Showering

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When someone asks me where my ideas come from, the question is so open-ended that I never know where to start. Do I talk about the sudden spark that comes from an overheard conversation, the image of a character that floats across my brain, the memory from childhood, or the “what if” that appears to arrive at random? What happens to these prompts is shaped by the conscious and the sub-conscious mind. Sometimes there is a deliberate choice to write to submit to an anthology, or to try out a genre I haven’t attempted before. On other occasions the arrival of a certain character demands that their story is told. Then again, a couple of lines of dialogue lead seamlessly into a longer piece.

It’s as if there is so much going on in my brain that I only have to reach out and snag something I want, or need to write about.

And the place where these stories come into my mind is often…the shower.

There is something about standing under a fall of water that sets the creative processes flowing.

Maybe, symbolically the brain is being washed clean and made ready. Or the shower is a place to relax, get the alpha waves working and unblock any impediments to the imagination.

Whatever the reasons, quite often I have to leap out of the shower and start writing.

Years ago an agent told me that many of her writers work in the same way. She was surprised by this finding, I am not.

All I wish is that someone would invent a waterproof notebook and pen, so that I could stand under a shower of blissfully hot water and write whatever comes into my head.

PS Why the waterfall? It’s much more beautiful that me in the shower.

 

 

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Happy Mothering Sunday

Four Generations

Four generations of women in my family

It’s that day in the year when we are all supposed to think about our mothers, send cards and flowers and take them out to lunch.

In the beginning, however, this tradition was nothing to do with mothers but it was the day when people went back to their mother church, the church where they were baptised, or the local parish church, to celebrate Laetare Sunday.  Anyone who did this was said to have gone “a-mothering.”

In later times, Mothering Sunday became a day when domestic servants were given a day off to visit their mother church, usually with their own mothers and other family members. It was often the only time that whole families could gather together, since on other days they were prevented by conflicting working hours, and servants were not given free days on other occasions.

The children would pick wild flowers along the way to place in the church or give to their mothers. Eventually, the religious tradition evolved into the Mothering Sunday secular tradition of giving gifts to mothers.

Lovely though it is to be given a special day the relationship between mothers and children is an on-going one that begins at birth and continues often beyond the end of life.  Whether our mothers are still alive of not their influence conscious and sub-conscious continues shaping our thoughts, emotions and behaviour.
It’s this link between mothers and daughters that is a constant theme in my writing. In “House of Shadows” Jo’s mother refuses to see herself in that role, preferring to be treated as an older sister and leaving the mothering to Jo’s Gran.

Picking Up The PiecesIn “Picking up the Pieces” independent, resourceful Liz encourages her daughter to go travelling, but misses Poppy dreadfully while she is away. While self-absorbed Elsa is enough of a mother not to want to trouble her son with her problems.

“Shadows on the Grass” follows the lives of a grandmother, mother, daughter and aunt showing how the care, or lack of it, can make a profound difference in the way a young woman sees herself and what she can expect of life.

Even in my latest work in progress, the children’s book “City of Secrets”, Letty Parker has an unconventional relationship both with her mamma and her step-mamma.

 

All about this months 6×6 writers and their books

This is always a great evening. I will enjoy reading from “Shadows on the Grass” and hopefully selling a few books too.

6x6 Writers Cafe

We are thrilled to have have no less than three books being promoted in the month’s 6×6! Bring your wallets because there will be books to buy!

In alphabetical order:

Misha Herwin: Shadows on the Grass. Publisher Penkhull Press

“Every family has its secrets. In the nineteen-sixties Bristol, seventeen-year-old Kate is torn between the new sexual freedom and her rigid Catholic upbringing. Mimi, her grandmother, is dying and in her final hours, her cousin, the Princess, keeps watch at her bedside and remembers their past, bound together by a terrible betrayal. And Mimi’s daughter Hannah struggles to keep the peace between her daughter and her husband whilst finding her own way through a post-war world in a foreign land where everything she once knew has been swept away.” (Available in Print and Kindle formats.)

Misha Herwin: is a writer of books and short stories for adults and children. Her latest…

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365-A Clear-Out

365

9 of 365

If you’ve seen pictures of my office you will know that I am not a tidy person. My work space is not in total chaos but there are no clear surfaces and although I know, in theory, where everything is, that isn’t always true in practise, which means that I spend more time than I should searching for the elusive piece of paper/documentation/snippet of research.

