The Magic Lives On! My reflections on the latest Harry Potter book.

At first, I wasn’t that excited about The Cursed Child. Maybe that’s because I thought it was a random spin-off (much like Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), but when I picked it up in the bookstore, I was instantly transported back in time and felt the same feverish excitement that I felt as a kid!

There was no mistake about it: this was the latest Harry Potter book! Yes, it might well be a screenplay, but it is still a continuation of the original saga. When I held it in my hands and saw “The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later” written on the back cover, it gave me goosebumps! I don’t even  care if this was a marketing ploy because it bloody well worked! Shut up and take my money =P

Something reawakened within me on that day. I have not felt such frenzied excitement about a franchise for a long time and The Cursed Child seemed to open up that portal to my younger self. Where did the magic go, I wonder? Why do I no longer spend hours trawling fan sites or daydreaming about Hogwarts and hobbits? 

Granted, I am in the middle of writing a fantasy novel, so I do still use my imagination quite a lot. But I cannot help but notice that my soul lacks nourishment from other sources. And it is important, I think, for a writer to fuel themselves with inspiration, otherwise they go stale and lose their mojo. 

So what’s changed? Why is it that Pokemon Go only excited me for a week? Why is it that I didn’t get excited whatsoever with the build-up to The Cursed Child‘s release? Could it be that I no longer remember the way to Platform 9 3/4?

The sad truth is that life has got in the way, as it does with so many people. I also put too much pressure on myself to be productive, forgetting to play and nourish my soul with magic. Alas, for may people let their creative flame go out entirely, but I do everything in my power to keep it burning brightly. 

Every time I return to the likes of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, my soul is instantly nourished. Too often I have been distracted by mundane trifles, but I still believe in magic. My soul still soars when I hear the LOTR soundtrack or re-read Harry Potter, so revisiting the wizarding world and seeing what the characters were doing nineteen years later was absolutely marvellous! 

Some have said The Cursed Child feels a bit fan-fictiony, but the original magic was undeniably present  (and JK put her official stamp on it, which is good enough for me). I was surprised by the intense emotion it evoked, particularly in the scene where Harry has a heart-to-heart with Dumbledore’s painting. And that scene with the trolley lady.. kudos to the writers!

From now on, I will make a conscious effort to do more of what I love. The magic lives on within me and I refuse to let it lie dormant. Whether creating my own material or soaking up the goodness of others, I give myself to that which excites me.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go and meet Minerva McGonagall in Hogsmeade. There was a dispute between our owls and she wants to patch things up. Fingers crossed we can because I’m applying to be the new Professor of Astronomy, so hopefully my silly owl hasn’t messed things up!

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Gods, I need an editor!

​As with any trade, the more you work at it, the better you become – and it’s the same with writing. 

Looking back now, I can see how clumsy and amateur some of the prose from my earlier work actually was. A part of me wishes I could go back and tighten up some of this – especially my first book, Pearl’s Hereafter – but I have neither the time nor the patience and want to focus on what I’m writing at the moment.  

It’s not so much that I’m embarrassed by my earlier work, as I think that it’s great story-wise, but it’s just the idea that people might have formed judgements about my writing based on its early shoddiness. I’m reassured, however, by the fact that Stephen King dismisses his first two novels as utter crap. All writers – even great ones – began from somewhere. 

It takes a while to find your writer’s voice and hone your craft. Like Stephen King, I also feel apprehensive towards my first two books (one of them hasn’t even seen the light of day yet). With my third book though – The Essence of Sunshine – the quality of my prose dramatically improved and I was very pleased with the finished piece. In fact, it is the first project that I haven’t felt the need to go back and fix. 

At the moment, I am writing a fantasy, which has yielded my best writing to date. I am excited to share this latest work and want to focus on bringing it into fruition. However, I do think that my earlier books need some TLC, so I am now considering hiring an editor for this purpose. If I can get someone on board to tighten up my earlier works, then I can carry on doing what I truly love and invest all my creative energy into my writing. 

The Subtle Language of the Cosmos

Struggling to find inspiration? Just take a look all around you! There are so many things going on that can fuel your creative cogs. Life is unfolding and manifesting in a countless number of ways, so learn to read the subtle language of the cosmos.

Sometimes, it is almost as if the universe is speaking directly to you. Not with words, but through signs and circumstances, using a language that deeply resonates with your soul. Keep a lookout for these cosmic messages.

Whether it be the way a person smiles, getting caught out in the rain or seeing a piece of rubbish blow across the street, there is a whole multitude of different things that might speak to you. Creative people pay attention to such things and are often keen observers of the world around them, watching the strange dance of life as they express themselves through it. Everyone reads things in a different way and that’s what gives each of us our own unique expression.

