Tag Archives: quirky

Places I’d like to see

Yet another jigsaw adventure, this time to the Writer’s Museum in Edinburgh, Scotland:

Strange, quirky buildings like this one are like a cattle prod to my imagination. I start wondering who built the building, in that spot to that style. And why. Was the quirkiness deliberate, or an accident dictated by the location?

And then, of course, I start day dreaming about the inside and how the original inhabitants may have lived…

Oddly enough the one thing I’m not curious about is the building’s current purpose. I mean, really…a museum for writers? What would it contain? Cabinets full of quills, pens and ink? Illegible, hand-written first drafts?

-cough-

Anyway, another beautiful building thanks to my jigsaw hobby. Now if only I were rich enough to visit it in the flesh. I could quite see myself as a globe-trotting old lady, maybe with my own Lear jet…

 

Every girl should have a little black number in the garage. 😉

Meeks


Patience conquers all

I can’t remember where or when I first came across the saying ‘love conquers all’ but I know the expectation has stalked me for most of my life. I expected that tiny kitten to make a miraculous recovery. It didn’t. I expected my parents would let me keep that sad eyed puppy. They didn’t. I expected to meet the man of my dreams by age 22 and to have the beginnings of a family by at least 24. I didn’t and I didn’t.  I did fall fall in love a number of times and I even experienced the ‘Grand Passion’ a couple of times but it seemed that the more I loved the less likely it was that the object of my affections would love me back.

In my 30’s I did finally meet a gorgeous, clever man who said yes when I jokingly asked him to marry me and we did have one amazing daughter but the ‘death us do part’ clause must have been lost in translation because it became  ‘divorce us do part’ some years later. So I’m no longer convinced that love does conquer all, especially when I see so much unnecessary hatred in the world. To be honest I’m not quite sure what would constitute necessary hatred but I know that hatred of race or religion or sexual orientation is a hate we can do without.

Yet if love is not transforming the world then what’s left? Do we just shrug and throw up our hands in despair?

Not on your nelly! With the wisdom of advanced middle age I’m here to tell you that the one, true, indomitable force in the world is… ta dah… patience! And maybe a soupçon of persistence. [soupçon : just a touch, an itty bitty bit, a hint, a whisper…]

Do you remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? Yes, that’s the one – slow, steady tortoise wins the race while loud, flashy hare snoozes just before the finish line. In many ways we are all wabbits; we all want to get there fast, we want to make it happen now, right this instant or at least within the next five minutes and when we take longer than expected we sulk and have a snooze.

The modern media doesn’t help. Our expectations are always being fueled by the latest wonderkind, the newest overnight sensation, all of whom apparently just skipped their way towards superstardom or mega riches without putting a curl out of place. That is the ideal of success. If you have to work for it or if it takes 20 years to make it big then somehow the achievement is devalued and it definitely isn’t sexy. And we all want sexy, right?

Well, we may all want sexy but the biggest achievements of all owe more to plodding than to sprinting. Did someone wave a magic wand to make the Berlin Wall tumble down? Nope, it took time and patience and persistence. Did Nelson Mandela rid South Africa of Apartheid by machine gunning all the white politicians? Nope, apartheid died a little bit at a time thanks to the patience and persistence of a lot of people whose names will never be known. In 50 years time I hope the same will be said of climate change – that a lot of nameless people working together finally achieved the goal that governments could not.

Plodding people – that is what gets the job done. Plodding and patience and persistence. And those three P’s are just as powerful in the lives of individuals as they are in the life of the global community. Yes there are instances of mad, amazing good luck that seem to come out of nowhere but if you look closely enough you’ll see the good luck is just the tip of ye olde iceberg. Luck can’t work in a vacuum; it has to have something to work on and 99 times out of 100 that something was created by years of patience effort.

