Writing is Great Therapy – Haikus and Journey Notes

I woke this morning with a feeling of dread and impending doom – couldn’t pin down why. I expect you’ve felt it yourself on occasion – like you’re standing on the edge of a cliff with a strong wind at your back. Here’s a Haiku to explain what I mean:

 

Tendrils reach through dreams
Sticky fingers on your soul
Wake up to what’s real

No… that doesn’t really describe it. It’s more like this:

Crow roosts on your dreams
Dread, the oil slick on your soul
Messenger from Hell

Still not right. Too dark. The dread always lifts when you get up and move, write and create, breathe and grow back into your skin after a restless night. So this is closer:

Black oceans below
Dreams beam sunshine on shadows
Water wings – dive in.

 

Journey Note for Writers: Writing is a great therapy. Use it.

 

Independence – Flash Fiction

The Scottish National Party and Westminster are forever at loggerheads on whether or not Scotland should be independent.

In recognition of the great debates on the subject, here’s a little flash fiction called “Independence”.

 

“I’m leaving!” Sarah stamped her feet on the hardwood kitchen floor. Her fists curled into white-knuckle balls. “I’m going to live with Heinrich and Jean-Paul.” Sarah’s red curly hair fell over her eyes. She forced it back so hard strands came away in her hand. “And don’t treat me like a kid!” She screamed. “I’m not a child!”

Mary Ben stirred her tea. The teaspoon tapped the side of the cup. “Heinrich and Jean-Paul don’t want you to move in with them. They’ve already said so.”

Sarah squeezed her eyes shut. “I  don’t care. They’ll change their minds when I’m there.”

Mary Ben put the teaspoon on the saucer and sipped her tea. Strong, hot and good. Heather tea. A gift from Sarah a long, long time ago.

Sarah picked up her bag. “It’s not like I ever belonged here.”

“But this is your home.”

“How can you say that? You’re not my mother. You don’t own me. You can’t make me stay.”

“But I am your friend.”

“All you’ll miss is my rent.”

“Sarah.” Mary rested her hands in her lap. “You haven’t really been paying rent.”

“I’ve paid my whole life!”

“Sure. You’ve paid £1000 a month, but it’s cost the house £2000 for food, utilities, clothing, medical care, education.” Mary turned the teacup in her saucer. “Heinrich and Jean-Paul will expect you to pay your full share if you move in with them. Or at least a good chunk more than you are now.”

Sarah opened her mouth and shut it again.

Mary smiled. “And Siobhan and Gwen will miss you. Why don’t you stay a while so we can talk about it. We’ve just moved house. It’ll take some settling in.”

Sarah rapped her fingers on the kitchen table. “If I stay I’ll want the big room overlooking the garden.”

“You already overlook the garden. The best part of it, in fact.”

“I’ll want a key so I can come and go as I please.”

“The door is never locked.”

“I want to do what I want. I want to go where I want. I want to be in charge of me.”

Mary picked a second cup off the shelf, poured the strong, hot tea into it and slid the cup across to Sarah. “Why don’t you tell me exactly what you want to do with your life.”

Sarah stared at the cup. Steam twirled off the top like a dancer in the mist. “I don’t know,” she mumbled. “I just want to be free.”

Mary Ben took the lid off a tin of homemade shortbread. “But you are free, Sarah. And you’re among friends. You always have been.”

Last Thoughts – Flash Fiction (a brief look into someone’s mind)

This is a little Flash Fiction about what might be going through the mind of someone who thinks it’s okay to murder innocent people in the name of religion. Maybe they’re not as complex as we think. Maybe they’re not so devout. Maybe they’re just complete fucking idiots.

 

Last Thoughts
“I can do this. I’m right. I have right on my side. Haven’t I? Someone said I did. Anyway, I can’t back out now. What’ll my buddies say? They’re all watching. They said they’ll do it if I go first. Crap. Could murder a bacon sarnie. Ketchup, sausages. Proper fry up. In and out. That’s it. It’ll be over in no time. Maybe I should call Mum in case something goes wrong. But what could go wrong? It’s all planned. It’s the right thing to do. And they know, right? All these guys who did the planning. They know what they’re on about. Justified. Honourable. Honour! Fuck, yeah! That’s me. Now I’ve gotta pee. Come on!! Nut up! I can do this. I have to. Too many people watching. My place in history. History! I’m a fucking hero. People will talk about me. Talk about ME! They’ll put my name in headlines. I’d better call home. Just a quick call. Or she’ll be worried. Don’t want to worry my mum. She’ll understand. Dad won’t. He’s always for talking. Talk, talk, talktalktalk. He says there’s always another way. He’s just a teacher so what does he know. He knows jack about the real world. All he does is read his history books and say there’s no way our way will win. He says there’s a better way to relate. Is he kidding? Relate?! I wanted a car. Did he relate to that? No. I wanted to travel to Syria. Did he relate then? Hell, no. I wanted to go on holiday with my mates. He said no. I wanted a gun. He said no. No. No, no, no! Well, now I say YES! I choose. I say what happens next. I’m in charge. I’m the boss. Me. Me. Me, me, mememememememe….”

News Headlines
“A 21-year-old man was shot dead by police last night after running a van into pedestrians. He killed four people and injured a further nine. The terror threat has been raised to critical meaning an attack is expected imminently.”

 

 

Journey Notes: It’s not hard, I think, to understand what goes through the minds of people who commit these atrocities. I think there are three camps:

  1. Angry people who refuse to accept that their deeply held beliefs are misguided, misinterpretations of a story told a long, long time ago.
  2. Deluded sheep who follow in a doctrine that doesn’t make sense. What it does do is allow them to vent their fury at their own inadequacy and then blame and blow up the world. Cowards really. Weak and deficient.
  3. Inadequate, confused fools who can’t hack the world so join a gang who says it’s just fine to kill folk as long as they shout “Allah” before it.

