sunset by jessie cave

body of water during golden hour
Photo by Sebastian Voortman on Pexels.com

Grief is sharp and hot, the body turns away

Instinctively, like bodies jumping from

The burning building. We as why?

Why the hell would you jump from way up there?

But we can’t know intensity like that until

We’re in the fire ourselves. And then

We wish we’d asked, looked inside ourselves

And asked the questions of those tortured souls,

Tell me why you leapt that day.

I just finished listening to the audiobook ‘Sunset’ by Jessie Cave and it was bloody beautiful.

I’ve followed Jessie Cave on Instagram for quite a while because she draws the funniest little doodles and she has the most amazing hair. So, I was pretty excited to read her book when I saw that she had written some fiction.

I found out just before I started listening that Jessie lost her brother in an accident quite recently and the book is a reflection on the grief that she felt.

It was also read by her sister which added a certain amount of poignancy to the audio version of the book. There is also a lovely discussion between the two sisters as a bonus section and it was really touching to get an insight into how they both felt about the novel.

It’s actually made me reflect on grief myself. They were saying how there is no real end to grief. You can’t sew it up like a happy ending in a romance novel. The pain may fade, but the loss will always be there.

I watched a documentary on the Twin Towers last night and I was reminded of the people jumping from the buildings. Nobody could believe what they were seeing and we were wondering why on earth they were choosing to jump.

Now we know that the heat was so extreme, they were almost pushed out of the windows. I think grief is a little bit like that, we can’t understand why people behave the way they do until we experience it ourselves. And unfortunately, as humans, we’re all going to have to feel the pain of a jump once or twice in our lifetime.

Much Love

Rachel xx

free love and magic mushrooms

To be born into a time that is other from now,

If we’d be given a chance, or fate had been different;

Two souls colliding just years either side.

When you think that this rock has been hurtling through space

For billions of years, then thirty years past

Is nothing at all, just the blink of an eye.

And then there would be no worries about Twitter

Or the fact that I still don’t know how to turn on

The torch on my phone. I wouldn’t be worried

About my digital footprint, just who I will dance with

And which flowers will adorn my long, flowing hair.

I’m a person born later than than my soul needed be,

An alien in a world, too busy for me.

I have just started listening to the audiobook ‘Malibu Rising’ by Taylor Jenkins Reid and I read ‘Daisy Jones and the Six’ by the same author, a couple of years ago. I feel in love with Taylor’s writing, predominately because of when she set her novels.

Both of these books are set in the seventies and they are so rock and roll and glamorous. I loved them so much that I almost feel like I would rather be there than in the here and now. I know that not all of us could be in rock bands like Daisy Jones, but I feel like it’d still be better than living in 2021.

I quite fancy myself living as a free spirited wild child, eating magic mushrooms and dancing around a field with others dressed in linen, crochet and flowers.

I have always thought that I don’t belong in this time. I never carry my phone because I hate it and people look at me like I must be mad. I don’t understand why everyone wants to be contactable 100% of the time. If I’m out, I want to be free from any distractions and yet people seem to get really angry about that.

And what are the chances of being born in any one time period? Humans have been gracing the surface of the Earth for millions of years and it seems like the luck of the draw as to whether you are born in the 60’s or the 90’s.

I’m looking forward to the rest of Malibu Rising and dreaming of what life could have been like if I had been born a mere thirty years earlier.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the literary festival

They pour through little more than a garden gate,

A magic portal into a world of wizardry,

The hope of leaving far behind, the drudgery

Of life in offices painted in a clinical white,

Computer buzzing faintly, like a constant headache

That floats away within that field of tents,

Filled with people who can conjure lives and lands

That help us drift away at any time, but here,

Here is where we really lose ourselves, among the books,

The writers’ talks and poetry slams and signings by

Those mythical figures, while we stand gibbering,

Fangirling like they belong to a boyband we once loved,

Whose faces adorned our teenage walls, but now,

It’s the literary festival that sets our heart alight.

The Harrogate book festival started today and as far as I am aware, it is the first literary festival in the UK in quite some time. I am seeing lots of posts on Twitter from people who are there and I am just a little bit jealous.

I have never been to a literary festival and it is an experience that I am eager to have. We have some fabulous festivals in this country and it’s only since COVID has wiped them all out for a year that I’ve realised how important it is to get out and have these adventures.

