Written evidence…

It is a strange feeling to get to the end of a long process and then have to wait…

I have had two such moments recently.

The first was sending off my final research paper for my MA in Creatvie Writing a few weeks ago. After that there was nothing left to do but clear up all the scattered papers and notebooks, and file them away. No words left to write, just wait for the verdict! That is what it felt like. I had done my work,  I had submitted the evidence and must wait for a judgement.

The second such ending was submitting the final document of the Community Writing Project I have been coordinating – Life on the Hill. After the slow careful task of proofreading it was as good as it was ever going to be, and so I sent for the first printed copy. What a strange and wonderful feeling to hold the book in my hands. There is a sensuous quality to feeling the smooth new cover, crisp pages which turn with a satisfying firmness. And it is a joy to see the words, which I have pored over so many times in the editing, fresh and clear, out there in black print on white paper, scattered with colourful illustrations.

imageThe same day my printed book was delivered, I also heard that I had been awarded a distinction in my MA. I was thrilled with the result, and with the many congratulations I received.

But my research paper was academic, read and seen by a select few. Not published for the world to read. The anthology book will soon be launched and on sale for a wider readership. The words of many will be out there, public and waiting to be read. What will the verdict be, I wonder? What will readers make of the writing in the anthology?

I believe those who dip into it will be moved and inspired by the beauty which emerges from its everyday-ness. I am expecting a judgement from the readers, but not based on academic principles. I believe it will be a response to the spirit in which the words were written, and the evidence submitted. It will be a verdict which applauds from the heart.

The proof is in the (re)reading

Well, I’m learning a lot! A community anthology I have been helping to compile is in the editing stages, and the process is providing me with some new experiences, some fascinating, and some quite frustrating!

I am beginning to understand the correct meaning of the terms to do with editing; copyediting, proofreading, typesetting. I am exploring parts of my word processor which I have never used before, and hunting down errors in punctuation and grammar like a terrier down a rabbit hole.

You might think it sounds a boring and tedious process, but strangely it is not. I am enjoying reading and rereading the words, written by myself and others. It’s not just about checking for correctness and accuracy, it is about hearing the individual voices behind the words, thinking about the meanings they carry, and then standing back to hear the whole harmony.

Then, today, Facebook sent me a memory – a piece of writing from my own blog called  ‘Difficult Threads’. I wrote it two years ago, and as I re-read it this morning I realised I could prove its truth. Experience demonstrates repeatedly that there are times when the threads of life snag and tangle, and they don’t run smooth. And I can confirm that forcing the issue often makes things into a worse mess.

Revisiting my own writing, with a two year perspective, not only validates my experience, but it also affirms the process. Back then I wrote that it is in patient perseverance and trust that we find our way through the tangles. I just have to remember to reread my own writing, and then believe it. A different kind of proof reading I suppose!


It was a bit of a shock when I realised that I have not written a post on this blog for the whole of the month of August. I think it’s the first time I have been “silent” online for a whole month! (In fact I have probably been writing more than usual during August, but just not here.)

Sometimes it looks as though nothing is happening, because nothing is being said, or done. The stillness and silence of contemplative practice can be hard, simply because it is about stopping, and ceasing the noise and the doing.img_0720A friend send me a link to a poem “Keeping quiet” by Pablo Neruda which contains these lines.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.


Like the photo I took in the Quaker meeting house where many of my ancestors worshiped in silence, it is a reminder for me that it is when we stop, do “nothing” and keep silence, that we truly find the source of our life.

But it’s not easy!

Eyes on stalks!

Blog writing has taken a bit of a back seat in recent weeks. I am currently working on a research project for the last part of my MA in Creative Writing, which is time consuming! But I am learning so much…

I am also editing a community writing project based at Colehill Community Library where I work as a volunteer. A small grant from the local council is enabling us to publish an anthology of writing about our everyday lives, past and present. A mixture of stories, poems, article, jokes and more, the variety of writing is a wonderful celebration of the extraordinary which is hidden in the seemingly mundane routine of daily life.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget to stop, look and wonder. Remembering to pay attention to the small, but truly awesome details of life in all its forms, can change our perspective on the world.

Picking redcurrants from my garden this week I was reminded of this. The currants are like garlands of rubies, beautiful in themselves, but hidden among them I found tiny snails, feeling their way with waving tentacles. In fact these tentacles are their eyes – on stalks! They really know how to look!

Reminds me to keep my tentacles waving! Stay mindful and aware, and celebrate the everyday magic all around us.


“Compassion for our ugly” 

In the last couple of weeks words have been used and misused, to deceive, accuse, blame, hurt, malign and divide us. I have frequently felt lost for words and have felt I wanted to withdraw from conversations and hide.

One morning recently, when we as a nation seemed to be doing our murderous ugly worst to each other with words and weapons, I read this poem. Even as we shudder at our own failure, we are not abandoned, we are loved in our ugliness. And we have been entrusted with “the Word” to offer the same to others.

It is when we face for a moment
the  worst our kind can do, and shudder to know
the taint in our own selves, that awe
cracks the mind’s shell and enters the heart:
not to a flower, not to a dolphin,
to no innocent form
but to this creature vainly sure
it and no other is god-like, God
(out of compassion for our ugly
failure to evolve) entrusts,
as guest, our brother,
the Word. 

Denise Levertov “The mystery of the incarnation” The Stream and the Sapphire

Garden glories

Skies may be grey and there are more showers than sunny moments, but the garden is looking beautiful. Flowers and veg plot flourishing, thanks to Steve’s constant war on slugs. A few strawberries are beginning to ripen now, and we have a lovely crop of yellow mangetou peas. Beans and sweet peas are climbing in the poly tunnel and outside.

We will be opening the garden in a couple of weeks (June 26th) to raise funds for Colehill Community Library. (Tickets available at the Library)

Hope the rain eases off a bit by then!

Dorset days

A month since we were in Venice and we’re still enjoying the memories…

But there have been some lovely moments back home in Dorset. We went to the thought provoking and moving production by Wimborne Community Theatre “What They Left Behind”. Based on stories around objects left behind by those involved in the First World War, and the effect it has on Wimborne families. It was set in four different settings all,within earshot of the Quaterjack bell in the Minster. Sobering and sad, with touches of humour.


We have also enjoyed travelling Dorset lanes edged with drifts of cow parsley, to visit artists studios taking part in Dorset Art Weeks. Potters, painters, textile artists, glass makers, wood workers and more. Many work quietly in studios in their own homes for most of the year, hidden away in beautiful rural settings, but open their doors to the public for two wonderful weeks. Find out more here…


And then we have the wonderful Dorset coastline, which was especially beautiful in the sunshine this week. Yes, we did have a few hours when the clouds parted!

We love Dorset! 😍