Category Archives: Inspirations

Funny. What makes things humorous?

We’ve all got a funny bone

Actually it isn’t a bone. It’s the ulnar nerve. So why do we call it the funny bone?

There are two main ideas about that. One says it’s a pun on anatomy because the nerve runs along the humerus, which sounds like “humorous.” The other claims the nerve got its nickname because of the  odd (funny peculiar) feeling you experience after you hit it.

funny bone

funny ‘bone’

But humour hasn’t anything to do with your elbow unless when you bang it you make other people laugh. So . . .

What makes things funny?

Where do we register humour in our brains? Scott Weems tells us there’s been plenty of research into laughter.

His book Ha!: The Science of When We Laugh and Why explains in detail. But what about studying what it is that makes us laugh? Why do some of us find certain kinds of comedy funny but others don’t?

funny for life

humour is life enhancing

Humour appreciation appears to be based in the lower frontal lobes of the brain, a location associated with social and emotional judgment and planning according to imaging research. That might explain why people who have suffered strokes involving the lower frontal lobes of the brain may have alterations of personality which include loss of their sense of humour. Also why psychopaths whose brains are wired differently tend to have an infantile sense of humour.

Different types of funny

There are different kinds of humour including the following:

Affiliative humour – the style of humour used to enhance one’s relationships with others in a benevolent, positive manner. This style of humor is typically used in a benevolent, self accepting way. Individuals often use this kind of humour as a way to charm and amuse others, ease tension and improve relationships.

Self-enhancing humour is a style related to having a good-natured attitude toward life, having the ability to laugh at yourself, your circumstances and the idiosyncrasies of life in a constructive, non-detrimental manner.

Aggressive humour is a style potentially detrimental towards others. This type of humour is characterized by the use of sarcasm, put-downs, teasing, criticism, ridicule used at the expense of others. Aggressive humour often disregards the impact it might have on others. Prejudices such as racism & sexism are considered to be  aggressive humour.  At times it may seem like playful fun but sometimes the underlying intent is to harm or belittle others.

Self-defeating humour is characterised by the use of potentially detrimental humour towards the self in order to gain approval from others. Individuals high in this dimension engage in self-disparaging remarks where laughter is often at their own expense. Self-defeating humour often comes in the form of pleasing others by being the “butt” of the joke.

Does funny have a reason for being?

So what is the purpose of humour?

we need funny

what would life be without something funny?


Airing social taboos

If we can laugh at difficult subjects might we make it easier to discuss them? In my first collection of short stories Arsed End(s) I wrote about sexual harassment, boring relationships, funerals, infuriating hobbies and the end of the world. I’m a fan of dark humour. I think it has its place in this sub-category.

Social criticism

We can take a poke at local and national government, even specific ministers or presidents, corporations and institutions like Big Pharma or the police. George Orwell set his social criticism novel in a farmyard in Animal Farm. We could laugh at Napoleon the pig whereas in 1984 I don’t remember there being anything funny.

Consolidation of group membership

Jokes about one political party to confirm your allegiance to another. Humour based on the ‘easy’ life of a hospital consultant to establish membership of the junior doctor group. One football team against another. You get the picture.

Defence against fear and anxiety

Turning fears and anxiety into something to laugh about makes them less frightening: death, funerals, impotence, fear of flying, bad drivers etc.

Intellectual play

Clever sayings, puns and other plays on words. Witty reposts and dry one-liners. As Einstein said, creativity is intelligence having fun.

And that’s where I’d like us to leave it. Having fun. All this analysis of what makes things funny and how we assimilate that humorous information takes the shine off the fun, in my opinion. You have to wonder what the ancients laughed at. When some young blood cut his finger on his own sword in the Bronze Age you can bet the others didn’t sit around analysing what kind of funny they were sniggering at.

The oldest recorded joke in the history of mankind dates back to 1900 BC Sumeria:

“Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a young woman did not fart in her husband’s lap”

It seems even the ancient Sumerians had a lavatorial sense of humour. I don’t get this ancient quip. I don’t find it at all funny. But I don’t know why. It doesn’t matter why. I obviously haven’t found all the answers yet to my questions about humour.

