Managed to have a slightly better time of writing Hallsfoot's Battle today - it seemed to flow rather more easily and I actually came to the point where I almost knew what was happening and even had some ideas. Gosh indeed. Whatever next? Anyway, that takes me to 78,000 words so I'm pleased about that. Time to leave it for today, I think.
Here's this morning's meditation piece, which brings us nicely to the end of my reading of Exodus (tomorrow: Leviticus; next week: the world ...):
The cloud hovers
like a threat
over my pen,
my ability to write
any bright thing.
Inside its shimmer
of changing grey
lie all the worlds
I cannot reach:
Marian and I have also played golf today, and I did rather better than last week, thank the Lord. Well, it couldn't be any worse really. I even managed to get a par on the 6th, double hurrahs and crack open the champagne. We also saw a lovely green woodpecker which followed us around for a while. It wasn't phased by the golf balls whizzing past its feather at all - it's obviously not used to the way we play then. I suspect next week it will be rather more nervy, poor thing.
This afternoon, I've submitted another batch of poems to an online magazine, so we'll see how that goes. At the moment, I seem to be doing a whole lot better on the short story success front than either the poetry or the novel, but it's still January and therefore early days. One hopes.
And I've had my first ever Alexander Technique lesson. It was really interesting and I did feel different afterwards. Freer somehow. I'm hoping it will help my back and neck problems, and I've booked a set of four, so I'll see how I go. I've got a sheet of "homework" to do as well, but it fits in nicely with my 20 minute daily meditation zone, so that should make the change in routine easier to cope with. You know how I love my routine.
I've finished Charles Lambert's marvellous collection of short stories, A Scent of Cinnamon. This is dark and rich and punchy, and I highly recommend it. For a minimalist like me, there was on occasion a tad too much description which tended to clog up the story flow, but I appreciate that's a personal view and others will see things differently. Particular favourites were "Moving the Needle Towards the Thread" (a gripping tale of marital despair and the unreliable narrator), "Girlie" (a potent combination of family life and the hauntingly surreal), "Something Rich and Strange" (a centred and poignant tale of an unconsummated gay relationship and the best story in the book, in my opinion), "The Crack" (which made me yell Yes! as the narrator is so charmingly offbeat and real and funny and wise - all at the same time. Though I do think the last 2 sentences should be cut and it actually ends with the words "some dried herb". But as you know, I'm picky about my endings ...), "Nipples" (a classily written gay erotic story - and how wonderful it is to see a gay erotic story in the non-specialist press. About time too, and please give us more of this - mainstream press: take note! Great ending to this one too), and "Entertaining Friends" (about an almost-relationship that never quite gets it together and is told with wry humour). So a veritable smorgasbord of literary treats. That said, I don't actually think "Little Potato, Little Pea" deserves its place here, and I also don't think the title story of the collection lives up to its promise. "A Scent of Cinnamon" starts off as one type of story which I think could have been incredibly powerful, but then switches to a different type altogether in a way which made me feel cheated rather than satisfied. That may be partly because I was aware that there would be a twist (which begs the question of whether the reviews give away too much so the reading enjoyment is spoiled) and had therefore guessed what it would be a while before the ending arrived. But I still feel the story as a whole changed direction and was something of a lost opportunity. That said, the writing is top-notch and this collection definitely deserves to be read. So, all in all, another cracker from Salt Publishing.
Tonight, we're hoping for an early night as we have to be up and out of the house at about 5.30am tomorrow (yikes!) as we're booked in for seeing in the dawn with the ducks at Pulborough Brooks RSPB reserve. Ah, the things we do for those dang birds ...
Today's nice things:
1. Writing more of Hallsfoot
4. My first Alexander Technique lesson
Anne's website - something rich and strange in itself ...