Starting Over


I love Chicago! Just thought I would tell you.  We went there years ago and spent a week in the city before travelling on to Utah – don’t ask…  Huge thanks to Rochelle for continuing to host Friday Fictioneers and supporting everyone who takes part.

Finally, my very best wishes to you all for a healthy and prosperous 2015

Copyright Jean L Hays

                                   Copyright Jean L Hays

Genre: Fiction

Word Count: 100

Starting Over

The bag was heavy but Molly dragged it to the station.  Her face turned towards the sun, its warmth flowed through her body, easing the pain. Cosmic pain relief, she laughed out loud at the simplicity of it.

On the train she ripped up the left-luggage receipt and gently took out the torn and crumpled letter. It had been hidden, but not well enough. Eventually she had retrieved it. Carefully, she smoothed out the creases until she could read his words.

On the platform she scanned the faces of strangers, looking for him.

He was there, as he had promised.

…………………………….

“Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.” – Charlotte Whitton

 

Read more stories here

The Unreliable Narrator – it’s been playing on my mind


Well actually that’s not strictly true, but I have spent quite a lot of time wondering about it. Does the author deliberately set out to lie, mislead, or be economical with the truth, or does she/he get caught up in the story and forget what they have written a few chapters earlier?

When I read a book, I usually always trust what I am reading. I don’t think I am alone in this, and one of the most important things we have to learn in life, is to be able to work out the truthfulness of what we are being told, either by voice or in print or even face to face.

After all, we do this all the time in our everyday lives; when we go shopping for a new gadget, meet someone new or watch the news on television. We are constantly assessing the information we are receiving and working out whether what we are being told is true. So how easily do we recognise the unreliable narrator when we come across one? Do we read and then question every act, dissect every paragraph, constantly review what has gone before?

I have written several short stories; not really sure what I will do with them, probably re-line the drawers in the chest in the spare room.  Sometimes it has been a memoir, sometimes I have made up the whole story, after overhearing a comment whilst waiting in a shop or on the train, but I have always been truthful. It has never occurred to me to be otherwise.

I have enjoyed writing them, but have to admit to sometimes losing my way with the plot.  At this stage perhaps I should have thrown in a few red herrings and gone off in a different direction, but how would I then have brought all the loose ends together?

I am not a good enough writer yet to do something like this, but then again, how do you know what I have told you so far is true?

writing-101-june-2014-class-badge-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written for the Daily Post writing assignment –http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_assignment/writing-101-day-one/

The art of not writing, and making a habit of it…


I realised years ago that I wanted to write.  Not just essays for school, or long thank you letters to my relations for gifts they felt I would like, but stories. Each Sunday I read what I had scribbled down, to my sister and a collection of large teddy bears and dolls who had no option but to sit and listen to me.

I moved on to bigger projects when I was about eight or so.  I announced that I was writing a play entitled “The Little Bull” and would be happy to let my parents read it when it was finished.  I confidently announced this would be in a week or so. About a month later, after losing my way with the plot, I threw away all the pages I had written and started again.  The play would still be about the little bull, an antique milk jug spotted in the window of a little shop in town, but this time I had a definite idea how the play would end. I made the mistake of mentioning this project to my teacher who got very excited and asked me every day how things were going until I handed in the finished article.

At this point I must be honest and say that I did expect some modest praise for my efforts.  My parents told me how good they though the play was, and ventured that perhaps the school may want to put in on at the end of term. My teacher had other ideas.

She gave me what I am sure she thought was a fair critique of my play, but at eight years old you are not ready for talks about directions, or voice, or sense of place or even a timeline. She lost me.

I didn’t attempt to write anything for a long time.  Then in the last year of high school, the English teacher mentioned a short story competition and urged as many of us as possible to ‘give it a go’.  I wrote furiously about a girl who finds some letters written to her grandmother, years before she was married, obviously from a lover.

It was all going beautifully, until the boy from the local bank asked me out on a date. I had been fantasising over him for months …

Over the next few years, I married (not the banker)  – moved to Scotland – moved back – had a child– got divorced and wrote nothing.  Years rolled by and still I wrote nothing, although I was sure that I could write something.  Sometime.  Perhaps.

I read everything I could find about writing and successful writers; about skill with words and plot, about voice, a sense of place and dedication to their craft.  I joined a creative writing class with eight other women and two men.  Towards the end of the first term, Arthur who wanted to write a book about fishing, disappeared.  He never returned to the class and we never heard from him.  Tristan our tutor, ‘who had been published’, tried in vain to find out what had happened to him. Tony, now the only male in our class, decided to put this strange happening to good use and wrote a short story entitled ‘The Disappearance of Arthur.’

I stayed the course and received my fair share of honest criticism and some praise too I might add, but found the experience stifling.  Although I enjoyed our discussions about Hemmingway, Carter, Chekov et al, and no doubt gained a lot more than I thought I had, when the class decided to move on to studying poetry the following year I decided not to join them. I made some good friends and we keep in touch.  None of them as yet have finished the novels they began in the classroom, but they are all convinced that they will finish them one day.  And I wish them well.

After the class, I decided to try my hand at writing a blog.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about but hoped that someone would want to read my posts. Since starting to blog, I have met lots of good writers and enjoy reading their posts and stories. I found that though there are some who are waiting for THE phone call or email from an agent, there are many more who are just happy to entertain their followers with photos or stories about their particular take on life.

Most recently I have been enjoying Friday Fictioneers – a group started by Madison Woods and now in the very good care of Rochelle Wisoff-Fields –  who posts a photograph, as the inspiration each week for any writer who cares to join in and post a story in 100 words.  The only stipulation is there must be a beginning, a middle and an end.   I say that I have been enjoying, because for the past few weeks I have found it very difficult to come up with anything worthy of posting.  And I miss the other Fictioneers.

