Time poor – Idea rich

Seems that’s the theme the world seems to be adopting these days. Lifestyles have become more about styles than about a life that’s rich in memorable time spent with people that count, doing things that count. Everyone is running around madly trying to fit a thousand things in a day. Work, family, food, sleep, social media, catch up with friends, watching shows that you simply ‘must’, squeezing in that moment where you can relax. It’s no wonder we see people glued to a screen. Time pressed, and poor. 


Writers are no less. I am no less. I seem to be time poor, with other activities that keep eating I to the time I’m meant to write. There are several deadline looming, and it seems no one cares to realise that perhaps, I need some time on my own. For my own. Doing this and doing that, fixing this and fixing that, making this and making that, and oh don’t forget the absolute things I must get done in the day. I can’t seem to find myself a moment, a space, a moment of peace to pay my writing the attention it needs. What can I say? Either our days are getting shorter than the days of people before us, or there is simply far too much expected from us in a day these days. Whichever it is, I am in desperate need to lock myself away from everyone regardless how it is perceived. After all, the deadlines will be gone and I’d have done nothing, leading to negative thoughts and deflation on ego and motivation. 


How do you guys find the time, the courage to say no, and the wisdom to hide away from the world that’s always trying to influence you? I’d love to learn new strategies. Obviously, mine are failing miserably.

Mused, amused. 

Musing, amusing, where you are?

Been days, an age, you gone too far?

How is the journey, bumpy bars?

Across the meadow, is the land too far?

Briefly, some grief, hopped over,

now the time is bright, some even say right,

so come on now, why don’t you come over?

We will play once more the wordy war

feeble be the story no more. 

Mused, amused, where you are?

Time’s a wasting, time’s awaiting 

all for your whim, your glory.

Muse, my muse, why so weary?

It’s only pen and paper I carry. 




(Going off the recent affinity to comic scripts, here’s a dip if the toe quite flamboyant indeed. You like? Any thoughts?)

Time

For you, I’d change the world,

back many moons, those unchained hay days

when we were young, not an ounce of weight

upon these slim shoulders weighed

nor a map for the road, just the sky as it were

dark, vast and sparkling

under whose influence we swayed

like young branches of now old trees

beside whom many a words were whispered

of promises and dreams dared for

despite the impossibility of mountains

out of mole hills

and dates that dissolved

a bit too soon for my liking

and there it was, that old age staring back

from the lined face for each lifetime I lived

in amongst the many stories told.

Time, how it changes worlds.

A spare moment 

You sit by the window staring out into nature. It’s night. The rain is battering musically on the roof of the house. It’s your down time. You’ve done everything needed doing for the day. You’ve even done all the dishes, and now, you sit by that window, your favorite relaxing spot. Perhaps you have a glass of wine to help you wind down. Perhaps you have music on, a roaring fireplace (or heater, or a snuggling blanket). It’s not even 9 on the clock. Maybe you have an hour to yourself before turning in for the night, because, let’s face it, you have a job to get to in the morning. What do you do for that hour to yourself? Perhaps you watch TV, maybe you read, maybe you do absolutely nothing, or, just maybe you write.


Now back up for a moment. Did I just describe what thoughts go through people’s mind when a writer tells them what they do, or aspire to do in life? I think I did. This is the misconception about writing that’s quite prevalent. Writing isn’t an easy thing to ‘do’.


Let me put it this way: if writing were easy to do, and something one can do simply in their down time, then wouldn’t you see a lot more people do it as a ‘hobby’? After all, how common is it to come across a person who says ‘Oh, I’ve been meaning to write for years,’ or ‘I have a story that would be fantastic as a book/film/tv series’. Plenty of people. 


So here is the thing. Writing isn’t really easy. In fact, it’s very hard to do, in fact, it can take anywhere up to years to write one story. Not to mention the fact that once you write it, it’s still not done. It’s got to be edited a million times before it gets published. Sadly, some never see light of day.


Writing drives you crazy! It’s not easy dealing with day to day life in reality. Now imagine having to deal with all that plus an extra set in your imagination. You have to build a world from scratch and make them believable. It’s not easy to draw in an audience and keep them till the end these days. Seems attention span is starting to shorten with people in modern time, not to mention they are time poor. Otherwise, why else do we need a 140character tweeter word count? 


