Saturday, 10 June 2017

Woman - a poem

Woman

The tapestry of my life is stitched with many colours.
Bright and vibrant when I was happy,
Muted and muddy when I was sad,
Cool and fresh when I was young,
Deeper and warmer as I grew old.
Sometimes the stitches are small, precise, careful;
These are the times I was learning abut the world
Or about myself.
Sometimes the stitches are wild, chaotic, haphazard;
These are the times I was living life to the full,
No time for finesse or care.

The tapestry of my life is stitched with many relationships.
Daughter, sister, mother, wife, friend, writer
All add to the design and are threaded through with love and care.
Some relationships left a pattern that survives,
Stitched with love, laughter, life or loss.
Some relationships left a shadow
As the stitches were unpicked when the relationship ended.
Everyone I ever loved, everyone I ever lost
Has left a pattern on my tapestry,
A reminder of our times together and how they shaped me.

The tapestry of my life is stitched with many emotions.
The happy times when I soared and sang and danced;
The quiet times when I thought and planned and dreamed;
The sad times when I wept and mourned and hurt.
There is a pattern here that shows that time when I was fierce and proud,
Another there when I was angry and distressed,
A third when I was overwhelmed and doubting.

The tapestry of my life has changed and I am still adjusting.
Now there are new stitches, sewn in fear and sadness.
Stitches spelling out cancer. Stitches I hoped never to sew.
Sewn onto my tapestry with a bent and rusty needle,
Thread moistened by the tears I shed.
Soon I will stitch the part of the tapestry with hope following cancer,
The pattern of surviving, of moving through, of being strong.
But now I stare at those new stitches and feel hollow.


Most of this poem came to me in the early hours of this morning during that slow period between sleep and waking. I hope it speaks to some of you.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Guided Meditation - Glade

This is  piece I wrote following a guided meditation from Gilly Smith. It is similar to the Dreamwriting piece I did and it follows another character from my WIP. This is Krista who is the daughter of one of the main protagonists. She is a gardener and plant-whisperer who discovers that she has hidden powers as the story progresses.


Krista strolls in the fading light, brushing her fingers through the tall grasses. She notices a man walking parallel to her with a dog running to and fro. He tips his hat to her as they pass but his face is in shadow. After a few steps she feels there is something familiar about him. She turns her head and gazes at him. The dog scampers off and she can hear him whistling a familiar tune from her childhood.

She gets to the gate and pulls it towards her, the old hinges moan as the warped wood swings to let her into the glade. The scent of flowers is overwhelming and Krista breaths deeply, identifying every scent.

Pinned to a tree is a piece of parchment, fluttering gently in the breeze. Krista pulls it free and reads her name at the top, written in familiar handwriting. A message from her father. Tears spring to her eyes as she remembers the last time she saw him.

Moving slowly she approaches the water and looks down into the shallows. Something shiny catches her eye and she reaches into the cool water. A golden ring, very similar to one her father wore.
Behind her Krista hears a scuffle. She puts the ring on her finger, stands and stares at a beautiful fallow deer standing between the trees. Their eyes lock and Krista smiles. A moment passes and the deer bounds away.

The magic is broken by a distant cry and Krista is reminded that there is conflict and death in The City. Her heart feels heavy within her chest and tears spring again to her eyes. So much pain and loss, so much death and hurt. Will it never end? She wipes her tears away and gazes at the ring. Surely it cannot be her father's? He was still wearing it when she saw him last. She twists it upon her finger and smiles at the memory of him.

Krista approaches a set of steps, worn into the hillside over centuries. She begins to climb as the last gleams of daylight peep through the clouds. In the distance she can see The City, tall walls surrounding the familiar cobbled streets and tightly packed dwellings. She begins to walk back, twisting and turning the ring on her finger, determined once more to find her father once again. 

Monday, 15 May 2017

What came out of the Dreamwriting session

I'm sharing what I wrote when I did a Dreamwriting session this weekend. We were invited to take one of our characters fro a walk and as we wrote were given prompts to move the writing in different directions. I chose to use Shalea from my WIP, Shalea is a healer, a wise woman and possible a witch. She is my favourite character in the story and is a feisty woman who takes no nonsense from anyone. Here is my description of what happens when she goes for a walk in a forest.


