Sunday, January 29, 2012

Writing

 'I have a new novel preparing but preparing very slowly.  I am not quick about such things.  They must roll about in my mind for an age before they can be written.  I think it will take me two years to write a full length novel, counting periods when I walk the streets and try to comb up courage enough to blow out my brains.'  John Steinbeck

I remember when I was in school, aged 7 or 17, when we were given a writing assignment I took to it like a duck to water.  Seriously, my Mr. Men book (entitled 'Mr Rich' if you're interested, all illustrations my own) was the longest in my class; my short story was finished a week before the assignment was due.  This was what came naturally and easiest to me and I didn't even realise it - it was that natural. All of a sudden assignments aren't sufficient anymore, instead I get the urge to write at the most awkward and annoying moments.  I was sat on a train home before Christmas and started to write; the man opposite me was reading every word that I wrote, underlined or went back to cross out.
'Writing is the flip side of sex - it's only good when it's over.'  Hunter S. Thompson

Is it just me or do you assume that because someone has written tens of novels, short stories and poems that writing is easy for them?  I remember an article we read in class years ago about Mrs Gaskell and Dickens; Dickens was trying to hurry up her submission for his magazine 'Household Words' and was threatening her with a slap if she didn't get it in on time.  All of a sudden your imagination is bound up in deadlines, word counts and pennies (or pounds if you're lucky) per word. Those novels staring out at you in book stores are the result of hours of toil and proof-reading.

'The way you define yourself as a writer is that you write every time you have a free minute.  If you didn't behave that way you would never do anything.' John Irving.

Following through on the compulsion to write isn't a particularly pleasant process, for me anyway.  I will have minutes, sometimes hours, when I just have to write.  And what seemed good at the time of writing, when re-read is dreadful.  It will never be as good as it was in your head, the words at your disposal are never enough, you can never express yourself as clearly as you wish you could.  But then, even if it never sees the light of day, you've created something, which is always a wonderful feeling, even if it's rather patched together and you're reluctant to have anyone scrutinise it....you created it! All of a sudden it's worth the hard work.


 
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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ted Talks

Away at university I don't have a TV to while away the hours with (sob), hellooo laptop, and now the world is without certain websites and everyone is getting scared they'll be the next to be idicted, lets just say a lot of my previous sources of entertainment are no more. Sob. Instead I've found myself watching TedTalks pretty much all the time. There's so much variety - but here are some of my favourites which I have watched this week, I hope you like them, and if you have any favourite lectures of your own, post a link in the comments! :)
I love that I live in the age where  we can share knowledge, thoughts and ideas at the click of a button. Grateful.






{thanks to natalie at bella luna!}
 
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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Man With The Dancing Eyes


The Man With The Dancing Eyes
by Sophie Dahl

"In the golden half-light of a midsummer's evening, the sort where any kind of magic can occur, and often does, in the midst of a party held in a wild and rambling garden stood Pierre, teetering on highly unsuitable heels, surrounded by a symphony of overripe roses."

The Man with the Dancing Eyes is the most simplistic book; it’s a “grown-up fairytale” illustrated book, and it also boasts some of my favorite writing which, like the rest of the book, like the story and the watercolor illustrations, is also very simple; and yet there’s a sort of magic about it. Sophie Dahl’s grandfather was, of course, the beloved children’s author Roald Dahl and I think The Man with the Dancing Eyes represents a splendid reflection of his influence on Sophie’s lifelong whimsy. Sophie has a way of choosing words and creating scenes that don’t necessarily appeal to the conventional idea of life, such as naming her heroine Pierre and describing the man with the dancing eyes in the way that “he had a tattoo of a mermaid snaking seductively up his arm and sang Bob Dylan tunelessly but with soul...”, but the strangeness of it all makes it even more endearing to me.

The Man with the Dancing Eyes has gotten a lot of mixed reviews from folks, some saying it’s a perfect bit of fluff and others saying that it’s terribly written and insultingly without substance. I always say that a bad review isn’t the sign of a bad book, but of an incompatible reader. I personally think the writing is fabulously fun, and intellectual in its way, and that’s what drew me to the book in the first place. I think Sophie intended for it to be at once a satire, a dramatization and a fantasy. It’s a little bit of everything and it can’t quite be classified, and maybe that’s part of the reason why I like it, too. It doesn’t fit into any one specification. A lot of us are that way.

