New story published

2 03 2009

First off, it feels  like this is going to be a good year for me.

My writing is going well and I’ve already had some good responses to pieces I’ve sent out.

My first publication of the year can be found here…

The Battered Suitcase – March 2009.

The rest of this week I’m going to devote to getting my assignment finished.  I’ve enjoyed the poetry I’ve been writing but not sure it’s suitable for marking.  Some of the subject matter is a bit heavy going and I’m afraid my tutor might not “get it”.  And because I’ve put my heart into it I’m really not sure if I want to risk that.

To put your emotional heart into a piece is part of the joy of writing.  It can be like therapy, even if (as with this poem I’m thinking of) you’re using a different experience, the emotions are yours, you feel them, as you try to put life into your characters.  And that’s part of what makes it so frightening to send them into the world to be read, and judged, by others.  If a person doesn’t “get it” it can feel as though they don’t get you.  As though your emotions aren’t valid.

I’m sure this is part of the reason why so many good writers do it in secret for years, manuscript after manuscript gathering dust in a drawer.  The writer too terrified of having the feelings inside his or her head held up to public scrutiny.

I may stick to the softer option.  I have another short story I’ve been working on, and though I’m not sure it’s as good I think I’d be less personally hurt if the tutor tears it to bits.  But am I just copping out?

Is it my job, as a writer, to lay it all out on the page and hope that whatever genuine experience I’ve mined and carved into a new shape, resonates with the reader?  Should I trust that if I write “the truth” as I see it, that the reader will sympathise with my characters?  Or should I play safe and only write about stuff that has less depth but which will hurt me less if criticized?

How do other writers cope with sending out personal writing?

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11 01 2008

I’ll keep you in a box
In the recess of my heart.
But occasionally,
I’ll take you out.
To dust you down and hold you to the light,
Like a much loved ball gown that I wore
Just once.
I’ll stroke off the dust and
Run my hands over the memory,
Hold you under my chin,,
And dance,
Around my dreams
Like a débutante.

The Song of the Sea

29 10 2007

Her life was undulated.
In her depths she was a mermaid-ghost,
Almost never there,
Shut off from the world.
Then the waves rose and the storm force took her
Higher, higher, higher
Twelve feet tall, invincible;
A warrior princess.

If the hunters came
It could be her final night.
She didn’t care.
Fearless; unconcerned,
No vulnerability
The waves crashed in again.
Shame washed her upon the shore
Dishevelled and wanton.

She tried to dig.
To hide under the sand,
But it would not stay fixed.
Poured away, fell from her grasp
Slid off her skin as she dried out
Defilement. The shame
Pressed down like the sweltering sun
Burning her skin; making her eyes sting.

“No more!”

She looked up and saw
The horizon and the temperate ocean.
And in she waded; stepping with new cold toes.
The water grabbed;
Resisted but she continued
Once again with the sea.
Sinking deeper
Until the weight of it held her still again.

© Jenny Love
Oct 2007

Having bit of a rough time of things the past few weeks. Don’t know if it’s just post-course blues or if I’ve been burning the candle at both ends too much but writing this really helped me make sense of what I’ve been feeling. I don’t know if that’s what poetry is meant for but anyway…it helped.

Not blocked just busy

16 07 2007

This is just a quick note to anyone who may still be dropping by and who might wonder where I have been.

Our current topic in A215 is Autobiography. And it’s not as though I’m not writing, quite the opposite in fact. But I find it more emotionally unnerving posting creative writing where I am (quite openenly) the central character.

A bit mad that, given that I’m a blogger but there you go.

I’ve been writing my life as a series of poems, I’ve been re-exploring my childhood in reams of prose, I’ve been collating lots of raw material but…

One of the things I’m finding hardest is the parts of my life that I think would make the most interesting reading are those parts that I was either to drunk or drug addled to remember fully

(and thus would run the risk of sounding like a bad Hunter S Thompson rip-off)

or they’ve invloved me doing things which are immoral or illegal or (in some parts of the world) both!

The other problem is I have so much material (yeah I know, it’s nice to have that sort of problem at least) that I’m unsure yet what I might use for my assignment and I’m not allowed to post it up here until it’s been done and marked.

However, I shall return. I have a short story on the go just now involving a pair of boxing gloves, a man, a woman and the gods of all things. But my inner -and outer- editor is getting more and more uppity and thinks of herself as a professional and so she won’t let me post just any old guff now. Not like at the start of this journey. It may be some time but once it’s polished a bit I’ll stick it up.

