Friday, 12 August 2022

Spontaneous portraiture

About a thousand years ago - or it seems like it - I was asked along with my fellow photography students to saunter off into the crowds at Covent garden market and take pictures of people, the point of the exercise being to embolden us with regard to portraiture. No saying you were a student of photography, no excuses or explanations, just, I'd like to take your picture if that's ok, and I really won't steal part of your soul, or all of it.

I was fairly terrified at the time but most people were accepting, sometimes intrigued and even touched. The memory of that day has stayed with me and I do occasionally ask if I see someone unmissable such as this vibrant lady we noted strolling with her two chihuahuas along the promenade at St Nazaire recently. She was delighted, asked no questions, just pleased that she and her little canine princesses were appreciated.


Tuesday, 9 August 2022

Celebrating weeds

Bee numbers are down, it's evident even in a wildlife garden such as ours but there are a few wild plants in particular which they, mainly bumble bees of various types and hover flies, are drawn too, the main one being a grey leafed specimen with extraordinary spires of yellow flowers, the Mullein. 

Apparently Monet appreciated it and left it to grow amongst the sword like iris leaves and climbing clematis in his garden. It's one of the few plants still blooming in our drought ravaged garden so I'm happy each day to see it somehow putting out new flowers and the bees droning with their orange pollen sacks in the early morning before the sun strikes the rather weary tree tops. 

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Defining oneself

Sometime I envy folk who always knew what they wanted to do . . . a doctor, a lawyer, a wedding cake maker, something more tangible than being a writer.

For about twelve years now I've been writing for on average an hour first thing in the morning - first thing being around 6:00 am - and when things have been chugging along nicely, coming back to the work of the moment several times a day, other jobs permitting. With this routine I've written nine novels, a volume of short stories, penned many illustrations, and have felt this all to be vital for who I am. I can say I am a writer, thankfully given affirmation from both marvellous and supportive friends and family, and, more importantly if one is counting success as a published book, from agent and publisher.

However . . . to keep kicking away at the publishing door for the next published tome is hard and demoralising work. My agent and I parted ways amicably after Londonia didn't become a Netflix series, and I've been going through the dreary process of hunting down another for a few months now for several months without success. Perhaps there is a message here, myself has been saying to myself. These summer months have been the most full on I can ever remember apart from my London styling days. Writing has been pushed back to a few blog posts and tentative starts at other books, as keeping our surrounding vegetation alive and completing our building project has taken over.

But it's ok. As the summer has dragged on in its fierceness - I can now see why Vivaldi hated the heat and accordingly stuffed the hot part of the Four Seasons with angry violins - helping the garden become a serious life support system for all the birds, butterflies and weeds of the area was at first tedious, then challenging and now a meaningful routine. 

As for the agent hunting. Is it worth it? when they all seem to be hunting the latest money spinning police series or escapist something. Maybe I'll just wait, put out the odd tentative feeler when climate reality smacks a bit harder. Hopeful dystopia must surely have a place on high street bookshelves . . .  or not. Time will tell.

When the garden, hopefully, comes off its us-life-support-system in the autumn, and the building work is rounded up into a fully functioning guest space maybe I'll properly start up the writing again. However, as I feel increasingly that things generally are not heading in a super direction, perhaps I'll go for a more artisan approach: handmade ink drawings, pen to hand-fabricated paper - not fingers on keyboard. Practice what you preach? Twelve years or so going on about speculative and mostly dystopian futures . . . maybe it's time to write in a way that my characters might, small scale, human-made materials; a quieter and satirical peer into the world turmoil.