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Cheers! Have fun. Laugh a lot.

Flowers from a Secret Admirer

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/secret-admirers/”>Secret Admirers</a>

The WordPress daily challenge:

You return home to discover a huge flower bouquet waiting for you, no card attached. Who is it from — and why did they send it to you?

I love flowers. I can’t imagine not having flowers to look at. I often take photographs of plants and flowers I find particularly pleasing. They satisfy a part of me I can’t describe. I don’t know whether this kind of pleasure has a name of its own but, for me, it’s part of a feeling of connectedness, as if the plants can feel me admiring them and are even more beautiful because of that.

When I take time out to paint or draw, it’s always flowers that come to mind first.

Hollyhock pastel

soft pastel drawing of Hollyhocks

Even weeds have a beauty of their own.

Convolvulus pastel

Convolvulus

A secret admirer would know all my favourites. Someone who really wanted to reach me would know I have favourite colour combinations.

secret admirer

white petunia, blue plumbago

So fresh and clean: blue and white together. In fact, I have a thing about blue flowers. They resonate with me like no others. Catch them at twilight and their colour glows in the half-light with a fleeting intensity. It’s a bitter sweet pleasure: it passes so quickly. You have to be out there and specifically look for it.

Put me in a bluebell wood in April and I’m in heaven. Not only does the colour get to me, there’s the perfume as well – ah, sensory paradise.

secret Bluebellwood

April bluebells

Here’s a selection of flower pictures I’ve been moved to take:

Stargazer flowers

Stargazer lilies

Fuchsia flowers

fuchsia

 

 

 

 

 

Magnolia flowers

magnolia

Pink rose flower

rose

 

 

 

 

 

Seems I like a bit of pink, too, huh? My secret admirer would have this sussed. Well, of course he would; he has made a point of finding out these things.

The red rose is supposed to be symbolic of love. When I lived in France they were used as an early warning system protecting surrounding grape vines. At the first sign of disease on the roses wine growers would know how to treat the vines.

Rose warning flowers

early warning roses

But, listen, here’s a secret. I have problems with red flowers. I never know where is the best place to plant them. To my thinking they can take over the whole garden with their showiness. They draw the eye and steal away attention from other more deserving beauties.

My ideal garden will be full of flowers but they will share the space with friendly companionship. They will be gentle and welcoming. There will be plenty of green also to act as a foil and add depth to the overall effect.

Yard flowers

a French yard full of flowers

So who is my secret admirer?

A man so kind and thoughtful he has read this post and found a way to put a bouquet together that will both surprise me and fill me with admiration for the depth of his caring.

Why has he given it to me?

Because he loves me, silly!

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Daring not so greatly

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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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 . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A pain in the Arts.

Pain shut off my creative spark. I didn’t have the faintest glow. Not even a hint of warmth, never mind sparkle. So, I got to thinking where does creativity come from? And where has it gone now that I’m battling this CRPS diagnosis?

How can we measure suffering?

pain scale

on a scale of 1 to 10 where would you place your pain?

Doctors usually ask you to rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10. What I’m looking for is proof that there’s a connection between pain and creativity so I can understand why my light went out temporarily.

Doctor Joy Madden who’s the self development editor for Bella online says that, actually, we might need suffering because it can have a positive effect on our creativity.

(Not mine, Doctor Joy)

Indeed, her article goes on to say, and I quote:  “Some of the most famous creative works have been accomplished when experiencing the greatest pain.”

(Oh dear)

In Pain and the Creative Process, author K. Ferlic says:

Although pain is not inherent to the creative process, it is integrally tied to the creative process as performed by humans because of how we create our experiences. Pain and the creative process are related in several different ways.”

Similarly, in Pain and suffering and developing creativity, 

Cheryl Arutt, Psy.D., a psychologist specializing in creative artist issues, says “Many creative people carry the belief that their pain is the locus of their creativity, and worry that they will lose their creativity if they work through their inner conflicts or let go of suffering…”

(Oh, double dear)

It seems to me that in articles such as these they’re talking about the need to have experienced pain of depression, loss, longing and desire to fire up the creative processes.

