Memories play a pivotal role in all our lives, and in one piece of writing, I let my consciousness take a back-seat as I explored my own past. I’m delighted to share ‘I Remember’ as it is featured on Sally Cronin’s inspired ‘Posts from Your Archives’ series. I’ve turned comments off here and look forward to seeing you on Sally’s blog!
Welcome to the current series of Posts from Your Archives in 2020 and if you would like to participate with two of your posts from 2019, you will find all the details in this post:New series of Posts from Your Archives 2020
This is the first post by author Annika Perry and I am sure as you read, memories of your own from your childhood and teenage years will resurface and be enjoyed…
I remember the splash of the waves against the side of my grandfather’s wooden boat, my brother standing proudly by the mast.
I remember sitting in the back, snuggled like a chick under my mother’s arms, the sea salt and my long blond ponytail lashing my cheeks.
I remember being passed to land like a bag of sugar, an exulted terrified scream then the freedom of the warm rocks beneath my feet. Away…
Revered for thousands of years, Lavender still holds us enthralled. The fragrant plants are a delight themselves whilst its distilled essential oils have been used for millenniums for aromatherapy, perfume, herbal medicines, culinary herbs.
It was with excitement and joy I found myself at Jersey Lavender within a couple of hours of landing on this jewel of an island of Jersey. Established in 1983, the lavender farm boosts 9 acres with 55,000 lavender plants of six varieties.
As if in a trance I wandered amongst this haven, my palms gently sweeping across the flowers, inhaling the heavenly scent. I found myself closing my eyes … my emotions filled, a dream realised on this first day of my anniversary break.
Anna hadn’t noticed the time slipping away as she worked in the library. Engrossed in her study of anatomy, books covered every surface of the desk, some lying on top of each other at an angle, others closed with scraps of paper marking various sections.
the alarm rang, and a flurry of activity stirred Anna from her studies.
minutes until closing everyone. Ten minutes. Please bring any books to the desk
if you need to check them out.’ The librarian headed to another room repeating
had the three hours gone? Quickly Anna slammed the books shut and dashed around
the library returning a couple to the shelves. The remaining three she lifted
into the crook of her arm and after putting her papers and ink pen into her
satchel she headed for the desk.
you are, dear. Better fasten up your coat, it’s a blustery night out there,’
said the librarian, recognising the diligent student from the past few weeks.
‘You’ll take the tram back, won’t you? Don’t get caught out in the rain.’
Anna nodded briefly, whispered a quiet ‘thank you’ before grabbing her books. She found it hard to talk to strangers and the warmth and kindness of the librarian only made her miss home more. There she never had a moment to herself apart from her brief solitary outings on the rocks, here loneliness engulfed her.
‘Goodbye. Have a good weekend,’ called the librarian.
too,’ replied Anna with clarity and determination. ‘I wish you a lovely weekend
too.’ There, she could do it. Everything would be fine.
The librarian had not been exaggerating about the weather as outside the wind whipped around Anna, sweeping her coat around her legs and rain spiked at her face. Undecided she stopped at the corner. To the left was the tram stop but she barely had any money and perhaps the girls might invite her out to a cafe with them tomorrow afternoon. She didn’t want to back out through lack of funds. To her right lay the shortcut to the school; only a kilometre, all along the streets. With a determined spin Anna turned and marched off down the road.
lights were further apart than she recalled and as the temperature dropped mist
formed on the ground and drifted around her ankles as she walked. Her feet
scuffed the pavement and with a stumble she corrected herself, the books precariously
balanced in her arms.
‘Not long now,’ Anna said to herself as she started to hum one of her mother’s lullabies. The fog became denser, the lights from the lamps dissipating until only distant balls of yellow hung ominously in the air. Where was everyone? Shouldn’t they all be going out to the cafes and bars? Of course, she realised, that was the opposite direction. Here there were only a few houses in the distance and to the left a park; she’d forgotten about that. She tried to peer through the murk into the park, to the lake she knew lay in the middle but saw nothing. Just blackness.
Anna walked faster, her shoes trilling along on the pavement, her breathing faster. Behind her she heard some steps. Loud and heavy. No, this was silly, she was imagining it. The steps sounded closer now and with a shock she started to run, the books flying in her wake, her satchel dropped to the ground.
