Friday, August 31, 2007

The Vanishing Muse

'She' is a very elusive lady. Well, writers tend to refer to her as 'She', but I'm not so sure. I think I just have to assign an indeterminate gender - rather like something ethereal from a science fiction film. Anyway, It is never around when I need it.

In the middle of the night, ideas flow fast, when I least want them to be there, for I never have been a night owl. In the supermarket, amongst the exotic fruit and veg. I can be overcome with a storyline totally unrelated to my circumstances. Now, I do own a tiny voice recorder, but I haven't really managed to steel myself to grabbing it out of my handbag and start talking into it in a public place, and I've definitely thought of my most witty poetic lines whilst driving, when speaking into a small machine could be misconstrued as using a mobile whilst in control of a car. I can guarantee that my most inspired (and probably warped) ideas are no longer reachable after a day spent crowd-controlling small children in a classroom. All I want to do then is lie down in a darkened room with a large gin and an icepack on my head.

Like all 'real' writers, along with the rejection slips, I do have a notebook (Moleskine for preference) that I carry with me at all times, and I am not above writing a few sneaky notes on overheard conversations at airports or interesting characters I spot across Borders coffee shop. Who knows, one day, I might even use them in a story.

So, today, when I have a writing brief (from the class that I attend) and an idea about the lines along which it might develop, how come I just cannot encourage my Muse in order to write the short story that will bring me to the attention of short-fiction editors everywhere? Or even just one?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Aren't they lovely?

In view of the poem below, I just wanted to post a picture of our two fantastic Labs. They had just spent an hour splashing in a stream in the New Forest.

Sasha, on the right, will be 11 in November - she is pretty active for an old lady and will give young Wellington quite a run for his money.
The Boy-Wellington (who thinks we are incapable of bathing ourselves unaided) was 2 last May. Now there's a story for another day...

Towards a state of perfection

BATH, n. A kind of mystic ceremony substituted for religious worship, with what spiritual efficacy has not been determined
Ambrose Bierce (1842 - 1914), The Devil's Dictionary

poured to perfect depth,
temperature sublime
candles lit and lights doused
rising steam redolent of lavender
and ylang-ylang to soothe away the day
wine glass to hand, contents chilled
immersed in womb-like world
lying in sound-deadened semi-darkness
awaiting rebirth …
drifting mindlessly…
Nirvana close…
a gentle lapping of the water –


Monday, August 06, 2007


Venya sits alone on the beach. She rocks slowly to and fro, crooning to herself, at one with the waves, staring unblinkingly at the vast expanse of the ocean beyond her. Above, a lone kittiwake mewls as it is buffeted towards the cliff, escaping only at the last moment as it catches a welcome thermal. Blind to the high summer cumulus clouds, she has never dreamt of touching their softness, for the world she yearns to know is far below, sharp and untameable.

The first time her parents held her up to view the sea, the infant Venya opened her arms, beckoning to the waves with her plump fingers. The spray slapped the sea wall and spumed upwards, showering the young family with salty effervescence. She chuckled, wriggling in her father’s grasp, as if trying to get closer to the place that called to her soul. From the open window of their cottage, she would turn her head to listen to the pounding crump of the waves in winter, or doze to the summer-sibilance of pebbles pulled to and fro in perpetual motion.
Later, when her parents permitted the near–silent child to roam untethered in the fishing hamlet where they lived, she would be found sitting on the multicoloured shingle carpet dabbling her feet in the icy water of the Atlantic ocean, singing a strange high pitched song. Watching, always watching, she would shiver, not from cold, but with the anticipation that prefaced the inevitable arrival of the next wave. With her eyes leaving the horizon only briefly, she learned to skim pebbles expertly…six, seven, even eight bounces.

Suddenly, there is a change in the wind. Venya stiffens, her spine rigid. Her head lifts as she sniffs at the brine-filled air. Alert now, her song becomes a high keening and increases in volume.
All but invisible to the naked eye, the horizon rises and comes closer, a dark blue mountain ridge, tipped with corrugated snow-white. Ahead of the roller, the water is alive with silver sparks leaping and dancing in the turquoise inferno. The sea beneath her feet takes a gasping breath, heaves upwards and then recedes, revealing places unseen by man for millennia.
Venya stands and holds her open arms seaward as she walks into the void left by the retreating water. The kelp forest lies neatly deflated as Venya walks along a pathway of stones, carefully placed as if by a hand expertly skimming pebbles…six, seven, even eight bounces.
Her eyes never leave the onrushing wave as her song rises and falls to the rhythm of the tides. She is joined by a second voice, then a third and then more until the air is filled with the sound of sea music that will haunt forever those who hear it.
For a brief moment her song pauses.
‘I’m coming…
For the first time ever, she has spoken
‘I’m coming home.’

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Give us this day our daily bread.

(Take 2)

Measured, mechanically mixed and baked
Until yeasted fragrance pervades each aerial molecule.
Risen near-perfection provokes the taste buds
As its crusted coat cracks beneath the blade
Revealing warm and yielding crumb.

Savour the moment.
Hold it in mind against the day
We are not led into temptation.

For resistance is futile
When sweetened with gooseberry-jamminess
And conveyed in butter-dripping fingers to waiting mouth
Sensual simplicity made in heaven.

Our Father, who art already there,
Forgive us the sin of gluttony.