29 April ’13
This is my one hundredth post. When I set out to complete my ‘Fifty-Two’ project at the beginning of 2011 I did not expect to keep on going past the end of that year. But here I am. Though this blog started out as a photography project, it has evolved towards my other love, writing.
Last week I read a blog post by a young man in Romania. The fact that he’s from Constanta caught my eye – we visited the city last year. It was this connection that prompted my to read his blog (there are so many, you could spend your life reading blogs without any effort at all). Cristian’s post was on the subject of writing, why writers do what they do. He mentioned that as a teenager he wanted only to write, and that school and homework got in the way. I guess I was lucky in that the assignments I was set in English class at school fulfilled that desire for me. Thinking back I realise that I have always been a writer. That’s a rather difficult thing to admit. It seems presumptuous.
My first memory that I have of a particular piece of creative writing was a poem about a rabbit who lived in a cage, all moldy with age. I think I was about eight years old, I remember being ever so proud of that rhyme.
We used to go an our annual family vacation in the May school holidays. For years I wrote a daily journal on our trips, and illustrated each page with a drawing. The journals may be around some where, I should see if I can find them. This habit, started when I was young, has followed me on two European trips. These holidays have been logged in a number of notebooks, so we have both our photographs and my words to remind us of our travels.
When I was about twelve I wrote a poem about dinosaurs. I showed the poem to my teacher, and he thought it was rather good. He asked me if he could show it to the newspaper and see if they would publish it. I thought this would be OK, so I gave him my handwritten poem – the only copy. As I recall this happened on the last day of school for the year, it may have been my last day at Waitohi School before I left for high school. I never saw the poem again.
Once I got to high school I wrote more – English class provided the perfect outlet. I think it was in my Sixth Form year that we were set a major writing assignment. I remember taking my notebook and pen, heading out over the farm and writing under the pine trees by the damn. I drew inspiration from the sound of the wind in the trees, the smell of pine, the reflections on the water, the dank undergrowth and the birds.
Years later I started writing a children’s story, Belle’s Birthday. I wrote it out longhand. (At the time I felt that I could only write creatively with a pen in my hand, despite the fact that I am a touch-typist. It wasn’t until I started writing for the Village Voice that I forced myself to compose at the keyboard, and now it’s the only way.) Belle’s Birthday is set at my Dad’s farm, Belle is the farm dog. There is a cast of animal characters who decide to throw Belle a party for her birthday. It’s the longest story I’ve ever written. I did type it up, I saved it to floppy disc (yep, this was some years ago!), and printed out a copy. Then I forgot about it. Some time later, when technology had moved on I tried to take a copy off the floppy and save to a more modern medium. Sadly I could not get any computer to read the disc, and I figured my story was lost. One day the kids were tidying up upstairs and they found the printed copy, minus the front page. I guess it won’t be too hard to recompose that first page. I might make it a winter project to retype Belle’s Birthday and save it more securely – maybe I’ll post it here…
Occasionally when the mood takes me I’ve been know to compose a poem. It doesn’t happen very often. A few years back I was inspired to write about a family walk we took one glorious autumn afternoon. Here’s an excerpt from A Sunday Stroll :-Into an open glade where silver birches, Glinting in golden light, applaud. Their leaves in the wind the echo Of a distant ovation. Footsteps stitch holes through Waist high grass. Crunch of rail bed rocks, Their edges hard under soles of Old sneakers and gumboots. Scramble up And over. Slip and slide down The other side into the snarl and Tangle of blackberry.
Words have power. Whoever penned the lines “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” did not understand that power. Words can hurt, just as they can heal, inspire, incite and enrage, sooth or provoke.
Words must be chosen with care. I shall continue to write them as long as I can, as long as I enjoy it and have something to say. Even if no one is listening.