Alex Miller Inspiration

I’m reading Autumn Laing by Alex Miller, two-time winner of Australia’s premier literary prize, The Miles Franklin award. He writes beautifully, intelligently and with wit and like all good storytellers he understands how to keep the reader reading.

Last night I was just placing my bookmark into the crease of the page but my eyes flicked across a sentence that immediately kept me reading. I was very tired after a busy weekend, and sleep was beckoning, flirting, but couldn’t compete with the seductiveness of a sentence that had me reading for another half an hour.

‘Something of great importance to me happened two nights ago.’

Really? I asked myself, and of course I had to know. So today’s prompt is this sentence from Alex Miller. I think it’s a great opener, but if you want to incorporate into  your piece, that’s fine too.  Set your timer for 5 minutes or write about 500 words. If you’re looking for specific feedback, please let us know. Otherwise – enjoy the writing.

I chose to set my timer and see where my pen might lead me.

'Two Nights Ago'

‘Something of great importance to me happened to nights ago…

…It was, as these things often are, unexpected. The moon had  hung in the sky, a yellowish orb, casting light across the water. The boat wallowed, inelegantly instead of  skimming over the surface. He sat across from me, nervously pretending to busy himself with a sinker, threading the green prawn along his hook. He cast his line, cleared his throat and then said nothing. A disco boat, all UV lights and pink glow sailed by. The woo-hooing of the women shrill and penetrating. We both pretended not to notice.He glanced across at me as the disco boat rounded Peacock Point, leaving a pink fan in its wake.

‘Patience and quietness are what’s needed for fishing.

‘Yes,’ I agreed.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small box of blue velveteen and placed it on the seat between us, ‘Good for a wife too.’

‘Yes,’ I agreed.

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Write on Wednesday – Alex Miller Inspiration

This week I have a very special guest staying with me – Write on Wednesday.

I’ve been a Write on Wednesday regular for sometime now, and I’m very happy to be helping Gill out this week. If, you’ve stumbled by here and have no idea what Write on Wednesday is, or why I’m writing about it on a Monday, WOW is an online writing group. A weekly creativity fix that allows writers to share their words and receive support, encouragement and feedback from other writers. Some writers have ongoing pieces and characters they’ve been working on, others use the weekly prompts to flex and exercise their creative muscle.

WOW is normally at Gill’s blog, inkpaperpen, but for a couple of weeks, it’s on a roadtrip while Gill takes some R & R.

Alex Miller's 10th novel, Autumn Laing

I’m reading Autumn Laing by Alex Miller, two-time winner of Australia’s premier literary prize, The Miles Franklin award. He writes beautifully, intelligently and with wit and like all good storytellers he understands how to keep the reader reading.

Last night I was just placing my bookmark into the crease of the page but my eyes flicked across a sentence that immediately kept me reading. I was very tired after a busy weekend, and sleep was beckoning, flirting, but couldn’t compete with the seductiveness of a sentence that had me reading for another half an hour.

‘Something of great importance to me happened two nights ago.’

Really? I asked myself, and of course I had to know. So today’s prompt is this sentence from Alex Miller. I think it’s a great opener, but if you want to incorporate into  your piece, that’s fine too.  Set your timer for 5 minutes or write about 500 words. If you’re looking for specific feedback, please let us know. Otherwise – enjoy the writing.

I’m so sorry – I’ve been ‘Adding’ a new collection when I should have been ‘Creating’! Hope this all works now. I’m so not into blog technology!!

 


 

To My Bright Star

The Write on Wednesday Spark: Dear…
This week’s writing exercise is to write a letter. Write an open letter or write to someone more specific. Write a letter between two fictional characters or write a letter into a fictional piece you are already working on. Think  about how differently you write depending upon who you are writing to. Your content in an open letter may differ to content in a private letter.

Wherever the prompt takes you. Keep your post on the short side: up to 500 words OR a 5 minute stream of consciousness exercise. Link your finished piece to the list and begin popping by the other links. Oh, and enjoy!

The linky will be open each week from Monday to Friday. If you are playing the game, try to visit the other linkers, at least three of four would be nice. Encourage, critique and support your fellow writers.

