A bit of Christmas flash fiction

img_0791I was lucky enough to receive this exciting looking box for Christmas.  As you know, I love to write but, like most others, often have days when my mind can’t come up with anything worth writing.  Nonetheless, looking through some of the ‘tools’ in my ‘toolbox’ I admit I was a bit sniffy.  Their are sticks with random sentences, wheels with different protagonists, settings, obstacles etc, and ‘sixth sense cards’ which just seemed to have random ideas on.  In fact, my daughters and I had an hilarious half-hour trying to string these together into some sort of story.  It was rubbish of course, but fun.

However, once the Christmas festivities were over, and I was in a bit of a slump, I looked properly at the ‘instructions’.  Basically I should pick out three or four cards put them face down, turn over the first one and write about it for three minutes using the timer supplied, then the next and so on.  Not unlike some of the exercises we did on my creative writing course so ok, I’ll give it a go, I thought.

The cards I picked were:

I was dressed in a completely inappropriate shade of pink

Sticky raspberry yogurt

Yoga girls toenails

the sound of a garden hose

I honestly followed the rules, and amazingly I was quite pleased with the result.  So pleased in fact, I’m sharing it with you here.  Enjoy!

No Lady

I was dressed in a completely inappropriate shade of pink.  For my age that is.  Fifty year old women shouldn’t wear pink, or so my father used to say.  He’d know of course.  Women’s fashion was his thing.  He’d been a hairdresser in the 60’s, and met Mary Quant, or so he said.  She let him help design some of her collections, so he said.  He had an eye for fashion that’s for sure, especially the skimpy sort.

Apparently, some of his clientele was sure he was gay because of his good looks and nice manners, at least that what he said. Though it was probably because of his delicate fastidiousness in all things, which may have been appealing in the fancy salon, but drove us all mad at home.

I remember the day I spilt sticky raspberry yogurt on the carpet in the living room.  He was livid. Pinker than the yogurt with rage.  Made me scrub at it for ages until any hint of spillage had been eradicated completely.  I was only six. I had sore hands when I finished and dad wouldn’t let mum put any cream on them or anything. I think she was sorry for that.  I think she was sorry for a lot of things.  Including marrying my dad.

She was a model in a department store.  Modelling the clothes for other, richer, people to buy. She was pretty in a fairly conventional way but had to work to keep the slim figure that Twiggy was promoting around that time.  Dad even cut her hair the same as Twiggy’s.  He really liked that boyish look.

She used to practice yoga. It was the only time she seemed at peace.  Sitting cross-legged on her mat on the bedroom floor, quiet, closed eyes.  Once I painted all her toenails bright red while she was busy meditating and she didn’t even seem to notice.

My brother and I must have been a handful for her, but she never really complained, just meditated and smoked her funny cigarettes to ‘keep her calm’.  Dad would’ve been furious if he’d have caught her smoking, and we were sworn to secrecy.  No dirty ashtrays in our house, no dirty anything. Except dad.

Once I remember my brother and I messing about in the garden after it had been raining.  It’s fair to say that we got a bit carried away and were making mud pies and throwing them at each other, and at everything else in the garden too. It ended up like the Somme.  When dad found us, he turned the hose on full blast and made us stand naked under its powerful spray for a full ten minutes.  We were frozen stiff by the end of it.  The sound of a garden hose still makes me shiver.

Anyway, I digress. Yes, I’m wearing an outrageous long and tight flamingo frock, complete with feathers and sequins.  I’m wearing a wig of shoulder length silky blonde hair, and I’ve made sure my make-up is impeccable.  My entire torso is squeezed into spanx, giving me the curves my mother would have had if it weren’t for dad denying her chocolate and pies for years. Despite dads opinion, I look fabulous, even though I do say so myself.

I’m neat, and clean. Dad would be proud.

Or maybe not.

I’m not sure that he thought the way he treated me (us, my brother suffered just as I did), that he’d turn me into a full blown queer old drag queen.  Shame he didn’t see it, I would’ve enjoyed that.

I squish my stub under my stiletto, hitch up my boobs, and head out to face the rowdy crowd in the grubby nightclub. Easy money.

 

 

 

What do I do?

Writing 101, Day 9 – What do you do when your not writing?

You ask what do I do
when I’m not sitting side-by-side
with a sharpener
scrawling in my ridiculous
childlike script on
blank sheets of sepia paper
or staring at a screen
where fought for phrases
turn to text

You ask what do I do
when rhythm is erratic
and rhymes
don’t.
When alliteration alters
instead of enhancing
when allegory is elusive
metaphor meaningless
and similes absurd

You ask what do I do
when words don’t spill
and I have no story to tell
how I pass the time
in that hollow void
when secrets attempt escape
to compensate
for lack of imagination
and skill

You ask what do I do
I live.

