Welcome to Abigail's Journal Space

I have set up this space to provide a focus for all things writing-related and in order to keep some kind of record of my published pieces. Where possible I will supply links to e zines and information about printed material. If you wish to get in touch with me directly, please leave a comment. Alternatively, I can be found on both Twitter and Facebook.

In addition to the outlets mentioned above and in fairness to all the editors to whom I am equally grateful, my work has also appeared in: 'Ink, Sweat & Tears', 'Symmetry Pebbles', 'Reflections Magazine', 'Earth Love', 'First Edition', 'Magnificent Me', 'The Human Genre Project' and 'Rumble'. If I have left anyone out, I apologise in advance. I will rectify any omissions of discovery. Thanks for taking the time to read this. Abi

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

A New Piece Out Today

The first of my three pieces with million stories.net is out today.  It is called 'On Walking Carne Brae'.  I am adding a link that on One Million Stories right now. :0)

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Good News

Yesterday was a good day.  I came home from the gym feeling too weak to switch on the laptop.  Later, though, I was so pleased that I made the effort because I had two acceptance e mails, one from A Long Story Short and the other from One Million Stories.  A Long Story Short have taken two poems, 'The Far Side of the Hill' and 'Moving On'. These will be in the July and September editions respectively.  (I already have poems due out with them in January and March.). One Million Stories have taken three stories the first of which, 'On Walking Carne Brae' will be available before Christmas.  The others, 'Good News' and 'Marital Hystery', will follow in the the new year.  I will add a link for One Million Stories in the very near future. It is an excellent site for readers and writers of short prose fiction and well worth a look.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Sunday, 1st November, 2009

 On Death, Life and End of Course Assessment

I have settled on the general direction of my ECA writing project (OU Advanced Creative Writing A363).  Broadly speaking, I am interested in bringing together the ideas of 'death' and 'narrative'.  I hope to consider stories that turn on the imminence of death or the presence of 'death in life'; also, those tales and enduring myths that seek to explore death's power and mystery.  There will be those, no doubt, who will think me odd,  if not actually perverse - we are living in an 'Icarus culture' that has scant regard for the dark -  but I do I believe that, at this time,  it is into the darkness that my soul wants to go; consequently, I find I have no option but to follow it.  In any case, any lingering doubts that I may have felt have been dispelled by my recent reading of James Hillman's 'Suicide and the Soul' (Fifth Spring, 1978 ) in which - apart from much food for thought - I found the following quotation from 'Healing' by D.H. Lawrence:

I am not  mechanism, an assembly of various sections,
And it is not because the mechanism is working wrongly that I am ill.
I am ill because of wounds to the soul, to the deep, emotional self
and the wounds to the soul take a long, long time, only time can help
and patience, and a certain difficult repentance
long, difficult repentance, realisation of life's mistake, and the freeing oneself
from the endless repetition of the mistake
which mankind at large has chosen to sanctify.'
                                                  From 'Healing' by D.H. Lawrence 'Selected Poems' (1916) Viking Press

which struck me as being so completely pertinent to my situation as to constitute a providential blessing.  Please, if you can point me in the direction of a text you think I need to read, do not be shy about saying so.  Help me 'build my ship of death'!

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Me and Polanski

This morning, when I switched on my laptop, I was browsing the Yahoo news when my attention was caught by a piece on the current Polanski debate.  I finished the piece and began to read the comments that had been posted below.  I was shocked and saddened by the number of comments I found that sought either to defend Polanski or to minimise his wrong doing by attributing responsibility  to the child in the case.  I do not normally contribute to public fora like Yahoo News; on this occasion, however, I felt that I needed to make an exception.  Below is the material I posted there as an act of solidarity with all those women who, like myself, have been emotionally and psychologically damaged not only by the offendeners themselves but also by the 'system' that excused and protected the wrongdoers.  I should point out that is only very recently that I have been able to speak openly about these events though, clearly, they occurred many, many years ago.  Outwardly, there were no dramatic consequences except that, for a time, I was both very fat and very,very frightened.  There was damage, though, - in my heart and in my head - and I have spend much of my life trying to heal that hurt. In many ways, I have succeeded  but I would like to make it clear that I will never succeed entirely - and that never again will I be a girl just turning thirteen.

