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Charles Rennie Mackintosh: the art inside the art by daintydora

"Architecture is the celebration of necessity and the celebration of opportunity and Mackintosh is that absolutely", Edward Cullinan, architect

Having lived in and around Glasgow for the last twenty years, the influence of Charles Rennie Mackintosh on the city and the associated 'Glasgow Style' has infiltrated my consciousness on many levels: from the iconic Glasgow School of Art building itself to the Willow Tea Rooms, House for an Art Lover (where I almost got married), and the many other hidden details and architectural masterpieces across the city, inspired and designed by his hand.

At the same time, it never occurred to me to take a tour at the one place he had so much influence then as now: the art school itself.

 Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Tour

Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Tour

Since the tragic fire in 2014, the building has been closed to the public and today stands swathed in scaffolding, yet even that has clear geometric structure and lines; I think Mackintosh would have approved (and viewing it in black and white certainly helps!).

 Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Tour

Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Tour

I've now taken the 45 minute tour which encompasses the Mackintosh influence on Glasgow: how he started out, how he came to design the Glasgow School of Art, the influences behind the new purpose-built building, Mackintosh's foreshadowing of the Art Deco movement, and the private furniture collection - held in the new building across from the original art school - until the restoration work on the original building is completed in 2019.

In lieu of the real thing, a scale model is the focus of the first portion of the tour; the hidden details exposed, explored and brought to life by a knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide.

 Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Tour

Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Tour

I learnt plenty that I didn't know about this iconic architect and designer, not least that he had a penchant for Japanese art and styles which he managed to include in clever ways in the design of the art school.

One very prominent example of this is in the perimeter fence posts running all along the front of the building, each depicting Samurai family crests/insects in the Art Nouveau style:

 Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Tour

Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Tour

In fact, Japonisme as it later become known, informed much of Mackintosh's aesthetic:

This style was admired by Mackintosh because of its restraint and economy of means rather than ostentatious accumulation; its simple forms and natural materials rather than elaboration and artifice; the use of texture and light and shadow rather than pattern and ornament.

In the Japanese arts, furniture and design focused on the quality of the space, which was meant to evoke a calming and organic feeling to the interior."

So much thought went into his work, even down to details that remained concealed for over a century until the fire and subsequent renovations brought them to light (light of course being very much the operative word in much of Mackintosh's work).

Deliberate patterning in the brick lay hidden behind wooden panels from the outset, and the second floor of the library was found not to be supported by the structural beams running through the building as previously thought, but suspended from above.

 Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Tour

Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Tour

 Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Tour

Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Tour

True to the ethos of the building, it was decided these unique details are to be restored and replicated as far as possible. I find even this an interesting point of note, because I want to ask: 'What would Mackintosh do?'

I think the answer is - he would have moved on, re-imagining his style and moving ever-forward.

That's what creative people do.

I learnt that the building is very much influenced by the traditional, Scottish Baronial style, featuring arrowslit windows more commonly associated with castles and similarly, dovecotes on the east elevation. These details described as 'poetry' on the building hark to many of Mackintosh's influences at the time, which as well as Roman and Greek architectural styles, would have included Scottish castles, churches, and the buildings of the Industrial Revolution.

But he wasn't concerned with symmetry - quite the opposite - preferring asymmetry instead.

The front elevation (viewed from Renfrew Street) clearly shows an arrangement of six windows to the left of the main entrance, eight on the right. And with the eight-year gap between the start and finish of the building (while the necessary funds were sought to finish the project), he changed some of the details, developing his Art Deco aesthetic and foreshadowing the movement by over a decade.

 Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Tour

Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Tour

Another Baronial feature is the inclusion of the Glasgow crest in two finials at the top of the building. Telling of the 'miracles of St Mungo' - the bird, the tree, the fish and the bell - these tie the building to Glasgow as a city just as a family crest would do with a castle.

 Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Tour

Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Tour

Meanwhile, another (literally) striking gift of his to the art school upon its completion in 1909 was this 'Master and Slave' clock:

 Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Tour

Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Tour

The idea was that the 'Master' clock was downstairs in the office and would be the only clock that 'knew' the exact time, while each subsequent 'slave' clock would be connected to it throughout the building, ensuring that they all ran in sync telling the same time. Glasgow School of Art was also one of the first buildings in the city to have electricity.

Ironically however, it was pointed out on the tour that currently, while in situ in the temporary space, the clocks are out of sync. I wondered if the 'ghost of Mackintosh' would find this to be an amusing anomaly!

Other treasures in the private furniture collection include a number of chairs, and I particularly liked this original Curved Lattice-back chair (1904), designed for the Willow Tea Rooms.

 Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Tour

Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Tour

Used by the supervisor who processed the orders (apparently by method of coloured marbles!), the curved back and chequered design form a stylised 'willow tree' motif.

Another snippet I hadn't realised is that 'Sauchiehall' translates as 'alley of willows', which is how the once-luxury Sauchiehall Street that runs behind the art school, got its name.

 Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Tour

Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Tour

Meanwhile, this striking yellow and purple piece, described as a 'Settle for the Dug-Out' (1917), was used in the staircase vestibule 'dug-out' - a dark space with no natural light - also in the Willow Tea Rooms. Again it features simple, bold geometric shapes, though the colour would have also been considered 'bold' for the time.

 Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Tour

Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Tour

Of course the symbol of the rose is omnipresent too, including in the window details. Angled metal 'elbows' protrude from the upper casements featuring black balls of differing sizes and details, which when you peer along them become blossoming, abstract roses.

Mackintosh believed the rose to be the ultimate metaphor for art and growth, so it's fitting it should feature so prominently.

 Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Tour

Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Tour

Although the tour lasted only 45 minutes, I felt like I learnt a lot and can't wait to go back and revisit the new (old) building once it is restored to glory in 2019.

"...the only art school in the world where the building is worthy of the subject...this is a work of art in which to make works of art" Sir Christopher Frayling, educator and writer

Excellent praise indeed for a man who at 28, and not yet qualified as an architect but working as an apprentice, won the competition to design this now-iconic building. An inspiring and motivational message to 'jump before you're ready' if ever there was one.

Find out about/book the GSA Mackintosh tour.

And Happy 150th Birthday Charles!

NB. This is a sponsored post, however all views are my own. Thank you to CitizenM for tickets.

Monarch of the Glen by daintydora

I haven't been around these parts much of late, but recently I got to see the original 'Monarch of the Glen' oil painting at Paisley Museum and I thought I'd share him here.

Monarch of the Glen, Paisley Museum
Monarch of the Glen, Paisley Museum

Painted by Sir Edward Henry Landseer circa 1851, our monarch is vital and arresting; not one of those disappointingly tiny real-life paintings like the Mona Lisa.

I mean yes she's impressive too of course, but it's nice to be able to take a step back and really see the image clearly, drink it in like it deserves and then step in closer to see the brush work and the cracks in the oil paint that mark the passage of time.

