Moulting

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.

72 thoughts on “Moulting

  1. Andrea, I love your metaphor of a writer going through a moult. It is fresh and eerily accurate. This post really resonates with me. Love the pictures and the book review also. Wishing strong, beautiful wings for both you and your submissions. I saw the first red berries popping out of our native dogwood plants yesterday. Despite 90+ degrees with comparable humidity, fall is starting to establish a small beachhead.

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  2. How wonderful that you can watch the progress of the seagull chicks. I agree – there are times when it’s best to just curl in a bit, revisit, revise, with no thought or pressure to do anything at all about it. And, like you, rarely do I revisit a story that I don’t find something that would benefit from some tweaking. 🙂

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  3. I love how you pay attention to what is going on in nature. I couldn’t even name a starling, never mind know it has or will moult!

    I am not yet a writer who has dared to send anything out yet and if the likes of you is being challenged I am not anywhere closer to trying. You write so beautifully. I can well imagine going back to previously written works is a good thing. And I wish you much success in connecting!

    Thanks for the heads up on this book. It sounds like a good read.

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  4. I can certainly relate to a season of creative moult. This has felt like a season of transitions in many ways, and I find when this is the case, it’s good to sit back, listen, and as you have done – revisit old stories and “clean house” so to speak. The trouble is I sometimes have difficulty giving myself permission to do so. I suspect other creatives face a similar struggle.

    Here’s hoping our moulting brings us back our beautiful wings! 🙂

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  5. I’m glad you are engaged in a creative moult and rediscovering stories previously written. In fact, I’m delighted, and I have the proof that it can be a very good thing. My first book, A Good Home, is still my favourite, and the majority of those stories were written decades before and forgotten. Myrtle the Purple Turtle, as you know, was written 27 years before it was dusted off, illustrated then published. And my new book, a gardening memoir, was completed and edited in 2014, put away after a near-tragedy, and is only being published now.

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  6. I love the idea of molting. Maybe I need a good spring molting to shed some old stuff making room for the new. Kudos on your molting, revising your stories and knowing your true voice for writing. I love the way you paint feelings and experience with your words Andrea. Thank you.

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  7. I love your photos. The truth of the countryside, not all prim and proper as in a garden. I like what you said about writing too. The book I’m currently sprucing up to publish on Kindle began life in 2006 and was posted in episodes on my blog from 2012 to 2016. I thought that was the finish. But my heart was/is in it. And I can’t leave it alone until it’s perfect and makes its proper public debut. So, never give up on a project that holds your heart. 🙂

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  8. Interesting timing. My wife wants me to revisit the very first novel I wrote…she wants me to rewrite it using my “today voice.” Of course she hasn’t explained where I’m going to find the time for this project, but she is quite excited about it. 🙂

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  9. Andrea, I find your story ” Moulting ” beautiful and deep in its pondering.
    Following first the starlings and the sea gulls and then comparing to our own selves – especially our creative selves. I do agree heartily, everyone can do with a moulting ever so often. Keep the work glowing … I would love that.

    Thank you for this wise observation.

    Miriam

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  10. Moulting is a wonderful image for part of the creative process, and I’m almost envious of your getting caught up in it! This reflection made me think of Keat’s “mellow fruitfulness” – I’ve never thought of the mellowness of the season before, but to me that’s what you captured.

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  11. Imagine my huge smile when I saw you’d chosen Calmer Girls as your blogger book of the month! I’m so grateful for your support and your 5-star reviews. Thank you; it means a lot to me. 🙂
    Andrea, I love the idea of a creative moult. Such a fitting metaphor.

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  12. Andrea, I love the idea of a creative moult. It’s funny I’m reading these words of yours today, because this morning I was thinking the same thing. I have so many essays and stories that I’ve written and didn’t find a home for. Either I didn’t even try, or they just never landed where I entered them. You’ve inspired me to believe that going going back to these pieces and reviving (and revising) them is exactly what I need to do right now. Glad we were on the same wavelength today. What good fortune for our stories! Cheers!

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  13. A very interesting thought, getting distance from one’s creativity and then revisiting it.
    I am the same with paintings. I have to hang them on the wall, live with them, let them talk to me, sometimes for months. Then one day they will tell me what they need to be ‘finished’. And that might only be a few minor touches.
    Strange thing this creative process!

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  14. This post clicked, Andrea. In fact, it was a comment you made on my blog not too long ago about revising that sent me back to my drafts folder and I’m working on those old, neglected pieces that still have potential. So thank you for that! And thank you for the lead to Jennifer.

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  15. I like the idea of creative molting. I agree, we all need quiet times to reflect on our own work. The way you write of the birds in your neighbourhood is so gentle and well observed. It’s a joy to read.

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  16. I also like the idea of a moult; like reorganising a drawer or cupboard, I see you can revisit old stories and tidy them without the pressure of having to create something new. They are old friends and will survive your ministrations.
    I love starlings! Many people don’t give them a second glance but they are beautiful and intelligent birds.

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  17. The only serious writing I’ve ever done was academic writing, for a very specific sort of audience (and to get tenure!), and I hated most of it! What you’re doing is so much more personal, who you are right down to the core, and I would think it both thrilling and terrifying.

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  18. Two starlings appeared in my garden this past week. They were gleaming. I don’t know if they have been moulting but their shining presence is an indication of spring’s imminent arrival. It won’t be long before all the birds are nesting again. I hope your muses return with beautiful feathers. 🙂

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  19. A creative moult is the perfect prescription for stagnation, even if all it does is give you new eyes to see what was in front of you all along.

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  20. Well done, Andrea. I like your image of creative moult, I’d like to adopt that as the name of the stagnant place I’m in. I always learn so much about nature in your writings. Wonderful photos. I look forward to your stories. ❤

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  21. One of the gull siblings I’ve been watching on a neighbouring rooftop, took its first flight late yesterday afternoon, I missed it but was thrilled to witness its second attempt to fly from the ground. The parents encouraged it to no avail, it stayed safe in the confines of a parking lot and I’m hoping this morning its out on the ocean learning to swim with one of the parents. The little one who’s left is crying plaintively but there is one parent still watching over it, I’m waiting for the other one to return feeling very parent-like myself!
    I’m glad you dusted off your stories to allow their bright plumage to shine, when I re-read my words, I always breathe a sigh of relief that the worlds I wrote down still feel familiar.
    The juvenile crow siblings who visit our balcony almost daily are still moulting, their fuzzy-wuzzy appearance brings a smile to our faces every time!

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  22. I haven’t been blogging lately. Longest I’ve ever gone without posting something. I’m still having a busy summer, and in my spare moments, I’m working on pruning my WIP.

    I love your photos.

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  23. Pingback: Molting Moments | writing to freedom

  24. Glad to hear your sea gull babies are getting confident, Andrea. Target landing accuracy has never been a forte of sea birds 😉
    Your writings are wonderful, and they will reach the hearts of your readers before ‘the market’ comes into the picture 🙂

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  25. I’m so glad I read this post today Andrea. If you read my post, you’ll understand. I guess its time for a creative ‘moult’ for me too – no hurry, just slow down and relook at those stories that I have written. Its beautiful how nature teaches us – only if we are smart enough to relate and learn from it. Thank you for sharing this.

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