In the mid-sixties and at a similar age (to the girl in the Polanski case who was 13) I was 'groomed' by a man who would now be termed a paedophile.  This 'grooming' went on over a period of months.  I was persaded to engage in sexual activity of various kinds by a subtle blend of kind words, emotional blackmail, and terror.  Eventually, I was taken - at the point of a knife - to the other end of the country where he took my spectacles - I am very short-sighted - and hacked off my long hair with a hunting knife.  Eventually, after three days of fear and miser, he was cornered by the police and gave himself up.  I thought that my troubles were over.  I could not have been more wrong.  The woman police sergeant that came to see me the next day called me a 'dirty little tart' and I was sent to a hell-hole of a remand home while he was released on bail.  Finally, in court, his barrister was permitted to humiliate me utterly while presentin his client as a respectable man who had been tempted by the amorous overtures of some kind of Lolita figure.  My tormentor was not actually acquitted but he served only three months in a 'soft' open prison and, on his return to my home town, mocked me in a very public way.  I received no counselling.  In fact, when I returned to my school, I was shunned by my classmates whose parents had instructed them not to talk to me.  There is no doubt in my mind that this experience has affected me throughout my life.  I would like to think that, over the past decades, the world has moved on.  It seems, however, both from the fact that Polanski continues to evade justice and from the presence of so many men willing to blame the child in this case, that if the world has moved at all, it has has not moved very far.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Los Bomberos

For some weeks now I have been experiencing difficulty with my smoke alarms.  One of them started to beep, at first very softly, a random and intermittent nuisance, irritating, but bearable.  However, as time went on, its complaints became progressively louder and more insistent.  Eventually, rendered reckless by sheer exasperation, I climbed on a chair to investigate.  Being somewhat vertically challenged, I could not see much at all.  I discovered that there was something writtten on the white plastic casing - but I could not get close enough to read what the words said.  (I wear vari-focal spectacles and the angle and the distance was all wrong.) I tried to remove the aforementioned plastic casing but I could not see how this might be easily acomplished.  The harder I tried to achieve my goal, the more likely it seemed I would fall over.  All the time I was wobbling on the chair, the thing was going 'beep' in my ear.  After some minutes, I began to see how prolonged exposure to high-pitched sound might have some useful application in a hostile situation and went on to wondere whether smoke alarms are covered by the Geneva Convention.  Finally, I climbed down from the chair and abandoned my efforts.  I took to sleeping with a plug of cotton wool stuffed in each ear.

Then, to my rescue came my cousin, Kim, who works for the Fire Service in Essex.  Showing considerable resourcefulness - and no small amount of kindness - she telephoned her colleagues in Cornwall and arranged for two ot them to call on me and my errant smoke alarm.  They came this evening, just after eight, and showed me how to fix it.  One of them was tall and handsome with broad shoulders and extremely good teeth - in short, everything one would hope a dashing fire-fighter would be.  The other was sweet and friendly - and he had nice eyes - but, compared to his colleague, he was - there is no was to say this tactfully - positively diminutive. He couldn't reach the smoke alarm either, not even when he stood on the chair.

Now, surely, this can't be right, can it?  In the event of an emergency involving a fire (rather than a smoke alarm) there would have been more chance of me carrying him than of him carrying me.  Or am I just hopelessly behind the time?  Is this, perhaps, a new breed of firefighter, one that has been developed for emergencies in mine shafts, tunnels and other confined spaces?  Is it the Jack Russell of firefighters, as it were, tiny but tough and ferocious?  If there are any firefighters out there reading this, then - really - I need to know!

In the meantime, I am hopeful that I will soon be able to dispense with my cotton wool ear-plugs.  Tomorrow, I will buy a new battery - and now I know how to put it in.  Of course, I may still need someone much taller to complete the operation.  Would it be rude and ingracious, if I telephone the station, to ask them to send the larger model?

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

New Link to More of Abigail's Poetry

At present, I am obliged to stay in all day because of flu-like symptoms that might, just might, prove to be the dreaded Swine Flu - although I really think that, if it was, I would feel a good deal worse than I actually do.  Already today, I have done some writing and some reading and completed one of the tasks for the course (A363) so I am now distracting myself by adding a new page to my blog, one which I will give over entirely to bits and pieces of poetry that I have gathered over the years.  In the list of 'Links', there is now a new option to go to 'More of Abigail's Poetry'.  As I write this, there is only one poem but there will be more soon, I promise.  please do look in and feel at liberty to comment if you wish.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

'Fool' in Word Salad Poetry Magazine

The new edition of Word Salad Poetry Magazine is now on line. You can find the poem by following the link provided and clicking on 'Poetry'. Scroll down to find 'Fool' which is, I think, Item 35. My thanks to the editors of Word Salad for taking this poem which has a particular and very personal significance for me.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

'Earth Love', a good cause...

