Quest 2016: Who Would Miss You When You’re Gone?

Your Quest2016 Prompt today: Seth Godin

Would they miss you if you were gone?

What would have to change for that question to lead to a better answer? #MissMe

This imperative interruption to a day that envisaged some creative application to a new book hooks me to answer.It saw me coming and set up a trip-wire. I still have difficulty ‘opening out’ the painful parts of life, not because I cannot confront them, but do wonder why they would be of interest to anyone else.(see nervous joiner!) So I will continue the dialogue with Olderwiser and keep it pithy.

Olderwiser ‘Who do you know that might or might not miss you?’

Plumscared. ‘Small, very small clutches. A few friends, mostly writers, and almost all virtual (so I would disappear with the speed of a twitter feed); a few readers (very few- who don’t know me anyway) and my daughters. Of those you might expect me to say my daughters would be likely to miss me. One would be devastated and until she would not be, I have to somehow stay alive. It’s a heavy responsibility! Two have rejected me for twenty years and I do not even know their children one of whom is eighteen. The fourth and youngest might miss me but I suspect not for very long, because she knows so little about me, although in some ways we are much alike. She has never read a story ,a book or a blog post, (or visited me on Facebook). She really knows so little about the inner, celebratory, honouring me. She only knows the questioning critic, the puritan.’

Olderwiser  ‘What would they miss? If they did.’

Plumscared  ‘The one that would, would miss her closest friend. We talk. About everything, share grief, celebrate joy. The two who might not even know I’d gone would perhaps miss the pleasure of inflicting a lot of pain, and the realisation that with my death, their family died with me. I hold all the memories of where they came from, and what could enrich their children’s history and identity. It would be buried.

The one, who might or might not, would miss returning home. She is currently sailing away, but might recall the reasons she turned her back. I know she finds it difficult having so much money, when I neither respect wealth, nor value what it affords. On that we lock horns. She indulges ( and can almost limitlessly) by helping very wealthy CEO’s become wealthier, while her sister squirrels to survive teaching the violin, playing it, and worrying about each and every pupil’s chances, and working in a pub to eat.

I cannot manage to obscure what I feel about the injustice of the world’s values, or how easily she accepts them. So she stays away, and I have had to let her go, but I know in the part of herself that is not materialistic we could be very close. We used to share mimicry, laughter and it seems to have disappeared. She used to be very funny. I miss that terribly.

One of those private moments for sisters
One of those private moments for sisters

Olderwiser ‘Now to the point of this. What would have to change to lead to a better answer?’

Plumscared. The history that cannoned though the landscape of my family and scarred it irrevocably is past. Only the devastation remains. Obviously the chasm lies ‘between’ and who I am, or what I might do, is the only part I can do something about.

Options: I could turn into a dog and lick whatever hand was held out? Unconditional love without judgement? That is what the Dalai Lama might say. It is theoretically possible but getting bitten accounts for the ‘plumscared’. Every time a bleeding throat and matted fur. Perhaps loving is also acceptance, and knowing when to surrender hope, and do something else without any? Ticked off last week.

I could turn actor, play Uriah Heep and pretend to approve what I can’t.  I could become a deaf-mute and hear, see and speak no evil and wring my hands appropriately. I would not be a natural, doubt I’d convince.

Or I could succumb to Alzheimer’s and forget and be grateful. (That is a distinct possibility and seems anxious to start. Forgetfulness improves daily without practice.) I could accept visits without recognising, or flinching, and be grateful for the nice box of chocolates.

Or I could write another book but this time one that dealt directly with the family they spurned, for the children I shall never know. It might help me to understand too.

Maybe, after that, if I do it well, a few might miss the chance they had to know me, the daughter’s children would get a kind of history- not absorbed as supper table talk, but something. It’s a way of talking to an absent family for both me and my loving daughter, who will be my cleanest and most honest critic. The readers might like another book of a different kind about George Eliot who comes into it, and Africa at the turn of the century, and the richest of galleon grandmothers with prejudices strong enough to break teeth in a plum pudding saga. What’s not to like?

