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What Glorious Ineptitude

What glorious ineptitude
The human soul
Its never-ending mission
For the key to feel whole

Adoration of the masses?
Riches and gold?
A shiny new sports car?
Ways not to get old?

When all’s said and done
At the end of the day
Most take all that matters
And just throw it away

For some, they don’t see it
And others don’t care
Some had, and then lost it
And some were too scared

When you wake up tomorrow
Take a look with fresh eyes
Will you seek out what matters?
Or be blinded by lies?

Glorious

On Empty Tracks

I dreamed of you
A ray of sunshine
The dappled light
From waving bows

On empty tracks
Where once the trains passed
Neath bridges
Where our freedom called

I heard you laugh
You did – so often
I heard you call
And wave us on

A precious dream
Wrapped in a memory
To cherish close
Though you are gone

The Trials Of Being A Writer In Rural Italy

As you have possibly noticed, the site has been rather uneventful for the past couple of weeks. While writers block and life are always presenting their own potential setbacks, my current issue is more to do with my rural lifestyle choice and its resulting crummy internet, than it is any mental blockages on my part.

I moved to Italy back in May 2014 and boy what an adventure it has been! It had been a good ten months or so between coming over to sign the final paperwork, and packing up all my worldly belongings, and animals too, and starting out on the three day drive through Europe, towing my ancient battered caravan.

When we arrived the neat garden and yard had turned into a veritable jungle of foliage and wildlife, perfect for an animal nut like me but not so good when it came to moving everything in to the property. Add to that the water to the property bad been turned off and we ended up having to utilize the well in the top field in order to ensure that the animals were looked after, and to give us some very rudimentary washing facilities!

To make matters worse, we arrived at around 2am in the pitch black…well sort of! I managed to, rather cleverly, get myself seperated from the rest of the family, who were accompanying me in my little old fiesta, to help with the moving in part. I am not known for my fantastic sense of direction!

Long story short, I found myself half-way up a road that was really only suitable for goats, on an incline far too steep for my 1.6 Astra to manage to pull the caravan up. Add to that scenario that the caravan was not only too heavy for the handbrake to hold in place, while I went off to find help, there was definitely an impressive drop off just behind me, and all my animals were sitting blissfully unaware in said caravan, and you will start to build a clear enough picture of exactly how stressed out I was at this point!!

Miracle of miracles, after around twenty minutes of hair pulling, frantic phone calls to my mom and brother, and with tears welling in my tired eyes, a face suddenly popped up at the passenger side window. It took me a while to realise that this must have confused the owner of the face some, considering that the passenger side of a British car is the drivers side of an Italian one!

‘buona sera’ said the man, who looked to be a little older than my dad, ‘tutto bene?’

My Italian is still rather sub standard even now, but that much I understood, and without further ado, I proceeded to burst in to tears, much to his shock and my own mortification…It had after all been a very long three days!!

‘no, no…tranqilla’ he said coming round to the drivers side and patting my shoulder reassuringly. He then went on to explain, that his farm was just a couple of kilometers down the road, and that his son would be here soon with his tractor to come and save me. My relief was profound to say the least!!

I was in the middle of nowhere, in a country that I still didn’t know very well and somehow I had managed to snag myself a passing angel.

Another twenty minutes passed and my panicked family finally managed to find me, I asked them to unload the animals first off, to make sure they were safely in the other car, and shortly after they had done so the mans son turned up in his tractor, and the two got to work hitching up the car to it.

2 hours, a cup of coffee and two rather nice glasses of homemade white wine later, we had met the angels entire family.

Italians are some of the best hosts you will ever have the pleasure to meet. It didn’t matter that it was 3am by the time we arrived at their house, and our insistance that we didnt want to cause any more of a fuss fell on determinedly deaf ears. Within minutes of arriving, we had been escourted up to their living room, with its cosy crackling fire, and all but ordered to sit down and relax, as they laid out coffee, cake, olives, salted beans and a caraffe of homemade white wine.

