The House of a Famous Character

This year, we spent our holidays in the Lake District in North West England. The plans was to go for hikes, which we had practiced for the last couple of weeks. Taking a 16-month-old with us was a bit of a gamble. We had no idea what his reaction would be to sleeping in a tent; we expected the walking part to be fine, since he did not mind the walks we had done so far.

One of the walks we set out for would go through a hamlet called Watendlath. A place where we not only could enjoy a lovely cream tea in the teahouse, but also visit the farm where Judith Parish lived. The house has a plaque and everything. The name did not ring any bells. Luckily, the description of the walk informed us who this illustrious person was. A famous character from a best seller in the 1930s.By not available (Hampshire Bookshop Collection) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In the early 1920s, writer Hugh Walpole moved to the Lake District. Walpole was a famous writer in his time, he wrote countless books between 1909 and his death in 1941, an average of one book per year. An impressive feat that critics used against him, they considered his work outdated and described Walpole as “a sentimental ego” and “workmanlike writer who was not much appreciated among other writers”.  In 1921, he settled in Keswick, Cumbria, where he wrote The Herries Chronicles – a series set in the Lake District. Read More

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Tsundoku – the looming stack of books…

https://www.flickr.com/photos/austinevan/1225274637I know you have one, admit it. If you like to read, you are definitely guilty of having the TSUNDOKU (cue the ominous thunderclap). It sounds like a Japanese horror movie. Well, it is Japanese and the kanji (or written characters) are: 積ん読.

(Read all about Cecile’s own TSUNDOKO here.)

I can’t read kanji and I hope that I don’t offend anyone or the beautiful Japanese written language, but don’t they just look like stacked books, then a whimsical line, and then more books?

These lovely kanji, literly mean to pile up reading. (A word of caution, the link is to a wiki. However, there is a blog post on it at oxforddictionaries.com).

Mine accumulates with every passing year, because I love books! Books, books, glorious books! Can you smell them? New or old, whichever your prefer, heck, even dusty books smell great, moldy ones, why not? They smell like words and stories and things I don’t know yet. Far away places, imagined spaces, even ‘getting real’ with Dr.Phil sounds like an adventure.

While looking at “There’s a Word for That: 25 Expressions You Should Have in Your Vocabulary”, I found this little word: Tsundoku.

My Tsundoku has, a couple of classics, several ‘science for the layman’ type of books (think Dawkins, Gleick, etc), several self help books (I love reading those), and a couple of half finished best-sellers books.

What does yours have?

Happy reading!

Sofia

 

Raping Africa

Chinweizu is a powerful and persuasive writer, and his views on Afrocentrism are extreme—as they rightfully should be. But for those who know little of this vociferous person and his singling out and attacking Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka’s Eurocentric Africanism, here is an excerpt from a poem of his (in the anthology that he also edited: Voices from Twentieth Century Africa):

Ah, this land

This black whore

This manacled bitch

Tied to a post and raped

By every passing white dog

The dog of the crescent sword

The dog of the militant cross

The dog of the red star!

Listen! Listen to the pack

Of scavenger dogs from white heartlands

Snarling in their gang rape of Africa!

excerpt: Admonition to the Black World

This anthology contains gems of African writing that are difficult to come by, including oratory tales, folktales, poetry, excerpts from translated novels and so on. Highly recommended for any avid reader of African literature.

 

Samir Rawas Sarayji

Discovering a New Library

I moved house this year, and I only just managed to get to the central library of my new home city. I was stunned when I walked through the doors. The setting is really impressive. I did a quick Google check when I got home and learned that it is considered to be one of the best libraries in the Netherlands.

Here a few pictures to give you an impression:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personally, I prefer old-fashioned libraries with spiral staircases, rusty ladders to access the top shelves and lots of areas for private reading. But this space does inspire too. It’s huge and even when it’s full, it’s quiet. Books and writing are central—everyone working independently on a common love.

I think I can do some writing here.

Vanessa Deij

(All photos courtesy of Bibliotheek Eemhuis, the Netherlands)

The World’s Most Mysterious Book

Some time ago, I signed up for TED talks, as a fun and somewhat time saving way to learn new things. It’s certainly  fun, although I haven’t watched as many videos as I’d like. Despite the videos not being too long, it’s rather hard to sit down and view them on a regular basis, what with a child and all. But last week, my interest was triggered again.

