Have a read of my prose poem ‘The Ladder and Its Dangers’. It was longlisted for the 2019 joanne burns Microlit Award.
Available for inclusion in a range of multi-platform activities organised by Spineless Wonders including #storybombing NWF20, podcasts, live performance and the Microflix Awards.
Hope you enjoy the poem.
The Ladder and Its Dangers:
It’s dizzying up there. You climb to the top shelves for whatever your mood requires: on loneliness, weight reduction, a book of Basho’s Haiku and find half a dozen books you forgot you had which side tracks the initial quest, since now that you’ve located them you have to consider them. Will I ever reread this, recycle it in the street library? Of course, your reading interests are very different from the interests you had when you placed it alphabetically on the shelf. Perhaps your interests have moved in a different direction now, maybe they’ve become more multi-cultural. Perhaps you think continuing to read Anita Brookner and her stories of loss and aloneness are not the best choice for you anymore. Your quest takes on a sedentary nature as you sit on the floor to search the lower shelves, scanning titles and author names. Possibly by now you’ve been up and down the ladder several times and been peering upwards for extended periods cutting off the blood supply to your neck. And you’ve stood up too quickly from the floor and are feeling totally off balance. Now you need to consider blood sugar levels, blood pressure, PEOPLE OVER SIXTY SHOULDN’T CLIMB LADDERS. Discombobulated for a while, you’re too preoccupied to recall what sent you up the ladder in the first place.
Show don’t tell is an old writing tip, but a good one.
What does it mean exactly?
It means don’t tell us about loneliness (or any of those complex words like dishonesty, secrecy, jealousy, obsession, regret, death, injustice, etc) show us what loneliness is. We will read what you’ve written and feel the bite of loneliness. Don’t tell us what to feel. Show us the situation, and that feeling will be triggered in us.
When you take your child to school on their first day you may find yourself teary and relieved at the same time. Put into words what you see: the child’s face, the wave at the gate, the other mothers saying their goodbyes, another child coming up to take your son by the hand. We will get what you’re trying to say without you telling us directly.
The how-to-write books tell us to use our senses when we write stories: sight, sound, smell, touch. Writing from the senses is a good way to penetrate your story and make friends with it. Don’t tell us about something, drop deep, enter the story and take us with you.
What about you? Do you consciously bring the senses into your creative writing?
Albert Einstein, Walt Disney and Leonardo da Vinci are some of the many famous people diagnosed with dyslexia. Others include Jamie Oliver, Richard Branson, Whoopi Goldberg and Steven Spielberg.
Dyslexia is described as a persistent challenge with acquiring and using written language and is often found to be hereditary. Children struggle to read, don’t want to go to school, feel stupid. Many end up in jail. Apparently, it is fixable, with the right teachers.
My debut novel, ‘My Year With Sammy‘ tells the story of one child’s struggle with severe dyslexia and the effects of her battle on the world around her. The book was Pick of the Week, Sydney Morning Herald and winner of the Society of Women Writers Fiction Book Award 2016.
So, here’s the thing: choose something in particular to write about. For example, what it feels like having a tennis lesson after a twenty year break. Give us the specifics. Dig deep for the details, but at the same time be aware of the world around you. As you focus on what you’re writing, at the same time stay conscious of your surroundings: the white painted cane Bentwood chairs in the café, the cool breeze from under the door on your sandaled feet, the hum of the traffic outside. Just add a sentence every now and then about the trees that overlooked the tennis courts while you were having a tennis lesson. When we focus on our writing it is good. Seeing the colour of the sky when you toss the ball gives breathing space to your story.
If you are sitting in Meditation you calm the butterfly mind by paying attention to your thoughts, giving them space by acknowledging them before returning to the breath, in and out through the nostrils. In the act of slowing down your breathing, as best you can, you remain open so that you are receptive to awareness of sounds as they arise: sounds near, sounds far, sounds in front, behind, to the side, above or below.
With every breath you take, you feel the air, the sound of the ball as it hits the racket, the players on the other courts.
We should always be living in the present, not by ignoring the world around us, but by paying close attention. It is not easy to stay alive to ‘what is’. When we slow things down in our writing, it is good practice.
What about you? Do you find a daily meditation practice assists your writing practice?