The Case for Losing the War

When the World is on Your Shoulders by Laura Ding-Edwards

 

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A friend posted this rallying poem on FB a few days ago and I know why she needs it right now. She is fighting for her life with every ounce of strength she possesses.

But I want to make a case for “losing the war”.

We all live our lives “battle-ready”. We go out into the world armed to the teeth with all manner of weapons ranging from our degrees, our looks, our clothes, our titles, the quality of our accessories and above all else, our willingness to ruthlessly compete with others. We are all competing to win in the human ‘race’. We jostle for higher placement on the social ladder and block the progress of our competitors if we can.

Every day we defy the odds in our trenchant battle for survival. We set future goals and mark time in myriad ways – ranging from T.S. Eliot’s ‘coffee spoons’ to counting likes on Twitter. We live our lives in a state of defiance and daily battle against the odds, even the odds that we might die that day. We will certainly die one day. But until then, how to spend our days and our time profitably because every day is an investment in a better future.

But rather than keeping our weapons, psychological and physical, how about we drop them and lose the war?  What’s the worst that can happen? Death? That will come eventually anyway. Imprisonment? Aren’t we already trapped in our longing?

Letting go of longed-held dreams and longed-for outcomes can release us in ways that seem impossible when we’re trapped in warrior-mode. Being battle-ready means staying alert, anxious and primed for aggression. It uses a great deal of energy just to keep anticipating defeat or violent engagement. If we let go and lose the battle our energy is freed up. Our senses are flushed with new life and even though we are standing on a suddenly empty stage we may at last feel ALIVE and free.

In quantum physics and new age philosophy there is a stream of thought that all possibilities flow through a single moment. If we can let go of the outcomes we are fighting so hard for we may become aware of other possibilities and potentialities and we may even allow our curiosity to guide us towards a different outcome.

Let’s take the worst case scenario – death. Who really knows what lies beyond the veil? What if a whole raft of new adventures and new ways of being live in that realm just beyond our consciousness? Personally I believe that is exactly what awaits us all.

And the second worst case scenario – imprisonment under the victor’s flag. In the end nations homogenise and life finds its usual balance of trade and toil but we are still prisoners of our longings, unmet needs and unfulfilled dreams.

But what if we could “lose the battle” in our minds and bring the afterglow of death into our present reality? By that I mean, stand still on that empty stage and allow the glimpses of different futures to flow into our awareness without resistance. For curiosity’s sake why not follow a couple of alternate futures in our imagination and just try them on for size? Do they fit? Are they so bad? Is the current situation worth defending so strenuously?

Those of us for whom rejection has been a constant have learned to find grace in small things and special moments. We weave the small beauties of life into a tapestry that mantles and soothes and assures far more consistently than the shields and armoury of warriors who hide behind them battle-ready. We who are used to “failure” and ‘loss” have learned to find grace in disconnected moments that envision as-yet undreamed of futures.

Many years ago an angel told me that the future is built through our choices and gains definition through our faith. “It is like pictures building,” said one angel who went on to explain that even though I could not see a positive future emerging from a life of daily rejections ‘they’, the angels, could see a future building out of my faith and the small actions I took every day after I finally allowed myself to ‘lose the battle’ in almost every area of my life.

Two decades ago my world fell apart and I was left standing alone in a place that had no familiar fall-back positions. I was living in America, divorced and disconnected from my family and friends and finally accepting I would never be a famous singer or actress. I had nothing familiar to hold onto, not even my rescuing dreams of fame. I had no weapon or defence to cling to, no battle to win except the raging war within that urged me not to give up on my lifelong dreams of success as a singer/actress. I eventually had to silence that screaming voice inside just to stop from going mad. Madder. Finally I stopped listening and allowed myself to lose the battle I’d been fighting all my adult life, the battle whose victory would be a happy marriage, a thriving career, a beautiful home, lots of friends, blooming health and happiness. I had nothing. I was working as a cleaner and struggling to find a reason to stay alive. One day a client invited me to join her at a writers’ conference after I had shown her a poem of mine. I can’t say it happened overnight or even at the conference but by relaxing my grief over my lost life I saw a glimpse of fulfilment for me in a different but associated creative medium – writing.

Slowly I began to explore this new way of being and by standing still my soul took root and simultaneously reached for the sun. Of course in time I appended my ambition and energy to this new expression and today I must wrestle with the fall-out of that and find the balance again in the small enriching things like contemplation of nature and laughing with friends. And despite a degree of success in writing I must remember to watch for those subtle signatures of other worlds and other ways of being.

