I dedicate this quote to Ron Toryfter and all his and my artist friends..
Ann Winfred, Coming of Age Croneicles, posted this essay on her blog about Jenny Joseph’s poem “Warning”:
WHEN I AM AN OLD WOMAN…
The teacher of my senior chair yoga class mentioned the other day that she finds herself inexplicably attracted to wearing purple after sixty years of being less than enthusiastic about the color. Her confession set off a dinging in the twisted coil of synapses I laughingly call my memory, so I climbed up the rickety steps to my brain to find the source of that dinging. Flipping through my Rolodex of recorded thoughts, I found it. Sometime back in my 30’s, I heard the phrase, “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple,” and was intrigued by the sense of freedom and bravado the words conveyed. Not knowing if the phrase was a quote, a poem, a song or a book, I climbed into Uncle Google’s lap and let him take me on a type/click journey. This is what I found.
“When I am an old woman I shall wear purple” is the first line of a poem, “Warning,” written in 1961 by 29-year-old Jenny Joseph from Birmingham, England. A 1996 BBC poll declared “Warning” to be the United Kingdom’s most popular post-war (that’s WWII, ladies) poem, beating out Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gently Into That Good Night.” Ms. Joseph produced a large body of work over her lifetime but this one poem has defined her and inspired thousands of women to wear purple in honor of their cronedom. Asked why she never wore her celebrated color, Ms. Joseph replied, “I can’t stand purple. It doesn’t suit me.”
The second line of the poem, “With a red hat which doesn’t go…” inspired the creation of the Red Hat Society by a California woman named Sue Ellen Cooper when she gave a friend a birthday gift of a vintage red fedora and a copy of “Warning.” The new birthday tradition spread, along with a penchant for purple outfits, red hats, and tea parties. The Society now boasts over 40,000 chapters in the United States and thirty other countries.
Watch Ms. Joseph and hear her delightful British accent as she reads her poem. Enjoy, ladies.
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.
A Good Day’s Work — Grandma Moses
I look back on my life like a good day’s work, it was done and I feel satisfied with it. I was happy and contented, I knew nothing better and made the best out of what life offered. And life is what we make it, always has been, always will be.
Thanks to Ann Winfred for posting this quote on her blog: http://comingofagecroneicles.com/voices/
And for giving me permission to post it too.
My previous post told how I was stuck in the sagging middle of my novel. I didn’t know how to get back into the rhythm after three months of writing Ekphrasis prose and poetry due the end of December. I’d imagined several ways to begin Chapter 15 and didn’t like any of the options. For the first time, after writing three novels, I had writer’s block.
Ann Winfred came to the rescue. She and I are on-line accountability partners. We have an agreement to write and submit to each other a minimum of five hundred words on our WIPs each week. Her work in progress is http://comingofagecroneicles.com When I told her I was struggling, she asked me if I planned to continue with the novel or not and other questions that made me evaluate my goal. In the process, I discovered what I was doing wrong. I had been imagining how to start the chapter. My style is to sit down and write, not to think about what to write. I also had lost contact with my characters. Like an actor, I had to become the protagonist again. The best way to do that was to write.
I sat at my computer and wrote eight hundred seventeen words. Satisfied with the beginning of the chapter, I set it aside. I had an idea of how to eliminate a repetitious boring middle–I’d speed up the action and combine the baby steps to get to the next plot point sooner. I arranged a free day to finish the chapter. As I typed, the protagonist took a different turn, which happens in writing and I was happy with it. Then I discovered that for almost a whole page, I had switched to first person instead of third. Freaky at first, but then I realized I was back to writing in my usual manner, which is to go with the flow of my consciousness and not to think too hard. I changed the I’s to she’s, finished the chapter in record time, and I’m pleased with the new middle. It’s not blocked or sagging any more.
The way to solve writer’s block is to sit down and write. Set a small goal, maybe 300 or 500 words of a draft that maybe used later or might be thrown away, but at least there are words on a page. The next writing time, the result could be longer and better. Trust the muse, the protagonist, your intuition and find an accountability partner.
The way to solve the sagging middle is to sit down and write, bring in more action and tension, amp it up, go to an extreme; you can change it later if needed. Bring in a new challenge, a natural disaster like a hurricane, or make a thief take a treasured item adding to the protagonist’s anguish.
Most important: remember your writing goal and know you CAN do it.
My friend, Ann Winfred, wrote “Bats in Our Belfries”, an inspiration to get rid of clutter. So inspiring that I sit here surrounded with bags and boxes I removed from my family room closet to make room for paintings that are in the garage. Since I spent all day with the closet, I needed a computer break and will finish tomorrow. It’s a project that has called to me for months.
I highly recommend Ann’s Coming of Age Croneicles. Her stories and meanderings (as she calls them) are well-written, profound and often funny, plus she taps into universal feelings. For “Bats in Our Belfries”, she quotes Anais Nin: “If one changes internally, one should not continue to live with the same objects. They reflect one’s mind and psyche of yesterday. I throw away what has no dynamic, living use. I keep nothing to remind me of the passage of time, deterioration, loss, shriveling.”
Here is the link for “Bats in Our Belfries” http://comingofagecroneicles.com/bats-in-our-belfries/
It’s short and a real gem.
The photo above is from the meandering.
In my last post, I quoted Patricia Flaherty Pagan’s description of flash fiction which she compared to a geode that “reveals crystals shining within.” Readers can find unique flash gems at http://comingofagecroneicles.com
Ann Winfred, creator of “Coming of Age Croneicles, Voices From Over the Hill,” offers excellent flash stories, essays, and meanderings. “Bats in Our Belfries” is one of my favorites. “Falling in Love Again” has a WOW ending on Maui. Winfred lived in Hawaii for several years and brings the essence of the islands to several of her meanderings, as she likes to call them. “South Texas Harmony” takes the reader on a truck ride to the sensory area where she lives now. In some shorts, she has introduced Inez, a character who doesn’t want to be found and plays cat and mouse with a private eye who’s on her trail.
The category in the Table of Contents called Voices is “a cornucopia of evocative thoughts and observations from our world’s most elegant minds.” Winfred quotes Eudora Welty, Bette Davis, Grandma Moses, Joan Didion, among many others.
Winfred brings flash stories and essays to a new level of gems in small packages that entertain but also enlighten.
I am thankful that the finish line for my anthology is close. The process has been difficult, yet delightful. I’m grateful to all the writers who submitted entries and their willingness to make revisions. The goal for the book in hand is February 1st.
I appreciate my helpers, particularly Linda Todd. Without her, the book wouldn’t be polished or ready for the press. Stacey Gustafson volunteered to contact writers for their bios etc. Jordan Bernal, Paula Chinick, and Ann Winfred appeared with their support when I became overwhelmed. Thank you all.