Poet Posing on Prose Platform

Creative Writing

Poltergeist solution: Kills a Darling

Character Removal? I have been stuck at an impasse – having pantsed my way to a character development, giving her a life of her own but stuck with what she will do in the four years between arriving in Western Australia in 1924 (as per plot) and returning to the UK in 1928 to die in childbirth.  Her journey, with chaperone, to WA via South Africa, her arrival and stay with aunt and uncle who offer her a continuing role : all that written down, leaving me to ponder whether she goes along that line or what ever interesting things she could be doing. Thought I had it worked out and loaded the project to continue only to find -or rather, not to find – a swathe of text missing. After agonising what happened or where I may have mistakenly deleted/ copied/ pasted/ whatever I have decided to accept the possibility a poltergeist has been at work. Perhaps I have been editing in my sleep although I don’t recall dreaming that I was typing.  Or perhaps one of my darlings has killed herself rather then endure/enjoy my cogitated possibilities.

Within the scope of four generations, this character was to die in childbirth while producing a daughter and transmitting an rH factor. So, in effect, she was easy to kill. But if ever I have time and inclination to write the personal stories of many of the characters, she will be easy enough to resurrect. So, it is bye-bye for now, Lady Belinda. (Already thinking how I can infiltrate her into a back story of character whose future outline already loosely plotted. Hmmm.

All of this leads me to reflect on the wisdom of proceeding slowly and getting things right as one goes along. Using Scrivener’s search I was able to collect every mention of Belinda and able to select that which to keep and that which to remove so as to stay on track with major thread.

 

 

Idling Until Ready to Shift Gears

Though very little posted here lately, the old brain box has been busy. Most active on waking with streams of ideas for posts, for conversations drifting from one topic to the next, but always coming back to the next stage of my novel.

Set in chronological order, written in present tense, each stage/scene/action is bounded within time and space. and am at a stage where I know where I want/need a character to travel in order to progress the story. Spending many moments on exploring the external and internal motivations driving him in the desired direction.

He is now 65 years of age and setting out on a journey which will take him to Cape Town, perhaps Durban and then onto Western Australia before returning to his home in Dumfries, Scotland. His wife is 16 years younger than he, they have two daughters the youngest being 17 years of age.

Am wondering whether to kill off his wife? Or discover the love of his life (his wife) has been unfaithful leading to the possibility the youngest daughter is not his. If I am ti kill her off, I will need to have her either become very ill; be involved as a victim in a fatal accident. Whatever, it has to be traumatic for him.

All suggestions welcome. 

It is not that I am not busy, just pondering over which thread to pick up and pull out onto a page. Looks as if I shall have to pick up one of my many sharpened pencils and tackle the problem on paper and see which flows more freely.

Unless you suggest something I have yet to consider? Which would you rather read?

Essay Entry: Challenge Accepted – Foot on Learning Curve

The first thing to check is that the title submitted is not the one used for an earlier version. Even to me, my first draft was so, so pompous that all the scholarly research was abandoned for, what I thought, was a more light approach.

The original title was: Australia: A Collection of Assumptions

The first assumption was that it existed at all as a balance for the weight of the earth in the known – at that time – world.

And then went on and on. Actual, factual text submitted was

Picture this:

A twelve year old child was gifted a book in recognition of her insatiable curiosity. Within its pages she was introduced to Kipling’s six honest servingmen thus finding names for the members of her pack of mental puppies. The puppies were exposed to sand, surf and Sunday School and, on the other days of the week, relaxed at the back of the class near those high achievers who had to exercise to gain their place. Having already discovered that the path to efficiency is blazed by the lazy, she sat with her ears open and hands under desk-top busy knitting a scarf using spider stitch.

Back then the days were busy and the years as long as only a country child can recall. From her bed on the front verandah she contemplated the profile of an aboriginal warrior staring up to the night sky from his home in an enormous gum tree. As the evening breeze ruffled the leaves, setting the watching warrior free into the heavens, she snuggled down to sleep with a sense of being protected; of being Watched Over. With ears open, hands busy spinning threads of experience and thought, she now knots a net into being. Flinging the net far and wide to ensnare the progeny of the Bunyip and Behemoth. Scary creatures were it not that terror is part of our mental territory.

The energies of ancestral myths, their archetypes, now hidden within modernity, seep and escape into subconciousness; leaching from the underground of understandings made manifest in the diverse behaviours Homo sapiens call ‘human nature’. The Stone Age person is still within Modern Mankind; outwardly fashioned by the survival of such genes as best suit the environments of time and place. An example given here is that of indigenous mothers within Australia giving birth to babies considered and judged by the non-indigenous as being of light weight. This assessment gives little consideration to the thousands of years mothers have had to carry babies on their hips or in a coolamon. Given the human brain’s propensity for pattern recognition, the observational powers of women and babies – their own and others – together the tribal cross cousin marriage system, credit could be given for identifying a strain prone to producing less burdensome babies.

(One snippet heard by these open ears was Kathy Freeman’s bones are far less dense than the norm of the general population. This was stated as an explanation for her capacity for speed as well as an illustration of the need to conserve energy when covering long distances by walking.)