Suddenly an arm violently grabbed her around the waist and started to pull her towards the park. Anna screamed and instinctively reached out to the black iron wrought railings at the park entrance. She must never let go.
man had both arms around her waist, tugging, squeezing hard as he tried to drag
her from the railings. Anna screamed and screamed. She couldn’t stop. Her shrieks pierced the air. His
hands were over one of hers, trying to prise her fingers from their grip. She
held on – just. All the time screeching for help. A feral animalistic wordless
cry of sheer terror.
His fingers clawed at her fingertips and with another scream she finally let go. Her other hand remained clutched to the railing. The man released his hold for a fraction, Anna hoped for a second, he would leave her. In vain as she saw his arm rise and he threw a sharp punch in her stomach. Silence collapsed around them. Anna fell forward, her head slumping onto her knees, the man’s arms quickly around her and lifting her up. Like a rag doll she hung for a moment in his grasp. Limp. Lost.
going on here? Let her go!’ The voice came from across the street and more
shouts joined this first one. Footsteps echoed in the silence of the fog. ‘Let
her go! Let her GO!’ On their command Anna was dropped to the ground like
discarded rubbish and with a thud she hit the ground, landing on her side and
rolling into a ball.
you alright?’ Tightly curled up, she lay unmoving.
did he go?’
go and call the police, you stay with her.’
disembodied voices hung around her. Anna felt a lady sit on the ground next to
her, talking, saying something; the words remote and distant. Indecipherable. A
jacket was bunched as a pillow beneath her head.
‘Mamma, Mamma,’ moaned Anna
’She’s trying to speak. I can’t make it out. Can anyone give me their coats? Any blankets, anything. She’s shaking terribly. God, look, this is bad, I can’t stop her shaking.’
found her bag. And some books were scattered just a bit away from here.’
‘What’s your name? Where do you live? Listen, we need to call someone.’
voice was becoming more emphatic, increasingly desperate.
recognise the uniform. It’s Hellsson School – I’ll give them a call. I’ll be
back in a moment.’
Hellsson School? Why did that sound familiar, wondered Anna. She was sure she’d heard of it before. Who were all these strangers and why wasn’t she lying in bed? With that thought she closed her eyes and found welcome oblivion.
The above piece is a short snippet from my draft novel Island Girl. I know, it’s a long time coming and I wanted to share a little of it with you.
The weeks are flying past and owing to various commitments I am not able to be present on WP as much as I would like but this will change soon. Whenever possible I look forward to checking in with you all.
Imagine you’re writing to a reader in the future! To a new soul, yet to unravel the magic of books! What would you say to them? Would you share stories from your own life? Or inspire them with passionate prose or perhaps offer up playful poetic musings?
Just such a request was sent out to writers, scientists, artists, and other cultural trendsetters across the globe by Maria Popova. One hundred and twenty-one letters were received including ones from Mary Oliver, Jane Goodall, Neil Gaiman, from composers, philosophers to a 98-year-old Holocaust survivor.
Over eight years, together with her publisher friend Claudia Bedrick, they collated the letters, matching each of them with an illustrator, artist or graphic designer … bringing each letter individually and vividly to life!
I read about the creation ‘A Velocity of Being’ last year and ever since couldn’t wait to hold this treasure of a book in my hands. Although released in January, they had underestimated the demand and my book finally arrived last week.
With deep reverence I opened the box, with surgical skill (or so I liked to think) I cut gently through the tightly wrapped cellophane. I’m sure I heard a drum-roll as I opened the pages and started to read … my heart singing in harmony with the emotions and thoughts of the letters.
Here a just a few snippets:
“No matter where life takes you, you’re never alone with a book, which becomes a tutor, a wit, a mind-sharpener, a soul-mate, a performer, a sage, a verbal bouquet for a loved one.” Diana Ackerman
“Yesterday I swallowed a book. Opened it, read it voraciously, then gulped it down in a single sitting. … A book, and the universe within, is the touchstone for today, yesterday, and — wow, I can’t wait to find out what I read tomorrow.” Anthony Horowitz
“A writer can fit a whole world inside a book. … . Somewhere, is a book written just for you. It will fit your mind like a glove fits your hand. And it’s waiting. Go and look for it.” Neil Gaiman
For many years I have been an avid reader of Maria Popova’s learned articles. She is a gifted writer and created Brain Pickings in 2006 to cover such diverse topics as literature, philosophy, science and art. Since 2012 Brain Pickings has had the honour of being included in the Library of Congress permanent web archive.
