there's a colour in your eyes that nobody knows but me.

Monday, October 19

For a while there, the world lost its colour. Everything looked a bit grey and washed out. September was quite a disorientating month. It shook things up and, for one reason or another, at various points throughout its days, it left me crying in random places – on a ferry, wind in my hair, while waving goodbye to three figures I love on the pier; in the car during rush-hour, slumped at the steering wheel after a heart-open conversation, a salt-trail winding down my throat; in my room, packing books and vests and shoes into bags and boxes, the thought properly hitting me: ‘I am leaving tomorrow. I’m leaving, I’m leaving. And what happens now?’; on the edge of my bed that first night after clicking on the stars my Dad had unpicked from my wall back home and helped to string up here, in my new room in the city. 

(‘You need your stars, Lissa,’ my Mum said when I was in a quandary about bringing them. ‘I know that for myself. Sometimes, you just need your stars...’)

I was talking to my new class recently – in our workshop on ‘setting’ – about how there’s not really one ‘true’ way to see the world. Your surroundings look (and feel and taste and smell and sound) different depending on what day, and through whose eyes, you happen to be looking. 

‘What would your character notice about this place if they’d just had a fight?’ I said, getting them to close their eyes for a moment. ‘Or if they’re worried about an exam? Or if their heart has just been broken? What would they notice if they had good news? What would they see if they’re falling in love?’

At heart, studying writing – as in how to go about doing it, as well as just ‘what’s already been written’ – studying writing forces you to look quite closely at yourself. Or at least, it should do I think, if you’re hoping to write anything with resonance. You have to be willing to live and also observe yourself living. How am I reacting to this? Where can I feel it? Oh look: this is new – and what does that stir up in me? And how is it changing me?

Well, I observed myself recently being unobservant. My eyes were dried up. They were downcast and heavy and I’d mentally written the whole season off as grey and difficult. When actually – I looked up a few weeks ago to find myself staring at, swooning over, a sky so deeply red that everyone who stepped off my train pulled out their cameras – actually the world is quite beautiful right now. I mean, look at it:

Things aren't suddenly awesome now I’ve noticed the scenery. I don't mean to imply that (life isn't so simple). It's more - I'm just writing as a reminder to myself that: well, even so – in the midst of it all, the leaves are still crisping up (scarlet, gold, mustard yellow). The light keeps breaking through, turning chimneys and branches and window boxes and TV aeriels into something lovely. Something glowing. The world, your life, it’s bigger than ‘this’. Than ‘now’. Than ‘that’. Than ‘this feeling’. Take heart. 

The world is still turning. Look at it. 


All pictures by me, from here and there over the past month: around Glasgow, and also back home when I've stayed for the weekend. 

I listened to this albumThe Quiet Darkness by Houses, while I was writing. Recommended by my brother, Evan. The title is a line from one of their songs. You should give it a listen.


  1. Your writing is so inspiring and you always take the loveliest of pictures. Indeed, there are days when everything seems too vivid and days when all you see is washed out. And what you said about the 'setting' is true and such a great tip for writers ☺

  2. I love reading your posts and your photos are so peaceful and wonderful xx

    1. Aw, thank you for your nice words, Jenny :)

  3. This is beautiful, Melissa. I really enjoy reading your blog posts. x


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