Thursday, 28 October 2010

Striking a Chord

I was sitting in my reading chair, soaking up the last morsels of sunlight and reading Howards End when I came across a passage which nearly made me fall off my chair, I certainly sat up straight. Forster was describing my London, it was his London, going through integral changes, but it was the same London that has been plaguing me for so long. So here is the extract of the week;

"And month by month the roads smelt more strongly of petrol, and were more difficult to cross, and human beings heard each other speak with greater difficulty, breathed less of the air, and saw less of the sky. Nature withdrew; the leaves were falling by midsummer; the sun shone through dirt with an admired obscurity.
     To speak against London is no longer fashionable. The Earth is an artistic cult has had its day, and the literature of the near future will probably ignore the country and seek inspiration from the town. One can understand the reaction....Certainly London fascinated. One visualizes it as a tract of quivering grey, intelligent without purpose, and excitable without love; as a spirit that has altered before it can be chronicled; as a heart that certainly beats but with no pulsation of humanity. It lies beyond everything: Nature, with all her cruelty, comes nearer to us than do these crowds of men...who can explain Westminster Bridge Road or Liverpool Street in the morning- the city inhaling; or the same thoroughfares in the evening- the city exhaling her exhausted air? We reach in desperation beyond the fog, beyond the very stars, the voids of the universe are ransacked to justify the monster, and stamped with a human face....The Londoner seldom understands the city until it sweeps him, too, away from his moorings..."

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Just So

It was a bright sunny Sunday morning after a long week of submitting manuscripts and preparing myself for the long wait as the fate of my writing remains in the hands of others once more, that I decided, I have to get out of here. “Here” is the flat, I longed to hear the birds and be shrouded in trees and mud. Although I wasn’t feeling too well, my desire for fresh air and to not see my desk for a couple of hours outweighed everything else.

I suggested Dulwich Park where I’d be able to walk along the edges covered by trees, along the jogger path where all the wild berries grew. Mr Cranmer suggested Hyde Park where I had only been once and that was in the summer to see Patti Smith. “Very well” I replied and so we went.

I nearly cried at the sound of traffic as we walked from Victoria to the park, I longed for peace, but we made it. We walked along the Serpentine, as the bright wintery sun glistened upon it. I took many pictures of the water and the light, it was simple, yet it was so much. As we sat sipping tea by the water, watching grandparents with their grandchildren and couples with their dogs and muddy wellies , I felt relief and thankful that we had spent our Sunday morning and afternoon just so. Just so.

Friday, 22 October 2010

The Writer's Song

Poor Artist's Cupboard -Charles Bird King (1785 -1862)

Perseverance, acceptance and belief are what keep us humans going, and these are the words that are running through my head this morning. That twist in my gut becomes tighter as I continue writing, and as I continue trying to find that agent and publisher who sings the same tune as me. Even in my darkest moments, I can not see myself giving up, it’s unfathomable. I can’t do anything else; I was made for nothing else. Writing is all I know. I have chosen “The Writer’s Song” by Patti Smith from her book of poetry Auguries of Innocence a homage to the beautiful William Blake. A man that never gave up.

"The Writer's Song"

Patti Smith (2005)

I did not wish to work
I did not wish to earn
but to curl with my jar
in the sweet sorghum
I laid my mat among the reeds
I could hear the freemen call
oh my life
what does it matter
will the reed cease bending
will the leper turn
I had a horn I did not blow
I had a sake and another
I could hear the freemen
drunk with sky
what mattetr my cry
will the moon swell
will the flame shy
bonsai bonsai
it is better to write
then die
in the blue crater
set with straw
I could hear
the freemen call
the way is hard
the gate is narrow
what matter I say
with the new mown hay
my pillow
I had a sake and another
I did not care to own or rove
I wrote my name upon  the water
nothing but nothing above
it is better to write
then die
a thousand souvenirs
a thousand prayers
set away in earthenware
we draw the jars
from the shelves
drink our parting
from ourselves
so we be king
or we be bum
the reed still whistles
the heart still hums

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Current Read- Howards End by E.M. Forster

I made it

After writing yesterday's post, I called my sister and we met for our annual autumnal walk, we crunched along in the leaves, talked of plans and headed back to my parent's house for tea....just like old times...and just like times ahead. It was a beautiful chilly day, the first for the Barbour coat in fact. After hearing about  the dramatic temperature drop over the radio when I got home, I had to bring my geraniums in. So here I am, in my flat overshadowed by flowers too sensitive to the cold- a lot like me.