I must keep my vision clear and not obscured by shields and amour or the veneer of success.

‘All of us are lying in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars.’ Oscar Wilde
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The White Ladies of Luxemburg

In Le Jardin de Luxemburg women are celebrated. Twenty statues of women who have made a difference to France during their lifetimes stand in permanent contemplation of the garden and the tourists who pass them by.

On the day I visited someone had laid roses at their feet. On every plinth was a white or pale pink rose. Whoever did this has a generous memory because as you can see by the date lovely Laure has been dead for over 700 years.

But her rose was fresh. In fact, I took it home and put it in water.

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I love Paris and the French for their celebration of the Artes and the feminine. Where else in the world are women even recorded in history? We don’t seem to have taken our first significant breath much before 1937 when Amelia Earhart blew away. But here in the tranquil Jardin de Luxemburg ancient women are venerated and plinthed and given roses.  

The garden was created in 1611 when Marie de’ Medici, the widow of Henry IV and the regent for the King Louis XIII decided to build a palace in imitation of the Pitti Palace in her native Florence and it was in 1848, that the park became the home of a large population of statues; first the Queens and famous women of France then writers and artists. As I read their plaques I was struck by the power these women were granted in their mostly brief lives. They were often rulers in their widowhood, own right or in the absence of their male consorts. How wisely or otherwise their rulership was remains speculation but compared to English history with its sparse smattering of female regents France was progressive indeed. The poses of these ladies are neither wistful nor vague, their eyes do not drift off to the left like the pre-Raphaelite Madonnas and virgins immortalised in Renaissance paintings, no, they look right at you with appraising confidence.

These ladies were not objects of passion or worshipped for their beauty or suffocating with ague on a half-shell. They were decisive, thoughtful and respected.

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Consider Marguerite D’Angouleme deciding here whether or not to get her people embroiled in yet another battle or is she pondering a deeper question?

Whatever the truth of her attitude, she is not pining for some man. The lady is making a decision and the responsibility of the outcome lies completely with her. 20190729_123938

And here is Marie herself, the creator of this exquisite oasis in the heart of Paris. She looks a little fierce but I suppose she had to be to carry that sceptre with such confidence. Perhaps the hanky in her right hand mopped a frequently troubled brow!

And I love the playful green string around her wrist tying her to modern times. Was it an expression of gratitude for the legacy she left behind? or was it a balloon?

Whatever the truth behind the green tie, the lady scored two roses from our nocturnal admirer.

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Valentine de Milan carries a book and it’s not a small tome either. It looks weighty and important. And her expression of sharp intelligence indicates a personality used to being in command. No downtrodden beauty here, she surveys her world with a sense of authority and acceptance that bely her tender years. She was gone by the age of 38.

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And here is Anne de Beaujeu arms folded and a look of patient attention as she listens no doubt to both sides of a political argument.

All of these women have an attitude of confidence and a seeming certainty that their opinions matter, more than matter, have weight and consequence. Is it only France that values the balance of feminine input? Because having just been there I can assure you they are way ahead of Australia in terms of awareness and fair-mindedness. No Alan Jones staining the airwaves there.

Nor do they dodge the issues of climate change and homelessness. Everywhere I went I saw State sanctioned buildings for the displaced or low income earners and locals explained that it is the responsibility of every town and community to build shelters for the homeless. Brava France!

In Le Jardin de Luxemburg Orangerie there is a Climate Change installation explaining which vegetables will grow in potted gardens on tiny balconies or in outdoor kitchen gardens that receive very little rain. They are already preparing for the drought to come and the increased temperatures.

It is this combination of enlightenment and celebration that most attracts me to France and the French. They do not pretend that we don’t have a huge problem with climate change and the re-homing of millions of refugees from countries destroyed by Western greed and inteference, not to mention, intolerance based on ignorance.

But whilst they address these issues they also remember to celebrate the magnificence of life in the now. They do this with food and wine and music and a culture based on balance.

I wish Australia would learn how to be French.

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And finally let Laure de Noves have the last word. I kept returning to Laure again and again, drawn by her serene beauty and otherworldy attitude. She is the only one who doesn’t carry authority or imply leadership and yet, hers is an subtle incandescence that permeates the atmosphere around her. Truly she has the ability to create calm.

Wondering about her I turned to Dr Google and discovered she had been married to an ancestor of the Marquis de Sade, not a great pedigree and had lived her very brief life in Avignon. Her immortality is due to Petrarch, who eulogised her in poem and sonnet and moved house to live within walking distance of her grave.