You can find the link at inkpaperpen

 

Abbie Cornish and Paul Schneider as Fanny & Keats in Bright Star

Tess,

My Bright Star, I wish I could write you a love letter like the poetry of Keats, but instead I’ll steal from Wordsworth – If I could fill this paper with the breathings of my heart, it would be infused with a love which has refused to dim. It would whisper of years lost because of my arrogance. It would be spotted with tears wept because I lacked your courage. It would be folded in an envelope of hope that you might yet give me another chance.

Really, all it needs to say is, I love you still and always.

Jake

 

Keats wrote the beautiful poem, Sonnet, to his lover, Fanny Brawne. It’s their relationship that is depicted in Jane Campion’s film Bright Star.

Bright Star, would I were stedfast as thou -art

Not lone splendour hung aloft the night

And watching, with eternal lids apart,

Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,

The moving waters at their priestlike task,

Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores.

Or gazing on the new sot-fallen mask

Of snow upon the mountains and the moors.

No- yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,

Pillow’d upon my fair loves’s ripening breast,

To fell for ever its soft fall and swell,

Awake for ever in a sweet unrest.

Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,

And so live ever -or else swoon to death.

 

The Wordsworth quote is ‘Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart’ and is on the wall above my desk to remind me why I write.

Possessing Beauty – The Collection

The Write on Wednesday Spark:  Possessing Beauty
Write about a collection. Write about something you or ,someone you know, collects. Think about the “why” behind the collection – why is it important to collect this particular thing? How does it make the person feel to add another piece to their collection? Is the group of objects there to be seen, to be studied or simply kept together? Write a real life story or a piece of fiction. Wherever the prompt takes you…Keep your post on the short side: up to 500 words OR a 5 minute stream of consciousness exercise. Link your finished piece to the list and begin popping by the other links. Oh, and enjoy!

The linky will be open each week from Monday to Friday. If you are playing the game, try to visit the other linkers, at least three of four would be nice. Encourage, critique and support your fellow writers.

Write on Wednesday is hosted by – inkpaperpen blogspot

 

My fingers run across the fabric, reading the texture as if it’s Braille. The delicate, fragile appearance hadn’t prepared me for the ridges of hand-cut lace and the stitched thread weaving its way across the plain linen. A cloth that has spread across tables of meals and conversations; protected, adorned and then forgotten. Folded away in a drawer or boxed in a cellar until finally released.

The cloth, with its secrets, its yellowing age spots, is piled with layers of other people’s lives, other families’ stories like the books on the table next to it. And why choose this one and not the one under it or the one that covered it. Often I don’t really know. Perhaps the design of the embroidery, or the texture of the fabric whispers to me in a way the others do not. Maybe it reminds me of a cloth that belonged to one of my grandmothers or my mother. But whatever the reason, this is the one that I need to take home. To carefully launder, clean of the fusty antique shop smell that clings to its fibres.

But it isn’t always old material that I take home to my bower. Fabric shops lure me in with the same siren call. I buy lengths of fabric for the beauty of the design and colour and then wonder what I might do with them.The irony for a lover of textiles, a hunter/gatherer of cloth, is that I’m not a great seamstress. Although I’m always optimistic that my basic ability will flourish into a yet to be revealed talent.

Some pieces I frame, so instead of decorating tables or worn as a scarf, they on my walls. A Japanese handkerchief, traditional Lao embroidered collars, a silk wrap from an Art Gallery. Fabrics too delicate to wear. Fabrics that I want to look at, dream and reminisce with.

I don’t know why I’m so drawn to textiles. Could it be that I hanker for a time of substance, when materials were kept and treasured, not made from disposable fabric with the intention of being used once only. Is it from peering into cupboards as a child and searching out my favourite doilies, tablecloths and linen hand towels to use at my grandmothers’? I don’t really know, other than it’s a way of bringing beauty, colour, and design into my life. Of mixing the old with the contemporary. An expression of my personality and the incredible satisfaction and happiness of finding an object beauty.

Write on Wednesday

The Write On Wednesday Rules: Get creative with the writing exercises – there isn’t a right or wrong. Please do try to visit the other members of Write On Wednesdays and leave a comment of support and constructive criticism. 