Today is another day dedicated to agents and queries, but it's ok, I have reminders of yesterday, the sore throat, a few red leaves and many photos.

Triangle of trees

In my parent's garden

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Autumnal Thoughts

Oh dear, yet another autumnal blog post; each one a different leaf, some are torn, some pale and others are burning red and orange. I am here at my writing desk- a fold out one, the same one that I used back at home when I began writing Casting Shadows. This desk once faced a triangle of trees, I'd watch the leaves turn then fall to the ground. There was always such joy, there was always a flutter in my heart as the orange glow rose up to my window in the most beautiful smooth waves. I look out now, the same desk in a different setting, ten minutes away from my parent’s house, there are no trees here. On the street to the left, there are a number of trees where I know the leaves lay upon the floor.

I watch the children in the morning heading to school with their parents, holding beautiful golden leaves which they have collected along the way. Something that I had always done. I haven’t done that this year. I haven’t even taken many pictures, my photo albums are abundant with each year’s orange glow, this year’s remains vacant, blank, non-existent. What I have managed to do this year is collect a few conkers, at the moment they line my bag, they fall out as I pull my purse out, and I smile, I still have the conkers. I collected them when Mr Cranmer and I took a beautiful autumnal walk in Greenwich Park. I’m always the happiest as I climb the parks steep heels, my boots ploughing into the mud as the squirrels dart about. Every now and then I would bend down, inspect a conker and slip it into my bag. I’ve always found it hard to be sad there.

                                                       last weekend at my parent's

I have been working very hard this October, fixing up Casting Shadows which has never looked better. It s finally ready, I believe, and so I’ve started to send it out to agents and publishers again. Although I love the change in the air, as soon as the days altered, I entered hibernation mode. For the first two weeks, I found it impossible to stay awake past 3 pm and found myself napping between 45 mins to an hour, but I just about adjusted. With autumn, comes warm soups, so far I've only made two, but I love the warmth in the colour of the squash that I roasted the other day, along with the beautiful reds of the Pomegranate. I have to fall back into the colour, back into the warmth and back into autumn.
This morning, the skies are blue and the sun is hitting the houses opposite me in a bearable way. I’m thankful, thankful that Mr Cranmer supports my writing and has provided a nook for my desk, but I will keep dreaming about my trees, because if we don’t keep dreaming, then we might as well give up now. Today I shall work hard and later, I shall pay a visit to the park, with my camera. I long to be immersed in the orange once more.

The view from my window now; a cat sat on my wall.

My old view; the trees in the Triangle

Playing with light.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Current Read

Well, if Agatha Christie is good enough for Mr Cranmer, then it is for me too. Unlike Mr Cranmer who devours the Poirot ( a lot like Columbo) novels and claims that he stays away from Miss Marple who comes across as an old busy body (a lot like Jessica Fletcher ), she's a busy body who I will follow. I'm enjoying it already in fact, whilst I continue to stave off the Bolano, I'm in the midst of editing, so can only take a very small about of violence, and why not do it in the countryside, a Vicarage no less. I managed to find the second one in Greenwich Market last Saturday, so if it is indeed any good, I can sally-on!

