Dana scurried around in the hubbub of the party still in full swing, her head dashing in and out of …
I loved this quote when I came across it on Pinterest trying to find pins to put on my ‘Rule of Thirds’ ChickLit concept board. Yes, I’m attempting to Pinterest. Can’t say I have tried it before, though I was signed up with it more than a year ago. Never really saw how I could use it to drum up interest for my book(s). But, ever since I came away from a day seminar at the Sydney Writer’s Festival last month, I may have been inspired to try it in a way I never thought about. Use it to create a page/board (still learning it’s lingo here) for the book/story in mind, helping create the look/feel of the novel. So, for the last week, I’ve been searching pins for weddings, love, romance, mother-daughter etc. and still going. Don’t know if it’s been at all successful but can’t hurt to try.
What was the point of telling you all that? Well, as writers, and truly anyone who has a job that gets them or their product in front of strangers, go through this regardless of the career path you choose. We are held back by fear. Our potential squashed ruthlessly by the little devil that sits on our shoulders, and whispers ‘it’s not good enough’. Let’s give it a flick off our shoulders. Time to free them shoulders!
I believe regret is a painful thing to go through in life, but I’ve also realized personally that fear is the only thing that usually causes one to have regrets in the first place.
If you fear about what people will think, then try and divert that fear to but what if they like it. You can’t please every one. This is not Pleasantville.
I’m going to try and not fear too much about too much from now on, or at least attempt. After all, I’ve come so far from being that tiny girl who questioned whether I could even wield enough command to handle directing film cast and crew as short as 12 months ago. And now, I have made at least 4 short films, have 3 others in the works and a major feature in the planning. And most of all, those lovely folks who gave me and my tiny stories a go are eager to work with me again as I am eager to work with them too. What was holding me back all those years after finishing my study? Fear. What was I doing every single day till that fateful day after Valentine’s Day last year? Regret. Regret not having enough guts to go ‘hell, I’m gonna try before I die’. That was pretty much what gave me a final push, whether I was willing to let go of a dream and regret it all my life, or whether I was gonna give it a try. I voted for try, and try I did. Firstly, I released my debut novel despite fear of criticism. Then, wrote my first short film and took it by its horns.
It is my deepest belief that one is not a writer until someone else gives you that title. Before this, I used to say I want to be a writer. Nowadays, I say I am a freelance writer and filmmaker. It feels bloody good to be able to say that.
I may not be known yet, I may not have the whole skill set yet, but I am learning, I am trying, and most of all, I am happy. So, do yourself a favor. If I can give you one advice then it is this: truly try before you give up on a dream, you never know the strength that lies in you till you hit that fork in the road and you must choose. Choose wisely and give it all you got.
All my best to you.
Black D. That’s what she had chosen as her call name. With a name like that, she was sure she’d be someone people would be scared of. And so they should. She had had enough of this bullshit in life. She wanted more, and if she had to turn to tricks to get what she wanted then so be it.
With this particular thought, Black D rolled down her black balaclava over her face, pulled on her woolen mitts over her hand as she didn’t want to leave fingerprints of course, then she zipped up her windshield jacket and snuck out of the front door into the quite night of the village fast asleep in their warm beds. Their warm comfy beds, with their warm comfy partners and pretty things like their mothers valued China tea pot! Ugh.
Black D shook the doubts from her mind and snuck over to the small cottage across the road. Her first target. She knew the lady of the house was away tonight for her recon works previously. She knew where the old bat stores her spare key too for good measure. A dumb gnome in her front porch missing the tip of its ceramic cap.
Black D looked around to make sure she wasn’t being watched. Then she reached for the gnome, fished out the key and let herself into the house. It was tiny. Ended before it even began. Would make things easy for her she supposed. Tiny lounge, attached tiny kitchen cum dining, then a bedroom door and a bathroom door.
