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Archive for the ‘Creative writing by Ruth’ Category

I’ve always written poems.  Early ones rhymed and I thought of them as doggerel.  A friend told me they were rhyming verse, which is what Shakespeare wrote.

Rhyming poetry
a traditional form
used by the Bard

In 2015 I joined a Women Poets’ group and found that rhyming verse was definitely considered infra dig.  In that group I experimented with different forms and even plucked up the courage to read my poems in public sometimes.  The Canterbury Poets’ Collective invited anyone to read at Turanga on National Poetry Day.  You just registered and sent them a short biography saying where you’d been published.  The poems I was satisfied with had been published on my blog, so I said so, also mentioning my propensity for rhymes.  Several friends kindly came to give support, and I was allotted a time slot with four others, all properly published poets.  I read three poems, and the final one rhymed.  The audience, sitting on the Turanga staircase, clapped.  Afterwards I was approached by a woman who introduced herself as the mother of one of the “proper” poets and told me she preferred poems that rhyme.  I began to think I had a future as a performance poet.

Words that rhyme
not classed as true poetry
by unfriendly ears

When I left paid work I needed a new identity.  The label retired was not one I fancied.  To me that sounded as though everything was over.  These days I choose to put my occupation as writer – on passport, electoral roll, and anywhere a label is required.  It’s a rare day when I don’t write something, a blog post, a newsletter item, an email message.  All demonstrating that I am truly a writer.

Every day I write
prose or poems created
justify the name

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The first word processor I was introduced to was on an Amstrad Personal Computer.  These desktop machines were purchased by my employer in 1985, and I loved their superiority to the typewriter, especially the way I could go back and edit whatever I’d written without needing to re-type a whole document.  When we left Auckland in late 1986 I was asked what I wanted as a leaving present, and requested a new Amstrad, which accordingly came south with us.  I used it to compile a diary, from which I could copy suitable excerpts to send in letters to friends and family left behind.

With word processor
no need to re-type
an errant editor’s dream

In 2006 we planned our first trip to England.  Both our daughters had emigrated there, and I looked forward to seeing London where they had made their homes.  By this time we were all connected to the internet, and my technological daughter suggested that instead of recording my travels in e-mails I might like to write a blog.  I barely knew what a blog was, but with her encouragement I joined WordPress and started to write about my travel preparations.  My friends were  entreated to read this and to leave comments.  It proved to be a great way of relating what I was experiencing, and I could even add photos.  Blogging soon had me hooked so that I continued after that trip was completed.  I found the comments and interactions satisfying and enjoyed seeing my number of followers grow.

Hooked by the blog
from my desk top computer
connecting to the world

I was early for the WORD Festival session in 2015 and sat in the front row.   Another woman sat beside me, introduced herself as being from a well-known book publisher, and asked me if I was a writer.  Shyly I told her that I wrote a blog and had been doing it for some years.  She asked how many followers I had, and I said (rather shamefacedly) “just 400”.  “No need to be ashamed of that,” she said.  “Sometimes we publish a book that sells fewer than 400 copies.”  Then she said: “Don’t tell anyone that.”  I have repeated this anecdote on several occasions, but haven’t divulged the name of the publisher, which is still in business.

I wonder these days
do they still publish books
that may not sell?

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Learning to write

When did I learn to write?  I can’t recall, although I do remember learning to read and understand words.  At school there were basic books like “Janet and John”.  By the time I was six I was writing in pencil, on paper, with lower case and capital letters.

Words set down
pencil on paper
thoughts arranged

The stories I wrote at school were marked excellent.  I wrote letters to relations which always started with my address and the date.  A primary teacher commented that I expressed myself with confidence and imagination in both written and oral work.  My spelling was almost infallible and my writing very neat.  We left Christchurch and I wrote letters to school friends most of whom I would never see again.  These were done in pencil, on lined paper, with a rubber handy just in case.  My writing was joined up, no longer printing, and I was aware of the need for correct grammar. 

Graduation
pencil to ink
no room for mistakes

In Form Two we were asked to write a piece about our teacher.  The words I used were: “His initials are F.B. and from his talk of his prowess at tennis you might think they stand for Fabulous Backhand.”  This got me good marks, and approval from my classmates when I read it aloud.

Reading aloud
brought applause
appetite for acclaim

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This morning we’ve had the news that there are two Covid positive people in Christchurch. Some of us may soon be in a similar situation to that described in my poem. I’m just relieved that we are both double vaccinated, and I had a haircut yesterday.

A poem inspired by an artwork is called ekphrastic. We were each given an illustration from a magazine, and invited to imagine what might have been happening at the time the photo was taken. This is the picture I was given, and the poem I wrote.

