Archive for January, 2013

Blue Monday

Apparently today is the blue-est day of the year, in terms of people’s moods, at least here where it was a story on the news tonight. I’m not sure how wide-reaching this idea of the most depressing day of the year is; one assumes it’s a cheerier time in the southern hemisphere and in sunnier climes than it is here in the fog and the grey.

On this blue day — as it seems to be for more people I’ve talked to than not — I wanted to think about something that touches my soul instead of the giant pile of stuff on my desk or the fact that there are simply too few hours in the day, or any of the frustrating things it can be easy to focus on and get wrapped up in if we let ourselves.

What are some of the things you’re lucky to have in your life or in your thoughts or in your heart? My list, thankfully, is long, a truth for which I’m abundantly grateful. But for the sake of this blog, I’m going to tell you about one tiny, wonderful memory I realized recently is one I cherish, something special that means a lot to me. Here it is:

Thanks to a keynote address at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference one year (I don’t remember which), I am lucky enough to have James Elroy Flecker’s “To a Poet a Thousand Years Hence” in my head, recited in Anne Perry’s voice. If you’ve never been lucky enough to hear Anne Perry talk, I highly recommend it (she’ll be back at SiWC this year). She’s a gifted speaker, and there is little that reminds me of the enduring gift of words and the connections they can forge through space and time than the memory of her reciting this poem:

I who am dead a thousand years,
And wrote this sweet archaic song,
Send you my words for messengers
The way I shall not pass along.

I care not if you bridge the seas,
Or ride secure the cruel sky,
Or build consummate palaces
Of metal or of masonry.

But have you wine and music still,
And statues and a bright-eyed love,
And foolish thoughts of good and ill,
And prayers to them who sit above?

How shall we conquer? Like a wind
That falls at eve our fancies blow,
And old Moeonides the blind
Said it three thousand years ago.

O friend unseen, unborn, unknown,
Student of our sweet English tongue,
Read out my words at night, alone:
I was a poet, I was young.

Since I can never see your face,
And never shake you by the hand,
I send my soul through time and space
To greet you. You will understand.

Isn’t that lovely? Please feel free to share some of your own special, small memories in the comments. I’d love to hear them.

(To the best of my knowledge, this poem is in the public domain in both Canada and the US. If you know otherwise, please let me know!)

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Happy new year! The fact that I’m saying so on the 14th of January should give you some idea how busy the first two weeks of 2013 have turned out to be.

I’m currently researching my next WIP, reading whatever and wherever my subconscious takes me to try to make sense of the hints of a story it sends up every once in awhile for my conscious mind to chew on. Consequently, I’m reading stuff I would probably never otherwise pick up, from pictorial and written histories of Vancouver in the last five decades to biographies of musicians and lots in between. At the moment, that includes reading Rod: The Autobiography, the un-mysteriously titled autobiography of Rod Stewart.

I’m a writer who doesn’t outline, but has to feel her way into and through the story. So when I read something Rod said about the writing process, it made me smile both because I related to it and because I’m reading the book to help me do precisely that. For all my writer readers, and anyone else who doesn’t quite know where they’re going until they get there, I give you Rod Stewart on writing:

“The whole process is a mystery to me, in any case. When we wrote ‘Maggie May’ and the song was in its formative stages, just a sequence of chords that needed some words and melody to fit, I hadn’t got a clue what the number was going to be about. I was just mouthing away and making noises, some of them words, in the spaces where the vocal was supposed to be. And suddenly ‘Wake up’ snapped into my mind — not even ‘Wake up, Maggie,’ just ‘Wake up.’ And where that came from, or why, I have no idea. You just have to think ‘Thank fuck,’ and allow yourself to set off after it, down the path to the rest of the story.”

Ain’t that the truth?

Back soon!

(Oh, and for the sake of proper attribution, that quote, used for commentary/review, appears on page 124 of the hardcover edition of Rod: The Autobiography by Rod Stewart, Crown Archetype 2012)

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