Am I being too critical?    Am I just being lazy?   Has my muse deserted me?

Or am I just continuing the art of not writing…

Constructive comments would be most welcome from anyone who cares to take the time to leave one

The Wondrous Heffelumpion


It’s that time again!

 It’s that time of week when we sharpen our wits

And try to work out a story that fits,

Just 100 words, not one more or one less

That’s what’s  required from our good leader-ess.

 She watches o’er our writing with candour and wit

Never tires of praising and commenting one bit,

Rochelle reads them all as Chief Fictioneer

For which we are grateful, let’s give her a cheer

Copyright EL Appleby

Copyright EL Appleby

The Wondrous Heffelumpion

Genre: Memoir

Word Count: 100

My grandmother knitted the wondrous Heffelumpion when I had the mumps. It was love at first sight. He went to school, university and kept me company in my first tiny flat. After much washing he went saggy, but I still loved him.

If my husband thought me odd for keeping H on my bedside table, he kept his thoughts to himself. Our children loved him, each in turn; when they had done with him I took him back.

My little granddaughter has now claimed him, taking him everywhere tucked under her arm. She calls him Mr Snuffles.

She loves him.

Some of her other smaller friends: Bagpuss & Ted

Small friends

A Family Tree


Once again we fire up our little grey cells and try to come up with a germ of an idea.  An idea that will grow into another piece of fiction fit for Friday Fictioneers.

Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for her dedication and time, keeping Friday Fictioneers growing straight and true.

Courtesy Scott Vanatter, permission-copyright Indira

Courtesy Scott Vanatter. Permission-Copyright Indira

Genre: Fiction

Word Count: 100

A Family Tree

After the war we had nothing. Stripped of our possessions, we wandered the land searching for food, shelter, kindness. Maria, mourning her child, lost her mind. Men found her dancing in the field and amused themselves, then fearful of the consequences, tied her to a tree and left her.

“This can’t be true, who would do this?”

We found her after animals and birds had fed, we buried her.

“It happened” said the genealogist, handing me more yellowing pages, “there is a gravestone, with details.”

That night, the dream came again; a tree tied with red ribbons.

Now I understand.

 

Lost years


Here is the prompt for Friday Fictioneers this week from Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Genre: Memoir (100 words)

rochelle2

He should be here, you say with that trembling voice,

Will you ask him to hurry?

Why is he taking so long?

Years ago you voiced the accusations of your doubting mind

Out loud, deceit, faithlessness, disloyalty,

He had no chance to stay your ranting onslaught,

You were frighteningly ferocious, they say.

I was too young to know him,

Too young to understand the words I may have half heard before sleep,

You are too old now to realise that he can’t come back,

But I repeat again the soothing words

There there, don’t worry you will see him soon.

 To see more stories follow the link

A wanderer in the time of longing – a short story


Orchard

(Photo: Orchard near St Nectaire – Peter Curbishley)

It was a time of longing, a time of sweet anticipation.  Summer was drawing to a close, tucking the soft rolling landscape away.  The orchard was heavy with russets and damsons, the baskets had been cleaned in readiness and were waiting for him to return.

Early in the morning, when the carpet of dew was still perfect and sparkling, I heard the music.  I went to the window to watch for him, the horse slowed and turned in to the yard, the caravan clattering over the uneven cobbles. He smiled, raising a hand as he passed through the yard and out into the orchard. I pulled on a clean dress, covering it with a blue apron; the flower and the flute worked on the pocket in brightly coloured threads during the long months of waiting.

In a corner of the orchard the horse was tethered, drinking water drawn from the well.  The caravan was turned towards the sun, the bright green paint replaced by dark red swirls, traces of blue clouds with yellow flowers growing up and over the top, green leaves curling round the sides. Summer.

He was sitting on the back board, long legs swinging over the side.  He smiled a broad lazy smile, his eyes crinkling.  He placed the flute to his lips and blew a twirl of notes that escaped and rose up into the morning air.  My feet traced steps in the grass as I swayed in time to his music.  There were no words between us, just the music and a feeling of joy.

We walked together through the orchard; he held the boughs as I plucked the dark juicy damsons and sweet brown russets.  We filled two baskets each then rested on the bank by the river.  He took crusty bread from his pocket and a chunk of cheese which he cut into pieces. Later he took water from the river, offering his cupped hands so that I could drink.

The air was warm and still.  Where had he been since I saw him last? Had he remembered the shawl, or had he forgotten all those things I told him as we talked together late into the night on his last visit? I waited and wondered.

He looked at me and smiled, he did not like being questioned, that much I knew. I lay back in the grass and listened to his tales of black cloaked travellers who roamed vast deserts under a blazing sun; of how he had joined them, gone with them on trails invisible to him but well known to them; of his visit to the dream weavers to hear their stories as they wove them into lightly spun threads as soft as gossamer.

I closed my eyes and was aware then of his breath on my face. He gently traced a line along my mouth and up towards my eyes.  I felt a light brushing of his lips on mine.

He laughed, “I have it ma fleur, come.”

I took his hand and let him lead me back towards the orchard. The shawl was beautiful, colours shimmering and dancing in the late afternoon sun.  He helped me up and we sat together as he told how the weavers had made my shawl.

Later as he slept, I lay within the circle of his arms, watching the sunlight dancing over the golden symbols painted on the roof.  Wrapping my dreams around my nakedness, I gathered my clothes and slipped away to the river.  When I looked back the sun was going down and I could hear a flute playing softly in the distance.