Take a Chance on Me

Take a chance on me. Who?

Who am I talking to? Who is it that needs to take a chance? What do the lyrics of the song say?

If you’re all alone when the pretty birds have flown,

Honey, I’m still free. Take a chance on me.

I loved Abba. And I loved the film Mamma Mia using Abba’s songs. The lyrics fitted the plot quite well. Okay, it was cheesy. The plot was thin. The acting, hmmm, predictable. But for a light-hearted romantic tale with some beautiful scenery thrown in, you could do worse.

And Julie Walters. Who could forget her rendition of the song? She wasn’t about to give up on the guy she had her sights on.

He looks terrified. But she keeps going. She’s willing to take the risk of asking him to take a chance.

So, what about me, then? Should I be getting out there doing a Julie Walters and targeting some bloke?

Err, no thank you. There are things I have to do first.

Who needs to take a chance on me?

I do.

I need to learn more about myself.

take a chance

questioning self

It’s a strange thing to reach this advanced stage in my life and come to the conclusion that there are things I still don’t know about myself. In my last post, I wrote about vulnerability. It isn’t a weakness. It’s the greatest strength humans possess – this willingness to be open and honest and take one’s chances in life with the people we meet.

But, see, the problems creep in when some of those people we meet don’t possess the same strength. They have ulterior motives. They hide them from you because they know if they were open and honest about what they had in mind, you’d run a mile. So they pretend to be something they’re not. Like the wolf in Red Hiding Hood featured in another previous post.

So, what’s a girl to do?

Keep Going

take a chance

four human endowments

How can we make the best of these attributes? It takes so much strength to overcome the negatives that sometimes come your way there are times when it’s easier to give in. You might think, ‘Is it all worth it?’ ‘What’s the point?’

The point is, what’s the alternative? You have to keep going. Don’t listen to those negatives in your thinking, telling you the bad stuff. You already know the bad stuff. The objective is to get out of the bad stuff.

take a chance

negative thoughts

I write from the heart. It’s who I am. I have all the tools I need to get out of the bad stuff and move on. Of the four endowments listed above I have conscience; I have independent will and I have an abundance of creative imagination.

I’m working on the self awareness.

I’ve identified areas of weakness.

You’d think I had all the confidence in the world if you knew the things I’ve done, the jobs I’ve had, the activities in which I took part. I won’t go into them all here and now. It’s enough to say I was never afraid to be in the public eye. Acting. Singing. Teaching. Selling my artwork at craft shows etc.

In the past I have had confidence to do many things. But when the aforementioned bad stuff comes along what happens to all that confidence?

It gets knocked out of you.

It’s a long haul upwards from the pit of overwhelming despair you find yourself in after years of emotional and psychological abuse. But, I’m hauling. I’m hauling.

I know some of my weaknesses. I make excuses for people who treat me badly. I don’t listen to my gut instincts telling me that something is wrong. I think I can make everything be okay when it’s obvious the situation is past redemption. I don’t like quitting when I should really walk away. I don’t have strong enough boundaries.

I’m finding out who I am.

take a chance

be yourself

Women of my generation learned from their mothers that the right thing to do is hang on in there when the relationship with the significant other faltered.

They didn’t have the pill in those days. They didn’t have the internet where all manner of information is readily available. They didn’t have the freedoms of women today. Many were completely dependent on their husbands.

Girls wanted marriage and a home of their own to start their own families. And in order to have those things it was necessary to have a good man to provide them. How lucky they considered themselves if they were Bobby’s Girl. If they wore his ring. If, if, if . . .

Girls grew up wanting to be chosen by the lad they had their eye on. My generation wasn’t taught how to be choosy instead.

So, here we are, then. Keeping going, recognising my own limitations so I don’t go and make the same mistakes all over again. Putting those boundaries in place. Learning how to recognise fakes and users.

Getting ready for whatever comes next. Writing from the heart.

take a chance

take a chance

The pretty birds have flown, Celia. You’re on your own now. You’re still free.

Wow!

 

(Leave a comment. I’m happy to hear from my readers.)

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/take-a-chance-on-me/”>Take a Chance on Me</a>

Daring not so greatly

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/2015/08/12/daring-greatly/

Maybe we don’t realise how daring we are being when we write.

