Category Archives: Creative Writing

The Low-Down.

tentative.jpg

Oh Gloria, you’re glorious
your face is quite adorious,
but it must be most laborious,
to paint it up just foree us.

Please bear with me – I have a point to make…

I’ve been reading my old posts, with a view to deleting some. It’s a time consuming task, since I keep going to the posts, and reading the comments below. I’ve come to the conclusion that, with the exception of three or four which I shouldn’t have posted, I’m going to leave them be, since they are a part of my story.

What comes across more than anything, as I read, is how traumatised I was, up until this year. My honesty was less a virtue than a response to stress and grief. My life has changed dramatically since then. For some years my addicted son and daughter gave me little cause to hope that they would survive for much longer – let alone go into recovery – and whenever hope presented itself, its visit was brief, leaving me more devastated than before.

I had to take tough action, so I pretty much cut myself off from them. It was recommended by my support group, my family and my friends, and I knew it was the right thing to do. It’s called ‘release with love’, but it didn’t feel like love, and apart from the freedom from daily crises, I didn’t feel particularly released. Although I knew that my abandonment might give them an opening into recovery, I suffered a terrible sense of guilt. I feared that they might give up on life, thinking I didn’t love them, that they may genuinely need me, that they may die because I wasn’t there to resuscitate them. At times I missed them terribly, while at other times I was furious with them. A combination of superstition and shame prevented me from speaking of these things, even at my support group.

My refusal to engage with their addictions was part of a series of good and bad events which occurred in a serendipitous order, and resulted in them both going into recovery. So in the last six months, my life has changed dramatically. I wouldn’t go so far to say that I am now well – every time I make that claim a physical or psychological crisis follows – but I’m often happy. It feels as if I have had a reprieve. However, I am all too aware that this reprieve could be taken away, since recovery is a precarious condition. I celebrate the strides my children are are taking, but these celebrations are sandwiched between panic attacks and debilitating hours of both horror and depression.

If you speak to any realist in my position, I think they would agree that, although there is less cause for trauma, anxiety levels can increase, or rather change shape, when someone they love goes into recovery. Hopes are raised, the stakes become higher, and we often find ourselves in a state of shock. It’s a strange twist that is all to familiar to many of us.

I am recovering, but life contains a series of falls and recovery; it carries us along particular routes, and we are shaped by our experiences along the way. I am not the person I may have been in different circumstances; I cannot guess who that person would have been. Come to that, I can’t know how any other circumstances may have shaped up. As my eldest daughter said to me a year or two ago, when my life was atrocious: it could be that what we have now is the best possible result of our lives so far.

Since my children went into recovery, I have found it increasingly difficult to write. When I manage to write, I often don’t finish what I have started, or if I do, I don’t like it enough to post it, and this brings me to Gloria. I wrote the ridiculous rhyme about Gloria in response to yesterday’s word prompt. When it was inside my head, it seemed funny – albeit inane – but typed out I could see that it wasn’t. It’s a perfect illustration of my current state of mind, and the reason I’m not posting much.

Today’s word is ‘tentative‘, which is appropriate, since I feel a tentative pride in having managed to compose this, and I will post it, even though a large part of me doesn’t want to. It has taken me hours of tentative writing to finish this post and when I press ‘publish’, I will do so tentatively. This is a tentative step towards getting back into a proper blogging routine, and overcoming my recently acquired, literary shyness.

Press publish, Jane…

Press publish…

NOW!

PS. I forgot to add today’s word for peace, dedicated to Raili, who kindly supplied it. Maybe you can engineer an opportunity to use this word in the next twenty-four hours.

Words For Peace #2
 
Finnish:
 
Rauha

 

©Jane Paterson Basil

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Secret

 

bookshelves1.jpg

Serenity stands in the corner of the room, staring across at my bookshelves. She is motionless, and I wish she’d go over and pick out whatever book she’s interested in. Following her line of sight, I try to figure out which book it is; I suspect it’s ‘PostSecret’, a brilliant idea conceived in Frank Warren’s inspired mind. For those who don’t know, Frank Warren invited members of the public to write a secret on a postcard and send it to him, anonymously. Some of these secrets are funny and some are shameful, while still more are frighteningly sinister. Many of those who submitted their secrets said that it helped them to heal their hidden wounds.