“Laura, illustrated by her virtues and well-celebrated in my verse, appeared to me for the first time during my youth in 1327, on April 6, in the Church of Saint Claire in Avignon, in the first hour of the day; and in the same city, in the same month, on the same sixth day at the same first hour in the year of 1348, withdrew from life, while I was at Verona, unconscious of my loss…. Her chaste and lovely body was interred on the evening of the same day in the church of the Minorites: her soul, as I believe, returned to heaven, whence it came.” Francesco Petrarch

No, I don’t think Laura’s in heaven unless heaven is Le Jardin de Luxemburg.

France – the home of my soul

Many years ago a clairvoyant told me that my soul flew to another land every night while I slept. These nocturnal adventures were never fully-recalled when morning broke in Australia but as I prepared for work, I had a sense that I had met someone very special in my dreams and that he and I had made all manner of delicious future plans.

By the time I’d walked to Cremorne Point Wharf to catch the ferry to work the fantasy had evaporated but periodically during the day, fleeting images of green fields, bubbly streams, mellow stone buildings and a man’s ready laughter overlaid the cityscape with a sweet incandescence and wistful nostalgia.

The clairvoyant also said that my soul belonged to this other land but she couldn’t tell me which one it was.

I have decided it is France.20190713_174837 cropped

I spent July in France and was privileged to be given a tour of Paris and a brief introduction to Normandy by my new son-in-law, Louis. I expected to feel shy and awkward as I usually do in new landscapes and new cultures but instead I felt as if I had come home after a long absence in a strange, ill-fitting land. I even discovered a certain facility with the language. So certain was I of being misunderstood that for the first few minutes at Charles de Gaulle airport I dared not speak French to the locals. Finally, driven by necessity, I bought two bottles of water and had absolutely no difficulty communicating. The enchantment with France began right there at the airport, within ten minutes of our arrival.

But the best was yet to come.

After a couple of days’ rest in Paris, Louis drove my mother, my daughter and me up to Normandy to meet his charming mother. Again, the language was scarcely an issue, given that her English was superb and my French was willing and we both wanted the friendship.

The next day Louis took us to see two Chateaux. The one below we could only glimpse through the gate but it cemented a yearning in my soul that if ever my books and musicals garner success the first thing I will buy is one of these magnificent relics of ancient France and the culture I wish I’d been born into.

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Perfection in landscape and architecture.

In my fantasies, I have already peopled my Chateau with peacocks, cats, horses and humans who will thrive in an atmosphere of excellence. The order of the days and nights will be music, food, wine, discussion and theatre for yes, of course, all future productions of mine will be workshopped and rehearsed in my Chateau and my friends and family will all have rooms.

“In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” (John 14:2-4)

I’m not a Christian but yes, I do know the way to that place of peace and tranquillity, it’s in France!

I must stress that I am not a Christian because, despite a sound philosophy, I don’t like what has become of the church. Like so many good philosophies it has been warped into a divisive, exclusive club which refuses entrance to anyone who thinks differently. Jesus never barred anyone entrance. As he said, there are MANY rooms in his Father’s mansion, some overlooking the lake, others overlooking the fields. Same house, different views.

And my Chateau will be just so. Many rooms, many views and lively discussions in French and English and Music, the language of angels that requires no translation.

On that same day Louis took us to another Chateau and we were privileged to meet the owner, who was a charming bibliophile. In this Chateau there was the best ancient library in Europe! Books that dated back to the 11th Century stocked the glassed-in cabinets and in some of these books were hand-written notes from people who took comfort and wisdom from these pages hundreds of years ago. We, the living, could look at the same words that had been passed from hand to hand through generations. The current owner,  a handsome, debonair Frenchman, handed me a book that had belonged to one of his ancestors and as I turned the pages I noticed this long-ago Duke had written something in French at the top of one of the pages: a note to remind him of the erudition of the author on that particular page. I glanced at the chapter heading and roughly translated the French: it was a recommendation for refining the soul through laughter and quiet contemplation. My heart gave a lurch and for a moment the sound of familiar laughter bridged the dividing centuries. Had he been there in that room, my dream man, long ago? Were these the plans we discussed in those old dreams of mine? To buy a Chateau and come home to France?

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Back to Paris and myriad statues, window-boxes, patisseries and gardens! A city buzzing with life and expression and in every alleyway and café some reference to the arts and artists who immortalised this City of Lights in word, note and brushstroke. And oh, how grateful the citizens are to those ghosts of the Belle Epoch and the Roaring 20s and dazzling 30s.

