Sunday, 7 October 2018

What is Your Favourite Type of Character?

I was tagged by a friend on Instagram recently, and asked to take part in a sharing a photo with the hashtag 'favourite female characters'. Coincidentally, one of my lectures that week was also about characters, their development, and what kind of characters readers like to spend time reading about... So I thought this post would be perfect to sum up my thoughts!

The Pool of Tears, Alice in Wonderland - photo by Ellie Morris

Answers in class were mixed, but for the most part people seemed to appreciate 'nice' characters. The genuinely kind, helpful, goodhearted sort (Bertie Wooster as written by P.G. Wodehouse is the first example that springs to my mind when I think of those qualities!). Characters that are witty were also generally well-received, according to my group discussion. Admittedly, there are only about twenty of us in that workshop, but I think there's some truth about the sweeter, more wholesome characters being popular.
When I think about who my favourite characters are, they also seem to fit with those traits for the most part, being characters easily sympathised with - and in Bertie Wooster's case, easy to laugh at and with, too!

Here are some of my favourite female characters, from the tag I responded to on Instagram:

Alice (Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll) ✧

Dorothy Gale (The Wizard of Oz series, by Frank L. Baum) ✧

Mary Lennox (The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett) ✧

Claudia (The Vampire Chronicles, by Anne Rice) ✧

Manuela von Meinhardis (Mädchen in Uniform, or The Child Manuela, by Christa Winsloe) ✧


As a whole, I tend to like the whimsical characters that daydream a lot and go on adventures, those that are brave, curious, and aren't afraid to show their emotions - Alice, Dorothy and Mary fit those descriptions well. I also like the passionate but tragic characters, such as Manuela and Claudia. 


This weekend was dedicated mostly to developing a new character of my own. It's such an exciting feeling, putting together a new person with their own thoughts, feelings, hopes, fears, and interests... I can't say too much because I'm planning on using her for some university work, but I came up with her in the Scriptwriting workshop and really enjoyed creating the image of her in my mind (though I 'made' her in scriptwriting I think she may fit with the short story module a lot better). 

I will say that I used a new-to-me software to plan things out, and it made the whole compiling of information from different sources a lot easier! If you ever want to try a more visual way of fact-gathering, with images, text, links and videos all in one place, OneNote is a wonderful software. It's basically like a notebook, with different tabs for whatever subjects or projects you want, and you can add 'pages' to them. 
Okay, so I might be late to the party as always, but I know I'll be using OneNote a lot more often now that I've tried it out! 

Aside from building on my character and doing homework (can you hear me crying? I'm sat in a lake of coursebooks and notes right now) I visited some antique bookstores, and I may have gone a bit wild... I came home with six books, only two of which are related to my course. 
"The Power" by Naomi Alderman was purchased for a lecture, and "The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories" by Angela Carter was *kind of* to do with my course, in that I came across her works through some tangent while doing homework and I really wanted to read more. 
Then I bought a 1970's book on dollhouses and making art dolls in an antique bookshop, and three other books in another antique store. 
A couple of months ago I posted about a book I found by an author called L.T. Meade - well, I wanted to find more of her works since I enjoyed that one so much. Part of the attraction is the collectable aspect of her books, being made in the 1890's-early 1900's and having spines like elaborate, lacy rainbows held in glass cases. If I'd been brave enough to take a photo, you would have seen what I meant as that room filled with antique children's books was just a dream come true, but I managed to find two more of her books - "Marigold" and "Water Gipsies" - and another one by Louisa May Alcott, called "A Garland for Girls". 
I absolutely can't wait to read them, but I have so much other reading that I need to do before I even touch them! 


To fit with the topic of this post, what is your favourite kind of character, dear reader? Let me know in the comments!

llie

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Poem: Beloved Grave

I thought I'd try something different. I haven't written a poem for a while, but I've had an idea about making "cut-up word" poems with discarded film photographs and vintage books, and it wouldn't leave me alone all week - so I had to make it.