Cross cousin breeding has a long history, the patterns and consequences of which would be instantly appreciated by those who knowingly raise thoroughbred dogs or horses. However, not all breeders have the knowledge or the courage to carry through to the five generations required to produce the true thoroughbred. For those who do there comes a time when it is judicious to bring in an out-cross; a completely new line believing in the protection hybrid vigour for the first of the new generation.

And what might the foregoing have to do with being “Australian”?

Simply put, we are a motley of mongrels. A mixture of mutts. As diverse as afghans and dachshunds. But we are a breed which likes to please, be friendly and entertaining. When well-trained, we fetch and carry for those we perceive to be our masters.

Above all, we are a bright bunch of bastards. Ingenious, inventive, motivated. We might just be Humanity’s Best Friend?

Picture This:

As with many Australian children, this one had never met any of the First Peoples of this land. Until she was seventeen years of age, training as a nurse in Ward 31 of Royal Perth Hospital in 1956. A woman, thin as a rake, bed-sores packed with eusol dressings from sacrum under skin to hip. Incontinent, mute and utterly miserable. During a staff meeting someone suggested her health may improve if her baby was brought in from wherever it was being fostered. A baby? A baby girl. Rumour had it, this woman (let us call her Nancy) had walked more than two thousand miles during her pregnancy. The soles of her feet, thick and hard as boot leather. The baby was brought to the ward and given into her arms. Next day, the very next day, Nancy was out of bed, walking for the first time in months, standing in the fresh air on the balcony. The first word she cried out she demanded “BEDPAN” and she had us scuttling and glad of it.

Aged 14, this girl was employed sorting trunk line dockets in the Accounts Department of the PostMaster General’s Office in Perth. She worked alongside a young woman whose parents had emigrated from Greece after the Second World War. They had brought their customs with them; one being the elder daughter must first be married before my work mate could upgrade her engagement ring to a wedding band. What a wedding that was!

Earlier, before this child was born, her maternal grandparents emigrated from the UK in 1922 to take up land under the Group Settlement Scheme in Northcliffe in Western Australia. As a Master Mariner, it did not take long for her grandfather to walk off that land in favour of a position as Harbourmaster. The move to Australia was likely to have been at the grandmother’s instigation. A family joke stated as true that he only once returned from a voyage to the same home as he had departed. (It might be her gypsy blood; her family clan territory both sides of the Scottish border.) That was a place in the countryside of Northumberland. The mother of this child was four years of age when emigrating and spent most of her years on the family’s poultry farm which sustained them during the Depression.

The Group Settlement Scheme was preceded by the Soldier Settlement Scheme following the First World War. As well as giving some soldiers something to come home to, it further strengthened the White Australia Policy. (Forgotten were those aboriginals left stranded in South Africa because they volunteered to fight in the Boer War). British soldiers have a history of making Australia home ever since being sent to guard the convicts for whom the first settlements were created. Speaking of convicts, those prisoners in Hungarian prisoners were released at the beginning of the 1956 uprising and, the young nurse was told by one such, they were the first to make a hasty departure from the country. So, convicts, soldiers and emigrants from Europe were the bulwarks of White Australia until the Immigration Restriction Act was repealed in 1958. As an Australians resident in the UK during the 60’s, this young woman found herself unable to defend her nation’s history. Unable to define the emotion experienced when her face was held by the chin to the light and hear it declared that this is “my own aborigine.” Embarrassment, yes. Shame, no. Something else. Was it the spirit of the gum tree warrior crying out for recognition and being denied?

The paternal branch of this child’s parentage descends from Scottish widow of 55 years of age who brought her large family to South Australia in the 1840’s. Among the many stories contained within the publication detailing the family history, there is one which this woman has hi-jacked and relates whenever given the opportunity. Such as this. According to my version, my grandfather was able to purchase a property for a pittance as the previous owner found difficult to get full price for the land he had cleared of aboriginal infestation using strychnine. In this version it is related that, if happening in my grandfather’s generation, there maybe, still alive, descendants from those away from the feed of flour at the time. In other words, the pain is too close for comfort; the asking of forgiveness and reconciliation premature. In her father’s generation this event was a joke shared around birthday barbecues. She read into the glare from her father’s eye; remember and record. She takes the permission to skew history for fear the descendants of the guilty are too afraid of the past to ever question it and thus not allow some light of day in this dark history.

Is sit racism or xenophobia which has empowered the political class to engage in policies which drive people to our shores? It would be facile to blame the military for their actions overseas; creating the havoc and destruction which drove, and still drives, attempts to reach our shores from Asia. Instructed by the policy of those politicians voted into power by the public, we all have a hand in the circumstances which give rise to the suicidal despair of those imprisoned in off-shore detention. They are even more securely incarcerated, and with less hope, than the original intruders into the oldest surviving cultures on this planet. They are there because, collectively, we put and keep them there.

Who has the right to make that mark on their ballot paper? Yes, those who were born here and, these days, that is irrespective of colour or creed. Those who qualify for naturalisation as an Australian are issued an invitation to a formal citizenship ceremony; a prerequisite for the granting of citizenship. Again, irrespective of colour, but allowing a choice of a either including or excluding God within their pledge. Why is God in this picture?