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Paris even manages to make religion glorious. I trudged up the endless steps to the Sacre Coeur, only to find at the top there was a funicular on the other side! But once my heart settled down and my breathing returned to normal I could appreciate the miraculous diversity of the crowd gathered in front of the steps listening to a young busker singing “Stand by Me”.

Dancing happily to his stunning vocals were Muslim men and women, Jewish lads in their skullcaps and curls and people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds and once again I thanked my own personal God for the miracle of music and its ability to integrate differences and raise spirits heavenwards.

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I will leave you with an image of the meditation pond at Le Jardin de Luxemburg. I could scarcely tear myself away from this exquisite place of unparalleled tranquillity. This was commissioned by the expat Catherine de Medici who was missing her native Florence and wanted something reminiscent of home. The palace and garden are all modelled on her home in Florence and whilst the estate, now a public park, is glorious, this pond had a special feeling about it. Students from the local university in the Latin Quarter come here to eat their lunch and study. Tourists like me come here to gawk and gape and photograph the sublime perfection of water and stone that has become home to a family of ducklings!

I have no idea what Catherine would think of the current occupants of her pond but they certainly echo the divine claim made two thousand years ago that one mansion can have many rooms.

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Someone had placed a white rose at her feet. I took it home.

 

 

PARIS

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“Paris et une fete” Hemingway.

My mother and I are sitting at a table for two in La Closerie des Lilas where Hemingway wrote “The Sun Also Rises”.

Next to us is a young Canadian couple who have just announced their engagement and are keen to share the joy, even with strangers. Perhaps especially with strangers!

They are a particularly attractive couple, bright and intelligent and plugged into a future I can only hope comes to pass. She is a climate change expert, savvy, optimistic, switched-on and wise beyond her tender years. She assures me she will work hard to save the planet and if anyone can, she can because I sense in her not only tireless energy but also that fearless determination that comes with being right! He is a professor of philosophy with an ambition to write a great work of fiction, preferably Sci-Fi based with an alternate world of human expats on another planet. I meant to ask him if they are visionaries or convicts, either way, I hope they get it right in his imaginary world.

I have already discovered the plaque for Hemingway, not at a table as I expected, but perhaps more predictably at the bar! I conclude Ernest wasn’t drinking a bottomless cup of coffee as he penned/scrawled The Sun Also Rises!

20190729_143227  20190729_162711  In front of the young professor is another plaque claiming the patronage of Paul Eluard, Andre Gide, Jean Giraudoux and Romain Rollaud. None of us knows who Romain Rollaud was. Googling him later I discover his quote; “Most men are essentially dead by thirty” and I must admit to being impressed by his foresight. I wonder if women scored an extra decade before disillusionment set in? Or do we pre-empt the inevitable demise?

But back to Hemingway and our charming young couple. I must admit I am not a fan of Hemingway. I am a fan of language and in my opinion he massacred language. The professor has a copy of both “The Sun Also Rises” and “A Movable Feast” by Hemingway in his backpack and at this point he takes both books out and places them on the table.

“Of course he can’t write for shit,” he says eloquently.

His fiancé opens startled dark eyes. “So why am I supposed to read them?”

A fair enough question, I think.

“Because he opened up pathways for better writers to relax their language,” he explains. “He should be read as an intellectual exercise.” He pauses because his fiancé looks unconvinced. “Regard him as the curve in the literary road.”

“The detour,” she says.

They are so much in love this banter barely makes a dent and he turns to me. “What do you think of Hemingway?”

“I adore F. Scott Fitzgerald.”

‘Enough said.” He smiles. “What a writer he was. The best.”

She shakes her head. “So, why am I not reading F. Scott Fitzgerald?”

‘He’s next,” he says, gazing at her with a look that amounts to worship.

I feel suddenly very old and tired and sad that I won’t get to see the world she cleans up and he creates. They ask me if I like music and feeling sure they would probably love wrap I tell them I’m too old to appreciate the music they would like. He tells me I am talking rubbish, that age means nothing in the scheme of things and she repeats the question.

“Well,” I begin hesitantly, “my favourite composer is Beethoven and I adore Gershwin, Sondheim and Brel. Oh, and Cat Stevens.”

“Do you like Led Zeppelin?” she asks.

‘Of course! Stairway to Heaven is the best rock song ever.”

‘Isn’t it though?” She laughs and sings a few bars and I am filled with a sense of gratitude and relief. Maybe the world hasn’t passed me by after all.

A few wines later, yes we’d progressed from coffee to wine, and they ask me what I do. I tell them I’m a writer and express the wish that my name could be immortalised on a plaque at this very table. Three wines will do that! He googles me and discovers that my book has been published and my show is going on in London and he tells his fiancé that I am famous and they must remember this day forever because they sat next to me!

