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Darker Fables

Writing and reviews. Adventures, maybe? Exciting, definitely.

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As ever, a lot has happened since I last wrote.

I went on holiday, to Normandy (my first trip away with my boyfriend, henceforth to be known as N), and we crossed the five month mark, which makes him seem strangely new, when in truth I can no longer imagine a future with anyone else.

And there was snow! After making a bid to become the next Atlantis, Paris was then covered in a real blanket. To my surprise, the trains kept running. A few lines have been closed because of the flooding, but for the most part, the systems that hold Paris together are less delicate than they seem.

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At work, with my most challenging four-child all-boy family I was engaged in a to-the-death snowball fight (which did not go well for me), and then another, the next day, with the half-Russians – who, given their upbringing in a land of snow and ice, I am inclined to believe had an unfair advantage.

The snow has melted away now, throwing us back into grey skies and the threat of rain, but I am happy. In a few weeks I am sure it will start to feel like spring, and then I’ll be able to shed my (leaking) boots for pumps, and walk about the city without gloves.

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It’s not all good news, since if I am honest I am struggling with university. Getting a distinction at masters is looking increasingly difficult. I didn’t do badly in my first semester, but I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped I would. This threw me into a dismal state of self-loathing, which has been a drain on my inspiration for my new pieces this semester. But I’ll get there, and hopefully with time I’ll learn to be less cruel to myself.

Certainly I’ve had no shortage of experiences to draw upon these past few weeks. Our trip to Normandy was breathtaking (and a topic for another post!), never mind the weather, and Paris is, as Paris ever was, one of the best places a writer can be.

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January Blues

The world can be a dismal place at this time of year, and even the romance of Paris can’t distract from driving rain and howling wind. The grey bricked paths that line the Seine, which I walked along in sandals during the summer, have vanished beneath rising water, and the trees are stark silhouettes against a white sky.

But the year is now well underway, and with Christmas a distant memory, it’s time to look ahead, past this grey season, into the spring to come.

In a little over two months it will be the first anniversary of my moving here, and after that it will not be many more months before I return to the place I came from, hopefully a little more savvy, sage, and chic than I was when I left.

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The reality of living in Paris is not as glamorous as the movies might have you believe. This is a city of great contrasts. I have worked in more than one bourgeoisie apartment, and peered into the glowing window of many a boulangerie. I have taken the air on long city strolls, and sunned myself on the banks of the Seine, but I have also seen homeless children sheltering under cardboard. I’ve seen ugly demonstrations walled in by lines of police, and I’ve learnt to watch the pavement for the dog filth and drunken piss.

Paris is not always the wonderful picture photographed for the postcards, I admit, but it has been home to me, and given me a taste of the independence I longed for. I have been changed by this city, undoubtedly for the better, and that I am grateful for.

Whatever happens hereafter, I do know there will always be a part of me that is at home here. I will never be French, but like the house cat, Sasha, I feel comfortable. For now, and the for time left in this particular chapter of my life, this is exactly where I want to be.

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Songs for Writing: January

It’s been five days, and when it comes to my resolutions, I’m pleased to report that so far, so good.

I traipsed my way across the city yesterday to visit The American Library in Paris, and withdrew three books. I’m already halfway through The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine. B, and I’ve made another valiant stab at Ivanhoe (this will mark my fourth attempt to finish it).

I’ve also been writing, every day. If I’m going to make it a habit I think I’ll need more than just my willpower, however.

I am often in need of inspiration, so here are some songs I’ve found to write to.

1. Trevor Something – ‘Enjoy the Silence’

It can be a rather controversial thing, to admit you prefer a cover to the original, but damn me as you will. This has a darker sound than the original Depeche Mode release, and, in my humble opinion, the sultry, hypnotic vocals give it added depth.

2. Ryder – ‘Pretty Little Gangster’

This one has been on my playlist for a while, but it retains its position as one of my favourites. I think it’s especially appropriate for orchestrating scenes in which badass female characters do their thing, gangsters or not.

3. Julien Doré – ‘Le lac’

I guess you can’t live in France without getting a taste for French music. I discovered Julien Doré by listening to RTL2. It’s not something I regret.

