Do I lack the passion to be a Writer?

Sunday night, 11th July I submitted a 1st draft manuscript as part of the 12 month Write your Novel course I joined in October 2020, with Australian Writers Centre. Other students in the class and my tutor will read this draft and feedback to me.

It was a requirement to have a manuscript of 10,000 to 20,000 words, and be seeking a process to get yourself moving toward a finished manuscript.

This week, I feel free. Vulnerable and nervous that my readers will tell me it is a crock of sh*#, but relieved.

I wasn’t looking for how to write lessons. I was happy for writing to remain a natural, calm, almost stream of consciousness activity that I undertake, because I enjoy stories.

I’ve always dreamed of being an author. As 60 inexorably approaches it seemed a good time to seriously pursue that goal.

Sixty years old. It doesn’t seem possible that I’m coming up on old age. At what point do we cling to the froth of 40 is the new 30, 50 the new 40, etc? All I know is that generally I feel about 26, which probably also goes for level of maturity [LOL]. I’m supposed to be in an amazing place in my life where I know myself, have confidence in my strengths and abilities. Funny that.

My background is secretarial and I believe that things would fall apart if you didn’t have hardworking administrators. But have you heard of the Golgafrinchans? Their story resonated with me from the get go, particularly on the many days that I’m down on myself.

If you’ve read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series of books, you would know about the Golgafrinchans. On their planet, I would fall into the class of ‘middle-men’  – people like hairdressers, consultants, marketers, insurance salespeople, telephone sanitisers. In other words, the people the world can do without.

The remaining two-thirds of Golgafrinchans were considered the thinkers and the doers and they fooled the middle men into departing the planet for places unknown with various ruses. The planet would soon crash into the sun, a swarm of 12 foot high killer bees was about to attack, or the planet was soon to be eaten by some sort of mutant goat. This two-thirds promised, we’ll be right behind you, and of course, the idiots departed.

It might sound harsh that I include myself in a fictional group of people described as the worthless ones, but often I feel it describes me. Lost, at a time of life when I’m supposed to have come into my own. 

What I looked for in a 12 month WYN course was feedback and deadlines. Because at work, I’m a robot slave but in my downtime, I’m a sloth. I work well to a deadline. Busy beaver, busy bee, take your pick. A course that says ‘here, and here, and here you will delver 5,000 words and at this point, a final draft’ worked for me.

However, for most the last few months I wrote to deadlines, and not a word more. Since October I’ve barely participated in the writing prompts I like to follow, the flash fiction. These great creative challenges hone your ability to say quite a lot, with few words. I missed it. But as queen procrastinator I didn’t allow myself that treat, because if I’m writing it should be on the blasted manuscript. 

For most of those months, I was barely writing.

With regard to this blog, somehow this last couple of years of COVID and Trump-related angst discouraged me from writing opinion. I’ve felt paralysed, as if what has been going on is too big. Add in the social media world of fake news, and I seem to have lost the ability to offer my naive thoughts.

If you want to be considered a writer, you need to write. Thinking about writing, dreaming about it doesn’t qualify you. I don’t have that many strings to my bow, but like to think of myself as a writer. But am I?

When I’m in the flow of participating in flash fiction, I write and enjoy it. I like to read (55 to 65 books a year). I’ve always wanted to be a writer, as in published author. 

But I’m not passionate, about anything. I’m not very emotional. There has never been a muse in my life. My characters don’t talk to me or follow me around looking for attention. Doesn’t a writer, any kind of creative actually, need to be passionate; emotional. 

I’m just practical, pragmatic, pedantic, process driven – workmanlike. 

Good news. I completed the draft and met the deadline. Good news. There is another MS with more words that called to me while working on the other. 

Bad news. I want to write fresh, alive stories – so flash fiction calls. I don’t want to rewrite and rewrite until the words turn into something the publisher wants. That part is boring. And I only have so many more years to waste.

BTW the exiled Golgafrinchans landed on planet earth and after eliminating the existing humanoid species, became our ancestors. Those who remained on Golgafrinchan enjoyed their lives without the middle men, until the day they all died of a disease contracted from dirty telephones. Irony upon irony.

Shit wife of the year award

Life in Lockdown

“Seriously Pete,” I say, staring down the webcam. “I can’t handle another day of this. Patty is doing my head in!”

“What, team Terry and Patty in trouble? Pete scoffs. “Hard to believe, mate.”

“I agree, normally. But mate, she’s being very hard,” Holding up a lumpy looking sandwich, I ask, “What the fuck is this? Vegan or something.”

“It’s healthy, mate. Lots of people doing Vegan these days.” Pete tries to console me.

