back-to-school

I’ve always thought that the New Year should be celebrated in September. The school year starts then, as does the college year and, for me, most of my jobs have started in September.

In September, the summer slips into autumn, the air clears, the mornings are cold and crisp and the lethargy of the warm season fades away. I want to start something new.

The countryside is beautiful, fruits and berries are plentiful, the trees turn from green to gold, copper and scarlet, harvest is celebrated and Christmas lies ahead. I love September. My garden (below) is full of colour.

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January is totally unsuitable for celebrating the new and looking to the future. The days are short (at least where I live), the weather is wet, cold and gloomy, and the lethargy of summer has been replaced with the lethargy of winter overindulgence.

April would be an acceptable substitute, but I’m going for September.

 

In Favour of September

The heart of winter is not a fit start

For a new year, or a new anything.

The dull days are short and gloomy and part of the misery of winter

And spring feels far away and all news is bad.

Reports of war and famine on the news again

And it’s hard to find a reason to be glad.

Echoes of Christmas excess, chain us to our bodies,

And weakened by the dark and cold,

We succumb to pestilence and flu.

January’s bite is far worse than its bark

So how come this month gets to start something new?

I sink in despair until I remember,

Another new year will start in September.

 

What do you think?

Anne

anne

http://www.annalisacarr.com

 

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Reviving Past Interests

drama

When I was a teenager (many years ago), I was obsessed with theatre and drama and was a member of the Westmorland Youth Theatre, my high school theatre group and various local theatre companies. Despite my ambitions, I was never a very good actress (‘leave your name in the ashtray on the way out’ was a usual response to my auditions), but I loved everything about the stage.

As I grew older, I became more and more focussed on my scientific career, and my interest in acting fell by the wayside. However, two years ago, I gave up full-time work, studied for an MA and when I resumed working, it was part-time (only enough to fund my fledgling writing ambitions), so for the first time in years, I had breathing room.

At a volunteer day in nearby Kendal, I signed up to act as a steward at the Kendal Festival of plays.

KY

An easy way to reintroduce myself to the thespian experience (or so I thought). Two days later, a leaflet landed through my door. I tossed it in the bin as irrelevant. That evening the phone rang.

“We have enough stewards. How about acting?”

“I don’t…”

“Good. We’ll see you on Thursday evening.”

I fished the leaflet out of my wastebin.

Actors Call 30 June

I turned up for the actors call and am now an actor in three plays, written as a community effort by people from schools, hospitals and care homes, as well as by individuals. I am a mother whose baby is given up for adoption, I am a teenager worried about my father’s farm, and I am a hillwalker who encounters a ghost. All this is played out in the local shopping centre in front of an audience of bemused shoppers. I have met a lot of interesting people, made a complete fool of myself and had a brilliant time and I’ll definitely do it again.

I used to love horseriding, painting, and was an enthusiastic supporter of animal rights. There are so many things that fall by the wayside as you get older, often just because of lack of time. I intend to revisit as many as I can, and see if the old passion is there.

Anne CleasbyAnne

lives in the English Lake District and writes as Annalisa Carr

http://www.annalisacarr.com

Distractions

Anne

Two years ago, I moved from the South of England, where I spent most of my working life and returned to my roots in Cumbria. I chose to live between the villages of Windermere and Bowness (the nearest settlement to the lake), because I thought the locality was perfect for my cats. They love it, and so do I. The only problem is the quality of the displacement activities.

When I should be writing, I’m out enjoying. So what makes it so great?

There are loads of reasons, but I’ll confine myself to five.