We just sit down and write words, don’t we? We write them in such a way as to make an entertaining story for our readers. We have a market in mind. There’s a particular women’s magazine that likes to see short stories about ordinary people with problems to face and how they overcome them. Another magazine prefers stories with a hopeful ending.

Blog readers want to read about the subject we’re known for. So we write blogs on topic and perhaps we do it with some humour and we add photos and memes and illustrations to make the whole thing attractive to the eye.

We want to connect

With our readers. With the world. We give of ourselves in our writing, not in a conscious way, I believe, but without deliberation. We are who we are and we give it. Give ourselves.  And by doing this we are exposing our vulnerabilities.

daring to be

daring to be

We give our opinions. We can’t help doing that. We don’t want to lecture but it’s almost impossible to write without giving opinions. They’re there in our writing whether we like it or not. Even when we don’t realise it, our opinions are hiding in the spaces between the words, between the lines.

My subtitle under the name of my website is ‘write from the heart’. It used to be ‘writer in Languedoc’ because I’d fallen in love with that part of France and couldn’t wait to write about it. I’d given my heart to a man and his son and moved there with them. After ten years he replaced me with another woman.

But I still love Languedoc and want to continue writing about it. I’m not strong enough to do that yet. Imagining the places I loved visiting or looking through my photographs still hurts me so I avoid it. I can’t write my Wicked Stepmother Chronicles now either because as well as losing my partner and my home, I’ve lost my stepson as well. Only insofar as I don’t get to see him everyday, though. When he comes to visit family in England he comes to see me too. So, you see, I wasn’t really Wicked. I made jokes about our differences. I gave my opinions on too many hours spent online gaming and the harm I thought it was doing. And my stepson understands this. He knows I was doing my best to help him make healthy choices. But it hurts that I can’t write either my Wednesday Vine Report or my Wicked Stepmother Chronicles because I’m somewhere else.

So today I’m writing something that isn’t hurting me.

daring courage

daring to be courageous

But it’s still from the heart. According to Brené Brown writing from the heart makes me courageous in the original sense of the word. I feel the things I write. And that makes me vulnerable. Here’s what Brené says:

She is FABULOUS. Watch all her videos. We can all learn from them. We can learn that it’s okay to be vulnerable. That it’s a necessary part of being human to feel our emotions. It saddens me that there are people who don’t have the opportunity to feel; people who are not only wearing shields or armour to protect them from their emotions but simply do not feel them in the first place. Or they experience emotions only in a shallow and fleeting way and to them vulnerability is the greatest weakness of all.

When I’m not writing posts for my website I’m writing about the people I’ve just described. I’ve known one intimately. He almost destroyed me. I thought I was weak, faulty, deficient in many ways. I was not enough of the things he wanted and too much of the things he came to despise. I know different now.

daring vulnerability

daring to be vulnerable

But I’m keeping my silence on the subject here on my website. For now. The book is coming along nicely and one day I’ll publish. Writing the book is giving me an inner strength and, encouraged by Brené Brown’s research, I know I’m doing the right thing.

daring strength

daring to be strong

It takes nerve to be vulnerable. It makes you nervous. You’re taking such risks in being human. Opening yourself to all manner of manipulation by deceitful people. But I have always been one who could cope with whatever life throws at me. I just wish it wouldn’t throw so much my way. Well, I’m still here. I’m still writing.

And now I can stop beating myself up. I’ve made my decision. I’m more informed. I’m not walking away from all the things that ‘give purpose and meaning to living’. I give of myself. It’s who I am. I want to continue loving life. I want to continue loving people.

daring to love

keep on loving

And keep on daring to be vulnerable.

 

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Is a fairy tale your life script?

Bedtime Stories

fairy tale

the fairy tale I remember above all others

Have I been living out a fairy tale all these years? It’s possible. There’s more to these old stories than you might imagine.  You think you’re just reading an innocent, traditional tale to your youngsters? Think again. You might be inadvertently setting them on their life’s path.

The fairy tale that made me angry

I wasn’t interested in the princess in the tower, or the downtrodden kitchen girl who went to the ball.

fairy tale

wannabee princess

rapunzel fairy tale

so pretty

 

 

 

 

I wasn’t motivated by the one with seven little people or three bears or three pigs or magic porridge pots.

snow white fairy tale

someday my prince will come?

 

goldilocks fairy tale

watch out!

