Poet Posing on Prose Platform

Creative Writing

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.

 

 

Restart and Research

paper-and-pencilWhen not busy doing something else, the back of my mind has been worrying over the next requirement of my novel. (Now titled The Trusts).

Not so much writer’s block as stumbling block. The direction of the plot requires events xyz. How to manage that without going off on a tangent?  The main belief underlying my writing is that everyone has a story. My characters appear when, where and how they contribute to the ongoing development of the tale which threads them together.

I have now overcome the stumbling block – not by killing a darling but by allowing them (in this case, him) a brief,  appearance which permits a more central character far greater scope within the story-telling when he arrives at a later plot point. So, that’s that fixed and I can get on with the novel this morning. Just checked my calendar and the next four days are clear of any anticipated distraction. All my darlings can wait in the wings in case they are called upon for another appearance in another book.

As to the research; my shelves and boxes are filled with books and printouts of more than I can ever need for the South African components of the overall story. I now regret the dogged way I had planned my three weeks visit there – was it only last year?. I went in with a plan and came out with tantalising leads in another direction. Much the same, but a bit more fruitful, the three weeks in the UK back in 2009. There again, I went in armed with information I wanted to confirm to come out with a new, tangential understanding.

Another belief, nothing is ever wasted. There will be space and time for more telling, the direction of which may or may not rest on the reaction of readers. I know from reactions to how I left the characters in The Trustees there was a strong demand to know what happens next.  At the moment, the story has reached 1899 and inching forward into the millennium.  1922 is going to be a huge year. As for answering ‘what happens next’, that begins where that story left off and will take the tale up to 1965 – a century of four families, four cultures, four countries, four generations.

Whoops, back to this screen. was wearing my book-reading glasses which produces a blur here. Now I have the screen reading glasses and have dragged myself back here from Scrivener. Finally, I am writing every day. If not here, then in my book. Trick is, allow only curtains, computer on button, kettle, bathroom, first coffee to kick off the day.

Have a good one.

Monday morning – not as planned. (Amended)

Monday morning. Slow to surface after a warm night. Have had the fan going all night, but withstand the temptation to switch the setting to ‘cool’. Deferring gratification? The more I can save on electricity costs the more I can fritter after the bill comes in. I know what the current account amounts to – after a phone call – which has enabled me to pay off the NBN connection charge levied against new builds – which is refundable from my landlord and the property manager promises a cheque later this week.  Gives me a while to spend it several times over in my head. Why am I waffling on about this? Not my intervention when sat at the desk. No, I had gone back to bed with a book after checking my Google calendar on the phone, thinking about the entry for Thursday – City Writers at the SA Writer’s Centre.  Then, just as I was settling into a read, I recalled the dream clear in my mind this morning.

I dreamt I  was attempting to read to a group; apologising for needing to place the text in context (my inner interpretation = con(text) leaves con which is not on) then scrambled through my memory of all my note books and found nothing, then resurrected the carbon copy of a play I had written during Drama 1 in 1978 and started in to read that.

I still have the copy and decided I could take that should I, on my first attendance, be required to read.  BUT have just done a very quick search on where it should be and it now seems that will be the task for the day. Have hunted through a load of useless notes and not yet found it. Surely, I cannot have thrown it away after all this time?

lost

 

 

Will return with, I hope, good news.

found

 

 

 

 

 

Without turning everything upside down. Such a relief.

So, this is (virtual) reality?

Yesterday evening I attended the opening at my local library – virtual reality is here – once the speeches were done those interested had the opportunity to try it out. After signing the piece of paper which I assume was to indicate I would take responsibility for myself, I watched a lad move about as if he were engaged in some physical activity while wearing the headpiece and headphones. When my turn came there seemed to be much fiddling about with the controls, I found it difficult to focus and then selected a language I neither speak nor read. Headpiece taken off while some fiddling was done and I began to wonder whether this was (yet another) an occasion when I should not be allowed near anything electromagnetic? Eventually had me listening to a voice which played the contents of someone’s diary, describing near-by action. Shadowy background and neon like lit persons walking across the screen, the sound of their footsteps being described. BORING. I have enjoyed more entertaining hallucinations.

Then onto a single item – stereo 360 degree vision of the environment of the castle of one’s choice. No movement. An upgraded, enhanced version of the old-fashioned coin in the slot thing on a jetty.

What I really want to try, and will see if it is possible to arrange, is to experience either a parachuting jump or falling off a cliff or high building. One, to see what it was I missed when booked for a parachute jumping weekend which was cancelled as I broke my ankle jumping down from a tree by the pond at Hampstead. The second to see if I can overcome the fear of falling. This used to be a constant element of nightmares until I could no longer conceive – fall pregnant in other words or symbols conveying the same message.

And it is the capacity of symbols to convey messages which is my main fascination. At the presentation last evening, we were shown a dot painting and then an aerial photograph of the location the dot painting represented.  The presenter said the painter had used ‘inner vision’ and later agreed with me that the painting was an accurate, but abstract representation of the reality as seen from the aerial photograph. And it is this ‘inner vision’ which is my beef – and one I aim to treat as normal for some of the characters within my novels. For it is my contention that the area of the brain which we have trained into literacy is the area of the brain employed in symbolic communications which could (and I do) call telepathy. For direct communication, the telephone is more reliable; for clear vision we enjoy less (or no) access to that part of the brain which creates images symbolic of shared cultural experience. The iconoclasts have won. When(if ever) I manage to finish the novels already planned, I might tackle a fantasy entitled “Post Iconoclysm”.