She headed for the bedroom, pulling out her small pen torch and set about searching for valuables. She rummaged through the wardrobe, under the mattress, in old shoes and tiny jewelry boxes. Nothing stood out, u tip it was that an old gold pocket watch in mint condition glinted from the folds of overly large granny panties. She fished it out and admired it. Gorgeous thing it was. She slipped it into her pocket and made haste out of the house before anyone caught on. These old folks were tardy that way, waking at ugly hours of the morning.
She wasn’t entirely happy when she closed the front door quietly behind her. Where were the other valuables? In anger, she pushed the gnome over and heard a faint crack. Good. She stuffed the key back and stole across the road once more.
It was a good day later before the home owner arrived and soon the ruckus of alarming ‘I’ve been robbed’ sounded. Black D, still innocently casing her next victim smiled a small smile as she heard the cries of help. ‘I’ve lost my father’s old watch! Someone stole it!’
Black D walked up to the house and joined the huddle. ‘Was anything else stolen?’
‘Then how do you know you’ve been robbed?’
The lady stood straight and tried to peer at the crowd. Obviously trying to see what the query was from. ‘Because gnomey here is broken…. And, and I can’t find the watch.’
‘Perhaps you misplaced it.’
‘No. No. Who said that?’
By the time people were looking around, Black D had slipped out of the throng and was just another passed by. A passerby with a sinister smirk.
That night she was going to do it all over again. A new target had been found.
[Today’s prompt: a thief, and they lose something of value.]
Eric looked at the grey sky. Then his watch. Then back at the sky. It was a miserable day whichever way you looked at it, and the worst part was, there was well over 12 hours of it he had to endure. For God’s sake, how was he going to avoid the commotion?
As he stood there on top on his narrow steps down leading to the footpath, he wondered. Couldn’t he just slip back inside the house, change back into his comfy trousers and hoodie, call his work and feign contagious flu, then brew a cup of milk tea, slump on the couch, watch old episodes of Friends and pretend the world outside his door didn’t exist?
Instead, he was dragging his feet on the ground, eyes barely looking up for fear of seeing the flood of pink, or huddles of couples giddy as teens hooking up for the first time. Ugh! He thought. Stupid, silly people. Didn’t they know what was waiting for them at the end of it all? And yes, there was going to be an end. Either the relationship would die, or one of the two will go first. Either way, doomed! Just to be left with an ache in your chest no amount of binge drinking foul tasting beer, or hitting the scene will fix.
The whole 15 minutes to his work, Eric kept his head down, the music loud and angry in his ears, and a chant in his head, ‘She is dead to me. She is dead to me.’ He forgot the number of people he bumped into thus. But it must have been the effects of the day, but no one seemed to mind that he walked into them, sliced past them, or plain out spun them around. They just smiled, wished him a wonderful day and continued, bewitched.
By the time Eric got to work, the place was maxed with customers, laughing, giggling, whispering, making goo goo eyes or making out. Ugh! ‘She is dead to me,’ he muttered, causing a lady waiting in line to order coffee frown at him.
‘Hey Eric, got any plans for tonight?’ Mickie asked, rattling around the coffee bar as he spotted Eric. Eric shrugged, got behind the counter, chucked on an apron and said, ‘I think I’ll go out the back today.’
Mickie grabbed him by the shoulder. ‘Not gonna work man. I want that handsome face out here where customers can see you, today of all days. Now get on the register.’
Eric forced a smile and approached the register. ‘What can I get for you?’
‘Where can I get me I one of you?’ The old lady winked her wrinkled eye, giggling like a school girl when Eric gave her half a smile. ‘I’m only kidding. How about a cup of flat white and you for dinner tonight?’
Mickie laughed, pouring a shot into a cup. ‘Don’t do it lady, not unless you want to be a rebound.’
The lady giggled and oohed. ‘I don’t mind,’ winking once more at Eric.
‘One flat white coming up,’ Eric gave her a hard stare and her change back. Then he turned to Mickie. ‘What the hell you doing man, embarrassing me like that?’
