Previous month:
January 2012
Next month:
March 2012

February 2012

Tune for a Monday Morning

Today's tune  is "Love is Making its Way Back Home" by Josh Ritter; the wonderful video is a stop-motion animation (made with over 12,000 pieces of construction paper) by Erez Horovitz, Sam Cohen, and Sarah Graves of Prominent Figures.

I'm actually writing this post on Sunday (it's scheduled for automatic posting tomorrow), because by Monday morning I'll be in London, en route to the airport, then New York City. I love New York, where I lived in my twenties as a young book editor, and where I still have many good friends and colleagues, so I'd normally relish a trip back to Manhattan -- but this particular journey is a daunting one, necessitated by the difficult Life Stuff that my family and I have lately been dealing with. Howard, meanwhile, remains in Devon, looking after the pup and the homefront.

I don't know how long I will be in New York, and I don't know what this blog will be like in the days ahead. The blog, like my creative work, is deeply rooted in my wanderings through the leaves and brambles with Tilly and the rhythms of my quiet rural studio...but now my Country Self must be set aside while an older, sharper part of me, the Urban Self, comes to the fore. The road ahead leads into Uncertainty...which is another name for Mystery, and therefore (I remind myself) not always a terrible thing. I'm uncertain of what the coming weeks will bring; I'm uncertain of how my work will progress or of how this blog will function. I'm uncertain of many things, except for the need to be strong and go forward.

Maya Angelou once wrote: “Because of the routines we follow, we often forget that life is an ongoing adventure....Life is pure adventure, and the sooner we realize that, the quicker we will be able to treat life as art: to bring all our energies to each encounter, to remain flexible enough to notice and admit when what we expected to happen did not happen. We need to remember that we are created creative, and can invent new scenarios as frequently as they are needed.”

Morning on the hill

And so here is this morning's prayer, offered to the rising sun from the crest of our hill, sweet Tilly perched on the rocks beside me:

May I see every journey, no matter how daunting, as a mythic adventure, a quest, a story unfolding, a fairy tale in which even the smallest of heroes finds her way through danger and the dark of the forest...and faces down dragons...and wins love or treasure...and then goes safely home once again.

Tilly, February 2012


Today's tune goes out to Howard.



There's a change in the air. In the woods behind my studio, the trees are still sleeping their winter sleep, but in their topmost branches the birds have begun to sing of the springtime approaching.


The faeries who hibernate among the tree roots are stirring, yawning, rubbing sleep from their eyes, brushing moss from their cheeks...


...while the stones who stood vigil all through the long, dark, cold months whisper: Wake, now. It is time to awake.


Tilly knows proper woodland etiquette: she chases pheasants and squirrels, but leaves waking faeries strictly alone. (Which is wise, because waking faeries are grumpy.) Today, walking quietly past their burrows, she leads me to a place in the woods where daffodils poke through the forest floor...  


...and it's then that I know that the season is changing. Things change. We don't stay in darkness forever.


Spring will come, and the dafs will bloom. Things change and we change. As we're meant to.


Why we create

Howard Gayton, spring 2011

“But unless we are creators we are not fully alive. What do I mean by creators? Not only artists, whose acts of creation are the obvious ones of working with paint or clay or words. Creativity is a way of living life, no matter our vocation or how we earn our living.”  - Madeleine L'Engle

“Deliver me from writers who say the way they live doesn't matter. I'm not sure a bad person can write a good book. If art doesn't make us  better, then what on earth is it for?”   - Alice Walker

Terri Windling spring 2011

Why we read

Why we read

"Why are we reading, if not in hope of beauty laid bare, life heightened and its deepest mystery probed? What do we ever know that is higher than the power which, from time to time, seizes our lives, and reveals us startlingly to ourselves as creatures set down here bewildered? Why does death still catch us by surprise, and why love? We still and always want waking."  - Annie Dillard

Photograph by Alan Lee.

Why we write

Why we write

“Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.” - Stephen King

“All that I hope to say in books, all that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world.”   - E.B. White

Tunes for a Monday Morning

Today, two tunes from Show of Hands, an acoustic roots band from here in the West Country. The core members of the band are singer/songwriter Peter Knightley and multi-instrumentalist Phil Beer, joined in recent years by Miranda Sykes on double-bass and other musicians. I love these guys, who are terrific live performers -- and Knightley is one heck of a songwriter.

Above: "Roots,"  from the Witness CD.

Below: "Country Life," from the Country Life CD. 

And on the subject of the threat to country life, have a look at these sad but beautiful photographs: "Last Days at TrueLove Farm." They were taken by Dartmoor photographer Chris Chapman, who lives up the road in the village of Throwleigh. (The link takes you to his home page, where you'll find a link to the TrueLove project in the menu on the left, along with other good things -- including the mythic Three Hares Project, if you haven't stumbed across this already.)

The night sea journey

The Fisherman by Edmund Dulac

"The creative act is a letting down of the net of human imagination into the ocean of chaos on which we are suspended, and the attempt to bring out of it ideas. It is the night sea journey, the lone fisherman on a tropical sea with his nets, and you let these nets down - sometimes, something tears through them that leaves them in shreds and you just row for shore, and put your head under your bed and pray.

"At other times what slips through are the minutiae, the minnows of this ichthyological metaphor of idea chasing. But, sometimes, you can actually bring home something that is food, food for the human community that we can sustain ourselves on and go forward.”  - Terence McKenna