Writing isn’t what we do in our down time. So please don’t devalue the work and effort that goes into it. If you want to know the truth, most writers who haven’t already hit ‘big time’ as it were are probably holding day job, keeping a house, looking after family and being present in every moment that calls for it, and trying to squeeze in a ‘moment’ however small to write those precious words.


This is how I mostly write: on the train (if I’m going anywhere). Why? Because it’s dead time, and it’s mine, so I try and make the most of it during commute. That’s essentially how I finished the second half of my first novel. I used to head to work early, or stay back after work an hour or two, find myself a cafe and order a coffee, and sit there and write till that hour was up. That’s how I wrote my second novel. Or, write between ads, or chores. And these days, I write in bed, before I sleep. Why? Because it’s the only time the house is quiet and there isn’t anything else that needs to be done for the day. Then I write. That’s how I’ve now written 6 short films, a feature, couple of outlines for both features and future book ideas, and that’s how I’m writing my third novel. I manage do these by sneaking writing into my life. Not when I’m relaxing. Not by a long shot. A 5 minute here, 15 there, sometimes if I’m lucky, an hour before bed, despite how sleepy I am. And if I’m extremely lucky, I can turn it on whenever I want. It’s not easy to write. It takes a psychological strain, and it’s not something that works on a switch. Some days, I could be desperately trying to continue a piece when I’ve managed to find myself a ‘spare’ moment as most call it, and nothing comes. The flow isn’t in you because your mind is divided between a thousand other things.


My wish for today? I wish just for a moment, people wouldn’t assume anything about what a writer does to get that story on paper. Instead, ask them how do they do it? You don’t even need to listen to the answer. The question itself is enough to signal that you at least know it’s not an easy ‘job’.


If we are lucky, we will have family members and friends humor us by reading our work. If we are extremely lucky, then our stories reach a wider community. And if we are beyond lucky, we get that book deal with a publisher. And yet, most would have been writing for years and years without anyone knowing. 


Having spare time as it were, 24/7 to do what you love doing and get paid for it would be absolutely a dream come true for all those who dream it, but life’s not that easy nor simple, at least getting rid of the misconception, now that’s something we can try and do. 

Ego 

Eager little birdies

stronger than their wings

aim as high as the fiery sky

unbeknownst the dive deep.

Sugary treats, as sugary can be

can no longer hide the bitter deed

as long as life lived

there can be no sanctuary of peace.

So goes the past, the present and indeed

the future you and I shall claim to see

while no ounce of honesty lies 

in the powers of flawed psyche. 

Tempted creed, long gone the days 

no innocence shall find ye

nor amongst the thorns and brambles

nor amongst the petals, no, no such thing.


Eager little birdies

with ill equipped wings.

‘Hey there lonely… Writers?’

This post is inspired by one I read earlier today where the writer admitted they had a recent revelation: that we, as writers are all alone. I felt for a moment, just a brief moment that this person was rather out of touch with reality if they only just realised writing is a lonesome job. But then again, I had to realise that this person may not have been fully aware of what writing required of them in the first place.


All this lead me to think about what writing really means to writers: it’s our way of communicating to the masses, to masses much larger than an individual would come across physically in life. Yet, it’s a paradoxical situation, isn’t it? To reach the masses, to seek a public, an audience, we spend a grand amount of time all alone. That in our solitude, in our crazy multi character alternate world moments, we are in fact reaching out in the most exposing way to the people in the real world. 


Writers aren’t all introverts, preferring to be left alone, but yes, the job requires we find ourselves a quite space, a moment (an hour or two) to ourselves and our imagination. So how about that? Writers are lonely people who love an audience, in fact, crave one. 

Battling the sheets

Conflict in anyway isn’t the world’s most comfortable or welcomed scenario. No one wants a battle they have to fight, especially when they are frustrated and trying to get comfortable with the whole process.


