I’m blog hopping…

writingdesk

I’ve been tagged by my lovely writing friend, Sheryl Gwyther, to participate in an ongoing blog hop. I answer the questions, and then I tag two more people to carry the torch forward…here goes…

what are you working on at the moment?

Currently I am participating in a writing course online, to get my writing muscle flexed and working again. I’ve been dabbling in paint and ink for the past few years and I’ve missed writing – so I searched for an online course to give me the flexibility to turn out work around my current schedule. I was searching for a course that resonated with me. I found it in Sarah Selecky’s Story is a State of Mind e-course. www.sarahselecky.com

Writing and I have a tumultuous relationship. We break up regularly but always find our way back to each other. I think it’s our destiny to end up together. I hope so.

I started the blog “My story starts here” to hold me publicly accountable for completing the exercises and committing to a writing practice. So far so good – I’m loving being back in the saddle again.

how do you think your work differs from that of other writers/illustrators in your genre?

I think everyone’s work is unique referenced by their own collective experiences. The beauty is in recognising yourself in other people’s words. I hope my strength lies in my ability to pull at heart strings. I love writing about things that move me. Hopefully, by way of that deeper human connection, my words move others as well. As far as illustration goes, I think my style is fairly unique and happy. A whimsical carefree expression of life as I know it.

why do you write/illustrate what you write?

I write because it moves me. It helps me make sense of behaviours and motivations in the world around me. I write because, as I have found out over the course of many writing break ups, I can’t not write. Writing is intrinsic to my mental and spiritual health. It makes me happy.

what’s your writing/illustrating process, and how does it work?

My writing process is currently being reinvented as I work my way through this course. It has opened my eyes to new ways of thinking about my relationship with writing. Developing a “relationship” with writing has made all the difference to me. I never saw it that way before. It was always something I had to wrangle into my day. Sarah’s course has changed the way I think about it.  I hold a greater respect for my craft now. I am taking care of it. Nurturing it daily by turning up to the page. Pushing through the resistance but also learning to be gentle and not beat myself up over stuff. I’m learning to let go of the ridiculous expectations that are probably the biggest forms of non productive fiction that reside in my head.

I also use meditation before I write. To reset my compass and drop myself into the zone. It snaps all the pesky connections to the real world nagging - must do the shopping, must walk the dog, must hang the clothes out, need petrol, did I pay that bill?  etc and allows my brain to take a big deep breath as it shifts into its creative space.

The entire process of writing is magical and I am so grateful that I am drawn toward this beautiful craft. I think all writers should give thanks to their respective writing gods. It’s so easy to whinge and whine about how hard the process is but within that process, you can create magic. You transport people to other lands. You offer them new worlds and experiences,. You can agitate a cauldron of emotion inside people and make them question their deepest being. Through simple words. You can change lives. What a gift. What’s not to be grateful for?

doggyhill

My illustration process is pretty laid back. I love doing loose sketchy cartoony kind of illustrations, so the fun factor is always high for me. It’s really lovely to be able to flip from words to pictures and back again. I also do work as a graphic designer, which often brings together the two components of writing and illustration beautifully, producing an entirely different medium again. I’m a lover of watercolour. It has a mind of it’s own. I often feel there is a quantum side of art that takes over. When you let go of trying to control things, It often produces the best results. Everything moves to where it is meant to be. I think there is a good life lesson to learn in that. Let go and trust. Everything lands where it is meant to.

ANATOMY OF A SHORT STORY… blog hopping

Keep Writing:

I’m part of a blog hop – about how writers think and work. I was tagged by the lovely Sheryl Gwyther…have a read.

Originally posted on Sheryl Gwyther - author:

galileo-telescopeWould you like to know how the inside of a writer’s head works? A good way to show you is to cut open my 480-word short story, AND YET, IT MOVES.

I’m posting as part of a blog-chain hop (a small link, I am) of how authors think and work. Passed on by wonderful performance poet, Zenobia Frost to my lovely friend, author, Michael Gerard Bauer and then on to me. (Yes, I am breaking the rules of procedure a bit here by not answering the set questions!)

Where do the ideas for my short stories come from? It still surprises me, even after 15 weeks in my 52-Week Flash Fiction Challenge, but I’ve learned to trust in the creative process that it will happen. And week in, week out, it does. Here’s how AND YET, IT MOVES came to be.

