A Mother’s Tears

“Not now, Mum” James replied, all too abruptly.

He should know better. The pause signaled the coming deluge of uncontrollable sobs. Within milliseconds, they were charging tumultuously down the line like an unstoppable flood. He gave several short coughs to muffle the unwelcome sounds whilst clearing away the discomfort. It was a pointless effort, trying to escape the agony, but still he attempted to avoid it by turning on his heel towards Alina. She took hold of his hand and gently squeezed. Her beautiful smile radiated and loving touch helped to slowly disperse the pangs in his stomach. Her presence always helped. He breathed, slowly outwards with increased relief, then inhaling deeply, came the courage that allowed him to take hold of his thoughts.

“Mum… Mum… stop.” He spoke affectionately. He kept quiet, listening to her tears gradually receding, amongst the odd sniffle and cough. “Mum, it’s OK. I’ll be OK,” he said, once her emotions were under control.

But he knew it wouldn’t be, not for her, at least. She suspected something. He could tell. She knew him just as well as he knew her. There was nothing she missed, spoken or otherwise. For her, giving in and accepting his decision, whatever she thought it might be, was all she could do.

“I’ve gotta go. I need a good breakfast before they open the gate.” He laughed lightheartedly, trying to break the awkwardness. “We’re just in the queue, waiting to order something now.” He paused for a moment and listened attentively to his mother’s farewell. “OK… bye Mum. I love you too. Yes… I’ll give Alina a kiss from you. Yeah… yeah… OK, thanks. We’ll give you a call when we land… OK… bye.”

The line went dead. The tension eased. He pulled the mobile away from his ear and reluctantly watched as the cherished image of him and his Mum, faded from the screen. The hardest part was over. For the time being, at least, he knew he could relax.

Just a little something I’ve been working on – a work in progress

Ready to Write

It’s crazy how things all of a sudden start to fall into place, when you’re in the right mind set. It hasn’t been more evident than over the past few weeks, since I started a post graduate writing course. I’ve been forced to evaluate my writing, head on, and for once, I feel like I’m winning!

I’ve done several units on creative writing in the past, but I have no idea what planet my brain was on at the time. Much of what I’m doing at the moment is very familiar – characterisation, plot, structure, voice, tension, etc, etc, etc. I’ve heard it all before. So why, I asked myself, am I still stumbling at the first draft?

Well, it has finally dawned on me.  Actually, not dawned, more like rocketed in from oblivion and knocked me flying onto the right path!  So what has my problem been?  Editing!  Too much, too early.  I have a terrible habit of get stuck into editing, during and immediately after writing the initial draft.  Any seasoned writer out there will tell you this is a huge no no.  That’s not the right place nor time.  For me, I think editing borders on an obsession.  All my focus goes into diction, spelling, grammar and syntax.  I’ll edit over and over and over, so much so, my creativity is quickly spent and I simply give up.  The story hasn’t gone where I wanted it to go.  Of course not!  I was focusing at the wrong level.

So the moral of this story, for me anyway, is drafting!  Drafts, drafts and more drafts.  How did I miss that?!  So I have told myself, forget about the micro details at this stage.  Ask yourself the questions which force you to look at the whole piece, analytically.  What is the story about?  Is it well written?  Are the characters believable?  Does the storyline/plot keep the audience interested?  Would it be better told from a different perspective?  I could go on, but you get my meaning.  Drafting is about rearranging or rewriting the story to get it where you want it to go.  The editing comes last, when all the big pieces fit together and have completed the full picture.

But I think there is a moral in this for any would be writer – know when you’re really ready to learn to write.  Only when we’re ready to take on board what the experts say and practice everyday, will it make all the difference and help our writing develop.

Happy writing people!

Start of a new chapter: Writing course

Well I’m kind of feeling a bit excited, although slightly anxious, because tomorrow I’ll be taking another step towards realising my dream as a professional writer.  I’m starting a post graduate certificate of Arts in Writing in the hope that it will provide me with the extra skills and recognition towards achieving my goals.  The first is to be a freelance writer in the corporate world.  My ultimate goal is as a published novelist.  I know the latter will be no easy feat, especially given the elusiveness of time to put creative pen to paper.  But I’m a realist and know there’s no easy way to live the writing dream.

Anyway, my intention is to use my blog to publish some of my work from the course, as well as to share any useful information with other aspiring writers.  I have no idea what to expect – all shall be made clearer tomorrow – but I know there will be valuable lessons to be learnt.  I’m looking forward to writing in my blog for you, my audience, because without you, writing has no meaning.  It will be a test, in some degree, to see whether my writing reaches my target audience.  So it’s going to be an interesting journey for me and hopefully for you too!

The Brontes – Help save their resting place!

Whenever I visit my family and childhood home in England, I never fail to visit Haworth – home of the famous Bronte sisters.  Next to the Bronte Parsonage is the church where their father, Patrick, was Reverend.  It is now the place of rest of two of the famous sisters – Emily and Charlotte.

My last visit, earlier this month, left me shocked and saddened.  It was plain to see the state of disrepair that St Michael and All Angels Church in Haworth, England, now finds itself.  In order to repair severe structural damage, the church is attempting to raise GBP1,000,000 from visitors.  Of course, every little helps and many literary fans who pay pilgrimage donate to the cause.