I know I should do something to make my work space more efficient but the thought of a total overhaul is too daunting. Added to which we have recently had a kitchen makeover which entailed clearing everything out and then putting all our stuff back.

This time I was determined that only things that were useful, or lovely, or carried emotional resonance were to be allowed back into our lovely new room. Bit by bit I sorted through what we really needed or wanted and gradually came to the conclusion that for me the best way of doing a life laundry is in small, very small, chunks.

And so I made my great resolution.

Every day for the whole of this year I will throw out, re-cycle, pass on, sell one thing. It can be as small as a half-used scented candle, or as large as a coffee table but every day something will go.

To make sure that I keep my resolution I make a note every day of what has gone and so far this has proved very effective. So much so that I am currently ahead of myself. Not only are things going but the whole exercise is so liberating that I am finding it easier and easier to decide whether something stays or goes.

As I’m gaining more space I feel lighter and at the same time freer to concentrate on my writing. shadows-on-the-grass“Shadows on the Grass” is now out in paperback and I’m working on another novel and doing a final edit on the first of a series of books for children, when I’m not wondering what I can get rid of next.

How my book came to be written

 

Mum and me2

Mum and me.

“Shadows on the Grass” came out as an e-book in January and after the first flurry of excitement, there’s time now to sit back and reflect on the whole process.

This book has taken many, many years to write. Not because I am a slow writer, quite the opposite in fact, but because it started out life in a very different form.

Back in the day I was interested in writing historical novels, I was also, at more or less the same time, researching my family history.

My parents came to England after WWW2 and settled in a country that was totally foreign to them. Because at that time Poland was behind the Iron Curtain they had very little contact with any of their relatives and neither did we. Curious to know more about my family background I began asking questions and listening to the stories my mother told about her childhood.

Some of this material was incorporated in the original version of “Shadows on the Grass” a long shambling novel that had no real centre, or any particular theme. I remember finishing it one snowy December day and rewarding myself with a glass of vodka, then putting the manuscript away in the box along with all the research I had done on Polish history.

Of course what I should have done was to get feedback and start on the next draft, but somehow I had lost impetus. Life got in the way and it wasn’t until some years later that I took it out again, decided there was something in what I had written and decided to give it another go.

The first thing that went was the structure. Instead of following a chronological narrative, I went for a series of flash backs so that the story of the Dzierzanowski family would be told through the view point of three main characters. Grandmother, mother and daughter. And so a theme emerged, the relationship between the three of them became the focus of the book.

I have always been fascinated by how the generations interact, in particular mothers with their daughters. This pivotal relationship in a woman’s life can give her the confidence to grow into her own person, or prove incredibly destructive.

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Mum at ninety

 

In my own case I was lucky. My mother was a nurturing parent who was only concerned to do the best for her children and we’ve all grown up as fairly well-adjusted people. I hope I’ve done the same for my children, but other people I have known have not been so fortunate.

In “Shadows on the Grass” seventeen year old Kate is a rebellious teenager who both loves and despises her ever patient mother, Hannah. Who in her turn is struggling with her feelings for her mother Mimi and trying to find her way in a foreign country where she feels she will never quite belong.

The paperback is now available and if you would like a copy of either format here’s the Amazon LINK

Ash Wednesday (extract from Sussex Tales (c) )

A perfect Ash Wednesday Piece

Jan Edwards

Ash Wednesday  by Jan Edwards

I slowed by the small shaw that separated our lane from the main farm road,  dropped my bike on the verge and surveyed the woodland’s edge. Fortunately for me this section of frith[1] had yet to be cleared and there were plenty of saplings to be raided. I jumped across the ditch and grabbed onto a young ash standing proud from the mass. It took only a moment or two to select a couple of growing tips; slender and smooth and grey, their foliage still encased in cool black buds that looked for all the world like the hooves of tiny goats.

I tucked both sprigs into my bag and knotted the string carefully. Losing them was not an option. It was Ash Wednesday, when every Sussex school child would arrive at the gates armed with the Ash. These short lengths of twig were…

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