THE SPARK OF AN IDEA
The stimulus…

View original 574 more words

A letter to my little dog…

Image

 

     It’s March 24th, and I am sitting here writing to you, Little Dog. It’s the eve of a major milestone. If I were to turn the clock back ten years ago to this day, you wouldn’t be here. I’d be sitting alone in a house full of fear and bad memories. I would have spotted you a week ago, rolling about in that pet shop window. I would have passed you twice in one week. Contemplating. They say three times is a charm and the third time I saw you,  you charmed me. I am still besotted.  I went for a haircut that day. I came home with you. A tiny bundle of uncertainty. I’m not sure who was more frightened.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

   Slowly, your presence chased out the bad memories and the lessons began. You taught me the hard stuff the fun way. And my days  filled with sunshine and light. Everyday, I see in you  qualities I hope will develop in me; courage and joy, fun and patience, determination and loyalty. Above all, though, unconditional love. If your love were currency, there’d be no poverty left in this world. Because in you, it is endless. And I am grateful for you. So I just wanted to say thank you, Little Dog. For all the cuddles, and fun and joy and laughs, tears and love we have shared over the past ten years.  I pray for many more mornings where I wake to your beautiful face staring down at me, where a gentle paw nudges me from sleep. I am so glad you picked me. I am so glad we fell in love.

Happy anniversary, baby…you are my Earth Angel

Eternally yours,

xo

Image

Image

ImageImageImage

Image

A technicoloured dream coat…

Another word was delivered by a friend last week to fuell another blog post. The word was “sandal”, inspired by the first week of Spring. The word should evoke a sense of  oncoming summer but my memory butts against the iconic summer scene of sandals and sand and all things beach like. Instead, my memory seeks the shape of a shoe and I am thrown backward in time.

I’m in my mid twenties, working as a Paeds E.D nurse. The ambulance phone has just gone off and I feel the surge of adrenaline shoot under my skin as a warm flush of fear. A child in full cardiopulmonary arrest is on its way in. ETA – two minutes.

Children, for the most part, are resilient things. But when breath and heartbeat fail them simultaneously, the road ahead is very unsure.  As we man our stations, we hear the approaching siren. I still recall being stuck in that tiny window before the drama began to unfold. Standing in the resus bay, priming I.V lines with saline, grabbing bag and mask, ripping plastic covers from front line drugs designed to haul human life  from death. I remember the sick knot of fear  twining itself every larger the closer the ambulance came. This was adrenaline sports at its best.

They were  working on him as they brought him in. He was small, under seven. After a two hour battle, we lost him. Too soon. and too, too young. I recall the doctor’s face as he left us to go to the parents, to deliver the news that no one could really fathom. I stayed behind with my colleagues to do our best to clean him up, make him resemble the child that the parents last saw only hours ago.

I slip into “deal with it” mode. The steely coat we nurses wear when things go horribly wrong and we have to cope. It’s the coat that holds our ache inside. The coat that shouts to the world that “everything will be OK. We’ve got it under control.” But it’s nothing more than a technicolor dream coat. On the inside, part of us is dying too as we witness the loss of such a tiny thing.

I spy the little guy’s shoe, and it is the shoe that snags me and causes me to unravel. I pick it up from where it has fallen upon the floor during the mayhem. Its laces are still tied and I imagine the mother in the next room, who I can now hear wailing, tying her son’s shoes that morning. For the last time. I stand beside his lifeless body with this small shoe in my hand and a million questions snaking through my head. Where is God in any of this, I wonder? How can any of this serve any purpose? The answers don’t come and all I am left with is a shoe and not a clue how I will face this boy’s parents in the next few minutes when they come to begin their goodbyes.

Photo courtesy of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

Blue

The muse has slowly been waking. She’s slept in a ball at my feet for the past year. One more thing to trip over. But of late, she’s offered up a little inspiration as I have dabbled back in the world of words once again. I’ve asked a few friends for some topics to blog about. Tonight, came the topic of Blue.

There is a stretch of beach in Forster, NSW – an inlet, really. When I hear the word “Blue” this is the scene that comes to mind. I am on rock beside my father, and before us, an ocean of blue stretches into a crease on the horizon. We sit; he has not long turned 70. I am in my late 30’s. It is mid afternoon. The day, like the tide, is running from us.

 We tell each other how much we love each other. A rare moment. Growing up, I was never that close to him. Could barely reach him. He held me at bay with a stern and controlling hand. But in that moment there on the beach, the years peel away like old paint from a wall. A new slate reveals itself and on it we declare unconditional love for each other.

 I remember the grief bundled in the back of my throat. I struggled to swallow back the bitter years we had silently endured, to arrive in this moment of tenderness. In among that knot of sadness were a million questions. How much time did we have left together? Had we wasted too much already? Did we both have the courage to pick the bones of this father / daughter relationship that had somehow lost its bearings?

 It’s hard being brave when questions like these fall at your feet. It’s difficult to push the boundaries that eventually become the safe space between you. But gradually, we summon the courage. We navigate the fear.  And we hope to last long enough to out live the answers.

 It was the last time we declared our love to each other, face to face. He died suddenly a year or so later. Fell from my life like an autumn leaf from a tree, leaving me open to the  grief that comes calling when a loved one dies before you are ready.