Well, not all fans of the Brontes can make that journey.  I’m sure there are many more who do not realise the threat to the church that is central to the family – in life and death.  Anyway, I am doing my good deed for the day in letting you all know about the plight of the church.  I hope that this will spread the word and help to raise some of those funds so the literary community can help save something that is part of our heritage.

St Michael and All Angels Parish Church, Haworth

St Michael and All Angels Parish Church, Haworth

The Abbey

Spring in the garden, adorned with colours so bright

Belie the Abbey’s walls, of stone dark and cold

Peace aglow with nature, vibrant in sunlight

Stood by commanding shadows, so powerful and bold

 

The serenity and joy softens, that what intimidates

Whose silence reaches out, to the powerless and free

Spirituality of faith, in the garden now dominates

Where the strong and sacred, wish that they could be

Snowdrops at the Abbey

Snowdrops at the Abbey

A must see – Noises Off

Want to laugh, like you haven’t laughed in a long, long time?  Well, if you’re in Sydney between now and 5 April, I’ve got just the answer.

Last night I had the privilege of seeing Noises Off at the Sydney Opera House, presented by the Sydney Theatre Company and performed by an amazing cast.  I have to admit that even though it was written by the English Playwright Michael Frayn, I’d never heard of it.  What a travesty, because for years I’ve let an absolute gem pass me by.  To be honest, had it not been for buying tickets to Hugo Weaving’s up and coming performance in Macbeth later on this year, it would have slipped by once again.  Well thank goodness it didn’t!

I’m surprised I managed to see the performance, because I spent half of it with tears streaming down my face.  Another quarter of it trying to come up for air.  It truly was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.  If you love British comedy (think Benny Hill et al.) I doubt you’ll be disappointed.  The wardrobe was a comedy in itself – a vibrant parody of the 70s.  The actors were superb and the performance seamless, far from the chaos their characters found themselves in acting out a play themselves.

Anyway, if you’re around Sydney, give yourself an evening to remember.  But be quick!  Tickets are running out fast – http://www.sydneytheatre.com.au/noisesoff.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/old-troupers-play-up-a-storm-in-noises-off/story-e6frg8n6-1226835296064#

England – A handful of images

As well as an aspiring writer, I’m a bit of a budding amateur photographer too.  Here are some that I took on my recent trip.

If anyone can tell me how to make these images bigger, it would be much appreciated!

Pen y Ghent, Yorkshire Dales

Pen y Ghent, Yorkshire Dales

A road to somewhere, Yorkshire Dales

A road to somewhere, Yorkshire Dales

Litton, Yorkshire Dales

Litton, Yorkshire Dales

Yorkshire Dales - God's Country

Yorkshire Dales – “God’s Country”

Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire

Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire

 

What Students Remember Most About Teachers

Pursuit of a Joyful Life

Dear Young Teacher Down the Hall,

I saw you as you rushed past me in the lunch room. Urgent. In a hurry to catch a bite before the final bell would ring calling all the students back inside. I noticed that your eyes showed tension. There were faint creases in your forehead. And I asked you how your day was going and you sighed.

“Oh, fine,” you replied.

But I knew it was anything but fine. I noticed that the stress was getting to you. I could tell that the pressure was rising. And I looked at you and made an intentional decision to stop you right then and there. To ask you how things were really going. Was it that I saw in you a glimpse of myself that made me take the moment?

You told me how busy you were, how much there was to do

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Childhood – no competition

Competitive Parents

Have you ever stopped to wonder

Of the damage you have done?

When you push your children’s limits

For achievements you’ve not won?

 

Have you ever stopped to wonder

Of the hurt that you have caused?

To the parents of the others –

Your injurious applause?

 

Have you ever stopped to wonder

Of resentment that you stir?

As you cause the inner conflict

Of a child easily deterred?

 

Have you ever stopped to wonder

Of the friendships that you break?

Driving wedges between the young

Achieves nothing for their sake

 

Have you ever stopped to wonder

Of the damage you have done?

For no race in this world allows

True happiness to be won

A suitcase full of characters

So I’m finally back in Australia after my brief trip home to England.  And what an interesting trip it was.  I have literally come back with my mind spinning, from all the interesting people I have seen on my travels.  From the airport, tube, pub and abbey, and all the mundane bits in between, there is always someone who stands out from the crowd.

I’ve just spent the last 30 minutes or so, writing down the most memorable characters and moments before they disappear from my memory entirely.  It happens to us all and unfortunately there is no other way to effectively capture those moments.  Or maybe not?

Literally, something only just occurred to me.  Whilst browsing through the photos I had taken in London and ready to hit the delete button on those where people or other objects had got in the way of a good shot, I realised the camera also captures those moments that you have no clue about at the time.

Don't waste the inspirational opportunity

Don’t waste the inspirational opportunity

Here’s a classic ‘in the way’ shot – a bus blocking a great view of St Paul’s Cathedral.  “Charming”, I thought when I took it, but thought nothing more of it after I finally got the picture I wanted.  Well, that was until I saw the faces of the daily commute in rush hour London, suspended in time, stirring the creative juices.

So, another lesson learnt in kicking that creative writers’ block – look beyond the intended shot.  It’s amazing what’s also there in your photographs.

And now, if only I could now kick the jet lag!  Anyway, since I’m back home, I’ll soon be putting my words into action.  Or should I say actions into words. 🙂