Dear World: No.

I am currently annoyed. This happened before nine o’clock in the morning, which is, as I’m sure you’d agree, a wonderful way to start your day. But I am annoyed due to a writing matter, and I am not sure with whom – or with what – I am grousing. I just know I’m annoyed, and now I am going to express it.

I am one of those writers who has a tendency to write long sentences. Long, complex (or compound-complex) sentences. So? So indeed. Is that not just my writing style? And is there a problem with having such a writing style? You’d think not, right? Do not our unique, individual writing styles encourage our unique, individual voices to be heard? I think so. This is why I get so, so irritated when I forever see people **other writers** moaning about long, complex sentences, because, to me, it feels like I am being criticised for expressing my voice. That is not fair. And what right does everyone else have to tell you how you should be expressing yourself?

“Er, I’m sorry, Sir, but the lyrics you write don’t appeal to the masses, and so all your music must be wrong.”

“Excuse me, Ma’am, but I don’t think explaining your emotions via analogy is appropriate, and thus your feelings are insignificant.”

Would we say things like this to people? No. Well, I certainly hope not, anyway. But can you tell me how that is any different to writing? No, you cannot, because there is no difference.

“Um, I find some of your sentences too long, and therefore I deem your writing to be sub-par.”

No difference.

So, what is this gripe the world has towards long sentences? I am not saying we all have to love every type of worldly expression, not at all – we all have our opinions, our likes and dislikes – but just because one type of expression may not be as commonplace in this day and age, that does not mean it is the wrong way to express it. There is no right or wrong with expression. Ever. Don’t let anyone tell you so. I absolutely hate too many short sentences – it makes me twitch – but that does not mean I cast aside a piece of writing expressed in such a way. Every difference has its place. And, indeed, short sentences can be incredibly powerful and effective, and I do quite patently use them, since I have used many in this here post.

I don’t like short sentences because I find them too harsh. Too abrupt. I am not a harsh, abrupt person – certainly not when it comes to my writing, anyway, or only if something has riled me. To me, short sentences are like a malice stomp, whereas longer sentences have a gentleness about them, flowing peacefully on like a little stream; for this reason, I only turn to short sentences when I wish to make a point, or indeed for effect. What is wrong with that? Yeah. Nothing.

Besides, not only are short sentences against my individual voice, but the Ilimoskus story would, quite frankly, be dire if it were written in a ‘shorter’ style. Let me make my point with the opening paragraph:

The sun was low in the sky as the day drew to a close; the faint remainder of light was shining through the trees of the forest in a soothing amber dusk, and birds were tweeting afar in their evensong. Amidst this idyllic setting, however, was Fii’dezrhu Reotum – infamous in the Flamikus ilyor as something of a troublemaker. — ORIGINAL

The sun was low in the sky as the day drew to a close. The faint remainder of light shone through the trees of the forest in a soothing amber dusk, and birds tweeted their evensong. But amid this idyllic setting was Fii’dezrhu Reotum, who was infamous in the Flamikus ilyor as a troubleamker. — ALTERED

I’m sorry, but no. Nuh-uhhhhh. I wonder how many people prefer the second version… Probably many. But it is not me, and it is not my story. With those few, minor alterations, I feel as though the charm of the original version has completely disappeared. I am not forsaking that charm – my voice – just because the world declares that longer sentences are obsolete and unnecessary. I have never been one to listen to the demands of the world around me, nor have I ever been one to oblige against my heart’s will.

It is times like these when I think back to my school days: I was fortunate enough to have the most amazing English teacher, Mrs. Jones, and she was one of the very few who made me feel like I could be something. Someone. One lesson, we were all silently working on our latest piece of coursework (Pride and Prejudice, actually – that old chestnut), and every now and then Mrs. Jones called someone up to her desk to discuss progress and suggest changes. My name was called, and so up I went to her with my work. Now. Mrs. Jones said something to me then that I have never forgotten, and which I will always keep with me, brandishing it whenever this matter emerges:

She pointed to my opening sentence. She said it was very long. But then she said that there were few people in our class who could get away with using such long sentences, and I was one of them.

“It doesn’t matter how long a sentence is, as long as it’s controlled.”

So said she. And how do we get such control over wriggly words? Punctuation. If you can manipulate punctuation properly, you can have controlled sentences that can cover six lines, for goodness sake. And, yes, I indeed have sentences in the Ilimoskus story that cover six lines. It doesn’t mean they’re bad sentences. Long, yes. But controlled. So what is the problem? It’s not like I write like this and include no punctuation whatsoever because that would just be silly and indeed very bad writing for who on earth would want to read a piece of writing that goes on in such a manner?

You are quite welcome to say, “I don’t like ILIMOSKUS, and I don’t like the writing style.” That is perfectly fine. In fact, someone SHOUT it at me! But do not tell me how I should be writing ILIMOSKUS. Do not tell anyone how their voice ‘should’ sound.

I am so sick of writing ‘rules’. They drive me mad. And, as earlier implied, I have always been a rule-breaker, and I will spend my entire life breaking the ‘rules’ of writing, in part to stay true to myself, in part to annoy the world on purpose, for that is just how I am. It’s a slight personality glitch. Or it is? You decide.

How can there possibly BE any writing ‘rules’ anyway? How can we put ‘rules’ on expression?

No. Just no.

