When I have writer’s block

I have only realised recently that, when I have writer’s block, it’s not because I am not focused on my story, but because I am too focused. If there is pressure to write, I simply can’t do it. The words jam in my mind like a blocked drain, with water building up and straining to bursting point. The best words come to me at the most inconvenient times; usually as I am just dropping off to sleep, out and about with friends, at work, or in the middle of doing a hundred different jobs. They come to me in a furious flurry, driving into my head until I can’t ignore them anymore, and have to write them down. Then they shimmer on the page, and my mind rages as inspiration begins to flow. Writer’s block is like a river dam, broken down only by a sudden gush of uncontrollable revelation.

When I’m away with the fairies – making up random characters in my head, giving them personalities and emotions, relationships and secrets – that’s when the cogs in my mind begin to turn. When I’m in a world of my own, daydreaming, night dreaming, half-listening whilst scribbling doodles absentmindedly, the cogs are turning, cooking up new adventures for my naïve characters. Creating enemies and lovers, trustworthy friends and unruly scallywags. When my mind begins to slip . . . ever so slightly . . . down the rabbit hole . . . that’s when everything becomes shiny and exotic. The slumbering adjectives and verbs begin to rouse, the thisckles and scillywocks awaken, and the mythical creatures and angry tyrants stretch and yawn. Myths and legends solidify to truth, the adventurers line up at the starting mark, and the story begins.

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Absurdist Plays and Claims to Fame

I actually wrote this piece several years ago during my first year of university. For some reason I side-lined it for a rainy day, even though it always brought a smile to my face the few times I stumbled across it afterwards. Now I’ve finished uni, a new sense of nostalgia has joined the happiness I feel when reading this piece, together with the need to preserve the memory. Aside from a little necessary doctoring (it’s amazing how much one’s writing can develop in a few short years) this story remains the same as the day it was created.

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A short while ago, as part of one my modules at university, I was asked to read the play ‘Waiting for Godot’, written by Irish playwright and poet Samuel Beckett. After flicking through the bible-thin pages of my literature anthology, I found the play in question and began to read with that all too familiar excited sensation of beginning a new book. Within minutes however, that feeling – a feeling I would soon accept as the norm – was crushed.

The play was insane. Insane, ridiculous nonsense which would crush anybody’s spirits with its convoluted, pointless dialogue and dismal setting. Having said that though, it fitted perfectly into its namesake genre: ‘Absurdist’. It was a play that meant nothing, where the characters talked with speech which amounted to nothing. After slogging my way through Act 1, my brain couldn’t take any more of the gobbledegook, and I had to go cook some ‘brain food’ (fish fingers). Afterwards, lo and behold, I had a brainwave! Instead of reading the play, I could watch it, by the aid of the wonderful invention of YouTube. Once again I settled down and, strangely, just ten minutes later I found myself laughing at the performance on the screen. It’s amazing how words on paper come alive through performance. I’ve never been much of a dramatic, but sometimes for the magic to happen you really do have to see it with your own eyes.

Anyway, the next day my friends appeared to have discovered the same thing as me, and we returned to our Poetry and Drama class with renewed hope for ‘Waiting for Godot’. We soon began to understand in more depth why exactly this was classed as an ‘Absurdist’ play. Of course, then came the questioning of the author. Why would Samuel Beckett choose to write a play like this; a play that supposedly makes no sense no matter how deeply you look into the so-called plot? What were his influences? Was he insane, or just the subject of an era of hard times? The usual answers of course – religion, politics, and feminism. I won’t enter into a debate of exploring the intricate mind of Mr. Beckett now, but rather I will skip ahead a few days to when I visited home, and told my family about this ‘Absurd’ experience.

I happened to mention the play when I was home one weekend, and at once my mum’s ears seemed to prick up. Like Samuel Beckett she is Irish through and through and, given the pint-sized population of Ireland, that means that one way or another everybody in the Republic of Ireland knows each other. Saying that, there are now approximately four million people living there, but still, I should have guessed what was coming… “Samuel Beckett was related to my mother.”

Surprise didn’t quite cover my reaction. Although, simultaneous to my surprise swept into my mind the widely-used phrase among my Irish relatives, ‘Ireland is a village’ which rapidly turned the situation into something entirely possible. I am technically (and by technically I mean my great aunt’s something’s something, so I have approximately one percent Beckett blood) related to Samuel Beckett, the renowned novelist, playwright, theatre director and poet. Not a bad claim to fame I reckon. Plus, as I mentioned to my friend in the next poetry lecture, it probably explains why my imagination is slightly questionable at times!