That being said, I will in all fairness still post guff, just guff that my inner editor has missed!


Pass on the Secret of Happiness

7 05 2007

There’s a post just now over at DameWiggy that caught my eye this morning.

In particular one of the comments struck a chord with me. What things make us feel really happy? Proper genuine happiness?

So my list..ten things

1. A sea view, no matter what the weather
2. Fresh coffee first thing in the morning
3. The sound of my children laughing
4. A good book
5. My lovers shoulder under my cheek; his arms wrapped round me.
6. Those fantastic nights where you sit with good friends and feel like you really connect over some trivial conversation.
7. Painting my toenails vivid red and then taking every excuse to walk barefoot
8. Trawling through charity shops and finding the perfect dress.
9. Potting up new plants in my garden
10. Dancing like no one is watching

Go on.

I dare you.

Try it yourself and pass on a little happiness…

Books that were important to me and why

8 02 2007

I was one of the fortunate ones in my street. Our house was full of books. I think this was the fault of my maternal Grandmother. Her house was not full of books. In fact the only book I ever remember seeing there was the Holy Bible. But I believe she may have been the first generation of her Irish Catholic family who had the luxury of free full education. The first generation from where she came from in County Cork to fully read and write. And she raised my mother to have a reverence for books and for the education possessed within them. Books=education=escape from poverty.

Without much money growing up mum spent a lot of time in the library. Of the books she acquired early in life I would guess many were either secondhand or much longed for gifts. When she met my father they discovered a shared love of Science Fiction. I can vividly remember our family bookcase at home. Full of the bright yellow spines of the genre. I can’t recall the name of the publisher. Authors like Asimov and Arthur C Clarke.

I remember too the characters on the spines of books bought for me as a child. The ladybird and later the penguin. Our family motto still looming large. Books=education=escape from poverty.

It wasn’t until I was much older that I began to realise that there are many homes where books are not treasured. A lone dictionary perhaps, or an extravagant leather bound set “for show”. Never read. In wealthy peoples homes too. It still perplexes me.

Now that I am grown and have children of my own, my own love of books is still strong. When I met and married my husband we reluctantly culled our collection for want of space. It was a torturous process, trying to decide which we could part with. Shipped off to the charity shop. In the end though we parted with many we still had to build more shelves to accommodate this shared love of reading. And I’m proud that my own children are carrying this torch, each of them, a corner of their bedroom devoted to the shrine of the written word.

My favourite friends all have large bookcases. Many joyful, wine filled nights discussing plots and characters and turns of phrase. Friendships bonded as tightly as the paper bound tomes we enjoy. Books swapped, borrowed and lent out again and again.

My bookcase holds more than just a history of what I have read. In a very personal way it is as much a history of who I am.

430 words

Jenny Love

February 2007

This is in answer to an exercise where we were asked to reflect on our experience of books as a child. Did we have a favourite author or was there a specific book that inspires us?

I couldn’t think of an author or a lone book. My first thought was, “it’s too difficult. It would be like being asked which of my children do I love best.”

But books were nonetheless a hugely formative part of my childhood as I hope I have conveyed in this piece.

That smell reminds me of…

2 02 2007

…my mother’s comfort.

The stale tobacco and flat beer in working men’s clubs.

Mum was a barmaid. I shared a room with my sister and sometimes mum would come into our room at the end of her evening shift. To tuck us in. Retrieve lost teddy bears. Soothe nightmares away. Her hair and clothes smelled of her work. The working men’s club.

A sweet smell like…I don’t know? I can’t quite put my finger on it. It’s not the same putrid smell of alcohol you find on a hungover lover’s breath. It has a warmth. A cosy feel to it.

My mother hasn’t hugged me for a long time. And now the smoking ban means that the smell, my childhood smell of comfort is dying.

Walk past an old man’s pub now and the smell just isn’t quite right. I wish I could have bottled it before it disappeared.

Would it smell the same in another country?

If I went to another country where they haven’t banned smoking in public places would the smell still exist? Or did the smell contain something peculiar to our west of Scotland culture?

Did the ship building and steel industry give it an accent? As elusive as the exotic scents in luxurious bottles of perfume?

220 words

Jenny Love

February 2007

a free-writing exercise using the prompt of the title.