Suddenly I feel as if my life story has found a perfect arc.

An hour or so later, I watch them walk away, half-wishing I could follow them and start my life over in their wake. I trust them to make the difference my generation have failed to make. I trust them to fix the problems my parents’ generation set in motion. I trust them to raise enlightened children. I project far too many expectations on them as I shrink my own expectations down to my name on a plaque in La Closerie Des Lilas and my mortality down to one immortal book, Catch the Moon, Mary.

That night in our apartment in Montmartre I am thinking about Hemingway again and wondering why he killed himself at the height of his fame and it makes me shudder to think that maybe fame doesn’t deliver on its promises.

Feeling morbid I spend the next few days looking for myself in Paris. Everywhere I see monuments reaching for the stars and the sun and glory and a God the French intuited as benign and cultured. The traffic is alarming and the press of people suffocating. Temporary tourists posed against timeless monuments look like stains on the culture and indifferent locals going about their routine business invalidate their own history by never looking up and all around us like a silent storm, the homeless hover in the shadows, soiled blankets wrapped around them and Styrofoam  begging cups tinkling with a few tossed coins, hopefully enough to buy whatever comfort they need to get through another lonely night. I drop coins into every cup I can and make eye contact where possible. For now, it’s all I can do to make a difference.

 

Evening falls late, around 10pm, and I am thinking about gold horses and towering monuments, sad-eyed beggars and a dazzling young Canadian couple who are burdened with changing the world and suddenly I know who I am. I am my words and I have a gift that should never be squandered on cheap literature or deviations from the path.

Later that night I remember Hemingway committed suicide not long after he won the Nobel Prize and it puzzles me. Did he finally regret his pruning back of words? Did he finally realise he was no F. Scott Fitzgerald? Did he lament never knowing the joy of marrying Art with Craft and creating beauty? It’s all around you in Paris; this marriage of Art and Function. A bridge is not just for crossing a river, it’s a canvas for Art. A building is not just for housing people or industry, it’s a palette for flowers and murals and carvings. Isn’t that why Hemingway went to Paris? To find the words?

Back in Idaho in 1961 did he finally realise he missed everything Paris has to offer?

20190803_141619 Maybe. But one thing is for sure, Paris has claimed Hemingway. He haunts the cafes in a way that Fitzgerald and Gide do not and I wonder if it’s because he’s still looking for the words he never found.

Interview with Peter Donnelly

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Title: Interview with Wendy Waters
Series: Author Interviews
Author: Peter Donnelly
Publisher: The Reading Desk
Release Date: July 26, 2019

Author Bio
I started life as an actress/singer. My passion for the world of Arts and Entertainment was equalled only by my passion for nature and art. In some respects, I am very lucky my career as an actress/singer never found traction. To relieve the frustration I wrote – poems, music, plays and prose. Soon my writing started to get the attention I’d always hoped my singing would get. Transitioning to writing happened suddenly. I started winning prizes and found a freedom of expression and autonomy over my career that acting and singing had never provided. Today I call myself a writer.
My life today looks very different from my life only a few short years ago. Prior to 2015, I was just another unpublished author. Today I have a novel published and two musicals ready to be staged, an agent in London, Ian Taylor. I have had the privilege of working with talented composers and been fortunate enough to work with actors in London who have given me their time and support in reading at Tristan Bates Theatre in Covent Garden in 2017. Currently, I’m working on a sequel to Catch the Moon, Mary.
Interview
Peter: Wendy, your book Catch the Moon, Mary was one of the most touching and inspiring books I’ve read this year. It’s one that I will not forget and I’d like to congratulate you on writing it. I am delighted that we have the opportunity to conduct this interview. Many thanks for making the time available.

Peter: What inspired you to write your book, Catch the Moon, Mary?
Wendy: In 2011 I volunteered as a singing teacher at Oasis Crisis Centre, a safe house for homeless youth. My role was to help the musically inclined find a pathway into the industry. I was only there for a year but in that time, I met dozens of young people whose home lives were so dangerous they preferred the risk of living on the streets. Some ran away as early as seven years of age. To survive the loneliness and terror many invented imaginary friends or guardian angels upon whom they could call when it all got too much. For many, these imaginary friends became the only anchor in their chaotic tidal existence. The story grew from there but of course, I made the angel quite real.

Peter: I appreciate the novel has several layers and perspectives for the reader to connect with. What is your hope that readers get from reading your book other than it is a very entertaining story?
Wendy: I would love people to open their hearts and minds to the possibility of an unseen dimension in which dreams and hopes can germinate and take root in reality.

