Tag Archives: creativity

WestWords Living Stories Things Unsaid – WINNER

Last Monday 18 July, WestWords held the launch for Living Stories Things Unsaid, and announced the major prize winners.

I was able to attend, and came away as the grand prize winner for the 18+ category for my story, We Three Kings.

Westwords have released a FREE digital copy of the book containing all the winners and highly commended pieces from the thirteen Local Government Areas with the judges’ comments.

The link to read my story, and all the other stories and poems, is here: Living Stories Things Unsaid.

I am looking forward to reading all the entries, especially the younger writers who I hope will continue their pursuit of the craft because it will be awesome to see their writing journey into the future.

Defining Progress in the Year of Relentless

My chosen word for the year was #relentless.

It was a word chosen to keep my focus on writing and submitting. On that scale, it has been successful. I have written, I have submitted, I have received rejections. I have had a story sold to appear later in the year in The School Magazine. I have been accepted to a local writers’ Academy where we meet monthly to discuss the business and practical aspects of writing. And the year is only half done.

In saying that, it has also been a year of relentlessness in other ways. The best way of describing it would be “Unexpected items in the bagging area.” It has taken its toll mentally and emotionally.

This afternoon, I took stock of where I was at with some old projects, added in potential new stories and lined them up in my notebook. I need lists; it keeps me accountable.

This is how I choose to define progress in the year of relentless: I am continuing to write and work on new projects, submitting when I can, and looking for new opportunities to get help, wisdom, knowledge and advice. If you don’t ask, you don’t receive.

I am curious to see what happens in the remainder of the year, and when I look back over 2022, what lessons will I have learned? And that is, perhaps, the more important part of this creative journey.

Word for the Year 2022

Welcome to The Drum and Page.

If my desk was named like an English pub, it would be The Drum and Page. My writing collaborator, Jodi, calls her place, The Dog And Book. Therefore I am renaming my work space like an English pub even though I live in Australia. It simply sounds better. What would your creative space be called?

I digress but this initial tangent leads me to my WORD OF THE YEAR.

Each year I choose a word to help guide and direct me. They are written on a Post It Note and stuck to the wall above my desk. Last year I had two words: “limitless” and “breakthrough.” I found success in these two words in the release of my chapbook, Mount Pleasant, in February, and winning a local writing competition about the middle of the year. I kept writing and drawing, sifting through the what was to see what would be.

This year, the word is RELENTLESS.

It will take a year to explore the nuances of this word and what it means for me. And that will be an awfully grand adventure.

It’s a word to apply to my creative life through writing and drawing, and will have application to the spiritual, emotional/mental, and physical aspects of my life. I don’t know what the final outcome will be at the end of 2022. I may have made no progress other than developing my creative practice. I may have opportunities to explore because I asked about a collaboration, or I put in an application for a writing mentorship, or I submitted work for publication and only received rejections. I don’t know. But I will be relentless in my pursuit of this creative life.

Grace and peace be upon you all from the desk of The Drum and Page.

Flash Fiction – The Tennis Court

There’s always a tennis court around the corner, the white lines faded and cracked. The net hangs in a lopsided grin as you walk past. The dog at your heels moves to your other side, putting you between it and the tennis court. You’ve never seen anyone play on it.

As you walk beyond the base line you think you hear the sound of a ball struck. You turn and there’s no one there on court. A tennis ball rolls out of the shadows and into the back corner of the court, resting against the cyclone fencing wire.

What Do You Do When You Get to the End of the Toilet Roll?

What do you do when you get to the end of the toilet roll?

A year is a toilet roll, and as this calendar year comes to an end, we tend to reflect on success, failures, the times that fell through as easy as a loose stool; the events we bit down hard on and pushed; the thoughts we had amounting to nothing more than sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

This laboured metaphor for the end of the year is fitting as this time of year is awash with Best Of lists, retrospective summaries, highlight reels and statistics. The interim period of December 1 until Christmas Eve is like looking at the roll of toilet paper on the holder and wondering how much is left and how long it will last, and if you’ll get through.

We mark our seasons and cycles in different ways. I am not one to successfully mark transitions and the ascension of seasons and new beginnings. I try to. I set out projects and works I’d like to complete but I am useless at developing plans and goals. Creating positive habits is hard.