Maybe Serenity wants to send Frank Warren a postcard, or maybe she sent one, and is wondering if it is included in his book; if so, I can understand why she doesn’t take a look while I am in the room.

I stroll casually over to the bookshelves, and peruse the spines as if I’m just looking for something interesting while I pass a lazy half-hour. When I reach the book in question, I pick it up, with a practiced air of indifference. I don’t want to make her feel as if I’ve been reading her mind.

As for Serenity, her gaze doesn’t falter – she remains looking at the gap that I’ve left. She doesn’t even glance my way as I take my seat at the table. I’m impressed by her determination not to give the game away.

I turn the pages. The first secret is merely a claim of many secrets, but none are named. I doubt that is her secret.

One says “I know you don’t really like me. Please stop pretending.” It could be that one; she certainly lack confidence. I read on, assessing possibilities as I go, dismissing the majority for a variety of reasons.

He’s been in prison for to years for what I did. 9 more to go.” It shocks me, but I don’t think it’s anything to do with Serenity.

I used to fertilize a ring on my lawn, and every time I mowed it, IT GREW. My parents still think it was aliens.” Amusing, but no.

I ate all the blueberries, and they were delicious.” Unlikely; she’s not interested in food.

I’m terrified of not existing.” I think she’s more terrified of existing, but I could be wrong.

I turn the page, and there it is, on page 61 – but to make sure, I pass it by and read on.

When I was a teenager I used to babysit my next door neighbour’s son. When he was asleep I would go into their bedroom and go through their drawers. I found a packet of condoms. I put a pin through the middle of each of them, and thus ensured myself another 5 years of babysitting.” No. I don’t think she likes small children, and she’s not that enterprising.

I once wrote an X-rated letter to my boyfriend who broke up with me before I could give it to him. … I gave it to my next boyfriend.” Nope. Serenity is a life-long celibate.

Income from teaching creative writing:$32,654.00. Income from writing creatively: $0.00.” No.

When my friends go on diets, I discourage them. This is because I want them to be fatter than me.” No. I’m her only friend, and she’s thinner than I could ever be.

I love having my period. It gives me an excuse to be bitchy and irritable and to take naps.” That’s not Serenity. She’s never bitchy and irritable.

I still believe my childhood bear is real. I am in college. I still talk to her… when no-one else is in the room.” Serenity doesn’t have a bear, and she’s not very talkative anyway, but this postcard begs the question; why would people think this girl’s bear is not real?

I stole your duck and took it to San Francisco.” No chance.

I read to the end of the book, and after a furtive glance at Serenity – who still remains motionless – I go back to page 61, to the secret which jumped out at me, and I feel sure that if she is the author of any of the words in this book, it is these:

I feel blank inside.”

I’m posting this in the hope that someone out there can advise me. How can I help Serenity?

I asked her if she’d mind me taking a picture to add to this post. She didn’t reply, but I sensed that she liked the idea. She has a certain style, and a penchant for scarves, which, with my help, she ties in unusual ways and wears as dresses. I know she’s proud of these creations – they seem to be her one real interest in life, and she always seems pleased when I bring a new one home,  but she gets few opportunities to show them off, since she never leaves the flat. Her latest garment is a huge scarf which I found in our Oxfam shop. Although she prefers rare hand-embroidered vintage silk and wool, she was thrilled with this one. I’m sure you’ll agree she looks beautiful in it.

She stands in the corner of the room, barricaded behind the arm of the sofa because she doesn’t like being touched. There was an unfortunate incident a few years back, when I took a  job which required me to live in a tent for six months. She doesn’t like camping, so she moved into the window of Oxfam until I came home. The incident occurred while she was there. It was an accident, but it left her mentally scarred.

Serenity-stares.jpg

 

It’s just occurred to me – maybe she wasn’t staring at the book. Perhaps she has difficulty with her sight. That may explain several of her problems.

