Category Archives: Observational

Alice Wants Home

Alice Wants Home – Three Line Tales

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photo by Fleur Treurniet via Unsplash

‘Only the Unicorn knows your way home,’ the owl screeched. ‘Which way, which way, which way.’ It glided into the dark.
‘Wait!’ shouted Alice. Alone she looked around. No entry, one way street going both ways. A window in the yard.
She stamped her foot and wept. Could she really climb the drain pipe? But she must to find the Unicorn.

Traditional Christmas Sentiment.

My piece below is a reflection on a well known Christmas Ghost Story.

Mr Scrouge.

I was never happy nor gave a festive care
When carol singers screeched outside my door.
They seemed so full of seasonal Christmas cheer
With good tidings and joy that I found such a bore.

My name is Mr Scrouge not Santa Claus.
I didn’t give presents and I didn’t send cards
Nor hung baubles or tinsel on a coniferous tree
Instead I’d count my gold and cackle aloud with glee.

Then I saw an apparition over St Nicholas’s church in town
A ghostly creature laughing, his finger pointing down
Mr Scrouge, he called, your time on Earth is running out
What use is your pointless life full of bitterness and doubt.

What do I care of others and your empty ghostly threats
I am off to the bookies now to collect my winning bets.
Then a tiny ragged boy appeared holding out an empty bowl
Sir, he said, my mother’s dying, please a penny for her soul.

And from the dirty rags in the doorway by the ironmonger Jacks
She rose up and I saw an evil face laughing on a boney rack
Her skeleton chattered, Mr Scrouge, it is clear for all to see
That death is knocking on your door, but you’ll never be free

My heart stopped beating, I shivered and felt a creeping cold
The ragged boy and mother laughed at my life becoming mould
I cried for an Angel to rescue me from this dark despotic death.
So I promised to spend my wealth to end all poverty on Earth.

The boy and mother warmed me from a pitiless lonely end
And we celebrated Christmas with all their wondrous friends
It cost me all my hard earned gold to bring them happiness and good cheer
And so the moral of my sad story to you must now be very clear.
That having lots of family and friends at Christmas is wonderfully dear.

The Peace of Nature

 

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One of my garden residents

 

A peaceful moment of relaxation, sitting in the garden on a warm summer day, listening to the sounds of the birds and the trees orchestrated by a gentle breeze.
I allow my imagination to tune in and compare the rustling of the leaves to the harmony of piano keys, and the sparrows tweeting sound like flutes racing through their notes. The blackbird begins calling as a lonely saxophone would.
High above me the seagulls shrill with a rough discordance that draws the agony out of a badly tuned cello, as they chase after crows cawing loud in a panicked percussion of rumbling kettle drums.
Then, when the quiet peace seems to return, there is a faint calling from an unseen flacon, I hear the interjections as if from a distant clarinet. A flurry of small branches on the hedge scratch along the wire fence lamenting as weeping violins and they are accompanied by a gentle chirping of a lonely wren. Two doves in the branches of a tree blow oboe notes to each other and the wasps around my imperial biscuits provide a background buzz like softly shaking maracas.
These sounds provide reassurance of a natural harmonious world – I dare not switch on the man made radio, not just yet!

The invisible writer.

Here are some notes from a writer’s class I attended. (Perhaps I need to trust my confidence in writing)

Author Intrusion.

The author intrusion, a favourite technique of the Victorian novelists as they address the ‘dear reader’, is considered, I am informed, as old fashioned in modern fiction. In the early twentieth century it tended to be a technique used to educate or persuade the reader of the author’s view either for political or religious purposes and masquerading as subtle propaganda. This would be deliberately invasive in the story through the various characters to influence the reader. At times a complete portion of exposition would detract from the main story to get the author’s didactic views exposed to the audience. These methods were deliberate and were an accepted format and mostly obvious to the readers.

However, in modern fiction there are tendencies of carelessness by authors, which are particularly intrusive and cause people to stumble as they read. This interferes with the literary trance readers may have, as they are completely engrossed with the character’s predicament. Then, an aside or overly explanatory sentence may suddenly seem out of place or else overstate the obvious, spoiling their enjoyment.