Don’t believe me? Well how about the case of my friend Alex Laybourne? Alex is an indie writer who has been juggling a day job, a family he adores and the passion to write.  For years. Alex did all the ‘right things’ in terms of marketing but the success he dreamt about stayed illusive. Until just about a week ago when he was offered a two book contract by a publisher! The offer seemed to come out of the blue but I know that it would never have happened if Alex had not put so much effort into his writing and his marketing. Nonetheless I suspect that in the not too distant future Alex is going to become one of those overnight successes we spoke about earlier. But you and I will know that he worked his butt off before lady luck finally smiled on him. He was patient and he was persistent and he made it over the finish line.

I’m sure that if you scratch below the surface [yes Daud I know, I’m using up my quota of cliches very quickly but it’s in a good cause!] you will find a million hard-working overnight successes like Alex. They all earned their good fortune through patience and persistence and so will you. By ‘you’ I mean all the other wonderful indie authors out there. I already know some of you and I’m finding more and more every day. You are funny, brilliant, quirky people who write funny, brilliant and innovative stories. Then you polish those stories until they shine. That takes time and effort and dedication [not to mention a pretty strong grasp of the English language].  And after that you work even harder just to be seen.

To all of you hard-working, dedicated writers I say – be patient! Lady luck may be a bit fickle at the moment but you have all the time in the world. There is no use-by date for creativity. So what if you have to gum your food? So what if you get arthritis in your fingers? Voice recognition software is coming along in leaps and bounds so by the time you can’t type any more you’ll be able to throw away your keyboards and just dictate your stories!  [Note : false teeth might make dictation a bit easier, just a thought].

By now I hope that I have convinced everyone of the power of patience. If any of you still have doubts please contact me after the lecture…um I mean the pep talk… and I’ll box your ears for being slow on the uptake 😉

p.s. I’m open to donations of wine [shiraz or merlot], chocolates [dark only] and meals-on-wheels at any time. Sadly I can’t accept nuts any more, they’re just a bit too hard to chew.


‘Shades of Milk and Honey’ by Mary Robinette Kowal

After being gobsmacked by Kowal’s short story ‘For Want of a Nail’, I just had to buy and read her novel – Shades of Milk and Honey. This book has confirmed Kowal as one of my new favourite authors.

In a nutshell, ‘Shades of Milk and Honey’ is a lovely fusion of fantasy and Jane Austen-esque period drama. The prose resonated with the era without being slavish or over-the-top, however it was the fantasy element that I enjoyed the most.

The plot hinges on the ability of ordinary humans to work glamour in their everyday lives. If you are familiar with the concept of faery and the glamour they can cast over their victims then you will begin to see what this common magic can do.

Do you have a crack in your wall? No problem, just weave some glamour over it, tie it off and no-one will see the crack any more – it is still there but it has been hidden. Is your nose too big? Do your teeth stick out? If you have the stamina to continuously weave the glamour to hide your imperfections then you too can have a pert nose or perfect, sparkling teeth! And if you are an artist as well as talented in the glamour you can create extraordinary beauty. Beware of over-doing the glamour though – too much can quite literally kill you.

So this is the world in which Kowal’s heroine goes about her very normal, rather uninteresting life. At twenty-eight, rather plain and still unmarried,  she is a dutiful daughter and a caring sister but Kowal’s heroine is not as placid as she appears. Intelligent, artistic and highly talented in the glamour she finds herself attracted to a man she cannot have and fascinated by one she does not like.

I’ll admit that at this point I had images of Mr Darcy running through my mind and a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. ‘Oh no, not a remix,’ I thought.  Luckily I thought wrong! I could not predict either the climax or the ending and for that I will be eternally grateful. Despite appearances this story is not what it seems. Quirky yes but most definitely not a rehash of an old theme.

I gave ‘For Want of a Nail’ five stars. ‘Shades of Milk and Honey’ gets four and a half. I subtracted  half a star for the Mr Darcy terrors.  Seriously though, if you enjoy Jane Austen and innovative fantasy then you will love this book as much as I did. Enjoy!


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