Daily Prompt: Me. Teacher, Writer. I am.

DAILY PROMPT: SIX OF ONE, HALF A DOZEN OF THE OTHER
http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/daily-prompt-six/
Write a six-word story about what you think the future holds for you, and then expand on it in a post.

ME. TEACHER, WRITER, MOTHER. I AM.

ME.
THE PROTAGONIST LIVING A PLOTLINE.
SUSPENSEFUL. UNCERTAIN…
AND BLISSFULLY ORDINARY.
A ROAD OF POSSIBILITIES.
NO MAP.
ALWAYS ON THE EDGE OF SOMETHING OR NOTHING.
A DECISION NEEDS TO BE MADE.
AM I FOOT SOLDIER? AM I DREAMER?
OR CAN I BE A HYBRID?
AND… MOTHERHOOD IS THERE.
FLOATING IN THE FOREGROUND.
ALWAYS THERE.
SWELLING AND DELIGHTING MY SOUL.
THE FUTURE, UNCERTAIN…YES.
IT’S A MIXED MEDIA PLOTLINE.
IT’S LIVING A RAINDOW OF COLOURS,
AND A GREY EXISTENCE.
IT’S BEING SCARED OF MY OWN SHADOW,
AND TAKING THE LEAD.
AND IT’S A NEVER ENDING MINI-SERIES.
I’M WATCHING. PARTICIPATING. I’M ENTHRALLED.
DISENGAGED. DISCONNECTED. ON THE EDGE OF TEARS.
FLOATING WITH ELATION. LOVING TO MY FINGERTIPS.
KEEPING BALANCE. AND, ALWAYS…
WAITING ON THE NEXT ACT TO BEGIN…

Humbly written by X

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Quick Fiction: “So, you’re telling me you’re not having an affair with another man?”

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/09/09/daily-prompt-surprise/

“So, you’re telling me you’re not having an affair with another man?” Smirking like he knew I was full of bullshit, my husband said this, then tipped his head to one side in that self-righteous way that makes me want to castrate him with a pair of blunt scissors.

“No,” I said, and continued to scrub the stainless steel stove top with Vilex Kitchen Cleaner and a scrubbing sponge.

“So where have you been all week? You’re here in the morning, the house is a mess. Then you’re gone in the afternoon, and the house is still a mess.”

I could offer up a number of explanations and make them all sound reasonable. But the truth was, I wanted to slap him senseless for bringing up house work like that was my only worth.

I turned. Dante still had his head cocked to the right; his eyes still wide and self-righteous.

Ass!

“Dante darling, I’m not seeing someone else. I married…you. I made a commitment.”

“Then, explain why you come home smelling of another man’s aftershave.”

I dropped the scrubbing sponge into the kitchen sink full of hot water and soap bubbles, and walked towards the bedroom. I didn’t need to rummage. I pulled a glossy printout from my handbag and unfolded it. I showed it to Dante and waited for his questions.

“This is an ad asking for local acting talent. What are you telling me? You don’t act.” Dante had never been a man who coped well with loss of control.

“I applied and got a role.”

Dante gasped, then tried to calm his laughter. “As what?”

“My bum is a perfect match for Laura Grayson’s. She’s shooting a movie and needed a stunt bum for her romantic scenes.”

“What…Laura Grayson? She’s really famous.”

“Yes, well… at least someone is finally interested in my bum.”

My husband’s face clenched. His dull eyes said everything. He knew he had never been a particularly intimate man, even before we married.

I plunged my hand into the sink full of water and found the scrubbing sponge. I smiled to myself and thought of my sexy lover, Franco. He would laugh so hard when I told him that his ‘bum double’ story and glossy homemade printout had worked.

Humbly written by X

Quick Fiction: The Shadows Can Devour Me

I love the play of light and dark in this McComb poem.

From EVENING CLENCHES by David McComb
Sunlight tastes stale, its bleached scenery
Overfamiliar.
Night has the advantage of strangeness;
It will do with you what it will.

