Journaling

For several years I wrote ‘Morning Pages’, as writers are so often prompted to do. This is supposed to be ‘stream of consciousness’ writing, without thought, the idea being that when you read over what you have written later there may be something there that provides an inspiration for more serious writing. It never worked for me!

I wrote my Morning Pages religiously, at least 4 sides of A5 notebook every morning before I got up. It was complete and utter rubbish, nothing but pointless waffle, not one iota of inspiration hidden in the dross to inspire anything worth writing. Was I doing it wrong? Well, apparently there is no right or wrong way to do it. So I persevered, as I say, for several years, filling notebook after notebook with scribblings about the worries and concerns of my everyday life – what to cook for dinner, what to buy for someone’s birthday among other occasional more serious concerns and with a few nature observations here and there – but nothing to inspire a best-selling novel or even a decent poem. Stream of consciousness? Often I had to consciously think of something to write about, although I admit that once in the flow of the new topic it did stream out (I’m good at waffle), until I ran out of steam and had to think of another topic.

Eventually I decided enough was enough, I was wasting paper and ink for no apparent gain. For some time now I have not given so much as a thought to the idea of Morning Pages and have burned several of those rubbish filled notebooks, (although there are still some in the drawer of my bedside cabinet awaiting their turn on the fire).

Recently I have had something of a change of heart. Maybe I could do it differently. Part of the idea of these pages was as a form of mindfulness, subconsciously noticing things I suppose, in that stream of consciousness. Well ‘Small Stones’ share something of this idea too and I have also been writing these for many years. I enjoy writing these little poetic observation and have no intention of giving up.

Synchronicity had a hand in it perhaps, but recently I read a book that I picked up in a local charity shop; Notes from Walnut Tree Farm by the late Roger Deakin, ‘a writer, broadcaster and film maker with a particular interest in nature and the environment’. Walnut Tree Farm was his home in Suffolk and for the last six years of his life he kept notebooks about his impressions and observations around his home and other places he visited, people he met. Whether or not he wrote these notes everyday I don’t know, the book only claims to contain ‘the best of these writings’, but it occurred to me that here is my answer, I could do something similar. Most of my ‘stones’ are based on nature observation in my garden or when out and about so why not enlarge this perspective?

During the time I was reading the book I realised my awareness of what was going on around me was actually more acute than I had previously recognised or recorded, details I had thought too trivial to bother with. With this awareness came inspiration for some new poems and, as I mentioned in last Monday’s post, after almost a couple of years without writing a single decent poem I came up with several.

My answer, I decided, was to write my own similar nature notes, make my Morning Pages more meaningful to me, not so much ‘stream of consciousness’ but more specifically aimed, while still dragging things out of my subconscious mind – i.e. a more deliberate and focused ‘Journaling’ rather than the aimless Morning Pages. Also I do not need the stress and pressure of doing this first thing in the morning, I will do it as and when I have something to write about, whatever time of day, while what I have observed is fresh in my mind. Nor do I need to do it every day – if I have had an ‘indoor’ day with no chance to observe then there is no need to write. My writing will not be as share-worthy as Roger Deakin’s, I do not have his level of knowledge and experience, but then mine is not intended for sharing.

I almost wish I had thought of this earlier and started at the beginning of the year, instead of just yesterday, but I have solved that wish by deciding to start with a summary of things I noticed in January and take it from there – no more Morning Pages but Journaling, I think this will suit me better and hopefully be more productive.

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Back Home

Well, I have been back now for just over a week and am still not fully back in writing mode! I have been away for two months and have had a blissful break away from all things computer – well not quite all.

I took my computer with me as well as plenty of notebooks and pens but I confess I wrote nothing, apart from my diary and a few postcards! I also took watercolour paints and painting pads but again didn’t touch them. The time wasn’t entirely computer free, as I say I had it with me and I did look in occasionally to check emails and visit Facebook as I dreaded returning home to find hundreds of emails and notifications in my inbox. Checking emails beside the pool – bliss!

