Category Archives: inspiration

the Lennon Wall

Amidst the browns and greys of the old streets of Prague, Czech Republic there lies a secret rebellion of colour. Well, maybe it isn’t so secret, but the twists and turns of the cobbled streets that lead to it make it feel as though no one knows about it, this deliciously clandestine wall, filled with paint and love and Beatles lyrics.

Years of youthful ideals, fearless love and sticky layers of paint all form the kaleidoscope of riotous colour. Love is the answer, all you need is love, love knows no distance or time. White doves and red hearts, peace symbols and outstretched hands. So hopeful, so sure.

We had Styrofoam cups of gluhwein nestled in our gloved hands, and the spicy warmth of the wine seemed to mix somehow with all those colours from the wall, making the cool breezy day suddenly intoxicating and vibrant. I felt like anything was possible, staring up at those bold words.

The Lennon Wall has been a place of freedom and positive expression for decades in Prague, a message of hope and love in the centre of a stricken city, created by rebellious artists, students, intellectuals. It has been painted over several times by the authorities, but within a day or two the messages reappear, and soon the wall is covered once more, a fantastic illustration of the resilience of the human spirit.

Never have I felt so at one with those around me as I did on that day, holding my gluhwein beneath that vivid expanse of bravery and love. I wished that I had a paintbrush too.


the versatile blogger award mixed with a little liebster

I was so surprised and pleased when Pommi nominated me for the Versatile Blogger award, and Amy for the Liebster! Thank you! I know that my blog tends to jump around over the place, between general musings about life, fiction snippets and travel photos, so it’s great to have a positive name for this – versatile (as opposed to confused!). I’m mixing the rules a little here between the two nominations, but basically the idea is to tell everyone a little about yourself and share some love by linking to some other great blogs.

So here goes, here are seven things about me, and below are seven blogs that I love reading and look forward to each day. Thanks again for reading everyone, it’s really amazing to have your support and interest!

One. Coldplay always reminds me of my father fist pumping.

Two. I grew up on a sheep farm in Rotorua, in the middle of the North Island of New Zealand. I like to say I spent my days getting scratched by blackberry and shooting rabbits, but mostly I just wandered around the farm picking flowers and singing to myself.

Three. I was always the dreamer of the family (see above point).

Four. I recently learnt to enjoy red wine (thank Portugal), something that makes me feel very grown up and proud of myself.

Five. I love the word fleeting. It sounds like you need to catch it.

Six. My iPod ranges wildly, from gangsta rap to floaty Enya to extremely embarrassing pop. I love it all, but I think my absolute favourite song is Roady by Fat Freddy’s Drop (but that will probably change again tomorrow).

Seven. I love swimming in the rain and power cuts.

The following blogs are mostly about travel, photography and life. I hope you enjoy them.

Marina Chetner – Be inspired through travel

Pete Carlsson – some great photography

Design Revolver – design tips, architecture and photography

Pierr Morgan – beautiful photos, awesome inspiration

Tales from the Hills – wonderful outdoorsy photos and writing

Robotic Rhetoric – some interesting musings and revelations

Sue Healy – great writing advice

so this is what it feels like

It’s finished. All is written and done, and all that is left behind is a slight echo of typing, a sweet nothingness. November has been amazing. Busy, wonderful and awe-inspiring.

We left Spain with its strangely rainy skies and overpopulated coast and caught the train up through France, to visit Nice and Monaco. We ate a baguette with camembert overlooking the beach in Nice, and shared an over sized beer, shivering a little in the weak sun.

I wrote thousands of words over thousands of kilometres, in speeding trains, on rickety hostel computers, in cold train stations and on pretty park benches. There were late nights filled with writing, and always, no matter how far we had come in a day or how many countries we had passed, I knew I still would have to write somehow. And so the words came, because they had to.

The story twisted and changed with each new place, if the sun shone, the sun shone in my novel too. If there was wind twirling around me, there was wind around my characters too. I made them clutch at scarves whipped away from their necks and pull at stray hairs stuck in glossed lips.

The cold hit us when we arrived in beautiful, clean Switzerland (which deserves another post, big enough in which to convey my love for that wonderful country). We spent eleven happy autumn days there, dreaming of staying forever. We left through Liechtenstein, much to the confusion of the many train conductors who helped us. ‘But why do you want to go there?’ was a frequent question.

It turns out they were right, and the highlight of Liechtenstein was the ten metre stretch of crunchy leaves that we happened upon. We trained on through Austria, and Venice, and then up to Slovenia, a vastly underrated beautiful country. I wrote in an old prison in Ljubljana, maybe including a little too many symbolic trappings in my writing.

From Slovenia we travelled to Budapest, Hungary, and spent two days exploring the famous ruin bars of the city, and soaking in the amazing baths. We found a wonderful Christmas market and ate until we couldn’t anymore, and then just sat and watched the children ice skating beneath the millions of twinkling lights, hot steaming cups of mulled wine cradled in our hands.