I love this section of EVENING CLENCHES because McComb suggests that there is a sense of boundless possibility in night. Night is mysterious and strange, where light, daytime, is stale, boring and familiar. Most people, I dare suggest, wouldn’t agree. Night and dark may lend themselves to mystery, but also to being threatening and scary as hell.

This poem, which I have loved for years, started me thinking about light and dark.

The idea that light is safe and shadows are to be feared has fascinated me for years. Is it sensible to think that a situation is less scary or to be feared less, simply because we light illuminates it. I’ve been known to not go into my backyard at night simply because it’s dark and I can’t see ‘what might be out there’. My quick fiction poem attempts to upturn the commonly accepted notion of light and dark. I hope this comes across.

Shadows
Eyes blackened,
blind with deep night.
A wind skitters,
a branch scratches.
Only the rhythm of my own breath,
keeps my heart beating loud and even.

A dark inner fog consumes all sensibilities,
diffuses and steals me.
I am convinced of stalking shadows,
of silhouettes and strangers.

A chair crouches and shakes like a drunk.
A vase rises to strike,
doubling its height.
A man sneaks on his toes,
a torch beam in his hand.

It blazes only metres off and then rushes close.
It threatens the shadows,
it consumes and strangles and hides nothing.

If his lit face,
and the taste of his nicotine breath,
are my fear,
the shadows can devour me.

Humbly written by X

Quick Fiction: The Note

I thought a quick write might ‘warm me up’ so I could work on my novel. This is the product.

The Note
Why does she look at me that way, like I’m grime on her shoe? Did my birth really force her dreams to dissipate? She said it, but maybe she didn’t mean it. Her face was purple with despise, her eyes wide and enraged, but maybe she didn’t mean it. Sometimes she does this and it’s not me. It’s something else; a bad day at work or quite often money troubles. But I need to ask her something. I need a note signed for school. If I don’t return it today I won’t be able to go, and I really want to go. When I was little, I hid in my wardrobe until the house dimmed to silence then like a rodent I’d sneak into the kitchen for food. Now, I don’t react. I say nothing and behave like I’m numb to her shrieking.

She’s sitting there in her chair, a crossword puzzle in her hand. Her face is still purple, but closer to white than before. Her eyes have settled and seem less glassy. She’s watching me cross the kitchen; I can feel her eyes hot on the back of my neck. I straighten taller. I can feel my armour shedding, but I can’t allow it. I can’t go back to letting myself feel. My insides growl. ‘Force her out!’ they roar in unison. And I feel like I have an army of foot soldiers bracing with me.

I reach for a milk carton and smell the opening. It’s fresh. Mum’s good like this, always on top of the housework and groceries. And she cooks well too.

“Mum, can you sign my note?”

“What note?” There’s regret in her tone, and I know her rant wasn’t only about me.

“It’s a school note, the excursion. Remember…I’ve been invited to the Women in Engineering workshop. It’s usually for seniors, not juniors, but I was invited.”

A statue sat where my mother had; not a single emotion lightened her face now. Not a single blink of hope. “I wanted to be an engineer,” she said.

My foot soldiers dropped their weapons. I raised my white flag. I walked away.

Humbly written by X
I hope you like it.

I’m riding a roller coaster and it’s making my head spin…

No quote to begin with today. Quite frankly…I can’t bring myself to go searching. What is it with life and its lack of warning before it smacks your knee caps out from beneath you? Seriously…a little heads-up would suit me just fine. At least that would allow me to brace for the fall, or perhaps cart a first aid kit of ice-cream, cake and wine with me, for when things turn severely pear-shaped.

At the moment I have ‘Why-Me?’ syndrome. I’m sure you’ve all experienced it at some point in time.

Here I am trying take control of my life, get my head space back to a place where I don’t feel like I’m always on the brink, and another tummy turning bend, big or small, throttles me.

