Everyone Has a Story

Again, I am conducting the ‘Writing for Pleasure’ program at both libraries, Margaret Martin, Randwick, and Bowen in Maroubra. The new project is writing short pieces from interviews with people about their stories.

Every person has a story, who they are, where they come from, personal stories and histories, what highlights have occurred during their lives, and its up to us as writers to find the best of these stories and bring them to life.

I am excited that we now have not only some regulars, but also new people who are joining us for this latest adventure. My first idea was to call the book, Stories from the Street, but some people were daunted by the idea of confronting strangers about their lives. Its easy for me to talk to strangers, I have the dog who is the great catalyst for getting to know people, it usually starts with,”What a cute dog, what’s his name?” “Its Rambo, but its no use talking to him because he’s deaf, loves socializing though,” and then we are off on a conversation. Sometimes, a person just comes and sits next to me on the bench and starts talking about their life, it must be my face or maybe I have big ears.

“Everyone has a story” is a  more accessible idea, at least most of the time we are a little more familiar with the people next door, hairdresser, shop keeper or even someone you vaguely know.  Everyone in our two groups is excited about the project and I hope to have the book finished with all the stories by the end of the year, and printed by sometime early next year.  Its such a joy to see everyone excited that they are going to participate in a project of having something they have written in print and part of a book. Last year’s book, “A Patchwork of Stories” is now in the National Library and available for the general public to read.

In the meantime, I am still working laboriously on editing my own memoir, its feels like its been FOREVER.

Writing is one of the great pleasures of life, loosing yourself in the process of creativity, whether its formulating an imaginary story from the ethers or chasing your memories to share with the world at large, playing with it, polishing it and nursing it like a newborn child with the milk of your imagination.

Happy writings.

Helene

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READ READ READ

I wonder if anyone knows how many books are in the world.

I wonder how many authors there are on this planet.  Then of course, there are authors, writers, continuous editors and all kinds of scribbling in between.

I wonder what is that itch that tickles the individual to start writing something. Surely it must be a lot more than the psyche’s scream to be heard and for the creative soul to be seen.

For me, I remember standing on my brother’s bed that was pushed against the wall over which was a shelf full of books.  I was too little to read then, I was even too little to reach any of those books but a little weeny voice, maybe it was that of some dead poet who spoke to me that one day I would read all the books in the world and as soon as the funny squiggles that were letters became words that I could miraculously read, I found my hungry place.  My first snacks were the wonderful Russian fairy tales book that my brother used to bring home for me and the stories about Bambi and Snow White and all that came along with that, in French of course because we lived in Paris.

My dad was Russian and spoke of Chekhov and Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky and it wasn’t until I could master English and grew up in Australia I found that they had become my main dishes along with Guy de Maupassant, Flaubert, Daudet, Emile Zola, I even read the Bronte sisters.  I discovered Sartre and Camus that put me in a more contemporary and free thinking frame of mind.   Someone suggested I read Salinger’s Catcher in The Rye, of course I had to get to the futuristic works of Orwell and Aldous Huxley, I had to read Kurt Vonnegut,   Shakespeare happened at school.  The fads came with J.R.R. Tolkien with his Lord of the Rings and I swallowed all the intricate philosophical novels of Herman Hess.  Lost myself in the hallucinations of the works of Carlos Castaneda.  Travelled to other planets with Asimov and a plethora of Science Fiction.  I light deserted out on Agatha Christie and much later found Margaret Atwood, D.H. Lawrence where I drooled over Lady Chatterly’s Lover not to mention Nabokov’s Lolita.  A touch of Evelyn Waugh brought me some British again.  I suddenly remember the marvellous controversy that Philip Roth brought to my eyes with his Portnoys Complaint and everyone was buzzing that how could such a genius writer put words on paper about masturbation, let alone to be made into a movie.

Of course I read some rubbish, I can’t remember what it was and not especially because it was rubbish but I also can’t remember the mountain of fabulous novels by extraordinary authors that all are sitting gently in the deepest corners of my memories and can mostly be retrieved when I see their names in print, some have also become yellow with age on my bookshelves.

I don’t know if reading all those authors who were and are the architects of all those miraculous stories, created that itch in me to write, if those marvelous geniuses reached out to entice me to write, to find my own voice, to humbly follow in their footsteps.

There is no way that I can possibly understand anyone who thinks of writing, unless its for their own pleasure and family, who have not been stirred by the emotional constructions of those past and present authors and feel that something has been learnt and a unique weaving of stories emerges from the aspiring author.

