How I write the Farmy Blog

No pictures today! It was ‘one of those days’ yesterday and Our darling Barb at Just a Smidgen. has passed the baton to me to discuss writing so I am only writing today. Barb is a poet, photographer and designer of no small renown so I find myself a little out of my depth following her beautiful piece of writing on the subject.

We all wish we could sit down with a cup of tea and chat about how we do these things don’t we? Each one of us uses the same words in different arrangements to create a piece of writing, we are all striving to portray a picture or a thought or an ideal. All given the same alphabet and the same box of punctuation, the same little zipped up set of rules, yet each of us is able to produce something individual. Each one of us has a new and fresh voice.

I wrote this last night in the middle of a severe storm, the rain was heaving down. Blocking out the evening light. Walls of rain. Washing over us drawing flowing opaque soggy curtains across the landscape. We had two inches of rain in a little over twenty minutes, and more to follow, John’s phone was beeping flash flood warnings, mine was deeply silent not being such a fancy pancy model but there you are.   Where did all that water come from? How could a cloud hold that much hard rain? There had to have been  literally tons of water lurking up there above us, sloshing about in the black clouds.  How was it contained up there? Do clouds have buckets? And who pulled that cloud to a halt and then yanked the chain leaping aside as smashing waves of rain flushed down onto our heads. Having just finished the milking I could not even get outside again to open Daisy’s  door so she could get back into the barn or find Boo, who had very sensibly elected to stay in the barn with the pigs until the storm was over. I reminded myself that they make shoes out of cows hides and that Boo was surely safe and dry.

So I made myself sit down and write while I waited out this storm, full of its own bluster and noise shrieking about the house. An arrogant storm. An arrogant teen without thought kind of storm. An arrogant teen without thought,  an attitude and a noisy car with flashing lights kind of storm.

So : To the writing questions that have got me to thinking.

1) What am I working on?
I am always working on a blog post. Every day actually. They are always image driven. I rely on the camera to create the post for me. In fact it is difficult for me to write without my pictures. The images are my hands, the words my mouth. Hand to mouth.
The other really exciting piece I am working on is Letters to my Sister. Women getting together and talking about Menopause. My Mum died when my sisters and I were all young women so I asked you, The Fellowship, to tell me how this period in your life played out for you and the stories are so wonderful and so helpful that with the help of my friend Melissa I am putting them into a book.  And I hope to give this lovely little book to each of my sisters. And the book will be made available for you to buy for your sisters and daughters and nieces too. This is what I am working on now. I am writing the foreword and afterword (of course I get the last word! – thank you Viv)and my own contribution.
So I guess you could say my favourite writing is yours. My favourite writing is the virtual conversations we have.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
For me? Writing is an extension of talking.  It is how I communicate. I find it very hard to take word assemblage and punctuation and all the accepted rules of writing seriously.  Though I am serious about spelling. I write exactly as I speak. This is my voice. And all our voices are different. For me, words are like music, they kind of dance along.  Music words jingle jangle through my ears, picking up my feet with their pace and drumming a beat through my life all day long but this soundtrack is very seldom caught and hung onto a page.  This is why I have a deep respect for those of you who are real writers. My blog is the tip of a very deep and completely transparent iceberg.
3) Why do I write what I do?
I often read that people are compelled to write. I am not compelled.  In fact if I was not so lazy I am sure I would be a much more productive writer. But I need my sleep!
I write  a farm blog for a number of reasons but mostly because I work alone all day and writing to you about it makes me feel like I am part of something bigger. I love to have a team, I am more of a team player than a hermit. So I write to you as part of my daily conversation. An exchange of ideas and advice and support and laughter. Hmm,  I see a theme developing.
The Letters to my Sister is a very real extension of my love of conversation. We are writing about a subject that seldom gets a conversation.  At a party you would find me in the kitchen, humming to the music, making food or doing dishes. But I would have an ear out, listening, listening. So I guess I write what I write because I love to listen. And we need to talk about things that matter and listen to each other.
4) How does my writing process work?
I have an order.  It is all about managing time. As shambolic as I sound, I take the photos for the blog during the day, load them at 4 pm, sketch out a post in the evening after dinner and the clean up, sleep then write it at 5 am, load it to publish at sunrise and off to the milking parlour I go beginning my day’s work by 6am.  Every day. I time myself often to see how long a task will take so I can pack as much into my work day as I can, giving myself more time to work with the camera and the words.
When I am writing a bigger piece, like my own contribution to the Menopause anthology ‘Letters to my Sister’ I write from 11am to 1pm every day. That is my process. I sit down to write and then I write whether I want to or not. Sometimes it is not very good but the challenge is to write for two hours a day until I am done or asleep at my desk.  Then after working outside for a while I am back at 4 pm to work on the blog, 5 pm prepare dinner, 6 pm milk the cow and etc. I really do carve my day up into designated blocks -that is on the days that behave themselves. You do not want to hear about my morning! Of course when I do not have a deadline I lay down from 11am to 1pm and stare at the ceiling.. ha ah aha .. oh I wish!!
Most important to me is to trust myself and allow my instincts to move with the music of language. Rules are good, but sometimes one needs to slide them gently aside to see the lights.  Also I have a terrible memory and often I can’t remember the rules anyway!
Ok, that is me.
Now I shall pass the baton:
Misky of The Chalk Hill Journal  rearranges the most ordinary words into poems that will take your heart and gently squeeze the breath out of it then give it back renewed.  She lives in the UK surrounded by flowers, grapevines, bubbling pots of sourdough starter, an ageing Spring Spaniel, and a small camera that she keeps in her pocket. She never buys clothing without pockets. Her work has found homes with Poetry Quarterly, Curio Poetry, Mouse Tales Press, Four & Twenty Publications, The Fibonacci Review, Sprout Magazine, Camel Saloon, The Red Wolf Journal, and four international printed anthologies. Misky blogs at The Chalk Hill Journal on WordPress. 
I hope you have a lovely, lovely day.
Your friend on the farmy
celi