Given the separation of Church and State in Australia, this woman again asks, “Why is God in this picture?” If God, why not Allah or Vishnu? Does it take the invocation of an invisible entity to give weight to one’s word? No. Having observed the consequences of the imposition of Christianity on life within several aboriginal communities, this person is of the staunch belief that Christianity is intrinsically a corrupting influence. Particularly so on a peoples with a highly developed system of spiritual beliefs, many of which survive beneath a facade.

Is it racism, xenophobia or plain ignorance which permits the illusion of superiority over persons who do not speak the dominant language, who are regarded as illiterate either in their own language or one they have yet to learn? As previously mentioned, humans have a propensity for pattern recognition. Only since the Bronze Age has there been any need for anyone’s parietal lobe to be busy with reading and writing. Until the concept and practice of literacy was forced upon the general population, people’s brains kept busy recognising other patterns. Patterns within their culture, patterns within their landscapes, patterns within the seasons, patterns within the skies and patterns within the stars. Literate scientists have in recent times proposed the genetic transmission of memory such as to give credence to ancestral memory experienced in the form of the “collective unconscious”.  Surely a culture as continuous as that of truly indigenous Australians would have a rich and deeply embedded collective memory. From that place could arise the fear which drove aboriginals from their racially designated section of Meekatharra hospital in the 1950’s. That section had been built as a separate unit placed close to the morgue. First dead body and they were out of there in a flash. The beds were then used to house the indigent, not the indigenous. Or again, an instance when planners designed a new township for the Kalumburu community in the 1990’s. Could they not foresee the insult of using the disused rubbish tip as the recommended site?

Coming back to the question, “Why is God in this picture?” There is no escaping it. In whatever form be it Baiame, Jehovah, Allah or Vishnu the invisible Creator of All and Everything is there. Why? If, and I repeat, IF God created Man in his own image, perhaps He is having a rethink? Could it be that Australia, this sea-locked land, is God’s chosen laboratory? Is the design of the Australian coat of arms a warning that there is no going back? What does the future hold? Should we do what the ancients did and dream on it?

Picture this:

For some forgotten reason, this person leaning against a wall in Port Hedland  and asked for her skin name by a young, very dark-skinned woman. The younger woman knows we have not previously met and needs to place this stranger within the structure of tribal relationships. She shakes her head at the reply. An apology for not having a skin name. Later, relating this encounter to an English couple, they are surprised to find I am not an indigene. With a loud clang, the penny dropped in the realisation they had just lost the friend held out by them as evidence they are not racist. To further confound them was the information of gypsy ancestry for that is held as being at the bottom of the social pit.

 

Baiame beckons to live the dreams of the night into the actions of the day. As it is there, so will it be here. From this realm, satirists are inspired to create, for our entertainment, situations which play out in real life. Advertising agencies are inspired to test the acceptance of diversity. Faces inherited from Asia feature in television commercials whereas it is difficult to recall images of indigenous faces promoting the purchase of any product. The nearest is the use of aboriginal art as an evanescent art on a carpet. This is the heart of the matter. This most ancient culture is nurtured on an active belief in the spirit world. A world where the spirit speaks to the mind through dreams and the mind acts on the body to create a harmony expressed in song, dance and scary sleep-time stories so children are held close while parents are sleeping. Is there a lesson here for all components of the melting pot of persons in the Australia of this time? Should we not accept that each of us is tinged with degrees of racism, xenophobia and patriotism? Could we not accept, to the extent we are so, that this is the darker side of our being? That, first of all, we need to reconcile the shades of light, darkness and colours within  to better enable an honest acceptance of the dark history of this country.

Picture this.

Arriving at Mandorah, tired after a long drive nursing an old Toyota Hi-Lux. When asking hotelier for permission to camp in grounds was instructed, in no uncertain terms, to go and find the long grass. So this middle-aged itinerant pulled up on the road to ask a group of young lads to show her the way to the long grass. They insisted on her backing the ute into cover under an enormous banyan tree. She demurred. This is clearly a special place. No, no. You are welcome here. So the woman organised herself for the night, opening the canopy covering her bedding arrangements and settled in. That evening she was joined by a small group of elder men and a woman who had arrived from Bathurst Island for the funeral of the last of his generation. After many chitter chatters and comfortable silences, the woman said, “You are not like other white people. Why is this? (Or words to that effect, now omitting this person’s name from this account.) The reply along the lines of; “Must be my mother’s people. She comes from a gypsy family. When in London, an old woman knocked on the door of my basement bed-sitter and asked the names of my grandmother and my grandmother’s sisters. She seemed satisfied and from that moment on, for a few mad years, my life brought me into contact with gypsy people and I learnt much from them.” From then the conversation fell into the pattern of “What do the gypsies do about…..”; answered; response “same as us, same as us; shush secret business.” So it was this person came away from that encounter knowing some aboriginal secret business even though not told directly by them.

