Note To Self – Stop Thinking So Much!

Got to thinking today about how much time we lose over-thinking things.

We have a bright idea. Then we think of all the alternatives. Then we carefully think through each alternative including the benefits of doing nothing.

In the meantime our original idea has gone from pure energy to a whisper in the mist – full of fear and doubt.

Fear and doubt brings on a sense of urgency, and in our rush to do something, we choose between the two most obvious thoughts: what we’ve always done or nothing.

The hours, days, weeks and years tick on by. And we keep thinking.

Now if we flipped things: did as much as we thought/thought as much as we did – we might see different results.

Here’s a little haiku:

Whales sing across seas.
Trees weave with the universe.
Only humans stop…

To think.

 

 

It’s All Noodles

OK. The Daily Dose of Fiction crashed and burned for a while. It started because I needed a break between projects but knew I needed to keep writing. Then I started the next novel (attempt number 8 or 9 – lost count) … and things got hard!

So I switched off.

Did it help?

I don’t know. The story I’m working on is still all noddles. You might have experienced this: You know what you want to say, you have the characters lined up, you have the world mostly mapped, you have a good sense of what you’re after… but you can’t find the end of the thread that, when pulled, allows you to turns “a general sense” into something you can write.

It’s like knitting a jumper out of steam.

I think you just have to trust your mind, your heart and your connection to the universe where all noodles comes from. Here’s a little Haiku:

Noodles in a bowl
Untouched they go cold and hard
Dig in and enjoy

Before and After – Haikus on a Sunday Morning

Here are two Haikus. I wrote one before I read the Sunday papers. I wrote the second after I read the Sunday papers.

 

I shouldn’t have read the Sunday papers.

 

Before
Magnolia walls
Sunday sleeps long in this house
Safe in our cocoon

After
Wild wind sweeps the earth
Rain drowns sorrow – futures grow
Blind in our cocoon

 

Home – Haiku, book recommend and Journey Notes for Writers

I’m currently reading Herman Charles Bosman’s short story collection: The Collected Works of Herman Charles Bosman. If you want a peek into a version of early South Africa, then I recommend it. Beautiful stories. Some very funny, some achingly poignant. South Africa has her battles, but she’s come a long, long way since those early colonial days.

Here’s a little Haiku called Home:

 

Leopard in the grass
Dawn to dust, sun on his back
The door is open

 

Journey Notes for Writers: Writing a novel takes as long as it takes. Some people crack their nut in the first year – like they were born with a clear path. Others wander through all sorts of hills and valleys on the road to getting there.

With that in mind, I’ve been thinking about the size of your canvas. Some artists paint intricate scenes on an inch square tile in minute and exquisite detail. Others need the side of a building.

So if you’re a “journey writer” then take a moment to consider the canvas you’re working on. Some writers work well within the rules and confines of a tight genre. Some don’t. So if what you’re doing isn’t working, consider whether your story needs more space. Perhaps you should be writing an epic that stretches over generations and worlds. Just a thought…

A Friend in Zuma – Flash Fiction and Journey Notes for Writers

Following a request from family in South Africa, here’s a short piece of flash fiction called “A Friend In Zuma“.

 

It was a dark night over the desert. Light from the stars refused to touch the earth. Not even scorpions wanted to witness the meeting between two men splitting a decanter of Remy Martin. It tasted like rocket fuel but neither would admit it – the stuff cost $2000 a sip.

“You need a distraction,” the bald man said. “Don’t make it so bad that it sticks, just bad enough to occupy people. Sex always works.”

“With… ahh…”

“No, not too young. That’s the wrong kind of bad. Make it with a woman but make sure she doesn’t talk. You need to control the conversation.”

The blonde man sipped his brandy. Liquid scorched his throat. He didn’t flinch. “I can do that. I’ll use an affair I had a while back.”

“You’ve had a few.”

The blonde man laughed. “I still do.”

Both men rocked on their heels and listened to the silence.

“I like our talks,” the blonde man finally said. “It’s not often I can have a frank and honest discussion with an equal.”

The bald man chuckled. “The world doesn’t understand us.”

Both men nodded. A cricket chirped then fell silent.

The blonde man frowned. “You think a sex scandal will be enough to divert attention?”

The bald man thought a moment. “Better add murder. Kill the girl. People will stew over that for months. By then the Russian deal will have gone through.”

The blonde man held out his hand. “Thanks again,” he said. “I value your advice.”

The bald man smiled. “You have a friend in me, Donald. Not many men can say that – but you can say you have a friend in Zuma.”

 

 

Journey note to writers: Over the last few months I’ve processed feedback from the last novel. Some of the key issues that killed it included backstory, sequencing and exposition. The way Kathryn (most awesome editor from Cornerstones Literary Agency) put it: “You cannot afford to give them (agents/editors) a single excuse to turn your work down”. When you look at it that way, it’s easy to see how all those lovely passages of prose become irrelevant. Cut whatever diverts from the story. She added that established authors get away with rambling nonsense because a fan base forgives many things. But readers still skim over the bits that don’t carry the story. As a new author, a reader won’t skim – they’ll just put your book down and not pick it up again. So back to that golden advice: “You cannot afford to give (anyone) a single excuse to turn your work down”.

 

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.”