You can almost hear the rasp of his breath; smell the musky scent of his perspiration.

Sunlight catches the tips of his nostrils, the sheen of his flank and the tips of his antlers. He's a fine beast, proud of his reign over 'his' glen.

Elusive and alert, you'd never catch him in the same place twice.

Mountains and hills and bracken and woodland are his domain, come spring or snow. He's the boss of them all and nothing else matters but the next meal and evading predators.

Made famous through his connection with Dewar's whisky (and then the TV series 'Monarch of the Glen'), this royal heir to the Scottish Highlands is a symbol of strength and virility. I love the purple hue of the mountain backdrop too - Scotch mist at its best, hinting at crisp spring mornings or autumn afternoons with scenic views rippling into the distance.

Art inspired by local school groups was on display around the gallery, featuring their own interpretations of the stag. I particularly loved the poetry inspired by the painting, also by local school children.

Art inspires poetry and poetry inspires art. I love how so many genres of creative expression are linked and flow into each other seamlessly.

'The Monarch of the Glen' is particularly inspiring with just a central focal point of the stag. Something I need to remind myself often: less is more but in this case, it isn't less at all.

The best bit? I got him all to myself.

Just me and the museum attendant keeping watch.

Oh, and my newborn baby boy. He was asleep in his car seat, but one day I'll tell him all about The Monarch of the Glen.

The Monarch of the Glen, Paisley Museum
The Monarch of the Glen, Paisley Museum

Catch him quick - on until 11th March 2018 at Paisley Museum before he continues his royal tour.

100 day project finale 2017 by daintydora

This day has finally arrived - the 100th day of 2017's 100 day project. Wow! Looking back now it seems like such a long time ago that I posted about my intentions for #100daysofthepunctuationproject, and despite the milestone posts along the way, 100 days is definitely quite a long time (almost a quarter of a year!)

So today, the big reveal on my final day. Did you guess what it would be?

Of course it had to be...The Full Stop.

The Full Stop: Day 100 of The Punctuation Project

I knew from almost the very beginning that I had to 'save' the full stop for the 100th day, but I wasn't sure how I would represent it. A mere ink or watercolour dot just wouldn't do it justice. It had to be something...more. More detailed, more creative. More time-intensive to properly mark the culmination of 100 days.

The more I used tactile materials like buttons, thread, wool and fur, I hit on the idea of an embroidery.

Embroidery takes a bit of time.

It's a considered yet contemplative creative project in itself, and for me it underlines the very ethos of the 100 day project, namely, that no matter how busy your life or your day, a few minutes of creativity is a worthwhile and calming time-out from modern living. That, and the cumulative progress of just a few stitches builds quickly into a finished and tangible 'thing'.

Despite all my creative experimentations, embroidery has never been something I've done much of (if at all), but I dug out an old hoop I'd inherited and enjoyed the momentum of working the needle in and out in the first summer colours that took my fancy: grass green or 'greenery', turquoise and pink.

My husband thought it looked more like a bulls-eye than a full stop, or just a decorative circle, and perhaps it is, perhaps it is all of those things, and more. Something different to each person that sees it.

For me, it is an apt 100 day finale; a celebration of the daily, creative habit I've maintained and managed to keep myself accountable to since 4th April.

And next year? We'll see!

View the entire project on Instagram. Thanks for following along :)

50 days of The Punctuation Project by daintydora

Halfway! I'm halfway through my 100-day commitment to punctuation!

50 days can fly in, but the scramble to hunt out more and more elusive and exciting punctuation marks gets harder and harder.

I'm trying to be creative, inventive, interpretive, and use multiple mark-marking methods to share my punctuation finds, but I find myself relying on the quick and trusty methods of pencil, pen, watercolour and digital manipulation.

'The Manicule' was sketched using the ProCreate app on the iPad. It felt very new and exciting and a bit fancy to be using an iPad for the very first time (#latetotheipadparty)

Day 48/100: The Manicule. The manicule (☞) or 'the hand', hand director, pointing hand, pointing finger, pointer, digit, index, or indicator - was a favorite of Renaissance scholars, inked into the margin as a bookmark or aide-mémoire. Gradually, though, the manicule was appropriated by authors and advertisers, and today its pointing finger is more likely to be seen on A-boards than in book margins. It's pretty cool though I think; like a 'helping hand' almost, a handy companion in a lonely text? [Digital pen sketch in the Procreate app on the iPad] #100daysofthepunctuationproject #the100dayproject #100days #gm100dayproject #thepunctuationproject #punctuation #punctuationart #punctuationmarks #punctuationpoints #manicule #manicules #themanicule #thehand #pointinghand #pointingfinger #printersfinger #printers #typography #typesetting #digit #indicator #renaissance #digitalpen #procreate #procreatesketch #procreatesketching #ipadpro

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Maintaining a daily creative habit by carving out a dedicated 5-15 minutes is often an achievement in itself because there's always so much going on. Life - and its assortment of ups and downs that have been particularly hilly of late. (Literally, life and death.)

Here's a few punctuation favourites from the first half of my #100daysofthepunctuationproject - only 50 more to go!

I've branched out a bit from the original palette of black, white and red, but there's still plenty of monochrome.

Yellow has become a bright and cheerful friend, as have green and blue.

Discovering the names of diacritic marks used in other languages has been an interesting education - I give you 'The Cedilla':

The Cedilla: Day 28 of The Punctuation Project
The Cedilla: Day 28 of The Punctuation Project

And I've particularly enjoyed creating a few 'punctuation patterns' using motifs from previous days:

Finally, The Hedera stole my heart:

The Hedera: Day 40 of The Punctuation Project
The Hedera: Day 40 of The Punctuation Project

Thank you to all those who are following along on Instagram and enjoying the daily 'Punctuation Project' discoveries by my side.

There are so many great 100-day projects out there and a celebration of creativity is in my mind, the perfect antidote to the day-to-day stresses of life. Onwards!

The Punctuation Project: 10 days of 100 by daintydora

The Punctuation Project 2017, Day 5
The Punctuation Project 2017, Day 5

Since announcing my 100-day project last week I've designed and shared my interpretation of 10 punctuation marks in a graphic style via my Instagram account, and thought I'd share my progress here too.

I wasn't sure how I would represent each punctuation mark or even if I needed (or wanted) to have a cohesive 'look', but a certain bold minimalism seems to have emerged in a daring, limited palette of black, white and red.

I've used ink, pen, pencil, cut-out paper, card and letters, and computer-generated brush-strokes so far to depict:

Exclamation marks, the SarcMark, a 'cacophony of commas', the 'm' dash, a colon, square brackets, the Asterism (three asterisks in a pyramid formation), the apostrophe, double quotations and a question mark.

A dash of greenand yellowmight have crept in too. It's allowed.

The Punctuation Project 2017, Day 1
The Punctuation Project 2017, Day 1

There's still 90 days to go and I'm asking myself: what's next?

