Luminous light of stars
Binds the cosmos
Luminous light of stars
Binds the cosmos
Sometimes a piece of writing rustles and stirs the dry leaves that fall too quickly on the pathways of our bustling lives. Like an inexplicable breath of floral-perfumed warm wind, in the harsh bite of a winters day. Rewilding you from inside.
This is how it felt reading Sometimes a Wild God by Tom Hirons. You can read Tom’s poem here on his blog, but before you click…
…know that you will remember when and where you were when you first read this. You will learn that words conjured together even when read in the cold clinical light of a computer screen, can take you to a campfire in the wilderness where you huddle alone, reading words with only the flickering firelight and lamplight of the moon, with only the winking trail of the Milky Way as company.
Receiving the book was even more startling. It’s an odd thing to open a modern envelope, delivered by planes and wheels and inside find something that almost makes you think you can hear an ancient chant or drumbeat. A beautiful, tactile and totem-like book that feels like it was written and posted from deep in the wild forest. Together on the page with the incredible art of Rima Staines which is itself another soul-trembling delight, in this beautiful small book there is that alchemy of word and art in an ancient dance on paper.
The book is small and beautiful. I feels like something to be carried in a favourite coat pocket, a touchstone for breathing in the woods, feeling the old paths, when the yearning strikes. A thing to read to someone, or share because the length and format is perfect for doing just that.
I purchased a second copy, to be released into the wild. When the time and place is right to leave it there, a stranger will find it, just there on a bench or table or shelf. The note inside will ask for it not to be kept, and for it to be read, purchased if the reader has the means to, and most importantly, for the wild copy to be passed on to awaken someone else.
If you are reading this and you are a person who is in a creative profession, I admire that you have what it must take to be constantly strong in that conviction. I guess that conviction must waver, and I can see it any one that stands beside their creation, that at some point they began. You began, and goodness knows, I am trying to learn from you somehow, how you did that.
I’ve decided to start recording what seems like an epic battle to begin what I’ve always wanted to do, what everyone has been telling me that I should do – teachers, tutors, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, strangers,- many already successful at what I dream of doing – and yet, what I seem so unable to actually begin.
Although wait…I’ve never really stopped..so it’s not a beginning at all, it’s just…like lots of almost-beginnings. The Never Ending Prologue.
I am always writing, but I have an intentional longer story that has been with me for years in notes, thoughts. Every day in some way influences the story and the characters.
I want to to write the story, I want to begin. But the beginning….why is the beginning so impossible? The story is itself is in so many ways, already written anyway. When I say beginning – it’s in some sense, not the beginning of the actual story. This, I think, is what I am learning in these months of feeling like a constant failure.
It’s the beginning of me. It’s the mental shift of allowing myself to become that person, who is deliberately writing with a view to then trying to, well, I suppose I can say it: I would, one day, like this story to be read by others. Some people close to me even know the title by now.
Being closed and secretive about my ambition hasn’t worked, so now I’m wearing it on my sleeve to make it harder to hide and shy from. It’s my ambition. My ambition is to share the story. Not just the actual story, but the story of trying. To show that even when there is failure and rejection on my journey, which with writing is inevitable, in this is learning and growing.
Five years ago, I started a postgraduate diploma in Creative Writing because I thought this might get me over the fear. I got to the point in the course after one semester, where we sent our work out for critical review and I didn’t die! At that point, I realised that I could survive having my writing read and could cope with the editorial process from strangers. I had everything out of the course I needed. That work that went out for critical review was the opening chapters of this story.
That’s how long I’ve been hugging this close to me.
So yes, the story does have a beginning already. But, I am terrified of reading it. Why? Well, every time I go back to previous writing, I shred it. Literally in some cases. I destroy it. So I’m very scared to go back it. I don’t trust myself to be gentle.
What if I destroy it because to me, it seems to be so awfully written?
So, I’m trying to start it again, which may not be wise either.
Every time I sit down with the intention to write this story, demons rise up. I feel like a caricature. Foolish. As if anything extraordinary can come out of sitting at my desk at home.
In Edinburgh recently, I found out about the cafe where J K Rowling would sometimes sit to write. It struck me that I have never thought of writing anywhere except at home. So today, with some time to myself, I decided I would go to a cafe and once and for all, write just the opening paragraph. That’s all, one paragraph.