“She thinks I’m fat! Last night, I was poking around in the fridge looking for something exotic to eat, and she starts into me.”

‘You’ve had enough,’ she says. ‘You’ve eaten your dinner, my leftovers, all the bread rolls and licked both plates. You’re at the fridge And, you’re getting pudgy.’

“You said that’s just posture.”

‘Well, that doesn’t help.’ She grinned, continuing. ‘You eat too fast, and your brain doesn’t know you’re full. Stop looking in the fridge!’

My cheeks are red, and I’m breathing hard as Pete begins to laugh.

“She’s a shit wife!” I shout.

The door opens and Patty comes in with coffee.

“Hello darling. Thought you could do with one. Is that Pete? Hi, Pete! How are you?” She waves wildly at the laptop. “Don’t mind the PJs.”

“You’re a vision, boss.” Pete laughs. “You know, Terry is not happy.”

“Oh, gossiping, again?” Patty asks, calmly. She turns to me. “Is this a work meeting? Or a drinks night with your boyfriend, moaning about his tiny thing, like a dizzy blonde.”

Then she gets stuck into Pete.

“Have you called Dave?” Pete’s smile slips. “It is a priority. Clients come first. Remember your budget …”

And on and on she goes. Her voice seems to fade, as my ears begin to bleed.

Then, I deep hawk into my throat and Patty literally growls!

“That’s disgusting! Blow into a tissue.You’re always doing that. Even in the shower.”

I’m mortified and feel even worse when I see Pete smirking and shooting hand pistols.

“Blowing does nothing. Anyway, it’s okay in the shower.”

“It’s still disgusting.” She’s smirking too.

“You’re a shit wife, Patty. You could win Shit Wife of the Year. I should post that on Facebook!”

“You should!” Patty cries. “I’d love it.”

“Really?” Why was I surprised? “You’re twisted, you know?”

Patty hugs and kisses me, and I notice Pete chuckling.

“We’re a great team,” she says, leaving the room. “What would you do without me?”

She might be a shit wife, I think. But she’s my shit wife.

As I turn back to Pete, he says “You have been in a premium paddock, bro!”

Swearing under my breath, I try getting back to business.

 “About tomorrow’s meeting.”

This short story was written for Australian Writers’ Centre Furious Fiction competition for August 2020. Word length, 500 words or less. Each month, certain criteria are set and for this month the criteria was:

  • Your story must contain HUMOUR/COMEDY
  • Your story must include the following five words: DIZZY, EXOTIC, LUMPY, TINY, TWISTED.
  • Your story must include a sandwich

You can read the winning entry and long-listed stories here.

Murder & Mayhem – Australian Writers’ Centre

The Australian Writers’ Centre is having a Murder & Mayhem month and are running a Crime and Thriller short story competition.

It is a small competition – prize is a bundle of books – but it is all practice! 🙂

The guidelines are:

  • Word count of 149 or fewer
  • Include the words birthday, softly and umbrella
  • Feature your character having committed a crime

But it doesn’t have to be a dark or scary theme – or seriously nasty crime – could be jaywalking!

So following are the two stories I’ve entered! Enjoy 😀

Chloe

It was Chloe’s birthday and a sunny winter’s day had darkened as the world was blacked out by a wall of rain.

Grabbing her favourite dome umbrella – the clear one with blue nightingales and a metal handle – Chloe stepped softly around the bleeding body splayed awkwardly, at the bottom of the stairs.

Bending slightly toward the body, she reached out tentatively as though to awaken him, but pulled back. What should she do?  He couldn’t be dead. She could check for his pulse. Call for help.

Chewing her lip and twisting a strand of hair, Chloe stood poised to leave. She was a good person, but the surrounding floor was very wet and that could mean she was already in serious trouble – no sense planting DNA evidence.

Chloe was responsible for the “wet floor” signs; and with the excitement of the day had forgotten to put them out!

Surprise!

“What do we know?” asked the lead Detective.

The Senior Constable consulted his notes.

“Deceased male is Owen Scale, well-known in the building although he hasn’t been seen around for a while. His girlfriend Katrina Byrne lives here in 21 and he had a key.

She’s distraught and currently sitting with her neighbour and a constable, next door.

She hasn’t seen Clive for a month or so; didn’t know where he’d been and he apparently surprised her by walking too softly into the kitchen. She reacted with a butcher’s knife to the chest!”

“As you do,” replied the detective. “Guess she doesn’t like surprises in general, then” he stated, grinning.

They turned to the body lying in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor of Apartment 21 – and the parcel wrapped in birthday paper and impaled with a bright pink umbrella!

Hope you enjoyed them – Trish 😀