Follow the project and join in on Instagram.

The Punctuation Project: 100 days by daintydora

It's that time again. The start of April and of spring, when The 100-Day Project pops up to carry us through until summer. The 100-Day Project, 2017

I wasn't sure what to do this year, though I knew I wanted to do something.

2015 was my first year, and I chose Haiku poems. They were quite hard to complete at times.

2016 was words. Relatively easy, and the inspiration behind my newsletter THE WORD, continuing the theme of celebrating lexicology and language. (Read the latest mail-out and sign up.)

This year I thought I'd do something more arty, less wordy. Less writerly, but I just couldn't help myself...

I kept thinking about punctuation; the unsung hero of written text. I'm no Lynne Truss and I probably don't use punctuation correctly all the time, but I know how important it is. How it forms the skeleton of a story, along with paragraphs and sentences. And then we're back to words again.

"The Punctuation Project". It does have a nice ring to it doesn't it? The alliteration helps. I can never be accused of forsaking alliteration.

So my unique project is #100daysofthepunctuationproject which will also be how to follow along with my progress and find me on Instagram (the chosen medium of accountability).

We can't always see punctuation, but without it, we'd be shipwrecked in sentences and mired in unending narrative with no rhythm or sense. Punctuation is invisible in speech, but still essential. The pregnant pause. The stop for breath. The break after words in a list.

The Punctuation Project, #100daysofthepunctuationproject 2017

I'm going to start with the common punctuation marks classified in the English language and see what happens. In comparison to other years, I've simplified the work required each day. Perhaps some days it will just be a quick representation of the symbol, while other days will be more exciting:

Punctuation patterns, punctuation stories, or maybe even a punctuation library!

If I get stuck and need more symbols and punctuation marks to keep me going, I'll turn to the romance languages first, then travel on through the continents to see what inspiration I can find in other languages of the world.

The 100-Day Project, 2017

I'm going to use all creative media at my fingertips, both analogue and digital, and in doing so, see where punctuation can take me.

I'd love it if you'd join me with your own project or cheer me on from the sidelines. I'll post updates here of course. Have I just about used all punctuation marks in this post? Almost!

Punctuation has it's own philosophy, just as style does, although not as language does. Style is a good understanding of language, punctuation is a good understanding of style.

George Sand

Book Spine Poetry by daintydora

Next month is NaPoWriMo - National Poetry Writing Month - and I've been neglecting the poetic form for too long. I love all the experimental methods of finding new ways to connect words and make language interesting, so when I read about the art of 'Book Spine Poetry' recently on Brain Pickings, I knew I had to try it for myself.

Book Spine Poetry literally means to use the title on the spine of a book as a line of a poem. So simple yet so clever.

And it makes me feel a lot less guilty about my Tsundoku habit. I have plenty of fodder to work with.

Inspired by the art of Nina Katchadourian, and also the experiments of Maria Popova herself, author of Brain Pickings, I decided to have a go.

Here's what I came up with after a 5-minute bookshelf grab:

Book Spine Poetry, inspired by Nina Katchadourian

Primrose Hill

Summer of Love.

London Calling:

The Secret History

Book Spine Poetry, inspired by Nina Katchadourian

She Came to Stay -

The Black Dahlia

D.I.Y Magic

Book Spine Poetry, inspired by Nina Katchadourian

White Teeth

In Cold Blood:

The One That Got Away

So much fun!

I'll definitely experiment further with this technique using more of the books that are waiting patiently to be read on my burgeoning shelves (thanks Nina), and I'll finish with this quote:

I am always paying attention to the physical qualities of the books, and I try to work with their particular attributes as much as possible. The size of a book carries temperament and tonality, as does the way the text sits on the spine. A heavy volume with large text on the spine, for example, might be exuberant, urgent, pushy; a small typeface might communicate a voice that’s exacting, shy, insecure, or furtive.

Nina Katchadourian

You can sign up to receive free daily poetry prompts from The Poetry School throughout April. I'm thinking Book Spine Poetry might be a good way to go!

Taking Stock: Cullen Bay Beach Walk by daintydora

It's always good to 'Take Stock' of where you are (in life; with yourself), and the start of a new year feels particularly apt. This is the first year I haven't written lengthy lists of plans, ideas, dare I say it - resolutions. I'm OK with that. Instead I've spent the first days of 2017 just thinking, being, breathing.

Taking Stock: Cullen Bay Beach, Scotland

Turning things over in my mind and taking my time before rushing into anything too deep and meaningful; catching up on reading and creative work with minimal digital distraction. It felt good. Hibernation could be my 'thing'.

A walk along the beach at Cullen Bay in the North of Scotland was a beautiful, wild way to welcome in the year, the sea restless with energy and alive with mystery.

Taking Stock: Cullen Bay Beach, ScotlandTaking Stock: Cullen Bay Beach, Scotland

For this 'Taking Stock' I've picked 12 verbs from the usual list (one for each month), to reflect on. This is me, right now:

Making: Cullen Skink. I had to really, having so recently visited Cullen and tasting the award-winning version, circa 2015. Drinking: Red Berry Suki Tea. It's a deep rich red jewel in a cup. Reading: The Outrun, by Amy Liptrot. It's wild and beautiful and it makes me want to visit Orkney (again), and some of the tiny islands off it, especially Papay. Looking: forward to our family holiday in Florida, starting next week. The Everglades. The Keys. Hemingway's house. Watching: The OA - highly unusual and gripping. GIRLS, Nashville... Smelling: peppermint and eucalyptus oils in my bath. The perfect (indulgent) winter-morning ritual.

Loving: that people are loving THE WORD, my fledgling fortnightly newsletter. Thank you to everyone who's contacted me to let me know how much they're enjoying it, and who've shared, tweeted and encouraged me - your support means everything.

Noticing: sunsets like never before. They creep up early in winter and feel like the most beautiful of the year. Listening: to Angel Olsen. Over and over. Especially this and this and this and this. (Which brings me to my new favourite thing to say when I forget what I'm trying to say: "the thing with the thing with the thing. You know the thing?" No, no-one else does either... Thinking: about rainbows and phrases and new words and word associations. Rainbow-physics. Never-night. Svengali. Leitmotif. Gesamtkunstwerk. Opening: new books and journals that I received over Christmas. Italian leather with lush, cream pages from my husband; a coveted Mucha scrapbook from my Mum. Feeling: optimistic and curious about 2017 and all it promises.

Taking Stock: Cullen Bay Beach, Scotland

I asked friends and family about their 'resolutions', and was surprised when mostly they told me of things they're not going to do, something they 'need' to stop or cut out of their life.

I know that's often the way, but instead I'd like to focus on the all the amazing things I am going to do, plan to do, will do, and perhaps some happy surprises that 2017 will have in store. It just feels better to think like that, doesn't it?