IF YOU WANT TO WRITE, READ, READ AND READ SOME MORE AND REACH OUT TOWARDS THE DIVERSITY OF THE MANY GENRES, STORIES AND MEMORIES.

A LIFE OF WRITING

Have you ever held a pen in your hand, had words in your head and all you wanted to do was to just write, let the words pour out of you on to the sheet?

I have, ever since I can remember, I wrote and wrote, bits and pieces, some from my imagination, some, from my observation, places where I’ve been and people I met.  I played with ideas stringing them together with the glue of imagination and the writing that magically formed on the pages.

Writing can be seductive, pulling you in to its world and you are the driver of the journey.  Life can never be boring when you write, its a relationship that the more you put in, the more you get back, in love, in satisfaction, in being a creator, in being in charge.

I conduct writing courses and find that the different levels of writing that people bring in are what gets them started and what keeps them going discovering more and more what they can do better and better and if not so, then the pleasure that they gain.

Getting published is another side to it, many of us do all that we can to achieve that whether it is finding a publisher or doing it yourself and now of course, its better than ever with ebooks and self publishing but I will write about that another time.

Feel free to share your writing journey with me.

Happy Writings

Helene

OBSERVE and WRITE

If you want to be a writer, of one kind or another, watch and listen. There are stories out there that are screaming to be noticed and recorded.  Characters walking around the streets by the thousands.  By people watching  you get some rich material to describe they way the look, dress, walk, talk to each other, carry things.  Are the men furry faced in one way or another, bald, have interesting haircuts.  The women, are they rotund, skinny to a point that they could disappear behind the local lampposts or average to challenge further description?

Places where you go, eateries, scenery, social events and time spent with friends and families, who did what and where and was there anything funny happening out of it all?

In the course (pardon the pun) of one dinner party, you can get a whole gamut of people descriptions and the way they behave to give you at least a novella’s worth of writing.  Be careful though, my mother almost lost a close friend years ago when she told the woman that I was writing a book, the friend was very verbose about what I might write about her corpulent body and inclination to gossip, mind you, I did make some notes and then decided to protect my mother’s friendship.  I may not be as generous these days, not even about my own flowing body bits.

How do rooms look, what kind of furnishing do they have, decor or the interesting hotch-potch of an eclectic mix which can be described in various creative ways.

Then there is the environment.  Many of us who write spend great chunks of time observing nature.  Australian Eucalyptus trees with their layers of sand coloured bark that entices a tactile person to peel jagged sheets of their soft pliable texture.  I am blessed to live in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney where I can go and observe the constantly changing ocean and spend hours watching the waters flow backwards and forwards in varying size waves leaving white droplets hanging from their edges.  Oops, I’m getting carried away.  At the risk of being observed as a crazy person, you could spend an endless amount of time sky gazing, cloud formations can provide us with a lyrical pallet to write from.

Ants are very interesting, I used to swim in a neighbours’ solar heated pool which was surrounded by a wild assortment of plants tumbling towards the edge, I spent quite a lot of time observing the comings and goings of the ants rushing around in a flurry of activities, carrying bits of crumbs, leaves, extinguished insects and getting out from under the dead leaf that I sometimes placed in their path just to see how they would tackle it.  I think I may have even instigated some romance there, you know, one ant rescuing another.

I am not saying to go on and on writing sagas about all these things, what I suggest is that observing these things, finding ways to describe them and pull them into a story you are writing, has the power to add a lyrical texture to the art of written storytelling.

Enough about trees, sky and ants, I think you get the picture, I’d love to hear from you about what grabs your attention and motivates you to write.

In my next blog I will give you a little exploration into Listening and Writing.

 

WRITE – NO MATTER WHAT

Happy New Year, the plan for me is this year to add more blogs to my page and share with you the writing journey.

Writing is in the main quite isolating, fingers to the keyboard or pen to express the fruit of your creativity, ideas and whatever catches your need for expression.  That’s why there are so many writing groups that have emerged and are proliferating around the country, people who want to share, be motivated by others and get feedback for what they write and apart from that, its also a very pleasant social outlet for people of like mind.

My writing groups at the local library will be starting again in February and I am looking forward to that.  For me, it also entails the discipline of preparing activities to motivate and generate ideas for participants to explore their writings.