 

 

Not for me the fairy tale about a brother and a sister and a nasty witch in the woods, or the one about the sky falling down, or a gingerbread man, a girl only as big as your thumb or magic shoes or spinning straw into gold.

I had no hankering to be a princess. Wasn’t interested in hanging around for some prince to turn up and save me from a life of . . .whatever. Come on, I was a working class girl who had about as much chance of meeting a prince as  a Yorkshire heatwave in January. (Yorkshire girls tell it like it is. January girls know it before it happens. I’m both.)

So, the fairy tale that made me angry was Red Riding Hood.

A lesson in life kind of fairy tale

I mean, what a dirty trick! There she is, with her little basket of goodies for grandma setting off on her own through the wood. This is a good lesson in life, I suppose. After all, when it comes down to it we’re all on our own following our paths. The journey can be a bit dark and scary in places.

There doesn’t seem to be a father present in this story. It’s just the girl and her mother and mother obviously sees nothing wrong in sending the child off to grandma’s house. I can’t remember whether there’s a warning about not going into the woods, but, anyway, little Red Riding Hood is a good girl. She’s doing grandma a good turn by bringing the things in the basket. What a caring little soul she is.

A wolf in sheep’s clothing

Well, actually in this fairy tale, it’s grandma’s clothing. Now, see, this is a great lesson in life. And don’t I know it. This stuff really happens. The person you are doing your best to help isn’t the person you thought they were.

You get that?

The person you are doing your best to help is a FAKE.

Pretending to be sweet and charming. FAKE. Pretending to be needy and helpless. FAKE. Pretending to be harmless. FAKE.

Pretending to be human.

The wolf has only one thing on his mind and doesn’t care what happens to anybody else in the story. So what is little Red Hiding Hood going to do? She’s in danger. She notices that things are not quite right about grandma and tries to find out. She asks questions. The wolf deflects the child’s doubts by a stream of psychopathic word salad, all the while drawing the victim closer and closer, until . .

The Woodcutter

shows up. OH NO!

woodcutter fairy tale

to the rescue

Not a prince this time. But still, a reliable, strong male figure.

And now I’m really angry. I wanted Little Red Hiding Hood to outwit the wolf herself. Couldn’t she have choked it with the ribbons on grandma’s bonnet? Couldn’t she have smothered it with grandma’s pillow?

No. Because she is a good girl and good girls don’t do things like that. Anyway, she’s a small female and wouldn’t be strong enough. And the wolf knows this. He knows he has an easy target. Little Red Hiding Hood has to be rescued.

woodcutter fairy tale

safe at last

Applying the fairy tale to real life

Fake people exist. There are more of them than you know. Empathetic people care about other’s feelings. Fakes don’t. I believe we need these lessons in life but where do we teach them? Unless you’ve come across one of these people yourself how would you know how to recognise one? Should we have to wait until it happens before we learn what to do about it?

The sad truth is there isn’t a woodcutter out there waiting to rescue you. You have to be your own saviour.

woodcuttergirl

be your own woodcutter

Hand me my axe!

 

(This post is in response to the WordPress daily challenge)

Which fairy tale is your life story? Don’t be shy. Leave a comment.

Don’t forget to FOLLOW CELIA. You’ll get an email telling you when there’s another new post. Your email address remains private.)

Silence is a dirty Yellow

Silence is supposed to be golden. Golden implies something of worth: a treasure. And I do think of silence like that, sometimes. I appreciate the quiet of a shady forest and a few snatched silent moments with a cup of tea at home after a busy, noisy day.

But there’s a place for everything. Staying silent when you ought to speak out against a wrong is cowardly in my opinion.

silence is dirty yellow

should you always keep quiet?

I don’t like having to keep my silence. But at the moment it’s probably the best way to go. I’ve taken down some of my previous posts in an effort to do what I hope is the right thing. At this moment.

silence is the best answer

keeping it simple

Words are powerful things. And you never know how somebody else might twist your intent. Words taken out of context are tricky. It’s quite possible that someone could make it look as if you said exactly the opposite from what you intended.

It’s so hard to stay silent when you’ve so much to say.

But needs must.

silence

Oh, I have plenty to say . . .

I have to carefully consider my options. Things are afoot. The very thought of those things makes my throat tighten. My stomach churns. My guts are all in a twist. I want to shout stuff from the top of the world. I want everybody to take notice and hear me. I want them to understand.