Taking Stock: Cullen Bay Beach, Scotland

Midweek Poetry: Snow on Mars by daintydora

Does it...could it ever...snow on Mars? Snow on Mars

I don't know but this is another poem from my week-long Arvon retreat at Lumb Bank.

We wrote 'stream of consciousness' style for 10 minutes, with the trigger 'I remember when...' which took me bounding back to childhood (of course it would). The twist was it also had to include 'an impossibility' - thanks Stevie!

Snow on Mars

Sometimes there's snow on Mars:
grey, red, navy blue.
It comes in slow shapes
like the colours inside a kaleidoscope,
each day a different intensity
(though Monday's have always been brown).
I didn't like gravy at school,
murky water creeping around the side of the plate
urging to escape, like the un-dry damp
in the kitchen, obvious; a slow
Concorde cruising the wall between the cooker and the fridge.
And I'm knitting a scarf for the cat
in layers of blue and not quite black -
thank god I'm wearing my winter tights.

Just like The Etymology of Azure, this is the kind of poem I would never have come up with on my own, though using this fun and clever technique I found all sorts of interesting words and phrases that have taken me somewhere new and different, exploring the wonders of our galaxy and the impossibilities of science.

I enjoyed exploring a childhood memory, including my first piece of knitting after the obligatory 'square' that came out like a tattered rectangle. And Monday's are still very brown when filtered through my synaesthesia-tinted mind. How many others experience this?

And with Mars a world away, it feels like the real question is: will it snow for Christmas?

Good Girls Revolt by daintydora

I've just finished watching the first series of Good Girls Revolt and I've fallen in love with it. Good Girls Revolt

Based on the book The Good Girls Revolt by Lynn Povich - which also spawned a TV series - the show is based around the newsroom politics of fictional magazine 'News of the Week' in late 1969 New York.

It tells the story of the real case involving 46 women working at Newsweek magazine, Lynn Povich among them, after they announced they'd filed an EEOC complaint charging their employer with "systematic discrimination" against them in hiring and promotion.

It feels so vibrant and so relevant, now, today, despite being set against the backdrop of the Vietnam war, the civil right's movement in America and second-wave Feminism. It's relevant because of those things.

I love the real stories - the history of our time - that cut through each episode, anchoring it to reality and forming the canvas for the stars of the show: Patty, Jane, and Cindy. I love Patty's spirit and boho fashion sense the best, but Cindy's personal transformation is my favourite as her eyes are opened to the world: what is possible, what she wants - and what she doesn't want.

Good Girls Revolt

Nora Ephron makes an appearance early on, quitting the magazine after she's told her story can't run because "that's just not how we do things around here...girls don't write".

A stand-off ensues as she challenges her boss and everyone stops to stare.

"If copy's good, it's good...you just said my rewrite hit the bullseye. That was your word."

Meanwhile, the fashion is fantastic: vintage prints and patent bags, suede boots and prim brooches pinned straight onto shift dresses and knitted cardigans - no waiting around for a jacket. And I loved the soundtrack.

But just as I sat down to write this, I'm heartbroken to discover that Good Girls Revolt has been officially cancelled by Amazon.

It feels ironic considering the final words of the season from researcher Jane as she asks for the 'opportunity' to write and be recognised for her writing, under her own name.

It should be a basic courtesy for work well done, words well-written. It should not be so difficult to achieve. It should not require a lawsuit.

Jane argues that without the extremely hard work and insight of the female researchers, the quality and therefore the success of the magazine would not be possible. And she's right. They know she's right. And that's where the story ends: I need to see more.

(And for what it's worth, I thought Good Girls Revolt was way better than Mad Men. Yes. I'm saying it. And I'm owning my words.)

Watching Good Girls Revolt gave me ideas.

Watching Good Girls Revolt made me want to write.

Watching Good Girls Revolt made me want to write on my typewriter.

Watching Good Girls Revolt made me want to write about the things I feel passionate about.

Watching Good Girls Revolt made me think of New York.

Watching Good Girls Revolt made me want to be in New York.

Watching Good Girls Revolt made me want to dress up.

Watching Good Girls Revolt made me want to go vintage clothes shopping.

Watching Good Girls Revolt made me want to play records. (And last night I did play records. LoneLady in fact. 'Silvering' to be exact.)

Watching Good Girls Revolt was a reminder of important historical events.

Watching Good Girls Revolt was a reminder that we all need to stand up and speak out about the things we believe in.

Lynn Povich was eventually appointed the first woman Senior Editor in Newsweek’s history - five years after the landmark sex discrimination suit was originally filed. But will there be a happy postscript for the show?

Since Amazon's decision to cancel it, the cast have tweeted in an attempt to save it, and there is a petition doing the rounds which I've already added my name to.

Suddenly it feels like more is at stake than just a TV show. It feels serious, political and about having a voice and being heard.

Good Girls Revolt

I'll end with an on-point quote from Vogue.com:

Here’s hoping all of this backlash results in a second life for Good Girls Revolt - not least because it would be such a twisted, ironic end to 2016 for a timely, feminist, women-led show to get snuffed out by, yep, one guy.

NaNo Winner 2016 by daintydora

Since Monday I've written around 10,000 words. Almost 9,000 of those were about completing my NaNoWriMo Novel Writing challenge yesterday (a day early!), then some new ideas I had as soon as I finished, and then my personal journal in recording my thoughts and feelings about my achievement.

NaNoWriMo Winner Certificate 2016

It's been tough some days to dedicate the time I needed to my words. I've neglected family and friends. I haven't been writing much else apart from my NaNo-Novel (working title: Control).

But that's OK because it's been an immersive and cathartic experience, reminding me every single day that it really is possible to write 1,667 every day for 30 days, or 2,000 words, or even 5,000 words, even when you don't know what you're going to write.

That's the dream. Not waiting for the muse; just doing it.

My NaNo word-count total for the 3 years I've taken part now sits at 151,180 words. That's amazing! I can't believe I did it, but I did.

I knew I could do it but it's great to prove it to myself again (read my NaNo tips to myself).

Now I have a whole new work-in-progress novel I can take forward and do amazing things with. It will need work - a lot of work obviously - but the framework is there and I'm excited about the story. That's half the battle.

And I do love the glory of a downloadable, editable, printable certificate!

Now I'm going to pay-it-forward and donate to this amazing challenge so that it may continue inspiring others as it has motivated and inspired me, because...

What makes a writer a writer? Writing.

 

NaNoWriMo #3 - 2016 by daintydora

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) has not been on my to-do list for the last 4 years. I first tried it in 2011 and 'won' (meaning I completed the target of 50,000 words written in the month of November), and then did the same in 2012. It was fun and exhilarating, but it's also a bit of a pressure, especially when you have other things on, Christmas on the way, a day-job...

