Archive for the ‘thoughts’ Category

I seem to be stuck in the “up to 500 words range”. This is around 400. I could, of course, continue the novel I started last time. I may do so. But right now, I wrote this instead.

If you think it sounds like a misery novel excerpt, let me assure you upfront, it’s not. It’s just what it is: a standalone scenario. Yes, the awful dress, and the fancy dress street party it was meant to be worn at, stem from real memory. (Oh god, do I remember it!) But the rest is sheer invention, just to make it a fiction. I mean, who wants boring fact all the time?

Let me know if you like it. I need all the encouragement I can harvest from you to get back into regular daily fiction writing! I was looking at the website www.bookdesigntemplates.com just now and was greatly inspired – perhaps also because I so love doing school visits.

And I wrote it in Bean, my favourite go-to for tiny bits of writing.

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Mother holds up the fancy dress she’s made for me and beams happily. My stomach lurches. My brother is already dressed up in a brown pirate costume with a little cutlass tucked into the belt. It makes him look grown up and strong.

“Perfect,” she declares, patting the bright yellow cotton. It’s covered in enormous red hearts like patches of blood. “You’ll be the perfect Queen of Hearts,” she says. “Off with your clothes, and let’s try it on. Then I’ll sew it up properly and remove the tacking threads.”

I stare at her. This can’t be happening. How am I supposed to wear this hideous thing in front of everyone? My eyes blur, and the red and yellow turn into an orange ballooning monster that floats towards me.

“No!” I scream.

I run from the room into the hall. She follows me and smacks me hard on my bottom. I hit her back on the arm as hard as I can. “It’s horrid, horrid, horrid!” I shout.

Her eyes go narrow and black. She strips my thin dress and knickers off, holds me tight in one hand, slaps my bare bottom again and again, and pushes me onto the wicker stool that always sits by the front door.

“Just you stay there so the neighbours can see what a wicked, ungrateful child you are,” she says, her voice as cold as the seat.

I don’t look round, but I hear her stalk back to the dining room. I know that if I move, it will be the belt next. So I hold myself still while the wicker presses into my sore backside and sends pain right up to my eyes. They start to leak, but I refuse to cry.

How can she have made my brother a wonderful pirate costume and me a horrible yellow Queen of Hearts? Why not a fairy or a princess or a witch, in white, red, black – anything but bright shiny yellow with huge red hearts and a skirt that sticks out like a parachute. Everyone will notice me and point and laugh. Everyone will say how ugly I look…

I shiver in the draught.

Then I hear crunching on the gravel. Someone’s coming. They’ll see me with nothing on. They’ll see my knickers on the floor.

“I’m sorry,” I call in a voice that’s not my own. “I’ll put the dress on. I’m sorry.”

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I can’t believe I last posted on a haiku and now I’m doing it again. Am I hung up on writing haiku? Badly??

Nope. In between I’ve done some editorial work (both in words and art) and tended to my Redbubble shop. It’s just that now, tonight, after time in the fresh air on a lovely sunny day, I was thinking of how vast nature is and how cramped I feel in trying to put that awe and wonder into words – and the haiku form entered my head.

It started off badly – you know how it is when you fiddle with the words and they don’t come out quite right. So two failed attempts. They went like this:

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In fact they were totally awful haha!

And then the third try hit the itch I was trying to scratch. And immediately I thought of two images I had made on separate occasions that would illustrate this idea nicely.

One, an acrylic nighttime land/skyscape; the other a pensive person watching. So here is the result, amalgamated in Photoshop with the proper haiku superimposed. Feels satisfying to have done this 🙂 Hope you like it.

nature haiku

Of shoes and haiku

Posted: September 9, 2017 in Art, fiction, poems, thoughts, writing
Tags: , , , , ,

Was sketching feet in shoes because it’s something I do badly when attached to a human figure – even if the figure looks good overall. So I’ve been observing more carefully.

But they also looked lonely by themselves, so I wrote three haiku. All describe the same feeling – that drawing shoes is probably a slightly easier task than getting a human foot correct. Which is weird, because shoes should be more manufactured/structured, but the human foot has a lot of variations after their owners have lived for a while! Anyway, here they are – both shod feet and haiku attempts.

shoes haiku screenshot

graphite shoes

I will start writing again next month. I’ve found myself some time by stopping counselling young people and running drug and alcohol group work. All really fulfilling activities and worthwhile in terms of outcomes, which I’ve done for the last 13 years. But I don’t believe in an afterlife and there are only so many hours in this one! So I really want to spend more time writing and illustrating and that is what I shall be doing with the time I’ve freed up.