I have heard today that 'Earth Love' have accepted four of my poems. They are to appear in the November and February issues respectively. 'Earth Love' is a small but well-established outlet that is passionately concerned with the natural world and ecological issues generally. This concern is reflected in the kind of work it accepts but, if you have something suitable - and especially if you are just beginning to submit - you could do worse than give them a look. They like postal submissions but you will find more information at the link provided. Good luck with it!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

'Tempest-tossed' - or, perhaps, 'The House at Sea'

It has been a difficult few days. No need to say more. Today, I am physically tired but, mentally and emotionally, more settled. It has been a measure of the force of my particular and personal 'tempest' that, for some time, I have found it hard to settle to my writing. On a more positive note, however, I have toyed with some of the less intimidating exercises at the start of the sacred 'Blue Book'. For the benefit of any readers who are in possession of this volume, let it be a matter of record that I am weary of violins already.
Earlier, I made the mistake of venturing onto Amazon to investigate a notebook someone had mentioned online. I did not order the notebook but I did fall foul of a book that promises advice and guidance from Ted Hughes on the subject of making poetry. I have also ordered a book about writing for radio. What on earth possessed me? I can scarcely afford the fees for this course much less additional reading material, no matter how enticing. Heeding the advice of those who have gone before, I have tuned my radio to Radio 4 and have set the recorder for the 'Afternoon Play'. I shall aim to listen to as many as these as possible since it seems a relatively painless way of learning about the medium. Time now for a light lunch. Is there anything left in the fridge?

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Hystories and Herstories

Sunday. I have been to the gym and the boot sale. The dog has been walked - in fact, jogged - twice and the evening stretches ahead. I ought to be writing but I have neither the will nor the discipline to do so. Instead, I have been walking my crying path and listening to the wind.

I have finished 'Hystories', the Showalter book. I wish I had not read it. If I had not read it, I could have the pleasure of reading it again. For me, it is a great book. It has stirred my mud in the direction of greater clarity. As I grow older, I find that the books that do this are less and less likely to be novels. So many novels now I never finish: is the fault in me or in them?

There are a number of people I can think of whose lives might be the better/easier/more honest for reading 'Hystories'. Two of these have hurt me badly and, while it is my sincere hope that I do not seek revenge, I could wish that these people might be properly tried and sentenced to the reading of this book. If any of them should happen to read this blog, then I most heartily commend the book to them. It is available from the library at Camborne College Cornwall. I send it with my love.

No other news except that 'Word Salad Poetry Magazine' have accepted my poem, 'The Fool'. I am told that the new edition will be available online from 21st September. 'Word Salad' is a very reputable magazine and I am delighted that they have taken my poem. Still, I cannot help but wish that I had never seen 'The Fool' in question.

Thursday, 3 September 2009


The Candle

A candle in the window burns

to show by its uncertain light

that here dwells one who knows what fears

may plague a traveller through the night.

If he or she, or known or not

will not much signify -

this candle shed its kindly light

on lonely souls that pass close by.

For though the hearth of home’s behind,

or burns still many miles ahead,

a traveller sighs relief to find

a simple meal, a makeshift bed.

So there he’ll rest; but long before

the sun smiles on the road again,

he’ll take his boots and close the door.

Then, will this candle burn again?

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

A Cold Wind in August

I have been at home most of the day. In fact, I have been tidying up the confusion of folders on my laptop in readiness for A363. As a result, I have finally admitted defeat and have switched on the central heating. Even in winter, it is my custom to deploy my heating with care: it is an oil system that is never cheap to run. Today, though, I have been feeling so cold and so utterly damp and cheerless that I have abandoned thrift in favour of an unseasonal cosiness. To make matters worse, my brother has just telephoned from his house in Spain: there, he tells me, laughing, the weather is, if anything, too warm.
I received the course materials for A363 yesterday. They have brought with them great excitement and some trepidation. No more fannying around: it is time to get down to some serious writing. I am encouraged in this intention by the fact that 'Long Story Short' have accepted two of my poems which are to appear in the January and March editions. I feel that it is only proper that I should mention here the very prompt and very friendly response of the editor, Marie Travis, who had confirmed my acceptance within just a few hours of submission. The magazine is still open to submissions for 2110 so, if you are interested, follow the link at the that appears above.

Monday, 31 August 2009

On mists and mellow fruitfulness...

So, the Bank Holiday weekend draws to a close and autumn is almost upon us. It is hard not to feel cheated when, here in Cornwall, we have enjoyed so little sun. Nevertheless, it has been a good year for delicious blackberry jam. I have several jars in my store cupboard and more fruit waiting in the fridge. Sadie, my dog, has developed a taste for blackberries that stands in some danger of becoming a full-blown addiction.

All in all, it has been a quiet but productive weekend. Not only have I turned my attention to some long-neglected household chores but I have also restored order to the chaos of desk and sorted and filed all my paperwork in readiness for the challenge of a new academic year. The course (OU A363) is scheduled to begin in October; however, is is rumoured that the course materials are already on their way. This has spooked me into laying aside my poetry in favour of some (frantic) prose. It is my firm intention to have at least three pieces from which to select my first assignment since it seems that the thing must be turned into a screenplay for TMA2. I am apprehensive: I have never attempted such a thing before.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Some good stuff and some bad stuff...