I don’t know how long this desire to get out of bed and blog is going to last. If, as is usual for me, it won’t be long. Unless it forms part of the time my mind is busy working on the next scene in my current book – as I suspect is the case.

So far, I have no evidence anyone has read a full post to the end such as to elicit a response – other than a + sign in Google Plus. Which is fine in a way – it leaves me free to meander through my mind where I might surprise myself. My first coffee will be cold by now, have yet to sync my Garmin. Good news, with an egg-shell layer of foam on my mattress I have woken free of back and hip pain. All good and hey- it’s Saturday. Enjoy.

Just re-reading before I hit the publish button. What-if one could teleport, commit a crime and whip back into the body with a cast iron alibi. Surely this has already been done?

Integrity and Luck Along this Writer’s Path

During a discussion yesterday evening, I was reminded of the time a publisher had agreed to publish The Whens of Wittenoom if I would add a chapter condemning the companies, such as ABA or James Hardie. Having read all the material in the Bibliography, I had formed the opinion the insurance industry was the most reprehensible factor in the whole sorry saga. I did not accept the recommendation and the book was unpublished until being posted on Smashwords. Informally, it had floated around in forgotten groups and my stance was rewarded (my idea of reward) with an email requesting consent to be cited in the senders PhD thesis.

This morning I recalled a meeting with the then (1970) editor of the London Magazine to whom I had submitted three poems for his consideration. He was willing to publish Meekatharra on the condition I removed Roger McGough’s name from a poem I had written, and sent, to Roger in thanks for an evening at the Pentameters at the Freemasons Arms in Hampstead.  This editor told me my work was good enough not to hang onto the coat-tails of the Liverpool poets. As the whole point of the poem was my thanks to Roger and referring to his poem which had me in stitches I was not prepared to do that. None of my poetry was published in print London.

About the same time, the BBC purchased several poems to be used within Playschool. (Under the name of Isabel Reeves). I forget whether I was paid five pounds for seven poems or seven pounds for five poems. Whichever, that thirty-five pounds came in very handy at that time of my life.  I am sure there were many others whose works were sitting on the producer’s desk at that time, but, as luck would have it, her husband’s best friend was my then current lover and, knowing him, she felt a great deal of sympathy for me while, at the same time reassuring me my work could stand on its own merit.

Reggie Smith, of the BBC’s Poetry Now  had booked me to read on his final radio slot. Over a drink, he explained (over a drink in the Rosslyn Arms) he knew I would understand in his replacing me with Stevie Smith who, for some reason, had decided to come out of seclusion. She’s old, I was young, of course I understood. Stevie Smith soon after appeared in basement of the Freemasons Arms for a reading at Pentameters.

My last reading for Pentameters was when heavily pregnant with my third son. It seems I had been invited with the expectation I would produce pregnancy poems. Instead I read a poem I had written in reaction to the Kent University killings. It did not go down well. I have read that poem to both right and left wing audiences and each assumes I speak for the other. When you hit a wall of deadly silence instead of polite applause…?

Anyway, these are my thought on this day. Now time I synced my Garmin bracelet, have another coffee, download emails and jut get on with the day.

Have a great one, whoever you are, wherever and whenever you be.

 

 

Typing Speeds

Posting this so Nanowriters can console themselves along the way to 50,000 words. That is approx 1250 minutes of solid typing, or 20-21 hours to target. Put this way is giving me hope to carry on!

http://www.ratatype.com/learn/average-typing-speed/

Before a family tragedy pulled my career ladder from under me, I was training to qualify as an industrial psychologist. I have been fascinated by ergonomics since reading “Cheaper By The Dozen” as a child.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/764903.Cheaper_by_the_Dozen

Also discovering another fascination with statistics while studying leads me to poke about with figures. And this is the result. Still waiting for a potential murder victim to appear………

Losing Face, but Saving Sanity.

nanoHad forgotten why, but now know this is not for me. Those who advise on writing these days are unanimous in telling that the first draft is rubbish, to switch off the inner editor and just get the words down. Edit later.

This goes so much against the grain for me. I recall admiring the work process described and read back in the days when all manuscripts were type-written, using carbon paper to make copies and that a clean page was one without typing error. In other words, pre-Tippex.

I wish I could recall the name as clearly as his description of his work process at the keyboard. He worked on each page until it was perfect, knew what he had next to type and when the last page was typed the book was finished and ready for his publisher. He then moved onto the next one. It is a mode I attempt to emulate and one which does not sit well with casting words assessed by quantity. My attempt to do this at a rate which would at least give me a chance to meet a target had me sick to the stomach. Just as I did not go to University to be sick (having to regurgitate undergraduate material). nor am I going to stress out over backing away from the Nano challenge.

However, I realise it is not too late to learn to play. There is no way I would let the ‘child’ within loose on the planned plot. BUT there is now a ‘sandpit’ of another Scrivener outline on my second screen and I am preparing to give a Murder Mystery a go. Back to bed with another cup of coffee while I decide who is to be murdered and how. Any suggestions?

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