‘The World’s Most Mysterious Book’ — now how could I ignore this video? It describes the Voynich Codex, a peculiar book from the fifteenth century that still keeps scientists puzzled.

After watching the video I searched the internet and found the following website that shows scans of the individual pages.

The Voynich Codex is shrouded in mystery simply because we do not have an inkling on what it is about. It makes me curious whether the author has made it all up to confuse people back in those days. Perhaps the language was created like J.R.R. Tolkien’s Elvish, which might confuse future scientists just as much if all they have is a single text without any context whatsoever. Whatever the reason might have been, it is fun to fantasize about its origins.

Cecile Koster

A New Tolkien Book

I wish I could call myself a Tolkien expert because I love the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, but other than that and The Hobbit, my Tolkien knowledge ends. The Silmarillion has been on my to-read shelf for as long as I can remember. The rest of the Tolkien oeuvre, including all those edited by J.R.R Tolkien’s son Christopher, have piqued my interest at one point or another. However, they are difficult to come by and, frankly, I am worried they will not have the same impact as LOTR, and that they may tarnish my experience of my next rereading of it.

So, on hearing that yet again, a new Tolkien book will be published by HarperCollins on Thursday titled Beren and Lúthien, I find myself gawking at the power of the gods of marketing. Of course, it is not a coincidence that they decided to publish it on the 10th anniversary since the last Tolkien book was published, The Children of Húrin? And of course, like many of the other books revolving around LOTR, this is in someway the pre-material that made up another book, in this case The Silmarillion, according to the publishers, it is a story in its own right. How authentic is it to desperately fish out every snippet of text written by Tolkien and say it is a book on its own right? Read More

Snob Me Once

writer27s_block_i
Image by Drew Coffman [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

Snob me once, shame on me… oh, who am I kidding, writers have no shame.

But I do.

Shame on me!

This has been many years in the making. I have not written much in give or take 3 years. I did not leave writing; I just found that after a rather tough patch in my life, I didn’t really feel like saying much. Or maybe I didn’t have anything important to say. I tried occasionally, but most of what I wrote fizzled. So, I tried another approach since just working at my writer’s block didn’t prove fruitful. I would let it sit, and sit and sit. Once in awhile I’d try again. After two years I thought I was never going to write again.

But I’m jumping the gun, before any of that happened, about 3 months into my writer’s block, I had tried getting on the saddle again. I always had a ‘cure’ for even most stubborn of blocks. Everything I tried brought up this inner voice, which would go something like: “I should take a writing course, this usually helps, especially the ones where you have writing prompts.” But I would respond to this voice: “writing prompts are for amateurs, real writers don’t need prompts, real writers write from…. from wherever it is they write from.” Eventually I ignored the voice and I started using prompts as usual. I just Googled prompts and came upon the Writer’s Digest prompts. And I loved them.

The prompts got me going, and I went and went and then it was just too much, and I staggered and slowed to a crawl, behind the Duracell bunny. They no longer worked, the writing lacked sparkle, it lacked that je ne sais quoi that all writers have when they read back their own words. The one readers also get when they pick up a book and read a couple of sentences and then buy the book. That was simply not there.

It was hard, because I thought the block was over, but it wasn’t. Certainly not in the way I had expected. It turns out when you actually have a writer’s block it isn’t that easy to climb out of the gaping blank page.

So, what happened?

Well, one day at a time, the block started to go away on its own.

Writing just is ­(and some days it is not), but the muses are still there, waiting and whispering, and I hear them calling.

***

CW-editor-SofiaSofia Borgstein is half Dutch and half Mexican, although she was born in Malawi.  She has been writing since she was 13 years old.  She has been published in magazines in Mexico and the Netherlands.  She currently lives in the Netherlands with her husband and two children, where she is working on several projects.

 

 

Folks, We’re Back!

happy-face-clipartpandaAnd we’re bigger and better.  Today is officially the relaunch of Cecile’s Writers Blog with a whole new look and aim.  We’re offering fresh and original content on a regular basis.  So sit back and enjoy.

We’ll be featuring writers from all over the world contributing articles, reviews, reflective pieces and especially new, opinion.  There are regular contributors who have joined us to make this truly an intercultural platform.

(Do you also want to write for us and share your thoughts with the world? Then check this link.)