I think I’ll take her to Specsavers.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Building Narnia

I don’t often post quotes, but today I found one which appealed to me. Many people have lost all hope of a better future. Some doubt that the human race has any  future at all.

Aslan1

In his book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S, Lewis says:

Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.

I hadn’t intended to write a poem – I’m in a rush to go out – but here’s a quick one which came to me when I took a look at today’s word prompt from The Daily Post. The word is Disobey

Building Narnia

Let’s all believe in Narnia;
disobey the naysayers who speak of hierarchy, saying
that greed is a human need,
that hate is an incurable trait,
that hungry nations cannot be freed of starvation —
let Narnia eradicate those negative beliefs.
Let’s believe in Narnia,
In Narnia we will live in peace.

©Jane Paterson Basil

That Shrinking Feeling

Fly-ride

.

“Mum!”

She told me it would be dangerous to use my power lightly, but when I saw the insect just standing there in the park, I couldn’t resist shrinking so I could take a ride on the back of the fly. It was exciting, like the best fairground ride, but without the predictability. It was fun watching mum wondering where I was, and getting scared.

“Mum!”

She can’t hear me. My vocal chords are too small, and although she’s frantically looking for me, I’m too tiny to see.

I wish I’d listened when she said I was not experienced enough to reverse the effect without her help.

“Mum! MUM!”

Mum, please come and set me free, before the spider reaches me.

.

Written for Michelle’s Photo Challenge #101. Click the link to join in.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Colour me

colouring

Today, I’ve been wasting time looking for answers to questions that don’t matter much to me. I found an oojamaflip called colorquiz. on the interwhatsit.

In the site’s own words, “ColorQuiz is a free five minute personality test based on decades of research by color psychologists around the world. There are no complicated questions to answer, you simply choose colors with a click of the mouse!”

Apparently, this test is based on the work of Dr. Max Lûscher and is used worldwide, most notably in Europe, by psychologists, doctors, government agencies, and universities to screen their candidates. Since the 1950’s the test has been given to hundreds of thousands of people.

How could I resist?

My results describe a combination of the way I used to be and the way I’ve been since certain events in my life sent me crashing to my knees.

Thank you for asking; yes, my knees have recovered, although I still get the occasional twinges in other parts of my body.

Without further ado, here’s the analysis…

Oh – first I should tell you a couple of things:

1. They’re wrong about my sexual activity; these days I carefully avoid that messy occupation, and all involvements which may lead up to it. 

(Ha! My results touch on that point in the section titled “Your Stress Sources”) 

2. I have no idea why the analyser repeats that section. Maybe it’s trying to lead me astray by awakening my curiosity concerning sexual activity. 

(No chance, pal)

Here’s the analysis. I copied and pasted it, and therefore take no responsibility for any small errors.

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Your Existing Situation

“Craves change and new things, always looking for new adventures and activities. Becomes restless and frustrated when she has to wait to long for things to develop. her impatience leads to irritability and a desire to move on to the next project.”

Your Stress Sources

“Not a team player and is unwilling to be involved in most activities. In the past she was over involved and now emotionally drained. Due to her fear of over involvement, she now chooses to remain uninvolved with the activities around her. “

Your Restrained Characteristics

“Although she feels isolated and alone, she is afraid of forming deep, meaningful relationships. Is conceited and is easily offended.”

Current events have her feeling forced to make bargains and put aside her own desires for now. She is able to find satisfaction and happiness through sexual activity.

Current events have her feeling forced to make bargains and put aside her own desires for now. She is able to find satisfaction and happiness through sexual activity.

Your Desired Objective

“Highly optimistic and outgoing personality. Loves to learn new and exciting things, and craves new interests. Looking for a well-rounded life full of success and new experiences. Does not allow herself to be overcome with negative thoughts or self-doubt. Takes life head on, with enthusiasm. “

Your Actual Problem

Is afraid she will be held back from obtaining the things she wants leading her to act out with a hectic intensity.

