They Will Return…

Dearest world of WordPress,

I would like to inform you all that, no, I have not fallen off the face of the Earth – though indeed it may have appeared that way after three years of inactivity on this here blog – so fear not! Last time I checked, I was firmly located on the Earth’s surface. So all is well (in that regard). So, where have I been? In truth, I have been dramatically sorting my life out, yet, alas, with varying degrees of success. Life is an adventure wrapped up in a mystery… I have struggled, I cannot lie, with my emotional state and stability, and nor does it help that I am often so insanely busy at work and barely find five minutes for myself. And yet I have had many moments of laughter and beauty, very much assisted by the new door I opened several months back. I think, after so many years of darkness and obscurity and internal prisons, I finally opened a door to green pastures and blue skies, home to a dazzling sun. It’s about learning how to read a map with a blindfold on, isn’t it, this whole life malarkey? Walking with your feet bound together. Finding the light in the dark. But! with hope warming in my heart as I type, I think I can finally see the route to my freedom.

But yes, the purpose of this post is to inform those of you who are interested that I am indeed still working on Book 2 of the Ilimoskus story. No, I have not finished it. Trust me, no one is more annoyed about this than I. But I shall discuss all this further when I’ve finished the first draft. I am so close to the end – so painfully close. I have only very recently gone back to the Ilimoskus world after so many months (heck, years, even?) of abandoning it. I am rusty, most certainly, and my fingers must find their movement of typing once more. Things here are covered in cobwebs abound, dusty to the core, and the characters are glaring at me from their dimly lit corners of forgottenness, disinclined to greet the one who left them to rot in the depths of memory.

But I shall brush off these cobwebs and blow away the dust, and I shall light a candle and hold my hand out for my world to take when it is ready.

I have new plans in my head. Things are having a bit of a shake-up. And they will happen. I will stamp my foot down with such force and cause this quake for myself. As I said, finally I have opened the right door – the door to freedom, and success, and hope, and everything anyone ever dreams for life to possess. This is the door to my future, and I shall gladly leave it open.

Keep your eyes keen, my friends.

The Ilimoskus will return…

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Star Child *

I have a friend (crazy, I know). Her name is Alex. Hi, Alex! *waves*. She has read my book, and she likes my book. This makes me happy, of course. Alex is a writer herself (a fantasy one, at that), and it is so lovely to have a friend who can share such things with you, who understands, and who actually knows what you’re talking about when you say ‘Sta’reghiime’, for example.

Do you know what that is? I highly doubt it.

It’s something in my book.

Which you would not know unless you have read it.

Funny how these things work…

A good while back, I was moaning to Alex about the languages I have created for my fantasy world. I wondered what possessed me to do three. Woeful. One language is simple enough, I suppose: that is Kurpian, the language of the Ilimoskus (my main language). The other two are… Well, one is the hardest thing in the world to pronounce/the biggest mouthful language going, and the other has the worst grammar. But who do I have to blame but myself? Why, Jenny? Whhyyyyyyyy? *falls upon knees and howls in despair*

But anyway. I was talking about my languages. Specifically Kurpian. Alex said that it would be cool to learn Kurpian (or something like that), to which I replied, “I’ll give you a lesson someday 😉

(An aside: The Kurpian language is traditionally a syllabic alphabet with limited logograms, which, in English, basically means there are symbols that represent syllables. There are always two symbols that make me smile, though, because “xu” looks like a smiley face with a massive nose, and “ly” looks like a man doing some funky dance. Behold: )

ohk

((An aside aside: Apparently one of the most ‘hated’ fantasy clichés is ‘Authors who go overboard in creating a ‘language’.‘ Oh, and also Anthropomorphism‘Non-human’ or sentient animal races that act, think, and socialise just like humans.’ Pffttt. Well, if that’s the case, AVOID my story at all costs. WARNING–WARNING–I tell you! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES LEST MY TERRIBLE, AMATEUR FANTASY STORY DEVOURS YOUR MIND INTO A STATE OF UTTER PARALYSIS FROM ITS SHEER ATROCITY TO THE FANTASY NAME. I love fantasy. Fantasy is my life. But I hate the fantasy ‘circle’ more than anything. It is the most critical, judgemental and contemptuous of all fandoms. Obviously, I’m not speaking for everyone here, but that’s the general vibe you get. Oh, and by the way, I actually have a very detailed explanation as to why my Ilimoskus are so humanoid, yet if I put such an explanation into my story I would be criticised for rabbiting on about information no one cares about, or for focusing too much on needless history as opposed to storyline. You can’t win, right? Which is why you should live your life true to yourself and write only from the heart. That’s my lesson for the day.))

So. There is a character in my book called Gnotsu Teeze (“NOTE-soo”, by the way – everyone pronounces it wrong). Gnotsu is the wise, wizened, wise man of the story. Obligatory in fantasy, no? A trope, not a cliché 😉 Though, if you ask me, he is more than just a wise elder: he is immensely powerful and mysterious – so much so that his kin do not even realise the extent of this. Gnotsu has dedicated the majority of his life guiding others in their greatest time of need – a carer and protector to all the sad hearts who come his way.

gnot-tt

This is a sketch I did of Gnotsu

Due to this, I often say, “Everyone needs a Gnotsu in their life.” We do. We really do. We all need a mentor to teach us the wonders of life, of nature, of the soul. Oft times I find myself pining for a Gnotsu conversation, to be before his exuding aura of perpetual wisdom *wistfully sighs*. But, it is precisely this teaching nature of Gnotsu’s that led me to write this post. Combining both things together (Alex and Kurpian), who better to consult than dear old Gnotsu?

