Visiting Alice Liddells Grave

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Any fan of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ will know that its eponymous heroine is based on a real person. Alice Liddell was the fourth child in the Liddell family. They were friends with Charles Dodgson AKA Lewis Carroll and it was on a boating trip that he whipped up the tale of Alice and the White Rabbit which Alice encouraged him to write down. ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ were born.

Alice lived most of her life in and around Lyndhurst in the New Forest. And it’s handily not that far away from where I live. It seemed only right that after photographing Lewis Carroll’s final resting place, I should do the same for Alice herself.

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You can find her around the back of the rather grand St Micheal and All Angels. A handy sign points the way. On the headstone, Alice is referred to as ‘Mrs Reginald Hargreaves’, which does jar, but put that down to the times in which she lived.

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The grave itself has a rather lovely white stone memorial. It contrasts with the very apt red and white rose bushes planted inside.

If you’re ever passing through, I would definitely recommend stopping by to  see this charming site.

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Have you got a Colouring Book?

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Adult colouring books are all the rage. And by ‘adult’ I mean they’re more complicated than ones for the kids, not that they’ve got er, ‘adult’ subject matter (maybe yours do, I’m not judging). You can’t walk into a book shop without falling over a table full of them, swoops and curls of black and white, sometimes with a hint of gold to look extra classy.

They seemed to appear as therapy for a range of mental health issues, including simple stress relief. The market for them has certainly exploded over the past couple of years, so there’s definitely a lot of people doing them.

I’ve got an Alice in Wonderland one (‘natch) that I’m working on.

As a child, colouring books were stressful, as my overwhelming perfectionism did away with any ‘fun’ I might have had. Now, older and wiser, I just go with whatever pencil comes out of the box.

Anyone else out there got the colouring book bug?

Where’s the Oddest place you’ve done it?

Write I mean!

On trains and buses, boats and rooftops, beaches, balconies and the bottom of the sea, we writers will do it anywhere (get your minds out of the gutter please!) I’m sure you know what it’s like to have the Muse (or just the need to flex those writing muscles) strike at an unexpected moment.

Personally, the oddest place I’ve done it was a department store. Working 9-5, you can only re-arrange the cushions and lights and mirrors so many times before you start to feel a bit zombified. In the long periods between customers (because no-one buys lights on a Wednesday afternoon), I used scraps of paper we kept for customer notes to scribble out a ghost story set in, yes, a department store.

So, where’s the oddest place you’ve done your writing?

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4 Roadblocks to your Writing – And 4 ways to Steamroll them!

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For every writing problem you have, there is an answer.

Not necessarily an easy answer that involves lamps and Genies but an answer nevertheless.

Here are four common roadblocks that stop you from writing – and four ways to steamroll them flat.

1) I don’t have time to write

When I was younger, there was a TV show about a boy with a watch who could stop time. I think everyone would kill for one of those, writer or not.

You’re allowed to have a busy life, a job, a family, kids, pets and all sorts of other commitments. You’re allowed to have days when you don’t write. Don’t feel bad about them.

But –

the fact remains that your book/short story/poem/screenplay isn’t going to write itself. So you’re going to have to make time. That might mean making a few little sacrifices; you wake up a bit earlier, you write in your lunch break or skip an evening TV show for a couple of hours of writing instead. If you don’t drive on your commute, you could fit in a few words then. Or even keep a notepad in the toilet – multi-tasking to the extreme!

2) I’m just not inspired

You can’t write without inspiration right? Well…actually, you can. People who write for a living don’t have a choice. It may sound mercenary but if you have to, you’ll find something to write about.

If you’re stuck on a scene, skip it and move on. Try editing something you’ve already written. Or go and write something completely different to keep your mind active until you’re ready to go back to your WiP. Blog posts are good!

Physical activity can also get the creative juices flowing. A simple walk can work wonders for the old noggin. A trip to the Library is even better. Grab a book to find your inspiration.

3) I’m not sure my writing is any good

Join the club, we’ve got jackets.

Every writer ever, in the history of writing, has doubted their work or their writing abilities. And not just once either. It’s completely natural. And it may be that what you’re writing on isn’t going to work out.

Step back. Let your work breathe. When you return to it, give it a the once over and, if you decide to scrap it, don’t chuck it entirely. Keep a copy so that if nothing else you can cannibalise it for ‘parts’.

You also need to remind yourself why you writeWhy do these characters dance through your through your head and onto paper? Because they need to. Because you need to. You may not be the next Charles Dickens (I know I’m not), but you will always have to write. 

4) I keep getting distrac-oh a butterfly!

