Saturday, 20 February 2016

HANGING AROUND



Obsession has climbed on my back, wrapped itself around my shoulders, my head – which is lost inside a huge fiction...yes, thirteen books one after another will do that to you. I'm back in True Blood land, living in Bon Temps with Sookie Stackhouse, hanging on every word, to the extent of sometimes going back a bit to re-listen because my attention had strayed to the real world...of just one of my other fantasy places. It's a nasty addiction, this audio book trail, this reading with your eyes shut...this falling in love with the deep south accent of the same reader through the books. I've only escaped for a little while to skin Facebook, Twitter, and to force a scribble for blogging. The last book is calling me so I think I might have time to make a quick cuppa after I post this before the walls close in. outside I hear the rain running foul of the wind and am glad to be imprisoned in this wee flat, in this cosy bed.


Though, last couple of days I've been working on another set of tarot majors, including creating the hanged man above. I took that pic in Budapest more than ten years ago, and thought he would be an interesting take on the traditional image.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Writing with the Tarot

I posted a while ago about using tarot as a prompt, and that I was expanding the exercise to create a stream of characters, names, places and events/plot/situations. So now I have recently returned to the first story that came out of this project and am expanding it. I’d stopped at a thousand words, thinking that it was a short story, but as the months passed I questioned that. It had occurred to me that this may be a novel. Now I think it should be a novella, and it’s sitting somewhere around 6k. The first thousand words sets up the atmosphere of a happy home expecting a late baby, and the expectations of change hitting the mother in an unexpected way; at first she was the key figure and the major change happening to her, and everyone else in the family being satellites who would, of course, respond to what she had done…but I had left the reader to imagine that response.

I myself, even though I’d created them, was charmed by all these characters and that’s probably why I couldn’t get them out of my head. So when I was writing something else I realised that the two girls were Violet and Melody, so I changed the names and moved the pieces over and found the perfect situation to slip their story onto the already written one…and because I’d done that it was natural to continue on with yet another character from the household after that.

So, the tale appears to revolve around one morning, and the choices each character makes and how they affect the dynamics of the family and its future. I did think of killing someone but that would halt the onward progress of their choices. I’m more than half-way through the third section and faced with real action in a building site (which I know nothing about) so I’m faced with the prospect of having to go photograph some of the doings of house-building - luckily, there’s one near me… I just need to wait until the stormy weather calms down so I can go spying.

In this section there are two of the characters, the oldest daughter and her father, coming together really just to show a more stabilising unit within the unit, but during this time something unusual comes to light and perhaps we get to know what’s going on inside this pleasant man’s head…some of the time. It is a very female crowd, and he’s the only man - although, the mother is expecting their first son.

If this exercise is anything to go by, I should get a ton of work out of the whole thing: this set-up came from only the first card in a spread - there are six more to go!

Monday, 11 January 2016

Goodnight David



An Ordinary Night in the Muscular Arms

There was gliding downstairs and a gold silk skirt swirling
around my feet, blown up and wavering at my movements
and Bowie pounding his Jean Genie out from the walls filling
my skinny soul with the impossible fantastic dream of this me
barely eighteen, a queen in a bar, in charge of the smallest
lounge searching for a bottle of pink gin that didn't exist – all
I knew was the longing for glamour in a cheap skirt that held me
entranced, dancing with David in the world, letting go-go-go.

Friday, 8 January 2016

BOOKS AHOY!

I think I’m on the boil now, my attention caught up in reading three books; one is paper, Paul Auster’s The New York Trilogy - very deep and interesting…a bit mind-boggling actually; on Kindle I’ve sunk into a freebie from Bookbub called Wolves by C. Gockel and really loving it…only just finished chapter one so I’m hoping it will keep up the good work; just started listening to the third book, Stephen King’s Bazaar of Bad Dreams, which is a collection of stories…and I love his short/long stories.
There are sooo many unread books in this house, and my Kindle is following suit. I like to have plenty of choice when in a mad reading phase…which is where this recent mad writing phase has led me. So now I want to be all about schedules, and allotting half-hour sittings or more many times a day - and that doesn’t account for the time spent listening to a book… I will always do more of that. I seem to have already done quite a lot of things this year and we’re only at the end of the first week! Things are looking up for me.