Beloved Grave - Ellie Morris

This particular poem was inspired by the hours I spent falling down a Royal family rabbit-hole on Wikipedia. I came across an article on Princess Elisabeth of Hesse and by Rhine, who sadly died in 1903 at the age of eight; her death was caused by contracting typhoid fever at a family gathering with her cousins, and the details about her funeral and her father's devotion to her inspired me to write this.

I scribbled down my thoughts in my writing journal, then set to work finding the relevant words in an old torn book. Some letters had to be cobbled together as it was just taking far too long to find what I wanted, but I like the effect it gives!

llie

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

People (and sculpture) Watching

As writers we must look for inspiration all around. It's always important to read lots and lots, but taking influence from the real world, what we see and hear in our daily lives and environments is even more so. Overheard conversations can spark ideas, and the influence for your next main character could be just around the corner - literally!
Here I'm going to write about some of the curious people and things I have seen this summer, and the environments which I found them in, since I like to keep a record; the things I write are a mismatch of small aspects from everyday life, imagery and experiences found in dreams, and things I like in books and films - and I often like to write about young people, since it encompasses my own experiences, thoughts and feelings over the almost two decades I've been alive.


Football Match

I'm not usually a football fan, but since my younger brother is really passionate about it I decided to go see his match one sunny day in July. It's kind of interesting to see how kids interact with each other, especially in a competitive sport, which usually doesn't bring out the best in people... My brother's a good team player and I was pleased to see that everyone on both teams were pleasant too.

The surrounding area was quite unusual. Being a heatwave, the green fields were blazing hot and bleached by the sun, crunching underfoot. Behind me, where I sat watching, reading, writing and smiling, was the animal shelter where I volunteered since the beginning of the year, and an abandoned convent which was once the learning place of, shall I say "troubled kids" (I want to be nice about it because it's just one of those sad things, but working next door to that building I'd seen some kind of scary and unusual things!). The large metal crosses high up on the roofs would probably have burnt you if you were to touch them. Ants crawled over my arms and legs, over the picnic blanket and on top of my hat, trying to get near the apple which I did not want to share with six-legged friends.

The young footballers were red-faced and determined, sometimes getting accidentally tangled up with each other's legs on the pitch, being over-eager and clumsy. Babies murmured peacefully and spectators laughed, but what caught my attention was the repetitive, chime-like giggling of a group of siblings in the near distance.

Three girls and a small boy were playing with a flattened magpie, tossing it up into the air and laughing. Obviously it was dead - dead as a dodo, *coughs* - and they just didn't care or seem to mind. They threw it to one another and held it by its stiff, wide-spread wings as easily as a cardboard cut-out. The children were so innocent; death and bacteria did not bother them or send them scurrying away, but the latter notion scared me for sure. I wondered if I should get up and tell them to leave it alone, for it might've contained nasty germs and nobody else seemed to know of their game, but a parent beat me to it.
"Bye, dead bird," the children said softly as they went to go play hide and seek elsewhere.



Gallery

My parents have told me that I seem to attract strange interactions with other people. Maybe it's true. I don't like speaking with people I don't know, especially if something seems off about them, but as a timid-looking girl I guess it can be hard to avoid them in public spaces... Liverpool is a busy place - not as bad as London, but there are certainly lots of people, and it takes all sorts to make the world.

I decided to visit an art gallery which I've been to a few times before, since it contains a rather striking room filled with Grecian and Romanesque marble figures, bathed in whites and cream and black, which I figured would be interesting to photograph on my new/old camera.
Well, my favourite statue in the entire room could be spotted at once. I do admire little Puck, the mischievous sprite from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream". His grumpy face and devilish wings contrast greatly with his chubby-cheeked cherubic-ness, and despite the fact that he could not move or speak or do a single interesting thing, he was probably the best thing I encountered that day. I would have sketched him if I had time, but there was an 18th Century fashion exhibit in the next room!

