Monthly Archives: September 2014

Aspects of Autumn

Season of mellow mists and after damp,
joint between fecundity and decay,
you’re the rusted hinge, the balanced moment
before summer green becomes winter grey.
Your turned leaves are brazen in their dying,
firelit, their brassy tones trumpet their end,
they only fall to nest the ripening
kernels, torn from their cradles by the wind.
Your clods of decomposing foliage
remind us of our oozing hours,
your fruitfulness recalls our barren endeavours
to do, to strive — vanquish the final toll.
So then, only let your splendour fill us —
allow it to give us pause. Let us be still.

The hardest hat to wear

A few weeks back I wrote a post about how the Indie publisher has to wear – and spin – so many hats. Well I’ve worn my writer’s, editor’s, proof-reader’s, designer’s, formatter’s, legal eagle’s hats and finally got my story Adrift onto Kindle. As well as hopefully being an interesting read, I hope it will be a taster, drawing readers to my novel The Art of the Imperfect due out later this year.

Now for the hardest hat of all to wear – the publicist. I have decided to email everyone on my e-mailing list (as many of them as I can manage individually). As my cursor hovers over the ‘SEND’ button I think, ‘They won’t want this.’ And, ‘They’ll think I’m being a pest.’ Luckily so far I’ve had no negative responses and some very positive ones. However, it is still difficult for me to believe I have a gift to offer that a reader might value.

 Adrift by Kate Evans. A sort of love story set in Venice.
Five people come to the beautiful floating city looking for love and find themselves adrift.

Should fiction writers be bothered about reality?

I am always interested in supporting new writers creating new writing in any form. So it was with enthusiasm that I sat down to watch the BBC’s recent series The Secrets. In general I found them engaging and tackling interesting issues, even if they weren’t faultlessly realised.

However, the episode The Lie gave me much to chew on in a way I am sure the creators did not intend. In the narrative a wife realises that her husband has a second family. To discover more, she makes an appointment to have a session with her rival who happens to be a counsellor. During this session the counsellor behaves unprofessionally and unethically numerous times…. Please miss out the next paragraph if you don’t want to read story spoilers…

Unethical/unprofessional behaviour. (1) The session takes place in the counsellor’s kitchen (2) with door open. (3) During it the errant husband shouts out that he is going out and the counsellor responds. The wife asks if she can use the bathroom and (4) is directed upstairs (toilets should be close or adjoined to the therapy room). Here she takes the opportunity to look in on the nursery where her rival’s baby sleeps. The counsellor discovers her there and (5) goes ballistic (instead of discussing what has happened and finishing the session professionally).

These actions are never explored as examples of what should never happen, they are merely devices to allow the wife to confirm her fears that her husband has a second family. When I wrote a comment to this effect on the BBC programme blog, I received a response from a fellow viewer which basically said writers are allowed to do what they want in terms of embroidering reality/artistic licence in order to move the plot forward.

I’m not sure whether I agree with that. As writers we are already asking readers to come with us into our imaginary landscape, accepting the reality we present while knowing that it is a creation of ours. We make a contract with our audience, and the degree of reality guaranteed in that ‘contract’ obviously depends on the genre we are writing in. The premise for The Secrets was that these were gritty, realistic portrayals of human dilemmas. So to suddenly depart from realism just to get something to happen in the plot, I believe, is breaking the contract with the audience. I think it also shows laziness on the part of the author. I’d be interested in knowing what other writers think.

Books with impact

A friend of mine invited me to come up with a list of ten books which have stayed with me. It was really hard to make the choice, I certainly wanted to list more than ten, but I enjoyed the process. As I remembered each book and noted it down, it was as if I was recalling a friend or a special moment, each book came with an emotion, some came with an image or a sense of place.

One thing I realised as I finalised my list, was how much I wished – fantasised about – hoped that one day something I had written would be on somebody’s list of books which had impacted them. It would be a fantastic feeling.

Here is my list. Feel free to come back with your own.

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindberg – a red headed heroine who could lift up a horse with one hand.
Down Among the Women by Fay Weldon – my first grown up feminist novel.
Temple of My Familiar by Alice Walker – I just love the idea of generations of women speaking through me.
The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin – a scathing attack on capitalism and a glimpse of a better way.
Staying Alive edited by Neil Astley – I had to have some poetry in here and this is an anthology I go back to, it’s also where I discovered the wonderful Anne Sexton’s ‘Her Kind’.
A Dark Adapted Eye by Barbara Vine – Ruth Rendell at her psychologically most complex. Any VI Warshawski, by Sarah Paretsky – a tough female detective and crime novels which are politically aware.
Pigs in Heaven by Barbra Kingsolver – fab book and reminds me of my time in the USA. Writing as a Way of Healing by Louise de Salvo – gave credence to what I already knew and reminds me of the good times at The Women’s Press.
Affinity by Sarah Waters – spookily wonderful and a book I enjoyed studying for my MA.

 

Walk in the Wolds

Heavy dark earth
clogs our boots.
We’re two work horses
treading the furrows. 

Flint beneath our soles,
splintered metatarsal, spine or skull,
of those who trod before
the paths we now take. 

The geese call
mournfully, dolefully,
a ragged cupid’s bow
unstrung in our sky.

I am no longer
as you married me,
perhaps not even as
you would have me be.

Sometimes we kick
and show our teeth.
Sometimes we nuzzle
mingling our steamy breath.

One day we’ll reach
the sheer cliff’s
eternal drop to a world
woven from water.

We’re two shires
in our traces,
resting occasionally
shoulder ‘gainst shoulder.

And when I stumble
as the incline
becomes too much,
I know you’ll tenderly wait.

wolds way

 

 
 
Sometimes it’s interesting to look back on poems I wrote some time back and see which ones still stand up to scrutiny. I think this one does. Plus my husband and I went for a lovely walk on the Wolds on Saturday
to celebrate our 23rd wedding anniversary.