Write On Wednesdays Exercise 27   Mel suggested that we look at the “12 Days of Christmas” poem/song and select one of the days/lines for our writing inspiration. So, whether a Partridge in a Pear Tree or Five Golden Rings, write your line at the top of your page, set your timer for 5 minutes and write the first words that come into your head. 

Your second choice is to use Coming Home (to you this Christmas), a song by Achoo, Bless You, as your writing prompt. I heard this song on the radio this morning and besides thinking that this Sydney Folk Duo have come up with the cutest, sweetest name for a band ever, I also thought the song serves up an alternative to the more traditional tune of the season.  Write down the song title, set your timer for 5 minutes and write the first words that come into your head.
I’ve been off having a wonderful writing experience in Laos and Vietnam (more of that here). I’ve lots of work to do, but love these five minute prompts! It’s always so fascinating reading others’ interpretations too.

Three French Hens - en vacance in Laos

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me…
Three French Hens, plump, juicy and perched on their roost. Squawking at their chicks, preening their feathers, it’s always been the same. Every Christmas, the aunties take their designated spots at the long table and pretend to ooh and ah over the bedecked table. Really, they’re trying to outdo each other. Who has the rummiest rum balls, the lightest pavlova meringue, the most perfectly stuffed, rolled turkey. Ava, Eve and Lily, the three sisters. My dad’s sisters. The youngest of four he’d spent a childhood trailing behind bossy girls who marched ahead, leading the way and issuing orders. Now he retreats to the couch,  beer in hand, an emasculated cockerel. Deaf to the clucking, wishing that like the partridge, he was alone in his tree.
You can read the other contributors at inkpaperpen blogspot

Write on Wednesday – Bring me Sunshine

Bring me Sunshine in a cup…

…and I’ll give you my love upon a plate.

‘What did you say?’

‘Just something I learnt at school.’

‘Pass me the sauce then.’

‘I’ve cooked you a perfect medium rare steak and you’re going smother it in tomato sauce?’

‘Yeah,’ he said, as the sauce squelched out of the squeezy bottle.

‘I’ve made a ricotta cheesecake for dessert. Are you going to pour chocolate sauce over that too?’

He looked  across at me, surprised by the edge in my voice. The irritated flick of pepper across lightly buttered asparagus.

‘What’s up with you then?’

Everything. The three bedroom brick veneer, the people mover in the garage. The four matching cushions lined up neatly along the brown leather couch. The trampoline in the backyard. The annual holiday to Bali. The 42 inch plasma screen glowing and bellowing in the corner. All day. Every day.

‘Nothing.’

I wrote this in my kitchen whilst the little one was watching Charlie Bear, hence the very domestic scene. Not my domestic scene, but it is always fascinating where these five minute prompts take you.

Thanks to Gill at inkpaperpen.blogspot.com for this week’s prompt.

I visited Creative Writing Prompts to find this week’s exercise, the site that gave us our Winking Clock exercise. I picked exercise number 103 this time and that brings us…..sunshine in a cup.

The Write On Wednesday Rules: Get creative with the writing exercises – there isn’t a right or wrong. Please do try to visit the other members of Write On Wednesdays and leave a comment of support and constructive criticism. 


Write On Wednesdays Exercise 19 – Sunshine in a cup. Write the words of Emily Dickinson: “Bring me sunshine in a cup” at the top of your page. Set a timer for 5 minutes. Write the first words that come into your head after the prompt. Don’t take you pen off the page (or fingers off the keyboard). Stop only when the buzzer rings! Do this exercise over and over if you wish. Write beyond 5 minutes if you like, you can link it up as an extra post.

Write on Wednesday – Two Fat Ladies

I’ve chosen an exercise I missed before I discovered Write on Wednesday. And this week a timed piece was very appealing. The exercise is to choose the 8th book on your bookshelf, turn to the 8th page and scroll down to the 8th sentence. Write the sentence on the top of your page and write for 5 minutes.

