Wednesday, 30 November 2016

The lonely cloud: a poetry post

The prompt over at Mum Turned Mom this week is Lonely, and it got me to thinking about poetry, Wordsworth wandering lonely as a cloud strikes me as odd, it is rare one seens a single cloud in the lake district, surely if there was one by itself, it would be relishing that moment of freedom? I also thought of Henri's mash up of Wordsworth's poem, and of how things can be taken out of the familiar context to give new meaning, both to the word and to the context.

The other thing in my head when I think about 'lonely', is poor Tallulah, who is perhaps the loneliest person at Bugsy Malones when she sings the song about not having to be lonely. But that's what we do. We put our best foot forward, paint on a face and go on with the show.

Anyway, I wrote a poem which doesn't want to be very long, about that little cloud. There are lots of clouds in the sky as I write, but I can't see her. I think sometimes we can feel most lonely when we're surrounded by people who don't seem to get us. Click on the box below if you want to hear me reading the poem.

The lonely cloud

On summer's day I've seen you pass
all gay in that expanse of blue.
You twirl your skirts, a sweet young lass
with nought to care, and nought to do.

But now in this November drear
you trudge across the crowded sky.
You seem alone, though others near.
Perhaps you need some space to fly?

© Cara L McKee 30/11/16

Writing Bubblemumturnedmom

Sunday, 27 November 2016

A Q&A blogger tag

Many thanks to Beth at Bamm Boo for tagging me to answer some questions. I love this kind of post. It's great to find out a bit more about the bloggers, and it always raises things that I probably wouldn't think of myself.

So here goes with Beth's questions

How long have you been blogging? Do you think your blog now is different than how you imagined it would be?

I started blogging at the beginning of 2013, at Looks Like We're Moving, which was all about our experience of moving house. When we got settled in I started this blog, then called 'Oh we do love to be...' which was about settling in to our new hometown, fun with the kids, and homemaking... Except homemaking is clearly not my cup of tea. I cannot even be bothered to get the white paint out to cover the bits of wall I damaged when I moved the furniture around recently. So it became a bit of something and nothing, and meandered on for a while, until I decided it should mostly be a place to share my poetry, as well as a bit of other nonsense, and changed the name to Cara L McKee quite recently. I did once previously have a blog where I shared fiction and poems and stuff, called Stories from the Frozen North, it still exists, but I don't write much in the way of short stories at the moment (they might be coming back, I've just written one I love!).

If you could write a letter to yourself the day before your first child was born what would you write?

Oh my goodness! I would write GO HOME! Go home now! They are going to have to manage without you, and they will survive! It's awfy dramatic to have your waters break at work, but perhaps you'll be less stressed and have a better experience if you have a long lunch with your pals and relax. Seriously relax. And when they tell you to go home because you're not ready, go home! What's the worst that can happen? It'll be fine if you have a baby at home (you're going to do that one day and it'll be the best birth ever), and staying in hospital just gives them more chance to mess with you.

Also, you are wrong. Your life is not going to be just the same but with a baby, but there's no point in me going on about it, because you won't believe me.

Me and my first born. Look at those chubby cheeks! We had both been through a tough time.

What’s your favourite Christmas tradition?

I love the Christmas tree (I've only got one, and it's black and utterly fab, I'd love a pine one, but I'm still working on my husband for that). I love wrapping presents. I love the smells of ginger and orange and cinnamon, and all that good stuff.

I love the children's excitement about Christmas morning and all the flapping about that adults do under the surface to get that to work.

I love snuggling up on the sofa and watching a family film under a blanket I've crocheted.

And I love going for the walk on Christmas Day, after the meal.

Also, I really like going into a city when it's busy but not too mad, when the lights are twinkling, a little snow is falling, and we can stop off for a honeycomb latte at Costa. Not going in any of the shops though, that's just hideous!

That's clearly enough!

What’s something that everyone else seems to love that you just don’t get?

So, so much! Sometimes I feel like I'm just pretending to be a human. 

I don't get most popular music, TV shows like X Factor, I don't get why people choose to wear high heels or polyester. I cannot imagine why a grown woman would want to wear a nightie with a cartoon bunny on it.

What’s your worst habit?

There are so many to choose from. But I'm going to go with awkwardness. I wish that I didn't slightly freak out when someone touches me in a friendly way. I wish that I could think of what to say in conversations more. I clearly say the wrong thing quite often, and I don't mean to. Honestly, my world is quite a sensible place when you're in it.

What was your favourite subject in school? Does this have any relation to your life now?

I really liked maths, because I was good at it, but I also loved History and English for making me think. When I went to University I studied Women's Studies, which was just brilliant. If I could keep doing Women's Studies forever I'd be happy. Angry but happy.

