Part Three of the Dead and Talking series is now published on Amazon worldwide.
Lisa stared up, yet again, at the sad and decrepit house she passed every day. She’d wondered for years why anyone would allow a house to die like that.
Inside the house, looking out of the attic window, he watched, yet again, the sad looking woman who stopped, every day, and gazed up at the house.
He’d wondered for years why she hadn’t come in. The house was alive with dead souls just like her, partying, laughing, enjoying themselves.
He decided he’d introduce himself and ask her if she’d like to join their party.
Mariana by John Everett Millais, 1851
I first saw this painting in a local art gallery – up close and very person. Indeed I was a hair’s breadth away from the painting at one point, staring at the fine brushwork used to paint the eyebrows and hair. The silk velvet of her midnight blue gown is so exquisitely painted it’s as though real fabric has been used instead of paint.
Of course, everything in this painting is full of allegory, full of meaning, as was typical of pre-Raphaelite painters. The stained glass in the windows depicts a knight who has left for the Holy land on crusade – a soldier fighting for God’s cause – as is shown by the Madonna and the Angel in the other two windows. Mariana has waited and waited for her lord to return, her body aches with the ceaseless waiting and the endless work on her tapestry.
On the floor are fallen leaves – green, gold and copper, reflecting the tapestry she’s working on – but the leaves on the floor seem to signify fading hope, perhaps fading love with passing time. Her tapestry is nowhere near finished, yet the rolled up end is testament to the many hours she has spent working away on it – dutifully and practically employing her time until her love returns.
The wait seems endless, the seasons pass, the candle in the corner of the room burns lower, the light barely reaching into the darkest recesses. Yet still she stands by the window, hope not yet extinguished, the embers of love still burning somewhere in her heart, as fading light warms her soul before it turns towards dusk.
If we were sharing a pot of coffee right now you’d be sitting on my balcony overlooking the park opposite my house, and the bay with the hills on the opposite shore which are covered in colours of hazy blue, deepening to dark purple in the distance.
You’d see how the water is slowly meandering into the bay, following the channels which cut into the sand, leaving patterns of ice blue criss-crossing the red-brown earth. It looks so inviting – but it’s deadly. You’d also see one area already filled with water, the sun reflected in the small wavelets as the light breeze brushes over the surface – creating glints of silver and sparkling as though made of precious diamonds.
We’d probably not talk very much -the birds are twittering away and their chatter is magical and relaxing. It’s pleasant to listen and allow their music to soothe the soul.
Help yourself to another cup of coffee and a croissant, they’re lovely and warm, then I’d love to hear about your place – where you live and what you love about your home.
Yesterday was such a lovely day we simply had to make the most of it. Every last Sunday in the month, from the end of April to the end of September, our little town holds an Arts and Crafts Fair on our promenade. Gazebos are set up along a quarter mile stretch of the Promenade by artists, jewellery makers, woodworkers, ceramicists, clock makers, photographers, tote bag makers, knitters – you name a craft and it will probably be represented. It lasts all day and, generally, the weather seems to hold fair for them.
Oh my goodness, what a question today’s challenge is. What do I do if I’m not writing? I really had to think about that one – which, of course, meant I wasn’t writing at the time. One answer in the bag. I think a lot when I’m not writing – though others would call it daydreaming, which probably amounts to the same thing.
I’ve always daydreamed, even as a small child I’d be walking along daydreaming. One day, I think I was about 5 years old, I walked straight into a tree. It hurt – I banged my nose and burst out crying. My mum wasn’t very sympathetic, she told me I should have looked where I was going. Thanks mum! It made no difference, I still walk into things, trip over things, fail to see people I know (and therefore fail to say hello). It gets me into trouble.
What do I daydream about? Writing, holidays, life in general, the future, the past, family – all the usual things we all daydream about I guess. I find it therapeutic and calming. If I’m angry or frustrated about something, feeling anxious or nervous, I take myself off for a walk and a long think. It always helps.
I also like to bake bread – though I haven’t made any bread for a while as it’s been so cold during the winter months. Now I don’t eat so much bread my stomach is flatter – win all round there I think. I also like to cook, though I don’t cook during the week. I get up very early in the mornings, walk my dog (and think of course), breakfast, shower, make my packed lunch and then go to work (I start early so I can finish earlier). When I get home in the evening I have a cup of tea, walk the dog again and flop. By that time it’s usually around 6pm and my hubbie’s cooking the meal – bless him.