‘Oh come on. I’m just trying to fix you up. No one should be alone tonight man.’ Mickie’s cheerfulness dropped several degrees. He handed a couple of takeaways over the counter and dropped his voice to a whisper. ‘Mrs Mackerel,’ nodding towards the old lady sitting in the corner table still smiling at them. Mickie smiled back. ‘She lost her husband of 50 years this year. This is the first time she’ll be spending today alone. Where’s the harm in trying to make her smile?’
Eric felt low. So low. Here he was wallowing in self pity over a one year old relationship. He grabbed Mrs Mackerel’s coffee and walked off.
‘Here you are, your coffee,’ he placed the cup in front of her and returned her smile, ‘and your date for tonight. What time shall I pick you up and where?’
The smile that lit her face, it was all he could see for the rest of the day. It was what made the day fly by, and before he knew it, he was knocking on the door of her granny flat. He held out the bouquet as she opened the door, wearing her Sunday best.
‘How do I look?’ She asked. ‘Wonderful.’ He replied, taking her hand in his. ‘You look wonderful tonight.’
(The following story is prompted by the date, and the theme that only a thief can catch a thief.)
It was August 15, 1925 when I first stepped into the sprawling, Gregor mansion. I was a young thing, sexy, suave, and reckless. I thought I could outsmart everyone. After all, who would ever suspect sweet, small and innocent Marie of anything sinister. Well, they didn’t really know me then, did they?
It was late afternoon when I arrived in my finest, hat, dress, gloves, the whole package. I rang the door bell, wishing and hoping that Bill, or William Gregor, the eldest of the Gregor heirs would open the door. After all, he was the one nearing marriage age, and I, was the perfect bride material, ready to marry at a word. And I planned to marry Bill. That was the whole reason Julia Pratt had taken to being Marie Clementine Avery and adopt a demur personality. If my mamma could see me now, she would be spinning in her grave. ‘Demur? Ha!’ That’s what she’d say.
The keeper of the house opened the heavy doors inwards and barely cracked a smile upon seeing me. I flashed my pearlies as sweetly as I could manage. ‘Am I wrong? Or is Billy home, Thea?’
I slithered past her rigid form, into the grand round marble alcove before the foyer.
‘Master Gregor is busy having tea with the family.’
I smiled ever so sickly. ‘They wouldn’t mind me joining them, I’m sure.’
Thea almost growled, her lips rolling up in irritation. Heavens only knew why she hated me so. ‘The party isn’t till the evening, Ms Avery.’
I was beginning to lose patience. ‘Oh, is it? I truly thought it was an afternoon affair. Would you mind fetching Bill for me? I’m sure he’d love to know I’m early for private seating with the future family.’
Thea left without a word. And in the grand alcove, I couldn’t help but imagine myself as the lady of the house. Eventually.
I checked myself in the mirror, retouched the rouge on my cheek and the red of my lips. Who could resist? I smiled as I caught a glimpse of Bill staring at me from the corner as he appeared. Yes. He was definitely mine. All I needed was to keep the family on my side. Just until the wedding. And I was pretty sure there was going to be a wedding.
I turned, feigning innocent. ‘Billy, darling. I’m so sorry. I must have heard you say 3pm instead, so here I am.’ I kissed his cheeks lightly, like all society women do, and lingered a little longer near his cheek. ‘I hope I’m not intruding. Your Gregor parties are so famed, I didn’t want to miss out on all the fun by turning up late.’
‘You’re welcome anytime, Marie,’ Bill extended his arm and escorted me through the maze of the mansion, and out into the manicured gardens. ‘Come, I shall introduce you to the family.’
Wonderful! Just wonderful. I plastered a smile on my face as the family came into view. This was going to be easy compared to the last family.
Marie stood alone in the bridal room, dressed in an elegant ivory gown. She almost looked divine, properly excited by the prospect of what lay ahead. A wedding. Her wedding. She smoothed out her veil and picked up her small flower arrangements of white roses. The knock came then on the door. ‘Yes.’
A choir lady peered her head around the door. ‘We are all ready for you.’
Marie smiled. ‘I’ll be right out.’