Besides, now that I’m an English teacher, I can always go along for free and dress it up as a great school trip that will enhance the knowledge of my students!

Much Love

Rachel xx

reading on the right day

Does anyone else love it when you read something and it is set on the day that you are actually reading it? I was reading yesterday and the character mentioned that it was 1st May and it made me feel deliciously content that I was reading on the same day.

I also love when writers set something on a very specific day and I can remember exactly what I was doing at that moment. Anything that was set when the Twin Towers went down is one example of this. Everyone remembers where they were and what they did on that day and I like to remember my life running parallel to the characters that I’m reading about.

There is a book called One Day by David Nichols and it is set on 15th July every year for twenty years. Most years I can’t remember what I was doing on that day, but my son was born on 16th July so when the story reached that year I couldn’t help but remember that I was in labour as the characters were living through their own stories.

I have heard that people make pilgrimages to some of the key locations in that book, every 15th July. I love that the date is so special to so many people who love the book and every time it rolls around I do think about Emma and Dexter and their story.

Much Love

Rachel xx

book to movie adaptations

There she is, in the flesh,

That woman that I conjured for so many days

With jet black hair and espadrilles,

But really she was mousy brown

And wore stiletto heels,

They changed the end as though

They had the right, the Godly power

To alter lives that once were set in ink.

And sometimes it can bring some colour to

A world that was so black and white,

The greens and blues become so bright

And beautiful, in ways I never thought they could.

The book was good,

But I loved the movie, possibly much more that I should.

I know that movie adaptations of our beloved books can be a bit of a touchy subject for some people and a lot of those people will say that a movie can never outshine that text that it was based upon.

In some respects, I guess I agree. But there have been several occasions where the movie has at least been comparable to the book. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve breathed a sigh of relief, as I have worried that the film or TV series would absolutely butcher a story that I love.

One person that is doing a lot of book to screen adaptations at the moment is Reese Witherspoon, and I have to say, she is on point. I am currently watching her take on the Celeste Ng novel, Little Fires Everywhere and I’m loving it.

I absolutely adored the book (and after reading Everything I Never Told You, she became one of my all time favourites). So, of course, I had to hold my breath as I began watching because I wanted Reese to have done it justice. And, oh my word, she has – helped along a bit by the fact that she has cast Pacey Witter as her husband, taking me even further back into the nineties than I already was when I started watching the show.

Reese also filmed an adaptation of Wild by Cheryl Strayed and, again I was blown away when I started off as a little bit nervous.

I do hate it when people absolutely swear off a movie based on a book and I find it a bit snobby when people don’t even give it a chance. I adore books, but there are people out there that hate it, and if these adaptations give them a chance to enjoy a great story that they otherwise would not, what is so bad about that?

Much Love

Rachel xx

when it’s all just too beautiful

Oh, it’s frustrating,

That little niggle that finds its way

To hook on you

When beauty gets too much

It takes your breath away.

I should be feeling blessed

Not green with envy like I am.

I’ve read some amazing stuff recently and it brought to mind a quote that I saw somewhere on the internet. I do find myself just having to stop for a while and just reflect.

It’s an amazing thing, and I should feel so lucky and blessed that I can read something that has such a profound effect on me. But the problem is that all I seem to feel is jealousy. I hate the person who wrote something so amazing; something that I know I’d never be talented enough to write.

All I can think about is my own stunted language that sits in my latest Google Doc. It’s like lumpy custard that I feel like everyone is turning their nose up at. Meanwhile, everyone is salivating over the custard from M&S that has all of those lovely little vanilla flecks in it. And the fact that I’m using custard as a metaphor for my writing is rather telling.

One day I’ll have something that I’ve produced that will be silky and sweet. But for now, I’ll just enjoy what other people are producing in spades and keep working at what I love. I’ll get there one day. After all, this is a marathon, not a sprint.

Much Love

Rachel xx

when you feel a toe curl coming on

It starts with images that feel

Wrong to taste, a bitter tang

That hurts the tips of tongues

And then it scratches at the brain

Warning that there’s something wrong

Something less than perfect swims

Through our bodies to our toes

Where muscles curl in fluffy socks

The sign that life is full of hot

And heavy moments meant to be

Private, unseen by our curious eyes.

I’m reading a book called My Dark Vanessa. It’s incredible. I would even go as far as saying it’s one of my favourite novels ever… and I’m only just over a hundred pages in.

