Postcardia-cum-Poetica #23

A card from Nicky, arriving out of the blue, is not unheard of here. Last week it was good to be able to return the unexpected correspondence. Plus proof of existence for friends, when one drops off the radar, is possibly useful and kind. 

Postcard is by Emily Craven (@imagesforjoy)

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Postcardia-cum-Poetica #19

This week I’ve used one of the postcards from Emily Craven’s 2014 photographic exhibition. I love how things come together. For me moreso than the postcard this week.

I wasn’t searching, while making this, but I happened upon Calvino’s life philosophy in the fragment I pulled from the baggie. And yeah, I’ll be adopting it: festina lente


Hurry slowly.

Surely the essence of wild patience?

Secret Agent, Poet

Yesterday I talked about ‘live poeming’ while Emily was here Saturday. I took it a step further by taking some sentence fragments from my baggie and placing them in front of her.

Make a poem, I said.

But I don’t write poetry, she said.

Doesn’t matter.

Magic happened next!

I went and found a stash of postcards, then discovered that there was an entirely different stash within the stash. Oh bliss! I know exactly what’s going to be happening with Postcardia for the next month or so.

I didn’t get a photo of Em’s second card (because once begun, one is never enough!)  But you can seek her out on Instagram for her take on Totoro (and much other lovely stuff!).

And next time, a creative opportunity – that isn’t really your cup of tea – presents, dive in. You never know what you might find.

Mutual Regret

Another piece of flash fiction from a Line A Day Journal prompt. This time I totally distorted the original seed: mutual respect sends his regrets. 

* * *

Mirrored in him are the empty places in me. I have hollowed him out as he hollowed me out. I have taken as much as what was taken. A fuck you, as I remember how to take on air again. As he forgets. And I walk from the water’s edge in silence. The echoes of mutual regret swallowed this time. 

Digging

Every now and again, in the Line A Day Journal I write with Em, there’s a flash fiction prompt. These are turning into unexpected writing boons. This from the prompt: you’re digging in your garden and find a nugget of gold.

No one could explain to her how the smelting process had been imperfect. How a small amount of her heart had been spilled. Or how the grotesque nugget came to be buried among her carnations and sweetpeas.  

Never give all of your heart away, she’d been warned when she was young. Always keep a piece for yourself. But they never spoke of a heart turning on itself.

Flowers lay uprooted and torn around her. Heavy-duty garden gloves torn and bloodied. Her breathe came in half-breathed sobs.

She would end what the malignant organ had started. No piece of it would remain.

And she dug. 

A List of Alphabetical Advice 

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 “If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it.”
Marcus Aurelius

Emily Craven gifted me the little Typo journal above for Christmas in 2013. We have been writing in it every day since January 2014, responding to the journal prompts and the other prompts we’ve added to avoid the repetition of prompts like: ________ is a total babe.

Instagram and Twitter chronicle our our daily adventures and sometimes we’re lucky to have someone play along at home. We’ve been blessed this year to have Typo’s social media person on board with us.

AUGUST A to Z

August has a cluster of prompts (brain child of Em) to create an alphabetical list of advice. Rob Cook joined  and it was one of the most interactive and fun set of prompts we’ve done. I missed out on writing them last year (it was the precursor to The Churn) so I’m looking forward to next year when I’ll be able to do a compare and contrast.

For now, advice a la 2016.

Always be your most authentic self.

Behave with kindness and integrity.

Care of yourself IS a priority.

Devote time, energy and focus to the pursuits you love.

Evolve. Evolve-evolve-evolve.

Focus on the present; nothing can be done about the past and the future takes care of itself.

Go after your dreams; passion is your ally.

Hope keeps the glass half-full.

Innovate. Innovate-innovate-innovate.

Judge no-one, especially yourself.

Keep the faith, especially when despair threatens to swallow you.

Listen to your favourite songs in the shower.

Meditate. Appreciate. Invigorate.

Never give up. It you can’t be your own cheer squad let your friends shake the pompoms for you.

Open to adventure, curiosity and absurdity.

Perfection is only found in imperfection.

Quiet time is essential – however or wherever you find it.