Picture This:

Time to haul in the net, hoping some of the Who, Why, Where and What Australians and Australian life as we live it has been captured within. What have we? Evidence the Behemoth and Bunyip have bred their own horrors and provide the stuff of nightmares. How does this make one feel? Some folk enjoy being frightened even by their own shadows. Personally, this woman’s sadness runs as a hidden stream beneath the years between seeing Nancy leaving Royal Perth Hospital in 1956 and reading of her discovery in an Adelaide mental hospital where she had lived for many, if not all, of the intervening years.

Looking over the shoulder as the net is dragged up the sand, Rudyard Kipling again comes to mind. In an 1891 interview he warns the Chinese have a long settling to make for the insults upon them. Again, a patient people and constructors of apartment buildings within which this ageing pensioner is provided with security and protection. He is also quoted as saying, “This country is American, but remember it is second-hand American, but there is an American tone on the top of things, but it is not real.”

And where can be found the notion of Australia as Humanity’s best friend? If only we could learn we are Australians, not Americans and that bullies are no longer permitted to behave as they do in this playground of a planet. Above all, we need to learn of, enjoy and share the troves of treasures hidden within the most ancient of cultures. Our laid-back lifestyle came from somewhere and that place is the land; Country.

Welcome.

 

 

This articulates my thinking so clearly I have to share

https://plus.google.com/+YonatanZunger/posts/irAcPiPnByd

My Kindle Kollection: Books About Writing By Writers

owl-with-kindle
read-write-stephen-kingThis is a list of categories into which my ebooks are saved and stored..

Number of books listed under

Writing 41, General Writing Advice 15, Plotting 11 which includes 6 on plot construction alone, Publishing 25, Marketing 20 and Graphics 9 ( for the time in my life when I may – perhaps – master the concept of playing with pictures instead of words.)

How many of these does one really need? My trouble is they each, and every one, contain specks of gold-dust and some with gold-flakes and, less often, a nugget of new information. When is enough enough?

Summoning some courage to dispute the notion stated by Stephen King.

The time needed for reading is many years before you start to write.  

The time for writing is when you have a story to tell.

How well you can tell your story then rests on how well you can translate the telling into writing.

Most tools you need to write are elicited from early reading and stored in the pattern recognition toolbox in your brain. Other tools are acquired – spelling and formal grammar – many writers manage to escape the need for these and become the grist for the mills of Editors. (Books I have but not included in the above account.)

There comes a time when the reading about writing has to stop, giving way to writing for a reader – and who that is will become another topic on another day.

I thought I had stopped adding to my Kindle Kollection when realising so much ground had already been covered within other purchases when I found declining informational value of new purchases

UNTIL

giving way to temptation and buying a Kindle copy of The Elements of Eloquence by Mark Forsyth.  Not only great fun to read, but now contributing to setting myself some essay construction challenges for the coming year.

 

PS. As an aside, I am still recovering from overdoing things at the gym/swim the other day, sitting here on my 77th birthday and slowly releasing my stroppy, bossy nature. No-one said anyone HAD to write. If writing is not fun or to some clear purpose, go outside, enjoy the day and say hello to a stranger, I did.

 

 

 

Words Writers Want (need) to Read

woof-big-ears-feedback-750-300x225Hi Isabel

Thanks for your book – I’m glad I entered that competition!

I enjoyed your poems, almost all of which stirred the emotions, which is what they’re meant to do! Good blend of fun ones and those deep, darkish ones. My favourites? Knew you’d ask. I particularly liked Desert Child, Nonsense and Northam 1958.

Thanks for sharing your work – and keep writing! (If I Could Spin)

***

Hands up, this story is way above my head. It is a wise complicated set of beliefs and anecdotal life philosophies, that I tried to stay with but couldn’t. I admire the writing and the thought processes that have gone into the work, but for me I couldn’t keep up with it. That is only an opinion I like to read without too much hard work. (Earning Purple)
Well done.

***

Hello Isabel,

I am off to bed now with nothing to read. ;o( But I wanted to be sure that you received my feedback of “The Trustees” before I slipped away into my dreamtime.

Here is a link to the post that I shared https://plus.google.com/115175889440746530772/posts/RAmUeki7EYT I hope that you enjoy the pictures that I chose to compliment your wonderful story. I am sure that they are a bit off, as we all see different within our minds eye. I really enjoyed the book more than words. I even read a bit to my son, Sky. And he too enjoyed the small bits of the story that I shared with him. Before he fell asleep he asked me to share with you that he too really enjoyed your story, I am including it here so that his message is honored. I will write more later.

Again, thank you so much for allowing me to journey within the visions of your Spirit. I am so grateful. You are an amazing woman and a gifted writer. I look forward to the next two within your series.

Much Love and Many Blessings,

***

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.” ― George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons

This month after finishing George R.R. Martin’s last published piece “A Dance With Dragons” I was pretty bummed with the fact that I now had nothing to carry me to into my dreamtime. So I was really excited when Isabel Storey gifted me with the privilege to read her book “The Trustees”

I knew nothing of the book other than the title The Trustees promised a window into Estate Law. Being that I have been dealing with my late Father’s estate I looked forward to absorbing this new story.

