I'll only be disappointed. 

I think he should listen to Gloria Steinem.

Or me.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

If you don't know history, then you don't know anything.

You are a leaf that doesn't know it is part of a tree...said Michael Crichton, and that's much how I felt having watched Lincoln last night - wanting to see for myself what all the fuss was about, prior to The Oscars.

I was horribly confused by Democrats and Republicans in that film. I was sure in my own mind, based on following current affairs, that it would have been the Democrats that were the Abolitionists, not the Republicans. More study required...

Spot the real Lincoln...Daniel Day Lewis was simply mind-blowingly incredible in the role (and I tried very hard not to be swept along by the hype - but it was impossible not to be in total awe.)

I loved what Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian film reviewer, said: "And what a feat from Day-Lewis: the nearest thing a 21st-century biopic can get to a seance."

As a screenplay writer myself, she says, laughing hollowly at considering herself in the same breath as, in this case, Tony Kushner, I was interested in its history. The screenplay's history, I mean, as well as Lincoln's.

Based in part on Doris Kearns Goodwin's biography of Lincoln, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,  the screenplay was first written by John Logan in 2001, then another version was commissioned, this time to be written by playwright Paul Webb, around 2006. Spielberg was still dissatisfied. In 2008, I think, Tony Kushner was hired.

His first draft was FIVE HUNDRED PAGES (a screenplay is usually about 100-120!) 

He joked he was on his "967,000th book about Abraham Lincoln," and finally narrowed the plot down to the two months in Lincoln's life when he was preoccupied with adopting the Thirteenth Amendment.

Filming must have taken place in 2012 - more than ten years after the first screenplay was written.

I think perhaps I get too impatient too quickly!

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Saturday, 23 February 2013

Words can be twisted into any shape.

Promises can be made to lull the heart and seduce the soul. In the final analysis, words mean nothing. They are labels we give things in an effort to wrap our puny little brains around their underlying natures, when ninety-nine percent of the time the totality of the reality is an entirely different beast. The wisest man is the silent one. Examine his actions. Judge him by them.

 Karen Marie Moning, New York Times Bestselling Author of the urban fantasy Fever series. Which I haven't read, nor even heard of...until now.

So, had you noticed? - I've been plagued with terminal lethargy for the past week or so, unable to do anything, write anything, think anything very much.

Today, it was snowing and there was a bitter easterly wind.

93.7% of me didn't want to go for a ride on the forest. 100% of Alfie agreed with me - that pony has his share of common-sense and self-preservation.

The 6.3% that made me go was a sanity-saver.

My toes froze, my fingers froze, my face froze BUT spirit lifted

and took flight!

There really isn't anything to beat taking actions instead of getting stuck in your head having meaningless conversations with yourself.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Your head is where ideas go to die!

From a Dilbert comic strip, written just for me...

Ever had that feeling that you don't have any? Feelings, that is. Thoughts. Ideas.

I do. Honestly, I write a blog every single day of my life and I very, very rarely pause for longer than a millisecond in thought before an idea comes gushing out all over the page and all the random associations that my brain dreams up, with its weird synapses.

Not today.

My brain is full of glue.

I need to get busy with tasks that can be carried out without using the brain. Like polishing the dog or vacuuming the flowerbed and similar. Wait a minute...

In the meantime, this made me smile.

Well, it's a start...

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Only amateurs say that they write for their own amusement.

 Writing is not an amusing occupation. It is a combination of ditch-digging, mountain-climbing, treadmill and childbirth... But amusing? Never.

Edna Ferber.

 Discuss. Not Edna Ferber, but her statement.

Yep, pretty accurate. Except it CAN be fun, it CAN be amusing. There's very little to beat the sensation of being in the zone when writing, when words flow with ease, without conscious effort and with the ability to surprise because, even as the writer, I don't know where the thoughts came from.

Perhaps it's for those precious moments that we keep on writing?

I think I've had a lightbulb moment.

I love writing. I DO write for my own amusement. (Okay, call me an amateur if you must, Edna Ferber.) But when I've finished a piece of work it becomes Something That I Must Do Something With - something that I must try to get published or produced as a film or broadcast as a radio play - or whatever.

THAT'S when it becomes a struggle.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

What a fool, quoth she, am I, thus to lie in a stinking dungeon, when I may as well walk at liberty!

 I have a key in my bosom, called Promise, that will, I am persuaded, open any lock in Doubting Castle.

My favourite hymn, when I was but a small girl in school. This is a very jolly version. The school version was about half the speed and dragged along as only school hymns can. Still, I found it uplifting. The puritan in me.

I'm not a great one for lying in stinking dungeons or indeed, for telling the truth - so how about I start?

The stinking dungeon, in my life, is peopled with certain acquaintances who feel the need to snipe and sneer. Not at me. No, I don't mean that. At personalities. At politicians. At TV programmes. At people with a positive outlook on life, which is somehow considered to be naive. At others who are simply trying their best. At anyone at all who seems to them to be fair game - often people without the necessary intellectual capacity or opportunity to join in, to construct witty ripostes.

Maybe it's something  to do with the internet which, apparently, offers people carte blanche to say exactly what they like, however cutting and unpleasant.

I tell you what, too much of it drags me down.

It's a matter of integrity to me. I feel tainted. I don't think it's clever.

This is what I want to say:

(Well, except I don't want to say Anne Sexton)

Me coming out of stinking dungeon in Doubting Castle...


Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Blessed are the weird people


It's all too easy, sometimes, to despair. No, let me rephrase that: I find it all to easy to despair, sometimes, about my writing. (I suppose, especially when I've not been well and my natural resilience is low.)

