Tag Archives: inspiration

Relief For Writer’s Block…Friday Fictioneers

Waking me up from a trance, my husband asked: “What did that poor pen ever do to you? You’ve not only chewed its head off, you’re lucky you didn’t break a tooth.”

Obviously,  pen chewing is a revolting, potentially hazardous, bad habit. I’m not stupid. However, what my husband doesn’t appreciate, is the power of pen chewing to shift even the most resistant writer’s block. Indeed, it has what I privately refer to as a “laxative effect”. The only downside, is trying to catch all the words before they run away, and holding my hand wasn’t going to help.

…..

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields, where we write up to 100 words to a provided photo prompt. PHOTO PROMPT © Priya Bajpal

Best wishes,

Rowena

Clean Desk, Clear Mind…

The day isn’t over yet, and it is entirely possible that I could have a clean desk, and a clear mind before the moon sets. I’m just not so sure about the kitchen table. At this point, it’s been buried and more like a case of RIP. Then again, there might just be enough air pockets to sustain life. Indeed, I can just detect a feeble heartbeat.

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This is where I could have been today.

Just to clarify things a little. It’s Monday afternoon here and it’s a public holiday to celebrate what has become the mythical eight hour day. Being Spring with a bright blue sky and lashings of sunshine, we could be down the road at the beach right now. However, Geoff had the audacity to remind me that I still haven’t cleared my desk to set up the stereo we bought last December. It’s only October. A full year hasn’t expired yet. In terms of procrastination, this job is only half baked.

So, instead of going to the beach and carpe diem seizing the day for pleasure and relaxation, the day has grabbed me by the short and curlies and taken everything off my desk and dumped it onto the kitchen table for sorting. The desk is looking fantastic and leaping for joy in shocked amazement. I can now see a gloriously clean wood grain finish and I’m listening to Icehouse. The stereo is all systems go and my in-tray is an empty as a dry creek bed in a drought.

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Shame about the kitchen table. Moreover, it just struck me that I have somehow been diverted into writing about this earth-shattering cleanup exercise and photographing the evidence while the kitchen table is beyond gasping on life support. However, don’t worry. This is just a perfectly natural phase of procrastinating. Nothing has collapsed…yet!

There are certain truths they leave out of declutter manuals. Of course, we’ve all heard about their do-gooder deeds: “Something in, something out”, “If you haven’t used it in six months, toss it”. Indeed, the zealots have turned decluttering into a religion, don’t you think? They even have confession.

However, all of this just leaves me a sinner. If our stuff actually manages to get off the ground at all, it’s more likely to be a case of only moving from A to B. Indeed, we’ve perfected the “Great Declutter Shuffle”. Yes, much of my stuff is very well travelled moving from one part of the house to another. Goodness knows how far some of the stuff I’ve picked up at the op shop travelled before it actually reached me? Much of it could well have a full passport and a truckload of postcards from a lifetime of travel.

I shouldn’t jest.

This is a serious business. I need to clean up my act. Having clear real estate on my desk feels so much better. I feel cleansed. All sorted. Ready to tackle all those outstanding writing projects. Indeed, this could well be the jolt I need to finally get some runs on the board and venture further afield with my writing than my blog. There are so many opportunities out there. As many possibilities as stars in the sky and yet I’m hiding behind my pile of books…all written by someone else.

Well, I guess that’s my cue to exit stage left and work out where the hell all that crap’s going to go and how and what we’re going to have for dinner. As much as I’m tempted to  throw the lot out, I’ve stumbled across some great memories and I really can’t understand these people who keep nothing? Do they even exist?

Are you a clean desk or messy desk person? Does it make a difference to your capacity to think and write? Get things done? I’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS The sun has just set and the pile on the kitchen table is steadily shrinking. Hey, the table cloth is even starting to peer through without compromising the wood grain on the desk. The in-tray isn’t empty anymore. I’ve set up two folders. One with letters and bits and pieces and the other has short stories I’m working on. There’s also a stack of notebooks. Consolidation required. It does feel good!

 

Our Little Dancer & the Dance Solo.

Our Little Dancer gave her first solo performance today, and it was pure enchantment. More to the point, SHE was enchanting. Not just because she’s our daughter. Rather, because she’s reached that long awaited point, where she’s transcended years of training, commitment, lost ballet shoes, laddered tights, and entered the realm of magic. A realm so far beyond words, that I barely know where I am.

I don’t know whether you’ve been to this place yourself, but it turns being audience, into a flight without wings. One minute, you’re simply sitting in your chair. Then, inexplicably, you’re zooming off to unexplored realms and your feet are dangling in the air.  I suppose other people would simply describe this as their “happy place”, without all the flounce. However, as far as I’m concerned, a bit of flounce is quite approppriate. After all, we’re not describing a balance sheet here!