But I have to stay silent.

silence scream

I’m screaming, I’m screaming . . .

Please know that I’m not a coward. There is a very good reason for my silence at this time. I’m taking informed advice. I have to admit, it’s good advice. I can’t have things my way. I must do what’s sensible under the circumstances.

silence not a weakness

be patient

I’m exercising more strength in remaining silent than climbing to the top of the world and screaming my head off. You cannot begin to imagine what a hardship this is for me.

But I’m trying to find the positives in my new stance.

silence instead of rage

enigmatic silence?

I’m going to be very beautiful indeed, in that case.

There are a lot of lies being bandied about. My immediate reaction is to put people straight. Why should I have to suffer in silence? Don’t I have the right to tell the truth?

Yes. But not now. And not here.

silence and lies

the silent lie

I would rather have the freedom to tell my truth. Writing, as you know, is what I do when I feel well enough. I need the cathartic effect of writing my truth and it’s been taken from me. For now.

silence and struggle

writing as catharsis

My day will dawn. This I know.

I’m good at waiting. I’ve had a lifetime’s practice.

And when that day comes I’ll break this enforced silence on the subject at the heart of all these vague references. Friends and followers, bear with me, please.

I will not be silenced forever.

(Don’t forget to FOLLOW CELIA to receive emails of new posts. Leave a comment at top of page. I’ll get back to to you.)

A green eggs and ham experience. Coincidence?

You remember green eggs and ham?  My kids loved Dr Seuss stories. So did I. Here’s a kids’ video clip to remind you.

 

Sam pestered so much for his friend to try green eggs and ham that in the end . . . what do you know? The lesson is this: you have to try things before you can say you don’t like them.

Green eggsand ham

sometimes you have to try things

My own green eggs and ham experience

I’m coming to it. What has this to do with writing fiction? And green eggs and ham? Yes. really, I’m coming to it.

Recently I met two new people.  When I learned what they used to do my jaw dropped. One was a consultant medical neuro-pathologist. One used to be a truck driver.

This is how the conversation went with the retired consultant.

She: There’s a lot of current research into mild brain injuries. Even one trauma can have repercussions.

Me: Really? What kind of repercussions?

She: A whole host of pain-related conditions.

Me: How about transient global amnesia?

She: You know about that?

Me: Yes. I had a bizarre episode last August when I forgot everything.

She: What had happened to you before?

Me: I was knocked down by a car and banged my head on the ground. I broke bones, too. Now I’ve got CRPS. They call it algodystrophy here.

Trust me. We’re getting to the green eggs and ham bit.

This fabulous woman explained to me what had been happening in my brain. Eight months later, at a time of stress, my brain said Enough. It shut me down. Made me sleep. Afterwards, I forgot the forgetting.

Her explanation in simple terms put me in a different place. I felt relieved. There was a reason this amnesia had happened to me. What a superb coincidence I met her.

I had a lovely conversation with the truck driver, too who I met while he was walking his dogs. He has loads of tales to tell. Adventures. Characters. Places. Unusual goods. I’m plotting Book Two of Trobairitz – my female truck driver. I’d been hoping to take myself up to the truck stop nearby on the motorway and eavesdrop snatches of conversation, even ask questions outright. But I have problems driving since my injuries. Now I have a trucker right on my own doorstep. What another superb coincidence.

How come these two people suddenly arrived in my life?

Coincidence?

Here we go. This is it. The green eggs and ham moment.

In fiction I cannot abide coincidence. It riles me no end. So much so, I was inspired to write my own little ditty. Apologies to Dr Seuss.

Coincidence

In future, past or present tense

We do not like coincidence.

We do not like it, Cee or Mick.

We think it is an author’s trick.

 

They do it when they’re in a spot.

They do it to support a plot.

They usually do it in the middle.

It is deceit. It is a fiddle.

 

The hero hides behind a door.

Hears facts he never knew before.

Clues she left upon the bed. Duh!

Something missing in the shed. Duh!

 

Coincidence along the street.

Convenient strangers characters meet.

Authors must know it is a ‘fou’.

But do not know what else to do.

 

It walks and quacks just like a duck.

We do not want it in a book.

We do not want it in our fiction.

It is a cop-out, causing friction.

 

It is not good. It is not clever.

We’d ban coincidence forever.

And yet, and yet, we do declare

Coincidence is everywhere.