All I want is a room somewhere…

Writing 101 day 6 – Where do you write?

Generally I reserve time in the morning to write.  A couple of hours dedicated tapping on my laptop. I could of course, spend all day, but that ends with my having a guilt trip about not getting the housework done or the dinner ready, so I try and limit my absorption.

Of course, some days my mind is a blank.  There is nothing, nothing, to write about. My life is dull, my imagination run dry.  I think it is with these days in mind that I choose to sit on the sofa in our sitting room when I’m writing (yeah we have a study, but who uses one of those for goodness sake! I’d have to climb over the mountains of paper an’ everything).

We are very lucky to have two comfy rooms with sofas.  One, which I tend to call the living room, is where we sit in the evening and watch TV, or loll about and read the newspapers on a Sunday morning.  It has a bay window overhung by our very old oak tree at one end, and French windows looking out across the garden at the other.  I treated myself to a chaise longue when we decorated and that is in front of the French windows.  It’s where I drape myself to catch winter rays or watch the rain in summer, it is most definitely not made for working from. The sofa in here is facing the fireplace not the window.  And there’s the rub.

So… it would appear that I write sitting on the sofa in the sitting room because the sofa faces the large picture window which gives me a view of the garden (this is news to me too… I’ve never really thought about it before!).  We have a pear tree just in front of the window, which is where I hang the bird feeders.  All manner of birds come to get their share of nuts, seeds, insects (yuck, those dried ones…) and fat balls.  In fact, I have my own little viewing gallery right there.  The room is always bright and cheery, and in the finer weather I can open the door onto the patio and hear the birds bickering while warm breezes circulate.

However, lovely and entertaining as the view is, there are I think, other subliminal reasons why I use this room.

In the sitting room I’m surrounded by memories.  I have cushions scattered about that I have made from tee-shirts bought as reminders of holidays but never worn (right now I’m leaning against a huge gold picture of Mickey Mouse bought as a tee-shirt at Disney in Florida nearly 20 years ago) Photo’s and souvenirs from trips to distant places, a selection of LPs from my youth which we can’t play ‘cos we don’t have a turntable, plants that are growing way too big, in fact just about everything ‘wot I like’.

This room is also the room where we play board games at Christmas, huddled around the coffee table, snacks and drinks on the floor, yelling at each other with frustration or glee when we win or lose or get totally outmanoeuvred (to be truthful its usually only me that that happens to). Where we sit quietly in our ‘oingy boingy’ chairs from Ikea and get stuck in a novel, or where we work out whether or not we can afford that next holiday.  It’s a room for parties – push back the chairs and there’s a good space for a boogie, and for yoga practice – its got a perfect wall for practicing handstands against.

I never thought a room could be inspiring, but with my selection of oddments and memories right here with me, and my wild garden only a glance away, I doubt I’ll ever completely run out of things to say!

Just in case I do though….

We’ve been asked by the wordpress fairies to ask our readers for suggestions on what to write.  I don’t know any more than that at the moment, but if you’ve got any ideas just let me know by commenting below, for now… I’ll think about a contact page later 😉

Have a good day!

So what does it mean?

Posted in response the Daily Post weekly photo challenge.  This week’s theme ‘Inspiration’

Strangely, I’ve found this a toughie.  When I’m stuck on these challenges, my first thought is ‘well, what does that actually mean’?  Of course, I kinda know, but what is the actual definition?  On these occasions, I don’t go for the usual quick internet dictionary, I go to the study and dig out my big ol’ Oxford English jobbie.  You know, an old fashioned, proper big book of words.  It’s a fat tome, with fine paper pages that rustle when you turn them, a red ribbon page marker, and finger hole marker thingys so that you can find the right initial letter easier. Apparently, it contains over 240,000 words, and I’m guessing that I will never use at least three quarters of them.

Whenever I look up a word, I always, always, find others around it that I’ve never heard of (did you know an Inselberg is an isolated hill rising abruptly from a plain, or Inspissate means to thicken or congeal? Me neither…), so I usually end up distracted from what I was doing (like now).

So back to what inspires me.  Well, the definition in my dictionary is ‘The process or quality of being inspired’ errmmm… yeah….. ok, use it properly….to inspire is to ‘fill with the urge or ability to do or feel something; create a feeling in a person.’