Inspiration for an ekphrastic poem

Alone in Auckland

He waits beside the window

it’s been four long weeks

trapped in this high-rise apartment

not allowed to leave

he’d been to a location of interest

meant he was a close contact

obliged to self-isolate

first tests were negative

then a weak positive.

Stay where you are, they said

contactless deliveries will come

there’s television and Zoom

space to move around

air conditioning.

But the windows don’t open

he’s languishing, and longing

for the freedom of fresh air

and the touch of a lover

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This was a workshop offered free by the Arts Centre. The tutor was Nathan Joe, currently an Artist in Residence there. There were just ten students, all socially distanced, in the School of Art in Hereford Street.

School of Art

The room we were in was formerly the Hurst Seagar Room, which some years ago was the venue for my fiftieth birthday party.

With Nathan wearing a mask I found it difficult to hear him, especially as he speaks quickly. I started to wonder whether I would last for the whole two hours, and at the break I mentioned the difficulty I was having and found I was not the only one. Under Arts Centre Level Two protocols all staff and students are expected to wear masks, but there are exemptions for performers, and after checking with the whole group it was agreed that, as a performer, Nathan could remove his mask, and this made hearing much easier. I would hesitate to enrol for any other workshop under Level Two if the tutor was going to be masked. A friend who’s a teacher told me a sobering story from the U.S. about a teacher who removed her mask so she could better interact with students. Apparently all the students in the first three rows contracted Covid from her.

We were led through several exercises, the first a little like doing Morning Pages, others that tapped into our memory banks and encouraged us to use the five senses in our writing. We were introduced to Jose Rivera’s 36 Assumptions about playwriting, which give some useful tips.

This workshop was a good way to stimulate creative writing.

A good workshop with Nathan Joe
especially once his mask could go

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The text of my chapbook is more or less finished. Now I just need to do some editing and think about how it will all be set out, and what will go on the cover.

It depends on how the total number of A5 pages turns out. This needs to be divisible by four, and my maximum limit is 40.

Drafts in A5

In my poetry group this week we were asked to write an instructional poem, and I wrote a Fibonacci:

How to write a book

You
want
to have
an outline
need to consider
before you put pen to paper
you must be disciplined with goals and daily deadlines
but flexible and kind to self
the outcome will be
your own work
ready
to
launch

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Warning

A beautiful sunrise this morning inspired me to write a Tanka:

Beautiful sunrise

warns of thunderstorms to come

but that’s not the worst

Covid Variant Delta

lurks just across the Tasman

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Danger Past?

Used
to
warnings
complacent
we hug friends freely
even bus drivers eschew masks
we no longer sing Happy Birthday when washing hands
but this could all change so quickly
Delta variant
just lurking
ready
to
pounce

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Our tutor has suggested our chapbook should be produced as A5 pages printed on A4 and folded. He recommended we Google to see how this can be done in Word.

Two years ago, for a significant birthday, I received a brand new P.C. complete with Office 360 which includes Publisher. My experience with an earlier version of Publisher was mainly limited to posters and greeting cards and my relevant skills are rudimentary. Previously I had a skilled staff member who could assist if I encountered a problem.

However it seemed to me Publisher might be ideal for my chapbook and last evening I created a 1/2 A4 booklet and copied my first vignette into it. My next step needs to be following some Publisher tutorials to enhance what I’m trying to do. For instance I’m not sure whether it might be better to have the cover as a separate document which could then be printed on card. All this learning contributes to one of the Five Ways to Wellbeing, and is good for me. Do any of my readers have experience of publishing such a booklet?

I remember hearing that anything that can be done in Publisher can also be done in Word. Maybe I should check that out before I go further?

Should I use Publisher or Word?
Both can do what I want, I’ve heard.

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Since I left paid work I’ve eschewed the label ‘retired’. When asked my occupation I say I’m a writer. However, the last few months I’ve felt undeserving of that title because I’ve done little writing. I’ve managed only a few poems, and sometimes a whole week went by without a blog post.

I’m happy to report that word drought appears to be ending. Recently I’ve written a couple of Fibonacci poems, as well as rhyming birthday verses for special friends.

Yesterday I started a new writing course which bodes to be satisfying. We are invited to write seven weekly vignettes which will eventually form a chapbook, what some modern people might call a zine.

During lockdown last year I wrote a number of instalments of a memoir. I published these on my blog and was pleased to receive positive comments. I’m planning to redo some of these as vignettes for my chapbook, provisionally titled ‘Ruth’s Reminiscences’ (because I can’t resist alliteration). Having a weekly deadline and feedback from the tutor will all help. I’ve written (and then amended) an outline in my flamingo notebook, and am looking forward to next week’s class.

Just watch this space and you may see
a chapbook of vignettes by me

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