 

We do not like it when we’re reading.

But it fills the life we’re leading.

No easy-outs in fiction stuff.

In Life, we like it well enough.

 

Plots and story lines that rely too much on coincidence annoy me. But the truth is, coincidence does happen in real life. Maybe it’s time for me to try it in my fiction. It’s my own, personal green eggs and ham.

But I think I’ll try it in a short story first.

What do you think about the use of coincidence in fiction?

                                                                                      

 

 

 

January Girl. Another year on . . .

I’m a January girl. Those who are also January girls will know it’s not easy. Maybe it’s different in the southern hemisphere. Perhaps January girls in Australia have barbecues or go to the beach or both. Write and tell me. I’d like to know. In my half of the world January birthdays slip by unnoticed. You get used to that. That January girl feeling inspired me to write a story about it.

January Girl is the title of one of my short stories.

I submitted this particular short story some time ago to a women’s magazine but they didn’t go for it. Too sad. Too quirky. Not their thing.

But I am a January girl so I didn’t give up on it. I made it sadder still and just a bit weirder and I liked it better than before. It still isn’t right for a women’s magazine but it has found its place. More about that later.

You see, January girls have a lot to put up with. For a start who actually enjoys January? (excepting southern hemisphere)

January blues

waiting for spring?

It’s cold. It’s probably wet. Nobody’s interested in the January girl’s birthday and, anyway, they haven’t got any money left after Christmas and New Year. Birthdays in the middle of the month before the next pay cheque comes in are a bummer. Too close to Christmas and people give you one package and say,

‘This is for Christmas AND your birthday.’ They deliver it with bright eyes and a smile that says I know you won’t mind and you’re too polite to tell them they’re a tight-wad and how would they like it if you did the same to them in May or August?

January is full of disappointments. But January girls are made of stern stuff. We inherit some of our steel backbone and the rest is picked up as we go along.

January girl

when the going gets tough . . .

The January child learns to wear layers, literally and metaphorically. No wonder it can take a long time to get to know the real person underneath. I got to thinking about whether there were January people who had overcome their years of disappointing Januaries and made it to the top.

What a surprise.

Famous January birthdays

Where do I begin?

I used to watch a television programme called Golden Girls. I loved it. It ran from 1985 to 1992. Remember the theme tune?

I was in my thirties at the time. Forties by the time it finished. Now I’m old enough to be one of them. Here are some clips.

 

 

I loved ditzy Rose.  I looked her up.

Betty White – birthday  January 17th. Day after mine. Well, what d’ya know? I liked her spacey humour.

January quote

words of wisdom

Were there any January writers? I wondered.

How about J.R.R. Tolkein – January 3rd. Isaac Asimov – January 2nd. Jack London – the 12th. Anne Brontë – the 17th. Wilbur Smith – January 9th. A.A.Milne -the 18th. Edgar Allan Poe – the 19th – master of dark and creepy tales.

I’m on a roll now. How about January people connected with music, my other love? I already knew about Elvis on January 8th. Who else?

Janis Joplin – 22nd January. Rod Stewart – 10th January. Eric Whitacre whose choral work I’ve performed with our choir -his birthday is January 2nd. ( now I know why he loves minor keys) and the composer and celebrated conductor Simon Rattle – January 19th.

While we’re on the subject of music, last year I was looking for a song to sing in French at a local gathering. I came across Les Chemins de l’amour by Francis Poulenc. I’d never heard of Poulenc but I loved the song immediately. There’s an inherent wistfulness in the melody that spoke to me on first hearing. Perfect for the occasion.

If only I sang as well as Ms Véronique Gens. Well, the audience liked my interpretation. And the composer Francis Poulenc? Birthday – January 7th. Ah, that accounts for why I was attracted to him then. He probably learned how to wear layers, too.

What other fields feature January babies?

How about Muhammed Ali January 17th, Lewis Hamilton -7th, Michael Schumacher -3rd, Jenson Button -19th, Jim Carrey -17th.

Other famous January battlers include Joan of Arc and Robert E Lee.

Stephen Hawking’s birthday is on the 8th January. Wow. How tough is that guy?

There’s Sir Isaac Newton and Louis Pasteur and Benjamin Franklin and Louis Braille and James Watt all who were January babies.

There was Al Capone and Rasputin as well but we won’t talk about them.