And so, my friends, I share with you a fictional scenario between Alex and Gnotsu as she has a Kurpian lesson. Perhaps some context is required. Let’s just pretend that Alex woke up, drowsy and bewildered, thousands of miles away from home in an English wood which just so happened to be Kaxenff (that is, the home of Gnotsu). Gnotsu, being the compassionate soul he is, took Alex under his wing and taught her the ways of the Ilimoskus (and we shall ignore technicalities within the story itself, such as humans not being able to see Ilimoskus, but sshhhhhhhhh. Alex is special. She can see the Ilimoskus, ’cause I say so 😉 ).

(To people who do not know the story: There are going to be many strange words in this piece. I shall briefly explain them at the end. Strange words shall be underlined.)

Dear Alex, I know you could do with a Gnotsu conversation. I hope you enjoy this.

Love and light to you, x

***

Alex rushed through the holid, swerving past the kus coming her way as they gave her an array of curious looks. She was late.

She had not slept well, awaking before the dawn, and so she had decided to leave Gnotsu’s hohot and go for a quiet stroll through the woods. It was strange to be out in the Ilimoskus’ holid when it was so silent, so deserted, but she could not deny the sense of relief that filled her, for the lack of the foreign beings – kindly as they were – watching her every move meant she could dally and inspect to her heart’s content. She had absent-mindedly watched the sunlight burn the woodland in golden fire, beckoning the Flamikus to awaken, and, while sitting on a log near Idimis, observed kus undertaking their morning duties. She had not been here long, but she had already discerned just how diligent the Ilimoskus were. She had also discerned that they were seriously nosy, yet politely so, if that was at all possible; they forever peered inquisitively over her private doings, and she caught wind of gossip about her, such as, ‘She speaks very weirdly. Do you think she has something wrong with her?’ As gossip went, it was harmless enough, and she could hardly blame them – after all, she was as good as an alien to them, and she did speak very differently to them: her accent was Canadian, and theirs was a rather curious blend of English and… Kurpian? She supposed, were she with another human, she would be gossiping about them, too. It was only when some kus passed close by her, chattering away – and, of course, giving her a lengthy perusal – that she thought about their accent again. But then it suddenly hit her. She had agreed to have a Kurpian lesson with Gnotsu at first light. Dammit! She leapt up and darted away, giving all nearby eyes even more reason to look at her.

Once she had rushed back to his hohot, she saw that Gnotsu was waiting outside, his hands clasped together. Why did that make her feel so terrible? She continued to approach, now at a brisk walk, and Gnotsu spied her from a distance; he watched her every move with a placid expression, and when she was near he bestowed a warm smile.

“I-I’m sorry, Gnotsu!” Alex puffed, stopping before him. “I forgot!”

“Indeed you did. But then you remembered. Do not fret, Nieeb, for the recollection of our minds often fails us when our hearts are preoccupied with deeper things.”

“But… What deeper things?”

“You are new here,” he kindly replied. “This is a strange place to you, and you are in the process of adapting. Do not be hard on yourself.” He turned, holding back the door for her. “Come now, let us begin.”

She pulled a small but grateful smile and stepped inside. She saw that there were two wooden chairs – or, rather, stools – positioned to one side by the unlit fire, and so she headed over and sat on one, feeling much like she was back at school and about to take an exam. Ugh. Thank the gods the Ilimoskus did not have exams as she knew it.

Gnotsu wasted no time in getting down to business, as often was his way, and as he shut the door he spoke in his gentle, yet husky, voice, “If I were to say to you, ‘Ihmoiyon’, what would I be saying?”

“Oh, umm…” Alex sat contemplating, though she felt slightly bewildered after her rush and tried to rally her thoughts into some order. Ihmoiyon. She knew that. Come on, brain. WORK. “Err…”

Gnotsu smiled at her patent forgetfulness. “Shall I help you, Alix?”

She looked to the floor, thinking it would be better if Gnotsu did not see her trying to restrain her own smile. Alix. It did amuse her, how the Ilimoskus pronounced her name. “Uhh… Yeah, that would be really helpful, Gnotsu, thank you.” She looked back at him, having banished her smile for good.

“We greet one another this way in the morning,” he simply said.

“Oh!” she cried. Duh. It was so obvious now. “‘Good morning!'”

He dipped his head ever so slightly as his indication that she was correct, then moved closer to her, but still made the point to stand. “Now, I am going to speak to you in Kurpian, and you are going to tell me what I said in Akklun.”

“You mean English,” she automatically corrected, but then felt a wave of horror wash over her. Did she just imply Gnotsu was wrong about something? Could she be any more moronic? She had only been here a short while, yes, but she knew well enough that Gnotsu was considered the wisest elder in the holid, and no one dared to question him. Though, thankfully, Gnotsu was the most serene and forgiving kus she had met, and his eyes delicately smiled as he clasped his hands together.