And it was in Budapest that the glorious, long awaited day of November the 30th arrived. I wrote and wrote that morning, sitting on the rickety bed in our huge €8 room, pouring my entire heart into the story, giving my characters every emotion that I had. The intensity picked up and kept going, and I felt my heart racing as the word count jumped up, higher and higher, almost erratically.

Then, all of a sudden, it was done. The little word count on the bottom of the screen said Words: 50,003 of 50,003. I stared at it for a second, a deep flush of pride sweeping up from somewhere around my stomach. I had finished it.

When I was at primary school I was given an award for my writing. I was only nine, and the ‘story’ was just a few lines, but a few lines that I had poured my heart and soul into. I didn’t finish the story, and my teacher said as she was awarding it to me that I never finished my stories, and she wished that I would. I laughed it off like all of the other children, but that comment has stayed with me for the fifteen years since.

So when I saw the word count I paused, but only for a second. Because I wasn’t finished yet. And I realised something then which made me smile as I kept typing. I’ll never be finished. This is only the beginning.

NaNoWriMo – here we go

So NaNoWriMo is tomorrow, and I’m starting to regret that I don’t drink coffee. I’m both scared and excited, but mostly curious to see what happens. I have a general idea of what I’m going to write about, but I also have a sneaking suspicion that the pressure of 50,000 words in 30 days is going to warp it somewhat. I’m also curious to see what effect that each country we travel through will have on the story. Maybe while we are here in Morocco donkeys laden with spice sacks will wander bewildered through my scenes, and my characters will stop for mint tea a little more often than is strictly necessary.

1,667 words a day is a daunting prospect, but I’m hoping that that pressure is what’s going to make it happen. It feels legitimate, official somehow, now that there’s an organization with a website and thousands of fellow bloggers taking up the challenge too. It’s a comforting thought, that all around the world this November there will be writers suffering from insomnia, writers staring at that blinking cursor, writers drinking coffee around the clock and getting out of bed at 4am for the third time to jot something down. The things we suffer for our art! I also think that the accountability will be the nudge that is going to make me get up in the mornings and go straight to my laptop. Now that I’ve told everyone there really is no backing out, or I will be cast into failed writer-dom forever!

So I guess that my blogging will mostly be travel related this month, with the occasional excerpt from my novel to see what you all think. Hopefully the writing won’t be too shockingly bad! Good luck to all you fellow NaNoWriMo-ers this November too, I’ll see you on the other side.

this is what i love

I love writing. I love the feeling of ideas pouring out of my mind, flowing strong and steadily through my nose, through my mouth, even through my very blood down to my fingers, which tap and tap as fast as they can to try and capture some, to get the words down on paper. Sometimes it’s like trying to keep water in your hands, to stop those thoughts flowing away, or like trying to remember a dream that’s just out of reach, reduced to a flurry of colours in the peripheral of your minds eye. This is what I want to do.

my talent is zoning out

One of my aunts said recently, when speaking about me as a child, “oh that girl didn’t even need a body, she just lived in her head!” For some reason when I heard this I found it mildly insulting. But then I thought about it for a while, and realized this is completely true, and a rather apt and perceptive view of me. When I was child I spent all of my time reading, entirely tuned out to the chaotic world around me. There is a lyric that I love, from Sam Sparro’s song Black and Gold,

if vision is the only validation, then most of my life isn’t real’.

I love this because it is exactly how I feel. I spend most of my time far away, imagining, fantasizing, dreaming and creating, all in my head. Rainy afternoons spent alone with my thoughts are my Zen oasis, and I love wandering aimlessly with my iPod, my mind free to roam boundlessly.

Sometimes I think it’s underrated, time spent dreaming, forced down on the priority list by tasks that seem more productive, more immediately beneficial to the To-Do list. But for me, nothing’s more productive than silencing my body, and listening to my mind. For me, all the wild stuff in my head is inspiration enough. Everything else just fades away.

just do it

I used to think that if I had the tools, the writing would come. As long as I had a mechanical pencil and a nice, big notebook with room for my ideas the words would just spill out of me. But that wasn’t the secret.

I just had to start. Now that I’ve started I write on anything, with anything. I am constantly jotting thoughts on my phone, or scrambling for a napkin to scrawl on at a restaurant (which, coincidentally, quite often seem to be the first medium of epic ideas – most of my fathers anyway). The point is that if you um and ah about things too much, you miss it. Don’t postpone it. Don’t miss it.

Just start. Just get out there and do something. Take advantage of the hundreds of opportunities that surround you each day. Create something new. One of my favourite quotes is “if you’re not prepared to be wrong you’ll never come up with anything original”. I love this. So what if some people don’t like it? Some will. And even if no one does you can always try again. Just start writing, or painting, or drawing, or taking photos, or dancing, or singing, or running. And no one will laugh at you, because you’ve gone one step further than they have. Instead of talking about it endlessly, you’ve actually done it.