Tuesday, May 12, 2020

The ending dilemma.




Here's an old photo of me sitting at my desk in our old home in Richmond Hill. What remains the same are my desk, the chair and the pen/pencil holder. One of these fine days I'll get someone to snap a new, up to date pic.

All those words, just by way of explanation :-)

A fair amount of my writing time goes into composing emails — such an efficient and easy way to communicate with no fear of intrusion as for a phone call, a WhatsApp message etc. The recipient can open at leisure... or never, if so inclined.

My problem is with signing off. What a dilemma! What delays to my day!! I find myself expending an unreasonable amount of brain power choosing one or two appropriate words. It's simpler when replying to a received note with maybe only an initial or nothing at all. Okay with me, seeing as I already know who's hit 'send'. But that's kind of unfriendly, non?

Soooooo, many of my friends end with 'warmly'. Nothing wrong with that, but for some unknown reason I'm reluctant to follow suit. And just imagine if I typed 'coolly'!!! (might be good on a steaming hot day).

How and where to find an appealing alternative? Oh for the old days when I worked as a shorthand-typist. Matters were clear. When the letter was addressed Dear Sir or Madam, you typed 'Yours faithfully'. If you started with Mr. Mrs. Miss or Messrs and a name you typed 'Your sincerely', no matter what.

I do have a range. For e.g. love, love and blessings, till later, chat soon and so on. Also, depending on weather or state of mind, I can be Brrrrrrenda or Blenda.

Lastly, yet another dilemma: to include a signature line or not. And if yes, which one? Who would appreciate a peek at my cat blog, who my author website, who my writing life blog, who my parenting blog???? Or nothing might be better?

Oh my. Way too many choices. That's a Gemini for you!!

Saturday, April 11, 2020

MY BEST WRITING ADVICE

Authors are often asked what advice they'd give to aspiring writers. I'd say: keep a notebook and write down whatever comes to you in the way of inspiration. RIGHT AWAY.

Some day I might even heed this advice myself. Only this morning I thought of something good to add to one of my on-going projects. "I'll remember that," I thought.

Ummm, no. It's gone. Completely flown out of my. head.

Next question:

What's next for me?

That's the question I'm asking myself, now that the never-going-to-get-finished revision of Charmaine's story, provisionally titled 'Some Dance to Remember' i.e. my companion novel to 'Cape Town' is finally done!! Not dusted, yet though. That, hopefully, will be up to a good editor.

Nevertheless, I've been busy. Before diving into my newish project, or taking up a revision of my set-aside women's fiction manuscript, I've been going through my notebooks. Here's a sampling:


It's true. I'm a notebook junkie, especially as I still do a lot of my creating the old-fashioned way i.e. with pen and paper. Some of these pretty things were gifts. Thanks to those kind souls! But I do have enough for the present, and am determined to use up all blank pages. With this in mind, as I already wrote, I've been going through all old unfinished notebooks. What riches reside within! What treasures!!!

Yes, sometimes I surprise myself. This has everything to do with the image below:



Art work courtesy of step-granddaughter Isabella!

Friday, April 10, 2020

Good Friday in Kalk Bay

In 2016, I was fortunate enough to spend Easter in Cape Town. Late summer is a good time to visit South Africa, and that year was no exception. I stayed with dear and precious old friends who lived in the house behind this fence... a property with breathtaking views over this character-full (in all sense of the word!) village and False Bay. Here is a poem which came to me:



GOOD FRIDAY IN KALK BAY

In Kalk Bay on Good Friday.
the boats don’t venture out-
No fishing till after
Sunday is past.

Today the sea is wild with unrest
wind lifts the waves
sea horses toss their manes.
Still, the hush of a subdued mood
reigns over the harbour.

A small world of its own.

While the greater cosmos
Waits, breath held;
While the God-on-earth
Goes through death.

We pray for a transformed fate,
New life for threatened souls;
New light for our spirits;
New hope for the earth.


Saturday, January 25, 2020

MORNING VIEWS

Frankly, I never thought I'd be interested in writing any sort of a memoir. But this morning my muse, who, as you know, has been overactive recently, magicked an idea into my mind.

As is my usual habit, I lay in quiet contemplation, gazing out the window. (more on that later!... and no, I don't do what I sometimes see advised on the web i.e. jump out of bed and exercise. What remains of my dream experiences, or inspirations from that time between sleep and waking are too precious, so I try to hang onto them).

For some reason I started to remember different windows in rooms, homes, houses, flats even a couple of caravans, which, over the years,  I've looked out of on waking; how I felt, what they meant, what the place was like. So whether or not anything much will come of it, I'll consider this aspect of my life. And be grateful!

If I were a good drawer, I could provide images; images which would open that magic bottom drawer for you. This reminds me that my grandmother used to advise "Keep that (e.g. an especially nice item of clothing or napery) for your bottom drawer." She meant, for after I was married. but marriage as a goal was never my dream when I was a child... maybe, someday, one day in my thirties, say, I'd meet someone and settle down. Till then, the world and all it had to offer lay before me like a treasure chest, waiting to be opened. And no, not like Pandora's box.

So what happened? As the fates would have it, I got married at twenty-one. That led to what is now most treasured in my life: my family.

This photo, however, was taken a couple of years ago when I was staying with a very dear friend in Constantia, Cape Town. Every morning I looked out and watched the sun lighting and gracing the slopes of this beloved mountain. Every day I felt bathed in warmth and beauty.

This January, I'm in the cold depths of winter and yes, a different kind of beauty.

Friday, January 17, 2020

BACK IN THE CREATIVE GROOVE!

Maybe it's to do with winter hibernation, or the new year and decade, but I'm finally back in my writing mode. Losing my husband of nearly sixty years meant I took a while to adjust to this new reality. It also means I have less writing time because... well, nobody tells you that when you become a widow you have to do all the things your spouse used to do!

Still, I count myself fortunate. Looking back over last year, two wonderful experiences contributed greatly towards my being newly inspired. The first was a visit to Rodmell where Virginia Woolf had her 'room of her own', actually a writing hut (son-in-law, artist Richard Heys, taking a photo of her writing desk, now blocked off from the other half of the hut, which visitors can access... when I went twenty-five years ago you could still go in)


 set in a glorious garden.




The other was to Knole in Lewes where Vita Sackville-West grew up. The scale of it, and the surrounding park, came as a big surprise.

Over the years I've visited Rudyard Kipling's house, seen his writing desk and grand study, as well as Henry James's Georgian home. Luckily, I'm happy with my modest study/writing room, and enjoy settling down most weekday mornings.