Peter: Mary was such a wonderfully drawn character with a backdrop of sexual abuse and deep personality issues. How emotionally challenging was it to write her character and some of the more disturbing scenes?
Wendy: For me it was cathartic. All of us have had dark passages in our lives. No-one lives in a fairy-tale. To enter the dark spaces in our souls and transmogrify the pain into Art is to heal.

Peter: How much research did you undertake in exploring mental illness and personality traits with Mary, James and the other characters? What research was the most revealing?
Wendy: I did no research. I have Aspergers and have also struggled with depression and anxiety all my life. James was me at my darkest and most disenfranchised. Mary was me as I emerged into the light through the conduit of music and writing. Re-entering the darkness was not difficult as I carried the light with me this time.

Peter: You turned the spiritual aspect of angels, God and heaven upside down in this story. What was your objective with this viewpoint?
Wendy: I wanted to explore the idea of the saved becoming the saviour. My belief in angels is solid and based in direct contact. They challenge and inspire and prompt us all to achieve excellence in our chosen fields and sometimes they will do whatever it takes to make us shine. I also wanted to explore the tragedy of an immortal unfettered from a sustaining heavenly hierarchy and forced to use the human gift of free will. The inevitable mistakes manifesting as “sin” would then erode even the brightest soul when redemption was no longer on offer. The tragedy of such a great angel falling from grace gave my heroine, Mary, the opportunity to rise above her own pain and damage to become the angel’s saviour, thereby freeing her from her own dark past and turning her from victim to redeemer. Personally, I believe all salvation lies in helping others as opposed to expecting God and angels to save us.

Peter: It is evident from your writing that you have a deep love and passion for literature and music. What is it about each that gives you the greatest pleasure? How difficult was it to accommodate both appropriately in writing your book?
Wendy: Music flows through my soul all the time. I love it the way some people love food. In my darkest times, only music has the power to realign my soul and settle the anxiety that occasionally rises like a tide and threatens to drown me. Music calms me down and takes me to a different place. I believe music is the language of angels and needs no translation in any realm. If I was lucky enough to meet an alien, I would play him/her Beethoven’s Song of Joy and I think we would connect, assuming, of course, they weren’t tone deaf!
Literature raises me to the same level as music when the words are arranged in such a way that the genius of the author’s soul shines through. I am as much in love with language as I am with music and a good book can reduce me to tears and raise me to laughter and inspire me to be the best writer I can be. I feel, I personally know, the authors whose works of genius have the power to illuminate my soul.
I had no difficulty at all combining music and words because they are always intertwined for me.

Peter: There is an inspirational message in your book, to dream, live your dream and dream big, even in the face of obstacles? What is your big dream?
Wendy: I have many dreams but perhaps my biggest dream is to leave behind a body of work that will inspire future generations to find and follow their dreams as I have found and followed mine.

Peter: Do you use story boarding or mapping processes to develop your plots and interactions, or do you go with the flow and follow your instinct and gut feeling? Would you therefore describe yourself as a plotter, pantser or plantser?
Wendy: I work in an unusual way. I write the first line. It may take me a year to find it but once I do the entire story flows from that one line. Not sure what pantser or plantsers look like lol but I can say with certainty I am not a plotter!

Peter: Do you use particular software applications or utilities to support your writing activity? For example, Scrivener or Grammarly.
Wendy: No, I use a dictionary and a Thesaurus.

Peter: What are the greatest benefits and restrictions to being a published author? Do you get involved in finalising other aspects of the book, for example, the cover design, narration and the promotion of the book?
Wendy: The greatest benefit to being a published author is that your work is “out there” finding the people who will enjoy it. I don’t think there are any restrictions. I chose the cover of my book. I saw a photograph of a three-hundred-year-old angel in a Dublin Cemetery taken by gifted photographer, Des Cannon. I tracked him down (it took me three months) and asked him if I could use his brilliant photograph for the cover of my book. He said yes. I work hard to promote the book. It’s definitely part of an author’s job these days.

Peter: How much time do you spend on writing compared to promoting your books?
Wendy: I put in an hour a day on twitter and social media promoting my book. I don’t write every day because I am also a musical theatre lyricist/book writer with a show in development right now. The show is called The Last Tale and I am working with a gifted composer, Shanon Whitelock.

Peter: What authors have you most admired and have had an influence on you?
Wendy: I fall passionately in love with authors whose words become part of my soul. In no particular order my great loves are Emily Bronte, Truman Capote, Paul Gallico, Oscar Wilde (my first great love with The Happy Prince) Charlotte Bronte, Joanne Harris, Jeanette Winterson, Lord Byron, T.S.Eliot, Henry Miller, Virginia Woolf, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and others whose names escape me but I love them all.

