Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The 'fragility of life' and a bit of embroidery...

I have been out of the 'information superhighway's blogosphere' a little bit lately and haven't felt like there's much to write about. But if I lose momentum with writing this blog it will be like all the skincare regimes I've ever tried - it will come to an end. 

I haven't managed to get much done on my illustrations, but have played a lot with my new camera... And have started thinking about chapbook number three. Since working in this medium I have noticed something quite interesting (to me) - I have been working on images sometimes before text and I have taken a lot longer over those images. I don't mean images of scenarios or stories, but cover images for the little books. An image for the cover of number three is forming in my head at the moment - it's a tingly feeling!

I promised myself that I would address another comment that came up after my reading at Greenbelt. Someone mentioned that both the extracts I read dealt with the idea of the 'fragility of life.' I'm sure this is right, and I fear that all my work is like that. One of my big worries is that I am writing the same thing over and over again, but I hope that someone will tell me if this is the case. Over the last few years, I have become increasingly excited by the seasons and the natural world. Not wishing to sound too much like Henry David Thoreau, I spent some time one summer repeatedly drawing the clematis leaves outside my window. There is, of course, a long, long tradition of 'writing about nature' (I'm sure there's an expression for this), but I have only recently begun writing with the natural world in mind. With the seasons in the back of my mind, then, the fragility of life comes to the fore whether I like it or not. And life is fragile, isn't it?

Below is a rather primitive embroidery project I started last year, my mum is a great one for cross-stitch, but I thought I'd have a go without a pattern and with just the threads an old lady gave me. It's drawing on fabric, with a needle. Some of the shapes are a bit dodgy, but I am rather pleased with the result (however unfinished)... I realised whilst doing this embroidery that I can do what I like with plants and flowers when I draw them. You can see here clematis leaves, rose hips and holly leaves - why not? They are all pretty shapes and I like pretty shapes!

Should have ironed this...

A bit of a close-up!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

An Online Identity?

Top of the village - a telegraph pole and a dramatic August sky
Just over the village bypass there is a small hill where you can see several farms. There are big skies, winds, silences and telegraph poles. Work has halted on the Swallow illustrations this week, since I've been working on another little project, but I hope to get back on it soon.


Continuing from my last post - Greenbelt 2011:

Last week at the festival I read passages from both my chapbooks. I always enjoy reading my work and I love hearing what people have to say about it. The questions afterwards were very interesting - not least one about my 'online identity.' I hadn't before consciously considered this blog or my website as my online identity - but of course, that's what they are. I associate myself with other writers by using quotations and making references. I don't know exactly why I bristled at the idea of my having an 'online identity,' perhaps I was thinking of online avatars or the Great Oz hiding behind a curtain. Perhaps I need to re-think my opinion of the Great Oz. I never meant to associate myself with other writers in order to suggest I'm as good as them or belong in their company (I'm only a beginner) - but I have always thought it a waste of time to re-write things that other people have written well to begin with. I'm not sure if I explained myself every well and perhaps I misunderstood the question - I'm still puzzling it out. The idea of being 'challenged' is overused, I think, but in the absence of a better expression, I will say that I was challenged and I like a challenge! I will try to explain and understand this identity I've created - I hope it's not a monster.

I got into the habit of beginning essays with quotations at university and I have begun sticking quotations onto the beginning of stories too - it makes them seem whole to me and also shows some of my workings - like in an algebra exam. I love other peoples words and I stick them all over the place, so I can keep them for later if I need them. I think my friends and family are bored of me putting them in cards and letters, so I'm going to share some on here instead. Perhaps the quotations work as prompts too - or reminders - like essay titles. Reference points to work back to while I'm writing. 

My two chapbooks include epigraphs. My mum always says (and my mum's mum) that once you've put on all your jewellery for the evening, take one thing off. So for example, if you've got your earrings, bracelets and necklace on, you probably don't need your tiara. So I had a huge collection of what I thought were appropriate quotations and whittled them down to three for each book. Three might sound like a lot, but I am greedy (you'll have to get the books to see what they are)! 

More ramblings soon - I'm going to put down my loud hailer and get back behind the curtain. 


If you'd like to hear my reading from Greenbelt 2011: Letterboxes and Lighthouses, it costs £3.50 to download (proceeds go to making Greenbelt Festival). Last year's reading is up there too for download. I read from Two Lights, my collection of stories inspired by the paintings of Edward Hopper.