Walking through town, my attention is drawn by the song of a starling. He perches on a shop sign, singing a passionate song. I’m astonished at how beautiful he looks. The cream tips of his feathers glow. He seems vibrant and brand new. He has obviously been through his moult. Throughout the year, the cream feather tips wear away, leaving the starlings in their breeding plumage. But he has replenished his feathers. And now, it seems, he is singing for the joy of how beautiful he is. (The photo above is not this starling.)
Recently, my muse has become as elusive as the songbirds. I’ve focused instead on re-visiting old stories. Stories that were finished a couple of years ago. That have been sent out into the world a number of times without success. I enjoy the revision process. Most of the revisions are slight – on re-reading them, I still have confidence that they are good stories. I tighten a couple of endings which I always knew in my heart weren’t strong. Distance has given me the inspiration to find the endings that they deserve. I make changes to all but one of the stories, and each one, I think, is better for the attention.
They say that you should never write for a market; that you should write the stories you’d like to read. There was a time, years ago, when I tried to write things that might be popular, or to emulate things I had loved. There was a time I thought I was a horror writer. I wrote a whole novel – my first – before deciding that although I loved to read horror, it wasn’t who I was as a writer after all. Re-reading my stories affirms that these are the stories that I should be writing.
The hedgerows have new plumage too. Rowans are fiery with berries. A posse of starlings, many of them still in their juvenile feathers, chitter away as they eat them. Thistles and willowherbs shed flowers to give way to thistledown. Hogweed heads have become bronze wheels of seed.
In the last week my seagull chicks have fledged. They are still living on the roof top. Their parents are still watching over and feeding them. The two siblings still follow each other around. I didn’t witness the moment of first flight, but I have seen them take to the air. Landing is still tentative. They hover for moments until they finally commit to it, and it often appears that it isn’t quite where they’d aimed. It will take them a few years of moults to lose their youthful feathers, but by then they will be adepts of the air like their parents.
Maybe we could all do with a creative moult, a time of quiet away from the pressure of producing something new or sending things out into the world. A time to peck apart those old languishing stories and give them sparkling new plumage. A time for our muses to preen their feathers before returning to us with replenished wings.
Blogger book of the month: Jennifer Kelland Perry – Calmer Girls
In her blog, Jennifer Kelland Perry – and sometimes her cats – share wonderful sights and stories from their beautiful home in Newfoundland. Jennifer’s series of YA novels that explore the lives and loves of the cross sisters is also set in Newfoundland.
The course of true love certainly doesn’t run smoothly for the Cross sisters. Uprooted from their home in the small town of Calmer Cove, sixteen year old Samantha and her older sister Veronica are trying to make their way in the city. With divorcing parents, a mother who is drinking too much and the challenges of fitting into a new home comes the added complication of Ben Swift. Attractive, confident Veronica is soon going out with Ben, but Samantha is falling for him too. This YA novel is fast-paced, full of intrigue, enjoyable to read and deals sensitively with a number of issues that young adults might face. The characters are well drawn and the story is engaging. Though the story comes to a satisfying conclusion, there are a number of threads that Jennifer goes on to explore in the exciting sequel: Calmer Secrets.
You can find Jennifer here, and the Calmer Girls series is available on Amazon.