So my dictionary itself inspires me to think about words, enjoy them, and learn.  I’ve taken some pictures of it for you (below). Dull isn’t it. The thing with books is that you have to hold them and hear the pages, feel the heft (Ok, I admit it, I even smell my books) to appreciate them.

So what else inspires me? Well, everything and anything.  The sunshine, my dog, the flowers – hey even looking at my baggy belly inspires me to go to the gym – (don’t worry, I won’t be posting a picture of that!)

The thing that’s been inspiring me recently though is a lovely idea for cheering up chronically sick children, PostPals. All you have to do is send a letter, or email to one of the ‘Pals’ to give them a smile.  How brilliant is that? The children themselves are inspiring in their bravery (especial love to my friend Lewis who suffers from a form of the devastating Batten’s Disease). If you are interested please visit the PostPals website by clicking here.

Inspiring me today:

What’s it mean? Wednesday

Magniloquentspeaking or expressed in a lofty or grandiose style; pompous; bombastic; boastful.*

What a great yummy word!

Say it out loud – it starts with that hard ‘g’ at the back of your throat, then a roll of the tongue, and ‘oh’ and then softens off at the end with a gentle ‘t’.

Mind you, you’d probably be guilty of that very thing if you threw it into a conversation or bit of writing.  I must say, I hope I’m not magniloquent.  I like to think that anything I write is fairly simple, readable, and concise, and I do tend to use pretty basic language (let’s be honest here, I’m not actually sure I could use anything but simple words even if I wanted to).  Sadly though, even simple words can easily be misenterpreted, or not interpreted at all, and as bloggers, of course, we should be very considerate of that.

I often write verses the meaning of which is perfectly clear to me. Yes, of course I use metaphors and similies and all that stuff, but I always think they’re obvious not just to me, but to any other readers too. Clearly they are not. Well, not to everyone.  Our minds work in different ways.

For instance, I changed the name of a recent poem I posted.  The original name was ‘Suicide Son’ which is kinda what came to mind as I was writing it, but I thought it was a bit of a horrible title, both shocking and unpleasant, so I changed it to ‘Why?’ (you can read it here).  From the comments I’ve had both on the blog and from family and friends, it is obvious that this has several completely different interpretations to the one in my head when I wrote it.

Not that I mind. Perhaps the original title would have made the intention clearer, but I think poetry should be open to interpretation, and it’s just as well that not everyone has a macabre mind like mine. And after all, I can console myself with the fact that I find even the most famous poets work pretty mystifyi ng sometimes.

Anyhow, I guess making things a bit ambiguous isn’t quite the same as being magniloquent, so I’ll just keep on keeping on for now.

Toodle-ooo!  🙂

*definition courtesy of Dictionary.com

Tick Tock – am I wasting my time?

dandelion

The clocks went back an hour on Sunday morning, and my body clock has not yet adjusted.  So with my brain’s usual contrariness I woke up at what would have been 6:30 a.m. on Saturday but was in fact 5:30 a.m. today.  Normally of course, the alarm alarms me into half wakefulness (enough to reach for the snooze button) and it needs two more attempts to rouse me to the point where I can crawl out of bed.  This morning though, I was wide awake. Waiting.

It occurred to me that I have wasted an awful lot of my time waiting one way or the other.  I suspect at least a couple of years of my life were spent sitting in the car outside of various establishments waiting for the kids to come out of drama/violin/gymnastics/St John’s/choir classes or other kids parties.  And later, as taxi driver extraordinaire, waiting in the car at a distance from whichever pub or club they’d been to.

Then there’s the level crossing further down our road that we had to cross to get to their primary school.  Heaven only knows how many hours I’ve lost sitting waiting for the trains to pass.  The other day me and the dog were there for 20 minutes – that’s five trains worth. Twenty precious minutes of my life, gone, just like that.

And while we’re about it, what about waiting at airports, stations, waiting for buses, waiting at the dentist, the doctors.  My life ticking away while I’m sat reading out of date copies of ‘Practical Caravan’ or ‘Angling Times’ neither of which I have any interest in whatsoever.

A couple of weeks ago we watched a fantasy type film called ‘In Time’ (see the trailer here) where everyone lived until they were 25 after which they had to buy time, otherwise they were ‘terminated’.  Time was currency, and everyone had a clock built in to their arms which they could see running down.  Employment was paid in hours.  The wealthy could live forever.   Poorer people ran everywhere to save their precious minutes.

Of course, it was daft, but I did find it thought provoking (and actually much better than it sounds – worth a watch).  It made me think about the hours I waste, and the difference between wasting time, and, well, living.

