This world is frantic. We’re forever running around; either with work, family, children etc etc. So how do we find our peace, our quiet, our stillness?
I’m thinking about this type of thing after reading Matt Haig’s current bestseller Reasons to Stay Alive. Now that is one cracking read. Even if you haven’t experienced any mental health issues, it’s still beneficial to everyone in order to scratch the surface of what someone might go through at the hardest points of their life. The book is full of tidbits of advice and ways to change your thinking. After I turned the last page, closed the book, and got over the initial ‘bloody hell’ feeling you can sometimes get after a good read, I became increasingly conscious of all the things I do to calm myself or relax. Of course, reading is one of them – more of an escapism from stress, but mostly I just need to be still. The image above shows the sea front in my home town. This has always been a place ‘where I go’ when needed. A space to take in the fresh air (well, the freshest of air we can get nowadays), and to compartmentalise my thoughts.
When those moments come when life can get that little bit too crazy and there’s perhaps no thinking space, stillness is the best route I can take. And I’m not talking about being frozen, rigid, or mute. Just time to breathe; in, out, in, out. To let my shoulders drop, and to feel my spine straighten out, to look outside of myself and tune into life. That’s the solution for me. Hope you can find, or already know, your calming effect.
So the darkness shall be the lights, and the stillness the dancing.
Always lovely to see the world in a fresh light. Be awake.
Whilst becoming further submerged in research for my novel, certain quotes wave at me frantically from the page. Today’s is quite apt considering the conflict continuously occurring across the world:
‘What a pity it should take the greatest war the world’s ever seen just to make people be kind to one another.’
Taken from The Great Liverpool Blitz, 1987.
Be kind, be nice, and pay it forward.
Chapter 1 is officially published…now let’s get on with the rest of the novel!
Oh, and if you have a spare 77p, then mosey on down to Amazon and purchase a copy. A diverse selection of literary treats awaits.
December 2013 will not only bring the usual merriment of Christmas and festive cheer, but also the publication launch of Pulp Idol Firsts 2013. This is a book filled with wonderful first chapters from up and coming writers, including myself, Clare Doran, and Sarah Tarbit. This will be an exciting event for not only those published within the book but also those who have made it possible. So, thank you to Writing On The Wall and the editors for great feedback. I would highly recommend next year’s competition to fellow writers, even to give yourself the confidence and belief you might need to progress with your writing.
There will be live music and cracking conversation at the launch as well as a chance to have a looksie at the end result.
12th December, Siren Cafe, 54 St James Street, Liverpool @ 7pm.
What’s your favourite childhood book?
Hiding amongst the array of books under the Influences tab you will see one called Hiding Out. Small blonde boy? Sitting by a camp fire? Wearing an orange jumper? Found it? Excellent!
If you said to me, name a memorable book from my childhood, this would be number one. It’s every child’s fear to be forgotten when the whole family leaves you behind on a trip… Home Alone style. But this book turns the situation into an adventure. I related to this story mostly because the family in question is travelling through France to get to their holiday destination. Now, I’ve spent many a time squashed in the middle seat of our old Peugeot 405 whilst trekking to our campsite in the south of France (made especially more comfortable when Dad shoves a load of duty free wine in between your seats!) so totally understand the need to pull over, stretch those legs, have a jambon baguette, and a quick explore. Thankfully, Mum and Dad never left me behind…or the duty free wine, so reading this book as a youngster was a chance to find out what could happen in that situation.
Peter (the boy on the front cover) is accidentally left behind in a rural French provence. He learns to build a fire, keep warm, and survive with what little he can find in the French countryside. I won’t go into the whole story, but what starts out as a terrifying situation for Peter becomes an important quest for survival. He comes across animals he’s never seen before, French farmers he cannot understand, and foods he’s never tasted or even heard of.
Rightly so, Hiding Out has won a few awards back in the mid-nineties and the tale has stayed prominent in my mind till this very day. I learned how adventures can lead to independence, how negatives can turn into positives, how important family is, and how other cultures and countries differ from our own. It sparked my imagination. I still love and reference this book and will continue to do so in years to come, particularly to the younger generation of my family. It was also the first time I had read French in fiction. I ended up studying French and English at university…. Maybe Elizabeth Laird and Hiding Out inspired me more than I could ever imagine!
Go on…dig out your favourite childhood book!
I mentioned in previous posts that I was soon to become a reading volunteer for The Reader Organisation’s Get Into Reading program. I have been with a group for the past seven weeks now and it has so far been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. My expectations have been succeeded. I read to a group of approximately five people every Thursday morning in a local residential care home. That one hour of my day is by far the most enjoyable. I take along a selection of poems boasting plenty of discussion, sometimes they like a poem, sometimes they don’t…and that’s ok. As long as the session of reading aloud and reading together stimulates them, I am happy. The Reader Organisation has carried out lengthy research to show just how beneficial this process is and I am glad to now be a part of it.
Reading aloud is harder than most people think. It takes confidence and courage, not just for me, but for the group members. The best bit is when they begin to read the poem aloud off their own bat, no prompt, just sheer enjoyment of poetry. That is what we do, we read aloud and we read together. Get Into Reading is such a fantastic program so if you find yourself with a fair amount of free time and think you’d be a good volunteer, keep an eye on the website (click the image above). In fact, look at their website anyway, it’s brill, and they do a brill job.
This was a brilliant day all round, not only did I get to read my first chapter out in front of enthusiastic listeners, encouraging judges, and inspiring writers, I also got to see the new Central Library in Liverpool (you should go, it’s beautiful). All ten writers had such amazing novel ideas and it’s very exciting as we will all be published in Writing on the Wall’s Firsts book, due out later in the year. The competition has given me the confidence I needed to believe in my novel and proceed full steam ahead!
Now…where’s my pen?!
Last month I entered a competition for first chapters in the Liverpool based literary festival, Writing on The Wall. I gave it a go for the experience of reading my own work aloud, which as I experienced is much more nerve-wracking than reading someone else’s. You also get to read in front of a panel of established writers who ask you questions regarding your novel. This was particularly useful for me as it got me thinking even further about where my novel could potentially go and where it would fit. It was a brilliant evening and I felt encouraged by the judges’ comments. Cormorano has some weight behind it and I am now more excited for its possibilities. I even found myself going through to the final, which will be held on the 25th May. An all round great experience.
A few days spent in Paris just strengthens the admiration I have for the place. It’s beautiful and full of life. Below are a few photos… I even found a Cormorant… they get everywhere!
Take me back!