Category Archives: Inspiration

Book Junkie

As a writer and avid book reader, I’m often asked who my favourite author is, or whose work influences me the most, or what my favourite book is. All are difficult to answer as I read many genres, many authors, and many books have stayed with me throughout my life. I grew up in a household where books and reading were encouraged at an early age, indeed our mother taught us to read long before we first went to school. She read us exciting bedtime stories, fairytales told German and herself read all kinds of novels. With six of us in the family, the choice and quantity was large and books passed around as we grew older.

My father read science fiction, so I became familiar and enjoyed the work of Arthur C.Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury. My older brother loved adventure stories so I soon became immersed in Treasure Island, The Coral Sea, Kidnapped and so on. My two sisters read everything they could get their hands on from Alice in Wonderland, What Katy Did Next, Black Beauty, and the list goes on from there as we grew older to all of John Wyndham (Day of the Triffids and The Midwich Cuckoos to name but two), Dennis Wheatley (The Devil Rides Out), Alex Haley, and Catherine Cookson. So many good writers, so many books to read, far too many to mention.

And along with all these books there were the comics and annuals we devoured including Bunty, Jackie, the Beano, Dandy, and Hotspur.

However, despite all these great stories, two in particular from childhood have stayed with me. The first is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S.Lewis. I must have been about 8 or 9 when I read this. I was ill in bed at the time, a frequent occurrence when I was young. I remember the illustrations too, and longed that my wardrobe would open up to reveal a hidden, wonderful world where animals could talk. At that time I had no idea this was a complete set of these magical stories and with so many other books in the house, I didn’t seek out any of the rest. It wasn’t until my daughter fell in the love with Narnia series that I learnt there were more. And of course I was in my element when the film franchise came out. A few week ago I came across The Magician’s Nephew, sixth in the series but a prequel to the whole Narnia world and how it came about. I was engrossed from the first page.

The other story is from a “comic”. I use the word comic in a loose sense as, if my memory serves me correctly, it was an educational magazine for children, the name of which I cannot remember. We didn’t have this at home, I used to read them at my best friend’s house whenever I went to play there. On the back page was always a cartoon strip story of a family who lived under the floorboards of the house and used items taken from the house for their furniture. Cotton reels for tables, matchboxes for cupboards and drawers, doll’s house china. I loved those stories, the magic and wonderment, the concept, the impossibility – or was it? – that there were little people living inside our homes, but in later years I never could remember what the comic strip was called to go in search of the book. You’ve probably realised I’m talking about “The Borrowers”. I found this out when the film came out. I watched it, and was bitterly disappointed. Probably because I’m now an adult, a grandmother, and the film was aimed at children, as was the original book. But the magic in those comic strips lives on in my head. 

So in answer to who influences my writing, it’s all of the authors whose books I’ve read and enjoyed. My favourite author? There isn’t one, because I enjoy many including Rosie Thomas, Nora Roberts, Barbara Erskine, Jeffery Archer, Ken Follett, as well as those writers mentioned above and a whole lot more, but not everything they write. Some of their books I’ve not liked, but these are probably the authors I would go out of my way to read. And my favourite book? Again, there isn’t any one I could pick out because I’ve loved so many.

Kit’s Website and Blog  and Kit’s Art  Site

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The more things change…

When AJ and I travel, we almost always carve out time to visit the local art gallery and museum. During a few days in Derbyshire, we found a small art gallery in the city of Derby virtually dedicated to a famous local 18th Century artist, Joseph Wright. We didn’t know much about him or the art of the period, but we were lucky to visit at a quiet time which meant we had what amounted to a private tour of the room housing his paintings.

Our guide was incredibly knowledgable about Joseph Wright and pointed out many things in the paintings that I’m sure we would have missed if we hadn’t had the benefit of his expertise. Here’s a link to the gallery if you’d like to see some of the paintings.

Joseph Wright was considered the first professional painter to express the spirit of the Industrial Revolution and was famous for his use of light and dark in his paintings, especially favoring subjects portrayed by candlelight. Some absolutely stunning work.

But what caught my attention was the artist himself. An amazing creative, with absolutely incredible talent, he was prone to fits of depression and doubts about that talent. During one period of his life, after he had produced paintings such as A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery (see link above), and having received bad reviews for some of his work, he became really disillusioned with himself and his art and stopped working completely.  He wrote:

“I have heard nothing but humiliating observations on my paintings. which have tended much to the inactivity of my pencil for sometime past. What a mere machine I am become. Depressed and renedered useless by a little censure and put into motion again by a little flattery. I really believe my enemies might persuade me I have no pretentions to paint. What a thing have these weak nerves made of me.”

Food for thought for all the creatives out there, because I’m sure we can all understand these feelings. How many times has a bad review or negative response to our own work made us put down pen, pencil, brush, needle, etc? It’s comforting to know that we’re in good company, and that even the greats suffered through periods of procrastination when they felt their work just wasn’t good enough.

