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
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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.

the trees that speak to us

maple leaves on tree branch in autumn garden
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Through the fields we go with dresses

An inch of mud that stains the bottom of our dresses

Wishing we could talk to trees

And dreaming of the things they’d say.

Would they tell a story of a sweet romance

Or of the Austen girls that bounded by?

I wish that I could speak to them

And hear the tales that they would tell.

I live very close to where Jane Austen was born. I sometimes go running and pass the church where her father was rector and it’s lovely to stop and remember the fact that Jane could well have stood in the very spot that I am standing on.

I’ve sometimes found myself out on my runs through the fields, wondering what the trees would say if they could talk. They would probably have seen Jane bounding past in the same way that Elizabeth Bennet would have done so.

I also used to work in a forest and I sometimes felt like the trees would whisper as I walked through, especially at night when I could hear them creaking in the wind.

Trees are so permanent and so romantic. They offer shade in the heat of the day, and they beg for lovers to carve their initials in their bark. They must hear and feel so many whispers of love and hissed arguments.

I feel so lucky to live out in the countryside and to have so much literary history so close to me. To have rested under the same tree that Jane may have also sat below is such a beautiful thought and I wish that they could tell me everything that they have seen.

Much Love

Rachel xx

on being quotable

white paper with be yourself everyone else is already taken print
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Finding clever words that roll from silver tongues

And light the sky like peppered fireworks

Dazzling the excited crowds that gather far below,

That is want I want to do with parcels of

My syllables that spread before the readership

And show them what reverberates inside my golden soul.

I always feel really jealous of writers that are quoted over and over again. I see their amazing words that can be lifted from their work and applied to so many aspects of life, and I think, why couldn’t I have written that?

Charles Bukowski appears a lot, and then there’s JK Rowling, and not forgetting Maya Angelou. There are so many others but their words echo across the internet and sink into our hearts when we are feeling downcast and uncomfortable in life.

They make the rest of us wonder why we’re not as inspired as they are. Where do these words come from? Are they sent down by angels, and whispered into ears while they sleep? Or are they just a little bit cleverer than me?

Whatever the secret to their magic may be, I wish that I could have a little of it sprinkled over me this Christmas. I never want my face to be recognised in the streets but I would feel honoured to know that my words have healed.

Much Love

Rachel xx

trying to be 10% braver

Bound with ugly chains that clunk

With every movement forward in

A time that should be full of joy,

Not ghastly fear and heated coals

That burn the soles of eager feet.

We should be flying for the stars,

It only takes a little boost,

The confidence to spread your wings

Is so much less than what you thought.

I’m a chronic worrier and I know that my self confidence has taken a bit of a battering over the years. I’m working on making it better but sometimes things come out of my mouth and it’s only once its out that I realise how awful and self deprecating it sounds.

We have professional studies on a Thursday morning and the mentor makes sure that we have someone in the school talk to us about how to make our teaching better. It is great but sometimes the conversations that open up can reveal some of my issues.

I think the mentor was getting a bit worried that I was going to drop out of the course because she’d overheard a few of my self directed quips. Anyway, she pulled me to one side and gave me a book.

It was called 10% Braver and it was written by a movement called #WomenEd. The book focuses on all of these inspirational women in education and how they had to overcome their fear to get where they are.

I’m sometimes a bit skeptical of these self help type books but this one is a bit more practical. And the message is a bit easier to digest for those of us who are always scared.

Just be 10% braver and see where it leads. I don’t need to be 100% braver and decide that I want to become the Prime Minister. All I have to do is take a small step. Send an email. Ask to meet with someone I admire. Apply for a job.

I’m really giving it a go and it feels so much safer than going all in. I’m never making a decision that is going to change my life, but put them all together and I’m getting there.

What has made it even nicer is that it was a free copy of the book that my mentor gave me. She told me that once I had finished with it I should pass it on to somebody else who needs it.

I may never be a head teacher or even an assistant head, but I could be a role model for someone and wouldn’t it be nice to pay it forward one day?

Much Love

Rachel xx