  1. The Lakes                                                                                                                    Lake Windermere is the largest natural lake in England and I can see it from my window. I can take part in The Great North Swim and the Chill Swim without leaving town. The Lake District has a lively open water swimming community and access to lakes, tarns and rivers. Windermere is great for sailing, although it’s probably one of the most crowded lakes. There is nothing better than spending a summer day out on the water, when there is a light breeze and you know there will be ice cream later.                                                                                                                                                        003     
  2. The Weather                                                                                                 Windermere weather is interesting. When the sun shines, everything is good, the hills are pretty, the gardens stunning and everyone smiles. When the rain is torrential, the hills are hidden, the gardens sulk and there is little evidence that humans exist in the town. Last year we had floods, and many people are still not back in their homes afterwards. The whole area smelled very strange and on the Saturday night of the flood, Bowness on Windermere looked like an alien planet. We’ve been talking about it ever since.
  3. Tourists                                                                                                                                  I love tourists. They are on holiday so they look happy. While those of us on our way to work are stressed, tired and preoccupied, the tourists smile. Even in the rain. They come by car, on the train or in coachloads. Because of them, we have great restaurants, wine bars, cafés, cinemas and theatres and during the summer, Windermere is filled with faces from China, the Middle East and the US.   People watching is a huge pleasure.                                                                                                           tourists
  4. Culture                                                                                                                                Tourists come for the culture as well as the scenery. The Lake District has theatres, it has art galleries, it has theatre groups and music. It has a history of literature, from William Wordsworth to Beatrix Potter. It has a strong community of writers and artists. Many of the towns host art festivals, and in a month’s time there will be ‘The Festival of Yarns’ in which everyone is invited to write a play to be performed during the week. This year there will be 60 new plays. I describe myself as a writer, but in this festival I’m an actor.
  5. Sheep                                                                                                                                   My mother claimed that sheep were the only topic of discussion on the local radio stations, but I think she was exaggerating. We do have a lot of sheep though, in a huge number of varieties. We have several ‘woolfests’, where every aspect of wool production, from the birth of lambs to the creation of designer clothing, is displayed. If you are enthusiastic about crafts, then the Cumbrian Woolfests are the place to be.                                       20160409_121534
    There are amazing things to be found in most places, and I’d love to hear what is exciting about your home – and encourage you to visit the English Lake District.

Just Do it – Become a Writer

Anne

I’ve always wanted to write – to be a writer.

Eighteen months ago I resigned from my job as a Structural Biologist in Cambridge, to move to the North of England and study for an MA in Creative Writing. This felt like a huge life-changing decision, as I sold my house, packed up my worldly goods and set out, together with my three cats, on the long drive north. My friends thought I was insane, although the word they used was ‘brave’.

3 cats

What made me do it?

I needed a change; a new challenge.

When I joined the company I worked for, it was a small start-up biotech and I was one of the first employees. I’d left a secure job for the excitement of being involved at the beginning, but none of us knew whether we would still be employed after the six months of seed funding ran out. The work was demanding and varied, with new deadlines every day. Fifteen years later, the company was successful and secure, but the pace had slowed, and the demands of the job were different. I began to get restless.

I took singing lessons, art lessons, developed interests in long distance running and open water swimming, but none of these things satisfied me.

I’d been writing for a while, had managed to have a few short stories and poems published, and my first novel had been accepted by a small US publishing company (It was fantasy romance). After careful consideration of my options, I applied for, and was accepted at Lancaster University to study for a full-time campus MA.

I decided to live in Windermere, in the English Lake District, mainly because I thought the  cats would like it, but also because of its literary history – William Wordsworth, John Ruskin, Beatrix Potter all lived here – and found a house on top of a hill.

house

The year of the MA was absolutely inspiring. I met a group of exciting fellow writers from all over the world, was taught by brilliant lecturers, who were also poets, novelists and short story writers, and had the time to explore different forms of writing.

During the course I completed a science fiction novel, set in a dystopian future, had my second fantasy novel accepted for publication and wrote a variety of short stories. I learned to edit and give constructive criticism to my colleagues. It was a fantastic year, and I have never regretted my decision.

My new challenge is to make my writing pay (or to find another job, and my boss told me I’d never work again at my age) in a time of rapidly evolving markets and technology.

If I was presumptuous enough to give advice to anyone, I’d tell them to go for it. Think of ways you can make your dream work. Move towards it, slowly if necessary. I realized, looking back, that that was what I had been doing for years, with the short stories, the writing courses, the local workshop groups and the first attempt at a novel.

Just Do It.

sailing on windermere2grad2

I’m the blonde one with the unsteady mortarboard.

Anne Cleasby lives in the English Lake District and writes fantasy romance under the pseudonym Annalisa Carr

She can be found at http://www.annalisacarr.com