Monthly Archives: November 2014

A Writer’s Notebook -The Lady of Shalott

I have changed the background of my blog. I enjoyed the old background for several years and decided it was time for an update. I hope you like the the new background. The details of where I found it:

A site called The Peacock Mirror which is owned and managed by Julia Kerr. It sells gently used books, vintage prints and other items. 

The image I downloaded, The Lady of Shalott, painted by Florence Harrison,  was free. Thanks Julia for having such a lovely image on your site, I’m glad I stumbled across it.

I won’t leave it so long to change the background next time. I enjoy the process of creating a richly coloured and imaged blog.

Best, Elise x

An extract from the poem:

The Lady of Shalott  
by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Part I

On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro’ the field the road runs by
To many-tower’d Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott.

Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Thro’ the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four gray walls, and four gray towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.

By the margin, willow veil’d,
Slide the heavy barges trail’d
By slow horses; and unhail’d
The shallop flitteth silken-sail’d
Skimming down to Camelot:
But who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand?
Or is she known in all the land,
The Lady of Shalott?

Only reapers, reaping early
In among the bearded barley,
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly,
Down to tower’d Camelot:
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers ” ‘Tis the fairy
Lady of Shalott


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A Writer’s Notebook

One of my favourite writers is  Virginia Woolf.

Woolf on Modern Poetry from “Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown” (1924)

Grammar is violated; syntax disintegrated; as a boy staying with an aunt for the week-end rolls in the geranium bed out of sheer desperation as the solemnities of the sabbath wear on. The more adult writers do not, of course, indulge in such wanton exhibitions of spleen. Their sincerity is desperate, and their courage tremendous; it is only that they do not know which to use, a fork or their fingers. Thus, if you read Mr. Joyce and Mr. Eliot you will be struck by the indecency of the one, and the obscurity of the others. . . . Again, with the obscurity of Mr. Eliot. I think that Mr. Eliot has written some of the loveliest single lines in modern poetry. But how intolerant he is of the old usages and politenesses of society–respect for the weak, consideration for the dull! As I sun myself upon the intense and ravishing beauty of one of his lines, and reflect that I must make a dizzy and dangerous leap to the next, and so on from line to line, like an acrobat flying precariously from bar to bar, I cry out, I confess, for the old decorums, and envy the indolence of my ancestors who, instead of spinning madly through mid-air, dreamt quietly in the shade with a book. For these reasons, then, we must reconcile ourselves to a season of failure and fragments. We must reflect that where so much strength is spent on finding a way of telling the truth, the truth itself is bound to reach us in rather an exhausted and chaotic condition.


Linking words help you to connect ideas and sentences.

Giving Examples

For example, For instance, Namely

The most common way of giving examples is by using  for example or for instance, namely refers to something by name.

Adding Information

And, in addittion, as well as, also, too, furthermore, moreover, apart from, in addition to, besides.

Ideas are often linked by and. In a list, you put a comma between each item, but not before and.

I will write more about linking words in future posts.

Have a great writing week,

Elise x

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100 years on with Poetry from the Trenches

Wonderful post from Stephen Liddell. Re-blogged by Ekaterina Botziou.

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A Writer’s Notebook


Persephone Books is a bookstore in the UK. When I was in the UK I didn’t know about this wonderful bookstore and I will certainly visit it next time I’m  there. I’ve  had contact with the staff through email and  have found them always to be courteous and helpful.   Persephone Books reprints neglected fiction and non-fiction by mid-twentieth century (mostly) women writers. Each one of their collection of 110 books is intelligent, thought-provoking and beautifully written, and most are perfect presents or a good choice for reading groups.  I am always so excited when I receive my copy of the Persephone Bianually. I have recently recieved the Biannually for Autumn/Winter 2014-15 with a portrait of Nina Hamnett painted by Roger Fry (A member of the Bloomsbury Group) in 1917 on the cover. She is wearing a dress desighned by another Bloomsbury member, Vanessa Bell and made at the Omega Workshop.

Persephone Books now have twenty e-books. To quote from the Biannually: We know that our readers like the beauty of our books, and they like to feel a book in their hands; nevertheless we feel it is important to offer some of our titles electronically – partly for readers abroad who do not want to pay the cost of postage, partly because an e-book reader is so much lighter to carry than a book, partly because we would look old-fashioned if we eschewed e-books entirely.

But do we like them? Well, we do not dislike them.

On their list (110 books) no. 33. The Far Cry by Emma Smith, is a beautifully written 1949 novel about a young girl’s passage to India: a great Persephone favourite. R4 ‘Book at Bedtime’ in 2004. Preface: author.

Have a good writing week (with Christmas fast approaching time may be limited).

Elise x


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A Writer’s Notebook

I read an article recently in a writing magazine about getting so bogged down in the research for a book that the author didn’t think he would every get round to writing the actual novel.

The first place you search is your imagination for ideas for the story you intend to write. You might have heard of a real-life happening from the past or a story from your own family or a newspaper story that can be used as inspiration. You will know where your story is set so read fiction or non-fiction set in that part of the world. If you want to place a character in an enviroment you are not familiar with find a book set in a similar place. No detail is too small to overlook. I read a book once by an author from the nineteen-forties  who wrote about Australian aborigines and had obviously never read about our indigineous people because the scene she wrote came out of darkest Africa. It took much away from what was otherwise a page-turning novel.

The depth of research should be seamlessly intergrated throughout your story. I research the most important historical facts and leave the smaller facts until I am writing. If I want to know the type of hat a person would wear in a particular scene I  spend a half-hour on the internet or a relevant book from my library to find out. The reason is that small scenes are often added along the way and I might never need to know about the type of hat. It saves time.

I am not sure about visiting places that you are researching, some authors do, some don’t. If it is historical research often the place your are researching is changed beyond any recognition. It might now be a carpark or a new housing estate might have built and all the old buildings demolished.

I have visited America but never been to Northern California where one of the chapters from my completed novel is set. I researched on line, read diaries and books written in the era I am writing about, and asked two friends that I workshop with, one Canadian and one who spent many years in America, to give me their opinions on the chapter. I asked them if the writing transported them to the time and place the chapter is set in. I also asked if they noticed any jarring notes or incorrect facts. They did and after listening carefully to their comments I changed or added a few words here and there. Their constructive, helpful and thoughtful advice made this chapter all the better. But be careful who you share with as you have to be able to discern what comments or suggestions will help your work without changing it too much. It’s your story after all.

A short excerpt from my Northern California chapter:

Robert  turned left at a bend in the road and drove up a short trail bordered by tall oaks, a cascade of purple bougainvillea blossom spilling from their highest branches. He slowed and Vivien followed his gaze to a one-storied silver-grey cabin on a rise bordered on three sides by pine trees. ‘Well, this is it,’ he said. 

The cabin to which they came, built in the late nineteenth century of straight pine logs that once must have smelt of resin, was roofed with silvered cedar shingles; it had a wide porch and a fragrant hedge of fading lilac blossoms. It was a place where a hundred generations of feet had padded across the soft brown pine needles. Vivien imagined gold-bearing rocks beside dry trails, meadows and wild bees, and the smell of wood-smoke laced with maple branches.

I have a feeling that I captured the essence of this beautiful part of the world.

Have a great writing week, keep your fingers tapping on the keyboard, or your pen (or pencil) racing across a notebook,

Elise x

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