“Lopa,” said he.

“…Hello,” she replied somewhat warily, for ‘lopa’ was the only Kurpian word she definitely knew, and all else he said would undoubtedly send her mind reeling.

“Yestana’asko-a Gnotsu od Teeze hon,” Gnotsu continued.

In Alex’s mind, the beginning of that utterance sounded like a complete load of babble, yet it was a particular strain of babble she recognised. She remembered Gnotsu teaching it to her before, and how she had fumbled over the syllables as if it were a tongue-twister. It did not help that Kurpian was spoken quite quickly.

“Every letter ‘a’ in the Kurpian language is short, without exception,” Gnotsu had said. “Like the ‘a’ in the Akklun word ‘apple’.

Alex tried to speak it once more. “Yes-tan-ahhhhs-ko…?” 

Gnotsu grinned, and then broke the sounds down slowly for her. “Yeh-stah-nah-AHSS-ko-ah.”

Alex sighed. “It’s a bit of a mouthful just to say, ‘My name is’, isn’t it?”

“My name is Gnotsu Teeze,” Alex repeated in English, having relived the memory of trying to speak that darn word, or phrase, or whatever it was.

“Yeestona’as-a pleh?”

“What is your name?”

“Very good,” said Gnotsu with a warm smile. “Now, Alix, I would like you to repeat that Kurpian question.”

Her heart plunged into her stomach. Oh, gods. “Err…” she paused briefly, trying to allow Gnotsu’s pronunciation to echo in her mind. “Yee-stoh-nah-AHSS-ah leh.”

“Valeciivie, Alix!” Gnotsu brightly praised. “Much better! Now, I shall speak in Akklun, and you shall repeat in Kurpian.”

Oh, GODS. Why? Resigning herself to what was sure to be the inevitable butchering of the wonderful, exotic Kurpian language, spoken from her stupid tongue, she softly sighed and nodded, noticing that she was pressing her lips together unusually firmly. Perhaps this was as bad as an exam, in its own, unique way.

“How are you?” Gnotsu asked.

Damn. Damn, damn, DAMN. In world-record fashion, she had already failed. She could never remember how to say ‘How are you?’ in Kurpian. Never. It was yet another mouthful phrase, and she remembered Gnotsu saying that there are actually two ways of asking this question: a formal way, and an informal way. Not that such a recollection mattered, because she could not remember either of them. She slapped her hands to her cheeks and pulled down at them. Why was Kurpian so difficult?

Gnotsu, observing Alex’s blatant struggle, calmly offered some assistance. “Do you remember that we focused on how to say it formally? Since you are not an Ilimoskus, and to appease the unsure minds of my kin, they would appreciate hearing the formal phrase from you. It goes, ‘Aa…’.” He paused, and a hopeful light glinted in the depths of his eyes that this would be enough of a recollection for her.

Alex sat, blankly staring. She feared that his hopeful light was soon to fade, since, even with his help, she could not remember. Though, from his helpful pointer, she remembered that the formal phrase did indeed contain the Kurpian diphthong ‘aa’. Oh, how she hated that diphthong. She could not pronounce it at all – at least not properly. It was the sound of a broad ‘a’, like ‘father’, but combined with this accursed rolled ‘r’ sound. It was like, ‘aaaaaaaRRR’, and she could not roll her tongue, no matter how hard she tried. She always sounded like a growling dog, or, if she did manage to roll her tongue properly, it went totally overboard and she sounded like a speed boat engine.

Gnotsu peered at her closely. “I sincerely hope you are not becoming stressed, Alix,” he judiciously spoke.

She shifted slightly in her seat. How did Gnotsu always manage to make you feel guilty about any emotion or thought you had just by looking at you with his dark, gentle eyes? “I… can’t remember, Gnotsu,” she muttered.

“No,” he said as if he already knew. “It is, ‘Aa-vickarvee pleh?’ Repeat it.”

ARR,” she tried to pronounce with all her might, though she knew she sounded just like a swashbuckling pirate, “-vih-kar-vee leh.”

“You are still struggling with the pronunciation of ‘aa’, but do not fret about it, Child – it is one of the more difficult letters to pronounce, and Kurpian is not your native tongue,” said he. “Therefore, to differentiate between ‘aa’ and ‘ar’, I would suggest you continue to put a greater emphasis on the ‘aa’ sound while you are still learning to perfect it.”

Had Gnotsu just told her to sound like a pirate?

“So, Alix,” continued the old kus, “tell me how you are.”

“Oh, I’m okay,” she casually spoke.

He smiled. “In Kurpian, Alix.”

“Oh! Right. Err… Fo unsc?

He chuckled most delicately as he cast his eyes to the ground, but then he stood in silence, frozen in his stance. “Are you okay, Alix?” he asked with atypical sobriety.

She frowned at his sudden shift of temperament, as well as at the question itself. “Yes…” answered she.

He peered at her with his head angled down most discreetly.

His penetrative gaze cut straight through her and she glanced away uneasily. How did Gnotsu do it?

“What can be gained from lying to your heart?” he quietly questioned.

“I’m not…” she began to reply, but she knew that she had no sharp rejoinder with which to respond. Besides, even if she did, Gnotsu would undoubtedly know it was a lie.