In 2013 I wrote down all the reasons I wouldn't be taking part in NaNoWriMo - but now I can't find them. What I did find is this:

Words are my friends, they are my enemy. I need to write more, more, more and the backspace button is not my friend. Pruning is not allowed. Quantity over quality is my aim - I think.

It's not that I want to write crap and congratulate myself at the end when I (hopefully) have 50,000 words in a document. The idea is to break down the barriers to writing, to get SOMETHING down on the page that can be edited and re-drafted later.

Analysis is the enemy of the novelist; too much agonising over the correct word, crafting the most perfect sentence, or browsing the net in the name of crucial research. GET IT WRITTEN NOW and then you have a framework to play with.

This year NaNoWriMo feels right. It called to me back in September; a gentle whisper that gradually became an urgent: do it do it do it. Write. New. Things.

NaNoWriMo Tips - Rebecca Johnstone

I think it's because I've not been writing new work since the edits on my debut novel stalled over the summer (June to be exact), and ever since I've experienced the slow creep of crippling #writer-guilt manifesting in the following thoughts:

How can I call myself a writer when I'm not working on my book; not actually writing?

How can I ever hope to get published when I'm not doing anything to progress my work, my practice, my writing endeavours?

NaNoWriMo has become the perfect antidote to my #writer-guilt.

I'm a little over a day behind now - I was inspired back to my book edits (oh the irony!) - but I've started so I'll finish. I'm a 'pantser', what can I say?

Are you doing NaNoWriMo? How are you getting on? Have you done it before? 

Meanwhile, keep up to date with me, my writing - NaNo-related and otherwise - and learn a few new words along the way with THE WORD, my newsletter for writers and word-lovers.

Midweek Poetry: The Etymology of Azure by daintydora

I haven't written much (any?) poetry this year, so my experience recently at Lumb Bank was a jump-start to my poetic creativity. Stevie Ronnie was our tutor for the poetry element of the Book Art & Text course (check out the amazing paper books I made under Rachel Hazell's tutelage), and he immersed the group in language and words (my very favourite kind of lesson) through ingenious tasks and short games, even making up new poetic forms - the snake poem anyone? - encouraging us to inject a bit more freedom and fun into our approach to poetry.

For one of our lessons we had to write down our favourite word ahead of time, allowing Stevie to research the etymology of it and present us with the findings (though at the time we didn't know where the word was going to take us).

From there, we had to construct a poem using only the words that featured in the etymology.

My word was 'AZURE', chosen because of its colourful connotations and how it makes me feel - turquoise-y blue and free, like I'm swimming in the sea, the Med perhaps; the Côte d'Azur...

'Azure' in watercolour
'Azure' in watercolour

And the etymology was fascinating - more like a history lesson through language, culture and geology via the Mediterranean and Turkestan.

Azure is so much more than 'the blue colour of the clear sky'.

Some of the words that jumped out at me from the etymology were words I would never have thought to include in a poem, and I loved how they related back to the word (obviously) but could be jumbled up to create the story of the word, as well as a story through the poem.

These are some of my favourites:

  • Middle Latin lapis
  • false separation
  • molluscs which stick to rocks
  • Persian Lajward
  • cognates in Greek
  • the unclouded sky
  • French article
  • lapideous
  • heraldic colour blue
  • complex silicatea stone
  • a pebble
  • spangles of pyrites

They make it sound so much more complex and glamorous. I love that.

Words and phrases all with their roots in one word, but intensifying the meaning, shifting it, elevating it.

I've done very little work on the poem since I returned - it didn't feel right because I worked on it amidst the special magic of Lumb Bank (in snatches of time between meals!), presenting it on our final night by reading it out as though it was complete. And it is complete, for now. (Completely azure?)

The only thing I've allowed myself to change is the line structure - it's my area of weakness - and the title.

I thought it fitting to call it Lapis Lazuli at the time, because azure is literally 'a genitive of lazulum', but then I realised the title of this post says it best.

The Etymology of Azure

Pyrite mountains stand unclouded, proto-Italic and

essentially complex: dripping-rich

with limpets clinging to sticks.

A false sky beckons, blue, azure;

a genitive of lazulum

spangled pewter and gold.

Heraldic? Arabic?

It's the Persian Lajward

borrowed from before -

Marco Polo's short French mention:

semi-precious symbols

loaned from Latin

and archaic silicates

cognated in stone.

Becoming Wise by daintydora

In a recent issue of THE WORD, my newsletter for writers and word-lovers, I linked to Krista Tippett's interview with Elizabeth Gilbert on her radio show On Being. And then I read an interview with her on The Great Discontent, discussing her new book Becoming Wise, and found I identified so much with the things she spoke of there too, especially this:

...to become wise, is the work of a lifetime

She's right of course, but it's pretty frustrating.

On one hand it's amazing to know that as time ticks on you'll inevitably learn and discover and conquer new things each day, week, month, year of your life, becoming wiser the older you get. Perhaps things like:

How to buy and sell a house, how to deal with awkward social situations, how to articulate how you feel, what you want, what makes you tick, and how to mix a martini (and whether you prefer it shaken not stirred)

And that's all fabulous.

But it's also sad in a way because it means that by the time you've finally nailed it, finally learnt everything you need to know in life, all the tips, tricks, short-cuts and truths - who you even are - that's when it's kind of over. Not to be maudlin, but it's true.

When asked what the recurring themes and qualities of lives full of 'beauty and wisdom', Krista response is:

The basic elements of our lives are the raw materials of wisdom

I like that; like life is about finding the things you will use to 'build your wisdom'. Except it all takes so damn long.

Words, words, words

She goes on to say: "spiritual life is as much about how we inhabit our bodies as it is about ideas... Our bodies are messy and they get us in trouble."

Yes. So true. I think our spirituality is very much about how we inhabit our bodies, how we present ourselves to the world and each other, how we interact.

"We need to tune into the truths of our bodies. There’s no such thing as an emotion that’s not physical or a physical symptom that doesn’t have emotional input—this is something we’re learning and science has proven it."

I like the link she makes between the emotional and physical, and it's something I want to learn more about.

Emotions play a big part in my life and I know that if my emotions are out of balance, then I can't be productive in my day-to-day. Even small tasks feel insurmountable because what's going on in my head disrupts the flow of communication in my body. I'm more clumsy, sluggish even. I feel the impact in my limbs.

Krista knows it. I know it. And we all feel it.

I also love that Krista's 'grand vision of chapters' eventually led her to what she describes as the 'five elements of living we all experience', and the first one she chose was 'words' (the others are: our bodies, faith, hope, and love).

If anyone has 'become wise', it's Krista, and I'm adding her book to my reading list.

Go and read/listen to Krista's wise words, and I'll end with this perfect quote:

I love words. They’re a huge piece of who I am. I think we can excavate the word love.

(And there's a big emotional/physical word right there!)

Do you feel you've 'become wise', or is there still a long way to go? I find the more I learn, the more I discover I need to learn. And so it goes on.