Some of the unintentional author intrusions arise from:

             Telling things the character could never possible know.

             All characters sound the same.

            Paying too much attention to the setting and forgetting the story.

            Lecturing.

            Putting the cart before the horse.

Or worse – repeating information laboriously in dialogue, for no other purpose than to be certain the reader understands.

I am advised to become an invisible author.

Invisble Writer 2

My Invisible Self

Sky as blue as a summer sea

And weather blowing oven heat

Turning leaves on autumn trees

To form inspirations and wind

Thoughts floating through the mind

Of the anonymous invisible writer.

 

Fire in Glasgow -West End.

The picture below reminded me of Daphne du Maurier’s novel “Rebecca” and its ending few words.

“… but the sky on the horizon was not black at all. It was shot with crimson, like a splash of blood. And the ashes blew towards us with the salt wind from the sea.’

The implication was that Mrs Danvers discovered the truth about her beloved Rebecca, and in revenge she torched the large country house, ‘Manderley’.

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Disused building West Glasgow opposite my daughter’s flat. (Live Friday 20 May 2016)

Fire is fascinating; it is like a cleansing of the past, as the flames leap and twitch. There is finality in the burning where all the elements disintegrate in smoke and leave behind a powdered residue, and is a very practical solution to get rid of the unwanted items in our lives. (I don’t mean people like witches and Guy Fawkes).

In my household it is impossible to be rid of such items, to me they are unnecessary clutter. The ‘others’ with their emotional claptrap always resist trying to make space and taking ‘their stuff’ to charity shops, and so the ‘big clear out’ becomes a day wasted by reminiscing about the good times and the sad times and those bloody times that drive me mad times. Everything is boxed up again and put back into the shed or else up into the attic to be forgotten. Perhaps it is the excitement of rediscovering items from your past, and the past of deceased relatives that sub-consciously makes us hold on to the most ridiculous of items.

Remember this scarf; Granny knitted it for my first day at school, shame about the mice gnawing the wool, and on it goes. Mementos slowly deteriorating and their only function are to reflect on our lives, perhaps we need to hold on to them. Since, once they are gone we’ll miss those ‘big clear out’ days.

No wonder fire is associated with insanity.

Indie Authors – Attracting Attention

Attracting Attention.

I attended an informal meeting of the Glasgow Indie Authors yesterday. A very interesting group of people, some established authors and others mere beginners – my category. (Lots of coffee/tea and biscuits)

We were encouraged to pitch our books in twenty seconds, (even those still at the embryo stage). Basically: title, genre and establish a hook into the story.

Most people found it difficult to find the best key words and not to become distracted by trying to tell the story or going off on a tangent about their characters. This is not the same as the blurb on the back of the book cover, instead it is a twenty second-attention grab, where we are advised the object is to leave the listener wanting more. Essentially it gets the pertinent information out in 124 characters, the length of a tweet. This exercise illustrates the importance of a book title, for instance one book pitched was titled; ‘The Secret Mums Club.’

You will never guess the genre, and may have you wanting to know more.

Another exercise I found interesting, being slightly introvert I found this difficult. Since, we all naturally put our protective shields up when we feel our private space is being exposed.

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We all hide behind our psychological shields.

The task was to list and then tell the group five important things about you that people would be surprised to learn.

Most people were rather defensive as it was almost like an intrusion into one’s private life.

One person told us he had once been arrested, full stop. Of course this raised a flurry of excited questions, when and why and what happened?

Yes, this was the main point of the exercise to find something interesting about you that people will be attracted to. Fulfilling that human curiosity and the nosey syndrome with the purpose of leading them to your book.

Again people found this awkward and listed some mundane things like where they once lived or went on holiday, all interesting stuff but not overly exciting.

I suspect many people had some deep secrets that would be interesting but may have found the situation embarrassing.

Author Bios were discussed as being fixated on their qualifications and a CV of their writing background rather than on some extraordinary exciting fact or issue in their life.

We were asked to consider what would attract us to that person?

(Off course a publisher would only be interested in the sale-ability of the work).

