from my window

Wednesday, May 30

As I sit here typing, the sky is tinged with pink. The lighthouse across the water flashes a tiny spot of white light every ten seconds. I can remember standing by this window in my pyjamas when we first moved in, counting, waiting for the flash (‘One elephant. Two elephants. Three elephants...’). Having a lighthouse across the water was one of my favourite things about this house. That... and the fact the house had stairs in it. (We used to live in a bungalow so stairs were a novelty ...I’ve always been easily pleased.)

There are birds whistling outside. Only... is whistling the right word? It’s difficult to write about birds singing without it sounding a bit clichéd...

‘Chirping’, ‘chattering’, 'twittering', ‘tweeting’ (ha!)

... no word seems to describe everything that is caught inside the sound (peacefulness, solemnity, innocence...)

This is something I’d like to work on over the summer... learning how to put words to life in a way that captures the essence of things. The kind of writing I’m interested in is found somewhere in-between the kind of writing which is bleak and unemotional and the writing which is unrealistic and saccharine. It's easy to fall into either extreme, but I want to try and be more balanced. I want to write words which ring true, words which celebrate the extraordinariness of 'ordinary' life without being sentimental... (this is kind of what my dissertation is going to be about next year).

Along that subject... here is something interesting that I read recently about sentimentality and women’s poetry:
‘Cutting across time and culture, women’s literature has always emphasised feeling. In the nineteenth century in [America] – with the notable exception of the poetic genius of Emily Dickenson – feeling in women’s poetry fell into a sticky goo of sentimentality. Sentimentality comes from an inability, for whatever reason, to look reality in the face. For its power, it depends on the stock response. The feelings expressed are derived ones, feelings not authentically based within the writer ...’
~ From Marilyn Sewell’s introduction to the poetry anthology Cries of the Spirit.
Definitely something to be avoided! She writes later on about the importance of writing with and about feeling:

‘To honour feeling is in itself prophetic, in a cultural system that glorifies the “rational” and the scientific as the sole authors of our salvation while we plunge headlong toward hell. Women’s poetry most often exists to move us, not to entertain us with clever use of language, nor to explore abstract philosophical positions. It is a way to the heart. It opens the door to the spirit.’
Anyway... after this somewhat all-over-the-place post, I’m going to go to my bed. (It is now completely black outside and the only thing I can see through the window is my own reflection!)

(Pictures from: Becca Stadtlander.)

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