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I’d like to run through a couple of details with which I have issues:

1. “Not a team player and is unwilling to be involved in most activities.”
If they’re going to take that attitude I can do without their help, thank you very much. I’m perfectly capable of figuring out my personality all on my own. When I finish writing this post, I’m off for my weekly game of one player, one sided hockey, and I bet I’ll win. I always do.

2. “Is conceited and is easily offended.”

Conceited? How dare they suggest such a thing. While I know I’m the most intelligent, compassionate, brave, beautiful, intuitive and considerate person on the planet, I’m also humble, and grateful to my incredible brain and my delectable body for providing me with all of these qualities. I think the analyser is jealous of me. What’s more, I’m not easily offended.

This is my honest appraisal of the analysis:

There are a couple of glaring innaccuracies. There’s the bit about sexual activity – which I’ve always tended to  find intrusive and disempowering, and this:

“Does not allow herself to be overcome with negative thoughts or self-doubt.”

Wrong! I wrote the book on self-doubt – but I didn’t have the confidence to approach a publisher.

Other than that, I can relate to the results, which suggest – quite rightly – that I’m a solitary sort.

I’m itching to try the test again, just to make sure it gives the same results – I can remember the exact order in which I selected the colours in both parts of the test.

I wonder if the compilers were/are sexist, and whether the results would be the same if I ticked the man box.

Heh heh heh…

I’m an analyser’s nightmare, and proud of it.

If you want to try the test yourself, here’s the link to colorquiz. I’d love to know how it goes.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Stirrings of the Mind

My thoughts have been a bit disordered lately, with the result that I keep starting poetry and not finishing it. None of it seems good enough. This morning, I woke up feeling insignificant. After doing a few things around the flat, I switched the computer on and decided I’d do a bit of reading. The first post I came to was written by Reena Saxina, and it changed my outlook.

Just like that.

I couldn’t miss the opportunity to share this lovely poem on my blog.

I hope it has a similar positive effect on my readers.

Reena Saxena

The incessant buzz

of thoughts that shatter

thoughts that inspire

thoughts that pass unnoticed

unnerve me.

My ideas are raw,

unfinished, unsophisticated

likely to be scorned

or laughed at.

I silence the voice.

The bees in my bonnet

have multiplied

they do not let me sleep

threatening an explosion

if not released.

Expression helps sanity

I am not God, but

it is nothing to be scoffed at

I have a sane voice

amidst loud, ungodly creatures.

View original post

Smemtogis, so much more than a poem.

I’d like to begin this post by explaining; it wasn’t my idea, it was Ellen’s. In fact, Ellen made me do it. Yup. Not my fault; Ellen’s fault, and if you want to know who Ellen is, you’ll have to go to her blog, but I warn you; once you get there you may have trouble tearing yourself away. However, that’s another matter entirely. I’m not here to publicise Ellen’s blog, hilarious though it may be. No, I’m here to tell you that I’m not responsible for this post.

Great! I shouldn’t have added the link. Now all my readers have wandered off to read a better blog, and I’m left all alone, talking to myself like an idiot. They won’t be back. Once they’ve discovered that blog, they’ll forget all about me. Huh; I ask you, where’s the loyalty? Not that anyone’s here to answer my question; they’re all lapping up the words of somebody  else, which is what I’d rather be doing, instead of sitting around on my own, talking to myself.

It’s probably for the best – I don’t really want those two or three halfwits my host of magnificent friends who think I’m sensible and level headed – and not at all obsessive – to know I went back to that silly ‘I Write Like‘ site, to carry out further experiments.

So, gather around, everybody. If you want to read about my previous experiments, you can find them HERE, and THERE.

Not that there’s anybody left, they just couldn’t wait to run off and check out Ellen’s… wait a minute, there’s one… hi! HI!… I see you… tucked behind that chair at the back of beyond… poor thing… what’s that?… you want a wee?… Oh. You want to leave. . . . . .It’s OK, I won’t be offended… you can go and join the others… go on… I won’t mind… here you are, have the link >>>>>>to Ellen’s blog<<<<<<

…Yeah,  that’s fine… you go off and have fun… don’t mind me… waffling away to myself… ALL ON MY OWN…

…oh, no, I did it again. I should never have mentioned that other blog… should’ve known this would happen… next time I post a link to a blog, I’ll make sure it’s one of those niche blogs where the posts all show photos of blank sheets of foolscap paper, or describe different methods of cooking pebbles, …

As I was saying, someone else is to blame, for Making A Suggestion – it’s true it was only a Suggestion, but everyone knows that I’m a sucker for a challenge, and to be fair, I did my best to hold out.

