For some time I have been hiding out in my writer’s world: built of paperbacks and notepads, (of course, the computer features in it too, but directed inwards, not at the outside world – that’s the important part).

The short days of winter and writerly tasks of reflection, writing and redrafting make this easy. A few things to share after this hibernation though:

Firstly, Conrad. He has been my companion for some weeks now. A most interesting gentleman, a sailor in the British merchant navy during the latter part of the 19th century. He offers keen insights into human nature and the organisation of society. You get the sense that the true nature of man can only be found in the unadulterated setting of sea and land, which dominates Conrad’s stories.

“Few men realise that their life, the very essence of their life, their capabilities and their audacities, are only the expression of their belief in the safety of their surroundings. The courage and composure, the confidence; the emotions and the principles; every great and every insignificant thought belongs not to the individual but to the crowd…” (An Outpost of Progress)

And throughout all his stories the boundless possibility of nature sparkles, offering something unknown, whether welcome or not it is uncertain:

“…immense forests, hiding complications of fantastic life, lay in eloquent silence of mute greatness.” (An Outpost of Progress)

“The water shone pacifically; the sky, without a speck, was a benign immensity of unstained light…” (Heart of Darkness)

“Watching the coast as it slips by the edge of the ship is like watching an enigma. There it is before you – smiling, frowning, inviting grand, mean, insipid, or savage, and always mute with an air of whispering. Come and find out.” (Heart of Darkness)

Give him a go, although as florid and dense at times as the exotic jungles he describes, well worth a read.

egypt red sea.jpg

The Red Sea, Rae Else, 2015