The story follows Pierre, a girl inhibited by her imperfections, as she attends a lovely party, meets a man with dancing eyes, falls in love, begins an affair, has her heart broken, goes on an adventure to a new place, meets some charmingly crazy people, gets a dog, befriends a hairdresser, dances to Dean Martin, reconciles with her lover and eventually lives happily ever after. With an Aga, four babies and a goat. See? So simple. But sometimes – very often, in my case – life needs a bit of simplicity, and sometimes simplicity can be magical. What I love most about The Man with the Dancing Eyes is that it’s intelligent; so often I’ve struggled to find a good little book that will cheer me and lift my spirits, and it’s rare to find one that also maintains a level of intellect. It’s the worst when I’m reading a flouncy, romantic comedy-type book and I want to scream at the heroine for being so ridiculous or I inwardly roll my eyes a bit at the predictable use of words. I can only attest to having read a few simple, happy-making books that charm me all the way around and The Man with the Eyes is on the top of that list. 



Many thanks to
Casee Marie from 'The Girl Who Stole The Eiffel Tower'
for sharing your favourite book with us!

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Damp And Gloomy Days


 
'Out of damp and gloomy days, out of solitude, out of loveless words directed at us, conclusions grow up in us like fungus: one morning they are there, we know not how, and they gaze upon us, morose and gray.  
Woe to the thinker who is not the gardener but only the soil of the plants that grow in him.'

Fredrich Nietzsche
 
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Friday, January 13, 2012

Nothing Good Gets Away

 

 
This is a letter written by Steinbeck to his son, Thom, whom whilst away at boarding school had written to tell his parents of his new love interest - Susan.


New York
November 10, 1958

Dear Thom:

We had your letter this morning. I will answer it from my point of view and of course Elaine will from hers.

First—if you are in love—that’s a good thing—that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.

Second—There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you—of kindness and consideration and respect—not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.

You say this is not puppy love. If you feel so deeply—of course it isn’t puppy love.

But I don’t think you were asking me what you feel. You know better than anyone. What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about it—and that I can tell you.

Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it.

The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.

If you love someone—there is no possible harm in saying so—only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.

Girls have a way of knowing or feeling what you feel, but they usually like to hear it also.

It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another—but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.

Lastly, I know your feeling because I have it and I’m glad you have it.

We will be glad to meet Susan. She will be very welcome. But Elaine will make all such arrangements because that is her province and she will be very glad to. She knows about love too and maybe she can give you more help than I can.

And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens—The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.

Love,

Fa

 
This post is unashamedly borrowed from 'letters of note' a blog which i strongly recommend you check out!

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Monday, January 9, 2012

Pride and Prejudice



Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen
 
It is unseasonably mild out in the middle of nowhere, dear reader, and that bright and refreshing sunlight always reminds me of my favorite book. Not because the novel is uncommonly cheerful, or because it feels as though Spring was written in to the book itself, or –wait—maybe it is those two. Now if you are a regular over at Rusty, my favorite book will not be a surprise for you. In fact, you probably already know the answer before I say it, but in case you are a new friend, allow me to share my love of Pride and Prejudice with you.

First published in 1813, Pride and Prejudice is considered Jane Austen’s greatest work and has become the iconic figurehead of my favorite topic – costume drama. I first discovered Pride and Prejudice when I was thirteen years old. Impressionable at thirteen, I admired Elizabeth Bennett’s character and sharp wit and saw in her a confidence I lacked.

Pride and Prejudice was my gateway novel. It opened to me the world of classic literature – the Brontes and Shakespeare followed, Plato and Machiavelli soon after. Bolstered with confidence and just a pinch of defiance, so too did Milton and Peake. In short – I was hooked, literature was now in by blood and it could not be stripped from me.

A decade later, I’m still enraptured by the novel. But now, I admire Austen’s written rhetoric, her clean and stunning use of dialogue, and the narrative humor coloring her passages. Austen may not have sharply reflected “true life” as a Bronte so famously put it, but she absolutely knew how to draw a reader in.

