Dark Angels Note 125
Welcome back to our weekly Friday Note.
This week marks the birthday of Frances Hodgson Burnett (24 November 1849), a British-American author whose famous work includes Little Lord Fauntleroy and The Secret Garden.
During her career, she published regularly in magazines, her stories serialised before creating novels.
The Secret Garden, one of her most notable novels for children, was first published in a series in The American Magazine. It tells the story of orphan Mary Lennox, who is sent to stay with her uncle in England, and the transformative power of spending time together in nature.
Great Maytham Hall was the real-life inspiration for Frances Hodgson Burnett’s secret garden at fictional Misselthwaite Manor.
Take a tour around ‘Great Maytham Hall, Kent: the most famous garden in literature’
Do you have an outside space that you can discover for the first time, or rediscover at this time of year?
Take a walk there and capture the sensory experience in a short piece of writing.
This week’s Sharing comes from Faye Sharpe who has written in response to the writing prompt in Note 124.
Dark Angels Note 124 – A Burning Question
During my years as a business consultant and change manager, questions were my sharpest tool. As children, questions are the way we learn, until adults, in their exasperation at the destabilising nature of questions, shout, “Stop asking so many questions!” And immediately the learning process, the growth of the individual, is shut down.
What is the purpose of a question? The purpose of a question is to invoke and/or provoke change. If a ‘burning’ question illuminates or enlightens, then, a ‘wicked’ question goes one step further. A wicked question is a question, which once asked, regardless of the answer, changes everything.
Change is neutral. It is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ only as perceived by our intentions or apprehensions.
The best, most ‘wicked’, question was given to me by my aunt, a wise old bird, who listened to my distress when I had to make a life changing decision. She asked, ‘Is it life enhancing or life diminishing? ‘It’ was the situation in which I found myself and the options under consideration. The choice immediately became obvious. My aunt’s question changed, magically transformed, everything, regardless of the answer. It has become my touchstone, my method for testing for gold.
Who; What; Why; Where; When; How
Who is a qualifier. Who is a question of curiosity, speculation, suspicion. Who are you? That’s the Who we are interested in.
What is a more ‘wicked’ question. What are you? That question gets closer to the ‘burn’, to the illumination of oneself (or another), but more importantly to changing everything, regardless of the answer. What reveals our chameleon-like nature, our ability to adapt to changing social environments and economic requirements. What reveals our ability to transmogrify. We are all things all the time. We acquire and bring forth knowledge, skills and attitudes as and when required, to navigate and negotiate our way through the world. We hide those parts of ourselves that we, or others, deem, ‘inappropriate’ until they become necessary.
Where, like Who, is a qualifier. ‘Where’ are you from?’ A question of place – physical, social, philosophical. A three-dimensional question of position. Where can I put you? Where do you belong? The answer, always, is Here.
Why is a useless question, the least ‘wicked’, the least illuminating. Why changes nothing because, whatever the answer, Why doesn’t matter. There is no reason. Why is an attempt to lessen the blame, to defend or justify the cause. Why is an excuse. Why is a question of the past, which cannot be changed. Why is a comforting question, a compassionate one, if asked without the intention to change anything or anyone, but with the desire for acceptance without condition or judgement.
When is almost as useless a question as Why. It is completely artificial, based on our poor, one-dimensional, clockwork understanding of Time. It is as useful as…
How? How long is a piece of string? How, perhaps surprisingly, is the most subjective of all the questions. It depends… on assumption, prejudice, experience, limitation of knowledge, skill and aptitude. How you manage to do anything, how you manage to exist, is a mystery and a miracle. It is a quest we pursue our whole lives.
Keep sending us your poems, writings, links and writerly whatnots that you’d like to share with the wider Dark Angels family.
Writing With Constraints: New date – 30 November
One way to make writing easier is to make it harder. That sounds illogical, but putting some obstacles in the way of your writing can be a great way to get the creative juices flowing.
Whether you are a first-timer, an experienced writer or all-round creative person, this will be an enjoyable and rewarding workshop. Find out more about the Writing with constraints workshop on the website.
Weekly Tuesday Gatherings
For November, we have a few adjustments to the schedule for the weekly gatherings.
Nov 29: 7pm as normal
Join us for a reflective hour of reading, writing and communing led by Neil Baker. Everyone is welcome; in fact, invite a friend along. We meet at 7pm UK time. To join us, click here on the night. There’s no need to register in advance and we’ll be using the same link every week from now on.
Be well, keep reading, keep writing and know that we’re always here..
From everyone at Dark Angels