The Trustees is an awesome read, particularly Isabel’s writing style. Her use of words and accents are full of flavor that brings her story to life and will make you feel as if home is South of the Equator.

You will find each of her characters lovable, as you join them in their search for truth. She has away of sharing their private lives with just a few words that stir up their deepest emotions. You can’t help relating to each and every one of them, while wondering if there is some truth to these fictitious characters.

Journey into the lives of old families who possess both power and good fortune. More specifically the consequences of lost family heritage from the secret passions, wandering lust.and lies from men of days past. Marvel at the web of secrets that creates a ripple effect carrying forward through time continuing through generations and across continents. Watch through the eyes of Peacock & Oates, Dumfries and their fiduciary relationship to long lost clients who they themselves know not the true identity of.

Every single sentence and letter takes you a little closer to the truth and at the end leaves you satisfied, yet wanting more. Especially of the Gypsies and the unspoken bond between women that serve to protect both the lies of men and the children they bore. Behind the secrets, hidden doors and buried treasures, It’s all there, waiting for you. You will be engrossed from start to finish.

Thank you Isabel Storey for sharing your gift with me. ;o)

 

Good Day Isabel,feedback-1

 

Yea… I am so happy that you like my review. I am even more happy that you are writing more. ;o) I look forward to going back through time in your next release of the Trusts.

 

Please feel free to share my review anywhere you choose. It is your gift… And thank you for your kind words, I absolutely love the saying you’ve shared, and will be adding it to my bag of quotes to gift to others. Yes, I do take it as a compliment, as old blood makes us who we are.

 

Again, thank you for allowing me to journey with you through the story of The Trustees… And may your writings continue to flow, as these stories want to be told, they are coming through you for a reason.

 

Much Love and Many Blessings,

 

Rebecca

criteria-for-effective-feedback

 

 

Missed the Cut: Not on the Short List

roots-and-branchesBeing my first attempt at entering an essay competition – dared by a friend – I can now share the fact I even entered it and the entry itself. Not for your judgement – other than perhaps amusement I had the cheek.

AUSTRALIA:A COLLECTION OF ASSUMPTIONS

Picture this:

A twelve year old child was gifted a book in recognition of her insatiable curiosity. Within its pages she was introduced to Kipling’s six honest servingmen thus finding names for the members of her pack of mental puppies. The puppies were exposed to sand, surf and Sunday School and, on the other days of the week, relaxed at the back of the class near those high achievers who had to exercise to gain their place. Having already discovered that the path to efficiency is blazed by the lazy, she sat with her ears open and hands under desk-top busy knitting a scarf using spider stitch.
Back then the days were busy and the years as long as only a country child can recall. From her bed on the front verandah she contemplated the profile of an aboriginal warrior staring up to the night sky from his home in an enormous gum tree. As the evening breeze ruffled the leaves, setting the watching warrior free into the heavens, she snuggled down to sleep with a sense of being protected; of being Watched Over. With ears open, hands busy spinning threads of experience and thought, she now knots a net into being. Flinging the net far and wide to ensnare the progeny of the Bunyip and Behemoth. Scary creatures were it not that terror is part of our mental territory.
The energies of ancestral myths, their archetypes, now hidden within modernity, seep and escape into subconciousness; leaching from the underground of understandings made manifest in the diverse behaviours Homo sapiens call ‘human nature’. The Stone Age person is still within Modern Mankind; outwardly fashioned by the survival of such genes as best suit the environments of time and place. An example given here is that of indigenous mothers within Australia giving birth to babies considered and judged by the non-indigenous as being of light weight. This assessment gives little consideration to the thousands of years mothers have had to carry babies on their hips or in a coolamon. Given the human brain’s propensity for pattern recognition, the observational powers of women and babies – their own and others – together the tribal cross cousin marriage system, credit could be given for identifying a strain prone to producing less burdensome babies.
(One snippet heard by these open ears was Kathy Freeman’s bones are far less dense than the norm of the general population. This was stated as an explanation for her capacity for speed as well as an illustration of the need to conserve energy when covering long distances by walking.)
Cross cousin breeding has a long history, the patterns and consequences of which would be instantly appreciated by those who knowingly raise thoroughbred dogs or horses. However, not all breeders have the knowledge or the courage to carry through to the five generations required to produce the true thoroughbred. For those who do there comes a time when it is judicious to bring in an out-cross; a completely new line believing in the protection hybrid vigour for the first of the new generation.
And what might the foregoing have to do with being “Australian”?
Simply put, we are a motley of mongrels. A mixture of mutts. As diverse as afghans and dachshunds. But we are a breed which likes to please, be friendly and entertaining. When well-trained, we fetch and carry for those we perceive to be our masters.
Above all, we are a bright bunch of bastards. Ingenious, inventive, motivated. We might just be Humanity’s Best Friend?

