Calm Inspiration

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A few weeks ago I was listening to one of my favourite radio programmes, Radcliffe and Maconie on BBC 6 Music and heard an interview with Haemin Sunim, and immediately placed an order for his book.

I have quite a few books on Buddhism and meditation and was intrigued to see how Haemin would approach the subject differently.  As it has been primarily inspired by his Twitter account, in which he gives advice on a number of topics, the book has similarly been divided up in to the following sections; rest, mindfulness, passion, relationships, love, life, the future and spirituality.  It’s written in a very accessible, conversational style, and you could either read all the way through, or just dip in and out of it.

However, what really impressed me were the beautiful illustrations which accompany the words and elevate this above many others in this field and making it a joy to hold and read.

Minterne Gardens: a piece of paradise in Dorset

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Mother Nature has been kind to me in many ways; one of which is the fact that I was born on the beautiful South Coast of England, in the equally lovely county of Dorset, which is where I still live. Although I’m based by the sea (couldn’t live any further inland; I tried that when I went to university, and hated it) there is so much countryside to explore, most of which is only thirty minutes to an hour away.  There is also so much of my own fair county which I have yet to explore, and I’m constantly surprised by how much wonder there is in one place.

Yesterday was another of these discoveries as I set out early with my family to visit Minterne Gardens, near Dorchester. It was still quite hazy when we left the, but as we drove deeper into the Dorset countryside, the sun was beginning to break through and the temperature was warming up quite nicely.  As we made our way to our destination we passed fields of green and yellow, pretty villages and inviting tea rooms.  It was quite easy to find Minterne Gardens and free parking is opposite St Andrews Church, which is next to the entrance to the gardens.  It’s quite a small parking area, so I imagine it would get full quite quickly at the height of summer, especially because Minterne Magna is also the starting point for those who wish to view the Cerne Abbas Giant.

It only costs £5 to enter, which is an absolute bargain, considering the amount of flora on display, and the birdsong which accompanies your stroll through the Capability Brown inspired landscape, taking in the array of colour and the fragrance all around you. On your way to the start of the gardens you will pass the ideally situated Minterne House, which is not open to the public, but on Spring Bank holidays you can have tea and cake on the terrace.  There are public toilets towards the beginning of the route through the gardens, but wheelchair access around the grounds would be quite difficult as many of the paths are uneven.

What struck me most about the 1.5 miles of paths through the Himalayan landscape were the vibrant pinks, reds, yellows, purples and whites which greeted you around every corner, especially at the moment as the Rhododendrons are still in bloom, although starting to go over. I hope to go back in October and admire the trees in their autumnal glory as well, which will involve a lot of stopping and snapping with my camera; it could take a while to get round that day.  You could easily spend several hours pootling along the paths, marvelling at the variety of plants and the consideration taken in their arrangement, enabling every species to thrive and shine.

As I said, nature has been kind to me in many ways, and being able to walk around such gorgeous scenery on a summer’s day with family, taking photos and listening to birds singing all around me, was just about perfect and a few hours I’m very grateful for.

Photographs©VCUzzell2016

 

The call of my own world part 2: struggling to hear it

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About two months ago I posted about the beginnings of my novel writing attempt, and all went well, at first. The initial enthusiasm encouraged me to make the time necessary to write as often as I could, and ignore the temptations of reading or watching a film.  Within that first month I made good progress, writing about 5,500 words, which I was happy with as I often only found about half an hour in a day to write.  I strove to ignore my inner critic nagging me about my lack of talent, and just kept writing.  Then things went somewhat awry.

Primarily this was due to work, but also I started to lapse into distraction mode, and suddenly found I had so much more to do and couldn’t find the time to sit and write, not even for thirty minutes. The inner critic seized on this and reminded me that what I was writing was generally drivel and I really ought to stop.  I hadn’t a clue where I was going with the story; just a vague notion of where I wanted to get to, and I wasn’t at all sure if I was going about it the right way.

As a result, and sadly somewhat predictably, I haven’t worked on my novel for a month. I had thought I would try to do so this evening, but having sat at my laptop, I decided to write this instead.  I suppose a part of me is hoping it might stir some inspiration in me, but I’m not sure.  At the back of my mind is also the potential prospect of studying for a Master’s degree over the next two years, which will also probably put an end to my creative efforts for a while.  It would seem my mind has already decided I won’t have time if I’m studying, so might as well stop now.

It is frustrating because I can see what I want to write but can’t seem to express it the way I would like to. I may have given myself too big a task; I often do.  However, I do hope I can find my way back in again to that enthusiastic state at the start, and in doing so, I hope I can hear the call of my own world again.

Fellow writers, if you have any advice for getting back on track, I’d appreciate it.  Thank you.

 

The call of my own world

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I haven’t posted anything in a while for several reasons; lack of inspiration is one, but also, and more importantly, I have started to write a novel, I think … I hope.

It’s over ten years since I began writing regularly, and I’ve tried lots of methods to get me to do so on a consistent basis; writing courses and groups, ‘how to’ books, and setting whole days aside to write, yet suddenly finding a lot of other stuff to do. Reading is my worst vice and primary means of procrastination.

