Category Archives: writing

Here’s a fun one

The Daily Post’s word prompt for today is RECITE. It’s a good word which inspired a poem using anagrams.

(With) ice
I erect Eire
Ere I tire,
I retire.

Done. Now onto the important business of the day, which is:

king-vulture-1574180__340

What kind of quiz are you?

Yes, I’ve found another personality test, but this one doesn’t take itself seriously. It told me nice things about myself, and I suspect it will do the same for you. It’s refreshingly light and humorous, so I don’t have to be.

It told me:

For you, life is carefree! You manage stress well. Also, you like it when things are laid out for you and you can choose which one is best. Rather than always knowing the answer, your strength is figuring out what the best answer is from the options. Sometimes, your friends and family aren’t exactly sure where you’re going, but you know that, whatever the future brings, you’ll handle it with ease. Best pet: Goldfish. No, vulture. Wait, piranha. Hold on a minute… Best home: An RV with at least two entrances and plenty of gas.

See? It’s fun, although it’s not entirely accurate (I don’t like fish), it’s halfway there, since I’m quite keen on vultures.

For those of you who feel like spending the next  five minutes of your life smiling, here’s the test.

Now I’ll write a sensible  poem….

maybe.

I won’t link this post to the word prompt 😉

©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

And finally

OK, so I know I should leave it alone now -and I will – as soon as I’ve posted this.

Some of you will know that yesterday I wrote a post about an app that claims to be able to analyse your writing. This app. is called I Write Like, and I’ve had a hilarious time with it.

Today, inspired by a comment from my friend Pat, over at imissmetoo (you should check out her blog – it’s beautiful, intelligent and often thought provoking), I threw this at the analytical robot which lurks, waiting eagerly to chew up our words and spit out whatever it pleases:

Jane Basil
Jane Basil Jane Basil
Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil
Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil
Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil
Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil
Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil
Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil
Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil
Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil
Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil
Jane Basil Jane Basil
Jane Basil

This is the result I got:

I write like Agatha Christie

Really?

Not being one to skimp on my scientific experiments, I changed my poem slightly, thus:

Jane
Jane Paterson
Jane Paterson Basil
Jane Paterson Basil Paterson
Jane Paterson Basil Jane Paterson Basil Paterson
Jane Paterson Basil Jane Basil Paterson Jane Paterson Basil Paterson
Jane Paterson Basil Jane Paterson Basil Jane Paterson Basil Jane Paterson Basil Paterson
Jane Paterson Basil Jane Paterson Basil Jane Paterson Basil Paterson
Jane Paterson Basil Jane Paterson Basil Paterson
Jane Paterson Basil Paterson
Jane Paterson Basil
Jane Paterson
Jane

Guess what?

I write like Bram Stoker

I rest my case. Forever.

Thank goodness that naughty Robert Mitchum has agreed

Robert-Mitchum.png

to stay out of this post.

Phwoarr…

©Jane Paterson Basil

 

I Write Like Everyone

Mandelbrot_Set-6-TAIL_ZOOM
Image of a mandelbrot set

This evening I’ve been messing around with ‘I Write Like’, an amusing tool that I discovered a year or two ago. At the top of the page it says:

Check which famous writer you write like with this statistical analysis tool, which analyzes your word choice and writing style and compares them with those of the famous writers.

So I did. In the box provided by the site, I copied and pasted an angry rap that I’d written, clicked ‘Analyze’, and waited. The result came quickly. It said:

You write like Shakespeare.

william shakespeareWell! I did a little dance, patted myself on the head and waited for Instant Fame.

(Just a side note; he has a nice face, but he’s not exactly Robert Mitchum, the man who made even cigarettes sexy…)

I was in for a long wait, but I like to keep myself busy, so I maintained all those essential tasks that shake the top layer of dust off my body and keep me in tip-top physical condition – you know the jobs I’m talking about; making lists of all the lists I’ve made, checking down the back of the sofa after a guest vacates, in the hope that they’ve dropped some money, designing a shaky cushion for them to sit on the next time they come, doodling pictures of my favourite aardvark in a wedding dress, dropping water bombs on folks below my window, counting the empty milk cartons in my recycling to make sure none have been stolen, practicing my x-ray vision (still a long way to go with that), inventing a recognisable letter to replace the word ‘carapice’ – and not before time.

