“Ah… the ‘p’ word,” said my friend Claire, yesterday, which seems a good point from which to start today’s blog post. I wonder what that phrase meant to you when you read the title.
Perhaps, because it was juxtaposed with a photo, you thought I meant pears. If so, you probably wondered why they would be unmentionable except by initial. Certainly we weren’t talking about pears or fruit of any kind yesterday. But as I had the photo from a recent walk in the park, it seemed as good a picture as any from which to start.
That’s not the first pear to appear on the blog: just ten years ago I wrote a post called a perfect pear and accompanied it with a photo of one of the fruits from the orchard. And certainly perfection might be a word that some people would prefer to keep at a distance.
I thought of that post – and that particular pear – when I saw a rotting pear on the tree in the park. Putrefaction always holds a kind of allure for me and my camera.
But, it wasn’t pears or perfection we were talking about yesterday. We were talking about publication and about the subject of my latest book, which went live on Amazon this week.
As regular readers may have gathered, I will write in just about any genre, except long-form fiction. I mentioned a few weeks back that a friend in Spain had asked for my help with a writing project, although I think I was a bit cagey at that stage about what exactly was involved.
In fact, my friend, Lucía Moreno-Velo, wanted to pick my poet’s brain, and the original project brief was to edit the book of Pagan prayers that she was writing during the 2020 pandemic lockdown.
I admit I was a bit taken aback at the request, but I have always believed that a professional writer can turn her hand – and pen – to anything. So I agreed.
The project quickly turned into a full collaboration, with prayers and poems blending seamlessly together and each of us sharing and contributing to each other’s work in a joyful co-authoring partnership of a kind I hadn’t known was possible.
We would arrange a video call and work together on a single Google document. Starting from a draft written by either one of us, we would read aloud, criticise and comment. Then we would start to tinker. Lucía might type a new version of a line and I’d see she’d used a word that would fit elsewhere, so I’d snip it out and paste it in where I wanted it, sometimes tossing out an alternative and sometimes just hoping she’d find one for herself. And Lucía would do the same to me as I tweaked and twisted the words and phrases, lines and verses that we felt needed improvement.
Although I do remember who started each piece in the book, in the end there is no individual ownership – they really are jointly written. I’m proud of the final product – a book that is spiritual rather than religious and sits in the space between devotion, mindfulness and poetry.
But it is true that telling people about the project is a little odd, if not to say problematic. It’s bad enough to have to admit that I write poetry. But writing prayers, and specifically Pagan prayers, is something that doesn’t accord very easily with the world of business and professional networking, even though my business is very clearly a part of the creative sector.
And that was what Claire and I were talking about yesterday. As an ex-English teacher, she is used to referring to poetry as the “p” word, but I think we agreed that Pagan, Prayers and Poetry were all equally anathema to many people.
So, too is self-promotion.
But perhaps the readers here are less likely to be put off by such things. In which case, you’ll find the book – A Wound In Time – on Amazon. If you want to know more about the project, you can also check out the Modern Pagan Prayers website.
If you’ve made it this far down the post, thank you. And I think you deserve a poem. So here’s the first piece from the book:
In the tree outside my window, the birds were singing at dawn;
I, too, raise my voice in thanksgiving.
On the neighbor’s stoop, the cat grooms herself, carefully, earnestly;
I wash away the past and start each day anew.
The oranges on my kitchen counter are bright and unashamed;
I will be true to myself in body and mind.
The coffee cuts through early morning blur to clear my head;
I will offer honesty to those I deal with.
There are dandelions in the yard, their faces wide and welcoming;
I greet this day and all it brings with cheerfulness.