Thursday, 16 May 2013

Ghost Stories

Have just started to read an anthology of ghost stories and am looking forward to being a little bit terrified by them. The collection has been compiled by Everyman in their Pocket Classic series and the writers included are on the whole from the early and mid 20th century.

I won't be able to leave it at that. I'll then have to gather ghost stories from modern writers and then look into the psychology of enjoying fear at a distance via stories and films. There's no doubt that I'll ruffle through the pages of Christopher Booker's The Seven Basic Plots - Why We Tell Stories for his take on the pleasure and purpose of creepy stories. Then I'll be compelled to write my own ghost story.

Recently I did begin a story about a haunting and set it in a very modern urban environment but it ran out of steam as I wrestled with the source of the ghostliness. Imagined or actual? Ahhh, the pleasures of writing. Who could possibly succumb to the pleasures of chocolate biscuits or the lure of crime with so much to do?

Have you seen a ghost or something unsettling that can't be easily explained?

Monday, 13 May 2013

Seeing the Familiar For the First Time

Look at this gorgeous photo. I look at it every day as it's in my bedroom. When I bought it from a junk shop in Dorset I used to wonder about the woman whose picture has been taken. What's her name? She has long straight limbs and dark hair that must sit at her waist when she stands. What colour is her dress and what is it made of? Is it a dress or a piece of fabric artfully tied? The pose is interesting. I wondered what she was expressing and what her relationship was to the photographer.

In the photo, which might be from the 1920's or 1930's, she's young. I used to wonder about her; an older woman with older limbs who had wonderful memories of the day and perhaps wondered where the photo went to. I liked to think that there were several photographs like this of different women in different poses. I'd love to see them!

The photo has the name FABERGE written underneath it and the details N.L. FABERGE, 11 Avenue Studios, 76, Fulham Road, SW3. written on the back. Who is that? Who works from his or her shop now? Are they related to the famous fabulous egg Faberge's?

I've seen this photo so many times I fail to be curious about it now. This can happen when writing a poem or story. Or a play or novel. Looking at it time and time again can make details vanish. That's the time to turn away from it. Put it on a bookshelf and leave it alone for long enough to forget it a little. Returning to work after an absence allows writers to have another brief chance at a first impression. After such absences it's possible to pick out flaws more readily, edit more finely or be pleased that the work is saying what it was meant to say.

Yesterday I walked through an area I usually drive through. I couldn't believe the details I usually miss. A house with five cactus plants in the porch that were taller than the door. A row of houses that were so well maintained and scrubbed clean they sparkled. An alleyway with elaborate gates to keep vandals at bay. It's not necessary to go to great lengths to find a new perspective in writing. Have a break of some sort or read a book that you wouldn't normally choose. Read some short stories or poems for a quick burst of energy. Better still get your friends to pose artfully like the woman above and write about that. Should keep you out of jail a while longer! 

Do you have a photograph that reminds you of an event or is a source of wonder? Could you write about it?