The Suggestion: Try feeding the ‘I Write Like’ analyser something in a foreign language, or something written in gibberish.

I said I’d managed to give up my ‘I Write Like’ habit.

My tempter came back with, “Surely just one more won’t hurt.”

ice-1089622__340I’m not made of stone, and I’m no angel.

Perhaps you can imagine how it feels to be confronted with such wicked temptation. I attempted to write something witty and clever like, “Shan’t”, but as my fingers reached for the letters S and H, I heard the algorithmic sirens singing sweet music in my ears, calling me home to them, and as I touched those two keys, a shock ran through me, paralysing my whole body… and my teeth all fell out, and my hair stuffed itself down my throat and a big dog a huge lizard a giant dragon swallowed me whole and then I cut my way out of it’s stinky old stomach with a key that I sharpened with my teeth a toothpick that I didn’t need any more because I didn’t have any teeth, and then it breathed fire all over me and I went up in flames and I had to throw my last two 6 packs of extra strong lager over myself jump in the bath and then I decided I’d had enough of all that malarkey, and p’raps I should just go with the flow.

See? I can say anything I like, as there’s nobody here – you’re all reading some other blog… huh… just ‘cos she’s funnier than me… 

 I chose the nonsense option, and stuck it in the ‘I Write Like’ postbox.

The more sensitive of you will divine that if my gibberesque poem had a meaning – which it doesn’t – it would be an impassioned plea from a woman whose lover has forsaken her, in order to live out his dream of collecting discarded toenail clippings circa 1960. He takes up residence in a disused railway carriage which has been discarded beside a rubbish dump that’s been derelict since November 1969. However, he meets a professional sand sorter who had to take early retirement – since there was little call for his services in the UK (or any where else for that matter). The sand sorter believes him to be the reincarnation of his beloved dog, and starts feeding him lids from dog food cans – which he claims Rover enjoyed, though in fact it was the cause of his demise. I’ll leave you to figure out the rest for yourselves.

It’s a tragic tale – or it would be if it wasn’t gibberish. Even written as it is, it may move you to tears – except you’re all at some other blog, mopping tears of mirth from your laptop keyboards.

Here is the poem, with the ‘I Write Like’ analysis beneath it:

Smemtogis,
florpangal seg flostus
kringle-bingle sot plerostus
pantsa bost e thinto tost
Smemtogis, roastie baestie clost

sa smemtogis,
retsi drostal yentiodalistiation
retsi retsi binkle em deigh
sa, sa smemtogis

sa de sa de sa smemtogis
sa de sa
de sa
de
smemtogis

smemtogis draapsetit ste grender toenail clippings turg foret tes voeru de glgogogin ind weorister pusk ste banglseje dogwim dg thretmacil would return ud stanstastive sairdostle quirdsit est di e sedit grrr doset ste fo fo stankle diddo vinkstew not a bloody dog renlex ada bo bo skiddle help dodedo ouch that hurts

smemtogis
sa de sa smemtogis
retsi

smemtogis oh oh oh

I write like James Joyce

Astounding.

I ask myself, “Am I really going to post this on my pretty little blog?”

“Yes”, comes the reply.

The End

~~~

….Oh, so you didn’t all desert me… well, off you go – there’s nothing left to see…

…….

…All right, if you must know, I conducted one last, final, terminal, ultimate, climactic swansong of an experiment. I copied and pasted everything that was written on the analysers home page, and this is what I learnt:

The ‘I Write Like’ site writer writes like Cory Doctorow

Try saying that quickly.

With grateful (I think) thanks to Ellen, who can be found at Notes from the UK.

©Jane Paterson Basil