In December, I planted this tree. Well, really, I was honoured to witness its planting. Along with a couple of hefty Hounslow workers who did the work, in the presence of the Mayor of Hounslow, Councilor Sam Hearn and a Covid-safe group of Staveley Road BlossomdayW4 residents. It was a wet, cold, windy day and a scrawny bare sapling… and now here it is, 26th April, abundant with blossom. It is the 99th Prunus Kanzan on this extraordinary road. Worth a journey, click here for next spring! (PS Don’t wait to discover the location, it’s a brilliant crimson sight in November.)
I was there as BlossomdayW4 local haiku poet. (For a different spring favourite see haiku update here).
Speaking of growing and cycles, I am soon to put down new roots, moving away from this place that has been my home for forty years. An adventure, thus far, in sorting, clearing, feeling good-byes at every turn, glad to be having this last spring here, yet also feeling impatient to start the new life in the new place. Before I was ten years old my family moved house six times… the impatience feels familiar. Will I plant a cherry tree at the new house? Or, like the one we planted here 37 years ago, a magnolia?
Been reading round a whole bunch of independent publishers, and having fun! What’s more, vicariously shoplifting. Must be something in the water, but two good 2019 reads feature shoplifting protagonists. Finer Things, by David Wharton, Sandstone Press — love that cover, takes me right back to the 1960s. That’s Delia, a real success at her career as a professional shoplifter, surviving the seedy underworld of London. We hope. Then there’s a cover with a green dress, Run, Alice, Run, by Lynn Michell, Linen Press. It’s our present times but ranges back to Alice’s first ever shoplift and the decades (and lovers) in between then and the mess of revived shoplifting she’s landed herself in.
So what is it about shoplifting? A tip I used when writing my novel now **agented**!! by InterSagawas: think of something your protagonist would NEVER do, totally out of character. Then have her do it. It wasn’t shoplifting. But… that tingle, that thumping heart, that daring to do something illicit.
It’s about doing it when events or emotions push you over the edge into what-the-hell. Like writing.
Do it, just do it. After the not-knowing, but vowing my trust that it would come, ideas for Next Book are pouring out. But all higgledy-piggledy (Happy Year of the Pig, by the way). How to tame, how to order. I don’t know, but keep on writing. It doesn’t matter. Get the words on paper, fix them later.
I now have three different starts for this novel. Have already diverted a fourth to be used further on. One challenge is to know the back story, but provide it later. Get into the story, the voice, the action. Get the characters talking to each other: Lo! They become people! And anyway it will all get moved around when I am much further in — so interesting to find out what is going to happen next!
Meanwhile heartening news, agent Ahas read all of A Body of Knowledge, and we meet this week! She misses the characters, we are plotting our path together, and I’ll be able to tell her of characters to come…
Writing and particularly finishing a novel is never easy (not for me, anyway) and I’m always interested in any clues from the greats about how they did it, and that’s one of the reasons I love a literary pilgrimage.
In the UK, I’ve visited many houses with literary connections, such as: Jane Austen’s house near Alton, Dickens’ Portsmouth birthplace, Kipling’s mansion, the Brontes’ parsonage in Haworth, Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage, Thomas Hardy’s Max Gate, Agatha Christie’s Devonshire hideaway and Dylan Thomas’ Boathouse.
Last summer I ventured further afield, and after the full-on, money-draining, sensory overload that is Disney, Orlando, headed south on a road trip to Ernest Hemingway’s house in Key West. This was the home he shared with his second wife Pauline Pfeiffer. It’s a beautiful French Colonial style mansion full of six-toed cats (descended from Hemingway’s own polydactyl cat, Snow White). The house was a wedding gift from Pauline’s uncle…
I often judge writing contests, both non-fiction and poetry. Recently, I judged the North Carolina Poetry Society’s annual contest in the haiku category. Although it was blind judging, and the winners’ names still haven’t been revealed, I’m sure the winners worked hard to perfect their haiku. Passionate writers work hard at producing quality writing.
It always irks me when some authors, many of whom teach, make the comment that one is a born a writer. When we were of school age, we learned spelling and composition and basic writing skills. In adulthood, we write letters and memos in the course of our day. But we are not born writers. I’ve never read about a writing gene. And, even if we interpret that statement loosely to mean that we are born with skills such as observation–part of being a writer–then we need to qualify it by stating that our writing skills…
This post is in response to my question to readers and followers on why they write poetry. I hope you enjoy it and that it gives you insights and inspiration.
And, to those poets who took the time to respond, many thanks.
Susan Lee Kerr
When a haiku moment arrives, that is a heightened or deepened awareness, I need to catch it, a kind of mindfulness-in-action. And I want to convey it, to share that moment. Then the crafting into words, the catching and conveying itself, is an inner finding, deeply renewing, regrounding, calming. I used to write other poetry too, but now it’s haiku only. And prose — have just published The Extraordinary Dr Epstein, the true life of a remarkable 19th century immigrant, told as a novel… he’s my great grandfather, physician, farmhand, ship’s surgeon, founder of South Dakota University. From my long time as a…
Today’s the deadline! The previous post on Ephraim M Epstein’s site HERE asks the question. Tell me the correct answer and you could win the book — one USA, one UK. Also currently on Goodreads. Good luck!
Ms Kerr has produced a wonderful book which is full of great tips on how to set the classroom up, limit the amount of extra work you do, deal with students and get started on your creative writing course. Reading through chapter one has proved very instructive. I like her ideas on how to structure the course – they are very informative and helpful.
Following her advice, I am going to start with a brief introduction of myself as a writer.Then do…