Ebony & Frank: 6

Ebony stood uncertain at the rusty wire fence and the wildly overgrown grasses that leaned over like tired dancers at a ball across the dirt driveway. She had already looked left, then right, realizing that as far as she could see in any direction, there were no other houses. The bus that had brought her there had left ages ago that the dust had already settled. She held the string of her tiny shoulder bag, a parting gift from one of the nurses and stared at the desolate gateway. Hadn’t she just gained a whole property that was apparently falling apart from neglect? If so, she didn’t really see any such house on top of the small hill. 

Eb felt sick to her stomach. She had left the comfort and safety of a nursing home. Even if she wanted to go back, it was at least a 45 minute ride. She stared up the sorry excuse of a hill and wondered if the house was already in a pile of rotten wood. 

She jumped when she heard the honk of a large ute rumbling to a stop behind her, swirling a mini dust storm as the tyres skidded to a halt. ‘Do you need a hand?’

She turned to see a young farmer. He eyed her from head to toe and then eyed her bag at her feet. Everything hunted and gathered by the nursing home staff when they heard Eb had somewhere to go. 

‘I’m just passing through.’ She lied. The guy eyed her bag again. ‘My husband has just gone to pee.’

‘You going in there or not? I can give you a ride up. It’s like half a kilometer from here to the front door.’ He jumped out of the vehicle, causing Eb to feel edgy. She wasn’t ready for normal people, or crazy I’ll-kill-women-on-the-side-of-the-street people.

‘I’m fine. Don’t need help.’ She stubbornly reached for her bag and huffed out. ‘As I said, my boyfriend won’t be long.’

‘I thought you said a husband?’ He smiled, reaching for the bag. ‘Come on, I know this place. My dad used to keep the farm when he was still alive. The rich folks only ever came once in a blue moon.’ He swung the metal gate open and waited for her to step in. ‘I’m Niko by the way.’ He extended a hand to her. ‘You friends of the family or family?’


‘Damn! I thought the lady of the house was old, like a 100 or something.’

Eb smiled. He seemed kind enough and stepped onto the grounds. ‘I recently acquired it.’

‘Well, I’ll be happy to show you the ropes around here. Give you an orientation.’

Eb smiled. She knew next to nothing about farms and keeping them, and hell, Hillary’s old abandoned family farm looked like it first needed a fix up before Eb would be easy enough to say that it was her farm. ‘That would be really appreciated.’

Niko nodded and dumped Eb’s bag onto the back of his ute and turned the car towards the gate he had opened. ‘Well, get in then. You don’t want to accidentally step on snakes in them bushes, do you?’ Eb got in and Niko drove her up to the ramshackled house. 

It was old, the paint was peeling, revealing large chunks of dark motley wood underneath. The bushes and weeds, and some climbers crawled all around it. She could see large glistening cobwebs, no doubt belonging to deadly spiders. She hated spiders. Neigh, she was terrified of them, especially the large ones. ‘I don’t like spiders,’ she blurted, almost in surprise. 

‘I’m not fond of them either. Got bitten as a kid once. Wasn’t remotely entertaining.’ Niko jumped off the ute, grabbed a shovel from the back and started thrashing the tall grasses flat so they could access the steps. He brought her up to the house with her bag and smiled, looking around the acres. ‘You’ve got hell of a work cut out for you, I tell you that.’

Eb felt her stomach churn. How was she going to afford fixing up the house and the farm. ‘Any idea where I should start?’

‘Go in, clean up a room for you to stay in and clean what you can for now. I’ll drop by this afternoon after helping out at the Webb’s farm. Bring you cleaning products and such. And we can start.’ Niko didn’t wait for her to agree or disagree. He dropped off his small esky saying there was a bottle of water and some sandwiches that should tie her over till he came back. Before long, Eb was standing completely alone under the weathered porch watching Niko reverse all the way down and disappear.

She turned and looked around. Well, it wasn’t much for now, but it was definitely enough for someone who had nothing to her name less than a month ago. Eb fished the set of keys from her pocket and started trying them out on the front door. 

Vintage be 

Cling it did like the old misty mildew

long forgotten by time

sleek and cold across the ceiling.

Glistened the fine gossamer 

waltzing figures spun from the dew

glint and swirl as though music played

silently, for none but them.