Sign up to THE WORD, a fortnightly newsletter for writers and word-lovers.

Alpine Flash Fiction by daintydora

'ALPINE' was the prompt for a 50-word flash fiction piece in my last mail-out of THE WORD - a *new* newsletter for writers and word-lovers. (View the 'Alpine' newsletter.) I love this image which I matched to the prompt, which (for me) evokes the beautiful serenity of a lake-side hideaway, whilst also hinting at the potential for mystery, intrigue, betrayal and danger.

Alpine Flash Fiction inspiration for THE WORD

All these elements are whispered under the breath of an autumnal (or winter?) sun, and echoed in the mountains. A picture speaks a thousand words.

I received some lovely responses on this theme, and also penned my own attempt:

Fresh air

At the checkout, seeing the five cans of pine-scented air freshener in her basket, he pictured her working in a care home, holding a frail hand in her own lovely fingers.

It was a pity the freezer had gone off, she thought. She’d have to move Peter to another location.

Isobel Horsburgh

 

Seeing Stars

Face damp, fingers numb, I lay back searching for stars. It was dark, cold and I could just make out Pegasus or was it The Bear, Ursa? I tried to move to get a better look and that’s when I realised: it wasn't stars, I was buried under the snow.

Anon

 

Escape

I felt their eyes bore into me; the silence of the forest pounding through my head. An involuntary twitch and I daren’t turn for fear of giving myself away.

When it finally came, the air shivered through my wings, the shot reverberating long after I could hear.

Rebecca Johnstone (me!)

Thank you to those who submitted - I was delighted to receive these responses to my 'creative inspiration task', and hope I can continue to inspire with my short, fun creative writing prompts.

Please spread THE WORD with like-minded writers and word-lovers - the next word is due out later today!

In other news, I read this article in the Guardian last week about a collection of F Scott Fitzgerald's previously unseen works which are to be published next year (2017) by US publisher Scribner. Apparently...

Rather than permit changes and sanitising by his contemporary editors, Fitzgerald preferred to let his work remain unpublished, even at a time when he was in great need of money and review attention.

I respect that, very much. And this statement from Scribner seemed so apt for the 'ALPINE' theme:

With the addition of a Hollywood star and film crew to the Smoky Mountain lakes and pines, Fitzgerald brings in the cinematic world in which he would soon be living.

Quite. Hollywood pizzazz at the Lakes. I can only imagine.

If you're inspired, share your own 'alpine' reverie below.

Midweek Poetry: The Thought Fox by daintydora

I used to post a poem every Wednesday here; either one of my own or a choice in celebration of another poet's work. I've not done that in a while, so it felt like time. This week I stumbled into Ted Hughes's 'The Thought Fox', and was overcome by the

"sudden sharp hot stink of fox".

Yes. Like that.

Even better, The Poetry Archive has an audio recording of Hughes reading this poem in his own distinctive timbre. *Listen here*.

That's all. I just had to share. I love foxes. The Thought Fox made me think.

Meanwhile, is it autumn yet? I always associate autumn with the season of the fox...

The Thought Fox

 

Reading challenge 2016 (+ book reviews) by daintydora

I love reading and sharing book-notes with like-minded friends, but I've found the summer to be a particularly fallow patch in my reading capacity. I live in Scotland so I can't blame the weather as a distraction...so if not the weather, then what?

I have been catching up on magazines, and of course, editing my own novel, so perhaps those things are to blame. And time speeds up with each passing year. Everyone knows that, right?

At the start of 2016 I set myself a reading challenge to imbibe *at least* 20 books over the course of the year, and I'm kind of on schedule but I'd like to have read more. Much more. These are on my 'to-read' list, along with a whole bookshelf of reading inspiration:

Reading Challenge 2016

Then of course, there's the library.

It's like I'm 'saving up' books for a special occasion, the perfect time, their perfect time for me and me for them?

I don't for a second pretend to be on-trend, current, following the 'Top 10', bestseller lists or aligned with any particular genre. I go with what's on my shelf, what piques my interest in the moment.

Here's my reading challenge progress so far (check out my list from the same time last year):

Harley Loco by Rayya Elias

Wow, this was a punch in the face of a book. I read this as a precursor to my first trip to NYC and it set me up for searching out 'the alphabets' and imagining the changes that have incrementally altered the fêted New York landscape that has spawned a thousand super-stars of music, fashion, design, photography, celebrity. Such a powerful story of identity, reinvention, success and addiction - to everything - but mainly to life.

The Siege, Helen Dunmore

The mountains of snow, the desperate cold, the short Russian winter days, the deprivation. I was gripped from the first page and even now, remembering it, I'm transported right back to the simple allotment that helped keep Anna and her family alive. And the honey. The precious jars of honey. There's a sequel on my list: The Betrayal.

The New York Trilogy, Paul Auster

This was disturbing and unsettling from the start, and in places infuriating. I wanted to give up half-way through the second part, but I carried on and was quietly impressed by the thread that ran through each of the three parts. Which led me on to...

Winter Journal, Paul Auster

I was intrigued from the start (still in the bookshop), by the descriptions of a life lived through various events, physically experienced through the sense of the body. It was an illuminating insight to Auster's career as a writer and I particularly loved the long stream-of-consciousness sentences filled with emotion and description. I loved the link with New York too, which I could appreciate from having by then visited myself. I've kept it on my shelf because I might just read it again. And I wrote down extracts I'd bookmarked along the way; always a good sign.

…the boredom of waiting for your flight to be announced in airports, the deadly tedium of standing around the luggage carousel as you wait for your bag to tumble down the chute, but nothing is more disconcerting to you than the ride in the plane itself, the strange sense of being nowhere that engulfs you each time you step into the cabin, the unreality of being propelled through space at five hundred miles an hour, so far off the ground that you begin to lose a sense of your own reality, as if the fact of your own existence were slowly being drained out of you, but such is the price you pay for leaving home, and as long as you continue to travel, the nowhere that lies between the here of home and the there of somewhere else will continue to be one of the places where you live.

White Oleander, Janet Fitch

This book was a birthday gift from my mother and I'd heard of it but never sought it out myself. The descriptions were so beautiful to be almost painful, and I had to read some passages twice, sometimes three times so I didn't miss the elegance of each word. I was helplessly captivated by the scent of the title, by the descriptions of each new setting Astrid inhabits, and as soon as I'd devoured the last page, I immediately watched the film and was utterly disappointed in the casting and the ending. How many times do I need to learn this lesson? The film will always spoil the book.

The Italian Girl, Iris Murdoch

This is the first book I've read by Iris Murdoch, despite frequent, fervent recommendations of 'The Sea, the Sea'. I bought it in a second-hand bookshop in Glasgow, Voltaire & Rousseau on Otago Lane, and the cover appealed to me, as did the title. I raced through it in two nights and can't wait to pass it on to a friend. (The same friend who recommended 'The Sea, the Sea'.)

