“Not far away. How about you?”
“Down from Melany for the day,” he said.
“She’s a beautiful dog,” she kept her eyes on his face. Out the corner of her eye she caught the other woman, shifting from foot to foot.
“I found her by the side of the road. She was only a pup,”
“She’s a lucky girl,”
They talked for nearly an hour, there beneath the trees, the ocean a giant blue backdrop.
“I should let you two get going,” she finally said. They walked as a small silent group back to the car park, the woman striding ahead. As they bid their farewells, he pulled a card from his pocket and slid it into her hand. He looked down at her and smiled.
“Maybe we’ll catch up down here again, sometime,”
“Maybe. I usually end up here on Tuesdays” she said, closing her hand around the card.
“See you later,”
TUESDAY, MARCH 24, 2009
Before her was endless ocean. She sat beneath the trees on a white park bench and contemplated her life. She felt unsure. About everything. The day was perfect. A cool breeze blowing in and a sun round and warm shining down, warming her feet. She bowed her head – not in prayer. Someone once told her that prayer was all about talking to God and meditation was all about listening. That’s what she needed to do; just listen.
She closed her eyes, the sound of the wind and waves filling her ears. A dog barked in the distance and she opened her eyes for a glimpse of it. Dogs. They were her weakness. She watched it chasing the waves, bouncing through the clear water, not a care in the world. Her life should be like that, she thought. Carefree and playful and void of all worry. If only.
She closed her eyes once again, resisting the temptation to get up and move. Resisting the uncomfortable feeling that sat in her chest. A feeling of loss like she had come adrift from her moorings and had lost her way. With eyes closed, she asked for a sign. Just a small fragment of a clue to help her regain her bearings. She imagined her heart like a compass within. She prayed for direction; she begged for true north. She licked at her lips and could taste the salt and was unsure whether it came from the sea or her tears. She answered her question by wiping her face.
She glanced at her watch and stood. It was time to get home. There were things to be done. She made her way up the hill to the car. Crossing the park, she saw him. He was standing beside a woman. They seemed together but not as a couple. Nearby was a dog – black and white, a heeler. She was beautiful. The dog was drinking from a bowl near a tap. She glanced down at her feet still covered with sand and then felt a pull, like some guiding force leading her sideways toward where they stood. She stopped in front of the dog.
“Ah, you’ve come to pat my dog,” he said, smiling down at her. She looked up at him. He had blue eyes the colour of lapis and a gentle face. She looked down at the dog, who looked up at her. Its eyes were the colour of autumn and its face was as gentle as her masters.
“What’s her name?” she asked him, returning her gaze to his face.
“Maggie.” he said.
Her eyes settled on his face. A happy and gentle face. He was beautiful.
“You from around here? ” he asked.
SUNDAY, MARCH 22, 2009
I often wonder where ideas come from. Do they hang about in the ether and filter down into available space? Or do we attract them on some vibrational level? What makes me wake in the middle of the night with a story line running through my head? The subconscious has a lot to answer for but that still doesn’t explain why certain people get certain ideas. What made J.K Rowling think of a wizard boy, as she chugged along one day on a train? I wonder, if she hadn’t taken notice of him, would he have moved on and appeared to somebody else?Do thoughts and ideas already exist as some kind of ethereal energy that beg our attention in order to populate our reality? I can almost see them floating about in the air, bumping into people’s heads, demanding to be taken seriously. Like all the times I think of something and say to myself,
“I’ll remember that…” and then don’t. The idea moves on, never to be seen ( by me) again. Is there a great conscious creative connection going on that we must acknowledge and tap into or else be left without a clue?
So many questions…so little time to ponder it all. The one thing I have learned is to take notice when a little whisper of an idea swings my way. Instead of relying on memory, I grab it and pin it to the closest piece of paper I can find. A $2.00 investment in a packet of mini notepads now strewn through the house have helped wrestle these fleeting ideas from the air. The notepads have at least given me the time to consider the idea’s worth later on – before it moves on and is forgotten for good.
THURSDAY, MARCH 19, 2009
I recently became motivated to get my life in some kind of order. Part of that clean up was learning to utilise my electronic calendar. I have been plugging in important things that need to be done for the day and so far, it is working right on schedule.
For my writing, I enter a block of time that is specifically dedicated. It might be a two hour time slot for plotting. Or a one hour session on scene tracking. Whatever it is, it becomes an important appointment with myself that I must keep. When I log onto my mac in the morning, and start checking emails and surfing the net, my calendar is running away in the background. When I procrastinate past my allotted time to “play, trapping myself in the sticky wide web, a calendar reminder pops up and lets me know that I have a word count to meet, or a scene to develop etc. It helps me refocus. And it makes me set goals. It is easy to click it away but it is far more rewarding to acknowledge it and get on with what task I have set to improve my writing.