Resting dust hugged the vintage wood

like long lost lovers united

all consuming, all immediate

as though years apart were torture of sorts.

And outside, the garden grew 

wild as if the days ahead were short

soaking all the sun, all the rain.
But none saw the ragged doll beneath tall weeds

an arm torn from its socket,

eyes fixed to the promising sky

perhaps she would today see a familiar face…

the child who left in a hurry,

dragged by the arm, her cries unheard.
‘My dolly! My dolly!’ …and shoved into a beaten old tin box.

The exhaust spewing dirty.

My little film is showing somewhere!

My little film is showing somewhere!

As it turns out, this year is nearly at its speedy end. It’s later in October and we only have two months left to accomplish anything we set out to do this year. Where’s the time rewinding clock? If only Back to the Future was possible! Seems to be the week for it. At least that’s the buzz this week. 
There is however another little buzz in my life, the buzz of a short film I was involved in the making of finally hitting the silver screen across various Australian cities starting today. 

I’m nervous and curious, and excited and terrified all at the same time. What’s worse is that due to festivals and other commitments I am not there in the city of Perth observing the audience as they react to the film. As a writer-director, this tends to be the most nerve-wrecking moment. Not the countless hours preparing to shoot, nor the countless hours spent shooting it and cut it etc. No. It’s this, waiting for feedback. 

Can I fast forward a couple of hours to hear how the screening went? Haha. That would be something, wouldn’t it? 

Here’s the teaser for the film in case you would like to check it: Dhago (Nepali short film) 

I’ll report back to you tomorrow and let you know what the word is on the streets. Wish I could have been there, but alas, it’s still an exciting time! 

Tell me why I’m editing again?!

I absolutely get terrified when editing my own works. Absolutely terrified. Not excited as I do when I write. The terror comes from the fact that I know I will be slicing and dicing, in true ‘kill your darlings’ style, and yet, yet, it will still not be perfect enough, flawless. Why? Why must this be such a hard task?!

I know that most writers, myself included love writing. We do. Other people find solace in shopping, in getting pampered, in sitting around by the beach and lounging, etc. the normal stuff you know. Writers find joy in writing. We do it because we love the rush of a new world that captures our imagination: the characters, their flaws, their stories. 
We feel elated when we finish our first draft. I still remember the first time I finished my first novel. I think I may have literally done a jumping-giddy-run-on-the-same-spot dance before realizing I was standing in front of med building waiting for my friends to escape their microbiology lab. 

But the thing is first draft of anything is always crap. We wouldn’t give it to anyone to read before we have had a chance to run through it and smooth it out somewhat. The real writing happens on the editing table. Which becomes excruciatingly painful to writers starting out, and still quite hard for others who have been through the grill before. 

I’m doing a final comb through of ‘Rule of Thirds’ before sending it for final edit. This is how it’s looking…

(Read sample chapters: http://www.tablo.io/evacharya/rule-of-thirds)


Mind you, it has already gone through two rounds of editors. Editing is a job that never finishes, truly. And it’s not just a grammar here and punctuation there. Editing sometimes completely changes the landscape of a story from its first draft. I’m learning to kill my darlings and it’s not easy. If you are writing a piece you want to publish, I guess you have to make sure it’s as good as it can be. So my advice, don’t be in an impatient rush. And the other, DONT BE AFRAID TO DELETE WHAT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE, or what is redundant. Cull, cull, cull. 

I must do these myself: 

– remove adverbs and replace with verbs (i.e. Words ending in  -ly)

– remove the words ‘very’ and ‘that’

And many more. I’m learning the art of editing my own work through examples on pinterest. Hey, it’s been helpful!

Two weeks ago I swept through the whole MS (manuscript) and it shed some weight from 100,000 words plus to under 86,000 words. 

Today, I’m starting another sweep based on feedback from beta-readers and have a feeling the story will loose some more weight. I’m not worried about the story becoming skinny, I’m just worried I may loose some aspects of the story if I’m not careful. I mustn’t leave a tale full of holes! 

Bit of a nail-biting moment. Yikes. 

Hows of a social place

How do I tell if you are reading? 

How can I tell the words form meaning? 

Or know somehow, something is changing?

How can I know you hear my speech?

Or whether the sense of mutual ground lasts? 

How do I seek your glances?

How can I make this something more than it is?

How can the words be never enough?