Today, I slipped into the local charity shop and found a memoir by Janice Galloway, started reading it and can’t put it down - it refuses to share me with others, so I might spend the whole weekend with it.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

LAUNCH DAY


It’s launch day for the anthology, Tales from Elsewhere, which includes a story written by me. There are some brilliant and wonderful tales in this book. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tales-Elsewhere-Sarah-Thomas/dp/1522725628/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1452170228&sr=8-1&keywords=tales+from+elsewhere

I pondered what to blog about, on launch-day, and have already written about our group of writers on my personal blog - here, so I think the perfect thing is to offer you the out-takes, the bits of writing at the beginning of this project that never stayed in the story.

September 2014

My notes from that weekend include phrases like, ‘It’s bosomy here…’ There is also an unfinished poem, but I want to let that lie around for a while more.


OUT-TAKES

Liza had felt the invitation, the crisp flick of paper in her hand; she feared her sweating fingertips would smudge the officialness of her name, her right to go there...to drive up that lane listening to the arse of her poor old car dragging its tail on the un-gouged middle. This place was nowhere, with no witnesses...anyone standing on the moon would never give that landscape a moment's thought, wouldn't know of its existence.
She stepped out of the car in a gravelled circle and pushed the door closed with a click. Someone knew she had come, would have heard her scrunching up the lane and now the gravel could bring the meeting onto the path. Liza was instantly taken with a table and chairs set out under a tree but she turned towards the cottage's open door.
'Hello,' she called.
A sound from the door on her right might've been an answering voice – Liza opened the door and walked in...into a bathroom and found a little round woman sitting in a bath with all her clothes on.
'Did you want to speak to the Oracle?' the wet woman asked.
'Is that you? Are you the oracle?'
'Well, I'm in her bath so it stands to reason that I am probably her.'
'But you're fully dressed.'
'Which is my own business in my own bathroom.'
'I'm sorry. I shouldn't have done that, but the front door was wide open.'
'You must be expected then. Take a seat.'
She motioned for Liza to sit on the fluffy lid of the toilet.
Liza sat and looked at the woman.
'Why are you taking a bath in your clothes..if you don't mind me asking?'
'Why should I mind you asking me personal questions?'
'Well, there was no answer at first then I thought I heard someone say, Come in.'
'What's your name dear?'
'Liza.'
'Hmmm.'
Liza took out her invitation and waved it. 'I was invited,' she said, 'though I don't know why.'
'Well, Liza. Perhaps you might like to climb that little tree and pick me a few apples before we begin.' She pointed out of the window.
'Begin what?'
'Introductions of course.'
Liza stood up and peered around the flapping curtain out of the open window.
'Oh. Okay,' she said, and left the room.
She walked down the side of the garden, looking into bushy corners but no one appeared. It was a big space, not quite a lawn but pleasant short grass. Picking the apples was only the first task of seven; there were mushrooms to get, chestnuts to gather from the cemetery and Ginger-beer to bring up from the old schoolhouse. Now she was stuck at the fish and had no idea what the other two chores would be.

*


I can't see Liza in the kitchen but I know she's still staring at that gutted fish on the kitchen table; she knows it's dead but can't get past the wide eyes, won't chop the head off because it's a vile thing to do but is in a quandary about serving it up cooked. She's a carnivore for God's sake. Distance is a dance. I only met her a few hours ago and already she trusts me to teach her something that will help her to cope with all the things she can't talk about.
September here is bosomy. I live under this tree, sit outside all day and pretend it can change me, make me more fundamental, grounded in the basics that exclude electronics...and yet, knowing that the skies are hoaching with technology and I was reduced to candles, oil lamps and scrubbing carbolic wouldn't bring me the tranquillity I'd need to fulfil my purpose – if I had one. Liza thinks I have; she heard it from a good source.