The good stuff was, firstly, spending time today with my beautiful daughter and, secondly, having a poem accepted by 'First Edition' to appear in the September magazine. (I believe it is due to hit the streets around 7 September.) I have another poem due out soon, in the October edition of 'Poetry Cornwall'. That being the case, it is probably time I pushed my prose a bit more forcefully. I have made a couple of submissions but, as usual, I am waiting to hear.

The bad stuff? Well, it's Bank Holiday weekend and there will be the usual mass invasion of Tesco. This will be accompanied by a 'love fest' of family feeling that will find its chief expression in an outbreak of barbecues and picnics. Forgive the note of cynicism: it's self-defence. It's hard being on your own through Bank Holiday weekends, almost as painful as Christmas. Believe me, just popping out for a loaf of bread and some cat food can reduce you tears. Last year, at this time... No, that's enough of that. It won't make things better to dwell on them. Soon, it will be Tuesday morning and things won't seem so bad.

Thursday, 27 August 2009


When the deserts filled with roses
and white towers scrape the sky,
then, may daisies crown a queen
and butterflies not die?

May lovers ever after love
and ships thought lost come sailing home?
And shall the sea give up its dead?
And I not live alone?

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Something from Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson is one of my best-loved writers and this poem, although not widely known or very much anthologised, has long been one of my favourites. I think it communicates so much of her intensity of feeling and her profound sense of loss; however, here she also shows her strength and her and independence of spirit. Remarkably, these few lines accomplish all that with a wry sense of humour and the lightest of touches. Every time I read it, I feel I know exactly what she means.


To make a prairie
It takes one clover and one bee,
One clover and a bee,
And revery.
The revery alone will do
If bees are few.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Tangled Bear Finds A New Home

I know this sounds like a story for children but it is not quite what it seems. The hero of the story, Tangled Bear, is a rather old and battered wooden puppet. Sadly, I cannot post here: for one thing, the tale is not finished yet and, for another, I would dearly love to see this one published somewhere. It is, perhaps, a little quirky but sometimes quirky can be good, can't it? My goal is 500 words today and completion within a week. I am rather disorganised, though, in that I tend to have several projects 'in progress' at any one time. My defence is that this enables me to write something whatever mood I am in. I would be interested in knowing whether others have a similar approach or whether they find it more productive to concentrate on one project at a time.

Monday, 24 August 2009

A Timely Resurfacing...

I have been tidying my desk. I came across some of my old notebooks. In one of them, I found these words. They are the words of a very old and very dear friend who, as usual, spoke more wisely than I knew at the time.

Too late for tears;
trees wet with yesterday's rain.
Ideas begin to form
like green buds
and there is the long, slow growth
of the tree still to come -
the roots, the sap rising.
My moment was then;
yours is imminent.

Jenny, February, 2008

Monday, 24th August, 2009

Of Rain, Dogs and Crumble

This morning, Sadie and I took advantage of a rare break in the rain to do a spot of blackberrying. (Sadie likes her blackerries al fresco while I am fond of blackberry and apple crumble.) Since Sadie has quite a sweet tooth, it has always been my practice to give her the ripest berries and to feed them to her at intervals. In this way, she is encouraged to wait patiently rather than pulling at the leash. Today, though, it all proved too much and, the blackberries being plump and juicy, Sadie decided there was nothing for it but to pick the fruit herself. It was endearing and amusing to see what pains she took to sniff her way along the bottom of the hedgrows. Moreover, it was quite remarkable to observe the speed and the delicacy with which she was able to remove the berries once she had located them. It seemed to me that she was able to satisfy her appetite without scratching her nose at all. Indeed, I think it quite likely that, in the course of our walk, I suffered more injury than she did.

In terms of today's writing, little that is new has been accomplished. I have, however, spent some time organising - and sometimes revising - some verses originally written two summers ago. I have repeately promised myself that I will undertake this task but, somehow, I have always been distracted. Perhaps I will post one or two examples.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Sunday, 23rd August, 2009

Another wet and grey day the dreariness of which has been relieved only by an hour in the gym and a visit from my beautiful daughter. Two poems and three stories 'in progress' at the moment. I must finish something this weekend.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Saturday, 22nd August, 2009

So, this is the first entry in my new online journal. Of course, it is unlikely that I will have any readers yet but it is to be hoped that these will come in time. In point of fact, I am supposed to be working on a poem but I allowed myself to be distracted. Time now for a cup of tea before I get back to work.