There is nothing quite like a book. It can entertain us, educate us, make us laugh, make us cry, amaze and delight us, frustrate us, and sometimes confuse us. It can toy with our emotions – lift us up, or exhaust us. A book can be our best friend. A trusted companion. Console us during our low points, take us on adventures we could only dream about, to places we could only hope to visit.
If a friend said “Come on let’s go!” – I wouldn’t need to know where. My only question would be “When we get there, will there be books?”
There are lots of quotes, by lots of wonderful people. Here are just a few of my favourites.
“In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.” ― Mortimer J. Adler
“Isn’t it odd how much fatter a book gets when you’ve read it several times?” Mo had said…”As if something were left between the pages every time you read it. Feelings, thoughts, sounds, smells…and then, when you look at the book again many years later, you find yourself there, too, a slightly younger self, slightly different, as if the book had preserved you like a pressed flower…both strange and familiar.” ― Cornelia Funke, Inkspell
“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka
“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” ― Haruki Murakami
“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” ― Madeleine L’Engle
After we stop pretending that everything’s alright
After the lies have all been told
After we realise that day may no longer follow night
After our children’s future has been sold.
Will we show remorse, beg forgiveness, be sad?
That we chose THINGS over their hopes and dreams
Will our kids understand, or will they just be mad?
That their parents didn’t love them enough, it seems.
The Earth, abundant in nature, wore a smiling face
But we traded it, in our greed for money
Nature is the loser in our in-Human Race
A toxic broth is our reward, instead of milk and honey.
When we were one with nature, just like insects birds and trees
And the gods of the forest were our guides
Everything was perfect, nature met our needs
But we traded it for status, shiny things, and lies
We ignored our forest gods and worshipped god in the form of man
Declared ourselves above and separate from the natural world
And that sadly, is where our troubles all began
And we’ve been fucking things up ever since!
I make no apologies for the final line. This poem follows on from my previous post also titled “After we stop pretending” about how we continue to pollute and destroy and how it may be too late to make the changes we need to make, to save our own lives. I have tried to give the poem rhythm and rhyme all the way through until the final line. It’s abrupt….doesn’t rhyme….and represents our disconnect from the rest of the natural world. I have never felt so angry, or so impotent to change things….to make things right.
Whether you believe in man made climate change, or whether you think it’s simply a natural cycle, that creates the rise and fall of global temperatures, what is undeniable is the fact that we – by which I mean you, me, the folks next door, the people down the street and most of all the people who have become rich and powerful – are responsible for polluting and destroying our natural world. And we covet our baubles and shiny possessions so much that we are content to allow the destruction of the thing that gives us life, and what would guarantee that our kids and grand kids had a future. If ONLY we had the courage to stand up and say ENOUGH! But we don’t care enough about nature and we DON’T love our kids and grand kids enough to have the balls to protect them. It’s sad….it’s really quite pathetic….but it’s the truth. Otherwise we’d be on the streets demanding change in an unstoppable show of public disobedience – displaying unselfish courage.
We watch what’s laughingly called “the news” on our TV’s at night and the lead item SHOULD be about how we are destroying the earth and more importantly what we are, or should be, doing to turn things around. But instead we allow them to distract us with stories of Donald Trumps tweets, or about which celebrity has had Botox, or arse implants, or which politician has been cheating behind their spouse’s backs. Anything to avoid the real issue. Anything to put off switching off the consumer driven growth economy and changing our own comfortable lifestyle. It seems that we love money more than life itself. We deserve our fate.
I’ve been frankly amazed and somewhat relieved at how well my few attempts at poetry have been received. Thank you so much for the likes and positive feedback. It’s not something I intend to do a lot of (writing poetry) but I will be inflicting the occasional poem on you from time to time, if the inspiration hits me.
Here are a few quotes about poetry from the famous.
Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words – Robert Frost
Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility – William Wordsworth
What is a poet? An unhappy person who conceals profound anguish in his heart but whose lips are so formed that as sighs and cries pass over them they sound like beautiful music – Soren Kierkegaard
and finally one that resonates with me…
I wrote some of the worst poetry west from the Mississippi River, but I wrote. And I finally sometimes got it right. – Maya Angelou
Sometimes I think that we’ve lost the humanity that defines us as Humans. We’ve lost our way in the grand scheme of things…if a grand scheme ever existed. We’ve adopted systems that don’t work for everyone. Systems that divide and conquer and build wealth for the few. That value material wealth over the wellbeing of our lives and of our planet. We’ve been fed the lie that we are more intelligent than other species and therefore ride rough shod over them, and nature as a whole. How can we be more intelligent when we are on the brink of destroying everything, including ourselves? I was sitting here, this morning pondering the mess that we’ve allowed to happen and wondering to myself “where do we go from here?” This poem just kind of flowed out as I sat and wondered if the future brings hope or despair.
Enid Blyton (11.8.1897 to 28.11.1968) must surely be in the running for the title best children’s author ever. A prolific writer who produced a daily average of 6,000 to 10,000 words and wrote over 750 books in her life time. During the early 1950’s she achieved her peak output, writing 50 books a year. Think about that – 50 books in one year. Even though they were books for children, that is a phenomenal amount of writing.