In one recent article readers were introduced to the wonderful poet Marie Howe and her poem ‘Singularity’. Inspired by Stephen Hawking’s work, the poem was written to a short deadline; a daunting undertaking for someone whose creations are often years in the making.
The incredible and striking poem would not leave me and I hope you find it equally as thought-provoking. Below the poem is a video with an explanation and reading of ‘Singularity’.
by Marie Howe
(after Stephen Hawking)
Do you sometimes want to wake up to the singularity we once were?
so compact nobody needed a bed, or food or money —
nobody hiding in the school bathroom or home alone
pulling open the drawer where the pills are kept. For every atom belonging to me as good Belongs to you. Remember?
There was no Nature. No them. No tests
to determine if the elephant grieves her calf or if
the coral reef feels pain. Trashed oceans don’t speak English or Farsi or French;
would that we could wake up to what we were — when we were ocean and before that
to when sky was earth, and animal was energy, and rock was liquid and stars were space and space was not
at all — nothing
before we came to believe humans were so important before this awful loneliness.
Can molecules recall it? what once was? before anything happened?
No I, no We, no one. No was No verb no noun only a tiny tiny dot brimming with
is is is is is
All everything home
Finally, I want to thank everyone for the beautiful and thoughtful comments on my previous post. Owing to a viral infection morphing into a nasty and debilitating chest infection I, along with the whole family, are unfortunately ill. I will reply when possible and return fully to blogging when better.
Rules and boundaries have a certain appeal to me and when I was recently challenged to try my hand at the unusual Etheree poetry format I accepted quickly!
Etheree follows a syllable count up (or down) by one syllable at a time. In other words, in the pattern of 1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10 syllables. It does neither need to rhyme nor to hold to a particular metre.
My first poem follows the trauma of a recent flood, just days before a big birthday party. With the distance of time it’s been comforting to write about it here!
The following fictional poem takes up the eternal encompassing trauma of the breakdown of marriages witnessed around us on a daily basis.
Many thanks to Dr. Mary Ann Niemczura for asking to read my Etheree poems. She is a wonderful and supportive friend I made here on WordPress and it is always a delight to read her poetry. I encourage you to take a look at her blog by clicking here.
Don’t you just have a split reaction to interviews? Slightly daunted to start with but excited at the prospect?
On my recent visit to Esmé’s at Esmé Salon ‘Share, Care & Inspire’, I couldn’t wait to partake in her ever popular 20 + 1 Interview Questions and the questions flowed with ease through both my blogging and personal life. … no need at all to be apprehensive!
The air crackled with a chill that September afternoon, the first trace of damp etched into the atmosphere.
Emma saw her first, then the rest of the children turned towards the woods at the edge of the park. Like an apparition, the woman stumbled out from amongst the trees and undergrowth resplendent in her cerise woollen coat. A coat peppered with a menagerie of coloured notes, all pinned on at angles.
Her mutterings at first were only audible to the sparrows in the trees, to the skittish robin, to the strident magpies marching across the tired grass. The ground was churned up by football boots, dried into uneven lumps of decay.
‘Where is it, where is it?’ she mumbled gruffly. Erratically the woman spun around, her eyes cast down eagerly on the ground, with a keenness of a child looking out for Father Christmas. Her eyes bristled with expectation, joy then with a sudden turn, angry filthy swear words spewed across the park.
Appalled Emma careered backwards, right into her friends and the cascade of children toppled like dominos, silent in shock. Righting themselves, the disheveled group at first failed to notice the approach of the woman; concern engraved on her face, bewilderment fluttering in her eyes.
‘Have you seen it? My child?’
Agog, they barely listened, their attention held fast on the woman’s coat and the pinned notes.
I’m sorry. Appeared many times. I’m lost. Please help. My name is Emma.
‘Please help me,’ she said. ‘I must find it.’
The children fanned out across the park, not sure what they were searching for, occasionally shouting out a find to Emma the older. Emma their friend remained with her namesake. Ahead of them a note tossed like an autumn leaf across the terrain, swirling in the strengthening breeze.
‘Stop it!’ shouted the woman. ‘There it is!’
Emma dashed over, picked up the dusty note, glancing at the elegant handwriting.