That was what I was planning to start when this question interrupted. So if its okay with you I’ll just get on?

George_Eliot_by_Samuel_Laurence
George Eliot (1819-1880)

Samuel Laurence [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

A Shadow in Yucatan- The Meaning (and feeling) of Birth and Loss

Today was the long planned for launch of A Shadow in Yucatan. Timed to co-ordinate with the Great Digital Book Giveaway. Instead it has been deleted from their site. Disaster for me but not for you. For it is ,however, still free (until 31st July) on Smashwords and can be downloaded here https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/454809

On all devices and in print.
On all devices and in print.

Instead of promoting I will let the reviews do that instead.

‘I was utterly awestruck by the writing skill and breadth of imaginative
evocation…..poetic, elegiac…almost unbearably intense…sensuous imagery
from both nature and modern urban living…musical, both rhythmic and
assonant…sustained dramatic tension within a simple everyday story….the
superficiality of the beauty salon is a very potent metaphor….’
Alison Jakes (Poetry Circle)

As with a highly literary novel, this ambitious story makes demands
upon its readers. As with most modern poetry it deserves to be read and
re-read…..
The story is a vehicle for some impressive poetry. It is highly emotional
and transforms the ordinary protagonist into an archetypal figure of
suffering motherhood.
‘Speech must now grow from silence and the stones that cockle the
black backs
Of women in pre-history, left alone with the consequence of men’
There is religious dimension too. Throughout there are subtle references
to the Christian Nativity, and on another level it tells of Christ’s birth
and Mary’s suffering in modern terms. It contrasts the cruelty of the
girl’s Catholic mother, with the compassion of her Jewish landlady.
There is implicit criticism of the hypocrisy of society as a whole….The
poem has a social purpose.
Katherine Knight (Real Writers)

Philippa Rees is as an immediately distinctive and striking poet
who writes with unfashionably – often brilliant – painterly verbal
play and colour, oozing with a sensuous love of language. Rees’s
almost tangible style dazzles with imagistic chiaroscuro; stark
contrasts of light and shade, subtext and texture:
This ripeness of verbiage and intrinsic musicality inevitably
bring comparisons with Dylan Thomas (particularly the densely
descriptive, rumble-tumble list- passages of Under Milk Wood): But this is not to detract from Rees’s individuality which throughout this book of poetic narrative interspersed with colourful dialogue is palpable and often beguiling…
…..A Shadow in Yucatán is disarmingly beautiful
(Alan Morrison, Editor The Recusant)

The back blurb calls ‘A Shadow in Yucatán’ a ‘distilled novel’ and it
is –a home brew, raw and omnipotent! Rees makes extraordinary the
sorrowful ordinary of an unwanted pregnancy and the resulting difficult
decisions. She celebrates the sense of community, despairs of family
and counts on the generosity of strangers. She explores problems and
finds solutions – hard through they are to take – in unexpected places
Through it we enter a world as real as we are, but as foreign to us as a
bad dream. This book is a must for any intelligent reader!
(Independent Reviews: SP Magazine)

Gateways of the Mind-Re-learning the Already Known

Gateways of the Mind- Re-Learning the Already Known.

I wonder?
I wonder?

I feel like one of those street artists whose flamboyant chutzpah will draw a crowd only to watch him fall on his face or make his name by buying his painting, basket, or beaded necklace and getting themselves photographed with the ‘fellow they stumbled across’. WOW!

I want to weave an argument with only the reclamation that blew into the gutter over the past week.

Some scraps washed down:-

First: the publicist to whom my entire fortune has been paid departed with a wave of the ‘campaign’ hand. Over fifty two review books posted, not one review, not a single interview scheduled happened, and of those still ‘in the pipeline and due to deliver’ not one has. Nor have they even confirmed that they exist. Every email unanswered. Colour? Sludge green I’d say.

Second: a presumptive apology from a blogger I follow, who seemed to fear that she would not be able to put her two hours a day into feeding a poem to the seals waiting at noon. They might read less and less often. Well, this is a ‘zoo keeper’ who without fail posts a poem every day. What struck me was her feeling that she needed to apologize! Suddenly a gift becomes an expectation. That lends a purplish hue, like a bruise.

