Have you heard the one about the Lithuanian mermaid?

May 2, 2011 at 11:04 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

My cave was beckoning.

I had an idyllic weekend, the kind of nourishing, indulgent treat this time of year calls for. It was the southern hemisphere’s Hallowe’en on Saturday, and the chill in the air tells me that winter and its darkness is coming. I nestled inside my cave with fresh paper, a bottle of sparkling shiraz (hey, don’t you make that face at me!), some Supersuckers on the stereo, a boisterous kitty nipping at my feet, and time to myself.

And I wrote.

I submitted four stories to different publishers, and though my fingers might have trembled when I hit send, send, send, I did it anyway. And already, barely days later, I’ve just received an email from the lovely folk at Lowestoft Chronicle telling me they enjoyed my story and would love to publish it in their summer edition. The bliss each time I read those words is pure magic, and never fails to make my eyes close, my breath catch, and my smile just about leap off my face.

This story was written with them in mind, though I have no idea where the idea came from: a tale of sitting in a bar in Vilnius and being mistaken for a member of Lithuanian ‘Big Brother.’ Sometimes even my eyebrows arch at what ends up on my page, but when the muse calls I know to grab her by her tail and shake every last drop of ink out of her.

Strange…my muse appears to be  some kind of  mermaid. Never knew that before.

I decided to reward myself with a strut up Northcote’s main drag. The autumn colours lining my street are astounding, a riot of amber and lime, and my army boots crunched as I strode. I was wearing a red coat that’s been my trusty winter wear since I was nineteen – kept me warm even during a snowstorm in Iceland –  and I started to wonder if I should put some money aside for a new one. That thought was knocked out of my head by the blackboard advertising one of many secondhand bookstores on the main strip, with its chalky quote:

Wear the old coat and buy the new book.

Austin Phelps

Sure thing, Austin old bean. If you say so…I headed into Brown and Bunting, truly Northcote’s most wonderful bookstore, and got caught up in a collection of Somerset Maugham’s short stories, but decided on a biography of Kafka by Pietro Citati.

While on the subject of literary quotes, another one has slid into my notebook lately. I’m knee deep in plans for a trip to Finland, Estonia, Poland, a few weeks in my second home of Berlin, and a few days in Hong Kong on the way back. Dipping into these glorious languages and cultures, learning about Baltic mythology and Finnish linguistics and Hong Kong temples, makes me shine…I’m rarely happier than when my passport is ready on my bed.

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.

Saint Augustine

But one last quote has been causing me mirth lately…see if your sense of humour mirrors mine.

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.

Groucho Marx

And if that doesn’t make you snort sparkling shiraz out your nose, well, I just don’t know what will.



  1. Babette said,

    Belly Jean. I am sitting in Waterstone’s in the city, with my table covered in piles of window shopping and a mother cup of peppermint tea. But the tea is cold and my coveted books unopened as I gobbled up every word of this delectable post.

    Congratulations on your publication news, you stellar word witch, though you know I am never surprised. And your travels… And your beautiful mind that we all love and adore.

    Don’t ever stop telling us stories.


    • inkymouth said,

      Babette of mine,

      Being able to distract you from spines spilling font is quite an achievement! But I know you devoured them afterward…and probably still drank the tea, am I right?

      Just a thought for you; imagine unpacking your babushka case in a hotel room overlooking the medieval square in Tallinn’s Old Town…or striding with me down Kastanienallee in Berlin looking for fresh Frühstück…I know, I know you’re tempted.

      Imagine THOSE stories, Babette X

  2. Dave Cochran said,

    Oooh, I have serious Baltic-countries envy. I can give you a couple of restaurant recommendations if you’re in Tartu or Tallinn – esp Tartu, which is (or at least, was 4 years ago) much cheaper, and has a couple of lovely places to eat.

    • inkymouth said,

      Dave! How are you doing? Is all well in your part of the world? This’ll be my first time visiting Europe without heading to the wonder of Brussels and Amsterdam, but I know the northeastern pocket will keep me smiling, especially linguistically, hey? I’ll be in Tallinn, for a few days only, so any recommendations would be much appreciated.

      Lovely to hear from you 🙂

  3. gretchen cello said,

    Reading the pleasure of your publishing news flashed me back to clanking our glasses in praise on Sunday darling one… I cannot wait see the words across pages. And the sheer thought of the stories to come from your next set of travels as me tangled in smiles and shakes. x x

    • inkymouth said,

      The tales to come of your next sojourn to New York have me rubbing my hands in anticipation…how many sleeps now?! And there will be more clanking of glasses tomorrow, with probably (knowing you and your sassy mouth) more scribbling of quotes in my little red notebook. Can’t wait! x x

  4. Loopy said,

    Wonderful news on the publishing my girl!
    How very wonderful and exciting! I shall be able to wander down to Barnes & Noble to pick up my very own copy!


    • inkymouth said,

      Aw thanks babe – and thanks for popping in your lovely head to read here. Who would have thought that we’d go from thirty page paper letters each week, to checking each other’s blogs in order to keep in touch?!

      All the love in the world to you x x

  5. helenisabella said,

    Hello baby 🙂 x

    • inkymouth said,

      Ah babe, welcome! Now pull up a seat…I’ll bring you over a whiskey X

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