Rest. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Bodies get old and tired.

Sing. Loudly. Offkey. For your own pleasure. Because you can.

Time travel will enrich your life.

Utilise your inherent skills and talents. This is how dreams bloom.

Voraciousness is not a sin. Celebrate your hungers.

Wing it. Sometimes the best plans, best ideas come together in motion.

X marks the spot. Know where your inner treasure is buried.

You are both your best friend and worst enemy. Choose wisely.

Zebras; because sometimes its good to be black and white.

If you were to collect your advice for life in an A-Z, how would it read?

 

‘First To A Hundred’ published in Tincture 8

I remember years ago an author I knew saying publication was like buses – nothing and then they all arrive at once. The next few weeks are a bit like that.

Today I’m ecstatic to see Tincture Eight go live, with my story ‘First to a Hundred’ in it. It’s almost two years ago now, since I first put pen to paper to write a ‘cricket story’. Only ever intended as a piece of flash fiction and some kind of bent challenge to myself as an up-yours to Australia’s cricket loving summer, it quickly evolved into something all together different.

The first section I wrote in less than an hour after spending several days chewing on the idea of beach cricket and equality for girls. I left it at the end of that first section, expecting that was it, I’d achieved a piece of flash fiction and went to do the weekly shop. Ten minutes later as I was pulling into Garden City Shopping Centre I knew that wasn’t the end of it and what was going to happen next. By the time I’d got a trolley and begun the shop I was choking down tears knowing how it was going to end. I rushed home and poured it all out onto the page in a little over two hours. And it was done.

All in all, it was one of those effortless stories that you are gifted once in a blue moon,  appears fully formed and writes itself. It went out to beta readers that night who tweaked next to nothing in it (except for the alignment with a tissue box and some spelling mistakes) and since then it’s been goodwill hunting for the right home.

I’m so very glad that home is Tincture. Daniel Young, the publishing editor, has been a brilliant support of my non-speculative fiction writing since Tincture first began in 2012.

The 1st December, the start of Summer, is the perfect publication date for a story that drips with the heat and pressure cooker environment of the summer before high school. Think Duran Duran, Reef Oil and Sweet Valley High books. Then think blue cabbage hat, green zinc cream and the spin of a soggy tennis ball on sand. That’s just the start.

Many thanks to Adam Byatt, Paul Phillips and Dan Powell who all beta read it back in 2013, and also to Stacey Larner, who proof read it. And thank you to Daniel.

Congratulations and happy publication day also to Sean Wright and Adam Byatt who both have poems in Tincture Eight and Emily Craven who also shares the Table of Contents with a short story.

Here’s a little snippet of ‘First to a Hundred’.

– – –

Five minutes. Five runs. Six balls to bowl.

It’s going to be over before lunch one way or the other. I look down the churned up pitch to Dougie, wondering how I came to be the one he’s facing down. I look at the battered stumps and imagine putting the tennis ball through them, like I’ve already done three times today. I weigh up the pros and cons of a short bounce or a long bounce on the hard sand left by the retreating tide.

Or bugger it, I could just throw under arm and let him thump it out into the surf for six. Let Dougie claim his moment of glory. At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter to me.

They only tolerate me because I can bowl as good as, if not better than, most of them.

“Amazing natural off-leg spin,” Gibbo commentated from the footpath, when he saw me throwing a ball against the garage door two years ago and invited me down to their summer-long game.

So each year my bowling action and the fact I can’t hit to save my life, so I don’t hog the batting order, gain me entrance to the game on the beach. Charlie says it’s really only because the Connors, who had two sons, sold up at the summer before we arrived and they were short bodies in the field. Gibbo tells me Charlie is full of shit.

It’s Jimmy who starts the chant: Dougie—clap clap clap—Dougie. It’s infectious and one by one the others join in. I throw the ball up and down as I’ve seen the other boys do and wait for the chanting to die out.

I’ve no idea what the deal is, with throwing the ball up and down, see no point to it, but I do it anyway. I’ve learned in the last two summers you find your place blending in; everything else is, as Gibbo says, icing on the cake.