I’m not talking about the ‘tortured’ artist who creates on the agony in every brush stroke or word of what it felt like to be dumped by her precious ‘other’. I think it’s only common sense to see that if you want to write about heartbreak, it helps if you had it yourself at one time.

I’m talking about having CRPS right now.

CRPS pain scale

CRPS pain scale

It hurts. It really hurts. Now. And now. And NOW. Over and over like Groundhog Day.

‘Look out! Your wrist just got broken,’ mine tells me. ‘Look out! Your wrist just got broken. Tell your arm your wrist just got broken. Tell your elbow your wrist just got broken. Tell your shoulder your wrist just got broken. We’re all broken. NOW. Broken. BROKEN.’

You get the picture. But other people don’t. They’re so happy to see you out and about they slap you on the shoulder or they rub your arm and don’t realise they’re putting you through agony. I try to anticipate and turn to the side but I’m never quite quick enough.

Chronic pain is tiring. Exhausting. Medication gives you nausea on top of everything else you’re putting up with. You can’t sleep so you’re even more fatigued. You begin to avoid going to places where people will rub your arm and tell you they’re glad you’re all better now. And, yes, from time to time you get a little depressed.

With all of the above going on, how could anybody find the energy to be creative?

So where do ideas come from?

Read Neil Gaiman’s thoughts on this. I like his thinking. I like the reference to daydreaming. I like how he says ideas come often when you’re doing something else.

But, when you’re in real, excruciating pain, right now this second, you don’t do something else; you don’t do daydreaming. You’re not relaxed enough for those things. All you can do is try to cope with your pain and get through the day, the hour. When you are relaxed it’s because medication got you there and you probably wouldn’t even remember how to write a shopping list in the state you’re in, never mind write the next five thousand words.

I found I could edit, though. I could look at what I’d already written and reshape it, get it ready for publication. So there is a positive to come out of it. Maybe without the enforced limitations on my capabilities I might never have got around to editing Patterns of Our Lives. I’m pleased and proud it’s out there and selling.

But, don’t tell me pain is conducive to creative arts. It only works in the past tense.

People watching in the market. Inspiration for a story?

People watching is a favourite pastime of mine.

We’d been to the Wednesday market and sat at the same café as my previous French market post on a terrace overlooking the crowd where I like to do my people watching. I snapped a few more nice shots of people passing by.

no cicadas here

every picture tells a story

This would make a lively practice piece for character development. Who are the main characters? What is their relationship to one another? What is their background? Are they wealthy? Are they visitors to this area, or do they live here? And so on and so on.

You could use the secondary characters in the background, too. Who looks happy? Who doesn’t? Why? Is there a face that looks apprehensive? Why might that be?

Before you realise, you’re writing a short story.

Maybe you’ll follow some of these characters home to develop their story further. What would their home be like?

Here’s another people picture.

melon people

giant basket of melons

Opportunities for creating setting and character development are staring you in the face.

You can let your imagine run riot. You can write down lots of ideas. You don’t have to keep them all. Keep the ones that work best.

What are these children thinking? Why do they put their fingers to their mouths?

After every visit to the market, I come home with new characters to think about. Maybe they’ll find their way into a new short story. Perhaps I’ll keep them for something longer.

It doesn’t matter whether you write romance, fantasy, mystery, horror, sic-fi or thriller. Whatever genre you write in, or avoid becoming labelled as, most stories have one thing in common: people.

Go people watching and take a notebook. Your camera should be with you at all times, too. You never know what you might find around the corner.

People watching must be popular. There’s even a WikiHow to page about it. So, if you’re not sure how to begin, here’s a link with some ideas.

watching

Alien in my garden? Don’t look if you’re squeamish.

There was an alien invader on my garden wall. Coincidentally, I’d just written the post about cicadas and their life cycle. It’s certainly an alien concept, living alone underground for all those years. The video clip I linked explained why we’d been finding holes in the soil and we’d found empty nymph cases which we assume had fallen from the trees and shrubs.
So, when I saw the nymph attached to the rear wall of our house, I assumed it was empty.

alien cicada

I didn’t want to get too close

But it moved. And it split. I thought this transformation would be over in seconds, but, no. It takes a while. You have to be patient. And the longer I stood there with my camera, so close to this alien on my wall, the jumpier I got.