I managed to write about 17,000 words of a very personal story many years ago, but looking back at it now, it’s incredibly naively written and on reflection, not something I want to publish. So continuing to develop that wasn’t an option.  Over the years I have had more success with short stories, often for courses, but none of them held my attention or imagination for long; all except one.  A short piece I created during a writing course, which I had spent hours on and felt would surely be well received.  However, the very low mark it was given devastated me.  I couldn’t understand.  I had put so much into it.  How could it have been so bad?  I have recently gone back to the tutor’s comments and realised they were not wrong in their assessment of my work.  I hadn’t fulfilled the brief, which was to write a short story.  Instead, I had written the prologue to a much larger world, and that was why I had received a low score.

Reading through the story again, I began to feel inspiration returning. What if I could develop this?  So for the last few weeks I have been trying to write every evening, Monday to Friday for at least half an hour, without editing or reading back through my work.  I’m only about 2,000 words in, so have an extremely long way to go and am already fighting thoughts of giving up.  I am very good at starting projects, but also equally poor at finishing them; losing interest as another new plan enters my head.  The current piece I am trying to develop is something I have written small strands of over many years since that first one, so I am hopeful it will sustain my flirtatious mind until the end.  If I can just get the first draft out, then at least I will have something to work on and improve.  Every time I sit down to write, I have to ignore the inner critic bemoaning my lack of talent, and also the usual tactics used to avoid writing.

I have therefore decided not to read any fiction until I am finished. I don’t want to be distracted by the call of someone else’s world.  I only want to hear mine calling to me; and I am happy being there all by myself until hopefully one day, others can join me.

I have also chosen not to discuss the content of the story with anyone. Many books and articles I have read over the years have given this advice, but only now am I putting it into practice.  However well-meaning a comment from a family member or friend may be, it can derail you.  It’s better to tell them to wait until it’s finished and you can hand them a copy of the book itself.

So my posts may be a little sparse for some time. However, I’ll definitely blog if I go for any inspiring walks, or visit somewhere of interest.  I’ll try and get a few photos up too, and may up date you all on my novel writing progress.

 

 

Writing ideas – catching fragments

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I’m trying to write more often but struggle to find the time and inspiration. Therefore, I have decided to make the middle of the week ‘writing Wednesdays’ to ensure I have time set aside. Now I just need inspiration. Going through some old documents on my laptop this evening I found ‘beach fragments’, which I originally created a couple of years ago.

I can’t remember where I got the idea from, but one sunny afternoon in late March, I went down to the beach and sat on the edge of the prom and wrote down the snatches of conversation I heard as people walked, jogged and cycled past me.

It’s a good way to get some inspiration when you’re having trouble finding it. I frequently wish I had a pen and notepad with me when I walk through town past busy shoppers, deep in conversation; arguing, laughing, flirting and discussing all manner of topics as they hurry or amble from one purchase to the next.

I’m going to set myself the task of sitting in a café and walking around town for an hour this weekend so I can listen out for some more fragments to create something with. It won’t be a poem because I can’t write them, but a random collection of statements and questions which may read something like the one below.

Beach fragments, version 3, 30.09.15

Her answer machine says

Mum! My tooth’s come out

She ditched me

That’s just not fair

Five minutes. OK?

No throwing sand!

I was wondering how large it is

That’s lovely. That’s nice

My bra and a new pair of shoes for Archie

Bits of slobber

I’m still waking up

©VCUzzell2015

Fellow writers, have you tried this technique? I’d love to know if you have and what it led to. Or if you haven’t tried it before, have a go and let me know how you get on.

Early Autumn Inspiration

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With Autumn Equinox just a day away I woke up feeling inspired this morning to get out and enjoy the late summer-early autumn sunshine. It’s that time of year when you need layers for the chilly mornings and late afternoon, which can be removed during the day when the temperature warms up. I love the colours that start to emerge; the greens giving way to orange, yellow and red towards the later stages of the season.

Lucky as I am to live by the sea, I went out for a stroll with my camera to experiment with a new prop I found the other day. I’m quite pleased with the results.

Sunny and shinny

I hope the Equinox tomorrow will inspire some creative actions in you too.

Photograph©VCUzzell2015

A letter to …

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(I’m a bit behind with this post for Writing 101.  Prompt: Pick up the nearest book and turn to page 29.  What’s the first word that jumps off the page?  Use this word as your springboard for inspiration.  Write it in the form of a letter.)

 

To my students,

Well here we are at the end of term, and I know you’re all worrying about your exams, and starting university too, but trust me, you’ll be fine.  You are at the beginning of everything; of three years of study, hard work, but also fun, I hope!

As I’ve told you before, I didn’t enjoy university; it was a very lonely time for me, and I wouldn’t want that to happen to you.  So no matter how hard it is to do so, force yourself to make friends and get involved in activities.  Don’t wait for life to come to you, because it won’t.  Don’t say later, because before you know it, time will have passed and later will be yesterday, and the opportunity will have gone.

Remember that you can achieve anything you want to in life.  You only need to reach inside yourself and draw out your strength and power to make all that you wish for, a reality.

Good luck and best wishes,

Vicky

(The word was ‘power’ from page 29 of Sacred Celebrations by Glennie Kindred.  My main focus was on inner power to achieve our dreams.)