Unfortunately, at this stage, I can’t share any photos of her dancing or even in her dress. All I have at this point, is a photo of her costume hanging up last night. There was no time to even get that precious “before we leave” photo…her dark hair perfectly twisted into position, flawless makeup, lipstick, pink tuille all in motion swooshing out the door. Indeed, perhaps a shot of pink in motion, would have been more true to life than a staged shot in the hallway anyway.

Despite my spangled descriptions, my daughter wasn’t making her debut at the Sydney Opera House. Rather, she was performing with her dance school at a local nursing home. This was such a great place to start out. It not only gave students a chance to give to the local community, but it also allowed them to get experience in a less controlled but forgiving environment.  While the majority of residents were very attentive and could well have been seated in the Opera House, there was the occasional person walking through a performance on their Zimmer frame. A few sang along to one of the backing tracks and no doubt, there were those who fell asleep. Yet, this unpredictability is great, because it helps the dancers to  learn how to deal with distractions and adapt accordingly. A studio is a very controlled and largely predictable environment, which makes an excellent nursery, but the outside world is the stage.

Anyway, there I am in my seat wound up like a spring. I can’t wait and yet, I’m also absorbed in each of the other solos. I’ve seen them all before, and yet they still give me goosebumps. Take me on intense emotional twists and turns at 240 kph, which I can’t explain. I am just the passenger. A member of the audience. I don’t know how they make their magic. I just experience it.

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Ballerina Girl.

Finally, our daughter is centre dining room floor. She is beautiful. Beautiful, almost in an unearthly, ethereal way, becoming some kind of pink sylth whose materialized out of the air. Who is she? Where did she come from? Is she some kind of mysterious geni who escaped from an empty Coke bottle? I don’t know but she moves as light as a feather across the floor with such grace and poise that I’m totally spellbound. Me, the mother who gave birth to her earthly being, but this is a magic woven by her other “mothers”. Her dance teachers who’ve nurtured the butterfly out of her crysalis. Given her something I could not. Sure, I could give her the fire and the spirit, but I couldn’t help her mold and shape it into something that’s her own.

You see, as much as I love to dance and have even been doing adult dance classes for the last year, I have some disability and chronic health issues and let’s just say, that I’ve been unable to “reach my full potential’. Indeed, I try to resist saying “that she didn’t get it from me”, because I wasn’t me. I couldn’t be me with all that extra baggage, especially when I didn’t know it was there and what was causing my difficulties. I just thought it as me. Yet, despite having the hydrocephalus , I did ballet as a child and even had private lessons for awhile. I wasn’t always quite so clunky.

I often wish that I could experience more of my daughter’s dancing. At least in theory, I feel I could watch her dance all day everyday, which isn’t exactly true. However, as it stands, I feel like I’m peaking through a crack and I only get to experience the barest slither. Everything goes on behind closed doors, which it needs to, but I do crave for more. It would be nice if she danced more at home. Let me inside a little more. This is a comment lament of the parent, as sense of being on the outside when once upon a time, they were on the inside.

 

Yet, I know this is only the beginning. Not the very beginning but the beginning of her stepping up and starting to step out. Next year, she’s due to be getting her pointe shoes, and that really will be a huge development. That’s a ballet dancer’s coming of age…a right of passage. A ritual I never experienced, but I’ve been waiting for just as much as her. Indeed, I have my own pair of pink, satin ballet shoes with pink satin ribbons. They might not be pointe shoes but they’re beautiful, and they were my gift to myself. They were the materilization of a dream. That someone who struggles to walk, can also learn how to dance and dip their toe into ballet as a participant, and not always be a spectator relegated to the sidelines. After all, life’s too short to sit it out.

And now, my little dancer is asleep. All wrapped up in the world of dreams and I need to follow suite.

xx Rowena

William Blake…Birthing A Poet.

Have you ever considered who inspired you to write? The writers and poets who paved your way, connecting with your inner muse and launching your innards all over the page?

Well, through this post over at  Hugh Views and News, I was reminded of how William Blake inspired me back at school. That was when my hair was in plaits, my teeth were in braces and I was well and truly stuck in that teenage, ugly duckling phase.

It was also well before Dead Poets’ Society brought poetry out of the shadows, even giving it an edge of cool.

Dead Poets

As a poet, it’s hard to believe that there was ever a time before Dead Poet’s Society. The movie inspired an awe, a magic and a sense of crossing over into something raw, innate and at the very essence of the soul.