Picture This:

As with many Australian children, this one had never met any of the First Peoples of this land. Until she was seventeen years of age, training as a nurse in Ward 31 of Royal Perth Hospital in 1956. A woman, thin as a rake, bed-sores packed with eusol dressings from sacrum under skin to hip. Incontinent, mute and utterly miserable. During a staff meeting someone suggested her health may improve if her baby was brought in from wherever it was being fostered. A baby? A baby girl. Rumour had it, this woman (let us call her Nancy) had walked more than two thousand miles during her pregnancy. The soles of her feet, thick and hard as boot leather. The baby was brought to the ward and given into her arms. Next day, the very next day, Nancy was out of bed, walking for the first time in months, standing in the fresh air on the balcony. The first word she cried out she demanded “BEDPAN” and she had us scuttling and glad of it.
Aged 14, this girl was employed sorting trunk line dockets in the Accounts Department of the PostMaster General’s Office in Perth. She worked alongside a young woman whose parents had emigrated from Greece after the Second World War. They had brought their customs with them; one being the elder daughter must first be married before my work mate could upgrade her engagement ring to a wedding band. What a wedding that was!
Earlier, before this child was born, her maternal grandparents emigrated from the UK in 1922 to take up land under the Group Settlement Scheme in Northcliffe in Western Australia. As a Master Mariner, it did not take long for her grandfather to walk off that land in favour of a position as Harbourmaster. The move to Australia was likely to have been at the grandmother’s instigation. A family joke stated as true that he only once returned from a voyage to the same home as he had departed. (It might be her gypsy blood; her family clan territory both sides of the Scottish border.) That was a place in the countryside of Northumberland. The mother of this child was four years of age when emigrating and spent most of her years on the family’s poultry farm which sustained them during the Depression.
The Group Settlement Scheme was preceded by the Soldier Settlement Scheme following the First World War. As well as giving some soldiers something to come home to, it further strengthened the White Australia Policy. (Forgotten were those aboriginals left stranded in South Africa because they volunteered to fight in the Boer War). British soldiers have a history of making Australia home ever since being sent to guard the convicts for whom the first settlements were created. Speaking of convicts, those prisoners in Hungarian prisoners were released at the beginning of the 1956 uprising and, the young nurse was told by one such, they were the first to make a hasty departure from the country. So, convicts, soldiers and emigrants from Europe were the bulwarks of White Australia until the Immigration Restriction Act was repealed in 1958. As an Australians resident in the UK during the 60’s, this young woman found herself unable to defend her nation’s history. Unable to define the emotion experienced when her face was held by the chin to the light and hear it declared that this is “my own aborigine.” Embarrassment, yes. Shame, no. Something else. Was it the spirit of the gum tree warrior crying out for recognition and being denied?
The paternal branch of this child’s parentage descends from Scottish widow of 55 years of age who brought her large family to South Australia in the 1840’s. Among the many stories contained within the publication detailing the family history, there is one which this woman has hi-jacked and relates whenever given the opportunity. Such as this. According to my version, my grandfather was able to purchase a property for a pittance as the previous owner found difficult to get full price for the land he had cleared of aboriginal infestation using strychnine. In this version it is related that, if happening in my grandfather’s generation, there maybe, still alive, descendants from those away from the feed of flour at the time. In other words, the pain is too close for comfort; the asking of forgiveness and reconciliation premature. In her father’s generation this event was a joke shared around birthday barbecues. She read into the glare from her father’s eye; remember and record. She takes the permission to skew history for fear the descendants of the guilty are too afraid of the past to ever question it and thus not allow some light of day in this dark history.
Is sit racism or xenophobia which has empowered the political class to engage in policies which drive people to our shores? It would be facile to blame the military for their actions overseas; creating the havoc and destruction which drove, and still drives, attempts to reach our shores from Asia. Instructed by the policy of those politicians voted into power by the public, we all have a hand in the circumstances which give rise to the suicidal despair of those imprisoned in off-shore detention. They are even more securely incarcerated, and with less hope, than the original intruders into the oldest surviving cultures on this planet. They are there because, collectively, we put and keep them there.
Who has the right to make that mark on their ballot paper? Yes, those who were born here and, these days, that is irrespective of colour or creed. Those who qualify for naturalisation as an Australian are issued an invitation to a formal citizenship ceremony; a prerequisite for the granting of citizenship. Again, irrespective of colour, but allowing a choice of a either including or excluding God within their pledge. Why is God in this picture?
Given the separation of Church and State in Australia, this woman again asks, “Why is God in this picture?” If God, why not Allah or Vishnu? Does it take the invocation of an invisible entity to give weight to one’s word? No. Having observed the consequences of the imposition of Christianity on life within several aboriginal communities, this person is of the staunch belief that Christianity is intrinsically a corrupting influence. Particularly so on a peoples with a highly developed system of spiritual beliefs, many of which survive beneath a facade.
Is it racism, xenophobia or plain ignorance which permits the illusion of superiority over persons who do not speak the dominant language, who are regarded as illiterate either in their own language or one they have yet to learn? As previously mentioned, humans have a propensity for pattern recognition. Only since the Bronze Age has there been any need for anyone’s parietal lobe to be busy with reading and writing. Until the concept and practice of literacy was forced upon the general population, people’s brains kept busy recognising other patterns. Patterns within their culture, patterns within their landscapes, patterns within the seasons, patterns within the skies and patterns within the stars. Literate scientists have in recent times proposed the genetic transmission of memory such as to give credence to ancestral memory experienced in the form of the “collective unconscious”. Surely a culture as continuous as that of truly indigenous Australians would have a rich and deeply embedded collective memory. From that place could arise the fear which drove aboriginals from their racially designated section of Meekatharra hospital in the 1950’s. That section had been built as a separate unit placed close to the morgue. First dead body and they were out of there in a flash. The beds were then used to house the indigent, not the indigenous. Or again, an instance when planners designed a new township for the Kalumburu community in the 1990’s. Could they not foresee the insult of using the disused rubbish tip as the recommended site?
Coming back to the question, “Why is God in this picture?” There is no escaping it. In whatever form be it Baiame, Jehovah, Allah or Vishnu the invisible Creator of All and Everything is there. Why? If, and I repeat, IF God created Man in his own image, perhaps He is having a rethink? Could it be that Australia, this sea-locked land, is God’s chosen laboratory? Is the design of the Australian coat of arms a warning that there is no going back? What does the future hold? Should we do what the ancients did and dream on it?