The 8th book on my bookshelf was Margaret Atwood’s The Year of The Flood – a wonderful book,which I hope is in no way a prophetic glimpse into our future. Not pretty, but disturbingly believable.

hanoi direct

Halong Bay*

I wasn’t that worried. Still, they check everything.

The customs officer was lifting up my carefully packed clothes, rolled as tightly as my nerves.. He kept glancing up at me. I held his eye, but was it too much? I was worried my smile had the rictus of a death mask. I wiped the sweat of my clammy palms against the tails of my flowing scarf. Silk, orange, picked up in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. He unzipped my toiletry bag.

‘Are people always this nervous? I’m feeling guilty just standing here..’

He paused from his inspection of my Estee Lauder night serum, ‘Not usually, no.’

‘I’ve got some rocks.’

‘Rocks?’

‘Yes, limestone, from Halong Bay. Have you been there?’

His momentary flash of interest quickly waned. ‘I don’t even get to see Botany Bloody Bay.’ He dropped my little brown bottle of serum into my toiletry bag. ‘Did you wash the rocks? Thoroughly?’ He was already pushing my case along the bench, looking down the queue for more likely offenders.

‘Oh, yes,’ my hand brushing against his. ‘Thoroughly.’

I eased my case and it’s carefully laundered and concealed cache of diamonds away, my jaw finally releasing it’s clenched grin.

Write on Wednesday is the brainchild of Gill at inkpaperpen blogspot.

Many thanks to Gill for creating a wonderful community for writers to gather.

Head over there to see what the other WoWers have written this week.

* Image credit – halongbayvietnamtravel.com

Write on Wednesday – The Song Edition

The Killers Mr Brightside is a song about jealousy. Watching someone you love with someone else.

I’ve taken this as my inspiration and used it to help with a draft I’m in the process of editing & rewriting. So, it’s an excerpt from a novel, the characters are already well established, so there’s a lot taken for granted that the reader would already know. It’s also a lot lighter than many of other my pieces as it’s written for the commercial women’s market (aka chick-lit). It’s still pretty clunky, but it’s start on something I want to develop.

‘Bloody hell, sweetcakes, you didn’t tell me she’s no bigger than Kylie Minogue.’ Astrid peered over the top of her aviators running an expert eye over Yvette’s pixie-like figure.

‘I’ve been trying not to talk about her at all, actually.’

‘Really? I hadn’t noticed.’

I could feel Astrid rolling her eyes at me, but through my black-tinted glasses I watched Yvette holding Jake’s coffee while he padded up. I flicked a fly away, ‘So Jake’s got a new girlfriend? What do I care? I had a boyfriend until quite recently.’

‘Is four months ago still considered recently? I’m not so sure.’ She dropped her cigarette into the last mouthful of her Heineken. ‘Spinisterhood beckons, toots. You could always come over to the dark side. I’m sure I could find you a spot in the Dykes on Bikes Parade.’

I’d lost interest in Astrid’s teasing. At the edge of the cricket field Jake and Yvette were laughing together. Her hand reached up to his chest as he leant down to kiss her. It was like a bluebottle sting. A raw pain that wrapped round my soul. Her hand hovering over his heart. His lips on hers.

‘ I never saw the attraction of Kylie Minogue,’ I said, swatting the fly.

This week I thought we would go with a writing exercise suggested by Hadge.
The Write On Wednesday Rules: Get creative with the writing exercises – there isn’t a right or wrong. Please do try to visit the other members of Write On Wednesdays and leave a comment. You can grab the button for Write On Wednesdays from my sidebar.

Write On Wednesdays Exercise 16:

Hadge says:  Take a favorite (or even random play) song and write the story behind the lyrics, not something inspired by the lyric, but the flesh on the bones of the story. It gives lots of scope for interpretative writing. Use the lyrics or theme of a song  for a piece of flash fiction (50 to 200 words). To clarify, write your version of the story behind the lyrics in a song.

You can read the other pieces at inkpaperpen blogspot.

Write on Wednesday – The Neighbourhood Voyeur

The Original Outsider

Sprawled on the ground, the supermarket’s glass entry propping him up, he demands money. His odour of stale beer, piss and shit an affront to the perfumed mothers pulling their children closer as they pass. Their wallets securely shut. A tethered grey, whiskery dog looks on through soullful eyes.