I’ve sold many articles, stories, novels (and puzzles and brochures) over the years. It’s something I can do. It just got pushed out by the editing and proofreading, both of which bring in a more reliable income. So, encouraged by last year’s win in a short story competition and the knowledge that I know how to write and sell, I’m embarking on bringing together some threads. I shall write about or for children and young people – perhaps articles to pitch to magazines and newspapers, as before (but specialising in my more recent experiences professionally) or stories that are either real or fantastic but contain an emotional or mental health truth. As indeed all stories must. These will also be inspired by the needs of young people I’ve met over the years.

It feels like a plan. But in this month of ‘not working much’ (by intention – some people have foreign holidays!), I’ve designed two book covers for two slightly updated fairy tales. One goat is a girl, so no “Billy” in the title! And the Pied Piper is a girl – plus the person refusing to pay her is a business man. I enjoyed drawing and painting the components in watercolour, and also used Procreate App and Photoshop to assemble them. Maybe I’ll write the stories too!

two fairy tale covers

 

Putting grief to words is really a private affair. But after a while, after some months of mourning, with the dark and cold encroaching and  dragging me down, sometimes putting words out there is a help. This poem is no masterpiece. Hopefully, at some point in the future, it may change and morph into something less raw, more complete, more past. Until then, it is this: words and images, unedited, unfinished.

Yesterday a garden

Today a goat

Yesterday you lived

Still – a beautiful, funny, wise, caring dad.

Today you no longer are

Here – a searing absence, an absent presence.

You would have liked my painting

had the marauding goat not come.

wc flower garden wc goat copy

I have come to the conclusion that there isn’t a whole lot of difference between painting a picture and writing a story. I find I veer away from making just any old image. I want to make it tell about something that is happening, may happen or has happened. And I think, too, that that’s not a very original thought haha! But sometimes you have to realise something right inside yourself before it can happen in your work.

So – just as we try to paint a word picture when writing, so we try to make an illustration tell a story in itself. Perhaps the link goes back to cave-dwelling times…

Anyway, I saw someone online paint an image in a leaf shape. Fine. It looked good but that was the end of the matter – unless you made it into a greetings card, of course. I did one just for fun, and suddenly found myself compelled to add a figure (picking the berries in the first one). This kind of grew like an addiction and I did five more within different kinds of leaves. I decided to keep the figures in mono (soluble pen actually) but make a link into the leaf-shaped landscape/cityscape.

Strangely the images took over from me and they all became trees. Now that’s pure magic! I hope you find a story in them – whatever it inspires in you. There isn’t a pre-planned one.

wc leaf images

My mother always said I was a fairground child. She had reason – I used to like trying my hand at all the stalls. Not that we went to many fairs, but the Girl Guides and the Scouts had them and occasionally one came to town from further afield.

I think I frustrated her because she could see that I had some talent of sorts but that I squandered it (her words!) on getting to grips with many things instead of mastering just one.

Actually, I think this enriches my life. I love learning all sorts of things and getting fun from doing all sorts of activities. But – and it’s a big but – it does mean that while I’m illustrating (and in the zone), I’m fine. Same with writing. But if I’m casually doing one or the other (not in the zone) then I can get seriously distracted . For instance, I had just finished an article illustration done digitally, about the financial sickness of a particular country’s banks, when I decided to do some watercolour! Not for any reason in particular; just some vegetables and fruit for fun. Miniature ones. I’ve assembled them here for you.

wc-fruit-and-veg

White Nights watercolours on Khadi handmade paper

It’s not that they’re bad (for my lowly ability, they’re quite reasonable – and each is only two inches tall) but I know I won’t continue to practise watercolour: my oil pastels are winking at me. And my alcohol inks… So – fairground child indeed!

What I’m thinking of doing is rationing some of my time. Work is work and I must concentrate, then allocate myself some hours or days to simply do whatever takes my fancy among the fairground stalls. For that, I shall call myself Wandering Ellie.