Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Weather and words

The sky finally broke open yesterday, weeks of heat and pressure shattering like a dropped pot, an explosion of sound and water. I opened the window a little to watch the sheeting rain, and the smell of the garden rushed in, lush, and wet, and green; the pines were glittering all over like brides in sequins and silvery lace. And then lightning scorched the sky, its singular smell like pennies sweating in a sea-green palm. And thunder rolled in, low and deep as the boom of a bass. I watched for ages, the odd jewel of rain tossed on the sill like a coin dropped in the throat of a well. And despite the violence of the storm, I felt strangely calm. Safe and peaceful. Human. Small.
I write a lot about the weather here. It's not intentional. I think it's a way of locating myself as I write; anchoring myself in a physical reality before I spiral off into poetry and metaphor and glorious dreamy language. Like someone about to fly a kite in a high wind might plant their feet in the sand before letting their paper diamond go up into the high, far blue.
I feel a little as if I am flying today, barely-tethered, grazing the clouds and the white day-moon. It occurred to me earlier, as it sometimes does, that I am writing something; more than that, I am writing a book. I've had bits and scraps for so long, chapters scattered like wedding confetti, notes here and notes there, that it's easy to forget sometimes that it is taking shape and becoming something solid and cohesive. I thought of it for so long as jottings-that-I-might-be-able-to-make-something-of-one-day that even now as it gathers weight and depth, even as it spills from one desk drawer into another, I still think of it as something formless and fragmented, so on the rare occasions that it strikes me that it is now very definitely a book-in-progress, I get this wonderful soaring feeling, a sort of wild exhilaration that is perhaps three parts pure joy, one part fear.
It has been slow in the making, partly because I move like a butterfly between projects, lifting here, landing lightly there: poetry one day, fiction the next, non-fiction the day after that. I love the actual process of writing, but I find exacting any kind of discipline impossible. If I’m in a poetry-writing frame of mind, I am quite literally incapable of writing anything else. Each style of writing comes from a different place, I think; is driven by a different sort of compulsion. And the idea of trying to corral that compulsion and break it like a wild horse is utterly absurd to me. I like to write from spark and fire, from the first kindling, to a flickering, through to a furious burning, a bright white heat. I’ve heard other writers talk about the ratios between inspiration and perspiration, about the necessity to sit down and write even when the motivation isn’t there, and maybe that works for other people, but it doesn’t work for me. I write from exhilaration, not from duty; sometimes I wish I could be more clinical about it, more dogged, but there it is. And it’s taken me a while to realise that my way of writing is fine, too.
Different people have different ways of doing things. That is part of what makes us interesting. I am fascinated by other people's kinks and quirks, their particular habits and processes; if we all worked according to the same template, I would have one less thing to be fascinated by.
And I do so like to be fascinated.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Moments of Gratitude #6

Beach weekends, and horseriding in the dunes, and peeling lighthouses, and oyster shells with a rosy gleam in their folds, and blue skies, and crab skeletons, and old temples with holy pools, and champagne on the sand at sunset, and friendships, and laughter, and boys with Irish accents and soft, soft lips.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Full Fathom Five

Summer has finally arrived like an overdue visitor, her arms brimming with conciliatory gifts. Lush bouquets of plum-coloured roses. Soft gold bees browsing dizzily in the grass. I bring sandwiches to work - cheese thickly slathered with lurid yellow pickle - and sit outside to eat them in the sunshine, reading, dreaming, feeling utterly content.

Yesterday I watched a jewel-blue dragonfly skimming the surface of the lake. Today I threw in my leftover bread, and the soft little patters drew madly-quacking ducks like filings to a magnet, a hundred gleaming emerald heads bobbing for scraps.

I have always loved the water. It’s in my horoscope: the sign of the fish, two little slips of gold in a single loop, gilt-scaled, thin-finned. I have always found solace in it, a sense of quiet and calm.  It feels like home. Like I lived there once, in the cathedral quiet of the ocean depths, and some memory of it still lives at a cellular level, as coiled and self-contained as a nautilus shell on the sea-bed. When I was little, I wished every night that I’d wake up a mermaid – slim tail the colour of tears, hair spilling over my shoulders like water. (Secretly, I still believe it could happen. That one sunrise there will be a faint salt scent in the covers. A scattering of light in the sheets).


I've been choosing beauty wherever I can. And finding that the more you look for it, the easier it is to see. Filling my head with fairytales and poetry, selkies, spells and elves. Taking the longer route home along the river, stopping to take photos of the fish in the shallows, the cool blue herons as regal as queens. I’ve been eating dinner in the dappled garden, cats about my ankles in happy figure-eights. Drinking peach tea and writing out quotes in my cramped notebooks.

It’s as though beauty wants to be noticed. If I open to even its smallest expression - a smile, a sweet smell, the halo of light around a candle flame - it crests and swells, rises like a wave, or the notes in an orchestra. 

And who wouldn’t want to live on that singular frequency. Who wouldn’t want their body to pulse with that song.

Einstein said, Either everything is a miracle, or nothing is. 
My whole heart tell me it's the former.