Can you bear to continue?

alien cicada on the move

it’s coming out!

I switched to video and waited. And waited. And waited some more. Nothing was happening. This video clip would use up all my Coolpix memory and take hours to upload to YouTube with our crappy Broadband speed. I’d no choice but rely on stills.

alien cicada

feeling squeamish yet?

Ah, Jeez, it’s like a blob of green snot. With eyes.

Can I hold on? Dare I stay here? What’s going to happen next?

cicada alien

getting really spooked now

Is that thing looking at me? Look out! It’s moving again.

cicada alien

I’m willing it onward.

Oh, help. I don’t know if I can stand much more. Its legs look slimy and its eyes are weird. If its wings come out in a hurry, will it fly straight at me?

cicada alien

a face only its mother could love

At this point, I can hear an alarm. It’s the bread machine which lives in the utility room. This is a coincidence. Only the other day, I recorded a short clip of dough going around. I called it alien bread because it looked so weird.

 

I have to go and take out the loaf. Normally, I love the smell of freshly baked bread. Now? After getting so close to green snotty insect life?

But, I have witnessed something wonderful, haven’ t I? How many people get to see the birth of an adult cicada? I dash back with my camera at the ready.

There’s a fluttering noise. Have I missed the final stage? Have I missed the chance to take a photograph of brand new, shimmering wings.

I round the corner.

The wall is empty.

But the nymph case is gone, too.

fat sparrow ate the alien

fat bastard!

I am bereft.

After all that? That poor little blob of green snot had lived all by itself in the dark, underground, waiting for its chance to emerge as a new creature with wings, to rise into the tree tops and sing its little heart out (if it’s a boy), only to get picked off the wall by Captain Fat Jack Sparrow.

I want to cry.

Its struggle for life is unbearable.

I’d never make a wild life photographer.

But you can see why I like writing stories where strange things happen.

Square peg stories – a revelation

I didn’t realize I had square pegs in nearly all my stories.

squarepeg

square pegs don’t fit round holes

It has come as quite a revelation. Most unexpected. I thought I knew pretty much all there was to know about myself. Just goes to show you; you’re never too old to learn a thing or two.

See, I’ve always felt like an outsider looking in. A watcher. A rememberer. I remember the strangest things: the colour of the upholstery in a certain restaurant in Aberdeen; what the skinny guy on the train to Barcelona in 1964 was wearing on his feet. (I saw something funny in espadrilles WAY before Victoria Wood)

On that same trip to Spain with my mother where I saw the man in espadrilles, I had my first shattering moment of self- awareness. Hurtling through French countryside on the sleeper train, I would stand in the corridor and watch fields of sunflowers zipping by. I’d wave at lines of motorists and cyclists waiting at level crossings while unfamiliar, foreign bells clanged and wonder about their lives. These foreign people. How was it that just the other side of this glass window I had my face pressed against, there were hundreds of other lives that for one instant, as the train flashed past, met and became one? How exciting and uncontrollable was that?

But more than that, the face pressed against the window thing was a perfect image of myself.

outsider looking in

face pressed against the window

When I went back to school after that man in the espadrilles holiday, I wrote poetry and had some published in the school magazine. Mother was over the moors. ( see what I did there? Yorkshire wit? Never mind.) And Miss Jones, who had served jury duty at the Penguin/Lady Chatterley court case only a few years before, said to me, Celia, she said, you are so metaphysical my dear. This is your forte.

outsider

not quite fitting in

I looked it up in my school dictionary and decided she was right. I was a serious child, given to wearing dark colours, usually navy blue and bottle green at the same time, so I suppose I always looked like a square peg. Someone different. An outsider. Not quite fitting in with the crowd. Now I had a reason. I was metaphysical. Miss Jones said so. I wore my bottle green cardigan as a totem of my new-found faith and stopped worrying about my naturally curly hair.

