Friday, 25 April 2014

I would swim more rivers

Last time I came to Ty Newydd two years ago, I packed my swimsuit but never swam. This time I promised myself I would, even though it is April this time and not June. I was going to do it yesterday when the sun was scorching but I got absorbed in my writing and vowed to swim today. And today it was grey and rainy. But I knew I couldn't live with myself if I didn't go. So I did. I swam in the sea on the North Welsh coast in April in the rain and it was glorious, freezing, but glorious.

As a writer to say that something takes your breath away is a cliche and really, how often does that happen? But, diving into the sea in April really will snatch your breath and invigorate your senses and free your mind. I'm going to do it more often :)

I have had a wonderful week here on the NAWE and Lapidus retreat. I always do. I have sent off one novel and started another, written loads of poems and chatted with fascinating women (apologies to the men but they just weren't so cool). And, just now, I found this stone on my windowsill.

We did one writing exercise about why we write and the piece I wrote seemed to resonate with the women here. So I'll share it with you and maybe it will mean something to someone else. And it features those daisies again.

Why do I write?

I write because what else is there but the flow of ink on paper?
Because, sitting here with this pen in my hand,
hearing the pens of neighbours pouring forth, I feel at home.
I feel whole. I feel this is where I belong.
And sometimes, all of life feels a distraction from this motion
of pen on paper, of fingers on keyboard.

I write to give voice to the secrets of my heart,
to be voluble and free like a babbling brook flowing
out into the endless ocean.
I write to heal, to hear, to be understood.
Maybe I write to be loved.

I write to explore, to travel, to wander and wonder
into the places that others can't reach,
that others fear to go.
I write to jump naked into the abysss, knowing that words
will catch me.

You say my life has been interesting,
Yes, I say, but not happy.
I follow the interest and it leads me to places a wiser person would not go.
But it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
Better to say it, do it, live it, than regret it.
Better to pick daisies while we still can.

And maybe happiness is not something to strive for.
Maybe interesting is enough. 
Maybe life provides the spark, the food, the material.
And writing is my joy.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

I would pick more daisies

At the moment I'm on a writing retreat at Ty  Newydd in Wales. It is the most beautiful day and I have been for a walk by the sea. On the way back, I spotted a dandelion clock. It made me think of my children and how they would squeal and fight over it. I walked on past. And then something made me remember this poem. And I went back to pick it. And I blew the seeds into the air like fairies. And felt better for it.

So, I thought I'd start blogging again and I thought I'd start by sharing this lovely sentiment.

If I had my life to live over,
I'd try to  make more mistakes next time.
I would relax.
I would limber up.
I would be sillier than I have been on this trip.
I know of very few things I would take seriously.
I would be crazier.
I would be less hygienic.
I would take more chances.
I would take more trips.
I would climb more mountains, swim more rivers and watch more sunsets.
I would burn more gasoline.
I would eat more ice cream and less beans.
I would have more actual troubles and less imaginary ones.
You see, I am one of those people who lives prophylactically and sensibly and sanely
hour after hour, day after day.
Oh, I've had my moments and if I had it to do over,
I'd have more of them.
In fact, I'd try to have nothing else.
Just moments, one after the other,
instead of living so many years ahead each day.
I have been one of those people who never goes anywhere
without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a gargle, a raincoat and a parachute.
If I had to do it over again, I would go to places
and do things and travel lighter than I have.
If I had my life to live over,
I would start bare-footed earlier in the spring
and stay that way later in the fall.
I would play hookey more.
I wouldn't make such good grades except by accident.
I would ride on merry-go-rounds.
I'd pick more daisies.

Nadine Stair, 85, Louiseville, Kentucky