Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Notes from the Archive: Post 4 and a half

Yes, a massive image. Because that is how large this whole experience has been for me. I did write another blog post, but it in the end that stays on the back burner or rather it has been inserted into the MA conclusion because it came from the heart. Although it might be edited or even edited out, it needs to sit awhile amongst academic reasoning although it is a personal response.

This has been the hardest two years of my life. However, I would not have swapped it for a comfortable existence. I count my blessings and my library tickets. My access to the British Library, Senate House and Birkbeck, JStor and on-line Victorian periodicals. I love my new friends who are as mad as I am, who adore Victorian cemeteries, smelly books and highlighting the printed page. I've enjoyed the meeting of minds, the feeling out of my depth and the new literature written before I was born. It has been a self-education from which I am yet to graduate.

That self-sabotage voice says 'give-up', but I don't want to. I have a duty to finish what I have started, if only for myself and to tell a little story from the past.  

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Notes from the Archive : Part Three

                                This image has nothing to do with the archive, directly.
                                      It is from a place I visit when I need to think.

When I have had enough of this.

And am feeling rather like this.

                                           Today, the archive moved to London.
                                I entered through this enormous black heavy door.

                            Armed with with my appointment details and identification.

                                      Plus, the obligatory pencil and sharpener.
                                        I can't abide writing with a blunt instrument.

                    Whilst I turned pages and stared at microfiche film, my eyes feeling sore;

I realised this portal to times past is where I am happiest.
The archive, with its silent words, speaks to me with such a clarity that I feel at home. 

                     The world carries on, outside, building auditoriums to modernism.

Watched by the Triton by William McMillan.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Notes from the Archive : Part Two

 'If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.' 

 Lewis Carroll 

                                               Not what you expected to see?
                                                            I didn't either.

 But, I realized when I walked into my garden, that I had missed the apple blossom.
I wondered what else I had missed.

                    The days out exploring, the nights in watching rubbish on the TV.
                     It isn't just the changing seasons that seem to have passed me by .

                    So, from now on, in between the studying and the procrastination,
                                   I am endeavouring to walk outside.

It might be considered a form of deviation from the end goal.
I call it, thinking time around the archives.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Notes from the Archive

So here I am again. After a long time away from my blog I felt the need to return to these pages.
I am now writing my dissertation for my MA in Victorian Studies.
Frankly I feel a little rusty.

I have missed my morning pages, my scribbles and my writing classes with the wonderful Sarah  Salway. 

I can't even really say exactly what I am writing about for fear of plagiarising myself.
But the visuals are a clue, of time and place.
But not of gender or artefact.

I have discovered that I love archives, old papers, illegible handwriting and the smell of lives lived.This is the view from my archive chair. Although I do choose a different aspect each time I visit.

Today, was particularly beautiful.
After the couple of hours spent with my head in books, I decided to shake it all off.

I walked amongst rhododendrons fragrant with azaleas heady scent.  

 Finding this hidden pond reminded me of Monet's Water Lilies. It may be slightly out of focus but that resembles my research at the moment, it's all just an impression and I am looking for clarity. The writing must be academic so for now the blog page will continue with that other writing tool of mine - my eyes. In the future, if the commas and semi-colons are all in the right place then I might be able to share what has occupied me for months but until then I will occasionally post from the research field with visual reminders of a place once home to a family who were very innovative.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Christmas at the Cemetery

3 breaks, the wine glass after the hot wash, the champagne glass hit by the cracker contents and then the glass plate destroyed in the microwave.

A visit to the cemetery and my dress caught on the angel wings on my mother's grave and now I have a hole in my black dress. It was as I was walking away, she wanted me to stay and tell her more. So I gardened in the rain. I raked weeds and pulled roots, the candle burned on.

And what am I reminded of as I light candles and leave roses?
I didn't tell her all the news:

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.


Sunday, 13 December 2015

Quiet moments of Joy

I was absolutely thrilled to be awarded The John Walter Salver by Author Wendy Clarke at the Society of Women Writers and Journalists Christmas Celebration in December 2015. Here we are with SWWJ Patron Sir Tim Rice.

Normally, I am quite shy and hide myself in photographs by bending my head and looking down at the written page, you only have to look at my profile picture!
But as I am struggling with writing an academic essay I keep returning to this event as a prompt to continue with the work. I started the MA in Victorian Studies as an aid to writing my novel and before I can return to my characters who are currently filed away in sections in many notebooks, I need to learn more about the period so that I can bring them to life with authenticity.

In embarking on an MA I have had to re-order my life and my bookshelves. The moderns have had to be rehoused to the Oxfam bookshop to make way for the books I need to or intend to read. Pencils have had to be sharpened as no pens are allowed in The British Library. Even my wardrobe has had to change as hours of work mean less walking outside and more staring at the ceiling whilst thinking of the correct word. I agonize over detail knowing that 'I' does not matter as concept as the 'other' and more learned point of view is the most valuable one.

As I draft, write and then re-write my essay, I know that my creative writing will need the same approach in much the same way as the submission needed for this competition. I only hope that the rest of this journey will have a positive outcome.
So one moment of joy amongst days and nights of academic stress and self-doubt.


Wendy Clarke

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Early Morning in Tunbridge Wells

It is dark and the phone rings in the early hours. You take the message but cannot sleep .
Dressing in the dark, driving in the dark along empty roads the lights all in your favour.
The ambulance has gone there is nothing you can do... but wait.

So I wait in the quietest place I know. Surrounded by people, I watch the sun rise but I think I am the only mortal to see the sky in this place at this time. Mindful of the novel I have just finished I set my camera to sepia and walk with Victorian eyes.

The last sentence in my head.

'But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.'