With the softest of sighs, Gnotsu walked over to the empty stool and sat himself down beside her. “All hearts hold sadness from time to time, yet, for one reason or another, we believe it necessary to hold onto it continually by means of denial. This weighs down our hearts, my dear child, for the burden of denied sadness is a heavy one. There is no shame in admitting sadness in the heart, for in this weakness we discover our strength. Tell me, Alix: do you know what happens when we deny the sadness in our hearts?”

Alex was taken aback somewhat by his direct question, so intent was she on listening to his wisdom. “Um… No…”

“It tries to escape,” said he. “In its desperate plight for freedom, it seeks to flee only to discover that the heart resists and prevents it from doing so. Thus, an inner conflict rages, and our souls then intervene, calling out to the heart in an attempt to convince it to set this sadness free. But the noise of the conflict is too loud, and our quiet souls cannot be heard. And so it is our souls are weakened, and, as I am sure you will agree, nieebko, this is not good. We Ilimoskus have a word for such an eventuality: diitharedan – the conflict in the heart and of the soul.”

Alex looked at her lap, feeling overwhelmed; she felt the sadness stir within her heart, clawing at the walls in its bid to escape. She found the courage within herself to look Gnotsu in the eye, beholding his benevolent face radiating solace as brightly as the sun. “How… How do you set your sadness free, Gnotsu?” she weakly asked, blinking numerous times to ward off the watery sheen in her eyes.

He took a moment to reply as the faintest origins of a smile emerged. “Cry,” was he simple answer. He placed his hand on her knee, and Alex felt the fiery heat of his skin even through her trousers. “Tears are the silent expression of our sorrow and our grief, are they not? The sadness flows out from our hearts, and so the heart is empty, but only then, when the sadness is free, can understanding take its place.”

“…Understanding?”

“Indeed, Nieeb,” Gnotsu softly spoke, clasping his hands together once more. “For when our sadness is free, the heart hears the soul once more and this harmony opens many a door for understanding ourselves and the world – this, we Ilimoskus call etalaresan. There is much wisdom in sadness, dear one. Perhaps sadness comes merely to teach us, and, in turn, help us be at peace.”

Alex indistinctly nodded, feeling her sadness swell in her eyes. “It’s a comforting thought…” she quietly said, too busy reflecting on what Gnotsu had said to be attentive to the volume of her voice. “But… if sadness brings us peace, why is it so… un-peaceful?”

Gnotsu chuckled. “We can look at the night sky and lament at the darkness while we wait for the sunrise, or, we can admire the beauty and wonder of the stars.”

“So… it’s up to us?” said she. “It’s our decision whether the process is a peaceful one or not?”

Gnotsu dipped his head so minutely Alex questioned whether he had moved it at all. But Gnotsu did not answer. There was quiet for a while as Gnotsu allowed her the time she needed.

She sighed, releasing the tension within herself. She could be peaceful. She could let her sadness be free. For in this weakness we discover our strength. But then she found herself thinking of the stars. Were they strong to shine amongst the darkness? “Gnotsu…” she said. “What’s the Kurpian word for stars?”

Gnotsu smiled warmly at this. “Ilckiido.

“Ill-kee-doe…” she slowly repeated.

“Elu’amel, niee’ckiido-niia.”

Alex stared at him blankly. “What?”

“Be at peace, precious child of the stars.”

This stirred her sadness more than anything else thus far, to such an extent that she knew she could no longer hide it, deny it. And so, looking at her lap, her eyes welled from the pain in her heart, and a tear trickled down her cheek.

***

Thank you for reading, my friends, I appreciate the time you have taken to reach the end.

I can only hope that you may take something from this little story, from Gnotsu and from Alex.

We can reconnect with wisdom in the subtlest of ways, if only our minds our open to receive.

Peace be within you,

~ JKM


Brief explanation of strange, underlined words:

Holid -> The equivalent of a city, in its way

Kus (Ilimoskus) -> The Ilimoskus are a race of elemental beings, at one with nature. The word kus is an abbreviation, but it can also mean ‘folk’. 

Hohot -> The equivalent of a house, or building

Flamikus -> The folk of fire specifically

Idimis -> A place name, a location, the heart/centre of a holid (‘city’)

Nieeb – or nieebko -> Nieeb means ‘child’, but it is often used as an affectionate term of address to anyone younger. Nieebko means “my child”, and is again used as an affectionate term. The ‘b’ is not pronounced: “nee-koe”

If I’ve missed anything and you’re wondering, please feel free to ask me and I’ll add it to this list!

Ancient Inspiration

Before I get to the main point of this post, I would like to take a moment to mention Windows 10. My laptop upgraded itself the other day. It’s all very well, I suppose – I have nothing to complain about. Unless, that is, you wish to count that I had only just got my head around Windows 8, and now I’m sure it will take me another century to work this one out too. One notable thing I must mention about Windows 10 is its sound. What pretty, delicate little noises it makes, no? Not like the earlier versions of Windows, like 95 and 98, which went DYOINK!! when you clicked on something sometimes. Remember that? And it usually gave you a heart attack, that strident noise. Goodness.