Mum, you’re lost. Not I. Come home. Address is on the back. Love, Mark xx
Emma the child handed over the piece of paper.
‘Mark! I found Mark!’ The woman’s primeval screech of elation echoed into the billowing dusk; a joy swallowed by her very next words, tiny as pinpricks, thin as slivers of silk.
The above piece of writing was inspired by a prompt from my writing group for our work to be ‘set in a park, in any period, in any location with any number of people involved, you or your character/s have lost or found something.’ Owing to burgeoning numbers of keen writers in the group our homework is now restricted in length.
Welcome to the final day of my 3 Day Quote Challenge which I’m thrilled to take part in following the kind nomination by Laura at laurabrunolilly.com .
To the challenge…The rules are as follows:
Thank the person who nominated you.
Post a quote on 3 consecutive days.
Share why this quote appeals so much to you.
Nominate 3 different bloggers for each day
As a writer, I wanted to finish this challenge with a quotation about the craft. The elegant and eloquent truth of the following quote struck me like an epiphany when I came across it a couple of years ago and I am sure it will resonate with most poets and writers. Having read her words I instantly noted it down in my journal and it is one I often come back.
The writer of the quotation is fellow writer and blogger Adrienne Rich who blogs at middlemaybooks.com. Adrienne is a writer of historical family sagas about the Weldon and Crenshaw families of Gilded Age Englewood, New Jersey and she ‘first fell in love with family sagas watching family drama at the many funerals’ of her youth. Her blog is ‘to celebrate who we all are, past and present, flawed and sublime.’
Wow! I felt like a movie star as I left the school, a large bouquet of flowers nestled in the crook of my arm. My mind was spinning, my heart was light with joy. I’d just had a most wonderful afternoon with a group of creative writers at a local school. Aged from eleven to fifteen, the eighteen students were brimming with questions, ideas and originality. Their enthusiasm knows no bounds (a soaring and liberating sensation). From my talk below the top tip that remained with the students afterwards was to ‘Write from your Heart’ – one couldn’t ask or hope for more.
Here is my talk to them in full for your perusal and if new (or not so new) to writing I hope it can inspire you and your work.
A heartfelt thank you for the invitation to meet you all today. I’m thrilled to be here and can’t wait to learn more about all of you and listen to some of your work.
First of all, how did I become an author?
Writing has been my lifelong passion. Just as I cannot imagine a life without books, nor can I imagine a day without writing. An inspirational teacher at primary school instilled in me the joy of creative writing and I haven’t stopped since. Writing became a way for me to paint with words, layering them for texture, using bold dramatic language on occasions, other times capturing the gentle nuances of a moment with subtle word play. It is an art form, that can be crafted, shaped, moulded to an endless variety of formats.
Three years ago I had the opportunity to start writing seriously and a well-established writing course gave me guidance on developing my writing as well as advising me on how to become published.
There are countless short story competitions available and entering some of these was my first port of call. I bought the magazines, studied their stories, and also, this is critical, read the rules to competitions. It baffles me how many fail to do this!
Very soon I won first prize in a Writing Magazine short story competition and the success of ‘Biding Her Time’ proved to be the confidence booster I needed.
I quickly developed a love for short stories and I delight in crafting them. They require clarity, conciseness whilst not being abrupt or missing out on the artistry of language and they can often be a form of character study. Every word has to count!
I draw inspiration from all around me — conversations, everyday experiences, and even news items. If an idea strikes me I make a note of it as soon as possible; after all it’s proven that ideas can float in and out of our consciousness within three seconds. If a notebook is to hand, I’ll scribble in that, otherwise I’ll tap away on the ‘note’ app on my mobile.
I’ve kept journals since young and they are a quiet meeting place for me to jot down my thoughts, ideas, concerns and story possibilities in private; never to be shared or scrutinised. I return to some of these at a later date and sometimes find a gem of an idea for a story, poem or even article.
The first line of a story is critical to me. Once that is in place the rest of the writing flows. It is as if someone is ‘dictating’ the story, it becomes organic and takes on a life form of its own. Subconsciously I will be writing away, the first draft always on paper, and many times I will be wonderfully surprised by a twist in a story or the strength of a minor character forcing their way to centre stage. It is a magical surreal experience and one that can last for hours.
The voice of the piece is a major factor in writing. I feel there are always two voices.