Shalea felt the dampness seep into her shawl as she wandered along the lane. The rain of last night had given the trees a thorough soaking and as the sun rose the mist dripped slowly onto her.
Through the trees she saw a figure walking towards her. A tall, slender man dressed in shades of orange and brown was leaving the forest. His pace slowed slightly as he caught sight of Shalea. Cursing her old eyes for their failing sight, she squinted at him but his features were unfamiliar. Yet something about him reminded her of childhood.

They continued to walk towards each other and Shalea became aware of the smell of resin and wood smoke. She was pulled back to her father’s workshop, standing watching as he carved the beautiful statues that were placed around The City. She breathed deeply and remembered the look of concentration on his face as he tapped gently with a wooden hammer, chiselling the features of whichever hero or citizen he was working on. She was only allowed to watch him work if she could remain still and quiet. Any noise or distraction and he would roar at her to get away home.

Shalea kicked at a pile of damp grass, nearly tripping and saw something shining. Again her eyesight failed her and she stooped down and brushed the blades of grass away. Nestled there was a silver chalice, embossed and chased with interlinking designs. The base was square and heavy, studded with jewels. She picked it up and felt its weight. But she also felt something else. Shalea felt great power tingling her fingers. This was not just a rich man’s trinket; this had been used for magic, for spells, for potions. Only once before had she felt this, many years ago when she was learning her trade. The  she had been permitted to cast a spell using a High Chalice, said once to belong to the founders of The City. The potion she had brewed had been one of the best she had ever made.
Shalea stood up, her old knees cracking and clutched the chalice to her chest. Ahead and to the right she saw a door had materialised. It was a heavy wooden door, iron studded and marked where staffs and fists had pounded on it. She reached out for the simple hinged latch and heard the squeak and click as it opened. The hinges squealed as she pulled the door open and she had to pull very hard to open the door enough to squeeze through.

On the other side was a track snaking off through the forest. A pony and cart stood tethered to a tree. Shalea petted the pony, untied the reins and began to lead it through the forest. If only she had learned how to drive a cart she might have saved her old legs a long walk. The warm breath of the pony tickled her cheek and she found that she was leaning into the animal, enjoying the warmth and companionship. As they walked on Shalea saw the market in the distance, heard the stallholders calling out their wares and she tucked the chalice further into the folds of her clothing, this was one treasure she would not be selling at market.

So, there it is. A little insight into my story. Just a teaser but I'll try to share more soon. Let me know what you think of Shalea and whether you want to hear more about her and her world.

Wriiting retreat - what happened and what I got out of it

So I've had a few hours and a sleep to think about this past weekend and gather my thoughts about the writing retreat I attended in sleepy, sunny Sussex.

To begin with I must say a huge thank you to everyone who was there. From Gilly and Jed who were superb hosts and wonderful facilitators - the food was wonderful, tea and wine flowed freely and there was never a moment without laughter and good conversation. They have a magical set-up in Sussex and it is impossible to imagine anyone not being inspired there.

Also a big thank you to all the lovely writers who attended - Penny, Katie, Antonia, Carolyn, Paula and Joan - you made it so special.  The support and kindness you all showed to everyone was wonderful. I only wish we could be together every weekend to help each other reach our full potential.

So, what did I personally get from the weekend? I got plenty of writing done which was great. The freedom to concentrate on writing without distractions was liberating and I think I've worked out where my story is going now. There even seems to be an end in sight, something I could not have said on Friday!

I learned some profound lessons about myself too. I was pulled up a few times for being overly negative, a trait I recognise all too well in myself. I made a promise to try not to be so down on myself but as I have 50 years of learning to unlearn that may be a work in progress for a while yet. I also learned that I do have a talent for writing. On the first day I shared my fear of being found out as a fraud who can't really write at all but this weekend has shown me that there is something there and I need to work hard and nurture it. I also learned that sharing my writing isn't always a scary thing so I intend to share a bit more here on my blog in future. In fact I have a post coming later which will do just that, so keep a look out for that.

So I am more happy than I can express that I went along, despite the last minute wobbles that are my trade mark. I am so glad to have made some new writing friends and I look forward to reading their work and sharing more of mine. They have given me the confidence to shout out 'I'm Jo and I'm a writer!'