If I’m not daydreaming, baking or working, I’m usually reading when I’m not writing. Reading is my first love – and it’s helped me so much in my own writing. I can’t remember a time when I couldn’t read – though I do remember the process of learning how to read. It was a magical moment for me, the day I realised that each word had its own shape and that shape was always the same – it was like the key to a magical world full of endless possibilities. Because that memory is so powerful I appear to have blocked out any sense of frustration which must have taken place before that one amazing moment.
I’m always getting reprimanded for leaving my shoes lying around the house. I love shoes (and boots), and have a good sized collection amassed over the years. The problem is, I’ve run out of storage space for them and I’m loath to part with any of them.
You really must sort out your shoes
They’ve invaded the entire house
They’re in the bathroom, lounge and hall
Why don’t you build a shelf
To house the pairs which will not fit
In the wardrobe or under the stairs
Or indeed the spare room
Let me think, is there somewhere else
Where you’ve secreted yet more shoes
Or is it boots this time
Do you really wear them all
Of course, they are divine
I’ll give you that – you know I will
That’s really not the point
You see there’s no room left to house
Your husband, dog and self
Perhaps a move is on the cards
Somewhere with extra space
To house those shoes and boots you love
Is that a smile upon your face?
Well yes, procrastination. Something I’m very good at. I’m currently working on my third novel but I haven’t yet written a word – though, in my defence, I do have an outline.
Why haven’t I written a word yet? My answer would be that I’m thinking. Thinking, I would argue, helps me generate links and pulls threads together. I can now tell myself I’m almost ready to sit down and write – just a few more lumps to iron out in my mind. Transitions are especially tricky. Re-introducing characters into their new settings, giving them tasks, these too are taking up my thinking time. I need to kill an elderly lady – she has to die – I don’t want to do it as I’m very fond of her but…
Does taking time out to think of other things – do other jobs, fill one’s time in seemingly unproductive ways, mean productivity is somehow hampered, or worse – killed?
I don’t believe so – at least not in my experience. I come back knowing what I need to do and how to do it. That elusive solution has popped into my head and untangled the knot of strangled creativity.
Procrastination can be a good thing.
Writing – if asked where and how do I write I would have to answer everywhere and anywhere, however and with whatever comes to hand (or fingers).
At work I spend my day glued to my computer screen entering data for someone else to analyse. However I also jot down, in the back of my desk diary, numerous little ideas which pop into my head during the day. (The diary is my own, by the way, not office property – as is the pen I write with, come to think of it).
I write during my lunch break – again in my diary or, alternatively, using the Simplenote app on my phone. I’ve also got it downloaded to my iPad and I access it from my computer, so any notes made on my phone I can pick up anywhere. I really should make more use of it but I find it takes an age to jot anything substantial down on such a tiny screen 🙂 However, I have used it to write out a few blog posts which I just copy and paste when I’m ready to post them.
I also have a writing table, complete with desktop computer with a lovely large screen. This I use to write my novels – the serious work, so to speak. I look out over a lovely park and, beyond that, to the bay and the hills opposite which surround it.
I use my laptop to write blog posts on – I find it easier to move it around the house to where I want to be, rather than be tethered to my writing desk. Blogging, for me, is therapeutic and must be done when I’m in the mood and where I happen to feel comfortable. If that means writing outside then so be it. Currently, I’m sat in the kitchen drinking a cup of coffee (stone cold but I don’t take milk – so almost an iced coffee).
For some reason, I feel as though I’ve achieved something if I manage to write a few words as soon as I get up in the mornings. Problem is, I need to take my dog for a walk first, sort her breakfast out, sort mine out, get showered and then my lunch packed on work days, then get to the office for 7:45am. Weekends are easier. I still get up at 5am but it gives me time to do more with my early mornings. Hence I’m sitting here writing this 🙂
My iPad is my evening writing tool, though I find it difficult to write anything very detailed on it as, for some reason, the cursor jumps around like an angry wasp. No idea why.
Just looking through my post I’ve comer to the conclusion that I can write anywhere and with (almost) anything – yay 🙂 Does that make me an obsessive I wonder?
I’d love to know how and where you all write – or find the time to write.
REGRET – A poem
Returning, endlessly, to a past we cannot change
Each road taken has led to where we are now
Give up the self-recriminations, the sighed ‘if only I’d done…’
Reach out to the future and right those wrongs
Embrace the opportunity to try a different road
Take life’s lessons and learn from them