Jeff Bezos. Now there’s a name to conjure with. January 12th. How about selling some more of my books, Jeff? They are all on Amazon.

So how about my own birth date? January 16th. Who shares that?

James May -January birthday

Top Gear’s top man.

James May. Bless. I think he’s adorable. He doesn’t know he shares my birthday.

I’ll leave you with a few words from Martin Luther King born on January 15th .

January quote

Little by little. Step by step. Keep going.

January quote

And my short story January Girl? It’s going in my next collection of short stories Queer as Folk to be published in spring. You hear that, Jeff?

Thank you for reading my Random Thoughts blog page here on my website. Stay awhile and read some more. Drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you.

Keep warm and stay well . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Vine Report Languedoc January 2015

The Vine Report is back.

Serignan tornado damage

picture from local press of tornado damage

Regular readers of my Vine Reports will know I’ve been out of commission throughout 2014 since I was knocked down by a car. I’m walking better now and eager to get out there with my camera. I may not make the vine report every week but I should be able to manage at least one a month. Bear with!

A new year of vine reports begins.

Autumn rainstorms saw widespread flooding and a mini tornado in Serignan causing several fatalities. In Lamalou flash floods dashed cars against the famous arches at the entrance to town. They’re still clearing up.

Lamalou floods2014

picture from Getty images of Lamalou flood 2014

Im Montpellier the beautiful boulevards flooded and throughout the department of Hérault there was damage and destruction. It seemed the rain would never end.

Himself and I are lucky to live in a protected position but many of our neighbours had to pump out their cellars.

Montpellier floods 2014

flooded avenue in Montpellier

Vineyards were inundated as the earth became waterlogged. Many areas were completely inaccessible as water poured from the fields onto the lanes. Villages were completely cut off.

vine flooded

vines flooded and roads blocked

Winter arrived and brought with it clear skies and temperatures you’d be glad of on an English summer day. We’ve recorded 23 degrees in the shade recently on our terrace. The vineyards dried quickly.

Pruning is in progress

Wine growers are making the most of this temporary warm spell.  We all know the winter winds have yet to arrive – the ones that stab you in the back and make your eyes water. We need the cold spells. The vines need them. Too prolonged an unseasonal warm spell and there’s a danger the vines will wake from their winter rest. We don’t want the sap rising too soon. We want the vines’ energy kept in the roots. These sugars act as a kind of antifreeze against winter chills. We very rarely get prolonged extreme cold. Winters are short-lived here in our coastal hinterland vineyards.

So, how are the vines looking this week? I took a short walk to find out.

Vines January 2015

Mademoiselle Merlot’s vineyard

Remember Mademoiselle Merlot? Here she is with her companions resting under winter sun. Next door the vines are already pruned.

Vines January2015-2

all neat and tidy

It’s hard to believe these gnarled old sticks will produce my favourite Languedoc rubies.

Winter housekeeping gets vines ready for their new season’s growth and freshens up their sleeping quarters.

VinesJanuary2015-3

this is the way we want you to grow!

I enjoyed my brief venture into the vineyards. But I mustn’t overdo it. Little by little is the way forward. If these old girls can keep on coming back – so can I!

I’ll leave you with a picture of the vineyard nearest my home and one of the way we celebrated our new year here in Languedoc.

VinesJanuary2015-4

hillside vines

fish and chips

fish and chips from the van

A taste of Blighty! With lots of vinegar.

If you’d like to know when I post new vine reports don’t forget to FOLLOW CELIA. You’ll get an email to tell you. Your email address remains private.

Thank you for reading my Random Thoughts blog page here on my website. There’s a lot more to read.  Add a comment. You’re very welcome.

Cheers!

For the love of writing. Plans for 2015

thinking about writing

getting your thoughts focused

I have to get my love of writing head back on my shoulders. Christmas and new year celebrations are finished. The decorations come down this weekend. The house will look bare and I know I’ll have an urge to go round cleaning everything. The fridge needs sorting out – I’ve forgotten what’s in there. There’s a heap of washing and ironing left over from before Christmas and then we got French electricity tariff ‘red days’ and I couldn’t do it anyway without running up a huge bill.

So there’s plenty of housework type stuff to do. I’ll do it. Slowly. Don’t talk to me while I’m doing it because my head will be somewhere else and I won’t answer you.