I wrote more poetry. I wrote short stories. Years passed. I had suitcases full of manuscripts and grandchildren on the way. My brown curly hair was turning silver, and my parents had passed. I wrote little ditties and kept them in an old exercise book.

moongazingrabbit

a popular garden ornament

The Moon-gazing Rabbit is the victim of someone else’s mistake. He’s invited to the wrong party and finds himself in the Arctic circle:

He gazed at the moon and he pondered the sky. He felt rather foolish and uttered a sigh. And then, in his loneliness, started to cry, for someone had got it wrong.

More years passed. Grandchildren nearly teenagers. My hair all silver with artistic streaks of whatever’s on special offer. More short stories. Three novels. A family saga. A psychological drama. Part one of a trilogy about a woman in a man’s world. Trobairitz, telling stories to find her place.

But I hadn’t realized there was a common thread, an element of estrangement going on in my writing.

Until. Two things.

One: I read someone else’s blog. Nan Bovington takes an hilarious look at the world of publishing. We should have been sisters. Sometimes strangers’ opinions resonate, don’t they? You feel you’ve missed something in your life because they haven’t been part of it. Nan made me laugh out loud with her irreverent pokes at publishing.

Two: I uploaded Not Rodgers and Hammerstein as my short story of the month and I read it again for the first time in, oooh, ages. Even in a romance, it seems, I write about people who don’t quite fit in. People who are looking for that special place where they might. It could be a physical location; it could be alongside another person; it might be something they have to sort out in their own head first.

They can’t always have happy endings. Life doesn’t always deliver them on cue. That’s why not all of my short stories will find their way into women’s magazines where at least an uplifting ending is hoped for.

I haven’t found the right agent or publisher yet for the things I write, but at least now I recognize the essence of what I’m writing. Am I getting there?

iceberg

the tip of . . .

My moon-gazing rabbit had it all worked out years ago.

But wait, what is this? Now can it be so? Yes really, the truth is that no-one need know. He can sit on an iceberg and go with the floe, though someone has got it wrong.

I wish he’d told me then.

Not Rodgers and Hammerstein new short story of the month

There’s always a revival of a Rodgers and Hammerstein show going on somewhere.

In a former life, I was in a few. You might have seen me, in an end of the pier show, strutting my stuff.

Britannia Pier

the end of the pier show

Love of musical theatre runs in my family. My mother took me to the Hippodrome theatre in my childhood hometown. See this page. My love affair with the stage began then. When my little sister was born, she loved music, too, and her favourite song of all was Bali Ha’i from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific.

SouthPacific

one of my favourite shows

 

The best musical shows feature strong stories and strong characters, as well as memorable melodies, of course. One of the worst criticisms my mother might come out with would be you can’t come out of the theatre humming the tunes.

I’ve been humming Rodgers and Hammerstein tunes all my life. So has my sister. The year I played Bloody Mary at the end of the pier show, she couldn’t be there to see it. We both regret that. There’s a line in Bloody Mary’s big song that takes us both back to her baby days when she bobbed up and down to the rhythm of the music before she’d learned to say the words properly.

When I decided to write a romantic short story, I wanted to write about people who don’t quite fit into the usual parameters of what is considered the norm. We all have our own Bali Ha’i, a magical place where everything will work out just as we’d like it. In South Pacific, that place is an island, out of bounds to the marines. In my short story Not Rodgers and Hammerstein, that place is . . . you can find out here.

May we all find our own Bali Ha’i – wherever and whatever that may be.

Bali Hai

. . . most people long for another island

I’ve discovered Oneword. Get over there.

Brilliant, this Oneword website. What a way to begin your day. Sixty seconds to write whatever comes into your head. It doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t even make sense. You just write. You throw away all your inhibitions and write. You fly by the seat of your pants for sixty seconds and the freedom of it is exhilarating.

Now, we know you ought not try to write a novel this way. We know where pantsing gets us. It gets us lost. That’s where it gets us. In the wilderness, a little voice crying Help me, I’m lost.

onewordgo

go there

But, oh, the joy of flying by them for 60 seconds.Prompted by just Oneword.