How do I reach out with faith?

Or believe that somehow, somewhere, this here matters?
How do I know?

Are there more here in this webbed space? 

Wait? I don’t even know if you cared?

Ebony & Frank: 5

Ebony stood outside the office doors, pacing as though she were looking for an escape route. She may not have any memory of who she is or where she came from, but sitting in on a will reading for a woman she barely knew amongst people who were actually related to the deceased felt wrong. 
The lawyer popped his head out the door. ‘Any time now, Ebony. We can’t start this without you.’

‘Who is she anyway? How come she is here?’ Eb heard scathed whispers leak into the corridor. 

‘They don’t want me here,’ was all she could say. She was curious though, despite it all. Why had Hillary put her in the will and what was she left with? She hoped it was her story books. 

‘It’s not their say.’

‘Fine.’ She squared her shoulders and finally walked into the small office. Seeing how there were about 8 people inside and the only two chairs on this side of the table were taken, Eb slipped into the nook next to the door. In case she needed to make a quick dash. The 7 pairs of glaring gazes couldn’t be mistaken. Then there was the odd teen with long limp dark hair from the opposite corner smile at her. She barely managed to smile back before the room was called to attention.
‘We all know why we are here so let’s get started shall we?’

One of the oldest women in the room turned with a sour look to Eb. ‘And why is she here?’ 

‘Cause your mother asked her to be here.’ The lawyer opened a sealed document and started reading it’s content. By the time he was coming to the pointy end of it, the five siblings and their 2 heirs except the teen were at each other’s throats about what they should and shouldn’t have gotten. It seemed to Ebony that Hillary had been quite well off and somehow, these spoilt rotten family were far more concerned about who got what and not so grieving of their loss. Eb’s name so far hadn’t even been mentioned once. She was beginning to wonder why she was even there to begin with. 

‘So who gets grandma’s farm?’ The teen finally spoke through the barring family. The shouts silenced. Heads turned from him to the lawyer. 

‘That old run down thing in the country?’ The balding man with a bulging muffin top that refused to stay hidden beneath ill fitting shirt spoke. 

While the family gawped at each other and waited for the attorney to answer, the teen approached Eb. ‘Hi.’

‘Hi.’ Eb whispered back.

‘I’m Chase,’ he extended his hand and Eb shook it, unsure.

‘Ebony Wilson.’ It felt satisfying to finally say her whole name.

‘How did you know grandma?’

‘Nursing home.’

‘You’re a nurse?’ The grin widened on the boy and Eb couldn’t help but notice him keen to look her up and down. 
Eb shook her head. ‘I live there.’

The kid almost scoffed. ‘Aren’t you a little too young?’

‘Aren’t you?’ Eb fired back. Just read the rest of the will. She turned back to the attorney. 

‘Ebony Wilson.’ She heard her name.

‘What?’ She looked around the room, aware that every single person was staring at her.

‘Hilary left her farm to you.’ The attorney said, closing the document back up.

‘Let me look at that,’ the closest male relative snatched the will from the table and started pouring over the content.

‘So it’s true?’ Hillary’s daughter asked.

‘Of course, mum never loved that place but now that you have it she wants it.’ The kid leaned in and whispered. Ebony couldn’t help but turn to him. ‘It’s literally falling to pieces.’ He winked. ‘If you need a hand with the repairs.’

‘You’re not mad?’ Eb couldn’t help herself.

‘Of course we are mad!’ the daughter fired. ‘We don’t even know who you are and our mother leaves her oldest property to you instead of her family?’

‘Did you know about this?’ The tall male stepped towards Eb with malice. 

‘Stop it dad.’

‘You stay out of this.’

Before Eb knew it, the teen stepped in front of her, shielding her in a way. ‘Why do any of you care anyway? Grandma had been asking you to repair that farm for years and no one cared.’

‘It’s family property.’

‘Not any more.’

His father glared at the boy, who stood taller if anything. ‘Can we appeal this?’ 

‘Why, so you can let it rot away?’

‘Keep out of this, Chase.’

‘Ebony deserves that farm more than any of you!’ He exploded all of a sudden getting the desired silence. ‘Which ones of you were there holding her hand, reading her books and making her laugh every day for the last few weeks of her life?’ 

Eb felt her stomach turn. How did Chase know what Eb had done for Hillary? ‘How’d you?’ She whispered, too afraid to speak aloud.