However, by the time Dead Poets’ Society came out in 1989, I’d left school and in that very same year (perhaps no coincidence), I attended and performed my poetry at my very first poetry reading. It was held at the Reasonably Good Cafe in Abercrombie Street, Chippendale a stone’s throw from Sydney University and if you threw the stone the opposite direction, it would’ve landed at Redfern Station, which was pretty much a no go zone back then after dark. That said, we students were made of stronger stuff!

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However, although Dead Poet’s Society had an Australian Director in Peter Weir, it was an American movie featuring American poets. Growing up on the other side of the world in Sydney, Australia we studied English poets, the odd Australian poet and absolutely no indigenous poets whatsoever.

So, when I picture myself in a school scene studying and falling in love with poetry, I am thinking along the lines of William Blake, Wordsworth, Shelley and Keats and this love affair began with Blake’s Tyger, with its primal drumming beat and graphic imagery:

The Tyger

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,

In the forests of the night;

What immortal hand or eye,

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies.

Burnt the fire of thine eyes?

On what wings dare he aspire?

What the hand, dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,

Could twist the sinews of thy heart?

And when thy heart began to beat,

What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain,

In what furnace was thy brain?

What the anvil? what dread grasp,

Dare its deadly terrors clasp!

When the stars threw down their spears

And water’d heaven with their tears:

Did he smile his work to see?

Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger Tyger burning bright,

In the forests of the night:

What immortal hand or eye,

Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

William Blake

I encourage you to read it out loud. It has a such a strong, striking rhythm like the pounding of a drum or the beating of your heart (especially if you’re being chased by the Tyger!!)

Like much of Blake’s work which is highly symbolic and devoutly spiritual, Tyger isn’t just about a Tiger but about God the creator and who he is. Could the same God who made the meek, innocent and gentle lamb also make the tiger, and both Jesus and the the devil?

Most of the poetry I write doesn’t have this strong sense of rhythm and while rhyming can be a bit twee, in this poem it really creates a sense of theatre and I think it really would’ve fitted in well to Dead Poet Society’s readings by candlelight out in the bush late at night. I could feel the tiger running towards them now.

However, it’s been sometime since I was studying Tyger at school and my son is roughly that age and the doors of my perception have widened.

I am now grappling with Blake’s  Marriage of Heaven and Hell…a complex, baffling and incredibly humbling work, not unlike Revelation in The Bible. I came across this work while researching Jim Morrison from The Doors. Indeed, The Doors take their name from these lines:

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.
For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narow chinks of his cavern.

Jim Morrison Grave

Jim Morrison’s Grave July 1992.

Moreover, back when I visited Jim Morrison’s grave in Paris, I found these words graffitied nearby: “The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.” I’d thought someone had made them up and the “palace of wisdom” referred to the cemetery after all Morrison’s years of wild excess. I didn’t know it was a quote from William Blake.

I have also started delving into William Blake’s art which seemingly shows something from beyond those doors of perception and I suspect this is the beginning of another chapter with Blake and I’m curious to know where it leads me. Yet, I have little doubt that I will be taking the road less traveled. Indeed, I suspect we’ll be ploughing through the bush!

Have you read any of William Blake’s works? Or, perhaps another poet has inspired you way back when? Please share.

Meanwhile, the the doors of my perception are about to shut. It’s after midnight and it’s long past time for bed.

xx Rowena

 

Sketch of the day no 954 in my moleskine art journal: yellow ladybird.

I love ladybirds and this was precious! xx Rowena

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954 Yellow Ladybird Freshly emerged ladybird. Only the young can change its spots.

Only the young can change its spots.

Sketch of the day in my moleskine art journal: Freshly emerged yellow ladybird. The spots will appear within the hour and the colour could change from yellow to red. I spotted this on my arm in Hyde park. First time I’ve ever seen a ladybird with hardly any spots at all.

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Sunflowers-My Budget Van Gogh

“One may have a blazing hearth in one’s soul and yet no one ever came to sit by it. Passers-by see only a wisp of smoke from the chimney and continue on their way”

Vincent Van Gogh

Nothing like buying a million dollar painting for $20.00 from your local Opportunity of Charity Shop. While unfortunately my find is clearly a print and I’m forced to visualise the brushstrokes etched into the thick golden paint, it could nearly be the original.

Not a bad find for $20.00 and our renovator’s nightmare can actually feel a tad loved as I add such a spirited piece of beauty to its ho hum walls, especially when you consider that other of Van Gogh’s Sunflower masterpieces, Vase With 15 Sunflowers last sold for $39.7 (£24.75) on March 30, 1987.

Now, all I need to do is work out someway of turning our humble “beach” backyard with its sandy soil, into a magnificent field of smiling sunflowers with their stunning faces all turning to the sun.

Do you have a favourite Van Gogh?  Please share.

xx Rowena

 

A Photographer’s Dream.