I’ll be organising my love of writing thoughts. Making plans.

thinking about writing

getting thoughts organised

Because I must write. Without writing I’m not myself. Something’s missing. When I drift off into that thinking-land you might as well talk to the wall because I’m not in. Celia is in her head but she’s not in the room.

But why must I write? Oh, that’s a good question.

writing

that’s how I feel

love writing

the temptation of words

It’s more than that, though. It’s so much more than slotting into a comfortable routine. So much more than any other thing that you fit into your normal daily activities. Writing is not in the same category as sweeping the floor or making the beds – small jobs which, for me, do carry a trace element of a sense of satisfaction when the job’s done.

Writing is not even in the same category as eating or sleeping – bigger jobs that are absolutely vital to your well-being.

Think about the need to breathe and you’re getting close.

Writing is as much a part of me now as is the CRPS I was diagnosed with last year. CRPS is why everything I do is now done s-l-o-w-l-y. It hurts to move. It hurts more to stretch. Constant pain saps energy and leaves you feeling very low. There are times when I feel I’ve completely lost the creative spark to begin something new. But on good days?

desire to create

the greatest love story in the world?

I have that desire. Sometimes it feels more like an affliction. It’s an itch that must be scratched. A hunger that must be fed. It’s selfish and unreasonable and is not open to negotiation.

Sorry chaps, but it’s better than sex. Or chocolate.

It is an all-consuming passion that teases and tempts. Sometimes it abandons you or flatly rejects you. Slaps you in the face and makes you feel a fool.

Sometimes, though, it loves you back.

It’s for these moments you carry on. You make your plans. You do your research. You find things you never knew. You find things about yourself you never knew.

love of books

the love of books

I’m making plans for my writing in 2015. Books Two and Three of Trobairitz are in outline only. A second collection of short stories is further along the pipeline. ‘Queer as Folk’ should be ready in spring and features more ‘quirky’ short stories about ordinary people in extraordinary situations.

I’d like to make more effort keeping in touch with online writing groups but if I can’t I won’t beat myself up. On good days I have to write.

Thank you for reading my Random Thoughts page. Feel free to message me with your own thoughts. I’m on Twitter @cmicklefield and have a FB author page.

May you love and be loved in 2015.

Christmas CRPS

I was diagnosed with CRPS last Christmas after being knocked down by a careless driver. I still tried to sit at my computer and write. A whole year has passed. What have I done with it? How will this year’s Christmas CRPS affect me?

CRPS arm in cast

Christmas 2013

Keeping things positive

I could write about the effects of constant pain, lack of sleep and side effects of medication etc. etc. In fact, I could write about these things till the cows come home. Recently, I’ve had to concentrate on just these issues in order to write my personal account of how CRPS affects me to give to the medical experts who represent the insurance companies involved in my case.

Here’s a sample of what I gave them

Daily Difficulties

driving

putting on my bra

getting in and out of our sunken bath

preparing meat and vegetables for dinner

lifting heavy pans and casserole dishes

styling my hair

opening tubes, bottles, packages

fastening jewellery

fastening buttons

carrying shopping bags

taking coins from my purse

putting on tights or stockings

holding a fork properly

manoeuvring the vacuum cleaner

putting large items on the washing line

changing bed sheets

baking

sewing

knitting

picture framing

using my computer keyboard

holding the music in the choir

opening doors

holding my camera and taking photographs

In all things I am now clumsy and slow. I frequently drop things. My activities are limited. I am often very tired and lacking energy. 

I am extremely grateful for the excellent medical treatment I have received here in France compared with others elsewhere who have the same condition and have waited a long time for a diagnosis. I am doing everything within my power to help myself get better. I have researched CRPS and learned what other things I might do to make life easier. I know that this condition can continue for many years. It seems nobody is able to tell me how many more years I will suffer from CRPS.

You can see how difficult it is to remain positive when all that load of stuff is going on. But this insurance question is important. I have this condition as a result of someone else’s thoughtlessness while he was reversing his car. I have to fight for my rights. Soon I’m going to need a lawyer.

CRPS hand

early stage of CRPS

In the meantime, though, look at what I have been able to do. Two books published is no mean achievement. It’s true they were already at the final edit stage but still I count their publication as an achievement. In some respects I suppose you could say that my enforced limitations actually helped me to get those novels ready for publication.