*

'Oh I do love a bit of company,' said the Oracle when Liza came to join her under the tree. 'You arrived on time dear, now come sit. I feel the skin holding us together burst, seeding our words into autumn...'
'I feel as if I've been here for days.'
'And all the better for it. Tell me now, what is it that consumes you?'
'Last night I dreamed about a woman who could astral walk, talk to others and live a different kind of life but her body was killed while she was away, and all I can think about now is where does that leave her? Are we attached to our bodies even when we're gone? Would she be a waif-ghost?’
'What do you think?'
'I'd want to believe the most, the positive but the state of the world these days, what with all the privatisation and food-banks, I'm leaning towards the opposite. She's fucked, isn't she?'
'But she doesn't exist in the world of politics so cut them from the picture and see what's left.'
'Everything.'
'Exactly.'
'The fish must be cooked by now,' Liza said.
'Yes, the others will be along soon, oh yes I hear them coming up the lane.'
As they walked up the lawn voices drifted through the trees that used to be hedges.

There had been no introductions, no names, just women passing bowls of food to each other. Sauce boats sailed up each side of the table, crossing at one point before being captured and re-filled. The great fish had been picked clean, only remnants scattered inside the curved cage. Liza loved the way the steaming flesh had slipped off the bone just from the hook of a fork. Apples, cheese and cake appeared like magic as hands lifted the old course away...the talking caught her at every turn – she couldn't keep up. There was wine but not too much to notice and yet there must've been a lot. She counted fifteen at the table, though some of them just wouldn't stay still and their faces blurred into smiling characters from a story she'd read in her childhood. What was she doing here?

The next morning, in the middle of all the small conversations going on all over the place, there were shouts and laughter, and two heads rising over the lilac bushes. A little round woman was taking photos of the two gyrating women on the trampoline. Liza stood behind her and watched her capture them up in the air, legs and arms dancing – she was breathless just watching them and the world was suddenly quite overwhelming. Why was she here? And then a memory slipped into her mind – had she eaten anything? She couldn't remember the taste of the fish the night before, but she must've had some...she was right there amongst the others, who were all eating and enthusing and congratulating the cook. When she looked down there was a mug of tea in her hand.
'I am here. It is real, isn't it?'
No one answered her; she wasn't sure if she'd spoken out loud, but it was pretty noisy where she was and anyone passing was watching and laughing at the trampoliners.

https://talesfromelsewhereblog.wordpress.com/



Saturday, 2 January 2016

HUNGER GAMES

I have a new project - of course I do. It will also help re-shape an old project, which is good; I'm building a book of prompts, and it's been lying around now for a couple of years, more than partly done so this idea should polish it into a finished product.

January is going to be all about Hunger in all its glory or mess, and the poem below is still in first draft but in essence is the birth of a creative spirit...whether you're new to writing or not.

HUNGER GAMES

The days in front of me are lawns of empty pages…
my stomach ponders the arrival of more food
but I'm thinking about women starving to feed children,
and the news I can't watch will offer visions of need
into my poor but satisfactory life. I buy bargain food,
save my money for £300 phones, and gadgets
that starve my muscles of exercise – I'm comfortable,
not ashamed to have survived my struggles.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Farewell; I may be gone for some time

Sailing into the new year and working extra shifts, grumbling all the way, but I suppose the money will help cover some expenses and get me on a level path again...not that I've gone off the path or fallen down the pipe. Things are cool in my world, though I have taken out a teeny wee loan with my credit union to treat myself to a new phone. Number 1 son got the old one yesterday so now I am phoneless, and have to go out into the world on Monday to work and be incommunicado for a change. The lovely new phone could arrive by the 31st so let's all pray I have a new gadget to play with on Hogmanay.

Now that xmas is over my next project is to put up new art in my hall. I took down all the postcards from my mad world hobby the other year but have chosen some to keep and find a new nook for them - maybe behind the kitchen door. So now I will have to sort out the printers - they only need ink and to be reunited with the laptops. I've been buying photo paper because I've got some fabulous doodled pics I want on my walls...captured a couple of pieces from Lesley too, and, demanded something creative from the boy Spencer.