But this upgrade has caused me some grief in one respect: my phone input. I refuse to believe I am the only person who struggles connecting their mobile to their computer. With Windows 8, I had it sussed, all was well and life was splendid. Windows 10? I can’t. I don’t understand. It’s linked me to OneDrive and I cannot cope with such technological complexities. I am not good with technology, in case you hadn’t already gathered this, and, if I can’t cope with technology now, I dread to think what I’ll be like in ten, twenty, thirty years time. It took me about nine thousand years to get the photos from my phone to this WordPress post, with plentiful clawing at the face and near throwing-phone-and-or-laptop-out-of-window moments. But finally! Success.

Yet, one thing I found incredibly curious was how I rediscovered photos on my laptop which I KNOW I deleted aaaages ago. How on earth did Windows 10 bring them back…? Does Microsoft store all deleted stuff in some far-off, technological cavern to snoop on all your doings, or so they may haunt you with things you once believed to be gone for good? Hmm. Though, disconcerting as this thought may be, I did find it amusing trawling through old, once-deleted photos – namely the five hundred or so accidental photos I accidentally took with my temperamental laptop camera (I may be exaggerating just a smidge). Seriously though, how do you accidentally take so many photos? The stupid camera app thing on Windows 8 always got in my way, opening up in the middle of my work, and while my head was down or my eyes were elsewhere I heard a sly click; when I looked up, I saw my face looking back at me. Here are two examples:

WIN_20140214_095846 WIN_20140411_203740

I mean, there I was, minding my own business, TRYING to work, and my stupid camera takes a snap. I swear my laptop has a mind of its own. This is also quite a disconcerting thought. Sometimes, when I open up MS Word, the cursor does a mad jig across the page, or, when I’ve opened a large document (such as my manuscript), it scrolls endlessly down through the pages. Maybe it’s possessed. This is the only logical explanation, obviously. Although, I am pleased to say that accidental photos are a thing of the past, and it has been a long while since MS Word has had a funky jig. Mellowed with age, that’s what it is.

***

So, enough of Windows. In this post I thought I would write about writer inspiration (for myself, at any rate).

I am fortunate to live on the edge of Exmoor National Park, a beautiful landscape in the southwest of England. As a nature-lover, I can’t ask for much more. There are many beautiful walks and sights to see on Exmoor, all of which are no farther than a thirty minute drive away from me. The other day I visited a place called Tarr Steps. A slightly deceptive name on the face of it, for there are no steps at Tarr Steps – unless, that is, you associate the ‘steps’ with the physical stepping one does there. Tarr Steps is actually a Grade I listed (a very old protected structure of historical and architectural interest, for those not from England) clapper bridge, which is an ancient form of bridge usually built from stone found in UK moors and uplands across fords and rivers.

IMAG0228_1

There is some mystery surrounding Tarr Steps, since no one is quite sure how old the bridge actually is: it is believed to be a medieval construction, but that can range from anywhere between 500 – 1485 AD. The word clapper derives from the Old English wordcleaca’, which means “stepping-stones”, while the word tarr derives from the Celtic word ‘tochar’, which means “causeway”.

Causeway

noun

A raised road or track across low or wet ground

IMAG0232

The name “Tarr Steps” doesn’t seem so strange for this bridge now, does it? The causeway stepping-stones. But it is no wonder there is so much head-scratching about the age of Tarr Steps, since clapper bridges are constructions first recorded in the Middle Ages, yet its name, tarr, is of Celtic origin. It does annoy me when everyone associates the Celts to purely be the ancient folk of Ireland and Scotland, because, actually, the whole of Britain was once Celtic – the Celts were who dwelt on these lands in BC. There were three main groups of Celts across the northwest of Europe: the Gauls (France, Belgium, western Germany and northern Italy); the Gaels (Ireland and Scotland – Scotland was once called the Picts, I believe, but they merged with the Gaels); and the Britons (ENGLAND and Wales). So. There we go. It is only because invasions pushed the Celts up the country to Scotland, Ireland and Wales, and also down to Cornwall. Due to the hundreds of invasions Britain suffered over the centuries – from the Vikings, Romans, Angles, Saxons and Jutes – this country is a total, total mishmash of ancient cultures and languages, and the invaders ended up merging with the native Celts and their culture, though the Celts were mostly to be found in the corners of the country, which is why the country of England ended up differing and evolving more and more from the Celts they once were. It is, therefore, only fair to say that England has Celtic blood. Always has, always will.

Moving on from that history lesson (sorry about that, I’m a bit of a history geek), I often believe that we folk of Britain have a slight advantage over most other countries of the world when it comes to writing inspiration – certainly fantasy writing, at any rate. Why do I say this? Well, of course, there are fantastic fantasy writers from all across the globe – and certainly from America/Canada, which are very young countries compared to the UK and Europe – but dare I say their fantastical inspiration comes from the parts of history their countries never got the chance to live, to experience? The knights, the castles, the cavalry and the kings; the rituals, the legends, the magic and the myth. Whether we appreciate it or not, we Britons are immersed and surrounded by such rich, deep history, and indeed, it is so second nature for us to see an ancient building, to hear an ancient story, that many of us do not stop to think about it. We absorb this history. It is a part of our blood.

J.R.R. Tolkien changed the face of fantasy forever. Lord of the Rings. He was British.

J.K. Rowling captured the hearts of the world. Harry Potter. She is British.