One thing that soured the trip a little was the walk to and from the gallery. It was much longer than I remembered, especially since I'm battling some pretty bad fatigue at the moment, and with road works I had to walk a slightly different path. A man in an orange luminous vest was laid out across the narrow walkway, and so I had to step over him as there was nowhere else to go. Fair enough, I suppose he was tired too.
But walking that way, I caught the attention of a man on the other side of the road, who trudged through the traffic to approach me. He was drunk, and I was a little scared, though now I think back on it I find it a bit funny. When he spoke I couldn't understand him well, but I caught this:
"What colour are you?" I had no idea what he meant, since I'm obviously as white as a sheet and splotched red from embarrassment and exercise. "You can be any colour in the rainbow! Or all of them."
I ignored him since the only colour I could think of was 'leave-me-alone lavender,' but he continued to follow and pester me.
"Use your imagination. I'm sure you have one, don't you!" I ignored him more... then finally lost him at the crossing where he called me a "vampire" and then latched onto somebody else.


Well, that's people for you. When will any of this work its way into my writing? Probably not any time soon, but it was fun to write about my experiences!

llie

Friday, 3 August 2018

Creative Writing Pick-Me-Ups

All artists go through a period of creative block every once in a while, whether it is paintings they produce, or prose. What can be more frustrating than having a goal or deadline to meet, only to find yourself slipping into a routine of getting nothing done? Inspiration is a fickle thing, and so you have to grab it when it comes and then wrangle with it to stay, like some kind of wild, frenzied animal that wants feeding at the strangest of hours and then takes off the minute the front door is left ajar.
Left stunned from the inspiration beast’s great escape, what you need is a restorative, or a writing pick-me-up! Here are some of the things that help me when I’ve been left feeling beaten down after a battle with the beast. Perhaps you can also give them a go when creativity has gone out the window.

New Books - Ellie Morris

Take a break
This may seem like it defeats the purpose of trying to get back into a creative writing flow, but sometimes you just need to let go for a while. There’s no use in trying to force things, as it will only frustrate you further. Don’t feel bad about it, but pick up some of your other hobbies instead. It should be something relatively easy and enjoyable. I recently got back into photography and drawing, for example.

Find something new
Shuffle through some different playlists on Spotify and find a new song that you like, go through random articles on Wikipedia until you discover something worth perusal, start a new hobby which has been on your mind for a while now, take a trip out of town and go sightseeing, buy a new book, watch a film in a different genre… You might just find something that can join the missing links between plot point A and character B, or an idea for a new story. It’s unlikely that you can gather enough information for new ideas or motivation when you’re sitting still, watching the cursor blink on the screen, and doing the same old things every time.

Read lots
Lots and lots and lots, whenever or wherever you can. Unwind with old favourites which you have found interesting and inspiring before and explore new genres. If you’re finding fantasy or historical fiction old hat, dig up a classic novel to check out at the library or buy something from a relatively new author whose work you haven’t seen yet. Take a chance, for a balance of new and old can get you on an even keel again. Just keep reading, keep learning, keep persevering.

Read about writing, too
I’m sure you’ll always find new hints and tips! Search for creative writing blogs to follow and drop by the bookstore to look through novels written on the subject. Everybody has at least some room for improvement, and it’s important to recognise that and take steps to see how other people keep up their motivation and reach success. As a side note, I’m re-reading Stephen King’s “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft”, and even in this guide he lists lots of further references, meaning that I’ll be drowning in new improvement books to buy (my bank account doesn’t like it, but yay, I guess).
In the case of blogs, other people’s passion for writing can get you excited and ready to write again, too. Bouncing ideas back and forth with a writer friend will make the whole novel-writing journey easier!

Make mood boards
Gather pretty pictures and slam them down on a page. Write around those pictures. Just scribble, scrawl, doodle, draw, and fling paint around like you’re some kind of modern artist in an awful funk. If mum asks about the acid green paint on the ceiling, just say that it’s all for a good cause. But what does the green paint mean? Something about the colour green is calling you, and it must mean something. Write it down. Write anything down. And get messy with the glue. Afterwards, take a step back and try to figure out the bigger picture. How do those colours and things relate to your current piece? How are any of them connected to the current scene? Do they string together at all? Is it an environment, a person or an emotion? Can it lead to new things? Or is your room just in good need of a tidy right now?