I’m a firm believer that we channel down our creativity from somewhere higher – from somewhere beyond the mind. Creating is effortless when you surrender to the flow of life, as opposed to trying to create things forcefully. The creation process is so much more enjoyable when you have fun with it and let the magic unfold quite organically.

So learn to speak fluently in the subtle language of the cosmos. Watch life with a keen eye and you may be surprised by what is revealed to you! Good luck, my fellow creators. May it be that you successfully tune in to the cosmic radio station and receive its bountiful transmission!

Infinite Choices, One path

Have you ever shouted across the chasm of time
And begged yourself to take another path?
Wondering what might have been,
Tormented by hindsight’s clarity.
Whether you walk this way or that,
Some seeds will never come to be,
Flowers will wither
And doors will close.

Some choices are made in good faith,
Others clouded with fear and desperation,
Infinite choices,
Only one path.
No going back now.
You stand at a fork in the road,
Many paths lie ahead,
Choosing one will sacrifice the others,
But choose you must.

That’s beauty of it, you see.
Each of us has a blank canvas
And a multitude of different  colours.
Each person’s painting is unique,
Manifested from infinite potential,
Defined by the paints that are not used
Just as much as the ones that are.

How will you paint yours?

Finding Your Creative Voice

In recent months, my thinking has been very scattered and I’ve been allowing myself to get wrapped up in all kinds of things that aren’t really that important. This has worn me down, spread me thin, left no space for my creativity to emerge. Indeed, my creative voice has been submerged beneath an ocean of miscellaneous crap, completely drowned out and distorted.

Nurturing your creative voice is so important for an artist. Without it, you feel as though your wings have been clipped. No matter how hard you try, you just cannot take flight for long. This can be very frustrating, especially when you have a story to tell or something to express, but the only thing you can do is work through this challenging period.

My biggest problem is that I don’t devote enough time to my writing. Instead, my energies are channeled into mundane things and not being spent on my one true passion. At the moment, though, I am going through a massive de-cluttering – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually – and I am finding that as I peel away the layers of dead-weight, I am rediscovering what my priorities are.

As all the crap is being banished from my life, I have been able to devote more time and energy to the things that I love. Already, I have noticed that my mind is clearer and more focused, less concerned with silly trivial things (such as what my work colleagues think about me). I still have some way to go, but hopefully once I am fully unburdened, my creative energies will be able to spring forth unhindered.

Slow Down And Enjoy Right Now

Many of us get caught up in the race of life, trying to get ahead, forever striving to reach our goals and feeling guilty when we’re not pushing forward. But there is nothing wrong with slowing down and enjoying life’s simple pleasures.

Why do we kill ourselves in the pursuit of success? Why do we insist on flogging our horse when it needs to rest? Why do we buy into the insane expectations that society thrusts upon us?

By all means, reach for the stars, but don’t lose yourself in the process. “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live,” Albus Dumbledore wisely said. And quite right he is, for there is much joy to be found in the everyday. Yes, you may wish to travel the world or set up a business or learn how to play the guitar, but you may find joy in the little things, such as eating a tasty sandwich or meeting up with an old friend.

This week, I have made the conscious effort to take some time out and recharge my batteries, as I am definitely guilty for pushing myself too hard. But I know I’m not alone with this and so I wanted to remind others to relax and laugh and play.

Don’t spread yourself too thin! Focus your energies on things that really sing to your heart. Do you really need that new iPhone or fast car or a perfect body? Do you really need to do everything on your bucket list? At the end of the day, we are only human and there’s only so much that we can do in one lifetime, so you can’t expect to do it all and see it all. I shall leave you all with a poem I wrote, called A Race Against The Clock, which I think sums up the madness of our go-getter society:

I need to go somewhere,
Do something,
Be someone.
Stay young,
Party hard,
Have fun.

I want to learn a language,
Climb a mountain,
Play the guitar.
See the world,
Get rich,
Drive a fast car.

I want to fit in,
Yet stand out.
Have a relationship,
Yet sleep around.
I want a career,
But I’d like to be free.
I try so hard to be
Cool and trendy.

I want to live abroad,
Start a business,
Keep fit.
Volunteer,
Skydive,
Watch the sun set.

There’s so many things I want to do,
Keeping up with what’s new.
I’d like to have a family one day,
But first I’d just like to play.
A race against the clock,
Tick tock – tick tock…

 

 

“Fate-Led”

The other day, I came across an amazing sculpture in the Walker Art Gallery. It depicted a young woman, her eyes distant and vague as though she was lost in a trance, with her hand hovering out in front of her. She was beautiful and mysterious and totally captivating. I honestly could’ve stared at her all day (and no, it wasn’t because she was naked!).