My left arm is weak but I’ve got a right one.  There was a time when I couldn’t touch my head.

CRPS hand

the limit of my reach

Now I can. Only just and it hurts but it’s an improvement.

Earlier in the year I suffered from side effects of all the medication. At the moment I’m doing okay in that respect.

Last Christmas I couldn’t do our Christmas decorations around the house. This year I’m going bananas putting them everywhere.

Christmas CRPS 2014

We have three Christmas trees: one in the sitting room, one in the hall and one outside on the terrace.

Christmastree1

Number one tree in the living room

Christmastree2

outside tree

I’m loving decorating the house. So what if it’s taken me three days already to do what used to take one afternoon.

When the pain kicks in and it gets too much I stop and sit down with a heat pad on my shoulder. Himself has to do the high up things as I can’t reach.

I’ve even covered all the windows with Christmas clings I made years ago.

Doing all these Christmasey things has made me feel more like myself.

Christmas window

a joyful Christmas window

That’s a happy window, isn’t it? I can look forward to 2015. I know there’s going to be more pain and more daily difficulties. I’m prepared for them. I will not let them beat me.

Season’s Greetings to all my readers and a joyful New Year. To other sufferers of CRPS – hang in there. Stay warm.

TROBAIRITZ the Storyteller

Publication of TROBAIRITZ the Storyteller goes ahead. Here’s the front and back cover.

Trobairitz the Storyteller

publication November 28th 2014

What does the cover of TROBAIRITZ tell you?

First, I want it to have  warmth. A satisfying, bread and butter sort of comfort. A cover that does something to your senses, even makes your mouth water.

A cover that says it’s not quite in the world you know. An imaginary world. Almost dreamlike.

I hope it makes you ask yourself questions.

Why is it a picture of a village?

Where is it? Does it look like England? No.

Why are there no people in the design?

What does the word Trobairitz mean?

( I wrote a post on who the Trobairitz were. Here is a link to that post. You can go to the Categories section on the right sidebar and in the drop down box choose Trobairitz for all my posts on this subject.)

So, the Trobairitz were female troubadours of the 12th and 13th centuries. What has that got to do with my new novel set in present day Languedoc?

Bringing the past into the present

Trobairitz were bringers of news and storytellers. They sang, too, to their own accompaniment and their themes were often about current affairs and romantic love as well as traditions and the place of women within values and attitudes of the times.

My 21st century Trobairitz is a truck driver. At an overnight truck stop in the heart of Languedoc, Weed tells a story. The themes of tradition and women and relationships are woven into the tale she tells but in her real life those are the very things that cause her problems.

The fact that Weed’s story is set in a circulade is also relevant. A circulade is built in the shape of a snail shell. Curving rows of houses surround and protect the church on top of the hill. They’re designed to confuse raiders. Even today it’s possible to lose one’s way in the maze of narrow streets and alleyways.

In TROBAIRITZ the Storyteller, the shape of the village is reflected in the stories Weed tells. There is a central theme, hiding under the archways, shrinking back into narrow passageways, revealing itself only gradually. I like that kind of a tease in books.

I decided to lighten the appearance of the cover for this first of the TROBAIRITZ trilogy. The original was too dark and didn’t give the right feel. You’ll see there’s still a bit of darkness hovering in the background and, as in real life, there will be episodes of darker happenings as Weed’s story progresses.

I deliberately chose not to have people and/or faces in the design. When I’m reading I like to make up my own images of what the characters look like. I especially don’t like those front covers showing ladies clad in silks and satins etc. which bear no resemblance to the actual story. You might want to read a previous post about book covers.

Why did I make Weed a truck driver?

Our resident teenage online gamer, aka Gollum Boy gave me the idea. We were eating dinner one night and I said,

‘What kind of a job would a woman have where she travelled about to different places all the time?’

‘That’s easy,’ he said. ‘She drives a truck.’

Volvo truck

Duh. Why hadn’t I thought of that? I love trucks. I think they’re the sexiest vehicles on the road. GB’s suggestion was perfect for the character I had in mind: a feisty lady who knows how to handle working in a man’s world, a woman who enjoys men’s company but has issues with commitment.

Why does she have issues with commitment? And why is she called Weed?

Ah. TROBAIRITZ the Storyteller – book one of the trilogy is available next Friday 28th November. Just in time for Christmas stockings!

write from the heart