And I would be very remiss if I did not talk just a little about the paramount reason a reader is drawn in – Elizabeth and Darcy:

“You mean to frighten me, Mr. Darcy, by coming in all this state to hear me? But I will not be alarmed though your sister does play so well. There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises with every attempt to intimidate me.''

“I shall not say that you are mistaken,'' he replied, “because you could not really believe me to entertain any design of alarming you; and I have had the pleasure of your acquaintance long enough to know, that you find great enjoyment in occasionally professing opinions which in fact are not your own.''

Elizabeth laughed heartily at this picture of herself, and said to Colonel Fitzwilliam, “Your cousin will give you a very pretty notion of me, and teach you not to believe a word I say. I am particularly unlucky in meeting with a person so well able to expose my real character, in a part of the world where I had hoped to pass myself off with some degree of credit. Indeed, Mr. Darcy, it is very ungenerous in you to mention all that you knew to my disadvantage in Hertfordshire -- and, give me leave to say, very impolitic too -- for it is provoking me to retaliate, and such things may come out, as will shock your relations to hear.''


“I am not afraid of you,'' said he, smilingly. (Chapter 31)


Before the novel was titled Pride and Prejudice, it was given the name First Impressions, which, when the novel is it an end, makes for just as apt a name, but certainly not as “cool”. Both Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy must overcome their first impressions of each other to respect, and eventually love, one another. That is not to say that the characters change drastically, or that their first impressions were false, but that there is more to people than how society characterizes them. Their story is not overly romantic, nor is it hyper-emotionalized; their story is about earning respect from another human being, and learning to love another for their differences.

Pride and Prejudice is not for the person who had to read a classic in high school for a grade, but it is for the romantic who is tired of romantic comedies; it is for the reader who likes to be engaged by words; and it absolutely is for the day dreamer who wants to be warmed by a little bit of Springtime sun.

For me, this novel is like a good, old friend. We don’t spend as much time together as we once did, but when we do get together, we remember how much fun we used to have and even learn a little bit more about each other every rendezvous.  
 
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For sharing your favourite book with us!

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Friday, January 6, 2012

giving me butterflies!



Morning Cup from christina perri on Vimeo.


 
this makes me so happy. cannot wait until the 16th! 
i think it will be magical :)
 



 this doesn't make me happy. i can definitely wait until my exams next week.
which i am SO nervous about it's unreal.
wish me luck!
 {i'm going to need it}
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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What About Breakfast At Tiffanys?


well friends, if you happen to have the tidy sum of $5.8m lying around and you're wondering what to invest it in...this is where i come in very handy.  look at this apartment you could buy me! i would (naturally) be super thankful for your generosity - inviting you around for tea and chit chat every fortnight maybe? i may even bake for the occasion.  bottom line = i want this apartment.
 
 

why you ask?  
why should i invest almost $6m on you? besides your wit, charm, and promises of cups of tea every other week?

 
what do you reckon? 
is it worth that much to live in the same pad as a certain ms. golightly?
 
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Monday, January 2, 2012

my cats.


 
I know, I know,
they are limited, have different
needs and
concerns.

but i watch and learn from them.
 I like the little they know,
which is so
much.

they complain but never
worry,
they walk with a surprising dignity,
they sleep wth a direct simplicity that
humans just can't
understand.

their eyes are more
beautiful than our eyes.
and they can sleep 20 hours
a day
without
hesitation or
remorse.

when i am feeling
low
all i have to do is
watch my cats
and my
courage
returns.

I study these
creatures.

they are my
teachers.


-- CHARLES BUKOWSKI

 
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Sunday, January 1, 2012

happy new year folks!


 well, if blogger have gotten it right, this should publish at exactly GMT midnight! if it hasn't....well...I tried!
there's not much to this post except to say a massive thank you for all the support, encouragement, and loveliness over the past year!

this here blog wouldn't be here without all of YOU supporting it!  i wish the very best of luck for your new year; keep strong on those resolutions - there's a reason you made them in the first place! 

let's make 'the twelve' the best yet!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

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