Set a goal
Try for 500 words, even if you know they will turn out to be nonsense. Just get something down on the blank page. Don’t mull it over too much, but let it be a stream of consciousness uninterrupted by doubts or extravagant goals. Make a cup of tea or coffee before starting, get comfy, and then reward yourself with a small sweet treat afterwards. Next time, make the goal slightly bigger, until you’re back into your usual routine.

Change of scene
Take your laptop to a local café and camp out for the day. Make sure to take headphones and plenty of money for caffeinated drinks, and find a quiet corner to spread out notebooks, documents, and battle plans. If you don’t fancy spending any money, bring a notebook along to a park or garden and sit with nature, taking notes on what you see. Think about your story without actually having it there to intimidate you; this can offer a new perspective, as more often than not the finer, minute details are forgotten and the story is back to its original outlines, which is what drew you in to write the story in the first place. Just sitting somewhere other than at your desk (or wherever else you spend day after day for the task) can make things more interesting.


I hope somebody will find at least one point in this list helpful. Please let me know in the comments if you have any more ideas!

llie

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Books on my Nightstand: The Children of Wilton Chase, L.T. Meade

On my older blog I used to do a lot of book reviews. I didn't like that they were smashed between my dressmaking diaries and fashion/lifestyle posts like a strange, thematically unappealing cocktail, so I neglected them in the end, along with my original blog (but I do have plans to revive Miss Morris, so stay tuned...). This blog is more focused around my original writing posts, plus illustrations, personal logs, and photography, but since it's a record of everything I find interesting, it would be nice to bring back my thoughts on the books I read!

There is a charity-run bookstore in my town, which is coincidentally a branch of the animal shelter I work in. I used to go there a lot years ago, but kind of forgot about it until just recently. As soon as you walk inside the door, you are faced with a huge bookcase filled with old, musty, and quite pretty-looking books labelled as "collectables". How I forgot about that shop, I don't know.
The first thing I spot is absinthe green with a glimmer of gold, and I am immediately intrigued. Picking up the book, I realise that it has a Victorian girl on the spine, printed in faded coppery tones. The cover is equally as beautiful, promising adventure and sweet, easy-going tales with affluent, well-dressed Victorian children.
Well, there wasn't much else needed to convince me to buy it after that point, even without a synopsis or any other indication of the plot. The cover alone was irresistible.
I knew I would love it, and I was right. Sometimes taking a chance does pay off, especially if the book is cheap - I only paid £2.99 and I'm pretty sure that I'll treasure it in my collection for many years to come!



I didn't really know what to expect when I opened up the front cover. A small boy that once lived locally had lovingly written his name and address on one of the front pages, and a small note from the seller indicated that the volume was published in 1891. The back pages contained an extensive catalogue of the other books and series that the publisher offered, and they seemed to have a common theme as being "suitable gifts for school prize givings" (I actually managed to pick up another book from the same publisher in the shop - score!).
This book was obviously intended for children and pre-teens to enjoy, so I found it to be a light-hearted, fun read, riddled with messages of morality and good values, just as you would expect from a children's author in the Victorian era.