“A tramp, a gentleman, a poet, a dreamer, a lonely fellow, always hopeful of romance and adventure.”

Charlie Chaplin

On Thursday morning, a freakish sea of fog literally knocked on our front door, as the street and indeed our entire town vanished in the haze. We’ve been living here for 15 years but we’ve never seen anything like it before. While we’ve seen patches of fog over the beach and the river in the past, we live a few streets back. Eerie, intriguing, even beautiful and yet there was a nagging underlying concern: why is it so?!! Google can tell me how fog forms but that doesn’t account for why it’s here… an act if God or Mankind?

I don’t know but for now, I had more pressing concerns.

“A writer, photographer, dreamer, wife, mother, daughter, friend seizing each and every beautiful stunning moment and lighting its spark. That’s who I am.”

Rowena Newton.

Although I consider myself a writer first and photographer second, given these freakish weather conditions, I didn’t even stop to think. As I shuffled the kids into “Mum’s Taxi”, I threw my camera bag in the boot and all plans were off. I was off to the beach. Once I’m looking through the lens, that’s it.The rest of the world is gone.
Not that I had great expectations. With that much fog, the beach could well be a complete white-out. Yet, on the other hand, that mix of intense early morning sunlight and the thick milky haze could well be spectacular, creating something exceptionally good. I just didn’t know.Photography is like casting a line out into the ocean, you just don’t  know what you’re going to catch. You can read the landscape and weather conditions to improve your chances but ultimately there’s a strong element of luck…being in the right place at the right time.
That is, as well as playing the numbers game.
Mind you, you can ,take your 10,000 photos but if you don’t train your eye and learn how to maximise your equipment, you might catch the big one once but it won’t be a repeat performance.
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I pulled up at the beach and saw a thick blanket of fog through the sand dunes. Nothing that special.
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A Morning Walk.

Then, as I walked along the beach, I turned back around looking East. The sun was rising, still low on the horizon, blazing through the fog with a burning glow. There was no colour. The canvas had been painted silver grey etched with darkened silhouettes. It was eerily Post-Apocalyptic and I half expected a cloaked pirate to emerge from the haze…Captain Jack Sparrow, perhaps.
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While Mummy is Sleeping…

Instead, there were just the usual early morning walkers and a father hanging out with his toddler son. Couldn’t help thinking Mum was at home trying to sleep or perhaps at home with the new baby. Or, perhaps she’s at work while Dad’s staying at home. Who knows? You can’t assume but remembering that staggering sleep deprivation, I’d be asleep!

“It is in the compelling zest of high adventure and of victory, and in creative action, that man finds his supreme joys.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Wow! This was good…very, very good. The interplay between the sunlight and the fog and those darkened silhouettes was pure magic and all my senses suddenly sprang to life. I could feel that intense tug on the line as the rod bent over towards the sea, knowing beyond all doubt that I’d caught a whopper of a fish and needed to use every bit of nouse to bring it in.
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Seagulls Reaching for the Sun.

I am not a technical photographer and rely more on my eye, perspective and the magic of being in the right place at the right time and seizing the moment. At this point, I was focusing on the silhouettes…nothing special in normal light but seeing the familiar through the fog made it freakishly unusual. As I said, Post-Apocalyptic.
The sea gulls also added an intriguing element. They’re so common and yet through this fog and the muted light, they appeared somehow profound.
From not knowing how this expedition was going to turn out, I was absolutely stoked with the results.
These photos were such an unexpected gift. When I woke up that morning, I’d had no plans of going to the beach or taking photos. However, through capitalizing on the unexpected, I produced some of the best photos I’ve ever taken…the most atmospheric.

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”

John Lennon

This would not have been possible if I didn’t have the space to create. To be able to down tools and just take off. Living beyond the clock, I can follow the twists and turns of fate, creating my own path as I go. Sometimes, I almost feel myself being pulled along, led somewhere beyond myself. Call it what you like… God, fate, serendipity but inspiration grabs me, sweeping me right off my feet and into the unexplored realms of imagination. No doubt, you have been there yourself and can’t quite explain how you arrived or quite how you left. Not everything comes with scientific proof.
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Beach Feet.

That was Thursday. It’s now Saturday and I still feel strangely intoxicated by the fusion of sun and fog, which completely dazzled my senses. It’s been like peering into something so beautiful or transcendental but then arriving back home with a thud. That nasty bang on the head…a reality check.
Welcome back to the “To-Do List”.
Perhaps, I should take a hint from Snagglepus and simply “exit stage left”. After all,
just like “taking the hair of the dog” is offered as a hangover cure, my solution could very well involve taking more photos!
Or, I could just write about it instead.
What’s been inspiring you lately?
Hope you’ve had a great week and are enjoying your weekend.
xx Rowena