Sand Dunes and Soul Food

I sit propped against a sand dune on the beach, the sand moulded to my body, cradling me.  It’s night time and a small fire flickers at my feet, keeping me warm and lighting the small area around me.  I can hear the popping noise of the wood as it burns, hear the sea lapping gently at the shore and smell the salty, bonfire air.  Usually I’m the only one, but occasionally a person will emerge from the shadows and we’ll talk.

This is my safe place.  The internal world I went to when I needed to escape.

I’d forgotten about it until I read a friends blog fernenland: When I am feeling bruised So why don’t I go there any more?  Is my life so much better that I don’t need to hide inside myself?

Then I realised the difference is my writing.  When I have a problem, a worry, something niggling away at the back of my mind, I write about it.  Sometimes it’s obvious (see White Van Man),  sometimes it gets worked into a story, my characters working through the issue, saying what I’d like to say and what I’d like to hear.  Plus I put my muse through far worse things then I ever have to deal with in real life.

When Fernenland goes out with her camera, she finds herself in a different space, seeing things she wouldn’t normally have noticed and that’s how I feel about my writing.  When walking down the road, I’m looking at everyday things and searching for the beauty in them.  Or catching snippets of conversation and letting my imagination fill in the missing parts.  A man walking down the road…he’s actually just  murdered his wife and is now off to plant the evidence in her lovers house.  Or that strange looking knot on the tree trunk is really the door to a fairies house, you might just catch her peeping out from the corner of your eye.  It does lift your spirits and energise you.

People find this space through different mediums such as meditation, exercise, photography, art, music, words. So go out and explore, feed your soul.

(Thank you Fernenland for letting me link to your blog and inspiring me again.)

Or Are You Just Pleased To See Me…

Many years ago, I used to work in a wine shop.  Late one night, a regular customer came in to tell us that he’d just seen a man nick one of our blackboards.  These were big, heavy boards that we propped up outside the shop, advertising the latest deals. 

Now I’ve seen all kinds of things shoplifted in my time, by the hopeless off-their-face druggies taking a can of strong beer to the highly professional gangs taking champagne and the expensive wine, but no-one had every stolen a blackboard before.  I mean they are big, bulky and of no practical use (even as advertising they were highly suspect).  As the only girl in the team, it was my job to chase after the shoplifters.  OK, it wasn’t my job, but the six foot plus boys I worked with were big scaredy cats, so I walked out of the shop to have a look.  Sure enough, just heading round the corner, were two men, slightly weaving, one of which had a board tucked under his arm.

Wanting to catch them before they got too far, I jogged down the road to catch up, shouting “Please may I have my board back?” as I rounded the corner.  The two guys swung round and to my horror I realised that one of them was Cider Man. 

Cider Man a totally unhinged, off-his-face man who would come into the shop and demand to know why we didn’t keep cider in the fridge (any guesses as to why we didn’t). The conversation would always end up with him shouting at us, then he’d stagger off across the road to the other shop that did keep their cider in the fridge and harass the staff in there.  One night, I’d had a bad run in with him and he ended up hanging around outside the shop waiting for closing time having made thinly veiled threats to kill me.  Even when the I’d stood up to a gang of six, big, guys who’d come in to nick champagne (the boys cowered behind the counter) or had a shoplifter grab my arm when I was taking down the number plate of his get-away car, I hadn’t been worried.  They were sober and predictable.  This guy was totally psychopathic and it’s the only time I had been scared.

By now I was mentally kicking myself and praying that he didn’t remember who I was, as we stood in a dark, quiet, side street.  This is the mad thing about London.  Behind me was a busy, wealthy, Fulham road.  Down this side street, the road was quiet, badly lit and lead to really rough council estate.

“What board?”  He asked, turning to look innocently round him, the large board almost bashing his friend as he turned.

“Umm, that board..” I pointed.

“I don’t see a board.”

Just as I thought this was going to go on all night, and did I really want the board back that much…..Cider Man’s friend had obviously had come to a similar conclusion.

“Oh for god sake, just give the girl back her board!”

Cider Man looked down and did the perfect comedy double-take.  “Well how did that get there?!”

Striking while the going was good, I grabbed the board, politely said thank you and lugged the board back to the shop and my waiting regulars and useless colleagues.

An aside

Normally I take a tiny spark of inspiration, mull it around in my mind (usually while out doing the school run in the rain), then sit down and write something.  A writer I follow on twitter described the process as being on a par of making a stew, the pot is constantly simmering away in the background and bits are added until the finished food is ready to eat, complex layers of flavour and aroma having been allowed to organically build up.

Every time I see a spark, a glimpse of something I want, it slips though my fingers.  Or if I manage to catch it and try to massage it into something more, it goes flat and limp.  So instead I read; I read everything I can get my hands on, in the hope that it will help. 

So I’ve pulled myself together and decided that maybe I should sidle up to it, not look it directly in the eye and just start.  It’s the starting that’s important and it’s the starting I haven’t been doing.  A synopsis looks forlornly at me and I’m still on the fifth chapter of a story.  My poor protagonists have been sitting around in a desert waiting for me to get my act together since last month.  I just hope they haven’t got sunstroke.

Then there is my muse, the person who inspires me, fills me fire, whose magic no longer works.  Shouldn’t I be able to do this alone?  I did before I met them.  It’s been like having a lover whose left me.  I was perfectly fine and capable before they came into my life, even happy, but when they left, they left a large and gaping hole.  I know what I’m missing.

But look.  I’m writing and it feels good.