Article- The Birds & Other Stories

Literature │Hold On Tight
The Birds & Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier
(Published in "Avrupa")

Hitchcock was Daphne du Maurier’s number one fan, he must have been seeing as he turned her short story “The Birds” and Rebecca into successful films, many of her other films have been adapted for the screen, including Don’t Look Now and Jamaica Inn. One has to ask, what is it about Daphne’s writing that makes directors yearn to take the story and bring it to life. It must be the way that she is capable of making one agitated in their own skin, the way she can make the bravest of people worry about their own actions. Her stories are frightening to say the least, but there is something far more sinister at play.

Daphne du Maurier (1907-89) had always written short stories and was said to have had such an imagination that she had created a male alter ego for herself. When reading her stories, the one question that constantly enters one’s mind is, “where does she get such ideas from?” To be able to write in the short story form takes skill, but to write them intensely well is someone blessed with divine skill. I have never been captured by this form, not since Edgar Allen Poe that is but Daphne, like some form of shaman, manages to suspend the reader high up in the air, only to release the cord tauntingly. Images and scenarios concocted by the wonderful Daphne du Maurier raises the many hairs upon all parts of the body and her deep and penetrating psychological thrills and spills leave the reader gaping in horror.

This myriad collection of stories include; “The Birds” , “Monte Verita”, “The Apple Tree”, “The Little Photographer”, “Kiss Me Again, Stranger” and “The Old Man”. “The Birds” conjure up a terrifying battle between man and nature as the latter turns on the former. The most beautiful and docile of birds turn on human beings as they become thirsty for human blood. Daphne depicts a family hiding out in their house as the birds attempt to break they’re way in, it is a story which tests every strength attainable by man. Whilst nature turns on man in “The Birds”, “Monte Verita” is about the human need to know a power greater than oneself, and in the search of immortality at any price. “The Apple Tree” has to be one of the most spine chilling tales of the collection. “The Apple Tree” and “The Little Photographer” have a very strong Edgar Allen Poe essence, particularly with his story “The Tell-Tale Heart.”

“The Apple Tree” is the story of a husband who has just lost his wife, one would expect him to be in the pits of despair, but he isn’t, in fact, he is rather relieved. He finds peace at last, he is able to breathe and live the life that he had lost. But he soon discovers that his wife has not left his side, she has in fact, never been so very present in his life.

This collection is like a beautiful bouquet of flowers, each stem leads to an incredible flower, each different in their own right, and not one petal lets down the entire bouquet. It may be odd referring to such horrific stories akin to flowers, but to the reader, that is what they are. Fear not, you shan’t be let down by this wonderful collection, and it is the perfect read in time for winter and Halloween. It’s certainly a book that one wants to curl up with on a grey day, with cup after cup of good tea.

©Zehra Cranmer

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Happy 70th Birthday John Lennon


Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Current Read

Oh dear, oh dear, I've changed my mind once more! I popped into the library and took out The Birds and Other Stories by Daphne Du Maurier and have only a few weeks to read it, so I shan't be changing my mind anymore. I bought Don't Look Now and Rebecca during the week also, so much for not buying books, at least I took this one out of the library. So here we go again....

Friday, 1 October 2010

Did London kill Sheila Fell ?

One must embrace Woman's Hour on Radio 4, sometimes it's downright interestimg, sometimes....not so. But today, my ears perked up as soon as I heard the name Sheila Fell; a Cumberland artist who painted her home surroundings with a great passion. It was unfortunate, but it seems that when she eventually became known and moved to London, she missed her home. She turned to drink and died tragically. In the spirit of not being a fan of London at the moment I deduced that it was London that killed her! Well there, I've said it!
Moving away from such dramatic statements, I've put up a few of her paintings which I find rather inspiring as I sit here in the flat on a grey day in London, looking out onto the streets ahead. It is these paintings which have lifted my soul and prepared me to work on long hard edits. May Sheila Fell lift your soul today.

                                                        Seagulls over a ploughed field

                                                                Field Near Drumbugh

                                                              Large Wave, Allonby

                                                                       Allonby, IV
                                                    Cottage Near Mount Grisdale


And there are so many more.


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