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Hope you enjoyed reading this blast from the past as much as I did!

Thanks for stopping by 🙂

Snippet #1: Magic lies in the eye of the beholder

Today I wanted to blog, but for some reason the words just didn’t materialise. I hummed and hawed and trialed and trawled, and then gave up and went outside to enjoy the sun and mess about with my camera. As a result of spending a couple of hours clambering around my rockery and scruffing with the dog, I bring to you my first official ‘Snippet’. If you haven’t read my previous post introducing ‘Snippets’, take a quick peek at this post: Snippets.

Not just beauty, but magic too lies in the eye of the beholder. Or so I discovered today through these photographs taken quite literally in my own backyard.

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His eye glimmers with the sky, the breeze, the trees. He sits to watch the world go by, carefree but watchful. 

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Anybody else scrunch up their nose while they drink?

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These paws were made for walking, although the pinky fur was a surprise. Maybe he should be a rose-golden retriever?

Today I got lost in the wilderness in a whole new way, and I’ll be damned if I don’t wish it would happen again soon. Detail is everything in this world, without it everything would become grey. I saw the world in the eyes of my dog today, and a whole other world of peace, harmony, and natural beauty rose to welcome me.

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“The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.” – Mulan

 

Snippets

Here’s the thing, as much as I love to write, write, and write some more, I don’t have as much time as I’d like to bash out all my thoughts and wonders. There are SO MANY things I want to write about, mostly places I’ve travelled to, and of course those little bits of magic in everyday life. But at the moment I’m feeling the pressure, as I really want to keep up with my blog and The Fairytale Traveller persona but, thanks to my new full-time job, simply do not have the mental capacity to open my laptop and write when I return home from work. So I’ve had an idea which will relieve some pressure, and that idea comes in the form of ‘Snippets’.

‘Snippets’ will be exactly that. Snippets of writing, instead of longer stories, poems, and general warblings. Instead of pushing myself to write long pieces every time, ‘Snippets’ will enable me to throw a few thoughts onto (virtual) paper every so often, to maintain my blogging regularity without feeling the necessity to write something more substantial or ‘deep’. Also, in truth, not all of the magical moments I witness are set in epic surroundings – often they are tiny and momentary, but still deserve to be captured.

So I will write to you in snippets, and will title each one ‘Snippet: [title]’, so you know it can be read at a glance. At the moment I’m celebrating a four day weekend thanks to Easter, so I have the luxury of stocking up on longer pieces, ready to release as and when, but I will give you a taster of a snippet; a snippet of a snippet, if you will.

Snippet: When Dogs Fly

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The hurdle jumper that never was.

The day was sunny, my camera was primed. I had taken a number of snaps already, but this one absolutely caught the excitement of the day. The sheer joy and exhilaration on Jet’s face as he flew for a millisecond will always be with me. Even if he does spend the rest of his time curled up on the rug, I’ll remember this perfect moment, and i’m pretty sure he does too as he snuffles away, paws twitching frantically in his sleep.

Can I get a ‘HELL YEAH!’?

Ever had that moment when you’re browsing online, perhaps trolling through social media on your phone, when suddenly something so wonderful appears that it simply cannot be ignored? It leaves your thumb hovering in mid-air like some ungainly fleshy insect that has forgotten how land. It seems to hum, or maybe that’s just your thumb beginning to shake from hanging in mid-air so long. I’m talking about a simple thumbnail image of a place unknown, glowing artificially through the screen, reflecting in your widened eyes like a beacon of starry-eyed possibility. Because the place is beautiful, exciting, entrancing, intriguing, mysterious, unknown…

 

Your senses begin to awaken. The want. The yearning. The wanderlust. You must find this place, this unknown place that has caught your eye, locked your mind, electrified your heart, and hurled your senses into overdrive. You take a hasty screenshot of the place, and flick to your contacts list. You scroll, scroll further. Who will you choose? Who will you take on this adventure? Scrolling, more scrolling. Always broke, always ill, always working.

 I don’t know… How much would it cost? How far away is it? How would we get there? When will we go? 

I don’t know. I literally have no idea. But I don’t care. We’ll make it work. We’ll take the train, the bus, a car, save up money – plan properly. But right now, I don’t care. We’ll make it work. Where there’s a will there’s a way, and all that. Let’s have a picnic in a forest! Let’s sing to the stars! Let’s get lost in a foreign city! Let’s fall in love with people, places, things, moments! Let’s run through the night and breathe, really breathe for once. Let’s just go. This is the time for excitement, anticipation, exploration!

