Christmas Bloggy Fairy Tale with a fabulous festive title.

Once upon a time, there was a young woman who’d always wanted to try creative writing. She felt silly, though, and the embarrassment she felt wasn’t the kind that made her flush like a beautiful and delicate maiden; it was the kind that made her burrow under a heavy duvet, muttering, “Oooh, no, no, no, no…” whenever she so much as thought about writing anything.

The years passed, and the young woman stopped being a young woman and started just being a woman instead. She spent lots of time helping other people to write, but still no time at all daring to write anything for herself. Finally, the woman had had enough!, as they say, and decided to start a blog, where she would write lots of things, no matter how daft they turned out to be. Nobody would know that the stories belonged to the woman, and she could carry on with life, with her tough-cookie reputation intact.

Once the woman had started the blog, she found that it really wasn’t as awful as she’d thought. Alright, so writing things was hard at times, and some of the work turned out to be a bit rubbish (the poems in particular, which seemed to drip from line to line like slugs on a cabbage), but people were kind, and no one burst through the door with torches and cameras and cries of, “It’s you! That woman with the blog! We have discovered you, and shall embarrass you forthwith!”

Eventually, the woman grew shockingly bold and started sharing her writing. She put her name on her work, and stopped caring whether people would know.  She wrote because she wanted to, because she wanted to improve, and because it made her feel good, which are three very good reasons to write. At the end of the year, after eight not-so-terrifying months, the woman realised that the blog looked like it was here to stay. Nobody had pointed and laughed, except for people who didn’t matter, and she’d got to know some lovely people, and their lovely writing, along the way.

Resolving to show her gratitude in a suitably writerly way, the woman spent the night scribbling ‘thank you!’ on scraps of paper, which she folded up into neat little butterfly shapes and addressed to every commenter who had visited her blog. She waited until the wind was just right, opened up the highest window in the house and, with outstretched arms, threw the butterflies out, hoping that they would reach every kind person who had encouraged her to write and given her thoughtful and insightful feedback on her stories.

But, because this was just a fairy tale, the scraps of paper dropped to the ground and got caught in the tree at the bottom of the driveway. The woman sneaked down and popped all of the now soggy butterflies in the recycling bin, lest she get fined for littering, and went back upstairs to write a grateful blog post instead.

The End.


Happy shiny blogger!

I’m ecstatic. It’s hot! Properly hot and properly sunny. The sky, although hazy, is actually on the side of the spectrum known as “blue” and there’s a giant yellow blob in the middle of it!

I don’t wear much make-up but what I’m wearing is sliding. I have shiny patches – conveniently located on my cheekbones, which now look like they could grate cheese – and my hair is drying naturally.

Good weather makes me happy. THIS IS VERY GOOD WEATHER.

Visual writing prompts # 6 – rain over streetlights

Rain over streetlights - silent shotThis photoby Flickr user Silent Shot, combines some of my favourite things – an urban feel, streetlights, bokeh, twilight and rain. I love it.

The way I see it, this picture is someone’s point of view. They’re in a car, travelling as the night draws in. Maybe they’re heading into a city, maybe they’re leaving one. Is it late on a heavy summer’s evening or the prematurely dark afternoon of a winter’s day?

Everything’s out of focus – but why? Is the rain somehow important to them right now? Or are they warm and soothed by the motion of the car, and using the soft lights as a lullabye? Perhaps they’re a passenger in the back of the car, and they’ve just woken up. Or maybe it’s something colder, sadder – tears are blinding them, or tiredness and pain are weighing them down – even focusing on the scene outside the window would take too much out of them right now.

I’ve been so uninspired over the last few days – a combination of a bad mood and too much work, I think – and this shot is the first thing to really grab my attention. So, thank-you, Flickr, and thank-you, Silent Shot!

Fascinated by night

The night is such a rich source of inspiration. It’s so full of potential; nothing looks the same and everything, no matter how ridiculous, seems possible.

That said, there’s no time like night-time for feeling alone. Not necessarily lonely, but most definitely alone, as though you’re the only person around, the only person who’s real. Normally busy streets are cold and empty, your sense of hearing becomes heightened and everything seems to echo the absence of all the life that was there only hours ago.

Whatever you see or feel at night can’t be touched or shared and it’ll all be gone by the morning – why else do people tell you to ‘sleep on it’ because ‘you’ll feel differently in the morning’? Switching on your computer screen to write it all down or picking up the phone to tell someone about it can break the spell. By reconnecting with the world that you left as the sun went down, you’re allowing the social conventions of what’s inspirational – and what isn’t -to take over.

I spent years living on the top floor of a high-rise, one of many in a very deprived area of the city. The building stood right next to a motorway and there was nothing beautiful about it. During the day, it looked like a dirty stick of chalk.

Weirdly, though, one of the most inspiring things I ever experienced was a single night in that tiny flat with its cheap carpet, complete with chewing gum stains, and lumpy bed. Nothing happened: I just leaned against the wall and stared out of the window. Everything was transformed by the streetlights and there were moments of absolute silent emptiness between tiny rushes of cars. Just vacant, golden streets and dark blocks like ancient trees, with smattered lights being snuffed out as people went to bed. Beautiful but impossible to capture. And, of course, the next morning it was all gone. Back to chalk world.

The night is like the world’s way of blinking. Most of us close our eyes and choose to become oblivious to everything. And, in the same way that I wonder what happens in the split second I close my eyes to blink, I often wonder what we miss.

Darkness is one of our least explored territories. As children, we live in fear of it and the things it might hide. As adults, we prefer to avoid it, rationalising our fear or dislike but embracing them nonetheless.

The night makes up half of our time here on Earth. It happens every day without fail, lasts for hours, and yet we shun it. Waking up in the middle of it is seen as an irritation and not being able to shut it out is a burden. We try everything we can to keep our eyes closed to the world when it’s covered by night.

I’ve started to wonder whether, when we look out of our high-rise windows to the empty amber streets, we only see darkness and emptiness because we’ve forgotten how to see anything else.