Plenty of people advise me - Yeah, just write what you love. Anything else is a bonus. Rock on!

So I do.

But sometimes, just sometimes, it would be lovely if someone else loved it too. By which I mean, someone who will publish it.

NO - that wasn't the reason I wrote it in the first place, whatever it was - in this case, Of Night And Light. I wrote it because it was in my heart and bursting to get out.

Confession: I haven't even read through the latest report. At the moment, my heart and spirit won't take it.

By the way, I don't even know what the report says (well, obviously I don't - duh - since I haven't read it!) and it might say some very positive things and then I'll feel a fool.

At the moment it feels just a wee bit too risky.

So, if you don't mind, I'll just carrying on torturing myself.

Monday, 18 February 2013

The chief beauty about time is that you cannot waste it in advance.

The next year, the next day, the next hour are lying ready for you, as perfect, as unspoiled, as if you had never wasted or misapplied a single moment in all your life. You can turn over a new leaf every hour if you choose.

From Arnold Bennett, prodigious novelist, 1867-1931. I like his style...but I find many fingers do I use? Let me check. It's forefinger and thumb on LH and middle finger, forefinger and thumb on RH - plenty enough to be getting on with without employing toes as well.

This is how I've been feeling for the past ten days or so:

No, not feeling like the woman (Could that be Margaret Thatcher?) but like the limp rag going through the mangle.

Today, I DON'T feel like a limp rag going through a mangle.

By Victoria Kirdy

Ready to test my wings again...

Note to self: Don't fly too close to the sun.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

The experience of sunshine

 “Even trained for years as we all had been in precision of language, what words could you use which would give another the experience of sunshine." Lois Lowry

Ashdown Forest by Eva Thomas
 Somehow, everything seems better when the sun's shining.

Happy SUNday!

Saturday, 16 February 2013

When I was a kid we played cowboys and Indians...

and I always wanted to be an Indian when I grew up.

Ville Valo, front man of Finnish rock band HIM (yes, I know them so well) said this. But it could have been me.

It's funny, I didn't think children played cowboys and Indians anymore, really. There's me bought up on a diet of The High Chaparral, The Lone Ranger and The Magnificent Seven.

Most often, Indians were cast as baddies in that era but I never wanted to be a cowboy. I must have had perception beyond my tender years.

Back to the question - Do children play cowboys and Indians these days? The answer is YES.

This morning, on Ashdown Forest, poor Alfie was traumatised by Indians - whole tribes of them - crashing through the trees, leaping out of bushes, whooping, and shooting each other with imaginary bows and arrows.

It was wonderful to witness but Alfie was paralysed with fear. The whooping...

It was a very long ride.

So much for my Sioux dreams of galloping across the plains of whichever plains you galloped across on my faithful steed, the wind sweeping through my long black plaits, a jaunty feather in my head dress...

But my childhood affinity with Indians was justified (to me, at least) the very first time I saw Soldier Blue 
in 1970.

And here's that wonderful song by Buffy Sainte Marie.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Success is a little like wrestling a gorilla. You don't quit when you're tired. You quit when the gorilla is tired.

...from Robert Strauss, American freelance writer.

It's not even success at the moment but life being like wrestling a gorilla.

Remember the Vitality Diet?

I have adhered to it rigidly, doggedly, determinedly since Monday but instead of getting fitter and better I've been getting weaker and sicker...

Not a complaint. A fact. It's difficult to tell what's as the result of detox and what's as a result of a flu bug or more likely it's a combination of the two.

Sometimes, common sense has to prevail over gutsy determination. While I'll still keep away from caffeine and alcohol, I really have to start eating proper food.

So this particular gorilla has defeated me. Temporarily.

But don't venture too far away, Mr. Gorilla...

I'll soon be ready for Round Two.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

I claim there ain't another saint as great as Valentine.

Ogden Nash.

I don't know...I rather like St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes. I pray to him quite a lot.

Here he is, looking a little like a poster boy for British Gas:

(The flame, I discovered, is to symbolise his presence at Pentecost)

Valentine's Day is pain free for me, in my thirty sixth year of marriage. The fact that Peter forgot about it and I didn't doesn't mean anything at all, except he'll be extra nice to me all day out of guilt!

I do remember the horrible peer pressure and angst in my teenage years - I simply didn't have a boyfriend until I went to university. It was painful in the way that only adolescent pain can be.

One time, I sent two Valentine's cards and disguised my writing. The only trouble was, I disguised the writing identically on both and the recipients compared notes and worked out it was me. The taunts. The humiliation. (You know who you are, Martin Oliver and Neil Scott-Evans - except you probably don't.)

So, here are some cheering Puritan Valentine's Cards to make you smile.

Or not...

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

What a writer has to do is write what hasn't been written before or beat dead men at what they have done.

I believe you, Hemingway.

I'm not sure, however, that publishers agree.

I've had the report back on Of Night And Light - the novel. In all honesty, I haven't read more than the first page. Feeling really rough isn't the right time to absorb constructive criticism in a positive way - constructive criticism that will entail a lot more work.

I was stopped by the phrases '...difficult to place. Publishers are looking for the next...' (insert your own choice here, like Harry Potter or Twilight.)

And here's me thinking that publishers would be looking for something DIFFERENT.

When I feel 100% again, I'll read the whole report and no doubt I'll do another re-write because I believe in that novel. But there must come a point, eventually, when I'll lose that.

Until then...

...onwards and upwards.