I sat there, outside in the cold, and although alone, I felt self-concious and like a fool. I had a notepad and pen, although I rarely write much with a pen these days. I ended up writing to do lists. I felt like the world was watching and waiting to see if my opening words would be any good. Of course it wasn’t watching, right? 😉
A man sat down on the next table, with a dog, and said “You look busy” and I smiled and said “Just writing some lists. But lots of lists.” and I patted his friendly dog and had a chat. His coffee arrived and he left and I was alone and strangely feeling even more conspicuous!
I then wrote the title of the story on the page, and stared at it for a long time and then drew some clouds and some ideas and feelings about the story.
I did not write a single word of the opening paragraph.
My coffee was finished and this felt like a good excuse to have run out of time. So, a little numb from the cold, I walked up the road to one of my favourite shops and this is the conversation on entering:
Shop owner: “Hello, you must be the photographer!”
Me: “Oh, no….sorry… no. I’m just having a look around.”
Show owner: “Oh sorry you look like a photographer! It’s the way you are carrying your book.”
Me: ” Well, I do actually like photography, but I’m not a photographer as such”
Person: “Actually you look more like a writer!”
And thank you, universe!
I will keep trying. One cafe a week. One coffee a week. One word a week if it has to be that way. Small slow beginnings.
Two years have passed since I last wrote here (although I’m busily posting back-dated posts as I put a lot of photos and musings on Facebook during that time that I don’t want to lose).
Life on the farm became hectic – it was fun – but nearby bushfires, changes in circumstances with having a toddler and working part-time, two overseas trips – it all stacked up and just meant that we couldn’t really keep on top of it. We weren’t giving the land what it really needed, were time-stretched even getting to grips with basic bushfire preparation. It was dangerously close to becoming a chore and even selling up was hard work. Not everyone wants to have a steep, long, 4WD-preferable driveway cut into the hill, that many describe traversing as a ‘heart attack’. Great views from the top though! So…even selling up became a long and stressful part of most of 2009. However, eventually we found that unique couple, who fell in the love with the log cabin on the hill, and at the start of 2010 we said goodbye to 20 acre farm life.
I stopped writing as the focus turned to moving on and lots of change in 2010. We moved temporarily to a very urban environment, renting near the city and I barely wrote anything at all. We were lucky enough to be allowed to have a veggie patch, thank goodness, but for me, it was as if moving from that place, needing to say goodbye to so many animals (yes, including Gandalf the cat and Molly and Elf the dogs!) had just completely severed me from my muse. I felt it keenly – knew that I shouldn’t write during this time and should just leave the difficulty of ‘animal separation’ to memory.
I even left my postgraduate writing course that I started last year – starting that had been a dream for me, after finishing my MA to suit my career goals. I tried a different short writing course and even failed to keep up with that. I just stopped writing – about anything, for the first time ever really. I took photographs still, so there’s something.
I love writing about nature and the world around me, and just documenting the experiences of that interaction. My blabbing on Facebook in the gap between my last entry here and now, has fulfilled my need to share my wonder at everything – a little bit – but the content is ‘forced’ on the audience in a way I don’t like. I like secret writing with the ‘excitement’ of someone stumbling across it accidentally from a link. That’s what I love about this blog – I’ve never really pushed it out. If you find it, and stay to read something, that’s nice, and you found it on your own wanderings, not via my signposts.
When I realised, that today, I was about to post a series of photographs of caterpillars on my Facebook wall, and my status updates became more imaginative written ‘pieces’, I realised that it was actually time to move back here, and start to journal again, rather than just splash thoughts on a wall that broadcasts to friends newsfeeds.
Yes, it’s true, I’m feeling inspired to write again. I think it’s because it’s the end of a long year of positive and necessary change in 2010. We sold the farm, I changed jobs to address my rock-bottom morale after returning to my previous job part-time after maternity leave – and after a year of limbo, moved into a new house at Christmas. In the last week or so, I’m finally feeling settled. Just as well with a new baby on the way in 5 weeks!
Life is full of things to do and things to dream about – especially when it comes to my passions – nature, writing, mythic fiction and living sustainably.
