Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Storytime - Tuesday Poem

It's the storytime Christmas party
And the library is knee-deep in children.
Above the babble and the one screamer
a child earnestly demands, 'But why?
Why did the pig fall in the water?'
I admire his narrative persistence.
The answer - the author thought the end correct -
won't do, the pig has a new owner for now
and the pig's fate will be rewritten.
How I envy the young storyteller!
Like a film in reverse, the pig's back on the swing
kicking up his hooves in the sunny park
he's stopped pushing his brothers by the lake
and arguing over the sailboat. All drama is erased
but the pig is happy and the young editor
although not versed in plot
clearly understands contentment.

Catherine Bateson, 2014.

When you've visited here, check out the Tuesday Poem blog and read today's featured poem, 'A room of books', by Rethabile Masilo, a regular Tuesday Poet. Narrative intersects narrative, poems speak to and around each other. Lovely!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

NaNoWriMo Wrap-up

50,000 words in a month works out to 1667 words a day. I think. That is relevant information only if you can start on November 1 and can work every weekend. We had a wedding to attend on the first weekend, which was also Nov. 1st. I did 500 words that whole weekend, I think, but I enjoyed seeing two young people commit to each other in a ceremony that never ceases to move me.

Then there was Melbourne Cup - and we stop for that, even if the whole nation doesn't, quite. I made a (free-range) chicken terrine and took it up to the Mothership's and everyone except The Knitting Girlfriend lost money. It was a sad Melbourne Cup day - not because we lost - but because two horses in the race were put down which made me wonder if we'd ever bother again.

I caught up on some marking and then we had interstate visitors and a business strategy meeting,  some more marking and some French homework. I had an afternoon TAFE meeting which took up another day because I had to drive to Warragul and back and then I had some good teaching ideas for 2015 which led to a flurry of emails. I'd also signed up to a MOOC, which I wanted to finish just because it was so interesting.

However, I'm not, as Mademoiselle Rouge pointed out, working full-time and people working full-time complete their 50,000 words. She was right. I am, however, writing a historical novel which required research. There is nothing that stops me in my tracks so much as a question of authenticity. If my protagonist gets her hair cut, was there hairspray in 1942? Oh my goodness! Google! (The answer is no. Hairspray in aerosol cans was a by-product of World War II. Aerosol cans were invented for insecticides. It's pretty damned clever to look at an insecticide and imagine it spraying an up-do, but there you are. That's what makes people rich.)

Research took extra time, but I realised just how much I love it, which was a NaNoWriMo bonus. Doing much of it on the fly irritated me, and I really disliked not being able to edit as I went along. Actually, I did edit, at first, and then I realised how much time that was taking and simply steeled myself to resist it. That was probably the most difficult thing of all.

I did learn that a bit of planning really does help. I had a lot of this story percolating in my head for a year, but it was a story made up of anecdotes and it lacked a clear trajectory. The anecdotes are all family stories that had to be harnessed in some kind of way. I could start with them, but the final product needed a lot of fictional shaping. It was great to have so much material to work with and that allowed me to find the shaping quite quickly, I think. I have my fingers crossed here, because I know I have to do a radical editing job further down the track to get that working properly.

What really surprised me most, I think, was the amount of joy I took each day in sitting down to write. It's been a very focused writing experience and yet nothing else seemed to really suffer from my lack of attention. The Accountant will tell you he had to cook a couple of times - but we didn't come down with salmonella. There was a little more angst than normal at the start - but that has been more than made up for by sheer bounciness in the last half of the month. The Mothership will tell you there have been less movies seen - but a surprising amount of gardening was accomplished.

Would I do it again? In a heartbeat!

Now, what on earth will I do tomorrow?


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tuesday Poem - Emily Dickinson.

 1510 - How happy is the little Stone

How happy is the little Stone
That rambles in the Road alone,
And doesn't care about Careers
And Exigencies never fears—
Whose Coat of elemental Brown
A passing Universe put on,
And independent as the Sun
Associates or glows alone,
Fulfilling absolute Decree
In casual simplicity—

Emily Dickinson.


It seems that the third line is particularly pertinent when you're in the middle of NaNoWriMo and as many thousand words behind as I am! When you've contemplated the stones and pebbles of the Universe, find more poetry on the Tuesday Poem blog

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Tuesday Poem - in honour of the Melbourne Cup

I offer you a link to some Australian horse poems. And then gallop over to the Tuesday Poem blog to read the guest edited poem there, 'Here We Give Thanks (after Gregory O'Brien' by Mary-Jane Duffy, brought to you this week by Claire Mabey.

I can't stop and chat - I'm already approximately 6,000 words behind NaNoWriMo - arrrgghhh!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tuesday Poem - Small Harvest

Apropos of nothing, happiness
smaller than a heartbeat
but puffed up, nonetheless,
perched on my window sill
and sang like a diva.
Grace, the I Ching warns, is  temporary -
a break in the fog,
a sapphire wren and his mate courting,
the way a dog grins at you
as though you both share a joke.

Hold this small harvest lightly

given without supplication
given away - merely
a seed on a ghost of breath.

Catherine Bateson, 2014.

I have been watching wrens from my study window and they inspired this poem, just in time for Tuesday! Flit over to the Tuesday poem blog where you can read guest editor, Helen Rickerby's chosen poem -  'No Rough Verses' from I, Clodia by Anna Jackson.

Clodia was, very likely, the Lesbia of the poems of  Catullus. And, of course, one of his most famous poems also featured a bird - 'The Death of Lesbia's Sparrow'. You can read a translation of that poem here. I do love it when there's a link between my poem and the Tuesday poem, however tenuous!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Eleven more sleeps

until NaNoWriMo. Who is going to be on my cheer squad? I really want to do this. I feel as though I've been stuck in a bit of a writing/not writing/writing/not writing rut and the impetus to finish NaNoWriMo would be good for me. But, as my daughter points out - rather too often - I need gold stars....
Recruiting my cheer squad now. No dancing required!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Quote for the day

Just write every day of your life. Read intensely.Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.

 —Ray Bradbury