Sunday, 27 October 2013

Lifelong learning

Something I have been an advocate of for many years is lifelong learning.

I first came across the phrase when I was involved with the WHALE Arts Agency in Wester Hailes in Edinburgh.  It resonated with me immediately, man being a learning animal and all, and stuck in my head.

I feel, for myself, that learning is a journey through life this is something highlighted in the unschooling world through the ironically titled Learn Nothing Day.

For many years now my learning experience has been intrinsically linked with that of my children and it has been an eye opening, and occasionally hair-raising, journey and one that I am very glad to have been and continue to be involved in.

Since I started writing I have been looking at ways to deepen my understanding of writing and my ability to write effectively.  With those objectives in mind I embarked upon some Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs.

I have, today, finished my first essay for the first of the courses I am currently enrolled in and I am quite proud of it, especially as this is the first piece of truly academic work I have done since dropping out of school at fifteen {I'm not counting the arts courses I did as they were vocational rather than academic}.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Flash Fiction Challenge - Song Title

Every week Chuck Wendig over at terribleminds posts a flash fiction challenge.  This weeks challenge?  Find a random song - that's your title, then you writes your story.  Me and my husband regularly go on musical journeys through Youtube frequently ending up with in some really random place, last night we ended at Inside by Stiltskin.



I keep screaming but no one hears me.

My name is Ana, the last thing I remember?  Partying. I was dancing, having fun, happy.  I remember being handed drinks, kissing someone, fingers on my lips slipping something in my mouth, after that it's a blur then...nothing.

I wake, screaming, to whiteness, bright lights, cool hands, and quiet voices.

Why does no one respond?  Why don't they acknowledge my pain?

"I'm terribly sorry" I hear.  "...persistent vegetative state..." I hear.  "...nothing we can do..." and sobbing, heart rending, gut wrenching, sobbing.

"Mum, mum"  I call but she doesn't hear me.  "Mum, I'm still here." I try again, my mother too lost in sorrow to sense anything.

In the days and weeks that follow people come to visit.  Some simply sit a while, unable to think of anything to say to my corpse like body, some tell stories or sing songs, anything to fill the oppressive silence, some tell me the minutiae of their lives.

For example; my sister Lesley "Well this morning when I went for my waking up pee I ended up having a poo...I mean how does that even happen?  I had my poo at 7 last night same as always and I didn't even have anything to eat after that so you tell me...where did it come from???"  I mean really is that the sort of thing you tell anyone even if they are in a coma?

Mum is there every day, she cries a lot, shouts at me sometimes.  "How could you do something like this to yourself you silly, silly girl." or "your poor father is breaking his heart, he thinks it's our fault, that we caused this somehow" or " could you I thought we raised you better than that, I always knew you were wayward but hard drugs?"

Hang on a minute, what the hell?  Drugs?  Where did that come from?  I find out in dribs and drabs, a memory here, an off hand comment there.  I'd apparently taken, taken? Hah! Been slipped more like, some MDMA and I'd had a bad reaction to it.  I'd had a stroke, but by the time anyone found me the damage had been done and I'd slipped into a coma.

Oh. My. God!  That guy at the party.  The one I'd been dancing with.  He'd done this.  He'd slipped me something.  I'd been quite drunk at the time, normally if someone had offered me something I'd have refused, sure I smoke the odd joint, drink more than is good for me, once I may even have taken some magic mushrooms but I don't do chemicals.  But he hadn't offered, we'd been dancing, flirting, kissing and when he slipped his finger into my mouth I hadn't protested. It was nice, intimate, erotic even and I'd accepted it without a murmur.

Stupid.  Stupid.  Stupid.  There's a reason I don't mess with chemicals.  I've seen way too many people fucked up by them and now look!

My mum is breaking her heart, my dad blames himself, my sister is all smug satisfaction, safe in the knowledge that she is the good sister, that even if I do recover form this it's just one fuck up too many.  Well fuck that by the way!

I try screaming again, try to blink my eyes, move my fingers, my toes, twitch, anything, anything at all to draw someone's attention.  Nothing.  I give up.  Exhausted.

Exhausted? Hah, I spend all day, every day lying in bed, the nurses move me regularly to avoid bed sores, they have a fancy medical name for it, but bed sores is what they mean, and I do...Nothing.  I'm just here, trapped in my own body and unable to let anyone know.

Oh god, oh god, oh god.  What if I don't recover?  What if I never get any better?  Am I just going to be stuck in this body for the next fifty years unable to communicate with anyone?  Maybe my body will get used for sex by some unscrupulous male nurse like in that film...what was it?  Kill Bill, that was the one!  Good movie that.  Or maybe they'll switch off the machines that are keeping me alive, feeding me, hydrating me, breathing for me and I'll slowly starve to death, suffocate, drown in my own fluids?