The summary of the afternoon was simply that as an Independent Author you need to understand the full gambit of marketing or else pay someone to do it for you.

We all know there is lots of advice out there, but for me it was a fun afternoon with real people.

The Will to Write

Keeping up the will to write.

Over the last few months I have been distracted by family dramas. In particular the unexpected illnesses of elderly parents, which attracted a sudden flurry of visitors from Australia and New Zealand. But all has been resolved and each and everyone are well, once more.

The result of this upheaval at home for me has been my utter neglect of writing. I released how much I need the space to concentrate even if this results in nothing more than a few ideas. As my household is back to normal I seem to have lost the will to write or at least the flow of words have slowed.

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On reflection I remember where I started and how I found encouragement from people like Adam, Nick, Hugh, Diane and Tobias who all were brave enough to comment and critique my attempts at literary notoriety. They have gone on to create their successful E-magazine ‘Literally Stories’. This contains a range of stories, which in my view are astounding and there are many I find truly captivating. Others are just damn weird and occasionally incomprehensible to me both in their subject matter, theme or even in the English language. Regardless, I have taken to reading every one in the hope of some inspiration.

I have started to read some Selected Stories by Katherine Mansfield. (Oxford World’s Classics, Ed – Angela Smith). From a writers point of view I have detected how much control Katherine Mansfield has with the narration and I just love how in such short pieces she can hold me in suspense that comes from within her characters.

‘The Woman at the Store’. We are not told what she has done with her lovers, but her son’s drawings contribute to the gut gripping suspense.

‘Bliss’. Why is it the woman is always last to accept the infidelity of her husband?

‘How Pearl Buttons was Kidnapped.’ This seems like such an innocent story where the child, Pearl Buttons, is having a wonderful time out at the seaside. It is not until at the end we learn of the culture clash between the indigenous people and the European settlers.

There is lots of advice from creative writing books and courses about how to sustain your writing. I now ignore it all, as for me I need to be in a secluded mood and totally absorbed in the idea without the intrusion of what you should do and how it must be done.

But for now it is a period of reading and reflecting on how I will do it my way.

Post Mortem

I came across this short piece in the archives of a fellow writer. The sentiment of her poem illustrates the frustration I feel when my written words do not fully express what I mean.

Post Mortem. By Jan Train

After I die;

With the original incision

The pathologist will remove from my throat,

A piece of prose.

The object of my indecision.

Then he will pontificate the cause of death

To be

The failure to communicate.

Or later he may remark to a colleague

In a conversational way,

“I think she was strangled by something

she was trying to say”.

 

Copyright Infringment.

Well I never! I Googled ‘The Case of The Mahjong Dragon’ during a moment of distraction to discover that – epdflibrary.com were offering my book for free in pdf, ePub and ebook formats.

I had to laugh, at first, as I considered; why they thought this was worth their effort? Great comments like, “wtf this great ebook for free” and “I got my most wanted eBook” and “It’s very easy to get quality ebooks”. 29 comments in all apparently, that is more than the book reviews received on Amazon.

Should I be flattered?

Of course all these comments have been generated to get you to disable the ADblock Download link  on the site. (Don’t).

If only I could work out how to turn this infringement to my advantage, as I don’t have the legal punch that perhaps the big publishers have.  However, the publicity would be a great asset, but to be honest I don’t think it will go any further.

I have offered the book for free on Amazon on a few occasions and it does get attention and attract readers, I can only trust they enjoyed the book for its entertainment value.

My response is just to keep writing and let the readers come, they are obviously working for free as well.

Publisher Rejections

I must admit I smiled as I read all about J K Rowling’s rejection letters from publishers. Mostly I can imagine, had she not successfully published we would never have had the privilege to know. Surprised! Well I think most aspiring writers are more than aware of rejections slips, and they are the lucky ones who at least receive acknowledgement. It seems to be part and parcel of the business, either you are a saleable author or else a struggling writer.

I have had quite a lot of rejections for my work, clearly it is awful although no one will admit it but me. But it is not the rejection that matters to me, because importantly I enjoy what I write and do. Is that not the most essential point of life?