The man staggers to his feet, a heel, a toe, leering from his socks. Clothes hang limply off his nuggety frame. His hair, sandy, greying, wisping aimlessly in the light spring breeze. The spidery red veins criss-cross his cheeks; the map of his life. He sways, shuffles forward and struggles his jacket to the ground.

‘I feel like a Tooheys, I feel like a Tooheys, I feel like a Tooheys.’

His drunken chorus echoes off the glass of the supermarket, the sandstone of the war memorial. Eyes averted, heads tilted away by those who have gentrified his life into extinction. The shipworkers’ cottages extended, bedecked, polished into inner city gems.

The grey-whiskered dog leads a soy latte drinking owner past the man still singing a song he can no longer remember, but is all he has left.

This week’s exercise invites you to call upon the voyeur within…

The Write On Wednesday Rules: Get creative with the writing exercises – there isn’t a right or wrong. Please do try to visit the other members of Write On Wednesdays and leave a comment. You can grab the button for Write On Wednesdays from my sidebar.

Write On Wednesdays Exercise 15 Give yourself some time to notice the people around you. The people who may cross your path each day. The lady in front of you at the supermarket, the man who helps the school kids cross the road, a neighbour, a waitress in a cafe, a librarian, anyone at all. Choose one person, someone you don’t know, and this person will become the basis of the week’s writing exercise. Describe this person as you see them, describe their surroundings. Then imagine a problem, create conflict for this person. Describe the conflict. Describe how your character deals with the problem. The conflict might resolve itself, it might not. It is up to you. Perhaps, the lady in the supermarket has forgotten her wallet. Does she bursts into tears? Maybe the librarian finds a lost child. The aim is to show how your character responds to conflict and in the process, reveal something about that character. Tell us their story.


Let’s aim for around 200 words, keeping with the theme of the last few weeks (to make each word count). Hopefully those of you who are writing ongoing stories will find a way to weave this exercise into your work.

Visit inkpaperpen.blogspot.com to read the other writers’ work.

Write on Wednesday – The Mighty Rewrite

I can’t tell you how much I didn’t want to do this week’s prompt. First of all I hate being asked what my favourite book or film is because I just can’t answer it. It depends on my mood, what I’ve read recently and enjoyed and as soon as I say a title, another one immediately pops into my head. So that was my first dilemma. The second dilemma was then choosing an author, so I settled on the author I most admire right now, which is Hilary Mantel, but it could have been Ian McEwan or A.A. Milne or Peter Carey or Jane Austen.
And I’ve decided on Wolf Hall because I’ve just lent Beyond Black to a friend. And if I’m going to do it, why not take on a Booker Prize Winner.
I’ve kept it as close in structure, style and tone as possible. This was not easy. Zanni, thank-you for such a huge challenge!

The Book that I am in awe of!

‘ Go on. Roll over.’
Bored, naked, withdrawn, she has complied; slumped across the sheets of a hotel room. Her head turns away; her eyes drawn to the window, as if through there she can see her spoon and syringe. A hand on her breast, she groans, it’s mistaken for pleasure. One more, that’s all she needs, and she could afford her next fix.

Ψ
And the original –
‘So, now get up.’
Felled, dazed, silent, he has fallen; knocked full length on the cobbles of the yard. His head turns sideways; his eyes are turned towards the gate, as if someone might arrive to help him out. One blow, properly placed, could kill him now.
Ψ
The Write on Wednesday Rules: Get creative with the exercises. Don’t worry too much about right or wrong. The aim is to Get Writing. Do try to visit the other writers linking up and leave a comment. You can grab the Write on Wednesday button from my sidebar.

Write on Wednesday Exercise 14 – The Mighty Mighty Rewrite…
Zanni: I did a workshop with literary author MJ Hyland, who teachers Masters in Creative Writing at Manchester University. She asked us to choose our favourite book, take the first paragraph and then write our own content into the paragraph, keeping the structure, tone, language etc. It’s really helpful!

No time limit. Let’s keep up the focus on making each word count. Ready? Set? Write!