Tag Archives: poem

We each erect our own barriers (another excerpt from my 1st draft)

In the back of the car,
Victor runs his hands over the soft, cracked seats,
That always seem to smell like new.
His view out the window is incomplete,
Through the hazy tint,
As if he wants a hint,
Of what’s going on in the world,
But has no desire to be hurled,
In to the grime and banality,
Of what he perceives as reality.

The car leaves the steel and the concrete,
The chaos and the bustle,
Of the city behind,
And enters a suburb defined,
By it’s residents’ desire,
To separate themselves from each other.
Infinite lawns,
And hedges like fences,
Ensure that their lives are isolated,
By their own defences.

They pull up to a security gate,
And are granted entry,
By an anonymous sentry…

A woman stumbles in the ocean (another excerpt from my 1st draft)

(And this where I share – and bring to life – one of the problems I face in trying to write an ‘accessible’ narrative in verse: how do I write the dialogue? If I make it fit with the more descriptive elements in the story then I think it becomes too unrealistic – however, if I make it too straight then it feels completely out of place. So far, it’s been a struggle and I definitely haven’t yet got it right. This is a short example of where I’m at. As with the other excerpts I’ve shared, this is only a first draft so who knows where it’ll go from here).

“Damn, those waves are stronger than you think,”
Says X, offering his hand.
“Here, let me help you up,
Before you sink,
In to the sand.”

“I’ll have you know that was entirely intentional,”
Says the woman,
Waving help away,
And climbing to her feet unaided.
“It may not be the most conventional,
Way of taking a dip,
But I’d highly recommend it.”
She brushes herself down,
And mini avalanches fall in clumps,
From her half sodden clothes.
“However, I thank you for unnecessarily attempting,
To be my saviour.
Most commendable behaviour,
For a complete stranger.
Speaking of which,
My name’s Esme.
Pleased to meet you.”

X shakes hands with this impressive force in woman form,
And though it would obviously be the norm,
For him to then offer his name,
He instead says, “Pleased to meet your acquaintance.
It’s just a shame,
We couldn’t have met in a drier circumstance.”

“My acquaintance?”
It’s half a yelp and half a whine,
“Have you arrived here from Victorian times?”

And there’s something about the way she pouts,
And the way the shock of red hair sprouts,
From the top of her feisty, pale face,
All blown out of place,
And flaming around her head,
That he just finds immediately adorable.
But he doesn’t say this out loud.
Instead, he just stares back,
Grinning,
Head spinning.
She interrupts his daydream stare:
“Hello? Is there anyone there?”

I’m heading off to a writing retreat… bliss

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I’m just about to leave to catch a train to not-so-sunny Devon for a writing retreat hosted by the excellent Urban Writers’ Retreat.

I did exactly the same last year (that’s when these photos were taken) and it was the thing that really kick-started my writing: three or four days with a few like-minded souls in the British countryside, with nothing to do but write and go for the odd walk.

I’m expecting to get a lot done, meet some lovely people and generally have a great time.

Wahoo!

This is how I (try to) write… or… This is what I do/what do you do?

 “I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit”

– Ernest Hemmingway

Ernest there, telling it like it is. Everyone needs to find their own method for making it happen but one thing’s for sure: the more you write, the more chance you have of writing something of merit.

I always begin by reviewing my previous day’s efforts. I’m currently writing in free verse, which (apart from being a huge risk) takes me a little longer than writing prose – and so I probably don’t have as much to review as a lot of other writers would. However, I don’t do massive re-writes at this stage: I change the odd word and mainly just help myself to get back in to the flow of the story.

“Being a real writer means being able to do the work on a bad day”

– Norman Mailer

Like everyone, I have good days and I have bad days. But I’ve learnt that, no matter which of those I’m living through, if I want to be a writer then I need to, you know, write. Not just talk and think about it. I’m not going to pretend… I don’t actually manage to write every single day but, if necessary, I force it even if I’m feeling uninspired and that there’s no point in my putting pen to paper.

And that’s another thing. For me, the first draft of anything is hand written. I find it a much more organic process that way… things just flow much more easily.

“Nothing magical. You just sit there and keep typing.”

– Stirling Silliphant

You keep writing and sometimes stuff happens. I started off writing screenplays (and I want to do more of that): I wrote a couple of short film scripts and was half way through a feature length script when something unexpected happened… I found a three-page synopsis I’d written a few years ago as the basis for another screenplay. It grabbed me all over again – this is what I wanted to write about – so I decided to write up a fuller version of the synopsis. And the words just started coming out in verse… all by themselves. Honestly, that’s the way it felt. And it’s turned in to the novel I’m writing at the moment. Whether it ends up working or not, whether it turns out to be a foolish experiment, it’s something that I completely believe in.