Peter: What is your favourite book you’ve read over the last 12 months?
Wendy: The Genius of the Few by Christian O’Brien in which he explores the progenitors of the human race and posits the possibility that religion is a derivation of worship for people who were technically more advanced than their neighbours and that in-so-doing we as a species have missed the opportunity to intuit the numinous, extraordinary and truly inspiring entity that illuminates the spaces between the notes we comprehend as reality.

Peter: What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Wendy: Forget the marketplace. Be true to your own genius and do not settle for a commercial compromise. Believe in yourself and keep going until your own words move you to tears, laughter and joy. Give the world your best work.

Peter: If you had a dinner party and could invite 3 personalities from any period in history who would they be and why?
Wendy: Oscar Wilde because he gave the world The Happy Prince and inspired me with a passion for literature when I was only seven years old. Jesus Christ because he gave the world the best advice it’s ever ignored, and if we ran out of wine… and Emily Bronte because I’d like to ask her how she knew about nature spirits and how she wrote Wuthering Heights in her twenties!

Peter: Can you give us any insights into any future books or projects that you’re working on?
Wendy: Yes, I am working on a musical, The Last Tale, right now with composer, Shanon Whitelock. It’s the story of Scheherazade, the teller of the 1001 Arabian Tales. It’s ten years after she’s told the last tale. She is a celebrity beloved of her people and responsible for putting Baghdad on the map. However, her mad husband, King Shariar is so riddled with jealousy of his beautiful wife that he plots her abduction and murder. She is duly abducted and spirited away to the desert where her abductor will kill her. However, the people want her rescued and so King Shariar chooses the most incompetent rescuers he can find, two sailors who wrecked their boat and are stranded in Baghdad. To get the reward to fix their boat they offer to go off into the desert, find the Queen and return her to Baghdad. King Shariah gives them the wrong map, salty water and feisty camels and is satisfied he will never see them or Scheherazade again. However, against all odds, the sailors find her and overpower her abductor. They are about to return the Queen to Baghdad and collect the reward that will pay for repairs on their boat when Scheherazade informs them she will not go back. I won’t tell you how it ends but let’s just say, happily.

Peter: How can readers learn more about you and your work?
Wendy: The curious can look at my website http://www.wendywaters.net or my blog https://catchthemoonmary.wordpress.com or my Twitter page https://twitter.com/wa_waters
Also, in development is a film and ballet of Catch the Moon, Mary. The music for both is being composed by the stunning composer, Tish Tindall.
Here is the theme music. https://youtu.be/i-INvgzxg_Ehttps://youtu.be/i-INvgzxg_E

Peter: Wendy, I appreciate you taking the time for this interview. If there are other snippets of information you wish to provide, please feel free. I would like to congratulate you on this wonderful book and I wish you massive success for the future.
Wendy: Thank you so much for your support and the marvellous 5 Star review and for giving me the chance to speak in this interview.

Review Catch the Moon, Mary

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Every now and then a review comes along that makes you believe you have an angel at your back. Jules Mortimer gave my book one such review and now Peter Donnelly of The Reading Room in Ireland has given me another. This is not to discount the wonderful friends and strangers who have thanked me for my words and given me a reason to keep writing. I love and thank you all.

Peter
TOP 1000 REVIEWER
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most beautiful books I’ve read
1 July 2019
Format: Kindle Edition
“The curse of being an artist is never knowing if you’re good enough. It’s torture trying to bridge the gap between imagination and expression.”

Catch the Moon, Mary is one of the most beautiful books I’ve read. It lifts you to another level of wonderment, with mesmerising lyrical prose, infused with melodious inspiration. The musical suggestions sweep through the novel where each chapter is named after a musical term, such as Ostinato, Ariosa, and Cavatina, and provide a rhythm that is unique and special.

Mary Granger is an 11-year-old child; plain of features, with nervous mannerisms and a personality on the autism scale. She is sexually abused by her father, and by using her music, transcends these encounters by creating tunes in her head that flow and combine and transform into something that is heaven bound. Archangel Gabriel has been on Earth for over a thousand years and can’t return to his father (God) until he can spiritually save the world. He despairs that he will never return to glory but one evening he hears the uplifting tapestry of melodies that he knows can bring his salvation. The music emanating from the gifted Mary can be used to enlighten the world and forge an indestructible bridge between Heaven and Earth. This is what he has been waiting for.