It came at a cost though. Even though children loved her books and the characters she created, and that most of her stories were centred around happy and stable family situations, AND that she loved to entertain and teach children….she had little time for her own daughters. Prior to finding success as a writer, she was employed as a nanny and a teacher and developed a fondness for children…other peoples children. Once she became a well known author, her obsession with writing and self promotion took priority over her own children, and her husband, who were pushed into the background. Her writing occupied most of her waking hours and the children were left in the care of nannies, or when old enough, shipped off to boarding school. Photos of her with her children were posed for the press photo-ops, such as this one below. See how the older girl manages to smile for the camera but the younger daughter appears sullen….unwilling to play her mothers game of ‘happy family’.
Blyton is probably most famous for her stories about Noddy and Big Ears, The Secret Seven, and The Famous Five, but these were only a small selection from her vast number of story books. She also wrote poetry books, volumes of books for the teaching community, series of books based on ancient myths and legends such as the Knights of the Round Table and the adventures of Robin Hood as well as magazine articles. Such was her output that many in the literary business accused her of using ghost writers to produce such a large and constant out flowing of books. Many believed it impossible for such a volume of work to be produced by a single writer. This was strenuously denied by Blyton and in 1955 she successfully sued a librarian for spreading such rumours.
, Her stories and writing style were criticised by librarians and teachers because of the limited use of language and the recycling of story lines or themes in many of her books. Schools refused to allow her books into their teaching syllabus. She was also accused of being racist and sexist in her choice of language and the actions and diction of her characters, as well as being out of touch and too middle class. Her response was that she was only interested in what people under the age of 12 thought……and those people, those children, loved everything that she wrote. Books were flying off the shelves making her and her publishers a small fortune. Many of the stories she wrote were of strong morals and the victory (eventually) of right over wrong, good over evil. But, rumours not only in her professional life as a writer, but also in her personal life were rife.
She was a very self centred person, selfish even, who put her life as a writer above everything and everyone else, even her family. This was probably brought about by the separation of her mother and father when she was a child of 13. She worshipped her father, refused to accept that he had many flaws…including chasing anything in a skirt….and blamed her mother 100% for the breakdown of the marriage. She more or less escaped into her own mind – into an idealistic world of perfect parents and ideal family situations. This came through in her books, but not in her personal life.
She severed ties with her two younger brothers, didn’t attend the funerals of either her mother or her father, shipped her own daughters off to boarding school at the earliest chance, cheated on her husband with other men…..and it’s rumoured with at least one of her children’s nannies. Yes, rumour has it that Enid batted for both sides.
Her first husband Hugh worked for the publishing company which produced her first books. Driven to drink, presumably by being shut out of his wife’s life, although he may also have been suffering from post traumatic stress as a result of memories of his experiences in world war one being revived while working on a book with Churchill. He went away from the family home during world war 2 to serve in the British Home Guard and it was during this time that Blyton had an affair with the man who would eventually become her 2nd husband – and Hugh began an affair with a much younger female author.
After Hugh had agreed to a divorce, as long as he could have full access to his children, Blyton then contacted his publishing company and told them that under no circumstances would she continue to do business with them if they continued to employ Hugh. She would take her vast back catalogue of books and any new ones to another publisher. As a result, Hugh was fired, and indeed ruined as far as the publishing business was concerned. He sank lower into alcoholism and eventually declared bankruptcy. Blyton also went back on her word and refused to let Hugh have access to his daughters. In effect, she ruined the man she once loved.
After marrying her 2nd husband she was surprised to find herself, in late middle age, pregnant but fell (accidentally or possibly deliberately if a recent drama based on her life is to be believed) from a ladder in the garden early in the pregnancy and lost the baby. It would have been a boy. Her first son and her second husbands first ever child. Her second husband died in 1967 by which time Blyton was deep in the grips of dementia and no longer writing. Her death in 1968 came soon after his.
She wasn’t totally selfish though. She did support several children’s charities and set up her own foundation to help children in need. Her granddaughter Sophie Smallwood has revived the Noddy character and penned a new story Noddy’s Birthday Surprise.
Even though she died in 1968, Enid Blyton was still voted “best British children’s author” in 2008 – even beating J K Rowling – the creator of Harry Potter. She is also the 4th most translated author ever….behind Agatha Christie, Jules Verne and William Shakespeare. Her books have been turned into TV series and movies and are still popular with children in many countries.
I was a huge Enid Blyton fan when I was a child, and still am. Finding out about her failings as a mother, wife and of her general selfishness has soured my memories of her somewhat, but has not detracted from the escapism and adventure I found in her books.
Many famous writers know what the secret is to successful writing…..for others, how they became so well known remains a mystery even to themselves. Here are a few quotes from the famous of yesterday and today…..to inspire tomorrows famous writers.
Childrens author and prolific writer of over 700 books – Enid Blyton revealed her writing methods as – I shut my eyes for a few minutes, with my portable typewriter on my knee – I make my mind a blank and wait – and then, as clearly as I would see real children, my characters stand before me in my mind’s eye … The first sentence comes straight into my mind, I don’t have to think of it – I don’t have to think of anything.
I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell an interesting story entertainingly. – Edgar Rice Burroughs
I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose. – Stephen King
A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it to be God. – Sidney Sheldon
First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him! – Ray Bradbury
People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn’t like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that’s all there is to it. – Harlan Ellison
There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write. – Terry Pratchett
and a final one…from a writer just starting out….
Write from the heart…..but let your brain do the final edit. – aLiteraryBent