I’m facing one such conflict, and it’s to do with all these sheets of paper, paper that holds a dream, a story. And then there are the other sheets that hold annecdotes and comments pertaining to the story. What should be, how it should be, what could be, and I have literally spent days trying to weigh their value, their wisdom, and most of all, I’ve spent hours trying to fix the plot, but barely made a dent it it. 


The problem isn’t that’s I’m not willing to do what it takes. Nor is it that I refuse to ‘kill my darlings’. In fact, the problem is the many headed dragon. The many variables that I could change, those that need changing, and most importantly, those that must stay at all cost. My head is swimming, fogged up with anxiety. And the question that’s plaguing it? ‘Is the second draft going to be stronger, better yet retain it’s core essence?’ 


Can I tell this beautiful story about a family without losing the small beauties of it? Yikes. Talk about a heavy responsibility. My internal battle had only just begun. Each scene is going under the microscope, and some will come out unscathed, some with a facelift, and some will be mercilessly removed from the canvas all together. 


I’m not comfotable, I’m not happy. I’m just worried about the story. The people is brings to life. I somehow feel a great sense of responsibility. However this length of time goes, at the end of the day, it’s the critics who can tell me how I went. 


Sigh. I’m only on Act One. 


The Keeper (Part 13)

Mona felt every bit confused and overwhelmed as she stumbled upon the lounge room to find it as messy as it had ever been. She walked about, dodging several dangerously placed items till she reached her father’s door. She rapt on the wood ever so lightly. ‘Father?’


She held her breath for there was no reply. ‘Daddy? Are you awake? It’s me, Bell.’ And in that split moment she heard a faint moan, enough to invite her inside. She swung the door open gently and peaked into the dim air, dank, and sad.


‘Bell, my child, come in and let me see you!’


Mona inched closer to his bed, fear seeding inside her at the sight. ‘Oh, daddy, what has become of you since I have been gone?’


Her old man smiled, beckoning her closer. ‘It is only a slight ailment. It will pass, honey.’ Mona sat on the side of the bed and touched his haggard face lightly. ‘I missed you dearly!’


‘I missed you too, papa.’


Her father struggled to sit up. ‘So, tell me child,’ he coughed, a violent cough. ‘Tell me what the beast is like? Has he hurt you? Been cruel to you? Threatened you in any way?’


Mona shook her head. ‘No. None of those. In fact, he has been the kindest yet.’ She touched lightly, meaningfully at the fabric of her dress. ‘I have want of nothing, except…’


Her father jerked up straighter yet. ‘Except what, dear? He promised me you’d desire for nothing if I left you there. If he were to ever break that promise, you know my child, you are free to come home to me?’ There was a desperate longing in his aged, raspy voice. A desperate longing indeed. ‘Except what, dear? What is it that you lack in that tricksy home of his?’


Mona felt a strange guilt as she said this, ‘I’m like a princess there, but I wish for you, my family. It gets awful lonely, papa. I just miss home, that’s all.’


Her father seemed confused as he looked past her at the open door, where one by one her sisters and brother were appearing so, with sleep still in their eyes. ‘You miss this? The filthy house, the angry shouts, your brother and sisters all about their own, leaving you to take every responsibility on?’ He turned to her with a sad smile. ‘Thats no life at all. That’s no life I wish and want for you. You should be treated like a treasure for they only ever made one of you.’


‘Oh papa.’ Mona embraced her father tightly. ‘My place is here with you. Look at you! You are half the man I last saw. You are not well, and I will not leave till you are better.’


‘And what about Him?’ 


‘He can look after himself for a few days, I’m sure. After all, I am nothing more than a decor.’


Her father nodded. ‘Till I’m okay then.’


Suddenly, upon the two were the others. ‘Oh my, Mona Bell, look at you? What beautiful dress you have!’ One sister squealed, a set of tightly arms around her neck. ‘Oh Mona, look at your jewels! Where ever did you get them?’ The other one chimed, pulling at the necklace off Mona’s neck till it came loose. ‘Simply divine!’ And her brother barely cared as he glanced with one eye at Mona and left. ‘Oh Mona, however did you do it before, keep the house? Look love, it’s been the worst since you left.’ The first said again. ‘Yes, now that you are here… We so missed you and your cooking, girl.’ Said the other while putting on Mona’s necklace. 