48 thoughts

  1. Good morning! You are so right that word are like music, c – they are filled with emotion. And may I thank you for the honour of including me in this Writing Blog Tour. I look forward to sharing my writing experiences on Monday, 19 May.

  2. Altho’ there are quite a few years twixt us we seem to work in a remarkably similar way. I had an absolutely wonderful father who taught me to value time and preplan it into blocks in my childhood. There is no way I could get thru’ what I do [at my age 🙂 !] if I still did not follow his rules, have timetables, tick things off with a smile, feel satisfaction! . And my writing IS talking – totally in shambles because I can’t wait to say what is in my mind: hence there is no grammar and the punctuation has its own rules, but I hope that the person receiving my ‘words of the day’ understands what I mean and how I mean it and sees me kind’of ‘there’ in front of them 🙂 ! The Editor of the books in which I have chapters [soon to be published] calls this my ‘flowing writing’ . . . . but I DO think this is the best way for me to visit you and pretend that the cup of coffee in my hands came from yours . . . It feels comfortable . . . don’t think so many of us would make the farmy our first [or sometimes last!! stop of the day 😀 !!]

    • Morning Eha, managing ones time is critical, I even sit down to answer everyones letters in the morning until the designated time then finished or not I close the computer and get back to work. Gardening is my problem though, I have no sense of time when i am in the garden!.. c

  3. I get your post in the evening, because you are posting with the sun, which gets up in your part of the world as we are heading wearily for bed 15 hours ahead of you. And if by some chance I don’t see it before the morning, I start my day with the adventures of Celi and her Farmy Friends, in conversational language that doesn’t tax my haven’t-had-enough-coffee-yet brain. I think we must blog the same way, just letting it pour out of the ends of our fingers, typing as fast as we can to make sure the fingers keep up with the brain, sending thoughts and ideas out into the blogosphere to find kindred spirits. I love how you write. I ‘hear’ your voice in my head. Never stop.