Some things, it seems, never change.

Tricia’s website

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“Mish-Mash”

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I have found it difficult this month to write a blog! I had loads of random thoughts (Mish-Mash) about various activities I have done in the past month and cannot focus enough on any of them to develop them fully. … Continue reading

Book Review: BIG MAGIC

Big MagicWe are all creators, or at least have the potential to be. That’s one of the messages behind Elizabeth Gilbert’s book BIG MAGIC, Creative Living Beyond Fear. As a shameless believer in magic, with an interest in the nature of creativity, I couldn’t resist this book. It didn’t disappoint.

“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.”

The author digs deep into her own experiences to offer an interesting, unique and witty take on the nature of creativity and how we can harness it for success in whatever endeavor we choose. It’s a chatty style, and you don’t have to wade through loads of heavily scientific or esoteric ideas to get to the heart of the book, which is basically that we all have the right to live a creative life, but have to accept that doing so will bring challenges.

There is much reference to courage, and how we have to make space for fear. Fear is inevitable on the creative journey, and where some people say you have to conquer fear to move forward, the author says to make space for it because it will never go away. She says that the less you fight fear, the less it fights back. To give it its voice, then tell it to simply sit back and enjoy the ride. And then there’s the importance of giving ourselves permission to create, and not to worry whether our work is good or bad, if it’s high art or low art, whether or not it gets stellar or woeful reviews, etc. etc. We just need to put our best work out there and celebrate our own courage at having done so. Gilbert says we “can only be in charge of producing the work itself. That’s a hard enough job” and that we should refuse to take on any additional jobs such as policing people’s opinions.

Another interesting part of the book was the notion that ideas are all around us, floating in the ether waiting for someone who is open and ready to receive that particular idea. If that person refuses to run with it for any reason, the idea will simply float back into the ether until it finds another willing, and ready,  mind. Fascinating stuff, and it certainly gave me and my tendency to procrastinate some food for thought 🙂

I very much enjoyed this book. For me, it’s a keeper.

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Take Me With You

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Goodreads rates this story 4.12 stars and has excellent reviews for it. I found it by a recommendation from a friend. Fortunately Catherine Ryan Hyde has a backlist because I just ordered two more of her books. So give me … Continue reading

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Détourné… Fouetté… Say what?

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Toward the end of last year, I kept hearing about a goal-setting system that women around the world seemed to be raving about. A great believer in metaphysical arrows, and having far too many signs urging me to take a … Continue reading

Motivation

Whilst out on my usual walk, which I’ve shown pictures of at times, I was musing the word motivation – as you do! I really had to force myself out on a cold, frosty morning but as there is more of me than when I fell ill I must exercise regularly and regain my fitness levels.  Thing is I have never been “an athlete”.  I set off reluctantly but pretty soon got into my stride and looked around at the winter landscape.  Frosted spiders’ webs, frozen plants and trees then the sun came out and transformed it all into a beautiful winter scene.  My spirits lifted, I was glad I had come out and enjoyed the walk which offered such a contrast to the other seasons I have enjoyed doing it.  Dog walkers and other people all speak so it becomes a sort of social event too.  Dogs always greet me (I’m not going to analyse that one!) and their owners always have a conversation.  This lengthens the time taken but adds so much too.  I arrived home feeling warmer, healthier and ready for a cuppa! Job done!

Motivation is an odd phenomenon.  Some people seem to have no problem, seem driven at times. The only time I really pushed myself hard was during my years of studying part-time for a degree whilst working full-time in a stressful job, two of my children were still living at home and my husband though very helpful had his own stresses.  Thinking back to those times I realised that if one has a goal that is important for whatever reasons one works hard to achieve it.  Finding ways to push on despite feeling despondent and exhausted. In the wider context I realised too how cushioned I am and have no real pressure to do it other my own desire.  It did change my life but every day people all over the world have to push themselves to their limit and beyond just to survive.  I am going to end this thought process now as it will become boring to read and too long for the blog.  I would love to hear how you motivate yourselves to achieve your goals.  No need to climb the highest mountain or come up with something to save mankind – I am veering  too close to politics now!  I hope this ramble of thoughts is understandable as you’ve all guessed I was struggling to motivate myself for this blog!

One result of my first degree was the opportunity to do another degree – a Masters Degree in History of Art Venice and Europe.  I had just turned 50, took early retirement from my job and flew off to Venice for 10 weeks (the first term).  I knew hardly anyone, most of the other students were 25 years younger than me and I was terrified.  The following two terms were in Warwick University, back in the UK, but my young friends supported me and I them.  The time in Venice was one of the best in my life, it changed my outlook on life and remains a continuing source of pleasure.  In February I am flying to Venice with my niece, Rhiannon, who has featured in some of my fun times I’ve shared with you previously.  This will be her first visit but not her last I am sure.  It may be my last but we will make it memorable.

To end I share a motivational post with you.Relax