I’ve even been watching David Attenbourough again. I’m full of ideas and inspiration to turn our new garden into a backyard farm of sorts; I can’t wait to keep chickens again; and I’m feeling really proud of a small temporary veggie patch we managed to get up and running since moving house the week before Christmas 2010- and looking forward to yet another change of being a mother to two in April 2011.
So this is it, starting again – an exploration in *backyard farming,*- new tails (I’m hoping for some chickens as soon as the baby is born and life is roughly running smoothly!) and imaginings (planning to write the children’s fantasy stories in my head – one character has been patiently waiting by the fireplace for me to start the next chapter). I’m back – I think. 😉
I’m going to migrate a lot of my 2009/2010 content from Facebook back to this blog site in the interests of posterity.
from Chapter 7, Wind in the Willows…
Then suddenly the Mole felt a great Awe fall upon him, an awe that turned his muscles to water, bowed his head, and rooted his feet to the ground.
It was no panic terror— indeed he felt wonderfully at peace and happy— but it was an awe that smote and held him and, without seeing, he knew it could only mean that some august Presence was very, very near.
Trembling he obeyed, and raised his humble head; and then, in that utter clearness of the imminent dawn, while Nature, flushed with fulness of incredible colour, seemed to hold her breath for the event, he looked in the very eyes of the Friend and Helper; saw the backward sweep of the curved horns, gleaming in the growing daylight; saw the stern, hooked nose between the kindly eyes that were looking down on them humourously, while the bearded mouth broke into a half-smile at the corners; saw the rippling muscles on the arm that lay across the broad chest, the long supple hand still holding the pan-pipes only just fallen away from the parted lips; saw the splendid curves of the shaggy limbs disposed in majestic ease on the sward; saw, last of all, nestling between his very hooves, sleeping soundly in entire peace and contentment, the little, round, podgy, childish form of the baby otter. All this he saw, for one moment breathless and intense, vivid on the morning sky; and still, as he looked, he lived; and still, as he lived, he wondered.
‘Rat!’ he found breath to whisper, shaking. ‘Are you afraid?’
‘Afraid?’ murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love. ‘Afraid! Of Him? O, never, never! And yet— and yet— O, Mole, I am afraid!’
Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, bowed their heads and did worship.
Sudden and magnificent, the sun’s broad golden disc showed itself over the horizon facing them; and the first rays, shooting across the level water-meadows, took the animals full in the eyes and dazzled them. When they were able to look once more, the Vision had vanished, and the air was full of the carol of birds that hailed the dawn.
“In those first fragments of Peterkin’s experiences, all his life was foreshadowed. Wonder, delight, longing, laughter–the four winds of childhood–these blew for him through his first few years, through childhood and boyhood and youth. He is a man now; but though the laughter is rarer and the longing deeper and more constant, there still blow through the dark glens and wide sunlit moors of his mind the four winds of Laughter, Longing, Wonder, and Delight.”
Fionna Macleod (William Sharp), A retelling of old tales of the celtic underworld, 1897
How do you start to blog? The organiser in me was tempted to write a huge intro explaining my purpose, but my more chilled-out aspect argues that I should just start where my thoughts take me this day. So for the past few weeks these aspects of me wax and wane until after draft debut posts and dainty deliberations over choice words I began to realise that without spontaneous postings a blog might as well be dead. Three weeks after installing my blog software and I had no beginning. I was not born to blog it seems.
And yet….there is a purpose, there is….I can’t ignore it. I can’t just start this with a casual wave of my hand.
I’m not senselessly blogging into the 21st century because it’s cool. I’m doing it because I don’t have the patience to curl my fingers around a pen anymore. I want an account of our adventures into the unknown world of owning property. We’re moving to a hobby farm in two weeks and I’m scared. We’ve grown vegetables and herbs before but this is large scale. We are going to be responsible for the lives of chickens, ducks and also some cows in the near future. I don’t know anything about looking after them [i’ve planted some silverbeet to bribe the chickens into loving me]. I’m a passionate environmentalist but I can’t survive on philosophy alone. Even our water usage must be carefully scientific as we are just on tank water. I dream of worm farms and permaculture….but I feel a big knowledge deficit.