Third: the loss of a handbag from a locked shop. It happened like this: The night before I had a dream— I was dawdling round a modest antique market in a village hall when I saw another woman trying on a very perfect Edwardian outfit, lemon-yellow bell shaped skirt with pin tucked hem and tight trim waist, crisp white lawn blouse, both under a coat in putty coloured linen of such precision tailoring it made a cheetah look careless. I coveted it and waited with baited breath to see if the other women would bear it away. No, she rejected it! I snatched it up and realised that the woman who coveted that ’My Fair Lady’ look no longer existed. Not only was there no hope of those minute ‘hooks’ getting anywhere near their respective ‘eyes’, but I look dreadful in both yellow and putty. I woke up, desolate. ‘You are not who you think you are, or who you are trying to be’ Once a black hat, large shades and a long cigarette holder would pass muster for an Audrey Hepburn party. Now the Wreck of the Hesperus should be dressing down, in tweed and a hiding hat.

Yet the dream lingered and next day while killing time waiting for the cobbler to return with his lunch time sandwich, I drifted into a vintage clothing shop, newly opened, and opened up by an obliging beautician who held the key to the store in the owners absence. She drank coffee while I spun rails, gloomily mindful of the dream’s central message. I limited myself to the nearly burkas on the ‘not fit for Oxfam’ rail. Together we two left. She locked. I realised I had no bag. She re-opened. Bag had disappeared! Two people combing through a locked and people-free shop found no bag. Now ‘You really are nobody at all!’ Passport, Driving Licence, money, membership of anything cards, all gone. Into thin air.

For the weekend (next day) I had booked a place at the ‘Gateways of the Mind’ Conference’ in London. Was the loss of everything going to deter resolve? Very nearly, but no, I would not be vanquished by mere deluded misfortune. I had deserved it. Stuff happens.

This conference was promising to teach me how to Out of Body (OBE) at will and fly once I was ‘out’; introduce me to a power animal (Fish-eagle? Polar bear? Elephant?) which in Shamanic journeys would conduct me safely through the underworlds, and accompany me to the Himalayan heights of spiritual purity, and others would sooth my ruffled feathers with meditation, chanting and Tibetan bowls. What could go wrong?

Nothing went wrong. Not exactly. The bowls sounded just dandy, the meditations were great, but I could have done those at home. Each speaker diverted, and entertained. I wasn’t bored. It was just that the whole was less than the parts, and it is usually the opposite. This was frayed wadding of a greyish hue. In all the talk of new consciousness there was nothing of the numinous, nothing celestial, nothing grand or reverent; OBE’s were the new broadband tunings, better than Ayahuasca, safer than LSD. I came home with a new resolve.

I would not look for answers, images, advice, programs, how-to books, or marketing and publicity gurus ever again. That does not mean I shall stop reading what falls my way, but I won’t go looking anymore.

Suddenly this tapestry started to take shape and I recognised what has bugged me all along and why the word ‘platform’ makes me shudder. All those speakers were speaking from a platform and like everyone I have tried to emulate over the past year, (How much spent? Don’t ask) it was always through a loudhailer…my book…my method…my insight…my experience…my authority. Garish orange that clashes with every other colour I like!

Only a reader can validate a book. Who is an author to say (by whatever means?) ‘read my book…it will enlighten…assist…show you…anything?’ That may be true of how-to books written by conquering heroe(ine)s .People keep saying ‘If you don’t believe in it, why should anyone else?’ Truth is, they shouldn’t— unless they read and find it worthy of belief. (That was why publishers once existed, to broker belief.) How can I believe in something for which they are the only validation? How find them without waving garish orange which misrepresents the work in question? Liberty is its central component.

Guess what? As soon as I had clearly made up my mind on this, the telephone rang. My bag had been found—by a cleaner! All contents present and correct. I just forgot who I was and someone thought it worth while to remind me. The potency of symbols and living metaphors! Life keeps all the reins in hand. I shall slow to a walk through long dew grass, and see where the cavalcade takes me.

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