C.S. Lewis. The Chronicles of Narnia. British.

Lewis Carroll. Alice in Wonderland. British.

J.M. Barrie. Peter Pan. British.

Beatrix Potter. The Tales of Peter Rabbit. British.

Terry Pratchett. Discworld. British.

Roald Dahl. (Too many to list). British.

T.H. White. The Sword in the Stone. British.

Needless to say, the United Kingdom has a pretty hefty list of influential fantasy writers. As children, our historical school trips consist of adventures to castles and ruins, and we are never more than a stone’s throw away from some historical sight or structure. I grew up by castle ruins. I used to go there and hang out with my friends, sat amongst the cathedral ruins in the outer bailey, or walked the dog up there frequently. When I was a kid, I vividly remember going to a castle on a school trip (Warwick, I believe – an AMAZING castle. Go there. Instantly) and we had to dress according to the times at court, so we girls were royal ladies with hennin (those weird hats) or with medieval hairstyles, and the boys were jesters or knights or other royal court people.

Stuff like this

How I wish I had a photo of my old class, but alas. You can imagine how thrilled we were as children to dress up as medieval dames and knights, parading around the castle and its ground to see jousting knight re-enactments and dances and music. What a marvellous country this is.

Needless to say, every time I visit/see an ancient place in this country, my mind swells with imagination, and ideas and thoughts zoom about. It is a joy. There is such wonder in inspiration from history. Of course, some places come to life for you, as demonstrated in the video, and so your mind does not have such an opportunity to thrive; however, even with that you can daydream about a maiden’s story, or a knight’s adventure. Let your imagination flourish!

Tarr Steps was busy with people on the day I visited – families making the most of the elusive sun – but the bridge itself is nothing but that: a bridge. What imagination can come from an ancient stone bridge? So much!

IMAG0223

Ancient places are so special. What stories do these ancient stones have to tell? What sights have they seen throughout the ages, and who have they greeted? I was but one more footprint to add to its immense history, already gone and forgotten. In centuries to come, will another stand upon these stones and wonder who walked there before them? Maybe they will stand in the exact same place I did.

***

Wander through an ancient place and listen to the tales the stone tells you. Your mind will hear! Let the grass or trees or river whisper to your imagination, and you may find the greatest story yet to be told.

May your mind be free and your heart peaceful.

-JKM

Stone Heart

Stone Heart

© Jennifer K. Marsh 2015

I feel your gentle touch as your hand caresses my cheek, and through your skin seeps only the deepest affection. I see your eyes of sparkling hazel, so glistening with kindness and consideration, and your smile is so warm, yet so roguish. What adventure do you have planned, my sweetheart? Whatever it is, I will follow you.

Prising my eyes open, I see no one. I see only the trees lining the river and its flow shimmering in the the dull sunlight. The water rushes by, but focusing on its movement and its trickling sound only makes my heart pitifully whine. It’s not the same here without you.

He bends down and picks up a flat pebble from the bank. Turning sideways on to the river, he draws back his arm before skimming the pebble across the water. I watch the pebble, amazed, as it bounces from us numerous times, farther and farther away, until finally it plops down beneath the surface. 

“How did you do that?” I ask in wonder.

“I dunno,” he says with a shrug. “Just do it.”

“I want to try.”

He bursts into a grin. “Pick a flat stone.”

I inspect the bank and find a reasonably flat pebble. Attempting to mirror his previous actions, I stand sideways on to the river and throw to skim the top of the water.

PLOP!

My pebble miserably sinks.

He laughs, relishing from my visible disappointment. “Try again,” he says, picking another stone for me. He places it in my hand, but, instead of letting go, he keeps hold of my hand and positions himself behind me, moving me for himself. “You’ve got to throw it at an angle, and flick your wrist. Ready?”

I nod, though even with his physical guidance I do not feel overly hopeful.

He pulls my hand back and attempts to manoeuvre it correctly as I release the pebble.  

PLOP!

“Wow,” he says, sounding genuinely impressed at my inadequacy. “You’re terrible.”

I playfully push him away. “Oh, shut up!”

Laughing further, he seizes his arms around me and rest his head on my shoulder, nuzzling his nose into my neck. And he does not let go.

Bringing my hands up to hold onto his arms, we stay in this position and watch the river afore us. We could stay this way forever.

I gaze at the river, my expression as empty as my insides feel. I pick up a pebble settled beside me, analysing it for a time; its mottled brown stone taunts me alongside all its awkward angles and rough exterior. I cannot help but wonder if this resembles my heart. I forcefully toss the pebble down to the water, watching as its splash creates ripples as it hollowly plops, sinking, down. Gone.

Like you.

Like my heart.


I know, I know. I’ve actually posted something. *falls off chair in shock* It has been a while, hasn’t it? I apologise about that. I don’t even have much of an excuse, either. Or any excuse, as the case may be. I just needed to be away, I think. Alas, I have had a lot going on in my stupid head – emotional rubbish that ruins everything. I lost my muse for blogging. I think it is still lost, to be honest, but I forced myself to write something. This piece was inspired by a dream I had last night. Inspired by life, would be more accurate, however.

