About Me

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I write well researched but readable historical and contemporary novels and some non-fiction. I live in a Scottish country cottage with my artist husband. I love gardening and I also collect the fascinating antique textiles that often find their way into my fiction. This blog is about all these things and more!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Dreaming Jean, Seeing Jean

The Cottar's Saturday Night, Faed.
The other night, I woke up in the early hours of the morning, from a slightly restless sleep, to hear my husband - he had just been to the loo - coming back into the bedroom, and stopping with an exclamation of surprise. He got back into bed, muttering, 'No - it's OK,' and went back to sleep.
So did I.

Over breakfast I asked him what had been the matter. He has quite severe mobility problems and I wondered if he had tripped over something.
'No,' he said. 'I thought I saw somebody standing in the doorway. In fact just at first, I thought it was you, but then I realised it couldn't be, and besides, you were still in bed.'

What he thought he had seen - when he elaborated on it later in the day - was a woman in 'old fashioned dress'. He said it was exactly like the 'woman in the Lloyd's bank advert.'  And there she is, walking alongside the horse and plough, early in the ad.

Now we live in a very old terraced cottage - more than 200 years old. But not noticeably haunted. Our house has always had a lovely atmosphere, and still has. In fact it has had surprisingly few owners over its lifetime. People tend to stay here for a long time. People like us.

Jean in her forties.
But it got me thinking. Especially when I reviewed the ad and saw what my husband claims he saw! For the past couple of years I've been researching and writing a novel about the life of Jean Armour, beloved wife of Scottish poet Robert Burns. It has been a huge project for me, and one very dear to my heart, since I've already written a couple of plays about Burns that turned out to be quite as much about Jean.

The novel is scheduled for publication next spring. And I have become - not to put too fine a point on it - pretty much obsessed with Jean and her famous husband. The more I've found out about her, the more I've found to like about her. I think she's a heroine in a million.

I don't believe she's haunting me. And even if she was, she's such a lovely person that I wouldn't be very worried. But I do sometimes wonder if writers can focus so clearly on a character that they create what the Tibetans call a 'thought form' - when concentrated thought - and novelists do a whole lot of visualising and concentrating - takes shape in the material world.

Not that I saw her. It was my husband, who gave himself a surprise in the middle of the night! But then I didn't need to, because I see her pretty much all the time and every day at the moment, anyway. And the simplest explanation may well be the best one. Not so much a thought form as a thought transference. I'm so deep in love with Rab and Jean that I'm infecting my poor artist husband of thirty years with my imaginings now!


6 comments:

Becca McCallum said...

What an interesting occurrence! Your house sounds lovely. Does it have a real cottage garden?

Catherine Czerkawska said...

It is a very nice house - and yes, it has a cottage garden, but it's looking a bit overgrown and weedy at the moment, since I've been writing all summer. Quite pretty from a distance!

Becca McCallum said...

I'm sure your garden will forgive you! And who knows, it might even have some surprises for you after being left to run wild all summer. Sometimes I think that's good for a garden.

Shirley said...

Lovely piece, Catherine. Hope hubby not suffereing any bad after effects.

Catherine Czerkawska said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Catherine Czerkawska said...

I think he quite enjoyed the experience!