Picture this:

For some forgotten reason, this person leaning against a wall in Port Hedland and asked for her skin name by a young, very dark-skinned woman. The younger woman knows we have not previously met and needs to place this stranger within the structure of tribal relationships. She shakes her head at the reply. An apology for not having a skin name. Later, relating this encounter to an English couple, they are surprised to find I am not an indigene. With a loud clang, the penny dropped in the realisation they had just lost the friend held out by them as evidence they are not racist. To further confound them was the information of gypsy ancestry for that is held as being at the bottom of the social pit.

Baiame beckons to live the dreams of the night into the actions of the day. As it is there, so will it be here. From this realm, satirists are inspired to create, for our entertainment, situations which play out in real life. Advertising agencies are inspired to test the acceptance of diversity. Faces inherited from Asia feature in television commercials whereas it is difficult to recall images of indigenous faces promoting the purchase of any product. The nearest is the use of aboriginal art as an evanescent art on a carpet. This is the heart of the matter. This most ancient culture is nurtured on an active belief in the spirit world. A world where the spirit speaks to the mind through dreams and the mind acts on the body to create a harmony expressed in song, dance and scary sleep-time stories so children are held close while parents are sleeping. Is there a lesson here for all components of the melting pot of persons in the Australia of this time? Should we not accept that each of us is tinged with degrees of racism, xenophobia and patriotism? Could we not accept, to the extent we are so, that this is the darker side of our being? That, first of all, we need to reconcile the shades of light, darkness and colours within to better enable an honest acceptance of the dark history of this country.
Picture this.

Arriving at Mandorah, tired after a long drive nursing an old Toyota Hi-Lux. When asking hotelier for permission to camp in grounds was instructed, in no uncertain terms, to go and find the long grass. So this middle-aged itinerant pulled up on the road to ask a group of young lads to show her the way to the long grass. They insisted on her backing the ute into cover under an enormous banyan tree. She demurred. This is clearly a special place. No, no. You are welcome here. So the woman organised herself for the night, opening the canopy covering her bedding arrangements and settled in. That evening she was joined by a small group of elder men and a woman who had arrived from Bathurst Island for the funeral of the last of his generation. After many chitter chatters and comfortable silences, the woman said, “You are not like other white people. Why is this? (Or words to that effect, now omitting this person’s name from this account.) The reply along the lines of; “Must be my mother’s people. She comes from a gypsy family. When in London, an old woman knocked on the door of my basement bed-sitter and asked the names of my grandmother and my grandmother’s sisters. She seemed satisfied and from that moment on, for a few mad years, my life brought me into contact with gypsy people and I learnt much from them.” From then the conversation fell into the pattern of “What do the gypsies do about…..”; answered; response “same as us, same as us; shush secret business.” So it was this person came away from that encounter knowing some aboriginal secret business even though not told directly by them.

Picture This:

Time to haul in the net, hoping some of the Who, Why, Where and What Australians and Australian life as we live it has been captured within. What have we? Evidence the Behemoth and Bunyip have bred their own horrors and provide the stuff of nightmares. How does this make one feel? Some folk enjoy being frightened even by their own shadows. Personally, this woman’s sadness runs as a hidden stream beneath the years between seeing Nancy leaving Royal Perth Hospital in 1956 and reading of her discovery in an Adelaide mental hospital where she had lived for many, if not all, of the intervening years.
Looking over the shoulder as the net is dragged up the sand, Rudyard Kipling again comes to mind. In an 1891 interview he warns the Chinese have a long settling to make for the insults upon them. Again, a patient people and constructors of apartment buildings within which this ageing pensioner is provided with security and protection. He is also quoted as saying, “This country is American, but remember it is second-hand American, but there is an American tone on the top of things, but it is not real.”
And where can be found the notion of Australia as Humanity’s best friend? If only we could learn we are Australians, not Americans and that bullies are no longer permitted to behave as they do in this playground of a planet. Above all, we need to learn of, enjoy and share the troves of treasures hidden within the most ancient of cultures. Our laid-back lifestyle came from somewhere and that place is the land; Country.
Welcome.