But, although I lost my blogging muse, I am pleased to say that my muse for the Ilimoskus story – which had been absent for the entirety of 2015 – has finally returned with brutal force. And it is glorious. Oh, the endless joy! I cannot tell you. The progress I have made on Book 2 over the last couple of weeks has been greater than the entire year up to that point. I am encouraged and hopeful. With Grace, I will finish the first draft by the end of the year – so long as I keep this pace and enthusiasm up. How I missed this love for my story.

In fact, so potent is this love again, and so involved I am in the Ilimoskus world, that I find myself accidentally pronouncing English words wrong. This has happened before. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry in such instances. You see, for those of you who are unaware, the Ilimoskus have their own language, and I occasionally mispronounce English words as the Ilimoskus would pronounce them. Tragic, I know. Deary me.

For example, only yesterday I was scrolling through my Twitter feed when I read this one tweet. I can’t remember it exactly, but I remember saying this word in my head and going, ‘Huh? What? DAR-ing? What’s DAR-ing?’

Daring. Daring, people. It was ‘daring’.

I don’t exactly help myself though, since sometimes, when reading a book, I stop and say the words as the Ilimoskus would, were they reading it as if in their language. *sigh* Why oh why do I do that? This, for instance:

‘Upon hearing this, she lifted her head and stood tall, splaying out her beautifully dramatic wings.’ – English sentence, from my WIP.

“oo-pon ee-ah-ring THiss, shee LIFF-ed err hee-add and stood tahl, sply-ing oot err bee-or-tiff-oo-lee drah-mah-tiss wingz.” – Ilimoskus pronunciation.

Practise – that’s it. Dedication to my fantasy world. I’m not mad or anything… *shifty eyes*

Alas, such sacrifices we fantasy writers must make: forsaking sanity in the name of fantastical progress and development! Woopwoop.

*

Anyway. I’ll try to post more regularly, though don’t hold your breath. I have a book to write, after all 😉

Take care, my friends.

Blessings to you.

May your heart ever be light and bright.

Moonflower

Moonflower

© Jennifer K. Marsh 2015

There once was a man so holy of heart,
though oft times he wondered when his life would start;
he roamed through his town with his shadow forlorn,
beset by a sense that the world he must mourn.
For, though holy his heart, a piece was misplaced,
which could not be found with imprudent haste –
like flowers that blossom with each merry spring,
the timing of Grace is a delicate thing.

And as this man rambled through well-trodden streets
he yearned for a beauty for his eyes to greet,
but where could he find such delight to the eye
when all his surrounds were a joy so denied?
How this man yearned for the blush of a flower
to inspire a smile through his lonely hours!
And so with a sigh and a drop of his head,
he wandered away to meet what lay ahead.

His feet led the way, knowing not where they went,
but being a vagrant bettered silent laments;
he would wander afar to seek what had been lost,
through valleys and tors, and sunshine and frost.
Perhaps, so he thought, if he ventured these lands,
someday he’d return with a flower in hand,
for with hope in his step and with faith in his soul
he would find the stray piece to make his heart whole.

Ever onwards he went, though the flowers he saw
were pretty and special, and yet nothing more –
he saw flowers of peach, of pink and of blue,
but knew that in spirit for others they grew.
Though he was perplexed by the flowers in sight,
for they wilted not beneath the blazing sunlight;
they were as gentle and as fair as could be
and suffered none in the heat – which was not so for he.

How he longed for the shade as he journeyed the dale!
Alas, no trees he found to offer avail.
The sky above had not even a cloud
to ease the travail he felt on the ground.
Only woe he had found as he travelled abroad,
and so, with despair, he cried out to the Lord:
“Why must my heart bear such sorrow as this!
Why is your Grace not enough for my bliss!”

So passed the day ’til the sun’s fall was due,
for the dusk welcomed he with a heavenly hue.
Relief was his own when the heat fell away,
and so he awaited the nightly display;
soon he would see the diamond dance of the stars
and moonstruck he’d be by the light of afar.
His wonder so grew for the dark mystery –
a vision of glory so melancholy!

But then as he trod ever marvelling still,
providence sang over wind-smitten hills;
it taught him of patience – his heart would soon sing! –
for he was so blessed, and a lover of spring.
The truth of these words he could not deny,
but his heart still wept for a flower to find.
But then his eyes met, on the horizon faint,
the shape of a tree that compelled to acquaint.

The tree greeted him with a smile and said,
“Hail, weary traveller, may my roots make your bed!
Dear child of God, I bid you rest beside me,
for you are my keeper and in return I keep thee.”
The man offered his thanks, expressed humble and true,
but the tree spoke again, for foretelling he knew:
“I have heard word that a flower you seek:
Turn and behold! The Lord’s flowers are meek.”

The man turned and beheld but he could not admire,
for this flower was frigid and stirred no desire;
she hid her bloom from the light of the sun
and retired her beauty to instead only shun.
But though this was so, he was caught by intrigue,
for what flower can hide with such quiet mystique?
How would she be if she opened her heart?
Would she be fearful, or broken, or dark?

The tree chuckled and said, with much good intent,
“You know in your heart this here flower I meant!”
The man did respond, “But how is this so?
For she is no heavenly image I know.”
And the tree so replied, “And so that should be,
since her beauty is only for your eyes to see!
She has been waiting for her sacred spring,
for the timing of Grace is a delicate thing!”