What relation does that have to my life now? I'm constantly questioning the roles that my characters play in my writing, and the assumptions that we make in life. My kids teachers have commented that my kids do that too, which means I'm doing something right! I'm currently rewriting my first novel, because it was full of patriarchal structures that reflected what I was reading, not the world it was set in. It's really hard! Because I'm a product of this society too!

What would be your secret super power?
The ability to have people listen to what I say. 

Do you feel like a ‘grown up’? Why?

I feel like a grown up because I take responsiblity for other people. I think every grown up still has the young person they were inside them, although that changes as we change, if our responsiblities are taken away (like when we're on holiday), we can still have lots of fun.

What would you serve at a dinner party (and would you be the chef?)

Can someone else cook? I hate cooking. We are so lucky to have our in-laws nearby and we have a regular weekly meal that they cook. It's lovely to have the catch up and to have other adults so involved in our kids lives, but I think my favourite bit is being cooked for. Honestly, I wouldn't mind terribly what we ate so long as someone else was cooking!

If you could have been born into any period of history when would that be?

I'd hate to know what was about to happen, I love watching things change, and if the change is terrifying, I remind myself what we've survived already. I wouldn't want to go back, things were not better then, and I wouldn't like to go forward and have no deeper understanding of all the stuff I'd missed. Of course, if I could use a time machine I'd love to blip about all over the place, but if I've got to stay, then I'll stick with right here, right now.

Now it's time for me to ask you guys some questions, do let me know if you answer them! I'll link your answers in here. Here are my questions:
  1. Which are your favourite blogs?
  2. What do you like best about blogging?
  3. What annoys you about social media?
  4. What are you hoping to find under the tree this year?
  5. What was the last film you went to see, and what did you think of it?
  6. What did you inherit from your parents?
  7. Where do you work, and what do you have on your desk/around you?
  8. What TV shows are you watching just now? What do you like about them?
  9. What was the last book you read?
  10. Finally, what's your favourite shop? And why do you love it?
I look forward to hearing what you've got to say.


Sunday, 20 November 2016

Hating what's Right: a poetry post

Oh there has been so much happening in 2016 that I'm not a fan of. Death's guest list has got way out of hand, and then Brexit and now Trump, not to mention the terrible situations that lots of people around the world have found themselves in.

Things are changing, and not in the way I had hoped for, but that said, we have made remarkable progress in the last century. I'm hoping that we're like the frog jumping out of the well. For every three feet higher she jumps, she slides back down two feet. It's dispiriting, nobody wants to slide in that nasty goo, but it is still progress.

Not long ago I went to a writing workshop in Glasgow where we were asked to write a long list of five things we loved, five things we hated, five things we believed etc. All these things, we were told, could be written about.

So today I'm writing about one of the things I hate. The thing I wrote was: "I hate Tories." But that's not fair. It's not just Tories. It's all the right wing parties (and the Tories are certainly not the worst of them), that hold to hateful views of people, dressing it up in 'how it's always been' and 'what god wants'. The parties that give tax breaks to the rich while taking the poor's benefits away for not being able to work the rigged system. I hate that stuff. I am horrified that Britain keeps giving the Tories power (and while I have a lot of respect for Ruth Davidson, I'm horrified that Labour have eroded themselves to the extent that she's now the leader of the Scottish opposition), and keeps buying into the lies that are put out to divide us, blaming the refugees for making the most of their scant opportunities, and the poor for being workless. I am horrified that Britain voted for Brexit because while I believe in having small nation states I want to be part of a big group working together. I am horrified that America voted for Donald Trump, because Donald Trump.

So I've been hiding my head in the sand and looking away. I know that terrible things are happening. I don't need the details.

But the details find a way, don't they? And it doesn't matter what I wanted, because this is what we've got. And I've been reading some really interesting blog posts lately, like this one from Chuck Wendig and this (and so much more) from Jena Schwarz and more that I've lost track of, saying that we can't give up, just because things have gone the wrong way for us. We must be kind and we must engage.

And that's what's inspired me to write this poem, which is still more negative than I had intended it to be, but it's true for a' that.

Hating what's Right

It's the hatred that's not helping
if I name you 'evil Empire'
and remove myself from all that you stand for.
But I didn't choose this party
and this doesn't seem my country
and the things I hear don't fit what's in my heart.
So I have to accept others
though of different mind and colours
for refusing to makes me as bad as you.
Though I still hate your ideas
and your nasty bigot fears,
and your stinking faux paternal attitude.

And you should not line your pockets
with the money the poor don't get
and you should not blame them for their poverty.
And you shouldn't blame the desperate
or the sick ones for their sickness.
But I'll show you that I will not turn away.
For these people are my people,
for this country is my country,
and whate'er my vote, this is my Government.
And I will do all that I can
and together we'll get through this,
these times of darkness brought by fear and hate.