The internet is a wonderful and terrible place. So are Netflix and Instagram  and all the other distractions of the digital age. When you turn on your computer to write, you open up world of procrastination right at your fingertips. I know this. I’ve already been distracted six times in the last paragraph.

Hmm…what was I saying?

You can try swapping your laptop for a pen and paper. But if you’re anything like me, you type faster than you can write anyway. Then you’ll need to get serious and unplug the internet. You can do this literally or by using handy apps from Chrome or Microsoft. Use them to block the Internet on your computer for as long as you need to get things done.
Or try a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, with or without music, to help you focus.

And hide the TV.

What are your top tips to get past major writing difficulties?

 

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Music to write to – Badlands by Halsey

A random YouTube mix brought US singer Halsey into my life by way of the video for New Americana. After viewing and listening to a number of her other tracks, I was impressed enough to buy her album ‘Badlands’.

I haven’t enjoyed an album so much in a long time. In fact my only complaint is that it’s too short and left me wanting more. There were no duff tracks, just lyrical pop gems in my opinion. I liked the strong Feminist streak through the album and the songs that dealt with mental illness that Halsey herself has experience of. My highlights are ‘Ghost’ an upbeat but melancholy search for love and ‘Haunting’ which pleads with a lover to stay, even if the relationship is over. ‘Control’ brings up questions of mental health and inner turmoil in disturbing fashion. I can imagine listening to this when writing something with well-defined female characters, perhaps in the Young Adult arena.

If you give it a listen, tell me what you think.

A Visit to Lord Tennysons House, Isle of Wight, UK

If you’re wandering around the Isle of Wight, you could end up stumbling upon Farringford, the home of Lord Tennyson.

Farringford, home of Alfred Lord Tennyson

Lord Tennyson was a prolific writer and Poet Laureate of Great Britain during most of Queen Victoria’s reign. His famous works include ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ and ‘The Lady of Shallot’. He lived at Farringford from 1853 till 1869, when he moved to escape being pestered by tourists!

The Isle and the sea around the house definitely inspired the great writer and he was often seen strolling across the clifftops on what is now called Tennyson Down. A monument to him was erected there after his death.

I can definitely understand the attraction of the down. In the sunshine the landscape was glorious but I can imagine them being pretty spectacular in fog, snow or rain.

Tennyson Down, Isle of Wight

Farringford itself has a Victorian Gothic style and now sits surrounded by holiday cottages, a golf course and tennis courts.

Farringford, home of Alfred Lord Tennyson

It’s a pity that you can’t visit it like the homes of other famous writers but on the other hand it’s better to have it preserved in some state than being left to rot.

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Who are Your Writing Pals?

I have two writing pals on my desk; Catbutt and Grandad.

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Catbutt was a gift who is also a handy paperweight. I call him Catbutt as he has a hefty posterior.

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Grandad is actually a vicar troll but his cross fell of a while back. I gave him to my Grandfather (also a vicar) for Christmas when I was a child. After he died, it seemed right the troll should come home with me and be named Grandad.

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These two guys are always there when I write, like good luck charms, helping me to get my creative on!

Do you have any writing pals? Post a picture if you want!

Notebook Collection – 1# The Eden Project

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I’ve decided to post more about my notebook collection and to that end, I’ll be putting up a post about a particular notebook about once a month. Hopefully this will be of interest to fellow notebook nuts like me. I’ve even made a new menu link up the top where I’ll stash all notebook related posts.

So let’s start with The Eden Project. This was the cheapest notebook I could find in the gift store (which is often what I look for in a notebook) but it also has a picture of a bee on the cover and I love bees.

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The Eden Project is a tourist attraction located in a reclaimed Kaolinite pit in Cornwall, UK. It’s focus is the environment and eco living and has two huge domes, one Tropical, the other Mediterranean.  It’s not cheap, but it is fascinating and you can even climb up to the top of one of the domes and look a bit scared like this:

 

 

Me

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Poetry – The Gate

There was a gate,

that stood without walls,

alone and patient,

in the middle of the forest.

It was not beautiful,

with twisting filigree,

and tingling gold,

and cold, stone heads.

It had been green,

but now it’s skin peeled,

and rust in bloody patches,

patterned each line

and rod.

If people ventured into the waving wood,

they would always find the gate

and wonder about it.

No path led to it

nor from it.

Trees in dark soldier rows,

looked down

on the curious travellers.

They would laugh,

hop and skip,

and round and round and

round it go,

three times for luck,

then leave.

Some souls would stop

and think,

or not at all,

and open the gate,

the green, faded gate

and

they would see.

The ones who stayed could not describe it,

and the ones who could had already left

and closed behind them

the waiting, rusting gate.