As I clear and clean these neglected corners of my life and home I should be able to slip myself, my legs, into the hole in my desk - actually there are two desks in my room, and they are almost tidy, nearly ready to be put to work. I don't want to make empty promises again at this time of the year; it's time to do without quibble, to finish what's been started. In the last week I have found snug homes for lots of the jewellery-making supplies so the place is looking much more business-like and less like a mad poet's place - maybe that's because I'm on a prose-spree.

Next year I plan to read more paper books, prowl through what's on my Kindle, and write some reviews. I think that should be my only resolution...there's no point me saying I will try to be healthier, to lose weight, to go out more, I will just have to hope all these things happen accidentally, as by-products of my other obsessions.

Monday, 21 September 2015

TAROT TALES

Speed does not exist this month - time is full of essence and I am smelling all the roses, feeling languid, rested but itching to get up and go full pelt for December. I've got all the makings for most of my Xmas presents and am now clearing the desks (again) to begin with all the creativity...or I was. The other day I had a great idea to write a collection of stories around a tarot reading, but one set of cards wasn't enough for this project - I used 8 packs of cards, pulling out the reading from each one and laying them down in a grid so I could snap a picture for future reference. So, that has captured me for the last few days...I even taught myself a few new moves on Scrivener.

It's only been four days but I think the marriage of Tarot Tales and charm bracelets will do well.


The first story is inspired by the cards in the top row - they are all 8 of pentacles but the difference in the images is incredible from a writing/creating point of view. I've got 8 lines of description or character or place, and 8 names to choose from. Each card in the original reading sits on a position, which gives me a base-line for the story and characters...and the whole story of the reading is yet another level in the tales. It has turned out to be a fantastic exercise, so I'm hoping that the good first drafts of all of them might be ready to rest over the holiday season.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

A VISIT TO THE SOUTH SIDE

We are all terminal but Linda is the only one I know who has a measurement in weeks or monthsnobody is able to give her anything more definite than that, and she seems to feel strong, apart from the pain, so all the signals are mixed. When we left she looked pale and tired but happy to be part of pretty good crack between me, her two cousins, and Angela; the laughter spilled all over our table in the massively packed, busy restaurant on the first floor of the brand new billion pound hospital wing.

And now I've just finished eating flame-grilled cow with cheese in Burger King, waiting for my movie to begin; I can't pass up a trip to the city and not catch a film, get my money's worth from my yearly ticket; £16.40 a month, and the cinema is way out of my way...and I'm such a lazy bitch I can't get myself out of the flat on my days off. The year is up at the beginning of December and I won't be renewing it – I'll be rich!

Money will have to be spent in The Works; I can almost see it, along the road from where I'm sitting. Acrylic paints have been bought from Lidl's, and new brushes...I'll be creating a lot of my Xmas presents; Tibetan silver pendants and beads, and finger and hand puppets are winging their way towards me from all over the world. I love Ebay...and am itching to get crafting and arting.

Last night I was listening to a bit of Isabelle Allende's biography and it made me think of returning to mine. Linda's news enforces that, and again I find myself thinking that I must tidy up the pile, leave proper files and instructions behind when I saunter off this pitch. But now I want to wander a few yards of Sauchiehall Street in the late summer sun before the rain returns, and before the shop shuts.

LUCINDA


Oh, my eardrums echo with her white noise;
she's a ghost of herself, carving her desk
into a monument of waiting. Long
weeks hoot like quiet owls.
Cancer doesn't
whisper: it growls deep in her bowels.
Surgeons cut and thrust the necessary,
bagging her like a take-away...and we
are left to w
ander. Memories, pale nights,
and three of us discussing possible
properties of money-oil – and how to
cast a spell to decimate financial
dyspepsia. Her laugh, like a cartoon
dog, wheezing in, and out of damaged lungs
reminds us to howl at the bloody moon.