On visiting Mary, the angel witness’s sexual abuse from her father. He stops him with severe pain to his stomach and after he has gone, offers Mary a contract. The price for her freedom from abuse is her music, and she must play for him when and where he chooses. She agrees. Mary is a precious character and Wendy Waters produces a personality that is innocent, sensitive and seemingly assailable and shines with a heavenly aura. She silently listens to the music in her head as her raised hand and fingers play an imaginary piano.

As Mary becomes a young woman she trains as a paralegal and continues to develop her musical skills under the promise that Gabriel will lead her eventually to international acclaim and Carnegie Hall. She connects with her two bosses Robert and James beyond just working engagement and eventually tracks down her half-siblings Jennifer and Jonathan. The relationships are wonderfully drawn and the delicate participation with Mary and the other characters are cloaked with vulnerability, psychological damage, and mental disorders. Mary is the only one who can see Gabriel, but it’s his light and her music together that she feels is bewitching and emotionally charges her listeners. There are a number of deaths that seem to suit the interests of Gabriel and when quizzed about it he says:

“Everything kills to protect that which gives it life.”

The control Gabriel has over Mary and their wanes over time and Mary realises, she has as much power as him – any more killing and the music stops. Reading this book was a memorable uplifting experience and I would highly recommend it. I would like to thank Wendy Waters for providing me with a copy of her book in return for an honest review.Featured Image -- 325

Fame as Addiction

I want to get to that point where success no longer matters.

I have spent so many years chasing this illusive butterfly called recognition.

Fame has iridescent wings, charts the skies, knows the world from an elevated position, alights on the most beautiful flowers and sips on nectar. How I have watched and envied the flight of famous others and lamented my earthbound state as I crawled back into my decaying cocoon waiting, wondering if my own wings would ever unfurl.

Seasons come and go and still I crawl around the undergrowth in search of nurture.

Is it enough to know that excellence is its own reward? Is it enough to know that my work will still be enjoyed in a hundred years time when an unborn generation knows me better than they know their lovers and talks to my spirit as if I possessed all-knowing angelic comprehension? Just as I talk to Emily (Bronte).

The real question is: was it enough for Emily?

I try to follow her traverse across the moors that nourished her spirit and fed her wild imagination. I look for portents in the clouds and the hills. I do this in my imagination because I live in Sydney. Suburban Sydney at that. I have little fodder for my soul, even less for my flight. Few butterflies pass this way and I feel as if I daily battle against an avalanche of competitors and contributors in my field.

The woods are bloody crowded these days. Not even a wolf growls and grandma orders takeaway.

To be free of this longing for recognition I must let go of my dream.

That’s like abandoning a friend who was there for you when no-one else was. A friend who got me through long dark nights and lonely days that stretched into years. I have met and spoken to drug addicts who have explained their own addiction this way and spoken fondly of the heroin or cocaine that was there for them when everybody else had gone. But addiction is addiction and it takes up all your time.

I am an addict. I am addicted to the pursuit of my dream and it’s killing me inasmuch as it is consuming my life. I have given so much of my life to my art without perceivable reward. Any other field would have awarded me the highest honours by now. More than a gold watch. More than my own office with a view. I have served my ambition faithfully for decades. More than I dare to enumerate. My dedication to my art has been like a crazy zealot’s defence of a cock-eyed religion. Where is the guarantee of God? Of heaven? Of hell? Of success? There never was any promise.

Okay butterfly. You fly blind my friend and your choice of flowers is random.

And worst of all, you fly without a net. You fear the net, right?

I won’t give up my writing, no, but I will give up on it. I will let go of the idea of success and all the appended dreams that went with it. There must be some group one can join. How do addicts rebuild their lives? And does anything else compare?

The answer is life in all its myriad variations. I hope its not too late to re-join the living.Mountains

 

I Cannot Go to Church Today

Brilliant post calling to the feminine to rise. I mean feminine in both genders.

Singing Over My Bones

At this point in my life, church has me jacked up——-The role that patriarchy has played in the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) and its dominion over the world is indignant and needs to be explored by not only women, but men. If you practice ANY of these religions and have not done the hardy work of understanding how patriarchy has helped in silencing, erasing, and controlling women- this is a call to do just that.

Women complicit in the pain and wounds that patriarchy subjugates on other women are abundant, especially those who participate in these religions (many religious women unintentionally support their own cages). Therefore, we must do this hard work alone, because sadly, folks are too comfortable to make changes that can benefit women.

So, let me speak some truth to the nature of the feminine wisdom. For far too long, women have been made to…

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