Oh. Fuck.  They could do that.  They don't know I'm in here.  They think I'm just a body, a husk, an empty shell.  They'll want to save money, use the machines on someone with better odds of pulling through.  The NHS always need beds, you see it all the time on the news, bed shortages, funding crises, all that stuff.

I scream again and again and again, nothing.  Not even a glimmer.  Not one of my friends or family even seem to consider I might be trapped in here, even the medical professionals with their machines and charts and expertise notice nothing.

Eventually the visits trail off, people stop dropping in.  They all have jobs to go to, parties to enjoy, lives to live.  pretty soon it's just my family visiting, even they don't come as often.

Then one day, my mother.  God she looks frail.  She strokes my forehead, straightens my hair, like she used to when I was little.  She kisses me, holds me, I feel a tear land on my cheek, hers, my eyes have to be moistened for me.  Then she says "Goodbye love", squeezes my hand and leaves.  My sister is next she cries noisily all snot and tears everywhere before choking out "Bye Brat, I'm going to miss you."   Then more quietly "I love you".

That leaves daddy, my hero daddy, whom I don't remember visiting.  Not once.  He comes in slowly.  I am shocked at the sight of him.  He seems translucent, fragile as if he might shatter at the least touch.  He stands a long time just looking at me.  Then he touches my cheek, just once, a single tear runs down his face.  He turns to leave, glances back and sighs heavily and I know it's over.

Friday, 18 October 2013

A Butterfly Mind

So, it's been a few days that happens I'm easily distractable and I do have quite a few distractions!

For example; I have been busily trying to get started as a freelance writer
                     Joining an online writers community
                     Helping my sons explore the gargantuan world of minecraft
                     Watching the Smurfs with my daughter
                     Cleaning the loo {ugh!}
                     Cooking countless meals
                     Walking the dog
I could go on but I won't...and that's just today!

I have also started a flash fiction challenge which I will be posting soon.  Fingers crossed!

Monday, 14 October 2013

Learning to let go?

I'm encountering a bit of a problem with this story writing malarkey.  I can't switch it off.  Even when I'm not actively writing I have plot and sub plot all tangled up with characters and potential locations swirling around in my head all the time.

This is definitely something I need to work on!

Currently reading "Games People Play - The Psychology of Human Relationships".  It's been hanging around my bookshelves for years and I just noticed it again the other day.  I figured it would help me with the characters in the book {there I go again, can't switch off see}.

Now I'm off to find a chalkboard so I can write out "Must learn to switch off" one hundred times!  Might work!? Even if it doesn't I'll be writing, writing and writing some more...right?

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Sunday? Huh!

What an icky, dull, dreich day it has been.  Drizzly and grey and totally uninspiring.  So much for the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!

That makes me sound a lot bluer than I feel.  I'm actually a lot less morose than I may come across, I visited The Green Witch in Aberdour today and that always cheers me up.  It's such a lovely wee shop, full of fascinating, pretty, useful things and the people are always lovely.  It cheers me up no end even if I do always come out poorer than when I went in!

I'm just about to start chapter 3 of my story, it's going really well so far.  One of my characters did something a little unexpected at the end of chapter 2 but I think I know how to get him back on track and it has added a really interesting new element to the story so I think it'll work out ok in the long run and this is only the first draft after all.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Getting back in the saddle

So, once upon a time there was a little girl.  She wrote stories, lots and lots of them, some of them were even quite good.

When she grew up she got a job as an actor in a small community theatre company, this involved doing lots of other things like acting as wardrobe mistress, creating and facilitating workshops and, occasionally, writing short plays and sketches.  It was a job she loved that involved all her favourite things.  She did other things too like working in a theatre in the Box Office, waitressing, temping, anything at all to pay the bills while still being able to continue with her first love.

Then she had children and got married and acting didn't seem so important, especially when school wasn't such a good fit for her eldest son and she started home educating him.

The girl stopped acting and she stopped writing, there were waaay too many other things to do; trips to museums, castles, parks, days out with H.E groups, working on the allotment and house, cooking, baking, knitting, spinning, playing, reading, etc, etc ad infinitum.

Then one day the children weren't so little, the eldest was on the verge of leaving home, the others were increasingly independent and all of a sudden she had some free time on her hands, she also had a story in her head that was bursting to come out.  One problem, she was out of practice so she decided the best way to get back into practice was to write, and write, and write some more.

So that's what this is, my attempt to get back in the saddle.

Now I have to go I have to feed the beasts...oops, I mean children.

Watch this space...