The story is about a girl who is fifteen and she falls for her English teacher. However, it is much darker than just a story of a harmless crush; because the teacher encourages it and he is three times her age.

The author goes into real detail as to what the two of them get up to and it makes for a toe curling read.

I just wonder what it is that makes us, as humans, feel this horrid feeling. I just want to cringe, curl up in a ball and close my eyes and ears. I think it might be the fact that it’s something I know is wrong, or something that we shouldn’t be privy to.

I say that it’s a horrible feeling, but yet it becomes compulsive; it’s like an addiction that just needs feeding. Perhaps, it brings up all of the memories of those embarrassing crushes we had on teachers and what would have happened if something would have happened there.

It’s fascinating reading and it’s brought up so many uncomfortable feelings and thoughts; something that I think is sometimes important to feel when we read.

Much Love

Rachel xx

P.S can we also just take a moment to appreciate that cover. It’s just so beautiful that I would love to frame it once it’s read.

bookshelf envy

Their perfect spines all lined in rainbow

Colours, red through to an indigo.

I wonder where we’ll go when they

Are peeled apart like autumn leaves,

Crisp and cream and full of life.

I wish that I could have that wall

That’s stacked from floor to high ceiling

But all I have is two or three,

All my favourites, may I add.

There are a lot of clever people on the TV at the moment. With us being in a really bad place with the virus, but also having a vaccine, there are a lot of experts being interviewed.

Normally, I try to switch off because they scare me, but I’m always transfixed by the bookshelves behind them. All I want to do is read the spines and wonder if they have inhabited the same worlds that I have. When I see a book that I have read, I get super excited.

I’ve always done this. When I was younger, my mum always bought interiors magazines and rather than looking at all of the soft furnishings and beautiful kitchens, I would look at the bookshelves.

I think it’s the true mark of a book lover when you are more interested in the bookshelves than the people. I am most definitely an addict.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

grappling with the unhappy ending

woman wearing crown holding frog figurine
Photo by Susanne Jutzeler on Pexels.com

It’s all we want to see,

A marriage or a birth, even just a kiss,

But if we look at my life

That hasn’t happened very much.

So should I lie

To my captive audience?

Gloss it over with with a varnish

That doesn’t seem to be so real

As we see in books and films and perfect dreams?

I’m writing a novel that I’ve been working on for a while and I’m almost finished but I’m struggling with the ending. The problem is that most people ‘seem’ to like a happy ending. We’re told that everyone wants one, but I don’t know if that’s true.

I may be a dark and depressive character (I really didn’t think that I was), but I love an ending that is sad. I love to be made to sob. Give me a death, a break up or a missed opportunity and I’m in love with your work.

Now, I know that you’re supposed to write what you know and like so my heart is telling me to kill off a character or make sure that the leading lady doesn’t get together with her man. But will that put people off? I went on Goodreads and looked at a thread where people just totally laid into writers that end their books on a negative note.

My thought is that life is far from being rosy and full of joy and happiness. There are moments of it, but life is more commonly complicated and messy. I certainly haven’t had many moments in life where I’ve thought ‘Oh good, this is my happy ending and now we are going to walk into the sunset.’

A lot of the arguments that people had was that we read to escape and so a happy ending is imperative. I’d be really interested to hear what others think? Are there any other sad depressives out there? Should I just break my main character’s heart? Because I want to.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the bench in front of the bookshop

assorted books
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I’d often sit on the lonely bench

In front of the bookshop, the one in town

With colourful displays of women’s fiction

And books for kids, filled with pictures

And adventures that I would never have time

To take part in myself. And I’d look at those tables

Out in the front, with books that have sold

In the thousands, the millions and been optioned

For TV and film with Leo DiCaprio in a starring role.

I would look at it like a sweet shop for kids,

Just wanting to touch each of the covers

And then I would wish that I had my place on those shelves,

My own little book with my name on the front

And a sticker that says ‘signed by the author’

And people would hurry inside to get hold

Of a copy of my work that I’d poured in my soul

And everyone would love it and critics would say

It’s the best bloody thing written this century.

I sit on my bench and sigh as I remember

That is not true and probably won’t be,

So I pull down my hat and tighten my scarf

As I move from the bench, already looking

Forward to the time when I can return to my bench

And live out that fantasy just one more time.