‘One Last Time’ Tag – Q&A

It would seem there is a tag lurking about the place about Tolkien’s The Hobbit, or rather the films – more specifically, The Battle of the Five Armies. Kayla at Concerning Writing tagged me, for which I must thank her, for now I have an excuse to endlessly ramble about LotR. Are you ready for my rant –ahem– answers?

There are four rules for this tag:

1) You have to be tagged in order to do it.

2) You have to tag and notify at least three bloggers.

3) Answer the questions!

4) You must have seen The Battle of the Five Armies before taking this quiz.

*

1) Tell your story of how you came to see the movies or got into Tolkien in the first place.

Oh my. Well, my love for Tolkien began when I was a child. I had not read the LotR books, but I had seen them (and The Hobbit) on the bookshelf, for my mother was a fan, and I remember being especially intrigued by the covers. Though, my mother would not let me touch them because they were India paper Deluxe Editions from the 1970s that my father bought her – which are now worth about £100, would you believe! – and I suppose she did not want mucky child fingers damaging them. Fair enough, I say.

deluxehoblotr

Behold. These are the very books of which I speak: The Hobbit (left) and LotR (right). Though, I highly doubt they’d be worth near 100 quid – look at the state of LotR’s cover! Tut tut, Mother.

She said, “If you want to look at the books, I’ll buy you some others.” And so she did. She bought bog standard LotR books. But I still didn’t read them; I just looked at them.

And then I heard talk of the LotR books currently being adapted into films, and I remember many people were terribly sceptical, claiming it could never be pulled off. And so came 2001! and the much anticipated The Fellowship of the Ring trailer was released about a year before the actual film release date (as movie-makers like to do), and I saw the trailer on TV.

For whatever reason, this trailer captured my heart, and I spent the many months before the release date pestering my mother non-stop if we could see the film at the cinema. I bet she loved me for that 😉 AND SO CAME DECEMBER 2001. And we went to the cinema to see the film. And I fell in love, well and truly. And then I wouldn’t shut up about this eternal love for LotR. And my mother bought LotR everything: film books, chess, Warhammer, Top Trumps, PS2 games (which my brother and I played ALL the time, we loved them so much).

This came out in 2002. On the rare occasion my brother and I are together and have a moment, we still dig this game out and play it. And we still find it as impossible… challenging… as we did then. I swear, they don’t make games as difficultly satisfying as they did in those days. *Rocks backs and forth in rocking chair.*

And she also got me LotR action figures, which I still have to this day.

lotrfigures

Firstly, I apologise about the poor quality of this photo. But look! Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Gandalf the White, and The Mouth of Sauron. Can anyone notice the disfigured arms of Legolas and Aragorn? Also, Gimli’s head no longer moves. My mum threw my original action figures away (just Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli) because I broke them (due to playing with them so much, you understand), and these are the ‘updated’ ones, if you will, I got slightly later amid the franchise.

But talk of my childhood love for LotR always makes me smile, for there I was playing LotR Warhammer with my brother, and playing LotR PS2 games and playing with my action figures, yet in those days I was also a little girly-girl wearing my flowery headbands and dancing around in my pink bedroom singing down a hairbrush to songs such as this:

‘I’M GONNA TAKE THIS NIGHT AND MAKE IT EVERGREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN’

It is a well-acknowledged fact that you cannot sing that line without the power-ballad-esqe bellow and clenched fist.

Do you know this Westlife song came out in 2001, the same year as The Fellowship? Fun fact for you, there.

10 dc 01

This was little girly-girl moi in 2001. I too am questioning why and how I seem to be so tanned, don’t worry. Remember the days when you had to go and get your camera films developed? My dad, once the technology had developed, took all our albums of family photos and scanned them to the computer, putting them on CDs. He was therefore the one who named all the photo files. When I found this one it was entitled, ‘Jenny being a tropical maiden’. A tropical maiden. Hilarious. 

Wasn’t it such a joy to receive your developed photos though, in that little pocket envelope they gave you? And you eagerly flicked through them to see how they’d turned out, and to your dismay most of them had a great blur of a finger across the picture. Ahhh, those were the days. *Rocks back and forth in rocking chair. Knits.* 

But I digress. What a stark contrast, no? Anyway, have I rambled on enough about LotR? The answer is no, for that is impossible, but I’m supposed to be talking about The Hobbit. So, yes, that is where my love for LotR and Tolkien began, and then I read the books many years later, surprisingly, for you would have thought I’d have read them sooner. And I also read The Hobbit then, and fell in love with that too.

And then, fast forward many a year, came the dreaded Hobbit films… *twitches*

2) Who are your three favourite characters in The Hobbit? 

In the books, I presume? Well, I’m going with the books either way. One: Bilbo Baggins, obviously. Isn’t he fabulous? Martin Freeman was the only redeeming factor in the Hobbit films, if you ask me. Two: Probably Gandalf the Grey, Gandalf Greyhame, Mithrandir, Gandalf Stormcrow – whatever you want to call him (Stevick, you think I have many aliases? 😉 ). He is such a wise and powerful wizard, yet so human with his tempers and all! And three: Gollum. What a deep, complex character he is! It’s fascinating.

3) Did you cry at The Battle of the Five Armies, and if so, which scenes and what type? 