“Really…you’re telling me I got the wrong time and date for the appointment? I just drove an hour to get here!”

“Seriously…you’re telling me I’m surplus to your employee requirements! But I’m trying to pay off a housing loan!”

“Yes…I’ll be late. I have to hitch up my skirt and kneel in the gutter to change a flat tyre! Lucky me!”

“Holy shit…my thirteen year old has her first BOYFRIEND! And…his family is filthy rich and that makes me feel inferior and unsuccessful, which of course makes me self-involved and moderately mental for making this all about me.”

Bottom line, I feel like I’ve lost my way and I need someone to shake me and say “You see that little brick path over there. Yes, the super straight, no fuss, no drama, path! That’s the path you need to take. You’ll be sublimely happy and successful going that way.” I know where I want to go, but I don’t know how to get there. My GPS battery must be dead.

Unfortunately, when humans were given the gift of being able to ‘choose’ and ‘make choices’, we were not also given a road map plotting our most successful and logical path. Nor were we given a road map leading us towards sublime happiness.

But, so often I just want to slap myself for being so selfish. My idea of what trauma looks and feels like is plain nonsense in comparison to what some people experience. Yes, I’ve had a hellish couple of months, and yes I still feel a little residual uselessness because of that, but I have so much to be thankful for too.

I know these things for sure:
1. My daughter is my muse, she makes me laugh so hard I expect my sides to split. She validates my dreams and makes them feel possible and less ludicrous. She radiates happy, and that’s catchy; worth bottling.

2. I am proud to say my daughter is my most outstanding achievement. She has a brilliant and mature mind, is a phenomenal dancer, and is so sweet hearted and playful, too. These are not my victories to claim, they are her own. But I help her feel loved. I help her laugh and smile and face challenges with an iron will. And…I help her feel safe. These are my achievements and victories to claim.

3. My mother is the reason I regain my equilibrium; her to-the-point and spot-on advice is life-changing.

4. I experience a drastic loss of identity if I’m not chin deep in a writing project. A dancer has a stage. A musician has a concert hall. A director has a sound stage. And I have my screen and keys or an empty page to craft my prose. My creative space is where personal identity and passion have no choice but to grow.

5. I’m an excellent school teacher. I don’t always believe this, but I need to.

And…

6. The universe both wraps me in happiness and tears me apart, limb by limb. And…it will always be this way.

My principal (I’m a primary teacher), said “Take control! You’ll be great!” Is this even possible when I’m unravelling like a spool of thread? Yes I can…the child inside me craves greatness. I’m not going to model mediocrity for my daughter. I’m not going to teach her to give in when things get rough.

In spite of the roller coaster I seem to always be riding, I shall find hope in my muse, and if necessary, I will write until my fingertips callous over, because I am a writer. I need to write. I want to write. And, I have to believe my future is paved with words. And because of this, I’ve finally taken the gigantic and terrifying step of enrolling in a writing course at one of Australia’s most prestigious arts school. Fear won’t cripple me…but it’s trying bloody hard, too.

Think positive,
X

Are stories really everywhere?

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”
Marilyn Monroe

As a wannabe writer I’m always on the hunt for a good story. And I’ve found that observing the human race interacting, provides ample creative fuel for someone prowling for a new character or plot line. However, today, a stunning Sunday bought me to one of my favourite lunch hang outs. Not only does the place have fabulous food, but the dim lighting, dark chocolate furnishings and floor-to-ceiling book shelves brimming with aging books, forces my creative juices and curiosity into a tail spin. There I am sitting across from my mother sharing a chatty lunch, when a semi-herd of young women flood in. The oldest maybe forty-five, the youngest maybe twentyish. As I always do, immediately, one by one, I take a second to subtly glance at facial expressions to assess state-of-mind, check out clothing choices to assess personalities, and of course watch and listen to interactions. All this happens with quick glances. Yes, we writers are creepy people, even the wannabes, but we do this as part of our craft. At least this is how I justify my observations and ponderings. And usually, if someone strikes me as interesting, a personal history hatches and I start to track nuances and traits. Anything useful gets logged in my writing journal, and these little bits and pieces come out later on in a new story or short film or some other unexpected place. Real lives become my art.