They only take minutes to set up and once they are in, you can drag and drop them from one day to the next when you plan for your next writing session. It’s a little like having your conscience online and having to be accountable. Which reminds me…time for bed!
So, how do you keep yourself on track?
TUESDAY, MARCH 17, 2009
Yesterday, after a long writing session, I’d had it. But I had reached my goal, so in order to reward myself, I took off to Sandgate. One of the things I learned in Monique Beedles workshop was that it is important to reward yourself when you reach a goal.
The pay off was just what I needed. The weather was perfect and after a healthy lunch at a cafe, I sat and pondered some more scenes for the book. Because I was out “paying” myself, the extra work I did at the table didn’t seem like work and the new atmosphere fuelled my creativity. I rounded the afternoon off with a walk by the sea. It emptied my head and cleared out the fatigue I was feeling after hours spent in front of my computer. So from herein, rewards are the way to go – after the hard work is done – of course.
Rewarding yourself keeps your energy flowing. When I don’t reward myself, my creativity flags a little and it all becomes like a lot of hard work with little or no gain. Not all rewards have to cost, financially. They can include a walk by the sea or through your favourite park, coffee with a friend, a walk around the block, an hour of reading or gardening or just doing your favourite thing. Whatever it is that you need to feel recharged after the work is done. Julia Cameron, who wrote ‘The Artist’s Way’, advocates having an artist’s date. This is a pre-planned date with yourself that you must keep, and it is to be spent doing something creative and fun. It is simply a way of rewarding yourself.
Next time you reach that goal, no matter how small or large, take a moment to reward yourself in some way. It keeps the enthusiasm alive knowing that something nice is waiting at the other end of the slog.
SUNDAY, MARCH 15, 2009
My Official Board of Story-ness.
Yesterday I attended Dr Monique Beedles workshop – Project Management for Writers. It was a fantastic workshop filled with many tools and tips on how to meld daily life with a writing life as well as figuring out how to squeeze in time for yourself. I wonder how many writers out there take the time to plan out a schedule that is dedicated to writing. I know that when I have a dedicated time slot allotted for writing, I am more likely to feel in the mood. When I wing it, and fit it in where I can, I often find excuses to not write because so much else needs attending to.
After doing the workshop with Monique, I am ready and rearing to get on with the tasks. I have a long term and short term map and goals all plotted out on a story board. My head feels lighter and I feel so much more organised and inspired to get on with writing instead of muddling through the quagmire that is my brain when there is no plan to follow. If you have a plan or routine that works for you – I’d love to hear about it. The board includes scene maps. plotting templates, a writing map, word count goals, a plan for the next week and month plus a “free” area to randomly jot general stuff that comes to mind.
After planning my writing life, I realise that blogging everyday is no longer a possibility if I am to achieve my major writing goals so I will instead blog with days that have “U” in them – Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday. Saturday will be my writing day off.
I’m off to plot and plunder the muse…
SATURDAY, MARCH 14, 2009
FRIDAY, MARCH 13, 2009
“Marshall, think carefully. He means what he says,” Angie said. Her voice was soft but convincing. I stared at the door and then turned to face Pa.
“What if I can’t find her? Then what? It would be like losing her all over again.”
“Finding your mother is a choice you must make. Taking on these powers…I’m afraid, isn’t.” Pa explained.
“What do you mean?”
“The power accepts you. You cannot escape it once it has chosen,” he said.
“What makes you think it has chosen me?”
“The penny that you now carry in your pocket…” I instinctively felt for it.
“How did you know about the penny?” I hadn’t told anyone I had taken it.
“There are many things I know about. And it is my job to teach you all of it. The penny has chosen you, Marshall. You are wasting your time if you think you can run away from it.” I felt the warm pulsing of the coin and for reasons I couldn’t fully understand, I found myself walking back toward Pa. I fell into the chair, my head swimming a little and my limbs heavy as lead.
THURSDAY, MARCH 12, 2009
“Is this meant to be funny?” I asked him. There was no way my mother could have survived.
“You think I would joke about my own daughter’s death?”
I felt hot and sick and needed air.
“I don’t know what to think. How can she still be alive?” I felt sweat trickle down the back of my neck. I pushed myself up from the chair.
“I need to get out of here.”
I wanted to know but couldn’t handle believing it had all been a hoax. I’d spent so much time getting my head around her being dead. I moved toward the door.
