The feel of the coastal mist of Ireland, still envelops me, as I sit at my computer back in real life. I’m home now after twenty days, not only in the land of the beloved, but Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland, with a pit stop in Sweden and Denmark.
I was all over the British Isles taking in every literary site I could find. I needed to renew myself after two rejections on my recent WIPS, before leaving. I needed to feel that in the long run, it’s a learning process. I needed to find patience.
I spent a day wondering through the tiny lake country village of Greenmeres, where William Woodworth, lived and died writing his lilting poems. Many of Jane Austen’s most romantic scenes are set in that beautiful part of England. I followed Yeats life up the wild coast of western Ireland, and laid a flower on his grave in a small church yard outside Galway. I passed the home of Maeve Benchy in Dublin, and saw her stories on every colorful door of the city. I sat in pubs all over the isles were many of the worlds greatest authors drank their pints, discussed politics, life and love. It seemed all of them had a barstool, where Oscar Wilde sat, drank and wrote.
Standing in front of the childhood home of Robert Lewis Stevenson, I studied the window, where he peered out onto the world as a sickly child. It was those long lonely days he watched his friends play in a park across the street on an island in a small pond. The seeds for Treasure Island and Kidnap were planted on those cold wet Edinburgh days. I saw the stomping grounds of C.S Lewis, in a new Belfast. Where he is honored by both Protestant and Catholic.
I saw where the café once stood, where a young mother wrote for her son, because she couldn’t afford the electricity to run her lap top in her flat. Harry Potter was born there. Sadly the café was sold and is now of all things a Chinese Restaurant. Yes, even Scotland is progressing.
And it seems on every small street corner, down cobbled alleys there was a book shop. Not store, but shop, independent, and owned by generations of a family. They’re rarely big, but packed with books, and the selections are extraordinary. You just had to ask about an author or book, and you’re pulled into an hour long conversation on reading, writing, and the love of it all. And of course, the stories about the Oscar Wilde frequenting the shop when great-grandfather was running it, and yes, the occasional King or Queen who stopped to buy a book. They love to tell those tales. And I loved listening to them.
What all this did for me is help me find my rhythm again. My struggle has been well chronicled in this blog and in my personal blog. It has hung over me like a dark shawl for the past six months. I often questioned what I was doing putting so much effort into something, that wasn’t baring fruit. It felt like a dying pear tree, with a single wilting flower, carrying the promise of a future for the whole tree in its weak petals.
The break of a month of not writing balanced me, settled my mind, and quieted my heart. Ireland and her often sad history reached for me, and pulled me back into the world of words printed on paper, and those people who so much love books.
I spent a few days with family in Cork. My cousin owns a pub, where she put Louie and me to work. I immersed myself in a language that rang of fond distant memories. The stories jumped from the lips of people among their wide smiles and curiosity about the California cousins behind the bar. And just simple gossip was decorated in the high sing song accents. I heard a story whispered on every breath, in every ruined abbey, and every green sheep dotted hillside.
Near my family’s accent home in Adare, I knelt in a church built by the Knight Templars. I took communion as they once did in that very spot. I could see their white bent backs, heads bowed, with the eight pointed red cross. I felt their final breath in the simple stone church when the bell woke the countryside in a sudden flurry of noise, sending a swarm of birds into flight, taking with them my failures, replacing it with the coveted patience. I was left with a new yearning just too simply write, regardless of the out come.
I marveled at the book of Kells, knowing this was where the heart of the Irish love of the written word began. In those beehive monasteries on rocky islands off the rugged coast, monks bent from years of writing, worked tirelessly. Their fingers stained forever from colorful inks, as their eyes failed in dim candle light, they continued. They produced one of the most beautiful books known to survive the ages, all for the love of church and the written word.
Thankfully, I’m not writing by candle light, in a cold stone cell on an island fit only for birds. I have a computer in a warm house with the benefit of a car to escape, when needed. Writing is considerably easier these days than in the past. Still, the struggle to find the patience to continue, is ever present. The fight to land in a place where the words flow, to appear on the pages in perfect clarity, is on going, ending with the yearning to succeed.
In all the places I visited connected to a literary great, the struggle to put pen to paper and have someone appreciate it was always present, if not pronounced. It almost overshadowed their eventual success. In the end somehow, the rejections, the disappointment, the frustration and what we learn from it all, will somehow make it all well worth while, as long as we find patience.