But no. Questions, questions, questions, contaminating the excitement until it crumples into a subdued possibility. One day, we say, when we’re less busy. The image drops into the infinite backlog of photographs. Wishes and memories all bound together to peruse while sitting at home; on the bus; to sneak glances of at work; to sigh over, whilst getting ready for bed.

Memories become wisps, wishes become pangs of regret.

Just one day, I wish that someone would be spontaneous with me. It used to happen, during watery dawns and shivering twilights, star-spangled nights and sunshiney days. Then life caught up, and reality claimed us once more. We were enveloped into the rat-race and set on an ever-circling track. Round and round with no exit, other than throwing ourselves into the abyss.

Except our minds remain our own. Our hearts and hopes beat in a unique drumbeat of curiosity. We know it’s not enough, this endless cycle of grey travel to grey offices with grey people. We know. Deep down, we all know. Yet still nobody will be spontaneous with me. First come work, house, money, time. Then adventure, if we’re lucky.

That’s just not good enough for me. I feel restless, so restless. I need spontaneity sometimes. Not constantly, but sometimes it’s good to rock the boat a little. I don’t want all those exciting images to go to waste, I want to live and breathe them, and inspire others to do the same. Problem is, I don’t want to do it alone. I could go by myself, as so many others do. But I don’t want to, as I thrive so much more in company. Just one person would do; a security, a buffer, a friendly face to share the experience. But no, once more I am forced to add the enticing picture to the hundreds of other backlog images, gathering dust until they themselves turn grey.

What can I do? What can I say? Let’s just go! Let’s just stay…

All I want is one person who, instead of dragging up anxieties, will say ‘Hell yeah! Let’s go!’ It might take days to plan, it might take months, but all I want – all I yearn for – is someone to really feel that adrenaline rush of wanderlust, same as me.

I live in England, let’s face it, in a couple of years travel abroad will be a whole lot more difficult… So why wait, why settle now? Why not take the chance while it’s there? I’m sure I’m not alone in this, so if anyone does crave an adventure like me, please get in touch. Everyone needs an adventure sometimes, whether or not they realise!

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The universe was hers to hold, little did she know…

The universe was hers to hold, little did she know

Hers to mould and shape

The world would reform at her command

Reform, or crack and break

But she lost it to another, whose hand was mightier still

And he threw the earth to ruin

And spat on the lands until

 

She returned with a force

So powerful and bright

And called it the sun

And the moon at night

To guard the world from all peril

Demons and shadows borne from the devil

 

And the mighty one hid between the cracks

In the lava and smoke above land

But there he was spied, too late to hide

And was banished by her towering hand

 

To a place of hate and sorrow

A place of trickery and blight

Until the day of reckoning

The day he saw the light

When she flew to him from the ashes

Of a war he had wreaked one night

 

She grasped his steely hand

And flew low under skies of red

Soaring over trees and mountaintops

Littered with bodies of the dead

 

This is your doing, this is your world

To the heavens she roared

To the seas she hurled

Words of anger, words to scare

Words to force thought, words to make him care

 

But care he could not, for his heart was stone

And so she saw, he could not be alone

So placing him down on the edge of the land

Staring into the abyss, she took his hand

 

A life like no other, a life like this…

She gestured her arm away

To a land touched by the devil’s kiss

This was your vision, this was your dream

To rule from the skies, to command unseen

But you failed to deliver

Failed to commit

And thus your world is destroyed, and you with it

 

Here now we stand, together but apart

In the hopes of recovery, and a new start

Of building a legacy from an era of pain

But it can be done, as before when I came

And created the sun, the moon and the stars

To watch over earth, and heal its scars

 

Together we can rule, together we can fly

Together we can create and love, you and I

Harmony is all I ask

So, will you accept this task?

 

Know that I am patient, know that I am strong

Know that I will never give up, and that I am never wrong

For I am the goddess of wonder and starlight, of light and majesty and peace

I am the one who guides this world, and all the universe apiece

 

My eye sees beyond this world to the next, and everything within

It sees the war and destruction, and everything akin

It sees you amongst people, walking and building homes

It sees you loving and pleasing, smiling and writing tomes

For you will lead again, my friend

You will shine and dance

Because I can transform you to brilliance

If you would only give me a chance

 

Say yes to me now and the world is saved

Say no and it is doomed

Give me your word and your heart my friend, and the way forward is paved

For I am the goddess of twilight, the goddess of dawn and dew

And I pledge to help, my friend, to remove the darkness from you

 

Slowly he faced her, red eyes gleaming in the dark

A single tear rolled down a blackened cheek

The whispering groan of a breaking heart

The choice has been made, he growled, offering his lethal claw

Do with me what you will, I have a care no more

 