Your voice as the writer must be just that — YOURS. Be true to yourself when you write; this is what makes your writing original and enables it to shine out.
The voice or point of view of a story can vary. Will the point of view be first person, which is often more immediate and direct? Or will it be in the third person, which allows you more scope to examine events beyond just one person? There is also the option of the second person – you – format which I experimented with in one of my short stories. Of course, many books feature multiple points of views and it is important to make each distinct and at all times clear whose head you’re in!
Although I have printed a one-off edition of my earlier childhood work and also been featured as part of my writing group’s anthology, ‘The Storyteller Speaks’, is my first published book. I was encouraged to publish some of my short stories in a book by the readers of my blog.
My blog was set up following the recommendation by my tutor for the need of an online presence! As a result, I have made wonderful friends across the globe and also connected with people within all aspects of the publishing industry. Through this networking, I ‘met’ the cover artist for my book who lives in Australia and a company in Ireland provided extensive formatting support.
Furthermore, I increasingly use Twitter to interact with readers, writers and publishers.
Planning a novel is not something I’d considered before I started writing mine a couple of years ago. ‘Island Girl’ is now in its final editing stages and I recollect its early days with fondness. Then, as with much of my writing, I set out to write it with just the backbones of a few ideas, themes and setting.
However, my time-line was slightly array, details of my characters and places were forgotten from one chapter to the next. It was a lot tougher keeping control of all the elements of a full-length novel. Quickly I developed various techniques to avoid future faults.
One way to spot both grammatical errors and glaring mistakes is always to read your work aloud! Since it is a lot to expect to read a whole novel aloud I started using ‘Natural Reader’ app.
Various writing programs are a huge benefit.The free online thesaurus is always open on my tab as I’m working. Similarly, a grammar program such as ‘Grammarly’ helps me to fine tune work, but I never automatically adopt its suggestions. I write on a software program called ‘Scrivener’. This acts as a virtual binder and allows me to plan chapters, look at my ideas on a virtual corkboard, include research documents, as well as writing the novel chapter by chapter.
Not content with writing short stories and a novel, I have also completed two children’s books.
What other advice can I give?
Throw yourself into writing and relish the experience! Find the magic within you and share it! Write from your heart! This may be easier said than done, if like me, your head tends to rule. Don’t disregard your mind but just don’t overthink.
Once you’ve finished a piece, and this can be tough, put it aside for a while. Returning to it with fresh eyes will be key to the next stage; editing. Here engage that brain, tap into your creativity, look out for ways to improve your writing. Perhaps you’re ‘telling’ too much instead of ‘showing’? Not only is it more enjoyable for the writer to show through their writing, it will lift your story.
Never underestimate the effectiveness of dialogue to carry a story forward, to show emotions, even description. It’s striking when you can have a sequence of speech without the ‘he said’/‘she said’. Try to avoid always using adverbs with these; the anger etc should come out in the language where possible.
Never be afraid of feedback of your work; after all we learn through constructive criticism. Also start to read your own written work with a critical eye when necessary.
Play around with your writing. Writing outside one’s comfort zone is a great way to bring new life into your work. Try another unusual genre. Shift your work around — explore new vocabulary and if writing fantasy, maybe even make up a few new words of your own! Use different tenses, viewpoints. I felt a sense of liberation writing from a male viewpoint in some of my stories and using the present tense brought a welcome sense of rush and urgency to them.
When not writing, read lots! Not just in one genre but across the board. It’s a wonderful way to learn. See what works well, and also look out for writing that falters, flatlines … learn from other’s mistakes.
When you start a new piece of writing, remember that this is your first and rough draft. If you wait to write down the most I and absolute best version of your work you may never start at all as you will feel inhibited before even writing a word.
Write with your Ideal Reader in mind — recall your own emotions and feelings when you are swept away by a story. There is nothing quite like escaping into another world; when the present real-world fades to that of the fiction. My dream has been to recreate that experience for all my readers — and hopefully I have. Make your characters three-dimensional, so real that neither you nor the reader wants to leave them!
Through the nitty-gritty of writing, the joy and power of creating worlds, characters, stories should never be underestimated.
As one famous writer said of short stories: ‘(they) are tiny windows into other worlds and other minds and other dreams. They are journeys you can make to the far side of the universe and still be back in time for dinner.’