Did I cry? *scoffs* Of course I didn’t. And I did not cry because I felt no emotional connection to the Hobbit films. Because they ruined the story in every single way imaginable. What was Peter Jackson thinking?! Though, I won’t lie, I found The Battle of the Five Armies more tolerable than the other two.

4) Were the deaths compelling to you, and if so, whose?

As with the previous question, I felt no emotional connection to anything in those films, and so, no, the deaths were not compelling. In fact, I actually had to restrain my laughter at one death scene (which I’m thinking was not the desired reaction), lest I got strange looks from the other people in the cinema. So utterly ridiculous. It was Kili dying in Tauriel’s arms. Ugh, please. What a total joke.

There’s got to be someone else out there who finds that funny… surely? I mean, how long did they want to drag out that moronic stare at each other? So, so stupid.

However, Thorin’s death was acceptable. I would say almost moving. Careful, I might be getting carried away.

5) Overall, were you satisfied with the movie itself?

Of course I wasn’t. It was awful. I hate the entire Hobbit trilogy. Thank you to Peter Jackson for creating the most magnificent tribute to Tolkien’s work ever – The Lord of the Rings – only to then utterly disgrace it with The bloody Hobbit. I’m so cross about it all. What a distasteful, money-grabbing load of hogwash it is. I am never subjecting myself to watching The Hobbit trilogy again – and that fact it is a trilogy is reason enough to begin with.

6) Describe the movie in one word.

Disgraceful.

*

And now I am to nominate people to also do this tag. Hmm.

Valourborn! <- I know you will love this one 😉

And I’m thinking The PewPew Diaries might be one for this, too.

I can’t think of a third person…

***

I apologise about my hatred towards The Hobbit, to those who love it. It’s hard to rein in the passion I have for Tolkien’s work. Still, I know I am not the only one with this opinion, for friends I have who adore LotR also utterly despise The Hobbit. It is a sad ending to what could have be a masterful closure to Middle-Earth. Alas.

I actually watched The Fellowship of the Ring on my birthday, and the other two over the following days. Such love (and, indeed, it reconfirmed my everlasting love for Samwise Gamgee). I become such an emotional wreck at the end of The Return of the King, and it always reminds me of when I first saw it at the cinema, for of course, in those days, we did not know The Hobbit was to be made, and so this truly was the end of Middle-Earth and how the tears fell! even as a child. Isn’t it amazing how stories can grip you so? How FANTASY can grip you so, and never let you go?

Undoubtedly, were it not for Tolkien’s masterpiece that is LotR, I would not have fallen in love with fantasy, and, ergo, ILIMOSKUS never would have been born. Tolkien truly is the King of Fantasy – at least of fantasy as we now know it!

I do not know very many people who like LotR, let alone love it (in person, at least). I can count them on one hand. Isn’t that tragic? Do you remember how Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was released at the same time as The Fellowship? I remember all my peers were in love with Harry Potter, not LotR, and I was ever criticised for this. “Harry Potter is better!” they declared. Indeed, Harry Potter was/is certainly the story more appealing to children, but not to me.

Harry Potter’s magic and wonder never reached my heart, I’m afraid.

But LotR?

Perhaps my heart lives for epic adventures, eternal depth, and, most importantly:

soulful stories.

What does your heart live for?

Umeraard-ite (Glowing Heart Day)

I am basically writing this post specifically tailored for Prince Stevick the Agwikus, and indeed writing it purely because of him. But writing this will induce many smiles for me, which can only be a good thing, for as of late I have been having quite a rotten time of it, and it is nice to forget your heart’s woes by distracting it with laughter, wouldn’t you agree…?

But before I get to the smiles, let me just briefly overview why things have been so rotten, and why my soul has been so unbelievably miserable recently. As most of you will know, I have been dealing with my mental health situation… It is a dingy, grim little alleyway to get yourself through, let me tell you. Anyway,  2015 has not got off to a good start. I tripped over through the transitional gate and fell flat on my face. But, no matter, I’m picking myself and dusting myself off. It’s fine. My mother became horribly ill and spent a week in hospital, so I had to look after my disabled brother for a time and that just became unbearable because he hits me and screams at me blah blah. And my therapist dropped a bombshell on me the other week which, upon arriving home after the session, made me cry for the rest of the day. There are sticky situations, and then there are deathly consuming viscid situations, and then there’s the situation I’m in… 😦

I swear, all I have been doing this year is crying. Sobbing. You know when you cry so deeply that, when inhaling, you can feel you soul tremble? Yeah. That.

But the misery does not end there. Ilimoskus, anyone? Anyone heard me mention that before? 😉 My laptop got some hideous virus not too long ago, rendering the stupid thing useless and ruining all my writing files. And then, as if all my technology planned to conspire against me, my main writing USB drive became corrupt… And my Book 2 manuscript file became corrupt and I could no longer access it… And my Times of Old manuscript – the one I have spent a lifetime re-editing – was wiped completely, as were my website files, and also another insanely important document for the Ilimoskus story. And because my backups (on my laptop) had too messed up… Well… I’m not even going to attempt to explain how I felt. But I cried. Again. A lot. Of course. However, my eldest brother is a technological miracle worker and saved the day, PRAISE BE. And now I have forked out on an IronKey USB (brother’s recommendation), because that is NOT happening again. Ever. Nope. Not having it.

Anyway… Moving on from depressing things…

SMILE TIME.