  4. well that was a change. It is interesting to know how your brain works and how you find the time to do all that you do. . I think that you are superwoman in disguise! Whether you write with rules, punctuation or whatever the main point of writing anything is to communicate…and that you do exceedingly well.
    you do not need to be a writer, a poet or anything else …you manage perfectly well just being our Celi

  5. I love your writing, you nearly always bring on a smile or a real laugh out loud, I’m usually having my lunch when I read your blog, funny to think of everybody all reading at different times of the day, seems like most people either have a cup of tea or coffee with them. My eldest daughter is a follower now as well, and an ardent Sheila fan. Have a lovely day x

    • Morning Janet, say hullo and thank you to your daughter for me,.. I am so grateful to people who pop in to read, i so seldom have the time to go out and read other peoples work in the summer, which makes me sad so the fact that you all keep visiting me is extra special.. c

  6. When I was in Germany your words and images brought back memories from my childhood on the farm. I love reading your post and I love the way you write. I have always struggled with writing in English because it is my second language.

  7. Your writing is so wonderful and keeps me coming back precisely because you write just like you talk. (Or so I’ve always imagined and you’ve confirmed today.) That’s the best kind of writing, as far as I’m concerned, because it communicates the essence of who you are to us. And thank you for that–and all the photos, too.

  8. I really enjoy your blog, and I do partake with my morning cup of coffee in hand. Your writing is smooth, and your photos are really beautiful…a very calming way to start my day 🙂 Thanks for blocking out your blog time so that we can all keep up with the daily happenings on the farmy!

  9. Celie, We’re having wind and iron spiked rain as well. Where in the world is there a decent consistent climate? I’m having a do-nothing day today as am not feeling up to scratch after a bad night, so I will think about the “how I write” question and come back later. Foreward and Afterward should be FOREWORD and AFTERWORD (or for that, I like envoi, or even epilogue).

    I hope your weather is better today. Jock has gone out in the search of a decent stake for our little apple tree, which is at an acute angle thanks to the onslaught of westerly winds this year.

    Love,
    ViV

    • oops, there I am having a bad spelling day! Serves me right.. thanks Viv, i fixed that! I get so tired writing my eyes cross sometimes.. should have re-read that more closely.. c

  10. I love the way you write the blog, it is always an original, fun and informative all inclusive (of the fellowship) conversation. Having been to NZ I can hear you speak complete with lilt at the end of your sentences 🙂 One thing I’ve been wondering for a while is your spelling of “rotton” and “forgotton” a celi’ism or USA spelling, with all respect and no offence.
    Keep on writing I’ll be here ready and waiting to read (and comment) every day 🙂 Laura

  11. What? No baseball practice or track practice or cello lessons or parent teacher conferences or 4H meetings or scouts or……..?
    No wonder I can’t get anything done! 🙂

  12. I no longer have a schedule. No longer tethered. I float…except to get my hair done, of course. You, dear Celi, keep me grounded. Your writing is inspired,

  13. So glad you wrote with no photos today. I love the photos, but I love your writing just as much (or more) at times. I share many of your working methods, predilections, and motivations. I find myself paying very close attention to my life all day long, looking for moments to write about and photograph and thinking deeply about them. It has brought me more fully into the “Now”. But the writing has to flow from a place of authenticity, and from the fullness of having lived a Life. Yours does that. Thank you.

  14. Hi Celi .. you my dear are amazing! I have often wondered how you managed to take photos, write and tend to all your animals. I understand totally what it is like being at home most of the time which I am. It is much like being an island I suspect. And yes, it is nice to be able to ‘reach’ out to those in the blogging world for company. Your prose and lifestyle is inspirational. Thank you for sharing your world and your thoughts.

    🙂

  15. It’s your writing and style that has brought us all together. Many people simply post images but you weave a story around them, often with amazingly few well-crafted words. When you do write something longer, tell us a story, you truly do shine. As you wear so many hats, your schedule makes much sense. I had wondered how you manage it all. I’m one of those who early morning readers who make a coffee, check out the Farmy and comments, unless the timezones align when sometimes on weekends I get to see an evening post but still check in the next morning, a little later, for the comments. We come from many different locations, backgrounds and situations but we are so fortunate to have found shared space 🙂

  16. This is a great series, with each new post improving the lot. It’s fascinating, for me, to learn how each of you approach the “blank page” and how you go about filling it. Your idea of divvying up the day into blocks is a good one, though I still don’t know how you get as much done as you do.
    We didn’t get the severe storms that hit you last night, though we did have a thunderstorm. It’s cloudy with thunder now but no rain — yet. There are severe thunderstorm warnings but none as far South as the farmy, thankfully. Hope it stays that way. Have a great night, Celi.