Oh, yes, I keep myself busy.

After a few months, fame hadn’t even made ot to my front gate, so I thought I’d better check to make sure I still wrote like Shakespeare. I posted another poem – or maybe it was a story. The analyser said:

You write like Stephen King.

So, not quite Shakespeare, but I figured Stephen King had a moderate amount of success for a writer, and I reckoned that any day a host of agents would find my blog and come Robert Mitchumknocking at my door, begging to represent me, offering me loads of money and sexual favours. Robert Mitchum – the only man for me, (although our timing was all wrong) so I’d turn down the sexual favours. I’m only in it for the dosh anyway. I’d probably go for the highest bidder.

I’m still waiting. I assume some kind of technical difficulty is keeping the agents from seeing my blog, but this evening I experienced a hint of uncertainty, and I went back to the analyzer to make sure that I still write like Stephen King.

Apparently I don’t. The next result told me:

You write like Charles Dickens.

I tried another poem and got this:

You write like Arthur Conan Doyle.

The next:

You write like Anne Rice.

I didn’t even know who she was, so I tried again, and again, and… you get the picture; I submitted 41 poems and short pieces.

What?

So, this is research, OK? I resent the suggestion that I’m obsessive. At least once a week for the past eight years I’ve done an online a test to see if I’m obsessive, and every time it tells me I’m not.

And stop trying to change the subject.

My research told me I write like:

Rudyard Kipling, Arthur Clarke, Agatha Christie, Jack London, Mario Puzo, Daniel Defoe, Arthur Conan Doyle, Chuck Palahniuk came up twice, Stephanie Meyer (x2), Vladimir Nobokov (x 4), David Foster Wallace (x 4), Margaret Atwood (x 5), James Joyce (x 5), Anne Rice (x 6),Charles Dickens (x 6).

The more poems I had analysed, the more confused I became. In many cases, I saw little correlation between my work and what I knew of the given authors’ writing.

You may also have noticed that the analyser doesn’t even mentionRobert Mitchum. I think the fact that he wasn’t a writer is a poor excuse, since he was so sexy.

I decided to conduct a few carefully monitored experiments:

1. I deliberately wrote a bad piece about a childhood experience. I included mis-spellings, poor grammar, a proliferation of ands and buts… it was terrible. The analyser told me I wrote like Raymond Chandler. Sorry about that, Ray.

2. I copied and pasted the poem that the site had originally stated was like Shakespeare, but it now says that it is like Stephanie Meyer’s work.

3. I copied one of Shakespeare’s most famous love sonnets (“From fairest creatures we desire increase…”) and discovered that the bard of Avon writes like H.P..Lovecraft.. Well done, Shakey.

4. I copied and pasted one of H.P. Lovecraft’s poems. It turns out that he writes like Mary Shelley.

My conclusions:

1. The analyser has it in for Raymond Chandler.

2. The writing which used to be like Shakespeare’s is now it’s like Stephanie Meyer’s. I haven’t read Twilight, but according to reviews her writing is dreadful. How can this be so? Both Shakey and I are rather good writers.

3. To complicate matters, Shakespeare has now taken to writing like HP Lovecraft, and HP Lovecraft writes like Mary Shelley.

4. Ideally, all of these authors should go back to writing like themselves.

5. My brain was less scrambled when I wrote like Stephen King.

6. In a perfect world, Robert Mitchum would have been born in the 1950s, grown up to be a literary agent, and lived next door to me.

If I take one thing from all this, it’s that I have finally achieved my dream – I choose to wave aside 37 of the analyser’s efforts with my work (not that I’m dissing the writing of those authors), and take heart from the remaining five, thus:

You write like Margaret Atwood.
You write like Margaret Atwood.
You write like Margaret Atwood.
You write like Margaret Atwood.
You write like Margaret Atwood.

Margaret Atwood writes as if she was born with the perfect words inside her, already in the right order. I find numbers beautiful; they ask questions which (although there may be several methods of calculation) can only be answered in one way. They have beautiful symmetry. To me, Margaret Atwood’s novels are like the mathematics that exists within nature; a complex range of words that are arranged perfectly. Not a single letter need be changed. They make a shape as lovely and exact as a mandelbrot set.

N.B. I hope my silly post will raise at least the hint of a giggle here and there, but I ask that you take the last paragraph seriously. It’s the only sincere passage in this piece. Margaret Atwood is a literary giant.