So there you have it:

Head All Over The Place

scatterbrainThis an apt description when waking this morning. Two clear dreams, each seemingly with a message to decode. Each line of thought leading to others, etc – you know how it goes. Still in bed and with each decision to think about what is on the agenda for the day producing yet another line of thought more and more notions. Maybe the best idea is to get out of bed and sleepwalk through the basic routine – open blinds, turn on computer, water in kettle, kettle on stove, bathroom and start thinking there?

I wonder how many also find being sat on that seat to be a moment of mental clarity? 

On with the day. Doctors, library, shopping, take cheque to eye specialist and consider whether time and energy enough to join the gym.

What are your first moves on waking?

Creative or Cranky

me-and-my-ever-changing-moods-red-gold-20121Went to bed with today planned. I knew where next my characters meet and what will happen, but this morning woke with thoughts racing and mood definitely cranky. Maybe it is a reaction to feeling so good about the progress made in the novel – usual ‘paying the price’ for feeling more cheerful than usual. These days the swings are minor by comparison but up is still balanced by the down.

But then I realised I had gone to sleep less than pleased with the author of the book being read before sleeping. An Australian author, prolific writer, mainstream publisher, new book. Not far into the story I read that the Nullarbor is a desert and one of the passengers on the train crossing the Nullarbor Plain – lots of low lying scrub – is Chinese – in 1943. If the author was a younger person it could be possible he/she (no more clues) would be unaware of the White Australia Policy. Only someone who had not travelled out of Australia while the legislation  was in force would have been sheltered from the disgust directed by the outside world at that racist policy. There were many times I was held to account for the policy when trying to enjoy a quiet drink in a London pub. I shudder to think of the contempt Australians will face overseas in light of Australia’s current refugee policy and racist procedures.

Do I write to the author to voice my disappointment? It is one thing to suspend belief when reading fantasy or sci-fi but when a story is anchored in so much that is  real – as is the book in question – then failure by author and publishing team is disheartening.  This is the first time I have picked up one of this author’s many books. Is it enough to put me off? How much forgiveness do I have in my heart? Am I such a pickety-pickety person? Yes.

My memory goes back to feedback given after a vocational guidance test when I was 16 years of age. Seems my mind is structured to focus on very fine detail and for this a career as a pharmaceutical chemist would be my best fit. I mentioned I would like to be a writer and was told they were not able to forecast success in that field, but any where I positioned myself to meet people while maintaining a ‘shop counter’ relationship would be the next best thing. Barmaid fitted that and filled pints and gave change exercising great precision. And that is how I regard facts when writing my story.

Aware of how moods can creep out between lines written, I am not about to return to the novel this morning. As I am confident very few, if any, will read this post down this far, any such gloom as I am now experiencing will be limited. (If you have read this far, please chide me in a comment.)

Plot Hole Prevention

blue-snailHaving yesterday reached a point  which opens the curtain on many sudden changes for so many of my characters, I rested. Then pondered on their futures – much of which, but not all,  I have laid out as the paving stones you see in this picture. A pathway with gaps along which I proceed at my own pace, in my own time.  (With the discovery of faecal blood I have to face the possibility that my personal time-line may be up for change. If not the length, then what I could be free to do within that space. )

Many changes of name have affected my focus on the story. Very early on, I had given it the name  They Shoot Eagles and had even reserved the domain name. (I wish my writing was as far advanced as my planning the production of it.) Then, further into the story, another name change; Three Shawls which allude to a gift from an old woman to three babies.  These shawls to be handed down to succeeding generations. I recall having a brilliant idea as to the third of these which resulted in the name change. I recall looking up at my walls and seeing the shawls I had hanging there. Three on three walls. Seemed serendipitous.  Then I discovered Scrivener and was able to bring the total concept out of the abstract realm of my imagination and plant it  more firmly on the page, but not, at that time, knowing where to start. In the process I have  now forgotten the notion behind the third shawl. Today’s task will be to pick the planned plot apart into far finer detail before I start to write. I know I am looking at a plot-hole and must pack the space with pebbles before proceeding so logic and credibility are retained. This is one huge advantage of omniscience while proceeding chronologically and writing in the present tense.

When not writing, I am reading randomly selected novels written by authors previously unknown to me. Some do not get beyond first page despite the blurb and cover. Others have me engrossed until bleary-eyed, only moments away from deep sleep. (According to my Garmin bracelet.) It would be fifty years since I submersed myself in Agatha Christie novels. I stopped reading when I found the answer before it was revealed. I know from many of the poems I have written that I absorb an essence of the writings read. I never analyse a text. I would regard that as murder.  Last night I finished reading Lia Mills beautifully told story Fallen. Reality set in the past. My kind of space. It is on loan from the local library and one I am going to have to buy for the rereading at a later time. I am her kind of reader. Then I ask myself, who is mine? That is an exploration for another day.

For my Kindle and recommending:

https://www.amazon.com/Fallen-Lia-Mills-ebook/dp/B00H7O87W0

Have a great day.

 

 

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