Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Hurling words into darkness and waiting for an echo...

It started as a smile, a glance. A flirtation with ideas. It grew into words. I dabbled; a few here, a few there. Soon they came together, merged effortlessly as one. Yes, reader. I am writing a novel.

For weeks, maybe even months, I've worked on one story. Every day I'd add a new paragraph. Change some words. Delete. Adjust a sentence. Complete a chapter. Days passed and my characters became real to me, fleshed, alive, ready to jump from the page, to give me hell if I didn't do them justice. If I didn't give them a chance.

The right side of my brain has taken over, given itself fully to my fictional world. Nothing is logical. Life's situations are no longer my own. They're my characters. As I sit at my computer, I do not exist. I am Lucille. I am Simeon. I am about to come of age.

What started as a short story has today become a novel. Lucille was babbling on about herself, recounting a flashback, when suddenly I appeared, left side of brain kicked into gear. I sat there in my fictional world and realised; there's more to this.

I am writing a novel.

I announce this like those at an AA meeting. They say the first step is to admit you have a problem. I do. I've convinced myself I have more than a short story on my hands. Such a lethal confession. Once committed, I do not give up. The harder things get, the harder I try. Am I even capable of this? Who knows. But now I'm in this for the long haul. It'll be scary. Daunting. Challenging. It's going to be one hell of a journey.

Fingers crossed I reach my destination.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Who do you think you are?

This week I've unearthed a lot of dirt. Not literal dirt of course; the metaphorical stuff that lurks behind closet doors and under floorboards. The kind that has Forensic Anthropologists' all excited because what's in that dirt has just uncovered a hundred years' old mystery. I've also watched far too much of the TV series, Bones.

Rifling through boxes of books from my Grandmother's house, I was arranging them into three piles: Oxfam. Recycling. My Bookcase. I snatched up the complete works of Oscar Wilde, binding ornate with gold stitching, insides doused with the scent of a thousand libraries. I begrudgingly threw Rudyard Kipling into the recycling; his pages too tattered for eyes, too worn for hands. Oxfam is now the proud owner of thirty books on Marxism. (Nan, what were you thinking?!)

Mission accomplished, I returned the books to their new homes. Placing Oscar Wilde lovingly on my bookcase, a photograph fluttered to the floor from inside; hidden between Dorian Gray and some Woman of No Importance. I studied it; black and white, edges frayed, yellowed. A man I did not know.

Impatient for more I poured the books into one frenzied pile, organisation be damned. Fingers, eyes scoured every page and book. But there were no more hidden photographs. No more dirt unearthed.

Now I spend time hunting relatives, delving into the unknown depths of my family tree in search of the man I did not know. It's like I've been given a key that unlocks the door to my family history and yet I have no idea where that door is. I have a single jigsaw piece and the rest of the puzzle lurks in some muddy boot-fair with the rest of the unwanted crap. Only I want it. I really do.

The importance of knowing where you come from is as fundamental as knowing who you are. They are not one and the same. You could know that you're courageous and determined and yet not know where that courage comes from. Sometimes, certain traits that we value so highly really are passed along that family tree, branch to branch. Sometimes it's nice to know you're not the only one out there, sitting on a limb.

Reader, I know who I am. But the man I did not know; he's going to tell me where I'm from. And I cannot wait to find out...

Monday, 19 October 2009


I don't like seven. It's all sharp edges and odd number. In a list it's even worse. Why would anyone write a list of seven things? Why not round it up? You know how I love my Top Ten.

A few days ago, however, I was given the task of writing such list. Seven things about me. Along with this was the honour of the Kreativ Blogger award, given by the lovely Sarah over at The Good Girls. She writes some great stories. I suggest you visit immediately.

Seeing as I have some new followers, particularly over the last month, I thought I would recycle an earlier post. Fear not readers, I do not lack inspiration. I'm just being lazy...

1. I am one of those people who needs things to look forward to, else I lose the will to live.

2. I am double jointed and can freak people out with a twist of the elbow or the pulling of the thumb from its socket. As you can see, I know how to have a good time.

3. I'm a bit of a movie buff (or freak depending on your viewpoint) and have over 250 DVDs in my collection. Due to the low prices in Tesco, that collection is growing rapidly. Thanks Tesco.

4. I love my surname. I do not love being called Highlander by every guy I meet. Yes, I know. Highlander was a MacLeod. I'm a McLeod. You're correct. Well spotted. Now sod off.

5. I went travelling by myself when I was 19 years old. Some say this was brave, others say it was foolish. The fact that I was chased 2 miles by a homeless man would prove the latter correct.

6. My favourite word is 'bollocks.' It is just so expressive. If I could use it in every sentence, I would.

7. I was very fortunate to get my own back on someone who made my life hell at school. Said bully approached me on a train and asked if I remembered them. My reply was that I had a brain condition which meant I couldn't remember arseholes. Bully stunned into silence = smile on my face all day long.

8. My real name is Zion5 and I'm from the year 3021.

So there it is. Seven things about me. Okay, the list says eight but I had to round it up and we all know number 8 isn't true. Or is it...?

Finally, I must pass on this Kreativ Blogger award to a new and deserving fellow writer. After reading yet another great post from him, this award goes to the brilliantly witty plentymorefishoutofwater. He never fails to make me smile. Over to you...

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Snow Sky

As soft mist lingers white over waters
starched by the cold hand of frost,
a bird's wing snaps the silenced air;
a grave mark on the horizon.

A willow weeps for its branches
trapped beneath the frozen pond,
caught unawares as winter creped
in a windless night-time lull.

And in the darkened hush,
Winter's breath blew cold the scorched leaves
brittle from the distant summer heat,
as ripe and red as berries.

In woodland shamed naked by an iron chill,
creatures live, breathe and beat,
backs turned, eyes closed
to brace the arctic bite.
A tree branch, severed, cracks.

Grey clouds a solemn smudge
on a pink and purple sky,
beckons a white hell of flakes and flurries
and drifts, to shackle nature in its frozen grasp.

Underneath rimy rooftops,
faces pressed against cold glass
misted by warm breath,
await the first sign of Winter's torment.
A single flake met by giant smiles.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Humanity is just a work in progress...

I am not a misanthrope. This is me we're talking about. I openly adore happy endings and smiling at strangers. I want the good guy to win. Always. But sometimes optimism fades.

As a society we are confronted frequently by our actions. The seedy underbelly of humanity is laid bare on a daily basis, stripped of benevolence. Through media we have no choice but to meet with our failings, or as such, the failings of others. Sex isn't the only thing that sells. Add violence and corrupt politicians and you've got one big money-making equation.

Day after day I read some version of kids murdering kids, people enslaving people. Governments stealing from their own country. Abuse. Fraud. Theft. The list is endless. Out in the world we exist together, and yet so far apart. People on the street are lost; passers-by a void around them. Hold open a door for someone and you won't get a thank-you in return. Sometimes it's the little things.

Repeatedly I get knocked; gradually I am worn, eroded. That's when the optimism, the faith in humanity, starts to wane.

But today there was hope. I awoke this morning to stories that recharged my belief that, at its very heart, humanity can be good. People can be good. A small group of British Firefighters are off to help search for survivors in the aftermath of the Samoa tsunami. The knowledge that these men are to risk their lives for others, in a country that on any other day we would not think about, warms my soul.

In addition to this story, a British football team stopped a woman from jumping to her death from the Humber Bridge. This simple act of kindness to someone in need reminds us of the invisible ties that bind us. Humanity, in its most basic form, can be found in the strangest of places.

As a result (for now at least) I find my faith in humanity restored. Or should that be faith in footballers...?