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