“You can’t leave here. Not tonight,” Pa said. His voice was slow and even. It was clear who was now in control.
“Why not?” I glared across at him.
“It’s not safe. People know you are here. They know why you have come. My brother will be watching out for you. The thing is, it isn’t your mother he wants. It’s you. He will draw you out, Marshall. And then he will kill you. Trust me. He has killed before. He will kill again.”
I stood halfway between the door and the chair, uncertain which option to take.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 11, 2009
The room fell quiet and nobody moved for a while. I glanced at the clock on the mantle. It was nearly two. I heard rain against the roof, a soft and constant reminder that the weather had turned.
“So you’re telling me I’m next in line? I’m the one who is meant to take over these…powers?”
Pa nodded slowly.
“That’s right. It’s all up to you.”
“Like I explained, if you don’t take on the position as Time Keeper, then the title goes to my brother. We can’t let that happen. There’s something else I probably should tell you…”
I waited and wondered while he shifted himself in the chair. He leaned forward, his arms on his knees. We were mirroring each other. He looked at me, concern spread over his face.
“I don’t think your mother is dead.” My heart skipped a beat.
“What do you mean?” I asked him. My heart thudded about in my chest. I took a deep breath and waited for him to answer. He said nothing.
“What do you mean?” I insisted.
“I think she’s alive and I think you can find her,” he said.
TUESDAY, MARCH 10, 2009
He walked slowly into the room, his hands pushed deep into his trouser pockets. He looked younger, and not so cranky.
“Surprised to see me?” he asked with a chuckle. I could feel his enjoyment oozing toward me.
“Can someone please tell me what’s going on?” I asked, looking from him to her.
“It would be my pleasure,” he said, pulling his hands free, and taking a seat on the couch. He leant forward, resting his arms on his knees, his head bowed low. Finally, he lifted his head and looked at me.
“It began when your mother was born…” he said. I settled back in my seat. This was going to be a long night.
MONDAY, MARCH 9, 2009
We moved into the lounge room and she motioned for me to sit. I sat in a chair opposite where she stood. I sunk back into the cushions for protection from what she was about to deliver.
“So? You planning on telling me now?” I asked. I was tired of the cat and mouse game we were playing.
“It will probably sound lame,” she offered.
“Your grandfather has powers you obviously don’t know about,”
“Yeah, like he has the power to be a royal pain…”
“That’s not what I mean. His powers are well known here,” she explained. I wished she would cut to the chase. I looked to my right. There was a photo of me and my brother taken when we must have been about three. It felt weird seeing a part of me in such a strange place.
“So what are these so called powers?” I asked, looking back at her. She paused for a moment before answering.
“He can manipulate time,” she said. I stifled a laugh.
“You’re not serious. You brought me all the way here to tell me this?”
“No,” someone said behind me.
“She brought you all the way here so I could tell you all this…” I recognised the voice straight away. I spun in the chair and saw my grandfather standing in the doorway.
SUNDAY, MARCH 8, 2009
The gate snapped shut behind me and I followed her down a narrow path. Torches flickered and spat along the path.
“Keep up, we don’t have much time,” she said.
“The guards will have seen us come in. They will be wondering what we are up to?”
“Can you blame them?” I asked.
” Just keep up, OK?”
The path led down into a valley, where buildings sprawled across the land. We turned onto another path that led to a small house. We reached the house where she fumbled through the keys she still held in her hand. She found the one she was looking for.
She stepped up onto the porch and opened the screen door and then slipped the key into the lock.
“How many houses do you have?” I asked.
“This isn’t mine,” she answered, opening the door and waving me inside.
“Should I ask?”
“It belongs to your grandfather. This is his house. Welcome home,” she said.
I stood in the foyer and looked to her, as the porch door slammed shut.
“So why are we here?” I asked. She closed and locked the door.
“Because here is the only safe place to tell you the truth,”
SATURDAY, MARCH 7, 2009
We jumped off the ferry and headed from the wharf. The place felt different – kind of eerie. I felt suddenly on edge. There was no one around and the narrow streets were lit only by lamplight that glowed feebly into the dark night. We walked in silence for several minutes before I asked.
“Where are we going, exactly?”
She cast a quick look over her shoulder and then quickened her pace.
“Shut up and keep moving.” There was an edge to her voice that matched the uneasiness I was still feeling.
“Don’t say anything,” she whispered through clenched teeth. “And don’t look back,” she added.
I resisted the impulse to do so. I cranked up the pace to keep up with her, and strained my ears to hear footsteps other than ours but all I heard was our hurried steps along a dark street now lined with old stone cottages.