Not that I have been idle. We took our tandem with us and managed to go out for a ride most days. No heroic distances; I think the longest ride we did was about 26 miles and some as few as 5 or 6, but it was out in the fresh air enjoying the scenery. We rode along sea-fronts, around towns and villages and along ‘Via Verde’ paths (greenways, disused railway lines). We visited friends and relatives and had fun trying to communicate beyond the language barriers. I speak a little of both French and Spanish and one memorable conversation was with a Frenchman who spoke little English. I was trying to talk to him in French when I came up with a Spanish word by mistake (brain just thinks ‘foreign’!) and apologised. It turned out he also spoke a little Spanish so we had an interesting conversation in three languages, inserting the words we couldn’t remember in one language for those of another and completely understood each other!

Bread Dispensing MAchineSince my return home I have been running around in small circles trying to catch up with myself – garden to tidy, washing to do, magazine to edit and Christmas just around the corner.

It took a few days to get around to downloading all my photos but here’s one I just have to share with you. I have never seen anything like this before – a bread-dispensing machine in France. You could buy either a one euro or a two euro loaf. We bought a one euro loaf from it and I have to say it was really delicious and fresh, as if the machine had only been filled that day. I just had to take a photo. It was a Sunday, shops are shut in France on Sundays and we really needed some bread so it was wonderful to come across this machine a short way away from the motorhome ‘Aires’ where we had parked up.

The weather was mostly warm and sunny, except driving back through France when it gradually became colder with some frosty mornings as well as rain, and we were thankful that we had taken winter woollies with us. We are still adjusting to the cold back home, but it is good to be back!

Windy Weather

I have just got back from a few days down on our boat. We hadn’t been there since before our month away on the continent so we felt we should go and check it out. We went down last Wednesday which, after a cloudy start and some rain on the journey turned out to be a continuation of the recent heat-wave.

There were one or two little jobs to do – not least mend the sea-toilet, which had acquired a small leak on the inlet valve (clean water I hasten to add!). First we had to find the boat as we had been told by the marina that they might have to move it.  (You may recall we had given up our marina berth as we were intending to leave the boat in France. You can read the sorry tale of that adventure here.). Out first point of call was the Office to discover where they had put the boat; we were told it was still in the same place and we can probably stay there. This was good news as it would be a nuisance having to look for it every time we visit! Hubby then set to mending the loo.

That night the wind got up and it hardly let up over the next four days! There were a few lulls but it was also very squally and we had some thunder. Nobody much was going sailing and nor did we. The people in the boat next to us sat it out as well – they were supposed to be off on holiday! Fortunately there wasn’t a great deal of rain and it was mostly warm, just very windy.

So what did we do? Well we couldn’t do any varnishing as we couldn’t be sure it would dry before it rained (we did get some and it frequently looked as if it might even when it didn’t). We read a lot, books, magazines, etc. I wrote a short story for my next Writer’s Group meeting, we played cards a bit, went for a few walks. We had taken our watercolours with us and both did a bit of dabbling. I just did a couple of little scribbly sketches, nothing worth sharing! We also visited the Burnham Art Trail which began at the weekend and lasts for a week. We didn’t see it all but I was a little disappointed as I didn’t think it was quite as good as last year; I’m sure there were more open studios then but even so it was an enjoyable day out.

Today of course, because we were coming home, it was a wonderful day. Our neighbouring boat was finally able to get away for their holiday. It would have been a great day to go out for a sail but sadly we had to couldn’t stay any longer as we have things to do tomorrow. Perhaps we’ll go again in a few weeks time and go for a sail then, after all there is still the varnishing to do.

Birthday Card

I dream I am writing
a birthday card.
Whose have I forgotten?

Notebook

A few days ago I bought a new notebook. Not because I needed one, I already have several unused in stock! I bought this one because it jumped out at me – on the front cover were the words:

“Writing is thinking on paper.”

On Writing

So long as you write what you wish to write
that is all that matters;
and whether it matters for ages or only for hours,
nobody can say.

Virginia Woolf ‘A Room of One’s Own’

Some Days

Some days
writing small stones
is like pulling a rabbit from a hat.
Some days
there is no rabbit.

Lying Awake

Lying awake thinking….thinking….
wondering what to write.

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