Wilton Chase is a huge, breathtaking stately home located somewhere in the English countryside, run by the widower Mr Wilton, who has many, many children, each one of them wild, rambunctious, and still aching from the death of their mother. Mr Wilton seemed like a very absent father to me, only setting aside one day a year to spend quality time with his children, and that is his birthday. His poor kids aren't even allowed to share the same building with him, and are confined to a separate wing... Therefore, the children are governed by a dear friend of their deceased mother, a long-suffering but ultimately kind woman named Miss Nelson. This kind of family dynamic wasn't unusual for the time period, but I still felt very bad for both the children and the nanny, since it seemed to me that the lack of parents/warmth contributed to a lot of the rebellion and bad decisions made by the children in this story.
Whilst the author did not condone any of their actions, she wrote of them fondly, with a great sense of understanding and sympathy, which I really liked. The children and nanny all got the happy ending I was rooting for, and there was none of the "little Johnny fell down a well and died because very bad things will happen to naughty children who steal" kind of spiel that I anticipated from this sort of story.
Most of the story is from fourteen year-old Ermengarde's point of view, and whilst she seems like a very rotten, selfish girl at first, I became rather attached to her and her plight. She has a great love for her elder brother, Basil, him being her closest friend, confidant, and the only one she seems to feel affectionate towards. It is the love for her brother, and her ardent dislike of her nanny, which sets her up for a disastrous chain of events when she was forbidden to ride in the carriage to pick Basil up from his boarding school. Seething over her punishment, she disobeys Miss Nelson and joins her father on the journey anyway, and one small lie became another, and another, and another, until she became completely tangled in them, risking further punishments and losing the high esteem that Basil had for her... Ermengarde was not a perfect character by any means, but my heart broke for her when she was so sure that her brother would not love her anymore due to a petty crime that was not her fault.
The class distinctions in Wilton Chase were a very notable theme, Ermengarde being forbidden by her father to associate with twelve year-old Susan, a farm girl that lived on their estate. Locked up in Miss Nelson's parlour while the rest of her siblings were enjoying a picnic in the fields, the poor girl was lonelier than ever, and when she spotted Susan gathering eggs beneath her window, she found her boredom relieved by Suzy climbing through the window and joining her in the locked parlour. They share a dinner and Ermie feels comforted by the girl's sympathetic words.
Miss Nelson evidently felt bad for leaving Ermie out of the picnic when her brothers were home for the summer, and came back for her. In a panic, Ermengarde forced Susan into a cupboard and locked it so that the nanny would not see her unbidden guest, then heading down to meet her siblings. Despite having what she wanted, she could not relax for the thought of her friend suffocating and screaming inside the cupboard, so she made an excuse to go back to the room and rescue Susan. In her haste to get back to the picnic, she leaves the girl alone in Miss Nelson's parlour, who, tempted by the resemblance to herself she saw in a miniature hanging on the nanny's wall, pocketed it and ran home, justifying it by the thought that she was too poor to afford a photograph or miniature of herself, so the portrait could be a memento of her beauty.
The miniature had a lot of sentimental value to Miss Nelson, and she was rightly devastated to find it missing from her wall. Everyone seemed to expect that Ermengarde had something to do with its disappearance, but it was only when Susan fell and broke her leg, ending up extremely miserable, feverish, and near death, that the culprit confessed her sin to Ermengarde.
Not wanting to get her friend or herself in trouble, Ermie has to jump through a lot of hoops and disobey her nanny and father even more, in order to return the memento to its rightful owner... It was only with the help of her kind-hearted, good and honest younger sister, Marjorie (who, although taking a kind of background role throughout the story, was actually a very sweet character and the key to resolving all those issues), that everybody ended up reconciling, Susan heals, and Miss Nelson gets back her beloved miniature.

The plot was relatively straightforward and I got through the book within a couple of days; I enjoyed it so much that I ended up thinking about it during my daily routines, and I couldn't wait until nine o'clock to get back into bed and spend hours reading about the characters that soon felt like friends. With a mug of hot chocolate, The Children of Wilton Chase, and a handful of cherries, the hours before sleep became like heaven! Call me childish, but I really loved it that much! There were also about six black and white illustrations throughout, all very delicate and beautiful. I couldn't wait to see each new one as the story unfolded.

All in all, it was very wholesome and heartwarming - a very good pick-me-up after reading Lautreamont's "Maldoror"!
At the moment I'm reading Mary Shelley's Frankenstein for the first time, and I'm absolutely loving it! What are you currently reading? Let me know in the comments below!

llie

Friday, 6 July 2018

Fragments: Maxime meets Leopold

Recently I've been thinking that it would be nice to introduce a new series to my blog, called "fragments". These kinds of entries will be based around small selections of my writing that I find interesting or meaningful, but will not include any spoilers or otherwise important aspects to the plots of my stories. Kind of like giving a 'taster' of my writing!