I do know what I have, and have not, achieved this year. In the wash up of this year I can point to many reasons why I have not succeeded, some personal, some professional, some within my control and some out of my control. And all of these have had their impact in my growth as a writer and a creative.

What Am I Pleased With This Year?

These make me feel quite chuffed and are impetus for future growth next year. I have ideas, thoughts, hastily scribbled plans, fluid deadlines that need to be made fixed, unfinished projects to either abandon or complete.

And yet, there is fear.

Fear I can’t finish the projects I want to. Fear of what will happen outside of my control that can derail my progress. Fear of being average and beige and wasting my time. Fear is the largest obstacle I need to overcome.

Creativity is a discipline: spiritual, emotional, mental, physical. You train yourself like an athlete or musician to overcome fear. And when one cycle ends, you think about the incremental progress you have made, and how you have changed, developed, adapted, improved throughout the cycle.

So, what do you do when you get to the end of the toilet roll? You dispose of the waste, put a new roll on, and start anew.

Bridging the Gap

Ira Glass discusses the gap between where we are with our creativity, and where we’d like to be.

And this is where I am at.

I have a vision of the type of writer I want to be and I am trying to make it a reality.

Above my desk are a series of Post It notes, categorised under different headings. There are Post It notes for published pieces, Works in Progress, Ideas and Rough Concepts, Writing Competitions and Opportunities, and then a random miscellany of captured moments.

I am trying to bridge the gap. I am taking off Post It notes when I have abandoned a Work in Progress, trimming the hedge, so to speak, because I want to focus on the work I have at hand. I do not want to be distracted by too many ideas, or to spend time pursuing an opportunity that will not benefit me. I am being deliberately picky. I want to focus on writing well in order to bridge that gap.

It feels presumptuous, and arrogant, to say that I have a goal as a writer: I want to be on the Miles Franklin short list. The Miles Franklin award is prestigious writing award in Australia, and it is one I aspire to. Even to be on the long list would be an achievement. To win it would be the culmination of years of hard work.

I’ve set myself a bar on the other side of the creative gap. Time to get to work; to write the words that will build the bridge across that gap so I can leap over that bar.

The Fallow Season

The Fallow Season

Due to the nature of my job as a high school English teacher there are certain times of the year when the time to create is very limited.

This is one of those times.

July to September is very busy, and time to focus on large projects or develop new ideas is very limited. Therefore I call this my fallow season.

I leave projects and ideas on hold, waiting for the next break to pick them up again. I can do little things like drawing but writing projects wait.

It is frustrating for a number of reasons. If I have built momentum on a project I have to let it slow down. If I want to spend time developing a new project it can only be done in small parcels of time if I have the mental strength to do so. It is frustrating because I am not where I want to be as a writer. There are other factors in the background that also hinder progress, and each time I think I have found a new pattern or way of creating, the parameters shift and I have to restart.

So this is me, waiting out the season but watching over the fields.

Things To Do While Sitting With Grief

Things To Do While Sitting With Grief

tie your shoelaces with the perfect tightness you like. send a text to your best friend asking how he’s doing at the moment because you haven’t spoken in a while. and send one to your sister for the same reason.

write out a shopping list of what you will need for the week and include a treat for yourself. count the drops of rain falling and see if you can make it to one thousand.

read a book; the one you said you always would but never get around to.

respond to your best friend’s text and invite him over for dinner and ask him what his favourite food is and plan to make it. add the ingredients to the shopping list you started earlier.

turn your phone off. listen at the window. make a mental note of what you see in the colour of the sky and shape of the clouds. remember your first kiss and why it stays in your memory and not the last kiss you gave or received. wait for the echo.

paint your fingernails and toenails even if no one will see them. later, put on your favourite socks, the comfy ones you wear around the house with slippers.

measure the distance the shadow travels as it pushes in like the rising tide. tomorrow, time how long it takes.

draw the flowers in the vase and capture their fragility; a daguerreotype of death. next week, draw them when they have wilted. preserve it.

listen to the sound of your breathing, through your mouth, through your nose. clench your fists breathing in. release them breathing out.