😀

***

I happen to share my birthday with a few famous faces, which therefore makes my birth date the best ever. No? Oh. Well, allow me to reveal their faces to you, all the same:

Charles Darwin – a man I hold deep respect for.

Abrahaaaaaaaaaam Lincoln

Gromit the Dog!

As you can see, I share my birthday with some marvellous fellows. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THEM ALL. Also, if you do not know who Gromit is, I feel you have been deprived in life for not knowing the classic that is Wallace and Gromit – product of the wonderful Aardman Animations.

Did anyone notice Gromit’s eye roll upon opening the singing card? That is rather accurate to my response to birthday jubilations and the like. As is this:

I am referring to Squidward, you understand, not Spongebob and Patrick. But oh, the old Spongebob episodes are glorious things. But I am not a birthday celebrator. At all. It’s just not who I am, not what I do.

Anyway.

It’s my birthday. I therefore received some gifts, which is always a very kind gesture from people. But I am here to share some with you (and when I say ‘you’, I really mean Stevick. But you, too 😉 )

I shall save the best ’til last. But let’s start with this:

owlmug

This is an owl mug. I laughed upon opening it. And I shall tell you why I laughed. Stevick and I have been having the most ridiculous (hilarious) conversation about Owl City and Umbrella and Ilimoskus (don’t even ask) recently, and then I am given an owl mug. Which reminded me of Owl City. And thus of our conversation.

And so I move on to my next little gift:

coastag

So, I happened to get two coasters for my birthday this year. This is one of them. A stag. Look at it, bellowing with ferns stuck on its antlers. Hilarious. So in love with stags/deer.

And this is the second coaster I received:

genuinelaw

From my dearest darling Meggie, of course. Who else? Yesterday a large parcel came in the post, from my darling, and when I opened it today I was treated to an array of little gifts in a box. All marvellous, obviously. And on this particular coaster Meggie had stuck a Post-It Note on it, and it read: ‘This is some genuine law advice from me.’ I should probably explain that she is in Law. Love her. I howled (laughed) at it all.

And on the mention of Meggie, this was the card she got me:

seduction

I swear, Meggie and I make it our mission in life to out-do each other with the cards we send. They are always hysterical affairs, inside and out. On the inside of this one she wrote, ‘This card is an image of us trying to seduce men. Accurate, no?’ The love I have for this girl cannot be described.

And finally, I reveal what you’ve all been waiting for. Or at least Stevick, anyway, since the rest of you have no knowledge of this. Drum roll, please.

A SIGNED PHOTO OF NICK HEWER.

NICK

Oh, sorry, I mean Higi Hewer. That man has such illegible handwriting.

I honestly spent forever laughing this morning when opening the envelope that enclosed this little delight. I have laughed so much today. It has been lovely. Though, I won’t lie, there were tears earlier on, but short-lived! How can I possibly be sorrowful when such hilarity surrounds me?

How I must thank Stevick for arranging this, and how we must both thank Countdown for letting it become a reality.

Here is a close up of the man.

closeupNICK

What a smirk.

But that was not the end of my giggles. He had also written on the back!

nicknote

You can’t really see it, but it is written in green ink. Nick knows me so well, clearly, for green is by far my favourite colour. But, as I said: illegible handwriting. If anyone can work out what on earth it’s supposed to say – Happy ___??? – please do let me know. The man can’t even write his name. How does that look remotely like ‘Nick‘? Why are there two dots, as though there are two i‘s? Unless he has written Nicki – which is again hilarious – but then where is the k? Deary me. Still. This is fabulous in every way.

THANK YOU, STEVICK.

x

***

Anyway, I leave behind depressing and amusing notions to now turn to earnest ones. I cannot possibly do a post and not drag the Ilimoskus into somehow, right? Perhaps you are wondering about the title of this post.

‘Umeraard-ite’

‘Glowing Heart Day’

On an Ilimoskus birthday, their heartlight (the little four-pointed star situated on their chests) glows brightly throughout the duration of the day. But let me tell you of the Ilimoskus belief regarding their heartlight…

The Ilimoskus believe that their Creator’s spirit resides in the hearts of all. Broaden that belief out and it becomes them believing that there is a light in everyone’s heart. And this light is there to guide you, help you, throughout life.

‘May the light from your heart always guide you’

And I believe this too, you know. This is the case for humans. It is not just limited to the Ilimoskus. There is a light within us all, and all we need to do is embrace it. And when we do, the world becomes a very bright and beautiful place.

*

Once upon a time, I had a good German friend called Christian with whom I have many joyful memories. I haven’t seen him for many years, and we fell out of touch, but, due to the wonders of social media these days, he is a friend of mine on Facebook. Today he messaged me saying, “Alles Gute zum Geburtstag”. I never knew what “Happy birthday” was in German until now. Can you believe I never asked him? It made me smile.

Though, I did learn this from him in our time:

“Ich liebe dich”

From my glowing heart, I share a loving light, and so I say Ich liebe dich to you all. I love you. For what is life without love? Love to all, and compassion for all.

*

Embrace the light in your heart

and let it be your guide,

and nevermore will you become

lost within the night

Sketching with Sincerity

Salutations, all!

So.

My inspiration has been absent for months now, and recently life has been a trial, so I apologise about my lack of posts and thereof lack of creative posts. This is yet another not-very-creative post… I’m not really sure where to go.