She held his hand gently, like a damaged and fragile thing

And bowing her head low, softly began to sing

The darkness vanished, replaced with dazzling light

The hand was clear, unmarked of any plight

Stand tall my friend, for you are anew

You have changed your ways, you will live as true

 

Tall and proud, there stood he

Made for goodness, made to be free

For the evil was banished, gone, destroyed

Leaving only a shell, a puppet to be toyed

And she took his hand and whispered a word

Then guided him away, to a place unheard

To live once more, in a land of love

In a land of starlight and wonder

Cast down from the universe above

Fine Dining in the Black Forest

As I sit here, on the first properly sunny day of this year, I can’t help thinking that today would be perfect for a picnic. I have always loved the idea of picnics, perhaps from my eternal fascination with the Mad Hatter’s tea party, or maybe the idea of conjoining one thing I love (food), with another (being outdoors). Either way, this thought took me to one of the most special picnics I’ve ever had – I would even go so far as to describe it as ‘breath-taking’ – in the Black Forest, Germany.

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Driving through the Black Forest

This was my first trip to Germany, and was quite the flying visit, given that the whole trip involved traversing five countries in two weeks. I like to call it a ‘sneak preview of Europe’, because those two weeks were definitely not enough to sate my wanderlust. I will write about all of those experiences in time, not necessarily in order, but when the time feels right to rediscover those memories. To be frank, it may be several years before I can bear to stomach some of the more uncomfortable and downright cringe-worthy experiences (I’m talking motorway breakdowns and minor sunstroke, alongside ‘ga-ga’ Satnav and misplacing the odd thousand euros). But all will come in time, I promise.

So, here we were in the Black Forest, trekking along a fantastic route filled with waterfalls, zig-zagging back and forth around the great expanse of leafy green; being dazzled every few steps by sunshine, which resolutely broke through the thick layer of foliage to throw a golden hue over the ecosystem below.

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A proper cascade!

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It flowed in rivulets from the top of the mountain to the floor below

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This is where we were. If anyone would like to enlighten me, feel free to translate the phrases for the ignorant English girl!

Having reached the top of the zig-zag path, I decided we were high enough to have a decent view whilst picnicking. Our diet for the two weeks was a rich supply of ham and cheese sandwiches, which we varied daily by choosing an assortment of meats and cheeses. (Since then, suffice to say, I could probably count the amount of said sandwiches I’ve consumed on one hand, but when you’re trekking through forest and mountainous regions all day, believe me, it becomes quite a delicacy to have almost all major food groups in one meal!) The important aspect of the picnic of course had little to do with the food here, but rather the environment and view! That said, I do sort of wish I’d taken just one snap of those oh so faithful ham and cheese sarnies…

Anyway, stomachs grumbling, we found ourselves on a slightly less beaten track. Of course we followed this, treading with a newfound, strange expectation. A few minutes later, I saw a break in the trees ahead – a clearing – good, I thought. I sped up, something other than the yearning for today’s salami and edam concoction urging me forward. Then the path ended. That was it, we couldn’t walk another step. Not because we were content with the spacious clearing we had found, or because we were simply too hungry to wait any more, but because ahead of us lay nothing except a gaping drop and a deep valley basin, crammed to the brim and overflowing with forest. And, like some wondrous mirage sent as an offering from the trekking overlord, right smack bang in the middle of the clearing, lay none other than a picnic bench.

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View: 100/10, space: 10/10, privacy: 10/10, food: 4/10

I was stunned. This was it, the picnic place of all picnic places, the place where I could eat my sandwich and forgot the somewhat samey flavour, whilst surveying the dark, foreboding grandeur at my feet. So that was what I did. I munched and overlooked the kingdom below, pretending it was all mine, and that every leaf and branch, every pebble and stream, every waterfall and river was mine to appreciate and protect from civilisation.

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I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to create a new habitat and live in the forest forever, with or without my ham and cheese sandwiches.

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Unfortunately, such reveries are ephemeral, allowing only a glimpse of euphoria before reality drags us back and forces us to return to daily life. To our commutes, our offices, and the tantalising, bittersweet countryside views; the air blowing the fresh scents, heavy with pollen, on waves of summer air which glide through the window, remaining just out of reach…

…Until next time, when we will load up the car, pack the ham and cheese sandwiches, and hit the road in search of the next picnic spot. For what is life, but a series of intermittent distractions between meals. It all depends on how we make the most of those stretches, to open our eyes, hearts, and minds to the whole forest, as well as the individual trees.

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I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend, and I hope this post lends some inspiration to the upcoming picnic season!