Artful, Ali Smith

This was gifted to me and I found it intense, a bit awkward, but ultimately a literary education. I bookmarked a million pages to return to and note down the references or the phrases. The premise of the book was clever and haunting and I wish I was as clever as Ali Smith.

At one level reflection means we see ourselves. At another, it's another word for the thought process. We can choose to use it to look into the light of our own eyes , or we can be light sensitive, we can allow all things to move over and through us; we can hold them and release them, in thought. Broken things become patterns in reflection. The way a kaleidoscope works is to allow fragmentary or disconnected things to become their own harmony.

Mom & Me & Mom, Maya Angelou

An autobiographical work of her early family life, this again was the first book I've read by Angelou, a deeply interesting woman who I see and hear quoted all the time. The words were big on the page and big in meaning and I read this quickly (that appears to be the trick). I'm sure I took quotes from this too but I can't find any of them. I remember the fierce passion and love between Maya and her mother, Vivian; it leapt from the latter pages.

Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn

OMG don't get me started on this! I was so late to the party on this and it made me feel like I had to save it up for a rainy day. Then I dived in. I have to admit that I didn't like the style of writing at first, not the diary entry format - I loved that - but there was something about the prose that jarred somehow? I can't put my finger on it and I'm sure people will say that about my writing one day, but then, then (and I hope they say this too), I couldn't put it down.

I was obsessed and had to keep myself 'pepped up' with hits of more 'reveal', squeezing in intense drip-feeds when I was supposed to be doing other things. There was a lot of the 'c' word, and I don't mean Christmas. I couldn't stop saying it after reading this (thankfully, I'm over that now...).

I knew there was a film with Rosamund Pike and so I imagined her as 'Amy' right from the start, and again, as soon I finished reading I watched the film. And I wasn't half as disappointed as I was with the film of White Oleander. In fact I wasn't disappointed at all, #griplit.

Buddha Da, Anne Donovan

A change of pace and I felt I really wanted to read this as the setting is very similar to that of my own novel. I'm not a native Glaswegian so reading in dialect slowed me a little, but I loved this spiritual journey that led me down familiar streets in a new and delicate way. I loved the Buddhist connection as a sporadic meditator who would like to do more, and I loved the ending.

The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins

After Gone Girl, I felt I had to get on-board with TGOTT. It was compelling in a different way and gripping, yes, but less psychological (for me) than Gillian Flynn's masterpiece. I can't wait for the film starring Emily Blunt as Rachel. I won't be able to resist.

The Strange Library, Haruki Murakami

I got this out of the library in fact, and read it in a night. The illustrations were almost better than the story, which was indeed very strange. Murakami is one of my favourite authors though and I love his fearlessness for delving into his imagination and marrying fantastical concepts and plot lines with seemingly normal occurrences. What could really go awry at the library?

Read it and find out.

This is the bit where I add in another five or ten books because I'm sure I've read more this year but now can't remember and so I'm left with a blank. Why haven't I been writing it down? What is wrong with me? What kind of reader am I; a passive doe caught in the headlights of my own bookcase? Actually, my books were boxed up for a while as I spent five weeks doing DIY in May/June. Maybe that's why I haven't read much? The truth finally reveals itself.
Moving on...

Sane New World: Taming the Mind, Ruby Wax

I was interested in this one as it focuses on mindfulness to unlock the secret of a 'tame' mind. I've never thought of myself as 'normal' and often struggle with an over-excited and unfocused mind, so taming it somehow, by whatever means necessary, is always appealing. I enjoyed this book in that there was a lot of science about the brain and neuroplasticity and the different areas and how they link together. I didn't agree with everything that was said but finished reading with plans to redouble my efforts in the areas of mindfulness and meditation.

And I think the last choice says it all. I've bogged myself down with lots of things and often struggle to plough through non-fiction, even when I'm interested in the topic, as it's not exactly in the category of #griplit is it? Or maybe it is for some people, but sadly, not for me.

I shared a reading-round-up last year, A Blogger's Year in Books exactly a year to the day, today. There's loads of non-fiction in that so maybe I'm just making up excuses?

THE WORD email newsletter imageNewsletter Alert!

In other news, I've started a newsletter celebrating words. I've called it 'THE WORD'. Original aren't I?

Sign up in the side-bar or click here.

It's a fortnightly email and the second mail-out goes out this Thursday (because Thursday's words have far to go...)

Thanks for err, reading. Let me know what you're reading right now, and also: what's your favourite word?

Taking Stock: August 2016 by daintydora

It's a new month and lots is happening and it feels like a good time to 'Take Stock' in my very un-styled, rather floury kitchen. Weighing, measuring, pouring, peeling, counting. Taking Stock, August 2016Here goes:

Making: loads of things lately: Icelandic Kimchi, Carrot & Apple Breakfast muffins from Deliciously Ella and two batches of Brydie's Lemon & Olive Oil cake, as per the recipe posted on her amazing blog City Hippy Farm Girl. I keep burning it though because a) the difference in altitude (is that a thing?), b) my oven is a unpredictable and keeps switching off half-way through. (Yes I know it's a poor work(wo)man who blames her tools.)

Carrot & Apple Breakfast Muffins in the makingDrinking: Matcha or good old Yorkshire tea with almond milk. Reading: Ruby Wax's 'Sane New World: Taming the Mind'. Lots of insight; some things I already knew, technical facts about the brain that I didn't, and a few strong opinions I don't agree with. She's full-on and honest though which I admire.

Looking: back over all the words I celebrated in my version of this year's 100-day project #100daysofmyfavouritewords

Deciding: to start a newsletter linked to this blog (panic). I'm calling it 'THE WORD'. (Sign-up here or in the side-bar.) Wishing: I was closer to family faraway. It's a matter of geography. Waiting: for nothing and no-one. Just doing it. (I should get me some Nike.) Coveting: a Pashley bike, despite 'forgetting' how to ride. I think it's a confidence thing. Playing: with pattern design. Is it Christmas already?! Wondering: where the year has gone #timepanic

Loving: the sunshine right now, and the clouds. So many beautiful cloud formations. Do you know how the clouds got their names?

Pondering: the edits I need to make to my novel. Considering: the art of procrastination:

Buying: Julie Hewitt lipstick online. How frivolous! I've never bought lipstick online before, 'sight unseen'. It seems like a lot to spend, with postage and all. But then it feels like the slow creep of (ssshhh) autumn ushering in with the onset of August. And it's the kind of thing 'Christine' might do if only she had enough time...(see below). And she'd qualify for free shipping.

Watching: The Girlfriend Experience on Netflix. Chilling, raunchy, psychological, dark and compelling. Take that as a recommendation if you will. Hoping: the lipstick suits me. Marvelling: at our 24/7, ever-connected, soon to be drone-infested world. I don't think it's all so good for us but I can't help but interact with it. Needing: to make a fabulous fancy fascinator/hairband ensemble for a family wedding. I haven't started yet but I've got all the materials I need.