And Robert Mitchum was the sexiest thing on legs. It was a bit sneaky of him to barge into this post – Robert Redford would not have been so rude – but better late than never.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Another Beer

He swallows another beer as he wallows in loss of a broken doll that he never wished to repair; to mend it would be to lose it forever, and to forego his fun.

He opens another can as he drunkenly hunts for a plan to win her back.

A hundred pounds should seal the deal. The doll will feel a dash of guilt or greed. He’ll sow the seed in her account and it is bound to yield. She’ll buy a bag and run to heel. It cannot fail. By next weekend he’ll possess her again.

But what is this? It’s all going wrong. She told her she’s happy where she is. She doesn’t want the hundred quid and doesn’t want to hear from him.

He drinks another beer and has another think. Another hundred quid should do it. He knows her sort, they’re no better than they aught to be, and that’s why they keep him warm in bed. They’ll do anything for some squid to buy a day’s escape from pain.

She reminds him it’s over, that he doesn’t know her, he only remembers an addict he thought he could buy, and though she can’t recall the sordid details, and can’t recognise the person she was now she’s found a different life, he should know she was only for hire, and the lease has expired. Her body is her own private property, as are her mind and her soul. None of her form, functions or faculties have any connection with him.

He feels frustrated so he takes a break, and has another drink.

Now he is angry, and soon, so is she. Another hundred unsolicited smackers in her bank account, yet still she won’t listen. She should have crumbled and spent it on gear. He’ll speak to her mother; he’s convinced he has tricked her, she thinks he’s a charmer, with his grammar school twang and his good education. She will believe him when he spins his tale.

So he’s texting her mother to say that if she doesn’t help him, she’s not the mother that she should be. He writes that he is in love with her daughter, and adds “You should send her to me.”

His mother succinctly explains (most politely) that he is a git and a pervert also, and that she’s always known it, but had to go slowly and retain his trust, ’til she got her daughter out of his clutches. She’s pleased she’s succeeded, and says that she hopes he will leave well alone. She mentions his age and compares it to daughter’s, she points out the difference of thirty three years, says she’s aware of his filthy intentions, wishes him well and she puts down the phone.

So he necks another beer.

His left arm possessively clutches a bucket of fine filmy dust while his right hand hurls mouldering tatters of insults and sick psycho tricks which harmlessly sink through the rug at their feet. He shouts and he swears and spits evil invective. He threatens to stab them and shoot them and send out police to arrest them…

Pardon me, could you repeat that last piece?

Stab them and shoot them and send out police?

What, all three?

And how will he find them? He has no address.

They were very upset, but now they are laughing. Three months of plotting and drunken scheming and now he is screaming arid threats. Can he do no better than that?

Somewhere in a lonely town, he chokes on his beer…

and the brave phoenix extracts a heap of cash from the bank, slaps it into the hand of a representative of a cherished charity. She modestly waves away the receipt, and whispers “A stranger gave it to me. He thought I looked a bit like someone he knew. He refused to take it back. There was nothing I could do.”

She turns to leave, but briefly turns back. Smiling, she says “Free.”

At last she is free.

.

Quid:- one pound sterling.
Squid:- same as quid.
Gear:- heroin.

©Jane Paterson Basil

If You Go Away

Most people must be familiar with the song, If You Go Away. The original, Ne Me Quitte Pas was in French, and I always assumed – not being a French speaker – that it was a fairly accurate translation. This lovely song has been recorded by numerous artists. Here is Jacques Brel singing it:

I was curious to see the lyrics translated into English. It didn’t take long to find a translation. I like the English lyrics but they don’t compare to these exquisite words:

Ne Me Quitte Pas
by Jacques Brel
Translated to English by Jamie J. Brunson

Please don’t leave me.
We can forget
Everything can be forgotten
Look, it’s gone already
Forget the times
And the misunderstandings
The lost time
The blows
The hours that robbed our hearts of joy
Don’t leave me (4 times)

I offer you pearls of rain
From places in me where there is no rain
I will raise the earth until the day I die
To cover your body in light and gold
I’ll make a place for us
Where love is king
Love is law
And you are queen.
Please don’t leave me. (4 times)

Don’t leave me
I beg you
Ah! Do you understand my words?
Are they senseless, the words I speak
Of our history?
It is king
It does not have to perish
Just don’t leave me.