‘Cause I saw you.’ He turned. ‘Grandma didn’t remember me but she used to remember you.’

That’s when it occurred to Eb that she has met Chase before, in the nursing home. They’d literally bumped into one another coming in and out of Hillary’s room. Back then his hair had been longer and blond. Eb smiled. ‘She used to talk about you. Asked me to read books you liked as a kid. Said she used to read them to you.’

‘Thank you.’ He mouthed tearing up.
‘Hell, this can’t be right.’ His dad exploded.

What you NEED to do if you want to be a writer.

You want to be a writer do you? You want to enjoy knowing that people are reading your words, imagining the world in their head that you have crafted? You want to know that people love them? You have tons of story ideas floating around in your head that you could write? Good. Very good. 

But. And yes, there is a but. You need to stop coming up with stories. Stop. There’s is no point in coming up with 1 story, 10 stories, or hundreds. No point if you don’t actually sit down and start writing them. In fact, not good enough if you don’t sit down and finish writing them. Key word there – finish. 

What lies ahead once you have finished writing the first draft can only be described as a bed of needles you have to walk over to reach the other side. I’m being blunt. Why? Well, it’s one thing to dream of being a writer, it’s another to actually attempt it. It’s a difficult journey marred with many disappointments, struggles, doubts, anger and frustration. You will want to give up many times along the way. You will continue to doubt your work. Is it good enough? 

Unfortunately, someone else needs to tell us this.
How do you make sure your writing is of industry standard? How do you know it can hook a reader and keep them till the very ‘end’? Before you decide to even attempt to knock on publishers doors, make sure you do this: read the story from start to finish yourself. I don’t mean this as in you edit as you go. Just read it, as if it’s another book and you are an audience. If you can hold your own interest then be sure you may hold other people’s interest too. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you are a God-gifted writer and someone should offer you a deal already. We all make mistakes. Even the polished writers who have been published multiple times. Here is what you need to do.

Get your story assessed by a professional. Find out if the plot is weak, if your characters are convincing, if there are any logical problems in your MS, if you need to go back and write an entire section, or cut out a whole chunk. You need to FIX these before you can think about polishing/editing your work. Grammar, punctuation and spacing are not your first priority. Your priority first of all is to make sure your story translates as best it can on paper. It’s events, it’s interweaving plots, it’s characters and emotions etc. After that, go over your work a few time yourself. You’d be surprised at the number of mistakes you can correct yourself as a writer. Then, I strongly recommend getting an editor onboard. They will help you iron out your MS and make it look presentable. 

And this is just the one quarter of your job! 

What’s left are some of the most daunting tasks: query agents/publishers, submit your work, wait biting your nails, then if you find representation or a book deal, it’s a whole other part you have to work with others on – planning, layout, cover page, edits, and marketing.
I don’t mean to discourage anyone who wants to write from actually doing it. I just wanted to tell you, stop talking about writing and write. It’s a whole lot of fun whether you intend to get published or just get your family and friends to read them. 

I leave you with these words…



As I sit here hours milling away slowly,

let me tell you a story of a blind man and his sin.
He sees no colour to the seasons, 

they hold no meaning.

It’s the sounds that tell him season turn,

by the silencing trees and the crunch beneath feet.

It’s the fragrance that sing of spring,

or the bone chilling wind that heralds winter.

He tastes the earth through tangelo

or a glass of red,

but no way can he describe the beauty as we see. 
His eyes are his hands and feet, his ears and his skin. 

He can tell you many things, the way we dare not see,

but he can not read emotions on faces unseen.
Think not to fool a man who gives his friendship blindly. 

That sin is purely yours indeed.

Ideal writing space

Lets face it, if you are one of us who are inclined to write, we are somewhat obessive about how or where we write. Our best writing is done in spaces that are most comfortable. The most inspiring. In order for this, the space needs comfort, the space needs to be beautiful, and most of all, if our idea well is facing drought, it is capable of giving us a bucket of water and telling us to use it wisely. 
At the moment, my ‘writing space’ is my bed. My best time to write is just before I fall asleep. In other words, I wish I had a designated space which would be anywhere else but my place of rest. I do have a desk in a literal nook in my room, and it’s just not that inspiring. I am surrounded with blank walls, which really doesn’t help the ‘well’. 
I was browsing Facebook the other day and some one had shared a post on she-sheds. What? Of course, this meant I had to find out what in the world this new trend was. When I saw them, oh did I wish I had one of these!