The Cartographer’s Journal

Hello there,

It has been a little while since I’ve dropped in here to announce anything but in the background things have been happening.

During June I was participating in the #JARWriteathon where I set out to write a zine combining vignettes and poetry with continuous line drawing.

It is now finished and very soon it will be available for sale.

Here is the blurb:

The Cartographer’s Journal is the fragmented exploration of a man’s life following the death of his grandfather and is the catalyst for examining his life and the moments he remembers. He plots his experiences as way points and erects milestones to understand how memory, distorted and fragmented as it is, constructs an identity although it is not fixed until secured in retrospect.

These random moments of memory are catalogued in our heads, a sequence of unconnected and disconnected events that serve as marker points of who we are. To explore the past is to chart the periphery of maturation as “Here Be Dragons.”

We make our way forward in life by walking backwards.

You can see a preview HERE.

Mount Pleasant – Prologue

As you will now no doubt be reminded that Solkyri’s new album, Mount Pleasant, launches on March 6, 2020, and I am in the process of writing a piece of flash fiction for each track. Grab it, have a listen.

You can read Holding Pattern, and Pendock and Progress, the first two pieces.

The band is hosting an album launch on March 28, 2020 (if you’re in Sydney, Australia).

I am launching one more piece, a prologue to the album. After this I am setting out to write six more pieces for the other tracks and will launch the collection as a chapbook later in the year, probably before June (to allow for typesetting, set up, ordering copies and the like – stay tuned).

The prologue sets the scene for the thematic focus of the album: deception, decait and false facades. The stories are based on the inspiration behind each track, and interpreted in my own way, and my response to the music.

Mount Pleasant

Prologue

Four boys pulled up on their BMX bikes at the sign declaring the name of their suburb, dismounted and dropped their bikes just off the footpath in the unmown grass and collected rocks from the broken edging of the bitumen where it crumbled and exposed the road base.

The white reflective background of the sign mimicked a rainbow from the right angle as the boys took aim at the black and faded capital letters. This invisible line of demarcation creating a boundary of narrowed expectations as thin and carcinogenic as a cigarette. Scratched and pockmarked with its own acne.

The boys threw their rocks with no other intention than to score a hit, celebrating the ping as each rock struck. One of them drifted away, found a length of stick and started swinging through the heads of grass and weeds. He flung the stick towards his mates, skittering it along the footpath as it twisted and jumped, hitting one of them in the back of the legs. It was thrown back with greater force, catching him across the shins.

“Shithead.”

“Arsehole.” A smirk at having drawn spots of blood.

The honk of a horn and the rattle of ute pulling over onto the crumbled verge, tyres coughing through the gravel, passing the boys and pulling up just beyond the sign. Two council workers hopped out and began setting up tools at the base of the sign. The boys watched, ignored by the council workers. One of them pulled a packet of Burger Rings from under his t-shirt, filched from the servo where they’d pumped up their bike tyres. Another one passed around a packet of chewie.

A piece of gravel taken from the footpath and chucked it at the sign. It pinged and the council workers flinched and retorted, “Piss off!”

“What ya doing? Having smoko?”

“Changing the sign; what does it bloody look like?”

“Why?”

“Suburb’s getting a name change.”

“What for?”

“Because of hooligans like you, that’s what’s for.”

The four stood around as the council workers set up two step ladders behind the sign, climbed up and began loosening nuts. The spanner slipped from the hand of one of the workers and clattered in the gravel and dirt. The boys raised a mocking chorus of approval. They watched the name of their suburb come down, thrown into the back of the ute tray before the new sign was pulled from a cardboard sheath.

Within a few minutes the new sign was in place instantly changing the name of the suburb. The new sign gleamed pristine and fresh.

“Dad reckons changing the name of the suburb is like wearing a suit to the pub.”

“Yeah but your dad’s full of shit, too.”

Beyond the sign the suburb looked exactly the same, unaware of the name change and probably wouldn’t have cared for it anyway.

One of boys picked up another piece of gravel and chucked it at the sign, the ping ricocheting into the traffic noise.

“Different name. Same shithole.”

They spat their chewing gum at the sign, picked up their bikes, rode under the sign and headed home.