‘He was endlessly spinning on the spot amidst the heart of thick smoke, and it stung his eyes so he could not see, losing all sense of purpose and direction, so even the smallest step forward was a blind one.’

A little quote from Book 2, there. That pretty much sums up how I’ve been feeling for months – on a creative level, you understand. Yet again, progress on Book 2 has been unbearably slow, due to other life influences and my emotional state. Ughhhhhhhhh. This broken record will surely result in my insanity, I’m telling you.

Anyway…

Recently I’ve taken it upon myself to re-write some Ilimoskus songs from Book 1. Why I’m making more work for myself, I don’t know, but it feels right to do this. I’ve been sat at my piano losing the will to live, though, for making Kurpian rhyme is quite possibly one of the worst things on this earth. It is so difficult with all it’s stupid syntax and grammar rules. What idiot created such a moronic language? … 😉

With this new-found focus I have for my story this year, it is only natural I should link things back to it. Today is Prince Stevick’s birthday – all snow! – and as a little ‘gift’, if you will, I said I would draw him something for it. Ilimoskus-related, of course.

As occupies the vast majority of our conversations, a little while back we were talking about Countdown (what else, really?). Those of you not from the UK – and thus unfortunate enough not to know what Countdown is – it is a game show. Visit Stevick’s blog to see for yourselves. Now, Stevick is deeply in love with Susie Dent who is the lady behind Dictionary Corner on the programme, and he declared that she is more beautiful than the moon, which I found to be quite something, given how much Stevick loves the moon. And so, naturally, I thought about the Ilimoskus.

The Agwikus (water folk) are linked to the beautiful moon, and thus you will commonly see them out embracing the night-time, for this time resonates in their souls. And, the moon is linked to the sea and tides, and because the Agwikus dwell in the sea it is only natural they should have such a deep connection to the silver circle of the night’ – as the Ilimoskus refer to it in their tongue.

All this then made me think of something else Stevick and I once talked about. Yeeeeeaars ago, I once made a little personality quiz entitled ‘Which Ilyor Would You Be in?’ or, in English, ‘Which Element Dwells in Your Heart?’ I told him about this, and as a laugh I did this quiz with him last year. And which element was he? Water. The Agwikus.

Which takes me back to Susie Dent and Stevick’s declaration that she is more beautiful than the moon. “Darling Susie”, he said – a play on my ‘Darling Moon’ song and poem.

And so, behold the little sketch I did:

susie-niia

As you can see, here is Stevick the Agwikus hailing the Darling Susie Moon by the coast.

And he is proclaiming:

deckur

“Thial, Susie-niia! Thial, Oceaniia! Helchir’abeiim od amoat! Smiigok wri yer lu!”

“All hail Darling Susie! All hail the Darling Moon – the most beautiful of all! I so live for your words!”

Which Stevick does, you know. He lives for Susie Dent’s Origins of Words.

(I love the Kurpian word oceaniia. It reminds me of ‘oceanic’, and I love the sea. But, this Kurpian word actually means ‘the beloved moon’, or rather ‘darling moon’. And the sea and moon are linked anyway! It isn’t pronounced “ocean-ee-ah“, though, it’s, “oh-see-ah-nee-ah”. Which I think is quite fun to say, personally.)

junu

Jun umeraard-ite, Stevick!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

From Jenona,

x

***

On the subject of gifts, I would like to take this moment to thank my wonderful friend Alex for the gift she sent me at the beginning of the year. I truly love it.

alexnecklace

She sent me this necklace (ignore the little cross, that’s not part of it). That she made! Amazing. Touched beyond words that she did this for me. She said the green marble reminded her of nature, and that in turn reminded her of me, and the little acorn top came from an oak tree in her neighbourhood. Not only do I now wear a thoughtful gesture of kindness and friendship around my neck and close to my heart, but also a little part of Canada. ^^

Thank you so much, Alex!!

It blesses me, and may you be blessed in return.

***

Finally, I end with this:

I tried to draw Fii’dezrhu the other day and it nearly reduced me to tears because I cannot draw and I most certainly cannot draw those DARN Ilimoskus. Honestly. Why are they so against letting me draw them?! (or why am I so bad at drawing them…) But, here is the no-where-near-finished sketch I did of Rhu…

rhusketch

Ugh. Can you see those circles on his shoulder? That is the outline of little Flee. Now, I say ugh, but I don’t think this sketch was too bad. But then I made the mistake of using colour over it (because if I am drawing these Ilimoskus then I want their features to be fully appreciated!), and by doing this I completely ruined it. Sigh. So now I have to re-draw Fii’dezrhu. Every single time I use colour on a close-up sketch, I ruin it. I don’t know how I manage it. It’s quite a skill, if you ask me. Maybe I should keep the close-ups merely as pencil, and the distance sketches can be colour…

But, here’s something: a beautiful friend of mine contacted me the other day asking questions about the Ilimoskus. I rang him, wishing to get to the bottom of this sudden questioning, and it turns out he wants to create/draw the Ilimoskus on this photoshop program or something. He wants to bring them to life for me. I love that man, the beautiful soul he is. So, maybe someday I will be able to share his drawings with you. I’m sure they’ll be magnificent.