Scraps of “L'hôtel des Roches Noires”  - Ellie Morris

Below is a scene in my novel "Maxime", from chapter two. Maxime is a work in progress, and I'm currently at 37,000 words, but this particular scene has been edited and reworked quite a lot this year, since it was the selection I submitted to my university application.

In this chapter, Maxime is twelve years old and about to embark on a new adventure - the first day of his acting career, on set! He meets his strange, subdued co-star, Leopold, who becomes an important character in Maxime's story. 
The synopsis for my novel is here, if you are interested.


“How is your sister? Feeling better?”
“She has her surgery tomorrow. It seems to be very painful for her. My parents were rather upset that she got sick very quickly, and at such a bad time.” Maxime smiled apologetically at his manager, as a slight guilt for mentioning the timing of her illness was nibbling at him. “I wish I could have stayed to cheer her up.”
“I’m sure it will cheer her up to know that you are taking a huge leap in your career,” Monsieur Borde said, with a frankness that suggested Max was crazy to even think of staying with his sister.
With a nod of his head, Maxime climbed into the man’s sporty vehicle. His eyes were on the city unfolding around him. With a dusty blue sky, everything seemed to be covered in a slight haze. Cars crawled down the roads like big, blocky beetles in bottle green, chocolate brown, and sleek black. There were dark rain clouds gathering in the west, and a certain frostiness remained from the biting winter months they had endured in Paris. Both the elegant and the scruffy strode down and congregated in the streets, princes and paupers alike, hustling along to keep warm and reach their destinations. It seemed to Maxime that everybody who populated cities always seemed to be in such a rush, especially those from the most important metropolises around the world; nothing could slow them down, and he was glad to be in the car, as he was often skirted around like an annoyance and overtaken by gangly-legged men and brisk-walking, important-looking women in hats and heels.
 “We’ll be about forty to forty-five minutes, I suppose,” Borde said, and then looked rather anxious. “You don’t get travel sick, do you?”
Maxime assured him that he did not have motion sickness.
Guaranteed that the boy wouldn’t make a mess of his cushy new car, he sped off into the juncture — rather too fast for Maxime’s liking, but he kept his mouth shut. Once they joined the other cars in the meander down busy Parisian blocks, they slowed to a more amiable pace. Monsieur Borde tapped the wheel with his fingernails in distaste.
“I hate driving in the cities,” he commented. “Such a drag. The countryside is more fun, you’ll see.”
Max’s face paled. He rather enjoyed the snail-like crawl, and the slight movements of the car every twenty seconds rocked him like a baby. But once in the outskirts, things were speeding up a bit.
Fearing crashing and burning on his first day of his acting career, he clutched the edges of his seat and kept his back ramrod straight against the chair. The joy-riding Monsieur took his silence as appreciation for the fast life, as the boy’s face displayed no signs of discomfort.
“Fun, isn’t it?” he hollered over the roaring engine.
Max had no words. He could only let out a shrill, giddy laugh as his stomach performed somersaults and other acrobatic feats.
Soon, they were rolling across the gravel leading to the studio. If Maxime’s legs were trembling after his earlier journey, they nearly collapsed beneath him as he attempted to follow Borde’s lead to the entrance. For a split second his knees touched the gravel, but he quickly sprung back up like a Jack-in-the-Box as though it had never happened.
 “Maxime has arrived just now,” Borde called out to the halls, which wasn’t exactly embarrassing to the boy, but he wished that he could have made a more subdued entry.
Quickly, Borde briefed him. “They are a bit older than you, the other actors. Just remember your age, and to respect your elders, and you’ll be fine.”
Max’s pleasant nerves at the idea of meeting his co-stars quickly turned to sawdust in the pit of his stomach, heavy and indigestible. He went red, and then he went white.
“Do you think we’ll all get along?”
He knew he couldn’t survive in such a place if everybody loathed him or saw him as a little brat to be ignored, yet he put on a cheeky, provocative tone to hide the rise of emotion in his chest.
Monsieur Borde ignored his question, and as they turned a corner in the labyrinth-like palace of props, costumes and cameras, a young man popped into view.
He was conversing with another gentleman about thirty years his senior, and spoke in a hushed, secretive tone. There was a dull flush on his face when Maxime and Monsieur Borde approached, and he stopped the conversation short to consider the approaching duo markedly. Mostly, his dark eyes were on Max.
 “Leopold, this is Maxime de Faye,” the director, whom Max had met only once, proclaimed. “And Max, meet Leopold Ronis.”
Max stared back at the boy stood before him, gazing unabashedly, which made the director click his tongue and titter artlessly.
“I bet you two will get along famously,” he said with excitement, clapping Ronis forcibly on the back, who stumbled a little and began to look more uncomfortable than ever.
“We have our fingers crossed,” Monsieur Borde grinned.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

