the first and the last page

opened book on tree root
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Opening the book and cracking the spine,

The excitement of diving in through the words,

Those black and white portals

Where new people live, never before

Met by another, and dancing through pages

They’re waiting for you. You bring them to life

For just a few days you exist together,

Loving and hating til death do you part,

And when the last page is turned and they leave

They take a small piece of your bright bursting heart.

I can’t be the only person who feels like a little part of me has died whenever I finish a book. Especially when you adore the characters – how difficult it is to move on and leave them behind? Or are they moving on and leaving you behind?

I sometimes feel like the best characters do carry on with their lives at the end of a book, in some parallel universe that I will never be a part of.

It’s heartbreaking when you close a book and find yourself having to say goodbye and I wish you luck with the rest of your life. I wonder if those book characters ever sit on the other side of the story and think about me?

Much Love

Rachel xx

COVID is worming its way in

woman in brown dress holding white plastic bottle painting
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Its warty fingers tear at us,

Our lives, our literature

Is peppered with its ugly spores,

So normal now

What once was strange,

We’ll always know this time.

There was a time around February or early March last year where I think we all believed that COVID was serious but would probably blow over in three or four weeks. Oh how naive we were.

It’s strange because now it seems to be permeating the one place that I used to escape to: books.

I have started noticing books where the main characters have started homeworking and there are children’s books that will mark this time in history too. It seems that the bug that I thought would pass in a few weeks, is going to last for eternity in the form of pictures and words.

It was weird reading the first novel where COVID appeared and it felt like a bit of a jolt because that part of my imagination had remained untouched by the virus thus far. It almost felt as shocking as it did when we first started going into lockdowns.

I guess that goes to show just how powerful our imaginations are, and how it is almost like another ‘real life’ world that we occupy. Make sure that you fill yours with good things.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the beauty of grief

she brushed the strand of hair away from her face/ a tear dropping onto the order of service/ just six months ago she could never have imagined this moment./ the moment when the doctor breathed out and shuffled his papers awkwardly/ the word ‘terminal’ rattled around the room/ a pinball ricocheting from walls and floors of the office/ hurting them with each circuit of destruction./ the journey that followed took her own breath away/ and she often remembered that doctor exhaling bad news./ and now here she was being gripped by those spasms of deep, ugly love./

woman sitting on wooden planks
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I don’t know what it is about grief, but you can write the most beautiful things about that one emotion – and it fascinates me. How does something so painful, birth such perfection when it comes to writing?

I’m currently listening to the audiobook of Dolly Alderton’s ‘Everything I Know About Love’ and it really struck me how beautifully she described the grief one of her friends experienced. It was so perfect that I felt my breath catch in my chest – and that is the sign of some powerful writing.

The friend she wrote about had lost her sister to leukemia, and then just a few months later her fiance broke off the engagement just two months before the wedding was supposed to take place.

It could have been a bit over-dramatic – because, let’s face it, it deserves to be! – but Dolly made the sadness so subtle that I felt it creep up on me and almost swallow me whole. That just seemed so much more effective than bashing the reader over the head with bad news.

It just got me thinking about how beautiful sadness is. It hurts like hell when it happens to us, but think of all the books and poems and songs that wouldn’t exist without this overwhelming pain.

Much Love

Rachel xx

pumpkin season is open

woman in black long sleeve shirt sitting on bench holding jack o lantern
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They arrive so quietly, sneaking their way in

To the supermarket doorways in 6 foot boxes,

Autumn fruits spelling the end of the heat

And evenings so filled with red woolen blankets

And hot chocolate mugs on the longest of evenings.

I should hate this time of lengthening shadows,

Of coats and scarves and warm bobble hats,

But I rather love the scarier books

And the rain on the windows as I curl up inside,

With pumpkins on doorsteps and cobwebs in windows

And kids dressed as ghouls with buckets of candy.

It is this week that I have noticed the leaves starting to change colour and it has reminded me how much I love this time of year. I know that all the sun worshippers hate this time of year, but I just adore it.

My dad lives for the summer and becomes so grumpy as the longer nights set in and the weather gets cooler. I really like curling up on the sofa with a scary book and really getting into the spirit of October.

I think that a lot of it comes down to the fact that I am an introvert and I love that all the summer garden parties are done and nobody wants to leave the house any more. I get to sit at home and not feel like I’m being rude or selfish or any other thing people think about introverts.

And then there’s the books! How much do I love it when all of the booktubers start reviewing thrillers and horrors. I love the plot lines almost as much as I love the book cover art.

I’m just made for this time of year and I wish it could last forever. All I need to worry about is the Christmas and New Year parties that are just around the corner.

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

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

the reasons why we do it

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To find our riches and our fame,

The love for us will roll from lips

Of strangers, friends and family

All hoping they can bathe in light

Emitted from our regal bodies,

Casting warmth to toast their fingers,

Palms turned up to take in heat.

But what will happen when that fire

That rages in our bodies dies?

Will they turn away, bundled in their coats,

Shaking heads at what a disappointment we have been?

We have to do it for the fun of it,

The simple joy of having done a most fantastic thing.

We mustn’t do it for the love, the adoration

Or the Facebook likes. That will sap

The peace we crave underneath the fame.

I was reading Matt Haig’s Notes On A Nervous Planet and there was one of the notes that really stuck out for me. It was about our need for ‘things’ and I know that it is something that I struggle with, looking at what other people have and wishing that I had it too.

However, he made a really great point that wanting can also be seen as lacking. It is fine to want something; I guess that as humans we are programmed to need some goals and there would be no point in working if you couldn’t treat yourself once in a while. But that feeling of needing a new pair of jeans means that there is something lacking somewhere else in us.

It’s something that I’ve known and understood for a long time, but it did make me stop reading and take a moment to think about the message. I think it’s something that we all need to stop and think about sometimes. We are at our happiest when we are just being, so I know that this week I’m going to spend a bit more time enjoying the moment.

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

is there a book that was written about me?

pile of assorted title book lot selective focus photographt
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There is a writer somewhere near

That heard my story on a silent wave

That wafted through a window gaping wide

And whispered neatly in his ear.

My story did inspire his hands

That tapped away at clicking keys

And came together bound in leather

Into books that sat on shelves

And made the people laugh and cry,

To feel my human soul just sigh.

I sometimes feel like books were written for me and then less frequently there are occasions when the book seems to be written about me. I’m reading one of those at the moment, and I feel like it’s the sign of a good book; when the words speak to you on such a level that you really believe your story entered the writer’s psyche.

I wonder if the writer does sit at their desk and there is some magical spirit like substance that permeates their room, giving them an idea that is so close to your own story that you have to pause while reading the words, just to catch your breath.

I read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert a couple of years ago and she talked about writing a story that didn’t work out for her. And the day she decided to give up the story, she visited her friend, Ann Patchett. She hugged her friend and sat having a lovely coffee with her, never mentioning the story that she had decided was a failure.

A couple of months later she spoke to Ann again and Ann told her that since their last meeting she had been writing a story and she described the exact plot that Elizabeth had been working on. It was as though the idea had just bounced from one writer to the other.

So, if these creative ideas do just bounce around the atmosphere, surely our own life stories are out there to be grabbed and written down? To me, that’s quite an incredible thought.

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