How often has the fire of an old volcano
Erupting, burn the land
Then in that place more wheat grows than at harvest.

Each day ends when evening comes
The brilliant night sky is red and black
Can the night be brilliant without both?
Please don’t leave me. (4 times)

I have implored you
With my words
If you leave me, I will unbecome myself
And become the shadow of your shadow
So that I can watch you dance and smile
So that I can hear you sing and laugh
As the shadow of your shadow.

Please don’t leave me.
Please don’t leave me.
Please don’t leave me.
Please don’t leave me.

There are also numerous recordings of If You Go Away. I’ve chosen to post Neil Diamond’s rendition:

Whether in English or French, these are beautiful songs, and the tune is the same for both, but after comparing the lyrics, I think it’s a bit of a stretch to call them the same song.

What do you think?

©Jane Paterson Basil

Her Tenacious Spirit

Lauralookinggood1.jpg

My daughter’s first breath wheezed with a puny meow, but the sounds increased in depth and volume, until much of our oxygen was gone.

As Laura grew, the list of  her sufferings expanded. Flakes fell from her raw skin, exposing oozing flesh. Eggs brought out blisters, but nuts could kill. Her lungs stuttered, her stomach hurt, yet sometimes when she cried, I could find no reason.

Like a child flung from paradise and plunged into hell, pain battled with bafflement and anger.

She was a cracked cog in the wrong machine, juddering through school and fumbling youth, misunderstood and not understanding the rules, a magnet for juvenile cruelty, adolescent jibe, unkind adult attack.

She was so timid, so unprepared for society, yet she became determined to partake. Bravely she tried to play the game, and for a while she held her own.

At seventeen my daughter had grown into physical magnificence and apparent independence. She moved into her own home, and even took care of a hapless, helpless young friend.

Away from me, dark creatures circled around her. Grateful for the attention, and unable to tell the difference between angels and devils, she thought they were good people, but they stole secret pieces of her.

Each time she tripped, she fell out of my reach, and every fall cut deep. Her frail self-esteem shrank to invisibility, and she began self-medicating todull the pain.

In the wake of addiction, her hard-won dignity was stolen by dirty brown liquid on a stained spoon.

In my mind, a zigzag line on a graph indicate the moments of hope and the months of despair. The months became years, constantly stretching all of my fears. Laura lost weight to the point of danger, her face took on a course texture, her limbs developed a dance of their own. Psychosis set in. In the mud of her mind, monstrous men marched through locked doors, raped her, tore out her hair and bruised names onto her legs as she slept. She stritched sticky tape across all entrances, to know they’d been there.

Inanimate objects leapt across tables. Worms wriggled in her epidermis. Receipts she found on the ground revealed secret messages. Light fittings concealed hidden cameras. Poisonous gas seeped through walls. The Ministry of Defence needed to be informed.

The police and others in authority warned me she was likely to die, adding that they didn’t now how she had clung on so long. Some hoped that a mishap would land her in hospital for a decent time. So did I, if it may save her life.

Her life took her to nightmare places, and her mind carried her far beyond. If there is anywhere blacker than a starless night, she has been there.

My friends and many strangers promised to pray for her recovery. They sent caring messages and prayers. I shared them with her, and gradually saw a change. At the same time I kept my distance, explaining that the drugs made her abusive, and I would not tolerate abuse.

I would never have guessed that her spirit could be so tenacious. A year later, kind messages still arrive, and I still convey each one to her. She feels nurtured, which in turn makes her feel worthy. My struggling child is a fine woman now. She knows she can have a better future. She’s clean, and temporarily living with me. The sparkle in her eye reflects back onto me, making me shine. I glow with pride when I think af all she has already achieved. she’s fought her way through countless ills, and come out of them strong and positive.

Next week she’ll move in with someone wonderful, who has seen her potential. He hates drug addiction, and will support her in every way, with no hidden agenda. He’s comfortably rough around the edges, which suits Laura well, but more than that, he’s a wise, thoughtful, family man. Laura has a new family to love, and to be loved by.

And what of his interest in us? Fraternity, and a wish to see Laura well and moving forward in life.

It will happen.

Written for The Daily Post #Tenacious

©Jane Paterson Basil