He sat down in thought, pondering over his plight
as he was amongst the ever darkening light.
So came to be the sky faded to black
and the stars sparked to life for him to gaze at;
they waltzed around the moon’s silver throne,
but how could it be the moon seemed so alone?
And yet, even so, it was the sphere of peace,
and night brought him many a sentiment sweet.

But then he noticed amidst the gentle moonshine
that now arose Grace, for the timing was nigh:
the flower, with care, did open her bloom
beneath the pale light of the moon.
Her petals were bold in a delicate white –
an angel that shone in God’s holy light!
Her beauty was more than he could ever tell:
she was the moonlight’s own precious belle.

But what did he see when she opened her heart?
She held a fragment – his heart’s missing part.
She was of heaven, this he now knew,
for within her the Holy Ghost surely grew;
she was his gift for his heart so divine –
the piece he had always been yearning to find.
With blessings abound the Lord showed him the One,
and his heart was anew – a new life had begun!

Nevermore would this man pine through the hours,
for he had found her – his little moonflower.

moonflower


It has been a while since I have done anything on this blog, and an even longer while since I have written/shared a poem. I believe I’ve said before that I never write poetry unless deeply compelled to, and ‘Moonflower’ came to be in quite a… Well, I was cleaning the house when out of nowhere the idea popped up in my mind. I knew I had to let this one out. I don’t think I’ve ever written such a long poem, either – it just kept on going and going! Still, it tells a story, so it’s okay.

As for the odd (and not desperately wonderful) sketch I did to accompany the poem… I’m not quite sure what happened with that, to be perfectly honest. It wasn’t supposed to be what it ended up as. I planned to draw a tree with a man kneeling by it, admiring a blooming flower in the moonlight, but, when I sat down at my desk with pencil in hand, the above happened. For whatever reason, I drew a woman’s hand with the flower coming out of it… And the rest is history. Make of it what you will.

We have all heard of the glorious sunflower, yes? It is sunshine in a flower, blooming and flourishing in the sunlight.

But did you know there is a moonflower? What a gentle thing this flower is! It does not bloom during the day, but rather once the sun has set. It blooms throughout the night.

Lovelovelovelovelove

I want a garden full of moonflowers, so I may see its white beauty, and feel as if the moon’s essence dwells before me in a delicate flower once the night falls. And maybe these moonflowers can be grown amongst some sunflowers, for when one opens the other rests, and the sun is a joy to behold! The sun and the moon, different as they may be, are very much one. Though, for me, my heart lives on the moon.

An aside: I wrote a little song about the sun and the moon once – a ‘love’ story, if you will, between the two. 

‘So the two share the sky, though at differing times,

yet they long to know something more.

Can the sun hide away?

Can the moon see the day?

Would their yearning soon make them fall?’

***

I feel very much like the man in the poem at the moment. A wanderer. Lonely. Mourning what is not there to be mourned. Maybe I too should wander away in pursuit of my flower… *sigh* 

*

May you find your flower, be it one of the sun or the moon,

and be at peace, my friends.

Blessings keep you,

~JKM

Stay Strong

Words cannot express how long I have had to fight for every single smile in my life, and how difficult it has been to hold onto joy and light, thanks to crippling depression that has plagued me since childhood. Thank you to the never-ending continuation of burdens and grief. Really. Thanks. Thank you world, thank you life. I know I am dangerously close to sounding like a martyr, or maybe even a drama queen – ‘What the hell has she got to be depressed about?’ many might think – but unless you too have suffered with it, you cannot understand the agony it brings. Every day. Always. And I know there is so much I have to be thankful for, and indeed I spend every night reminding myself of this, but it is such a faint glimmer within the darkness. But a glimmer nonetheless.

And, to my dear mother, I want to apologise for all the added stress I brought you in my school days, in my teenage years, for I could not cope and I know it upset you to see me ruin myself, to fall into this unrecognisable being of burning anger. And I want to apologise for now, for still not being the daughter I wish I could be. You too have had many hardships, and right now we are both going through difficulty, and I wish I was a better, more stable person to help you somehow. Perhaps I am desperately selfish to spend my time crying and telling you how I cannot cope, burdening you, when you have had to be the strongest woman I know, raising three children alone – one of whom is disabled. You are so strong. How I look at you and think, ‘I wish I could be so wise and strong like you!’ Don’t be sad, Mum. Don’t cry. I will try to be a good daughter and friend to ease these times, though I do not know how. I wish I knew how. Maybe the knowledge of my love will do for now. And, perhaps, I should be saying all this to you in person, but we know how utterly hopeless I am at speaking my feelings aloud… Writing is my release and my solace. And so I write this, sharing with the world how wonderful I think you are. Someday, I will defeat depression once and for all, and be the girl I’m truly meant to be and the daughter I have always hoped to become.

I’ll hold your hand and we’ll scramble these rocks together, though I’m not sure how good I’ll be as support, for you have been the one to support me since forever. I’ll try, Mum. I’ll try…

Once upon a time I wrote a little rhyme… And I say this to you now, and to myself, and to anyone else out there who has silently been suffering with depression:

‘Silver moonlight in the night
shines down for all to see,
so where can the shadows hide
when even in darkness there is light?’

**

There is light, always. Stay strong ❤