We hurried up the hill, my breath catching in my throat from the cold night air. As we neared the top of the hill, she dug in her bag and pulled out a large set of keys. We came to a high stone wall at the top of the hill and we stopped before a large wooden gate. She slipped a key into the lock and pushed at the gate. It groaned open as if in pain, allowing us passage into another world.
FRIDAY, MARCH 6, 2009
I Dizzy is and Dizzy was
Too dizzy now to write a blog,
Catch up tomorrow…
THURSDAY, MARCH 5, 2009
Just as she promised, a ferry arrived before I had time to stamp the cold from my feet. I was glad to get on and huddle inside away from the wind. I took a seat near the front, and she settled beside me. Not as close as I would have liked. I stole a quick glance at her as she rummaged about in her bag. She was pretty, but not too pretty. And not much older than me, maybe a year or two. She caught me staring.
“What?” she asked, her blue eyes flashing toward me.
“Nothin’…I was just wondering…how old are you anyway?” I blurted. My face warmed in the cool night air.
She giggled a little and then looked away. An uncomfortable silence slid between us.
“I’m seventeen,” she finally confessed.
I’d been right in guessing our age difference. She was only a year older than me.
“You live by yourself in that house?’ I asked. She looked at me again, her face more serious now.
“Marshall, this place isn’t like where you are from. We do things differently here,” she explained.
“Is that why you’re taking me to some strange island in the middle of the night?”
“It’s hardly the middle of the night, and yes, partly. Our parents don’t hassle the way they do in your world. There’s more freedom here. For now, anyway…” Her voice trailed away and she looked away, across to the other side of the boat.
“Where are your parents?” I asked. I watched as her teeth sunk into her lip. She bit down hard and long before answering.
“I don’t know where my parents are.”
She turned and spoke the words looking directly into my eyes. Her gaze was hypnotic.
“It’s a long story. Not one to start telling tonight. Another time, perhaps,” she said, looking away. I felt bad for pushing the point. The look on her face told me I’d stepped over a line.
“No problem…” I muttered, looking out of the window.
My mother had been missing for days. I at least had some small chance of finding her. I tried to imagine not knowing. Not having a single clue. The thought terrified me.
The ferry pitched through the chop of the water, and the motion threw us off balance. The movement left us closer together. I wondered how long since she had seen her parents. I could feel the press of her body against me as she fought beside me, against the swell of the sea.
“We’re nearly there,” she said, suddenly standing. I felt a chill whip into the space where she’d been. I got up and followed her to the door. I wanted to know more about her. I wondered how long she would keep me out in the cold.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 4, 2009
We ate dinner in silence. My mind was miles away, trying to piece together the past few hours. Patience wasn’t my strong suit but I had little choice. She wasn’t giving anything away. She, too, seemed to be lost in thought.
“We can go when ever you’re ready,” she said, clearing the things from the table where we sat.
“I’m good to go,” I said, noticing my plate was barely touched.
She grabbed her coat and bag and I followed her back down the hall.
It was freezing outside, and the wind had picked up, shaking the limbs of the trees on the street. We made our way back down the hill and through the town to the wharf.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
“There’ll be a ferry along in a while. We’re going there,” she said, pointing to lights that blinked out in the middle of the black sea.
“Were is there?” I asked. Her secrecy was beginning to bug me.
“It’s where your grandfather lives when he’s here. It’s where you’ll find out your truth,” she said.
TUESDAY, MARCH 3, 2009
“It’s not really my place to tell you. Why don’t I fix us something to eat. I’ll make a call and we can go on from there,” she said.
“Why isn’t it your place to tell me? Tell me what?” I asked.
“Tell you why you ended up here, Marshall. It’s not my place. But I can take you to the one who should tell you.”
“And then what?”
“And then you can find out the truth,” she said.
The truth. That seemed to be something that was lacking of late.
“Who is this person?”
“Be patient. You’ll find out soon enough,” she said.
MONDAY, MARCH 2, 2009
“Let’s say we’ve been expecting you here for a while…” she said.
“You want to explain that a little better?” I asked. She pulled out another chair and sat next to me.
“Marshall, has your grandfather told you anything?”
“Like why you even found this place. Do you know who your grandfather is?” I laughed.
“Of course I know who he is. He’s my grandfather – what else could he be?”
“Your grandfather isn’t just a grandfather. He’s quite famous here,” she explained.
“How’s that?” I wasn’t following her at all.
She leaned back in the chair and rubbed at her temples. It reminded me of my mother.
I sat patiently and waited for her to explain.
SUNDAY, MARCH 1, 2009