He’ll do them far more justice than I will trying to draw them, anyway o_O’

Rise Above, Be Reborn

Here I am, running freely through Ilimoskus Valley. It is my hope to talk openly about much to do with Ilimoskus this year, for previously I had done so rather sparingly, as though I did not want to bother others with the mention of it. But, I realise now that the Ilimoskus story – the Ilimoskus world – is as much a part of me as my very breath, and to hold it in denies my heart of all its core values. So, here’s hoping for wonderful things to come out of this year!

*

And nor will I stay quiet about my mental health. I have a mental health problem. I am ill. And I have been for far too long, in honesty. Eight years too long. Modern society still sneers down on mental health as not being much of a problem (certainly in the UK, anyway), but truly I tell you to know that it is. It really is. Nobody asks to become ill. Do you think anyone asks for a mental illness? It is hideous, for you are trapped within your own mind, and every new step you take somehow leads you back into darkness, back into the eternal loop from which it seems impossible to escape. It is tough to get over an illness. I believe it is probably tougher to get over a mental one. The mind is a complex thing. Still! I am undergoing ‘treatment’, if you will, and I am sure I will be free eventually.

Fellow sufferers, to you I say: Please do not give up, please do not be overwhelmed. I know it is so, so hard, and there are some days you wake up and think, I cannot do this anymore, I cannot go on this way, and I know it can be tempting to do something about those feelings, but that is not the way. I know how lonely it feels. I know how forsaken life seems. But please do not give up. There is a way out of the darkness, and you find the light by seeking help, by forever seeking your inner strength. You will pull through. You can and you will.

Of course, finding your inner strength and clambering out of the darkness does not dig up roses, but rather it churns up thick mud and thorns spit in your face. But those thorns can only blind you if you let them, and the mud can only suck you under if you stand still. I don’t claim to have all the answers, of course I don’t – no one does – but I do know that finding the beauty and wonder in the world, in the tiny little things, allows the sun to shine upon you, and that is precious. I don’t know why bad things happen to good people, but I do know that the most beautiful people in the world are the ones who rise above their gloom and grab the sun for their own, shining its light – as well as theirs – upon the rest of us. A special grace and power comes to those who rise above the darkness. And their hearts, once so scarred and hopeless, turn into diamonds. Unbreakable and so, so beautiful.

But anyway… Enough of such sober matters. (Just don’t give up. Mental illness or no.)

*

I am here to talk about my precioussssssssss **gollum!-gollum!** That is, Ilimoskus. Lots to tell, lots to tell!

ONE) This is the most important, and so it comes first. I should have blurted this out ages ago, but, you know, I’ve been busy planting flowers in my mud. THIS POST <<- announced that my book, Ilimoskus: Times of Old, was no longer available for purchase, due a blumin’ publishing nightmare. BUT!! No more is this so! Back at the beginning of December (or maybe even the end of November, actually, I can’t remember) I was told that the book had been picked up by another company, and, thusly, it is back for the world to read. Hoorah, eh? So. If you would like to read the story, know now that you can. Jolly times.

TWO) I say ‘jolly times’, and indeed it is, but I was actually slightly miffed by this because I wanted to re-edit the manuscript before I put it back out to the world. Obviously that has not happened. Never mind. I’ll do it at some point. I am still re-editing Times of Old at the moment; I’ve cut some bits out, and I’ve made some alterations, such as the school uniform design for Anglarne Hill Independent School in the human world (which includes altering the colour of the house of Danebury, if anyone has read it and cares… It is now green, not red). I have also changed the little ‘dedication’ bit right at the beginning of the book… In my work-in-progress Book 2, the ‘dedication’ page is not a dedication at all, but rather a poem, and I have re-done Book 1’s to be of the same nature, and telling the same ‘story’, I guess. Because it might be a century before the new version is out, I shall share the new poem/dedication for Times of Old with you now:

‘A fire flares within a heart

as stone shields around;

in stormy skies it falls apart

into a sea where dreams so drown.

Can it see in the dark?

How does it stay so strong?

From where does its new life spark?

Do the depths help it belong?

The darkness beckons, olden one,

but you can see the dawn;

let these times go by – be done! –

for you will be reborn.’

THREE) The last thing to mention is a little something I have planned, which should be a treat for those who like the story. I had previously done this little sketch of the four ilyorz (or, in English, the four elements: fire, earth, air, water):

fourilyorz

But, long have I wanted to do more sketches of the Ilimoskus world and the characters in the story. And so, whenever I find the time, I have been trying to work on my drawing skills to do all my elemental friends justice (as within my artistic capabilities). My plan is to draw the most significant characters in the trilogy (which is a ridiculous number, I’ll have you know) and share them with the world on a new page on my website, in a gallery of some sort, with a sentence or two describing them. I thought it would be a nice thing to do! It will obviously take some time to draw them all, so I’ll upload the images as and when and subsequently announce it on my Facebook page and/or Twitter. Or maybe on here, actually. Who knows. But, given I haven’t even started creating the new page on my website yet, it’ll take a while until it’s sorted. I’ll keep you updated.

But, I also thought – assuming I find my sketches of the Ilimoskus at least tolerable – that I might create another page for them specifically, going into more depth about the four ilyorz (elements) and their clothing style. Because why not, I think you’ll find. It’s interesting, honestly 😉 You can see it slightly in the sketch above, but that isn’t really showing it very well. And, not only do they have different clothing styles depending on their ilyor, but they also have different clothing styles depending on their leoges (another strange word, yes: see here for clarification). There is great depth to the Ilimoskus world indeed!

