Fifth Birthday Launch

5th birthday party invitation featuring boy in astronaut space suit floating in space with party details
Image: Richard Baxter, Invitation: Mek

I’m late in posting this, partly due to the same reason that this birthday has stood out a little from the rest. In addition to the invite that brings out the inner graphic designer in me, months of space-themed crafting, days of number 5 cookie baking and careful imagining of a cake that took till the early hours of party day to execute, this year we also had a separate celebration on the Queen’s birthday holiday for our little prince—a Yarra River cruise with his grandparents, and not long after, a second celebration of his 5th voyage around the sun with 20 of his closest friends, followed by a slightly more terrestrial event that shifted the focus from star gazing and cake eating, with commencement of our new living arrangements. Knowing this was going to be the case, I tried to savour every single moment leading up to his day even more than I normally would. I was squeezing him a little tighter, telling him I love him far more frequently, and making a greater effort to be present, even in unremarkable moments (how special it has become to yet again be asked to close my eyes as he hides underneath the dining table and I feign surprise at his disappearance). Moments that from now on will happen only for half his week and half of mine, with what will feel for my heart like an eternity between cuddles.  Continue reading

Note to Self

Photo of an airborne person with feet on flames, leaving a burning road, used as prompt for microfiction
Photo by Dan Carlson

Love & Equanimity. Two words scrawled in a mental note without context, all that remained of countless self-help books that had held so much promise. Words jumbled with trivia, numbers and names of faces long forgotten; it wasn’t till I pieced them into one coherent thought that I finally burnt bridges over stagnant waters, feeling light (almost airborne).

 

Inspired by Sonya’s Three Line Tales, Week Twenty Five. This will suffice as THE post marking a big-ish milestone for me- the eve of my fortieth. Here I come!

Terminal

Photo of ferry terminal at twighlight used as prompt for a flash fiction story
Photo by Charlie Hang

And so I have done it again, ignoring the glaring neon warning as he ferried me across decades to the losses that anchor me to vacant spaces; the chain pulling taut with less and less give as flotsam and jetsam gather and entangle in its rusty links.

On shore, telegraph poles line up like dominos before the fall, the dialogue between my ghosts echoing down the wire; different faces, same conversation.

I bid farewell to thee and seek refuge on my island, for I am the lighthouse keeper.

 

Inspired by Sonya’s Three Line Tale Week Twenty Three.

Expectations

Image of cupcakes on a tier wth white creme topping used as a prompt for a flash fiction story
Photo by Stephanie McCabe

Proposal, ring, dress, venue, invitations, flowers, hair and makeup, photographer, seating arrangements, navigating family politics- a never-ending to-do list along the well-trodden path espoused by wedding planners, magazines, her girlfriends who’d gone before her, and of course, her mother.

Looking through the tiered treats at the smiling faces, giddy from champagne and sugar, she wondered whether this milestone, her bridal shower, was going to be the one, the last hurdle before she has the guts to call the whole thing off and throw herself off the trajectory she’d been riding on autopilot.

The call was getting harder with growing expectations and mounting debt; sighing, she took another cupcake, after all, there was another fitting to accommodate fluctuations between now and then.

 

Written in response to Sonya’s Three Line Tales, Week 20. It’s a fun challenge- Sonya has a knack for selecting beautiful photos that inspire so many different stories. Half the fun is reading what others come up with – join in if you have time!

Art Imitating Life

Writing the synopsis for my novel, I have been following the guidelines on structuring and planning a story as set out by my writing course. For a long time (over a year), I was frustrated by the repeat of questions about my main character’s desire, the challenges she faces, the stakes etc, not to mention the tediousness of breaking each component of my story into setup, complication and payoff . I was sure I was sapping my story of any originality and killing any joy in the creative process, but I trudged along hoping it would all get better and easier. Well, it did. At least it got better – easy hasn’t happened yet.

I had a breakthrough some months back, finally understanding the purpose to all the planning. Now I can see that breaking up my story into discrete story units each with a set up, complication and payoff, and a central dramatic question raised and usually answered,  makes for a multi-layered, complex and engaging story. The hard work in all this planning will ensure there is purpose to my prose, and down the track, when I spend more time on the narrative, my character (to borrow loosely from a Kurt Vonnegut quote) will have a purpose even while drinking a glass of water- perhaps with a central dramatic  question of whether she sees it as half empty or half full. Okay, I butchered that. The actual quote is “Make your characters want something right away even if it’s only a glass of water. Characters paralyzed by the meaninglessness of modern life still have to drink water from time to time”.

I know not everyone follows such a format when they write a novel, but this is the only way I know how, it being my first attempt, and I am glad to be learning so much. Surrendering to the process which once felt stifling, I appreciate that setting boundaries for the creative process by defining character arcs, central dramatic questions and a theme to name just a few elements, I can create an intricate world to explore through my character’s particular circumstances and life view- a richer, more authentic human story than I would tell if my character’s inner and outer world lacked the connection that comes with consideration and planning.

My revelation also extends to a belief I now hold, that even if my story is never published nor read by anyone other than my tutor, It is worthwhile simply because it is a life teacher, a sentiment captured beautifully in an M.C.Richards quote I came across in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way All the arts we practice are apprenticeship. The big art is our life. Another brilliant quote, also found quoted in The Artists Way, and attributed to Alain Arias-Mission is The purpose of art is not a rarefied, intellectual distillate- it is life, intensified, brilliant life.

These are some of the lessons that have been revealed to me on my parallel writing and life journey: Continue reading