 I try to think of all the other things that remind me of blue but today, I can’t get past that stretch of beach, past my father’s blues eyes twinkling back at me. Or past that moment we shared that has now woven itself into memory. Blue. It’s been that kind of day.  

“Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net”

Thahaiba

Such a silent tiny thing,

Upon the brink of eventide,

I watch you wrestle through the arms of slumber,

She endeavors to encumber you, to draw you gently to her face,

I catch you tumbling softly, to fall unharmed in sleep’s embrace.

 

I note the in-out movement of your chest,

As I let you roam alone those corridors that you know best,

For here, I pray, is where you seek to find

vision that adjourned through hidden doorways locked within your mind.

 

Your waking moments filled with endless darkness,

You wait alone for someone to engage,

A touch, a tone, diffusing through the mantle,

Escorts you to a doorway to lead you safely from your cage.

 

Tumble through the darkness here before me,

Take my hand, I’ll guide you to the light,

I’ll offer things you never knew existed,

Through touch alone, I’ll do my best

to briefly resurrect your sight.

 

And when I call, unannounced, and gently take your hand,

A sudden frown indicates you may not understand,

Your hands trace softly over mine as if they capture sight,

Eruptive laughter bubbles forth when recognition comes to light.

 

You’ve come to know my touch and not my face,

But a semblance of my essence is what you glimpse when we embrace,

And if only it were all left up to me,

I’d slay the beast that keeps you bound,

releasing you, so you may see.

 

For now, you’re cradled deep in slumber’s warm embrace,

Where dreams may conjure images resembling my face,

I gently spin a magic thread and weave it just above your bed,

To capture any dreams you wish to keep,

To see when you awaken from your sleep.

 

And I whisper as I leave you as before,

“I’m just outside your door…I’m just outside your door…”

© Lynn Priestley 2012

Silo 21

Today was a perfect Brisbane day. It was a day where I met with fellow illustrators to steep deeply in conversation that was all about ink and colour, art and inspiration. Something quite magical happens when creative folk huddle. A magical force takes hold and it brightens my world.

So many creative pursuits see us working in silos. Long hours of solitude teasing images from our minds. Wrangling the beast onto paper or screen is always a challenge but somehow when I hear others share their tales of creative woe, I no longer feel quite so cut off. It’s like reuniting with the tribe. They speak my language. They face similar trials. We celebrate each others triumphs and I come away healed of the nagging doubt fed by isolation. I’m so fortunate to be part of this group.

In my moonlight

You haven’t appeared in my moonlight tonight, what hemisphere are you sitting in now. 

Are you here or there or wandering lost, left of centre or avoiding the cow?

 Your schedule is alien, foreign and mad and I don’t know if wanting your time is as bad as wanting you all to myself in the night when the dogs are barking in furious flight.

 A drew a card in the shade today – twin flames that whispered the shade in your name – it hinted at spirits eternally bound and wanted to know what time you’d come round.

 I responded in kind said I never could tell if you comprehend what is happening, well, it’s not like it’s hard to figure the rest but I think that you’re not all you attest. 

 I see the spin and the wild woolly gale that surrounds you from opposite sides of the tale. Your intellect shines like fingers through cloud yet I sit in denial wrapped in my shroud. 

 For this thing is as dead as all dead can be and there’s no chance of resurrecting in me the hope of a promise, the swing of a rope when bygones are hanging their heads without hope. 

 Without further a do I jump to a frame where I know that my shroud wont get caught in the rain that falls once again on my day of parade and leaves me in pieces, soaking and frayed. 

 I sleep with the knowledge that freedom is choice and within is the obvious nagging old voice that tells me deep down inside of the cave the answer has risen out of the grave. 

Though it glows like a beacon and rings in the light

it is sad that you aren’t in my moonlight tonight.

 

Lynn Priestley©2011

Ocean Flaw

There’s an ocean inside him,

Drowning her slowly,

She’s searching for land but is just out of reach,

A tempest is brewing each moment she fails, 

And she’s battered and bruised

as she’s washed to his beach.

 

His eye has its bias,

His sea has its plight,

His you is an incomprehensible fight,

For nothing remains very long in his view,

As he flounders in search of that somebody new.

 

His tide ebbs and flows, etched on a string,

And coaxes her back to the very same thing,

She resists him at first,

Bobs on his wave,

Then digs one more hole in his watery grave.

 

 And here she remains

‘Til her strings rot and frey

As she’s lost once again in his salt water grey.

 

 She swears on a moonbeam, 

This chance is his last,

Or his unfullfilled vows will be shelved in her past.

 

But then the tides turn,

And she digs from his grave,

And swims for the life

that she knows she can save.

 

She breaks from his mooring,

Swims to her shore,

And leaves him to drown

on his sad ocean floor.