So much for being home thought Mona, but one look at her ill father, and she forgot the unsightly home and the selfish siblings. Instead, she rose in one stride and started clearing the dirty soup bowls from her father’s bedside.

Are you a ‘plotter’ or a ‘pantser’?

Yes, you heard me right! (Or rather, read.)

If you fancy yourself as a writer, then you have to choose a camp (though there may be one or two of you who sit on the fence on this one). You are either a plotter, or, you are either a pantser.
First of all, let me explain the two terms:

Plotter = someone who plots out their entire story before they sit down and write.

Pantser = someone who rights off the seat of their pants, no planning, no plotting, you just sit down and you write, and somehow, the story takes shape.

So which one are you?

Me? I’m a pantser. I don’t plot, and I don’t plan. Not entirely. I will however spend about 5-10 minutes thinking about the core of the story, where I’d like it to go, and then I sit, and I write. That’s how it’s always been for me. I get an idea, and I’ll stew on it, or rather, think about it maybe a couple of days, no details, just the big pictures. Then I start writing if it is something I want to write.

I’ve written two novels thus far, countless poetry, some short stories, few short scripts and a few feature scripts. All of which have been a spontaneous act. Inspiration comes, hits me in the face, and I’m like, ‘Oh, that will make a good story’ and that’s that. I never knew how to explain my writing habits to others, and I’d be feeling so guilty when people ask me how long I spent working the story out. I’d read plenty of articles on other writers and their writing habits and rituals, and most of the time they would advice me to sit down and ‘plot’. Something I’m not very good at. I know this because I sat down one time prior to writing my second novel, and I tried to work out the plot. I have to say, I absolutely hated it. Felt like I had been shackled to the writing table and been threatened. It wasn’t freeing at all, nor spontaneous, so I gave it up and went back to my ‘organic’ writing. It felt natural, it felt comfortable, and most of all, it left me free to write as I felt most effective.

I was a pantser and I hadn’t known it. It was by accident that a colleague informed me about a writer’s tour visiting the local country library and thought I should attend it. I did. And one of the ‘Wordy Women’ writers actually brought up the word ‘pantser’ and explained what she meant by it, and in that moment I had found a word to describe the kind of writer I was, and that it was completely normal. I wasn’t alone!

So I dare to ask you, what kind of a writer are you? But let me tell you one thing, whatever your style, your approach is to writing, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you are doing it wrong. What is right for me may not be right to you, and what is right for you will not promise to work for me with same gusto as it did for you. Find your own individual style, your own ritual, and stick to it.

Here’s one novel I wrote as a pantser: “In Strange Company” and guess what, readers have loved it and wouldn’t be able to tell that I did not plot this one out. Why not check out a sample from kindle and decide for yourself?

In Strange Company

In Strange Company

Buy from Amazon

And keep writing!

Dusty poetry and even rustier poet.

Search and ye shall find! At least that’s been the case. Found another poem I don’t believe I’ve posted on the blog gathering dust in the ‘Note’ app on my phone. I must have written this early last year when I was pretty much spouting on average 3 poetry a day on here. Don’t know how this one slipped through the cracks. So here it is, for those who are romantically inclined but hate to admit it. From me, to you. Share it around. 

I also wouldn’t mind you share around a link to my short film anyone can watch for free on YouTube. The short horror, ‘The Circle’. http://youtu.be/OidYnl2p-_A

So here is that poem I was supposed to let you in on. This is…

Take My Hand, Lets Leap

I will offer you my hand

as we walk down this road in life

through storming weather and scorching sunshine

through our search and beaconed light

whether you will love me, whether not

I dare not leave and travel alone

I care not for lonely ponders

I offer you my hand

and walk beside you in delighted peace

seeing a smile upon your weary face

fear not, don’t despair 

You have my hand, take it 

and lets take a leap

with each other for company

down a road new and novel

down a path 

together

for we are walking

each other

to that place

a place unknown

a place

simple.

Take my hand – and we walk together, love,

through the fog that lifts slowly

and we will one day upon the gates heavenly.

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