Anyways, that’s rambling ol’ me.

I’m always interested to hear about what other people go through to get the words out. Let me know if you feel like sharing…

Ancient room, ancient people (another excerpt from my 1st draft)

A butler with a stiff, flat face and long, black coat,
Who half shuffles and half floats,
Is waiting for the car as it stops at a grand front door,
And escorts Victor across a grand marble floor,
To the threshold of a room so grand,
It insists you stand,
To attention.

Despite it’s size,
The room is poorly lit.
17th Century dust hides,
In the shadows,
Of wood panelled corners,
And a solitary greek statue is a hermit,
Dreaming of battles and oceans,
A perfect specimen in milky stone,
Built for an empire,
Now standing alone.
The long-since-dead,
Sprawl in faded colours,
In ever-evolving poses,
Across the walls,
Witnesses to the slow decay around them,
Their expressions transparent,
Clearly appalled.

In the centre of this yester-world decoration,
Is an island,
Of three armchairs,
And a floor lamp,
That’s a glowing perforation,
In the gloom.
A frail couple are sitting,
Directing expectant stares,
Towards Victor.
Their slouched posture,
Is at odds with their formal dress,
But they say nothing,
Leaving Victor to guess,
That he should join them,
In the remaining seat.

 

Out cold (another excerpt from my 1st draft)

And then the others have to step back,
To avoid a collision,
As X topples forward,
Dissecting two stools with military precision.
Face down,
Smack.
His story only partly told,
And the mystery man already out cold,
His left cheek,
Stuck to the sticky beer floor,
Sticky beer coating his now sticky beer jaw.
“Oof,” says The Whiz Kid,
With an understated exhalation.
He looks round at the others,
Expecting further exclamation,
Yet all just stare without sound,
At the figure before them,
Crumpled,
Unconscious,
And stuck to the ground.

Retracing steps (another 1st draft excerpt)

The wind is steady as she blows,
Pushing the sand to race,
Wave after wave,
Across the coast;
Nothing is stationary in this place.

The Whiz Kid and X,
Stand on the spot where they met,
In an attempt to retrace forgotten steps.
They take a tour of the village,
On the way to the station,
Although ‘tour’ may be an exaggeration,
For the walk that takes in twenty houses,
The pub,
The local store,
And the café that closes at four,
Except in the summer when it’s a place for tourists to stop,
At which point it also turns in to a souvenir shop.
Every building has been constructed,
Of the same heavy stone,
That’s the colour of the storms that beat it,
And reflects the ozone,
Smell of the sea that splatters it.

They pass by houses,
Staying close to the walls,
And breathe in that ancient coastal odour,
Conjuring images of shipwrecks and squalls,
Of fisherman ploughing furrows through mighty waves,
And pirates hiding bounty in craggy caves.

They walk slowly.
X walks reluctantly.
There are no memories being stirred,
Nothing is inferred,
In anything he sees.
The Whiz Kid steers them left,
Round the final house on the road,
To the location,
Of the two crumbling platforms,
That constitute the station,
And though there’s still not a flicker,
Of recollection,
No connection,
To any experience from the past,
X looks up,
Stops,
And knows that this isn’t the path,
He wants to follow.
Not today,
Not tomorrow.

With barely a pause,
He turns,
And claws,
His way back down the street,
His legs biting in to the tarmac,
Carrying his feet,
Whether they were coming or not.
He couldn’t tell you why,
But it’s taking everything he’s got,
Not to break in to a run,
His heart thumping in his throat,
And his skin a sweaty shell,
A pale, clammy coat.
But he’s not going back.
Not a chance,
Not a chance in hell.

A short excerpt from a new story…

It’s a pub in the classic sense.
Small and cramped,
Musty and dusty,
The air dense,
With stale ale,
And stale breath.

Every table and every chair,
Could tell enough tales,
To fill enough lifetimes,
Of every punter, with every stare,
In to the bottoms of their pint glasses.

And time passes.

Time passes and some things remain.
The men sat at the bar,
Have been there for a while,
And I don’t just mean today.
But disturbing the shadows of the present,
And memories of the past,
The Whiz Kid and X enter,
Bringing with them a blast,
Of crisp saltiness from the outside,
And of the awkward tension of their walk,
Which passed without word.
But, in truth, no one needs to have heard,
A conversation between the two,
To see it’s explicit,
That they’re now complicit,
In whichever path the other is about to choose.