And hey, maybe if I get really carried anyway, I’ll draw all the Ilimoskus creatures, too 😉 (which I’ve actually already done, just not very well since they are all in my rough notebooks).

So, yes! New things, new times, new hope. It is my aim this year to be kinder to the Ilimoskus story, and to be kinder to myself regarding it. I am telling you, I have been vicious to myself – and kind of vicious to my elementals as well (sorry, my friends) – over the past four years or whatever. Ilimoskus is a labour of love, not some hideous punishment I must endure, and so I have come to realise that this kind attitude is the one I must keep, despite external pressures or what have you. And, in being kinder, my love for it will ever soar, and I will travel to great heights with it, I am sure.

But I shall leave you now with two sketches I have already done of some characters within the Ilimoskus story. The main human characters!

Ana_Liz

This is Anastasia (right) and Elizabeth (left) Gott. They are sisters – Anastasia being the eldest. Here they are modelling the newly designed Anglarne Hill school uniform. Elizabeth (or ‘Lizzie’) is the main, main human protagonist within the story.

Dem_Leon

This is Demetri (left) and Leon (right) Carter. They are non-identical twins! They too are modelling the newly designed Anglarne Hill school uniform (don’t you just love the trousers?). These two are lovely characters, if I may say so 😉 – especially Demetri (or ‘Dem’, as he is often called)!

***

Fun, pointless fact for you all: Within this post, I have said that ilyorz means ‘elements’ in English. This is not actually true. That is just the easiest translation. The Ilimoskus word for the four elements of nature is rather ilimoss.


Thank you for reading, everyone. I know my posts can often be quite lengthy, and so I deeply appreciate anyone who takes the time out of their day to read my words.

Be well and true,

and rise above the beckoning darkness

to be reborn with your diamond heart

so to dwell amongst the stars

for evermore.

~~

What’s Behind a Scarf?

I said my next post would be about Ilimoskus. Quite evidently, this post is not about Ilimoskus. I am getting to it, though – honest! It’s just this matter took precedence for me on a personal level, and getting this post out the way means that I am now free to run through Ilimoskus Valley (there is such a place, by the way – the elementals told me so 😉 ). So. My next post will be about Ilimoskus (promise!), and I shall tell you something I should have mentioned like two months ago. I’m being my classic blue whale self again. But! Down to business. 

This post is the product of something I have been thinking more about over the past few weeks or so. They are thoughts I would like to voice for one reason or another. Perhaps, it is merely a way for me to clarify and/or organise these very thoughts in my mind.

But this is also a rather personal post. I am going to be sharing things I have never really shared with people before. Gosh, aren’t you lucky folk 😉

The last thing I want to do is offend anyone who happens to read this, so please know that I am purely expressing my thoughts and opinions as fairly as I may, and, truly, I always refrain from judgement on the matter. You will find out why if you read on.

***

Now, where to start? This is surprisingly challenging to express. I shall start with this question: How many of you out there know a woman who wears a headscarf? To be honest, I am expecting most of you to say “None”, or at the very least, “A few”. I myself personally know two women who wear headscarves. They were old friends of mine. One was called Andrea; the other, Nadia. But why did they wear headscarves? And, if you do not know a woman who wears a headscarf, and thus cannot ask her, why do you think women wear headscarves? I believe it is fair to say that most people would link headscarves to religious connotations, no? Indeed, the women I have spoken to/seen who cover their hair, be it with a hijab or scarf or headband, do so for religious reasons. My old friend Nadia was a Muslim, and although she never wore a hijab to school, she did in her home life, and her sisters were also wearers of it. My old friend Andrea was a Plymouth Brethren who I never saw not wearing a headscarf. For those of you who don’t know, the Plymouth Brethren are a sect of Christians, and the women wear headscarves. There happened to be several families of Plymouth Brethren in the city I used to live in, and indeed, in my old house a family of Plymouth Brethren moved in opposite me, and I saw them going to and fro always in their headscarves. And, actually, when I moved farther west in the country, I had only been here for a few months when I travelled to a place called Snowdrop Valley, and on the hideously steep and muddy walk there I saw some Plymouth Brethren (would you believe it!) also making the journey. The women were wearing their headscarves and long skirts (not ideal when walking amongst nature at the best of times, I can assure you, but I imagine it is even less ideal in the mud) accompanied with walking boots. Good on them, though, I say! I feel I have digressed somewhat…

But, it is safe to say the vast majority of women don’t wear headscarves. And so, inevitably, those who do wear headscarves tend to stand out amongst others, purely because of a piece of fabric upon their heads. How do you feel about that? Does it matter? It matters if people judge them for it, most certainly. Or make assumptions.

One thing my mother always said to me when I was growing up was, “Never assume.” 

I find it quite sad, in a way, how everyone makes the assumption that a woman wearing a full head covering must be a Muslim, no matter other external factors. Does it matter if she is wearing a headscarf, really? And, more importantly, does it matter if she’s a Muslim? But, of course, due to society’s warped perceptions of Islam, we wrongly judge or condemn the religion and culture. Perhaps, instead of judging from a distance, we should ask a Muslim woman why she covers and let her explain her reasoning. In this world, we seem to believe that we can know all the answers without ever asking a question. Okay, maybe a woman wears a headscarf for religious reasons. But maybe – just maybe – a woman wears a headscarf because she’s had hair loss due to illness. Or maybe – just maybe – a woman wears a headscarf because she wants to, because she likes it. Do any of those reasons matter? Do any of those reasons affect us in our day to day lives? Are any of those reasons more significant than the other? I’ll let you answer those.