4. ‘Pookkal Pookkum’ from the movie Madharasapattinam

If you’ve been paying close attention to my personal updates you’ll be able to make a good guess about how this came into my life. I’ve been watching lots of Indian movies lately thanks to a certain someone, and none of them are without songs. I haven’t actually seen Madharasapattinam (yet), but based on this song, I want to. Just don’t ask me for any translations. At the moment my Tamil is basic, to say the least!

5. Rae Morris – ‘Push Me To My Limit’

Surprise! My favourite singer is back! Her new album comes out next month, and based on what snippets have been released so far, my expectations are high.

So, that’s that, and it’s time I was writing my writing, rather than writing about the writing I plan to write… I’ll leave you to figure that out. Goodbye and à bientôt! 🙂

My New Year’s Resolutions

It’s time to make some promises.

2017 was probably the best year of my life. So many things happened that I didn’t even have the time to write about all of them, which is something I will probably regret when the day comes for me to look back on my life. But I don’t think I’ll ever really forget the momentous events that happened.

I wrote more poems than I knew I had in me, and became a little wiser from the benefit of experiences both good and bad. I made some new friends, met the man I love, and most importantly, I proved to myself that I am capable of making a life for myself in the great wide world beyond the places where I grew up.

I don’t imagine 2018 is going to top it, since I had it so good, but I know that even if circumstances can scarcely be improved, I can, so here are my goals for the year ahead.

1. Write every day.

And I mean every day. I’ve really lapsed since I finished my undergraduate in terms of discipline, so it’s time I took myself in hand. I’m not going to set a daily word count, since previously I have found this promotes an attitude geared towards achieving, rather than exceeding, the limits of my expectations, but I am going to write something each day, be it a story, a scene, or just a sentence, and go from there.

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2. Read every day.

I set myself a target to read 100 books last year. I managed about half of that, which was rather disappointing. This year I’m going for it again. It’s roughly two books a week, so if I allocate some reading time every day (and steer clear of 500+ page monster novels), I think this is achievable.

3. Become more proficient in French.

If I’m going to get anywhere near fluency, there’s no opportunity better than the one I have right now. I’ll be living in Paris until the end of July, so the next seven months will be a concerted effort on my part to really embed this language in my head.

4. Become conversational in Tamil.

Before I moved here, everyone was joking about how I would have a spectacular love affair with a Frenchman, but it didn’t quite work out like that. My boyfriend is from southern India, and if I’m really going to make it work I need to form good relationships with the rest of his family. This means learning to communicate. It’s going to be considerably more challenging than the French, I think, given that I’m really starting from the beginning, with a new alphabet to boot, but I am determined.

So, here we go. My 2018 started last night with a distant view of the fireworks thundering over the Champs-Élysées. Today I started to read Ivanhoe, and I wrote this post. Not a bad beginning. I hope it will be a great year for us all ❤

 

Sorry…

Dear Lord! Where did those sixteen days go?

I have been a crappy blogger so far this month. Literally as crappy as crap gets, because prior to today I wrote a grand total of zero new posts for December.

But in my defense, I did say December was going to be busy, and I was right. It’s been an eventful month so far. My little brother turned eighteen, so I went home for a weekend to see him (and to put up the Christmas tree – because no one was willing to do it without me). It meant getting up at four on an extremely frosty morning to catch a flight, but it was well worth it.

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There have also been some interesting developments in my professional life. Through some major bluffing I managed to secure a little extra work doing translation, and I didn’t botch it, so maybe I’ll even get some more. If I could stop being a nou-nou I really wouldn’t mind.

University is also going well, and… I’ve now been in a relationship for several months, which is, I think, a major success, since I’ve never made it this far without getting bored or beginning to go insane before. To my great surprise I’ve found out that there is nothing wrong with me. I can actually be happy with someone, and this is easily the best lesson Paris has taught me.

I hereby pledge to actually write some stuff for the rest of the month. I guess I know what my New Year’s resolution is going to be…

Winter Comes to Paris

It’s the last day of the month, and tomorrow Advent begins, but it seems the weather is ahead of itself here, because after a faint and disappointing flurry this afternoon, it is now full-on snowing in Paris.

And the stars have aligned for me, because tomorrow I don’t have work until four, and am free to spend the day reveling in it!