Friday, 29 May 2015

THE CHANGE OVER

My new Tivo box was delivered from Virgin in January - it's all still in the bloody box! The very idea of interrupting my wireless is anathema to me, but now I suppose it's time to get it done so that's what is planned for tomorrow. It looks simple. Ha. I've skimmed all the booklets...and how exciting does all the choices make life? Ah but, I don't watch telly...not the ordinary kind, but looking at the promised entertainment maybe I'll find something to attract my attention. All I want is access to my Netflix account on my lovely big telly - why else would I need to sit on my sofa when I have a very comfortable bed with a big telly at the bottom of it and an HDMI cable?

I may well be back on here tomorrow night ranting and raving if things don't go my way - and then again, if I can't get online then I won't. They told me that my set-up was ancient and slow, and they wanted me to have the best of the super-highway...and they're right; when the grandkids are here wireless is always going off because of the strain. So, wish me luck and intelligence tomorrow.


Monday, 25 May 2015

A MUST-READ BOOK

On opening Catherine Czerkawska's historical novel, The Physic Garden, I know immediately that I will have to plan ahead and read it chapter by chapter because it is so beautifully written, with each chapter encapsulating a thought, a question, a time. You want to stop and think, relish what you've just read – also, life has to revolve around work and shopping and cooking/consuming meals...there will be no housework done until I have finished this book.

Half-way through and I am still captivated by the interesting detail, the characters and the hook – I want to know; what happened? I'm a city girl and really interested in how the writer has stuffed every crack in the floors with knowledge...things I want to know but have been too lazy to find out for myself, so far. When I'm reading I'm immediately immersed in these characters' lives, and it's so annoying when real life interferes and I have to stop.

Oooh, there's a fabulously disgusting passage 85% of the way through, describing some of the poorest places in Glasgow:

'...I found myself peering into rooms that never saw the light of day, stinking bug-ridden rooms and passages...in a drab and deadly succession, all leprous with damp, I thought that I had found myself in some hellish labyrinth, an underground warren where only troglodytes might live.'

...and, several hours later, I have finished reading a wonderful tale. I don't need to tell you what it's about – you can read that on the book blurb. This is not a genre story; anyone, with particular likes and dislikes would love it. It is set in the historical past but is fiction, and such an imagination has conjured up a place and a time that will leave you spellbound.



Thursday, 21 May 2015

A FANTASY LIFE

I'm reading, mostly with my eyes shut – I do love audio books. So far this year I've gone back and listened again to Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The Dresden Files, The Walking Dead, and am now on the fourth book in The Game of Thrones. It's hard to explain why I keep returning to all these, but it's probably because there are so many characters and stories to love...I must be a saga-gal! I easily fall upon series, including TV versions, and often re-read True Blood and watch the dramas re-envisioned where killed-off characters live again. I love the differences.

My reading taste changed because I wanted to write fantasy so began reading lots of it...and then I found audio versions of Asimov's Foundation series, Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game and Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth and oh the feeling when the right voice reads life into those characters is beyond fascination...it's a drug, and I became addicted so now am obsessed with listening to books, so much so that I hardly ever switch on the TV. It goes on for me to watch one thing and off again. I can't watch normal programmes, only drama. I don't live in the real world.

It doesn't matter that I'm not in the real world and I'll be gone from it soon enough I suppose, so why should I spend my last years trying to interpret the reported news and politics? I enjoy every minute I spend alone in my cave; I love the flashes of time with my many grandchildren; and I refuse to become a Moaning Minnie like the old woman I meet on a Monday morning at the bus stop on my way into work – if that's how the world bends us then I'm opting out. I can easily deal with the tension created on pages of text because I can turn the page to find out who did what when and where and to whom...and more than likely the why of it too...and yes, I believe in fairies.

Have I written my fantasy yet? No. Gestation is a bitch, but something is creeping out now and after years of working with Tarot cards I'm splashing some of it all over my pages. So there's a short story almost finished that will appear in an anthology, and some kind of magic has appeared in poems, some of which have been published. I started working on world-building a few years ago so that is always in the back of my mind when creating characters..and there are more than a few novels lazing around waiting for my attention. I'm drowning in fantasy...see the bubbles coming up?