But Muslims aren’t the only religious women to wear headscarves, you know. Clearly, some denominations of Christianity do, as I mentioned the Plymouth Brethren, and indeed, it was very commonplace for Christian women to cover their heads in some form in times gone by. Why did that change, I wonder? It stopped completely in the 1960s, I believe. I would love to know what happened there. There is a passage in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, that speaks of head coverings. I would like to know why Christians these days seem to conveniently skip over that part. And Jewish women wear headscarves too, don’t you know, called tichels. But headscarves are not a common sight in the western world, are they? No.

But why on earth have I been pondering endlessly about headscarves, and their significance (or indeed, lack of significance) recently? Because, my friends, I wear headscarvesBut why do I wear them? Well. That is the question, isn’t it.

hss

I have gradually been wearing them more and more frequently over time, hence why the subject has been more on my mind, I suppose. But I think, more than anything, the reason it has been on my mind is because I get so frustrated. About what? Not about wearing the headscarves themselves, not at all, but rather about other people. And then I get even more frustrated because I’m allowing myself to get frustrated with/by other people. Viscous circle. It’s the passing comments, you see, and the looks. I can’t stand it sometimes, and I’m not even a wearing a hijab. It makes me wonder what happened to people following the saying, “Live and let live”. Of course, it is quite possible I am merely being overly sensitive or paranoid about it, but it cannot just be uncanny coincidence. I got looks from people when I lived in my old city, and I get looks here in this town – looks that say, ‘What have you got on your head? Why are you wearing that?’ And the thing is, maybe this isn’t really a problem, but I hate standing out more than anything. I truly do. I don’t want to be noticed when I’m out and about, I just want to get on with my business being ignored, but I know that when I wear a headscarf – something I willingly choose to do – that I am going to be noticed more with it on. It’s hard for me, it really is. But why should I deny myself something I believe is important – and indeed important to me – just because of other people’s looks?

I have had comments on it, too, as I said:

“Have you joined a cult or something?”

“You look like a gypsy.” 

“You look like a 50s housewife.”

“You look very… summery… today.” *eyes my outfit and headscarf scrupulously*

“What are you wearing that for?” – said in that tone. I’m sure you know the one.

Usually I just laugh it off, or completely ignore them, but it does hurt when it’s from family and friends, you know? Does it matter why? Must you comment? I wear headscarves for deeply, deeply personal reasons (and yes, entwined with my faith), and so I feel like it is a direct attack on myself as a person when someone makes a comment, or looks at me with eyes of scrutiny. It serves me right for being so sensitive, I guess. But it makes me believe that wearing a headscarf takes some form of bravery. Women who step out their houses wearing full head coverings – or indeed any covering with confidence – are far braver than I. I guess it is just a matter of me learning how to let go of the reservations I have, to let go of what other people may think. Because, really, why should I care what other people think or say? I shouldn’t. Not at all. But I am going through a tough time emotionally, and such sentiments of courage are hard to not only grasp but also apply. I can only pray for guidance on the matter, for enlightenment on the right route to pursue.

I started wearing headscarves after my traumatic accident in August 2013. I’m still not sure what it was about the accident that led me to it, but, as foolish as this may sound, when I had a scarf wrapped around my head, it felt like a hug, and it brought me such solace it occasionally brought me to tears. And, to this day, there is little else that brings me more inner peace. It’s strange, really, for it is just some fabric on my head. Still. I suppose it is what it symbolises. To me.

It is my hope this year to grow more confident in wearing headscarves, not dwelling on what others may think or say in response to it. I am pleased that confidence is slowly coming upon me 🙂 Headscarves bring me comfort, and comfort is something every heart needs. And, most certainly, it is something my heart has been in dire need of for too many years. Why should I deny my heart this?

Let’s share some confidence now, shall we?

hs1

My name is Jennifer K. Marsh.

I wear headscarves.

So what if I look like I’m in a cult?

So what if I look like a gypsy?

So what if I look like a 50s housewife?

So what if I maybe dress a little different to other women?

This is me. This is who I am.

Deal with it 😉

***

If you see a woman out and about wearing a headscarf, leave her be. Treat her like a fellow human being, not as if she is a display at a museum at which you may gawp. Do not assume you know the reasons behind her wearing a headscarf, for even if the reasons seem plainly overt, you will never know the true emotional complexities she has behind it. Do not judge her for it. Do not scrutinise her for perhaps standing out in a crowd purely for some fabric upon her head. Chances are, she is not judging you. She is simply trying to live her life as only she knows how. And, if you must ask about it, do so in an interested and compassionate manner. I say all this as a woman who wears headscarves, as a woman in the western world who knows, to some degree, how challenging it can be to stay true to yourself when others so frequently knock you back.

Why does a woman wear a headscarf? What’s really behind that scarf? Who can say? I don’t think it matters.

Does it matter?

***

Peace and blessings to you.

I hope your New Year has thus far treated you to joy,

and I hope it continues to do so.

~ JKM