What's Left Behind in the Graveyard Maze

There's something really fascinating about instant cameras in this day and age. The fact that it prints immediately, and that you only have a limited amount of shots on the film roll make the moments more memorable, in a way. For a while I have wanted to go back to this particular graveyard in my town, which was once a place that I saw everyday from my bedroom window. Even when I moved house, the graveyard seemed to follow me, at least subconsciously. 

I have always found it a place of tranquillity and beauty, nothing sinister about it. As a child, it was just there, a part of everyday life, but in recent years I have dreamt of it on an almost regular basis. I have quite a few recurring dreams, so this was not distressing to me. In fact, the dreamy version of this cemetery is something that I can recall vividly; it sprawls across the hills for miles and miles - hundreds of acres, even - with each tombstone a work of art, packed in like sardines, and the early morning sky a dusky blue. 
Every dream has a different landscape, shifting into new things in each one, but somehow I know it is the same place, presenting a different guise. It is lush and crowded, covered with green. Unearthly, yet radiating peacefulness and a distant sense of melancholy, which doesn't quite touch me. Time stands still. It always does in the graveyard.
Eventually the sun begins to set, and a whole day has passed with me wandering the grounds or propped up against a tombstone. The sky is cast with buttermilk yellow clouds, and I lie down to rest. There is no point trying to get home, for I have walked too far to get back before nightfall. Yet somehow this doesn't worry me, I'm languid and calm. 


You can perhaps see why I was eager to get back. I find it a very interesting and pretty place, and although I don't know what my recurring dreams mean, I rather like them. It changes every time I visit, so this time I came armed with my Instax camera and a phone to take video footage.

I was not disappointed at all to find that due to the current weather, the entire place has been sun-bleached, adding to the sense of overgrowth and decay; one time years and years ago, I actually got a bit dizzy and fell as I walked through the grass. It was also summertime, in the midst of the ragged, angel-strewn paths. I was a bit stunned, so I just laid there, feeling the sun on my skin. The grass was dead, just as it was when I visited yesterday, and felt more like straw, scratching my arms and clinging to my hair and clothes. The heat and vast blue sky (which didn't quite make it into my photos, for some reason) reminded me of that day.

Perhaps due to budget cuts in my area, the graveyard seems to have withered and decayed even more since the last time I saw it. The church is boarded up, its peeling green doors double padlocked and coated with webs, and the caretaker's house has long been deserted, probably as long as I have been alive. The windows once had lace curtains, but now they have been torn down and replaced with wood painted black. Tombs have fallen from their foundations due to the recent snow, and the angels are bound with thorny branches. I found a pink silk rose, thrown nonchalantly to the statue of Jesus. Nearby, a bush had been dislodged from its roots and looked as though it had fallen from the sky, sitting next to the grave of a woman called Margaret. But despite the decline in care, wild poppies have sprouted in clusters around the entrance, and swallows dart through the air like missiles.

Last night I spent a few hours learning how to use a video editing software so that I could make this very short film. It is not perfect, or even good, by any means, but I had a lot of fun cutting clips and editing it all together! Here is the result:


The angel headstones are probably my favourite part of the place, which gave the name to my blog: "Nocturne des Anges". It can either mean a Nocturne piece of music, since I love classical music (especially Satie), or a nighttime scene, bringing to mind angels singing in the night.
If you watch, I hope you enjoy seeing the features of the graveyard as much as I enjoyed filming them!

llie


 
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