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

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Falling Apart


Time for Friday Fictioneers again.  Thanks as always to Rochelle for keeping us all together (see what I’ve done there?) and thanks for the photo prompt this week to Sean Fallon, what an intriguing photo it is too.

My story this week, follows on from the one I wrote last week.  A few of you Fictioneers kindly asked what was going to happen to ‘Tom’ and I have to admit I wasn’t sure.  A few people were very annoyed at his attitude to Maggie, I thought I would revisit them this week.

Copyright Sean Fallon

Copyright Sean Fallon

Genre: Fiction

Word Count: 100

Falling Apart

Tom can’t understand why friends ask, ‘everything OK now?’

The attack on his wife was an attack on him too.  Why can’t they see that?

The thoughts about what happened replay over and over. Maggie tries to reassure him that the attack, though violent, was brief, but his imagination runs riot.

He watches every man he sees, ‘Is it him?’ ‘Did he do it?’

Waiting, for the police to make an arrest; waiting, for THAT phone call; if they don’t charge someone soon he fears he will fall apart.

And it’s still affecting Maggie.  Her behaviour has been odd lately.

For more stories, click here 

Not drowning, just out of his depth


It’s that special time of the week , the post for Friday Fictioneers. This week the colourful photo is courtesy of Doug MacIlroy – a great teller of tales. Each week the one and only Rochelle Wisoff-Fields casts her net and draws in writers from across the world, all eager to accept the challenge of writing 100 words, (no more, no less) inspired by a different photo each week. Join us…

Doug McIlroy

Doug MacIlroy

NOT DROWNING, JUST OUT OF HIS DEPTH

Genre: Fiction

Word Count: 100

One day a man started a job. It was the job he had always dreamed of, but it brought him unhappiness. The job demanded skills he didn’t believe he possessed.

Dejected, he asked his grandfather for advice.

‘A fish set off on a journey. Swimming strongly and steadily, it encountered many problems but stayed on course. The fish found itself in churning water at the foot of a waterfall; it paused not knowing what lay ahead, then plunged in and battled to the top.’

‘If you believe you can, you will, if you believe you’ll fail you will; your choice.’

click the little blue frog for more stories

Busy Bees


Last week was one of those weeks best forgotten. I did no writing but lots of driving and listening, to mainly boring people, talking about mainly boring topics. I missed my Friday Fictioneers fix, like lots of others I look forward to Wednesday when the email from Rochelle drops in my inbox and I wonder in what direction the photo prompt will take me. The photo this week is courtesy of Jennifer Pendergast  -hmmm

Genre: Horror

Word Count: 100 words

Busy Bees

The giant bee at the entrance attracted local newspaper headlines.

GIANT BEE LANDS IN HONEYPOT

HONEY, I GOT STUNG!

Alice ignored them and carried on with her work.

The giant bee was the idea of the PR-savvy graduate, foisted on her for the summer.

Alice ignored her too, and went to talk to her bees.

“She’s a problem, but we can’t have too many questions asked.”

“Buzzzz,buzzzzzzzzzz?”

“Just as you wish.”

That night as Alice drank the golden elixir, which she had done inside one shape or form for three hundred years, the hives were empty.

The swarm was forming.

PS – I needed an extra word, so I hope the hyphenated PR-savvy is allowed.

View detours as challenges, not excuses


I just wanted to share this post, it appeared at the right time for me and hope others benefit from it too.

Live to Write - Write to Live

Whether you write down your goals, or just know what you need to do each day, life has a way of interrupting sometimes.

Detour Ahead signIt doesn’t matter if it’s writing, career, fitness, financial, or any other category — detours can, and generally do, happen to even the most successful people.

The challenge is to stay focused and see the interruptions and setbacks for what they are – delays – and not as excuses for giving up.

It can be especially difficult when you see your goal ahead to be waylaid by life, but if everything were simple, everyone would be doing it all, right?

Maybe we can’t always move forward as fast as we want, but we can always be determined to reach the goal, no matter what.

Some tips:

  • Keep in mind that the only way to fail is to quit. Honest. If you keep trying, you’re not failing.
  • Life…

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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.

Sharing my writing journey


Last year, at an age when most of my contemporaries were retiring from work or at least thinking about it, I decided to join a creative writing class at a local university. The creative writing modules I enrolled in are part of an MA degree course, I haven’t  decided whether I want a degree, but I do know that I love writing.

I have written lots of things, since my first effort at writing a play when I was seven. The play was entitled “The Little White Bull” and was about a small china bull that a little girl saw in a second-hand shop, whilst out shopping with her grandmother.  She saw the bull “move” and although her grandmother didn’t believe her, she let the child think that she did in order to find out what would happen.

 I wrote until I wasn’t sure where to go next. I knew I should end the play but was unsure how to do that.  I couldn’t ask for help as  I had not told anyone and anyway the play was going to be a Christmas surprise for my teacher, Miss Fawcett. The script was put in a drawer in my dressing table while I thought about an ending, and somehow in all the Christmas excitement, I forgot all about it.  It lay undisturbed until we moved house a few years later and it was then thrown away. I had other interests now!

 

I was apprehensive as I went to my first class. Passing young students on various stairways all laughing and talking together, I became acutely aware that I was old enough to be their grandmother.  What was I doing here? Then one stopped to ask me directions.  He was very polite and friendly and when I had to admit that I too was new here and about to start my first class, he flashed a brilliant smile and said “Good for you, well done.”  I reached my classroom on a cloud of happiness and reassurance. (to be continued on my Writing Page…)