  17. I do so enjoy your blog. I must say I’m relieved that I’m not the only one who holds conversations with her animals – ‘yes, Odette, that’s a lovely large egg but you need not cackle so loudly about it, you didn’t invent the process after all’, I even answer their imagined comments out loud. I too work by myself most of the time so there’s almost always a running commentary going through my mind, I truly love words. I think it would be delightful to have you as a neighbor and I don’t say that lightly, I’m really not very sociable!

    I too need at least a plan for the day, even if I don’t follow it. Without it I dither about at this or that and nothing really gets accomplished. Then too, if the plan is to weed this or that or fix this or that and it’s such a lovely day and my horse happens by I can feel deliciously naughty and go for a ride instead!

    I don’t really ever transfer my mind meanderings to paper though I did religiously write my stepdaughter every week for the 3-1/2 years she was in Bolivia with the Peace Corp. That was an undertaking, we live a pretty unexciting life here. I try to get spelling correct but improper usage really makes me nuts. I’ve been know to shout at newscasters on tv, especially when it comes to ‘less’ and ‘fewer’. It must be the result of those nuns teaching grammar in grade school.

    Keep up the wonderful entertainment, we would all sorely miss it and tomorrow I’ll have to tell Percy there’s no new news of Tima.

  18. Aha, there is method in your madness! Joking apart, it’s great to have your structure revealed. Writing actually requires great discipline, and you know this so well. Good to hear about progress with the menopause book. I like what you say about working alone but enjoying the feeling of a team around you. I suspect that many of us bloggers are the same.
    What you don’t reveal is when you find time to read our comments.

  19. Thanks for sharing more about your day, your writing specifically. I do hope we get to hear about your morning that obviously misbehaved sometime! That is a lot of rain in a very short time!

  20. Running late, catching up here… a pokey Okie (person from Oklahoma) it seems! I am still struggling with writing regular posts, or adding anything substantial to my book. The desire is there, but I’m so much more caught up in the outdoors right now. I feel as if I’ve been disciplined all of my life and now I’m a little rebellious just enjoying the moment. I know there will be a time to be more dedicated to the book, and to writing my blog… just as strongly as I feel messages from nature, each time I walk out into the woods. I work too from photographs, and all the while I’m shooting I’m developing my story. I FEEL so much through the whole process.

  21. Celi, you are way more disciplined than I am. This week I am on holiday so popping in late and may not be around for the next few days. The wonderful thing about blog reading is, the posts will still be there to catch up with, next week.

  22. What a beautiful piece of writing.. I’m so so grateful to have passed the baton on to you, I knew you would make something fantastic from it. “the rain was heaving down. Blocking out the evening light. Walls of rain. Washing over us drawing flowing opaque soggy curtains across the landscape.” This is why I admire your writing, the imagary is second to known, I feel like I’m right alongside you watching the rain fall overhead. Thank you so much for writing this.. and introducing Misky to everyone. I am familiar with her Poetry, but haven’t been to visit her blog in far too long! It is amazing what you pack into your blocks of time, I wish I were so organized with my day and my writing! xx

  23. Pingback: Spicy Mexican Taco Bites | Just a Smidgen

  24. Smiles! Just smiles. (You write during the hours that were our “quiet times” during childhood summers: pools closed, all kids indoor out of dangerous heat ( no AC). You could read, sleep, write – but had to stay in your room quietly. Not such a bad habit or routine even now. hugs!)

  25. Pingback: The Writers’ Blog Tour: My Writing Process | The Chalk Hills Journal

  26. Your number one really resonates with me! Especially now and this past January…

    I found you through Misky…what an enjoyable post and I look forward to reading you more!! 🙂

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