Smelling: the last few spritzes of 'The One' by Dolce & Gabbana. I've loved that perfume and the sturdy, rectangular bottle it comes in. Solid and sophisticated. A proper grown-up affair. It was time for it to be finished though; time to switch up my scents.

Questioning: my decision to start a newsletter. Will I have time? Is it too much work? What if no-one subscribes? Wearing: spots and stripes and lots of coral and what might be considered 'sport-core' or just 'norm-core' but what I consider to be 'comfy-core' for homeworking. Following: Gretchen Rubin's quest for happiness through her podcast 'Happier'. Noticing: a host of tips about creativity and productivity in my digital feeds. I like it. It's helping.

Enjoying: my little garden and all that grows there; the flowers, the herbs, the strawberries (saved from the slugs!), lavender, verbena, the Asiatic lilies my Mum got me, the heather, the Japanese Acer, the holly and of course the weeds. You've got to admire them though, the weeds - they just keep on doing their thing.

Home-grown StrawberriesKnowing: a lot more since I started listening to the TED radio hour podcast. Thinking: about all the things I don't know about, and all the things I do. This quote sums it up best:

“The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know.” Einstein

Admiring: the creative adventurers who know so much more about things than me. I bow to knowledge! Sorting: out (attempting to sort out) notes on the backs of envelopes, multiple notepads, digital bookmarks etc, as my ideas, inspirations and to-dos conspire to scatter like wildflowers around my person, landing in abstract, semi-sorted piles that may or may not be properly sifted and mined in the foreseeable future. Bookmarking: technical help videos as I attempt to learn the basics of Adobe InDesign. Baby steps.

Disliking: how soap goes all gooey in the dish, ruining what starts off as beautifully formed 'scented art'. I love soap but this can't go on #firstworldissues

Opening: newsletters and literally absorbing information through my eyeballs. It's actually a process involving many different parts of the brain, creating a 'reality' that is unique to me... (see 'Reading' and you'll understand my thoughts on this.) Giggling: over Celia Walden's column in The Telegraph Magazine. Feeling: excited about the future and the plans I'm putting in place. Watch this space! Snacking: surreptitiously on squares of Divine's 70% Dark Chocolate - with Raspberries. Wishing: sugar wasn't quite such an enemy, but it is.

Listening: to Father John Misty (aka John Tillman). I'm loving his sound right now, especially this song. And this one. I loved the Fleet Foxes too. This was my absolute favourite. 'White Winter Hymnal'. So haunting, so sad. Just gorgeous.

How about you? Is it time to 'Take Stock' in your life?

Find out who started this trend. (Thanks Pip!)

End-note: isn't it interesting how all my images this time have turned out to be food-related?

100 days of my favourite words by daintydora

“Words, like glass, darken whatever they do not help us to see.”

– Joubert, Pensees

Thank you to Gretchen Rubin's daily happiness email for that thoughtful quote. But it's true isn't it?

When I decided to use words as the focus of my 100-day project for 2016, I understood the inherent power they yield.

Today is 100/100 and the word I've chosen to celebrate my achievement is 'Firework', because it connotes celebration, success, happiness - and on this occasion perhaps even a whiff of relief. This day has (finally) arrived.

It also conjures the joy of bright colour on a dark night, childish excitement, danger, power, spontaneity, laughter and that smell of sulphur in the air. I think words can do all those things too.

Some days I've been playful, optimistic and creative with my word choice; other days I've been a bit darker in tone, bringing the etymological force of the English language to bear. Hopefully in both cases I've inspired others with my 'daily habit' linked so intrinsically to my life as a writer. (Hello 'Alphabet' - I couldn't have done it without you.)

In some cases, perhaps I've even introduced a new word to someone, taking them on a brief journey of exploration or an unexpected linguistic tangent? I'd like to think so. (I'm looking at you, 'Petrichor'.)

And isn't it funny how when you focus on a word - perhaps a word that doesn't crop up in every-day language, like 'ekphrastic' or 'chiaroscuro' or even 'synchronicity' itself - it suddenly appears everywhere as if to say 'here I am, look at me' (use me! play with me!)?

I do have a predilection for personification. I try to resist, but find the new depth - often world - of meaning a personifying verb or adjective brings to the intangible 'inanimates' of life...irresistible:

Thoughts that leap. Memories that stir. Happiness that soars. The 'demonic' inner critic. Grrr.

So here we are. 100 days deep in words. See the rest of the pack via my Instagram profile, or search under #100daysofmyfavouritewords (there's definitely 100 - I checked!)

A big shout-out to Elle Luna who started the 100-day project, and all the creative friends who shared the journey with me.

Finally, check out last year's '100 days of Haiku'. What will next year bring?

Mind the Gap: Perception, Taste & Reality by daintydora

Mind the GapIra Glass says it best:

THE GAP by Ira Glass from Daniel Sax on Vimeo.

There's a gap between what you want to achieve and what your first attempt produces. The difference between the two is taste. You know what you want to achieve and you know when you haven't quite done it. Yet. The trick is to keep going.

It's the sixth month of the year and the edits on my debut novel have taken longer than I thought. In fact, there's plenty more I want to do. More notes, more facts to check, and a whole document of 'take-outs' that I want to sift (again) in case there's a nugget of gold I can squeeze back in.

It's the journey of writing a novel and it can be frustrating, agonising, exhausting, but it's also amazing when I look back and see how far I've come. This time last year I had less than 30,000 words. Now I'm working on the second round of edits.

The premise of the story is brave (that's what people are telling me), and it makes me proud to think I've tackled a difficult topic head-on in my naive enthusiasm to just 'write the damn book'.

My protagonist, Amanda, is at the forefront of my thoughts. She has a mental health condition; her reality shifting and expanding as she navigates the landscape of her mind. I feel like I'm becoming her (maybe I've always been her - 'write what you know', etc?)

'Mental Health' defined: "a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being".

A gap between what is considered normal and what is not.
A gap between what you feel and how you think you should feel.
A gap between what you feel and what society thinks you should feel.
A gap between inner thoughts and outer thoughts (but no gatekeeper).
A gap between you and a faction of gatekeepers keeping you away from yourself: in limbo; reality and fantasy melding in a cold soup of confusion.

But what if that gap is just a case of taste and perception too? What if we redefined (realigned?) our societal guidelines for what is normal and acceptable; what it means to fully experience all that is life?

Mind the Gap

It's a thought for now, for our time, a time when we need the most creative and lucid minds to tackle the greatest problems of our age (immigration, terrorism, climate change, guns, crime, melting ice caps, beautiful animals locked - and shot - in cages).

Maybe there's a gap where the real, progressive conversations should be?

Just throwing it out there.

To quote the World Health Organisation on Mental Health:
"Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."

I'll get back to my edits now.