There’s a special type of hell for these people. We’ve talked about this before… Here are links to So What’s Next, Jihadi John and to The Stalker.

Hearts and minds to the victims of the latest attacks.

Self Reliance – Haiku and Notes for Writers on Trusting Yourself

Journey Notes: As a writer, you have to learn to stand on your own two feet and trust yourself.

No one is as invested as you are in your progress. You are the only one who wakes before dawn tying dreams and reality together like overcooked spaghetti.

If you anchor your progress and development to someone else, you create an illusion of safety. You begin to think that that person (or organisation) will find what’s wrong with your book and fix it. They can’t. And they shouldn’t. They can guide, encourage and support you. They can tell you when you write complete crap. They can point out your weaknesses. But the rest is up to you. So keep pushing to be better. You are more resilient than you think.

Here’s a little haiku to help explain what I mean:

Self-Reliance
Water all around.
Cling to the side of a boat.
Stand up. It’s shallow.

You know what I mean?
Have an excellent day, folks.

 

P.S. I’m using Scrivener to outline Trilogy (new project). They have their cross device technology right. As long as you can tolerate DropBox, then syncing between devices is seamless. I run it mainly between an iPhone and iPad. I don’t know how it functions on Android and I haven’t tried syncing what’s on my mobile devices to my PC yet. But as an on-the-go tool, it’s good.

 

Child’s Play – Flash Fiction

The battle lasted 10 hours. No break. No single moment when the soldiers could lie down and stop – to breathe and think. There were no dark corners to sit and rest. Food was soaked with blood and mud. Water full of dead insects. Hot smoke burned their wings, dropping them to the ground to be crushed by running, hiding boots.

“Otez! You there? Still breathing?”

“Hey Boden. Can’t feel my feet, but I’m here. You got chocolate?”

“Oreos. That do?”

“Life saver. I’ll come to you.”

Lieutenant Lizzy Boden saw the enemy first. “Otez! Get back! Incoming!”

Lizzy “Choco” Boden glimpsed Michael “The Raptor” Otez for less than a second before fire and smoke, stone and steel collapsed.

“Tell my family…!”

oOo

Lieutenant Boden sat neat and repaired on Michael Otez’s pink floral couch. His wife, Emily, ripped a tissue with her small, pale hands. Neither woman spoke. Neither could. They both watched Mike Jnr. in his playroom across the hall.

oOo

“Boooooooooom!” The boy tossed Lego bricks, trucks, cars and a Wolverine figure onto the floor. He stood up and lifted his foot, still wearing high polished black shoes from the morning. “Incoming!” He crushed the pile. “Incoming!!!”

oOo

A single tear slipped down Lizzy Boden’s face. “That’s what happened,” she whispered. “I’m so sorry.”

 

 

Choosing a Path

My thinking over the last two days has been about choosing a path.

When you’re working on something like a novel, it can be hard to decide what to focus on. The outcome is so uncertain. Your imagination is endless. There are so many options.

Yesterday, when I felt conflicted and a little messed in the head, this little Haiku came out:

 

Too many choices
Pebbles tossed on an ocean floor
What does your heart say?

Today, I found a little more clarity. I’ve decided which path to choose. It wasn’t an analytical decision in the end. The best ones never are. I looked at two options in my mind. One shone brighter. A couple of weeks ago we talked about a third way. This is a third way:

One hand on the earth
Fingers draw life from the core
One hand on your heart

I think you always know what you have to do. It just takes time to admit it to yourself. When you do, you have no choice but to follow through.

Daily Practice

I’m thinking about daily practice. How, bit by bit, small daily actions accumulate to become something meaningful.

Every day new blooms
Dew drop-by-drop hugs the dawn
And so the tree grows

 

Journey notes for writers: I woke up thinking about consistency this morning: Daily practice.

I guess it’s because I’m doing a mindfulness course and an analogy has stuck with me: Mindfulness is like learning to swim. If you learn to swim and you practice, you’ll be fine if you fall out a boat.

It’s the same with writing: practice every day; learn the craft; no matter what it takes. Then, when you sit down to say what you really want to say, the words you need will be there.

OK. That’s it.

 

Creating a Novel v.s. Building a Story

Today has been a mellow, peaceful Sunday spent reading, napping and catching a movie. Between The Forever War by Joe Haldeman and Rules Don’t Apply (movie with Warren Beatty), I had a realisation.

How-To v.s. Content
On my Road to Writerville I’ve read countless How-To books on everything from character to plot to dialogue (some of it even stuck). Today I realised that I have been so busy focusing on the How-To that I’ve neglected content.

My research on the subject matter of my books has never been as deep as it could be. I’ve been more focused on creating a novel than building a story.

A balance has to be struck
I’ve never agreed with the “write what you know” maxim which is probably why I focused on technical how-to so much. I don’t want to write what I know – I want to write what I’m fascinated in. But just because I’m fascinated in something, doesn’t mean I know enough about it to write convincingly.

Wild Write Your Passion
In one of Natalie Goldberg’s books she says (I paraphrase) “wild write your passion”. What she’s saying, I think, is that the more you write, research and live your passion, the deeper the colour of that passion will seep into your skin so when you do finally sit down to write, you will be writing what you know.

Reading “How-To” books will only take us so far. After that, we have to move on from meta-writing and get interested in the real world.

My favourite quote is still from Henry David Thoreau: “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”

Have an excellent day.
Tina