Changing seasons:Changing times. At the Crossroads! 

A summer of sunflowers. Stopping at a crossroads with sunflowers stretching out in all directions. I pause on our long journey back home south to finca Navasola to get a good shot. Last year I missed the opportunity to take photos of sunflower fields and by September all the bright faces had gone. Carpe Diem or Sieze the Day, especially for photos! Here we were in the middle of rural France after a short break to see Monet’s Garden and my cousin. It seems like the only holiday we’ve had this year but let’s not be ungracious as living at Navasola is a joy, if at times hard work.

I will try and post on Monet’s garden and other gardens soon but the busy schedule of 2017 is coming to fruition with an Autumn birth. We hope soon to meet my first grandchild  and I have been back and forth, north and south, throughout the past few months helping with all the changing of houses and stuff that seems to arise around pregnancy and birth. Changing times for us all as the seasons change and we wait for the birth.

Colour schemes in one part of Monet’s Garden.
I have also been busy with my novel with lots of careful revisions and editing. I’ve finally taken courage, thanks to a blogging friend, Sarah at Wildfomelody,  who has read some of the novel and told me to have the courage of my characters and so I have sent off the first few chapters to one literary agent. This felt like a big step alongside the fear of rejection. I have several more agents I have researched and will now need to be persistent in following this through. It’s 4 weeks and I have had no response but this is supposed to be the norm. It would be good to have even an automated acknowledgement though. I feel inclined to now try the next agent that I think might be interested in my writing.

One blogger has a good description of writing a novel as giving birth. Unfortunately,  it reminded me too of the incredible work of the strongest muscle, the uterus as it builds up to that final push. Thankfully that’s not my role as an expectant grandmother and I’m not sure I wish to relate to the pain involved in childbirth to the process of writing. Does much good writing have to emerge from painful experiences or be painful?

I replied to James Clark http://jamesclarkthenextiteration.wordpress.com/ that I thought my creative writing has been more like my attempts to dig away at a vegetable garden than childbirth. It’s also taken me longer than 9 months, two years in fact, but I suppose like the gardening I haven’t been able mentally to work away at it full time. It has had growth spurts and then some resting periods but hopefully I have strengthened the roots and pruned away at some rather straggly bits. Sometimes I wonder why I bother with the garden or the writing but I love doing both even when the heat and flies drive me crazy.

As so far there has been no response from the first agent  I need to keep up the water pressure or try a different fertiliser so I can reach out further and hope the novel will take root in some literary agent’s rather full garden and be able to bloom into a publication. This seems to be the way in the UK now as most credible publishers only accept submissions through agents.

I wonder as with the sunflowers that the land of publishing tends to be one of monoculture for mass audiences. Monoculture in farming tends to restrict biodiversity. Does this approach with publishing stifle our creativity and diversity of ideas? Should we carry on regardless of the ‘market’ ? Or how do we get our product to the market?

Blogging seems to create a supportive network but my understanding from other bloggers is that this will not fully get your vegetable or flowers onto many tables! As with my garden I will try different places, different seeds, and keep on with the joy of growing! I have more writing ideas that I wish to develop now and want to move on to the next project. I enjoyed the research and the seeds of ideas and  design of the whole garden of the novel coming together. Some areas were bright and full of breezes others more shady but the novel flowed and I have the momentum for more journeys for my characters.

Certainly,  the wild flowers of Navasola have great resilience to the changing seasons. So I too will need that resilience so that my novel can meet the outside world. Maybe the creative process is not just about birth but about the nurturing needed for a human child to pass through many stages of growth before blossoming into maturity.


Thanks to all who read and follow. I appreciate all the likes and comments. I am now off Northward, like my characters, and hoping for a not too difficult birth for my daughter and partner and a happy healthy baby for them to grow with!

 

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Festivals in the Sierra Aracena: The Romeria of La Reina de Los Angeles

It’s the 8th of September and the day of my favourite festival in the Sierra. Its full of horses, mules, donkeys and a wonderful mix of devotion and conviviality. Today is the day where each of the surrounding villages pay homage to the Patron Saint of the Sierra Aracena, La Reina de los Angeles whose hermitage is at the Pena de Arias Montano. This is a beauty spot on a rocky outcrop overlooking the village of Alajar. It is also full of history and the extraordinary story of Arias Montano, a highly learned man of the Renaissance times.

Although in 1970 this Romeria was given a very public and national status it is truly a very local event. At least nine of the surrounding villages go on a pilgrimage to the hermitage and this includes Seville. All travel on foot, horseback or the lucky ones in a carriage. The Virgin Mary of each local village church is taken by bullocks in beautifully adorned carts. These are paraded in front of the Queen of the Angels at the hermitage. She too is then taken out of her seclusion and shown the beauty of the views.

If you live in or close to one of the villages such as Fuenteheridos and Castano de Robledo this is also the time to meet up with neighbours and share good food and drink. After the religious devotions there is time for picnic and chats. It is a balancing act of cultural traditions, religious devotion and neighbourliness which also seems to honour the natural beauty of the area and rural lives, past and present.

For many it is time to get out the wonderful flamenco dresses, ride your horse, sing songs and enjoy a day out. For me I relish being here as it was the one festival I always had to miss as the school term had begun. I was always given a running commentary about the horses. Perhaps one day I’ll finally get back on a horse and ride up over those hills to the Pena. I might need a little assistance too!