What I found to be most important is to write, no matter what.  Okay, some days you are too busy with whatever it is and it may not be possible, however, having said that, even if you jot down one line, one sentence, one idea, maybe an outline for something, an observation of life outside your own world, it becomes a habit of writing, focusing on the process.  There are days when I have spent half an hour on my work and that was it for the day, other days I just keep going.  Somehow, its like my decision to get rid of ‘stuff’ in my house, I made a decision that everyday I would get rid of ‘something’ so I hunt through my cupboards, drawers, folders, books, clothes and create a little or a big cluster of chuck out stuff and the decision that I made to do that everyday keeps me doing it.  So its the same with writing, if you make a decision to write something everyday, you will and I am willing to bet that you will discover little gems to write about.

The everyday vagaries of life gives us so much material that we are never out of a subject, that’s what I say to my students and when they say “but someone already did that” or “said that” my response is that they havnt done it YOUR WAY, from your viewpoint and perception nor would they give it your description.  We all see life differently.

Finally, enjoy the words you are writing, the ideas that come into your brain, marvel that you and only you can do it that way, this is part of the juice that keeps you writing.

Sharing gives us another dimension to our writing, so share with us here some of your words.

Happy writings.

Helene

Christmas Time

If you think the year has brought you a string of experiences to write about, just think about the season.  What is now on offer is everything that you are experiencing and sharing with others during this time.  Writing about it will place this time in your living archives.

You may be celebrating the season in similar ways to others, you know, the family and friends thing, the tree, the decorations, turkey, food, drink, presents, the shopping done before.  More television Christmas carols singing and you singing along.  Others, may celebrate the season in other ways or in other beliefs with the accompaniments of food and rituals that go with it.

To me, what give you the fodder for writing, is that no matter how same it may be to what others are doing, experience or how solitary and sad it could be for others, when it comes to writing about it is that its YOUR experience, its unique in the way it is unfolding for you and the way you are seeing it and how you can express it, your way, what are the colors that you are adding to it, the descriptions, feelings, metaphore that you creating.

They could be minute observations about the people around you in this time, how they look, behave, are, how is your relationship or not.  The bright colorful lights that you see on houses as you drive past them, during the Christmas months.  Is there gratitude that you live in a free world where all these things can take place.

Write about it and then some.  During or after the presents have been opened, the food digested, the circle of people hugged and thanked. Next year or the year after or in the decades that follow, you or someone will read your impressions of Christmas 2015 and know what it had been like for you at that time.  It may even be some very rich material for a novel that you will be writing in the close future.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR.

HELENE

 

 

 

FINISH WRITING YOUR BOOK

Now its done, the book is finished.  The story is told.  The endless editing as they say ‘until your eyes bleed’ has reached a place of ‘either I spend the rest of my life editing or let it go, get it published’ and move on.

Have you reached that place with your writing yet?  The place where EVERYONE you know, friends, family, people in coffee shops, tradies, medicos and hairdressers all know about the book you have been writing and if they are people who see you on occasion, the usual question is, “how is your book going?”  and your reply is,”I’m nearly finished, doing my last edit.’ and next time, “are you finished yet?” of course the reply is, “almost done with the editing”.

Finally nobody wants to know how you are progressing, they simply want to buy it, get a freebie, download it from Amazon or wherever and worst still, hope you stop talking about it.

Because I have been hooching up people about the content, the setting, the character, that its really funny, very explicit sexy, has travel, quirky characters and a dark element with a satisfactory ending, some people are curious.

I don’t know why I did this, but my pest control guy who comes ones a year to get rid of the travelling rats, asked me the other day “how is your book going?” (see, I told you) and I don’t know why I did this but I asked him if he would like me to read the last page to him.  He sat down at the table whilst I got my laptop, I swear his wiskers were almost twitching thinking he would be privy to the erotic stuff I had been talking about, I read him the last page and a half and when I finished, I looked up and he had a few tears on his face, ‘oh dear, I thought, is it that bad that I made a man cry?’

He smiled and said,”this is wonderful, I now have to go and think about what is going to happen to them, that is so beautiful.” I had to have the last word, “Not all of it is that good, there are some wobbly parts in there.”

Who knows what its like, I’ve lived with this book for a couple of years, ups and downs, dreams, hopes, changes, creative hours of losing myself, and now its over.

If you are a writer you know, that now its far from over, its only the beginning, getting your life blood out to the world.  If publishers don’t take it on, then its another journey of finding ways to self publish, getting book cover designed, layouts, uploading, promotion and the hard work is just beginning.

How about sharing your book’s journey with us.

Happy Writings

Helene