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I think I’ve been a better blogger this month than I have been in some previous months. Hopefully I can keep it up over December, but since things are going to be busy (special highlights include a coach trip towards and through London the day before Christmas Eve – madness!) I can only promise to do my best.

For the record, bringing a wool coat to Paris is among the best decisions of my life. I’ll need it tomorrow, when I intend to go for a long long walk and hunt for inspiration in the snow.

More Songs, More Writing

Christmas might be well on its way, but that’s no excuse for keeping a lid on pens and fingers away from the keyboard. This will be the first time in several years that I don’t have to work over any of the festivities, and over the interludes I intend to use my free time well. I’ll be spending it with some ink, paper, and some good music. Here are my latest finds.

1. Pale Waves – There’s A Honey

Sometimes you find a song that encapsulates everything you’re feeling at a given moment, and for me, this is one such. With a perfect contrast of upbeat rhythms and melancholy lyrics, this is my song of the season. And the band’s aesthetic is good too! If you like this piece, be sure to check out ‘New Year’s Eve’.

2. Seinabo Sey – Pistols At Dawn

In short, I love her. That voice. It gives me chills, and this particularly dark song is a perfect one for inspiring dramatic scenes.

3. Lana Del Rey – Love

Something a bit more mainstream, but that shouldn’t be a reason not to like it. I find Lana Del Rey’s songs a bit hit and miss, but this one is one of my favourites. A soft and subtle song, but underneath its sweet lyrics this piece has a lot of power.

4. LANY – Super Far

Another one disguising a sad message beneath a catchy beat. I heard this one playing whilst I was out, and couldn’t rest until I’d tracked it down.

I feel like a post is never really finished without a nicely rounded ending, but I can’t think of anything, so I’ll just say blah, and bye 🙂

Life in Paris, etc.

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Summer is a distant memory, and the wind in Paris is the kind that tightens the skin on your face. It’s almost winter, and my favourite time of year.

I’ve been busy! This week one of my best friends paid me a visit, and we tried to do everything there is to do in Paris. We went to and around the Musée du Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay, up and under the Arc de Triomphe, along the river as far as we could walk, and down beneath the streets to see the millions of skeletons buried in the Catacombs. And of course it wouldn’t be a true Parisian trip without a croissant, a French crêpe, and an evening view of the Eiffel Tower.

She even met my boyfriend, the first of my friends to do so in person. I was feeling really quite shy before Dekka arrived, wondering if they would like each other, but spoiler alert: of course they did. All in all, a most satisfying episode of my life.

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Work and university have got me so stressed I’m like a thread held at maximum tension, but I’m holding it together, and getting stuff done. I’ve managed to get myself into a good rhythm, and I think this is it. This is what it means to be doing just fine.

Poems have been happening, and plans, and writing, and everything seems to be coming together in one great glorious smorgasbord of experiences. I know I’m going to look back on this period of my life with great fondness, and there isn’t a day that goes by without me feeling immense gratitude towards the University of East Anglia. Sometimes things really do work out better for taking a different path than the one you first chose, so thank God they rejected my application.

I could write more, but the truth is this is only a distraction from the work I should be doing. Next time I update, I think it will be almost time for Christmas! 😀 Until then…

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New: Songs for Writing

New month, new me. I say that at the start of most months, but on this occasion I’m quite serious that a disciplined writing schedule needs to come into being. There is much that must be written, much more that I want to write, and the weeks are ticking by towards the end of my first semester. So here are some of the songs I’ll be listening to, whilst I’m beavering away at my computer.

1. Rae Morris – Eye To the Storm

I’ve dug through every song this woman has written, and no matter how much I listen, I still can still listen again. This is one of my favourites.

2. Annie Lennox – Pavement Cracks

This song reminds me of sitting in the car with my mother. The CDs get changed so rarely that I think I’ve been hearing this one most of my life. Fortunately, it’s very worth listening to.

3. WILDES – Ghost

And here’s something with a darker sound. I like the melancholy of this song. I think it’s good for writing dramatic tragedies and death scenes (something prevalent in my fiction).

I guess that will do for now. This month I will make sincere efforts to post on a regular basis. So, day one, done!

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