Still learning to move photographs from one file on my computer onto my website. Not sure until I publish if it will work. Technology can be frustrating compared to the process of creative writing. I can rewrite a scene a dozen times and every change, every new word, every replacement of a sentence or a character makes complete sense to me and I commit myself with enthusiasm to the task at hand. Yet..this learning of a computer language, necessary to complete the required commands, is far more difficult. I guess I have been writing for many decades and have loved every challenge. Technology is a different kettle of fish. It keeps moving the goal posts! More patience needed. More time to practice. More delight in the challenges. On with the show.
After a great few weeks travelling I was expecting to be overflowing with story ideas and gems about people and incidents seen during the travels and indeed I have loads of ideas…principally how to incorporate my Holly Day and Lucy Knight characters into a mystery story set, at least partially, in Europe. So when I opened my fresh new note pad and picked up my sharpened 3B pencil, I was expecting some kind of travel memoir to emerge… But what rapidly appeared on the blank page? Surprisingly , the first scene of a new play about a family and worse/better with my usual social comments and humour already clearly defined! Certainly I can see a vague connection with a family I spoke with in UK. but really…this is not what I really wanted to do! So much for the creative spirit. I shall continue with the play as the story is unfolding in my mind with each day but hey…what control have I got? Bit scary really but then who am I to discard any creativity that comes my way. Just be thankful and hope that what is produced is a good piece of work and that eventually people will see it performed on the stage. Weird though.
After a trip to England to visit where I was born, where I grew up and lived as an adult before migrating, to Australia, it was awe inspiring to feel the pull of country and how important my roots are. Having been dragged (probably screaming) through the Industrial Revolution and the centuries of ‘city’ life that followed and so away from living and working with the land, my ancestors must still have retained some connection with the earth of their birth and passed it on down to me. I felt it so strongly that I sometimes cried as I walked over fields (paddocks) once skipped over as a child, or pressed my hands against ancient walls, some hundreds of years old, or stepped down stairways the Romans chipped into their baths or houses. Who knows what Roman or Norman or German or VIking or Anglo Saxon or Celtic blood runs through my veins. Do percentages matter? Maybe this pull of roots strengthens as one grows older, as mortality hits the mind and the heart. While I have always vaguely comprehended the pull of country for aboriginal peoples around the world this trip has heightened the sense that it is within us all…if only we will listen to that need we all have for the parts of our ‘uncivilised’ past., of our connection to the earth beneath our feet and the sky above our heads. Will I write about this? Can I write about this? How to incorporate this sense of past, of generations before me, of some strange affecting hold over our, dare I say, spirit? Who knows. It is early days since I came back but I have on this trip had that sense of belonging to the people who came before me and to the earth that nurtured me. Enjoying living in different country does not lessen the ties, it only makes for a better understanding of other peoples and why they do their best to keep their connections through language, culture, dance and music. May the differences and the similarities continue.
Non writers invariably ask, “What do you find to write about?” The writer generally sighs inwardly and politely before the usual response of, “Everything is around us.” So true and yet having ‘stuff’ that can be written about is not the same as finding the right ‘stuff’ to write about. It takes a lot of discernment, a lot of deep thought about the choice of subject matter. Then once chosen there follows heaps of research, which frequently involves finding piles of ‘stuff’ neither appropriate for the task or .all that interesting and more often than not, not even verifiable. Then the inevitable self questioning of “Do I really want to write about my choice of subject?” Back to more pondering, maybe more research in a different line, unearthing more ‘stuff’, useful and useless. Then the moment in time comes when the first word is put upon the blank page and all the ‘stuff’ that is found, eventually finds its own way onto the page (or screen), maybe later to be edited or deleted but it gets there for at least some of the time. So yes, the earth and the humans, as a part of it, scatters all the subject matter out there to be observed, listened to, read about, pondered on but it is left to the writer to not only find it, but hone in on it and create something wonderfully new out of the jungle of ‘stuff’ begging to be written about.
A long time since I wrote on here. I have been busy trying to sell my first novel and been involved with a lot of work for community theatre. Yet now I am busy writing my second novel. It is not the second in a series of Day and Knight, though perhaps it should be, It is something completely different. The kind of book I’ve been trying to write for years, about family relationships and friends and enemies, set in a small town and a city in UK, during the 1950’s. AND for some unfathomable reason it is flowing like crazy. After only just over a week so I have done over 20 thousand words and the characters and scenarios are slotting into each other, without a plotting plan too! OF course when I come to re read this first hand written draft it may well be that 50% is terrible or useless or tragic, in terms of craft. However, I feel in my guts that there is a good story there, so here is hoping. It will be many, many months before I have a clue if it is going to work out well, maybe even years but…I’ll keep forging ahead, as writers tend to do. So wish me luck.
Reading a book about America reminded me of an old friend who described anyone he neither trusted nor liked as “Goddam snakes in the grass”. Usually these were politicians or con men (same thing?) He also included fundamentalists of all kinds; religious leaders, science sceptics, nationalistic fiends, criminals and business men. Though the last group he referred to as “snake oil salesmen”. His was a mixture of slang and language learned In several countries of the world where he’d lived. There were many more phrases he used particular to him or to certain parts of the world. There were some from Jamaica that are heard nowhere else, although fervently imitated by young men in New York, London and who knows where else. I always understood what my friend meant. I use many more evocative words, more ‘not for general public use’ words that he might not have approved of but which he readily understood. Language is after all for communication, no matter how spoken and by whom. There is certainly room for the language purist and in some instances this is a practical use of language but there should never be boundaries drawn solely on how words are spoken. This is dangerous.
What a kind greeting I received from the Probus group at Ocean Shores last week. A lovely spot overlooking the ocean which, momentarily, made me seethe with envy but…I have my trees which I also adore on our plot of ground. The group appreciated the readings from my novel and some bought a copy, which was wonderful, but what was really interesting was the way people took delight in the few stories I related about events in my life that somehow related to what and h ow I write. One woman even went so far as to state that I should write a book about my life. How I would love to yet publishers today are generally interested in biographies of the rich and famous or people who have climbed thirty eight mountains, or such. Still it was a nice compliment. Maybe writers do look and listen and memorise more intensely than most people and so have a great deal of data, sometimes classified as trivia, to retell via conversation or written stores. In any case it was a verypleasant way to ‘show off’ my speaking and writing talents such as they are. Working in theatre certainly does help with presentation skills. Maybe that is what I should be teaching, presentation skills? I understand there are many books on the subject already out there. Anyway it was a lovely way to spend a day on the coast,out of the crashing, scary surf.
I will be reading excerpts from my book at Noah’s Arc, Lismore on Thursday December 5th. 5pm. All welcome.
See you there.
Met up with some ‘old hippes’ the other day who said, laughingly, that I had given hippies a bad name in my book, DAY AND KNIGHT-The Case of Missing Things. This statement was accompanied by broad grins and flashing twinkles in the eyes, so I knew it to be a way of life they were actually proud of! All that saving of native forests and trying to get people to understand there was more to life than commercialisation and destruction. What a great job they did to make the rest of us aware of what was important. My research for the book entailed picking up on the good and the bad and the indifferent aspects of the 1970’s in the Nimbin area of NSW. It was great listening to the stories and the attitudes of people some forty years later. Overall my treatment of that era for the book was a positive one. Frankly I admired their guts. Thinking now of the current political devastation of most, if not all, environmental issues and dismissal thoughts of the value of ‘country’ makes for sadness at how hard and how long those who care for the environment have fought.
In people power we must trust. The current political attitudes and abuses are but a passing phase.