 I mean, look at these divine things. Like a little private cottage you can decorate anyway you like. To suit your own style and needs. I can almost image what mine would look like if I am ever so lucky to have one in the future. I really want one. It can be my ‘writing space’. I don’t care for the trend that suggests these she-sheds are an answer to man-caves. I just love the idea of having a hide away, away from the gadgets, surrounded by items that can inspire me to continue writing. 
This is what mine would look like inside. I can see myself sitting by those beautiful windows looking out to nature, the smooth grains of wood where my writing notepad will sit waiting eagerly for me to pour stories on. 
What would your ideal writing space look like? 😀

Ebony and Frank: 4

In the days since Hillary passed away, Ebony felt just as lost as when they’d first sent her to the nursing home from the hospital. Every time she looked around, all the aging residents only reminded her of how helpless she was. She could befriend any of them and majority wouldn’t even remember her the next day. The invisible woman. That’s what Eb felt like. Or rather the forgotten woman. Someone everyone else on Earth had forgotten. She was sure she had a family, at least one, but the fact that no one had come to claim her. Well, it broke her heart every morning to wake up and know no one was missing her at all. Sometimes, it made her wonder exactly where she was from and what type of person she must have been. Obviously no one memorable. 

That morning Eb was just sitting with the oldies watching reruns of M.A.S.H when someone called her name. ‘Ebony?’ She turned around only to see the director of the nursing home standing there with a suited man. 

‘I’m Mrs Willow’s attorney,’ he extended his hand towards her. ‘I was wondering if we can have a wee chat.’ 

Anything, Eb thought and rose to meet the man’s hand. ‘How can I help you?’

Soon, Eb was seated in the office with the nursing home director and the attorney. An image of a principal’s office with a towering dark figure flashed in her mind. ‘Ebony Wilson, do you know the trouble you’re in? Do you know what you’ve done to Frank?’

‘Are you even listening, Ebony?’ The director of the home asked curiously. Eb had only met the man once before and hadn’t decided whether she liked or disliked him. ‘Are you okay?’ 

She nodded. ‘Sorry, I just think I remembered something,’ she mumbled unsure. Ebony Wilson. So that was her name. Ebony Wilson.

‘You have to sit in on the will reading Ms Ebony.’ The attorney was saying. ‘Do you know what that means?’

Ebony shook her head. ‘Ebony Wilson, I think that’s my name.’ 

‘Are you okay, Ebony? Getting pieces of your memory back now?’ The director asked. His name tag read Compton. 

Eb shook her head. ‘Not really, just this situation here.’ She looked around the room. The office had triggered something and there was a little Eb inside her doing a zig of joy. She finally knew her name. She turned to the lawyer. ‘I’m sorry, you were saying?’

‘Mrs Hillary Willow had made a last amendment on her will a couple of weeks before she passed away, Ms Wilson. You happen to be one of the beneficiaries mentioned in her will. Thus, you are required to be present during the reading of the will.’

Ebony looked from one man to the other. ‘I’m in her will?’

The attorney nodded. ‘The will reading is happening the day after the funeral at Mrs Willow’s estate.’

The funeral home director rose from his perch on the edge of his table. ‘Mr Paxton. Ebony here is under our care and due to her condition, I’m afraid I cannot sign her out for a day excursion without someone to take responsibility for her.’

‘Yes, this is rather unusual circumstances and our office would like to escort Ebony here to and from the will reading.’ 

‘I have no problem with that if Ebony is okay with it.’ He turned to Ebony. Who looked just dumbfounded.

‘When is it?’ she asked, absolutely touched and surprised that Hillary had mentioned her in her last will. 

‘In 5 days time.’ 

‘As long as you can get me back here without losing me, I’m fine.’ She rose. ‘Will that be it?’ The men nodded. She smiled. ‘I’m gonna go tell the nurses that I remember my name now.’ She bowed out of the room on a roller coasters of emotions. She was happy about her reclaimed memory, confused about the will and what it might hold, and still sad that Hillary was gone, forever. Mortality in this place sucked, but at least one good thing had come out of it. It was beginning to slowly trigger her memories, and that could never be a bad thing.