Today as the semi-herd of women flooded in, I was struck by something confounding. There seemed to be no story here! None of these women stood out as being subject matter. The dress code seemed to be smart casual, but non-eventful. No individuals here. I’m not suggesting for a second that I’m assessing price tags. In fact, something completely different. The way we dress is the first way we show our personality to those around us. There were no favourite pairs of earrings snazzing up lobes, no colourful neck scarves, no beaded bracelets, and a lot of pastel and earth tones. I’m not a pastel or earth tone hater, I promise. Please don’t misunderstand me. I myself wore a mushroom/beige jumper today.

It’s just that, usually in every group there’s at least one group hippy; the out going type that dresses like a chameleon swapped outfits with them, and they are loud and boisterous, but greatly loved. Perhaps, also there’s an emo-type with black and pink hair who is actually a delight to be around. Or the shy type who gets lots of hugs and is clearly adored by a group. But this group of women, all of them, confounded my expectations.

At first, these pastel-clad, women gave me no story. I couldn’t even suss out what was it that bought these chics together. Not a mother’s group. Not a book club. Not a work get together. I had nothing, and this of course made my curiosity fire even more. Their slow and quiet conversation gave me only that, maybe these women were not overly familiar with each other.

I was about to conclude that perhaps these women might just be low-key, sweethearts and that digging for a story here was not worth my eavesdropping. BUT…it’s not within my nature to give up. I just had to dig deeper.

This is where my observations stopped and my creativity kicked in. Suddenly their stories were my stories to write. Why were they here? Who are they? What makes them tick? If I wanted to, I could fill in the blanks however I pleased. Art could imitate life, or life could imitate my art! If I wanted to, I could rewrite the lives of these women. What power!

So perhaps there are stories everywhere, perhaps they’re just not always as obvious as we’d like. Digging is sometimes required.

Keep Smiling
X

Detach…

“Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.” Napoleon Bonaparte

Ideally, I’d find myself a fabulous mentor to help me to improve my writing. Easier said than done. I know people who know some of the ‘right’ industry people, but I’m discovering that it is not easy to put yourself out there. Not when your sense of creativity and competence at your craft, are being evaluated. The reality is, hearing any negative feedback would be like being directly dubbed ‘butt ugly’. No one wants to be insufficient.

Bottom line… I find it hard to hand over a piece of writing I’m passionate about so someone can critique it. It’s like being back at University. It feels like there are only two grades, pass and fail. It is particularly hard to hand over something I’ve slogged over when I know that my ‘reader’ will do their job and rake over my words with the savviest of eyes and point out not only any strengths, but every flaw, too.

Who wants to hear this kind of feedback? No one, but I need to learn this skill. I’m trying to improve my writing instincts, and part of this process is trying to detach and not take any critical feedback to heart. “It’s not about me. It’s about the writing”. And if what I’ve put together doesn’t make sense yet or doesn’t seem plausible yet, I’m just going to have to stop being a princess about it. If the feedback’s there, I have to embrace it and learn from it.

Picture a whopping fly buzzing above a golden puddle of honey. It wants nothing more than to tap dance in the sweetness of the honey puddle, but knows the outcome won’t be only sweet, delicious honey. For the humble fly and for me, not embracing the challenge would mean forfeiting any positive gains because ‘something bad might happen’. I want the sweetness of positive feedback, and if I have to feel a little challenged to get it, then that’s what I will have to do. But for me, humbly floating an idea about a short film or character or sub-plot, to someone, will always be terrifying.

I have to remind myself, just breathe and detach…
Keep smiling
X