Around Midnight

painting of nude reclining woman on ceramic platter
Ceramic painting by Libby Sommer 2008

 

‘When are you open?’ Anny asks the woman on the telephone.

‘We have a party twice a day.  Every day.  Twelve thirty to four thirty and seven thirty to midnight.’

‘Oh.  Every day?  I thought it was Saturday nights only.’

‘No darling.  Every day.’

‘So what’s the setup?’

‘$120 for a couple.  Nothing if you come on your own.  What’s your position.  How would you come along?’

‘On my own.’

‘It would cost you nothing then.’

‘But what do you do?  I mean, I know what goes on there.’

‘You’ve been here before?’

‘No.  A friend told me about it.  What do you wear?  What’s the setup?’

‘It’s all up to you love.  If you fancy a gentleman you invite him into one of the rooms.’

‘What do you wear though?  My friend said something about robes.’

‘Towels. They’re towels love.  You wear whatever you like.  Normal clothes.’

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How to Beat Resistance

white book on wooden table

How many wonderful ideas have we had in our lives that never became anything more than ideas?  What stopped them from becoming reality?  Probably lack of drive, or fear, or both.

If the idea of writing a story, writing a memoir, or writing a blog lights a spark within you, sets off a signal, causes you to drool—or fills you with unspeakable anxiety—then you are ready to write.  What is holding you back is not lack of drive, but fear.  Unadulterated, stark fear.

 

 

  • Fear of what?
  • Fear of being unable to write well and being criticized by others?
  • Fear of being unable to stay on track long enough to get to an ending?
  • Fear that you just don’t have what it takes to maintain focus to tell a good story?

 

Research into the way the brain operates has revealed that there are two sides to the brain, left and right.  Much of our fear of writing comes from the way these two sides do or don’t work together.

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After the Rain

silver pen on writing pad on antique pine settle

Just before six o’clock on Friday evening, Anny and Gordon get out of Anny’s Honda.  They walk down Bondi Road passing the tattoo shop, the vegetarian restaurant and yet another new Thai restaurant.  The road is unusually quiet and Anny has parked directly opposite the fish cafe where she’s taking Gordon for dinner.  The streets aren’t grid locked during the Olympics after all and there’s an unusual calm on this usually noisy busy road.

Walk in front of me, says Gordon as they head towards the traffic lights and the pedestrian crossing.  I can see better if you walk slightly in front of me.

She doesn’t know whether to offer him her arm or what.  She feels embarrassed at the thought of close physical contact with him and is pleased that he’s told her to walk in front.  At least she knows now the best way to progress along the street with him.  Not like the snail’s pace of the week before.

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10 Topics for Writing Practice

books on Victorian mahogoney dressing table

Sometimes we sit at our desks to write and can’t think of anything to write about.  We face the blank page.  We sit there until blood pours from our foreheads, as one famous author was heard to say.

 

Making a list can be good.  It makes you start noticing material for writing in your daily life, and your writing comes out of a relationship with your life in all its richness.

 

 

10 ideas for writing practice:

  1. Begin with “I don’t remember”. If you get stumped, just repeat the words “I don’t remember” on the page again and keep going.
  2. Tell about sound as it arises. Be aware of sounds from all directions as they arise:  sounds near, sounds far, sounds in front, behind, to the side, above or below.  Notice any spaces between sounds.
  3. Tell me about last evening. Dinner, sitting on the couch, preparing for bed.  Be as detailed as you can.  Take your time to locate the specifics and relive your evening on the page.
  4. Tell me what boredom feels like.
  5. See in your mind a place you’ve always loved. Visualise the colours, the sounds, the smells, the tastes.
  6. Write about “saying goodbye”. Tackle it any way you like.  Write about your marriage breakup, leaving home, the death of a loved one.
  7. What was your first job?
  8. Write about the most scared you’ve ever been.
  9. Write in cafes. Write what is going on around you.
  10. Describe a parent or a child.

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Work-Out

books on bedside table in front of painting of vase of flowers

FORTNIGHTLY SHORT STORY

Work-Out by Libby Sommer

first published in Quadrant

 

 

 

 

You run up the stairs to the gym avoiding the women and men from the previous class rushing down the stairs.  Keep to the left.  Give your membership card to the girl at the desk and then in through the turnstile.  Rummage for the $2 coin in your bag that works the locker.  Insert the money, leave the bag, take the towel and the bottle of water and the book to read then up the stairs to the third floor to the exercise bikes all the time hoping there’ll be a reclining bicycle free and not one of those awful uprights that hurt your bum.  Sit on the bike read your book, wipe the sweat off your face, drink from the bottle, look out the window to the workers erecting a block of apartments that are gradually blocking the view of the harbour. Warm up for 60 seconds on a low speed, then 20 minutes at a higher speed and a sixty second cool down.  Then into the main gym for the body power class.  Get a step, four platforms, a rubber mat and a long weights bar.  Two large discs, four small discs.  Stand up the front so you can see yourself in the mirror and in front of the fan.  Fight for this prime position. First the warm up, then legs, lunges, squats, chest, back, shoulders, legs, triceps, biceps, stomach.  Bend from the hips.  Clean and press.  Dead rows.   Wipe the sweat from your face, adjust the bar across your shoulders.  Knees over toes as you squat.  Straight back, stomach in to support the back, shoulders back, head up out of the neck.  Concentrate on the music, the instructor speaking, the fan in front of you.  Watch yourself in the mirror, the women beside you and behind.  Check out how old they are and if their weights are heavier or lighter.  Smell the sweat.  Swallow the water.  A quick stretch between tracks.  Calfs, quads, shoulders and back.  Lie down on the platform for the chest track.  Use your nipples as markers.  Down to the markers, up slowly.  One, two three up and then slowly down.  Vary the rhythm.

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