© Cara L McKee 20/11/16

I'm not doing well at moving past the hatred am I? I'm determined to get there, to listen and learn, and to hope that even the choices I despair at come from a place of hope.

How are you getting on with it all?

Prose for Thought

Friday, 18 November 2016

The stream in spate: a poetry post

October was glorious up here on the West Coast of Scotland. A month of pretty good weather, and fantastic colour. Halloween was warm enough to not wear coats, which was brilliant.

But now we're in November. The grey month when the cold and the dark come. And it has come. We had our first frost on the 1st, our new tree (a Katsura which has come up from Yorkshire) lost its leaves in horror at its new climate, although I'm hoping this is an Autumn thing. 

The colours on the trees are fading to muddy brown and black, and the wind, the rain, and the hail, are becoming more frequent visitors.

At home I'm attempting to get my hygge on to see through the winter. I've gone right off gin and tonic, and need something more wintery to sip while I snuggle under a crocheted blanket and watch the Westworld (does anyone else sing this every time it's on?). Any suggestions?

Anyway, in order to keep my little mind sunny during these dark days I've taken up two new habits:

  1. Morning Pages - the brilliant idea from Julia Cameron to write three pages longhand in the morning (I never manage to do it first thing. Whenever I try a child climbs me!) to help declutter your mind. This has been brilliant for me, helping me to work out good things to do, and realise what can be dropped too. Love it. It does take a little time every morning, but I'm getting so much done the rest of the day because of it.
  2. I'm walking for at least half an hour every day. This used to be built into my life, but now that school and the town centre are furhter away (our house is lovely, but I'd move it closer in if I could) I end up in the car lots, and that plus writing lots makes me a very dull girl, so I'm getting out there every day. In between showers if at all possible!
It was during one of these walks that I got fascinated with the stream that runs through the middle of Largs - the GoGo Burn. It's usually pretty, wide, and shallow, but recently, with all the water it's been carrying, it has grown wider still, and deeper, with brown water tumbling white over the stones which normally stand proud.

I thought I'd try a poem about it.

It's called 

The Stream in Spate

After the wind and the lashing rain,
after the hail hits the windowpane,
after the leaves are torn away,
then comes the stream in spate.
Rich with the colour of moorland peat,
bursting its banks and wetting our feet,
tumbling down, the sea for to meet,
there goes the stream in spate.
Covering up the stepping stones,
spurned by the birds with their brittle bones,
whisking away the traffic cones,
this is the stream in spate.

© Cara L McKee 18/11/16

Prose for Thought

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Take: a poetry post


It's November and I'm doing NaNoWriMo, which for those that aren't involved in this crazy world of writing means that I'm trying to write the first draft of a whole novel in one month.

Some people have finished already. Somebody allegedly finished in the first 24 hours. Imagine that! I'm hoping that slow and steady wins the race for me. I'm trying to get more than my target words of 1,667 words a day written, and so far, after a glitchy first day, I am doing just grand. 

The novel I'm writing is a reworking of my first Chaptershill book which I first wrote a while ago, but then realised it was fatally flawed. If you recall I had a meltdown last year about what was wrong with it - that it was infested with the worms of other fantasy, much of which is uncritical of patriarchal culture, and that I couldn't buy into that in good conscience. Besides which, it didn't work for the story. I tried amending the story but it was so riddled with all the nonsense that I had to rewrite. Same characters, some of the same plot points, but different ways to get there.

It's good. It's interesting. It is difficult. And right now I'm doing a really tricky bit which is slow and awkward and needs to be linked in with lots of other stuff, and I know that it's not great, but it's a first draft and that's OK.

And anyway, that's where I've been.

But I need some headspace too, so I thought I'd give Sara's Prompt a go this week and write a poem. I never really got the point of list poems until recently, although my Mother in Law likes them, but when I was down in Ilkley for the Literature Festival I got to go to a poetry workshop with Daljit Nagra, where we did list poems, and that's really got me thinking about them. I need more practice, and so that's what I'm doing. My Red poem was a list poem, and so is Take. 


Take your life.
I'll take yours and
you take mine
and please, take your time.
Take your glasses,
take a seat,
take thy hand,
to lawful wedded.
Take a walk,
take a left, take a right.
Take it easy,
take a chill,
take a shuftie.
Take take take,
but don't be respectable.
Take two.
Take five.
Take the piss,
take the Michael,
take the Piemontello,
take the biscuit.
Take the high way,
take the low way
(I'll get there before ye).
Take my hand and hold on
for dear life.
Take this life - 
I'll take yours 
and you take mine.
We'll take our time.

© Cara L McKee 13/11/16

Prose for Thoughtmumturnedmom