There were many statues in that room, but there was just something about this entranced woman that was so enchanting. The description beneath the piece said that it was originally exhibited in 1892 with the following lines:

Fate leading, she must needs go on and on
Blindly, yet fearing not, till the goal be won.

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To me, this spoke absolute volumes. Many of us are led by faith or by a purpose in life and tentatively follow the path set out before us, often wondering if it is the right one. But this woman has such unwavering faith in her destiny and is not afraid, succumbing completely to the higher powers that guide her.

Ideas of faith and “being guided” feature very prominently in my fantasy trilogy, so I was very pleased to see this sculpture. Perhaps there is something that we can all learn from it.

 

Don’t Lose Your Magic!

I recently watched Joy, the film about the inventor of the miracle mop, which was very inspiring indeed. All such success stories serve to demonstrate that you should always persevere and never give up, for the realisation of your goals cannot happen without constant drive.

What really grabbed me about Joy’s story is that her creativity was suppressed for seventeen years, crushed and stifled by all the commitments and other things going on in her life. I can relate to this creative hibernation because I did not write for many years, but my creativity kept finding other ways to express itself, until I eventually plucked up the courage to write my first proper book.

At the beginning of the film, you get to see how bright and creative Joy was as a child. Indeed, most children are born with such fearless wonder and playfulness, but a lot of us lose this magic as we enter adulthood. It is tragic when someone’s spirit is crushed by the real world, as this person cannot shine as brightly as they would like, nor be who they want to be.

But it is never too late to change things! Joy tapped back into her creative reserves after seventeen years and overcame great odds to achieve her dreams.

Watching this film made me think… if Joy could overcome such adversity, then so can I – and so can you!

For as long as you breathe, you have the opportunity to turn things around. Don’t let your spirit get crushed by life. Don’t lose the magic!

The Fragility of Life

The other day, a car drove past me and one of its tires unexpectedly blew out. The disgruntled driver slowly pulled over and sat there in astonishment.

This incident reminded me of the fragility of life. You can be cruising along quite happily until something unexpected comes along and knocks the wind out of your sails. Indeed, the opposite can happen where you’re just muddling along and a great gust of wind lifts your spirits and elevates you to new heights.

Nothing in life is certain and things are forever in a state of flux. Nothing remains static, so we must embrace change and dance with the flow of life, otherwise we will suffer.

Many people suffer because they resist change or cannot let go of the thing that punctured their tire. But every time that something knocks us off the road, we must make repairs and get back into motion, otherwise we will rust and decay and end up on the scrapheap.

Life is fragile and unpredictable, but this should not discourage us. Each of us are on a special journey, with pitfalls and delights that lie ahead, obscured by the landscape of time, but that is what’s truly exciting in my opinion.

Wherever your road leads, no matter what obstacles you face, keep on chugging along and don’t forget to appreciate the view.

The True Spirit of Christmas

Last year, when I was at a low point in my life, Christmas was a candle in the darkness.

It evoked warm and cosy feelings that helped to lift my spirits and played and important part in my recovery, so I will always be grateful for that. This year, I am in a much better place, but I find myself turning to Christmas once again and have allowed it to nourish my soul.

Unfortunately, Christmas can be a very stressful time for a lot of people, thanks to all the financial pressure and commercialism that has hijacked the holiday. And also, it can be a rather rubbish holiday for those who have nobody to share it with.

But I find that there is great joy and wisdom to be garnered from the festive period. In fact, it can be a very spiritual time of year if you can tap into the true spirit of Christmas (the notions of generosity, sharing, goodwill etc). Imagine how horrible these cold, dark winter nights would be without the flashing lights, mulled wine and heart-warming Christmas carols. Surely anything that brings merriment and joy is a good thing, right?

Sadly, as I’m getting older, I do feel that some of the magic is fading (after all, I’m not a kid anymore). I have to be more proactive now if I am to get into the festive mood and there has seemed to be a noticeable lack of Christmas spirit in the air. For example, my mum usually comes alive at this time of year, but she now claims that “Christmas isn’t the same any more”.

My response to that is this: a day is what you make it. If you want something to be special, you’ve got to make it so. The reason I like Christmas so much is because it promotes values that should be prevalent EVERY DAY.

Why is it that generosity, sharing, goodwill and merriment are reserved only for Christmas? Why are these values not instilled in our culture ALL YEAR AROUND? Why is it that our planet is plagued by fear and destruction?

In 2016, I urge you to take the spirit of Christmas forward. Don’t leave it behind on Boxing Day. Don’t let the magic die. The world can be a better place if we choose to make it so. But this can only be achieved if we all stand together and unite.