Am I wasting time when I play games?  Is playing Candy Crush Saga on my phone any worse than sitting watching pap TV or reading a bit of entertaining chick-lit?  Am I wasting time when I’m writing?  Aaagghhh… now there’s a question.

I certainly spend a lot of time writing, or at least messing about on my blog, tweaking it, reading other blogs etc.  Hours pass by miraculously quickly and I often think ‘I must stop this and do something useful’.  And then go and do a bit of sewing, which if I was making clothes might be termed as useful, but I don’t, I make soppy things out of felt (you can see some here!).

I suppose it brings me back to the question of why we do creative things.  Whether it’s wasting time to just enjoy yourself.  Lose yourself in creating something original, unique, perhaps even entertaining or useful.

I’ve searched the internet for answers, and not really come up with anything definitive.  But I have had a deep think about my motives.  My motives for wanting to write, to want more followers, more readers, this urge to foist my thoughts on the unsuspecting public.  After all, I don’t think they’re particularly enlightening thoughts, probably not original either for that matter. It doesn’t even earn me any money for goodness sake!

But I have come to a conclusion:

The reason I write all this stuff and nonsense, the reason I post it on my blog for all the world to see (if they care to – come on world!), is to leave a mark.  A mark of the real me.  Not the me that is a mum or daughter, or wife even, nor the me that colleagues knew, but the nugget of me, that even I don’t know about until I start putting things on paper, the central joy of the absurd, as well as the deep chasms of darkness, that my inner self seems to dwell in sometimes. It is the yin to my outward yang.

Most of my family have found it hard to understand why my short stories tend to bend towards the dark side.  Only the other day my mother complained that they never have happy endings.  To be honest, I don’t know where they come from either, but that’s just how I write.  Some people start out with a plan, a ‘beginning, middle and end’, but I’m one of those folk whose hands practically take on a life of their own when I’m bashing out a story on a keyboard.  I don’t know what’s going to happen to the protagonist until there it is, on paper, a sticky end again.

And as far as verses go (no, still can’t bring myself to call them poems) well, they just turn up in my head as a rhymey line or two, and I knock them into some sort of shape from there.

So, basically, as well as leaving my mark, for posterity sake (my words will be around a lot longer than me), it reveals the individual in me, not only do my family, friends and followers get to know me better, I get to know myself too.

Therefore I conclude:

Writing is not a waste of my time. Yay!!

Between the posts

Well, Writing 101 is finished (boo…)

But hey….Blogging 201 is just starting (yay!!)

First challenge is to post at least three goals for my blog.  Hmm… that’s dead hard that is.

They’re asking me things like ‘why do you blog?’ and crikey, I don’t know.  I just do.  I like it, I like writing, I like interacting, I like reading other people’s blogs and pinching their ideas (not really, just getting inspiration, honest!), and I like seeing my stuff looking pretty. I like my friends and family to see how I’m keeping myself busy, and making them laugh, and wince sometimes (hehee).

Sooo…that’s why I blog.  Now I know.

The blogging 201 pixies are also asking me to set myself three goals for my blog.

So, what might they be…?

Ooh.. I’d like some more followers please.  It’s so lovely to see the dubree in the corner light up with likes or comments, but it really makes my day when I get an email saying ‘so and so is now following your blog’.  That’s splendid.  Yep, lets have some more of those, say reach 220 by end of November. Sitting at 180 as of this morning, so doable I hope.

Of course, to get more followers I’m going to have to do some work.  Have been publishing daily through the course of writing 101, so I’m going to give myself a break here, and just endeavour to post something at least three times a week.  Perfectly doable I think.

Thirdly, for your delight and entertainment, I’m going to establish a new feature.  No idea what.  I could do with your help if I’m honest.  Have come up with one or two ideas:

  • Madness on Monday – plenty of madness in the world to talk about methinks
  • Terrible joke Tuesday – hmm… know plenty of those too…
  • Wordy Wednesday – my ‘word of the day’. Today, by the way (ok I know it’s Monday, smarty pants… I’m just sayin’), it’s Balter, which apparently means ‘to dance gracelessly, without particular art or skill, but with some enjoyment’ – I do it all the time!
  • Thirsty Thursday – actually this one already exists in our house, but not in a bloggy way, more in a ‘time for a glass of wine’ way.
  • Fabulous Friday – well, I’m fabulous every day of course but not blingy, more sophisticated and genteel (hmm..!) but there is plenty of bling out there that catches my eye and makes me gasp with wonder at what people are prepared to wear.

What do you think? Any of ‘em any good? Well, I’ll leave it for now, and surprise you!

Anyhoo…there you are.  Three, perfectly achievable goals.  Better get off and start doing something now then.