She checked herself in the mirror once and corrected her posture. Standing tall like a Gisele. ‘Here it goes.’
The organ stayed with her as she walked lonesome down the aisle. A vision on defiance. An omen of something magnificently tough. She nodded at few guests as she walked past them towards the alter. She didn’t know many people at the wedding, in fact, the only person she knew was Bill Gregor. Bill Gregor who sat in amongst the crowd in the front rows.
She withheld a sigh. She was supposed to have been walking towards him waiting for her at the alter, not his younger, irritatingly elitist brother, Drew. Marie took it in her stride. By the time she reached the front of the church, she had a smile on her face, and a determination in her heart. Drew was also a Gregor heir, so she hadn’t really done so bad for herself. Just a few peachy months. Then a slow emotional leeching of Drew, a distraught wife who is at her wits end, and a bigger brother who cared enough to try and keep the family together.
Marie smiled at Bill before she turned her attention to the priest, and then the lesser handsome of the Gregor brothers. Her plans hadn’t really gone as planned, but walking down the aisle towards a rich future husband in less than six months, wasn’t a bad turn around.
‘Do you take Drew Maxwell Gregor as your lawfully wedded husband?’
Marie didn’t know where to turn. She needed a moment. A moment to console herself. The guests kept coming over, laying a gentle hand here, few kind words there. But it was all fodder to her. So what she was wearing black? So what she looked completely devastated? So what she was a widow at 51 and completely alone? She eyed the house for an exit. Any more words of condolences and she was going to burst into tears, and they weren’t exactly going to be for Drew, were they? She hadn’t ever learnt to love Drew. Not before the wedding, nor afterwards. Nor any of the thousand times he tried to woo her. And her interest in him had completely fizzled once the doctor told them the reason they were having difficulty conceiving was because drab old Drew was also sterile.
‘Excuse me.’ She managed to sound distraught enough so that she could walk away from the huddle of ladies.
Out in the open garden she could finally breath. A sigh of relief really. She didn’t have to pretend with the Gregors that she even cared for Drew. The whole family knew their marriage had died a long long time ago. Drew had even been ready for divorce but Marie wouldn’t have it. After all, years of her youth sacrificed wasn’t just so she could get divorced at 35 and go back to being dependent on herself for income. No, she deserved better. A good chunk of the Gregor fortune in fact.
‘Are you okay, Marie?’
She startled somewhat and turned around to face Bill. ‘And you?’
Bill shrugged. ‘No body really expected him to live as long as he did.’
Marie nodded. One thing every Gregor family member knew about her late husband, Drew, but the public hadn’t the slightest idea was that Drew was an alcoholic. His liver had died way before he did.
‘You’re going to be okay going back home alone?’
Marie debated whether to tell the truth, yes, or reply no. Perhaps what she hadn’t been able to do all those years ago, she’d be able to do now. After all, she was still in her finest shape, whereas Bill’s wife had let things slide enormously. ‘I don’t know… The house gets so quite, I almost feel like I’m the last one left on Earth.’
‘Why don’t you stay with Erika and myself for a couple of days? It’ll be a change for you, and you’ll have company?’
Marie smiled, a smile she hoped conveyed how grateful she was for his offer. ‘That would be a God send.’
Bill nodded and extended his arm towards her. Marie gladly took it, weaving her arm through his. ‘What would I do without you, Bill?’
‘Probably run away from this whole lot and wonder whatever happened to that vivacious young woman who bounced through our house way early for a party.’
Marie laughed. ‘Ah yes. Perhaps my mistake.’
Bill escorted her into the huddle of mourners and sympathizes. ‘I would have introduced you to Drew either way. In fact, it was the very reason I’d asked you to one of our drab parties.’
Marie felt her checks flush with heat. ‘What do you mean?’
Bill smiled down at her. ‘Drew saw you with me once and asked who you were, so I had promised I’d introduce you to him.’ He waved at a passerby who clasped his hand in a show of condolence. ‘And the rest is history.’
Marie could feel the anger boil inside her. How dare he? How dare he?
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.