WRITE CHOICES AND ASPIRATIONS

A selection of work written over the last couple of years.

TURNING THE LEMON SWEET

THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN PUBLISHED ON THE WRITELINK WEBSITE AND ALSO ACROSS THE POND AT THE WRITER WITHIN.  I HOPE IT PROVIDES ENCOURAGEMENT FOR ALL THOSE SEEKING PUBLICATION.

 


 

TURNING THE LEMON SWEET

We've all heard the expressions "patchwork quilt", "box of chocolates" and "rich tapesty", but sometimes life is like a bucking bronco and no matter how hard you try to hang in there, you land flat on your backside.

The writing life is a tough one, requiring "skin like a rhinoceros", "nerves of steel" and the determination of the tortoise.  So when life bucks you off your familiar route you need all your resilience to get back in the saddle and kick on.

My own personal rodeo brought me temporarily to Norway, doing the last job I could have imagined, which is childminding.  But do you know something?   I am enjoying it.  Children are such naturals, with a totally innocent outlook on life.  They are a great inspiration.

Writing down my own emotional experiences has proved extremely therapeutic, and I recently won two fiction contests by putting these experiences to good use.  First hand knowledge is priceless.

I have also written lots of poetry as a self-help exercise, but with a little pruning hope to use these poems in future competitions.

During my first few weeks out here, I found it difficult to concentrate; too much on my mind and too much hurt and anger to dispel.  But the rewards of working with tiny children are many.  I found myself singing, dancing and generally making a fool of myself.  The result was happy little faces, and lots of love.

These same little faces have also inspired the written word.  They have also made me so exhausted that sleep comes easy.

Support from others is very important both in emotional recovery and in writing, the belief in yourself always winning through.  Understanding your emotions and why you feel a certain way are a big part of the healing process and if writing can accelerate that recovery then we have a bonus.  Getting things down on paper really helps, much better to express yourself than bottle it all up.  When I look at this writing in the future I will see how far I have progressed since those dark, unsettling days, but if I am looking for inspiration where the heroine is in a similar situation, then I have it first hand.

What we must grasp is the ability to use these upsetting experiences in our written work.

I am sure we have all attended funerals that have been emotionally gut wrenching.  We can use these events in our fiction.  I can think of a particularly sad occasion when my daughter stood with her black stilettos consumed in frosted grass.  By the time our dear friend was lowered to the ground she could barely move and gripped my arm as her teeth chattered.  But being young and fashion conscious it was stilettos or nothing. I  however, was the one who fell on her backside as I descended the banking and yet I was the one wearing boots.  Just an example of humour where you least expect it. 

The ideal is to write every day, but sometimes we have to take a rain check.  I am lucky enough to have friends who are much more experienced in the writing world than me.  When I turn to them for guidance, the answer is always the same.  "It does no harm to take a day off. Better to recognise that your mind isn't on the job, than write a load of rubbish that will need re-written."

Sometimes if you find yourself struggling, try and relax, turn some music on low and free write about anything that fills your head.  I am fortunate to enjoy writing fiction, non-fiction and poetry.  Whenever I am stale with one subject I switch to another.  Fortunately I never hit a stumbling block with all three together.   Hang on to old pieces; you know the ones languishing in your My Documents file  that never quite made it to the post box.  Drag them out, re-work them and send them off. It is only the price of a stamp and perhaps success for you.

But sometimes pleasure can come in different ways.  I often write poetry for friends if they have something to celebrate or even if they are sad.  Words of appreciation give me as much pleasure as the cheque from the editor of a magazine.  Seeing one of my poems framed on someone's mantelpiece, or in one case on a restaurant counter, gives me a real buzz.

Writing Forums can also be an area of great comfort.  Usually you find someone who seems to think the same way as yourself.  Private messages begin to appear in your inbox.  I can think of several people on the Writelink and Writelink Pro forums who have helped me through my darkest hours.  Words can say and do so much and to all of them I say a huge thank you.  Most of them have suffered major upheavals in their personal lives, but they have all taken the trouble to encourage and inspire a fellow writer.

Recognising that people are different from you is something else that I have found important.  Storing these people in your memory is vital because they may become future heroes in something you write.  I recall a chancer who wanted to paint our hayshed many years ago.  I had just incurred a speeding ticket and was bemoaning the pedantic officer who did not let me off with a warning.  The chancer's opinion was "The only guid polis is a deid polis!!"  He hated the police with a vengeance, and I have used him in several things I have written.

Being in a different country you find a totally different culture.  I am using my time here to embrace this culture.  The scenery is breathtaking and the air pure.  These are already major factors in poems I have written.

I have used many cliches to write this piece, but the most important is that when life hands you a lemon your writing skills can make it sweet.


p.s. (I apologise for the lack of an "acute" above the "e" in cliche, but the gremlins or my stupidity are at work and I keep getting peculiar symbols manifesting themselves, so have given up.)