It didn’t phase them that our Italian was rudimentary at best, and we gestured and sketched our way through two hours of really pleasant conversation. Being British we, of course, tried to politely excuse ourselves a few times, in an effort to let them get back off to their beds but they were having none of it!

When we finally did get up to leave, we were led first on an impromptu tour of the farm and animals, before being taken down to their cool cantina. We thought they were just proudly showing us the fruits of all their hard work, but before we could even take it all in, we found ourselves loaded up to the elbows with fresh fruit and veg. It was to help get us settled in at the new property, they told us with beaming smiles, and the grandmother then procceded to present us with a bottle of their lovely wine as a housewarming gift.

It was like a strange but wonderful dream! we went from living in the U.K where you were lucky if your neighbours even noticed if water was pouring out of the front door of your house (but thats a whole different story!!) to some sort of utopian society, where people who you had never even met before behaved better, and showed more caring and genuine concern about your wellbeing, than many of those whom you’d known for years! 🤗

With the sun coming up over the horizon and bemused smiles on our faces, we drove off towards the house (the right way this time!) Needless to say my angel (and neighbour as it turned out) Vincenzo, and his wonderful family were presented with the most lovely flowers we could possibly lay our hands on, the moment we could got to the closest florists.

In the years that have passed since that night, my love and respect for the people of this wild, untamed land has only grown in measure. Yes the internet sometimes goes for weeks at a time with little to no signal, which is still definitely frustrating, but would I swap this life for the one I had in the UK surrounded by state of the art technology and consumer driven industry??

Not in a million years!! 😊

 

A Lesson Learned

Are you a plotter? or are you a pantser?

As writers, we all inevitably fit into either of the above categories, maybe even into both as we move from one project to the next.

A plotter is someone who researches and plots out the entire project from beginning to end. Plotters ensure that, at the very least, they have a simple overview for every chapter, character profiles for any main characters that they plan to introduce and a clear idea of exactly what the piece of writing will be trying to say to the reader, long before they ever put pen to paper and start actually writing the piece.

A pantser, on the other hand, is someone who ‘flies by the seat of their pants’ as far as their writing is concerned. They don’t have a plan, or even a complete plot idea, at the point that they begin to write their story. They rely solely on the organic flow of their ideas, moment to moment, in order to create the necessary magic on the page.

From what I have seen, there is a pretty even split between the two schools of thought amongst the writing community at large. Both sides have their own list of pro’s and con’s and you can get some pretty interesting and heated debate going when you open the floor to the two warring sides.

In my writing lifetime, I have been both a plotter and a pantser. I did a degree in journalism and spent many years just writing organically with only the facts of the story and a word count to keep me in check. It seemed to work pretty well, and I found that I could work pretty quickly, without all of the tiresome plotting and planning getting in the way. This is a great plus when you have lots of hard deadlines to meet, so I figured, rather smugly, that I had picked the best side.

Then a couple of years later, I found myself moving on into full-length novel writing, and boy did it take me a while to work out how terribly wrong I was! Now I am not saying that there aren’t countless highly successful ‘pantser’ authors out there, but I can assure you right now, that I am definitely not one of them!

Two years, two unfinished manuscripts and hundreds of thousands of words later, I finally realised my mistake. For me, writing organically without plot or plan was the worst possible move. With each new chapter came new disjointed ideas, new writing styles and countless soul-destroying hours of obsessive re-writing in order to try and jam it all together into something that actually fit. Needless to say, by this point in the proceedings, this was a totally impossible feat. With each unsuccessful pass, I found myself steadily sinking in a lethal pool of writer’s block fueled mental quicksand.

After all of the heartache and work, all I had left to show for my efforts was a hacked to pieces 70,000-word mess. The most tragic part for me was that my beloved characters who started out so full of promise had become nothing more than two-dimensional hollow shadows of the fierce, independent personalities that should have made them great.

After a long break to lick my wounds, I finally stumbled across a fantastic idea for a female lead. Determined not to let bright and vivacious Penny suffer the same fate as her predecessor Mara, I decided to try a far different approach and jumped, lock stock and barrel, into the ‘plotter’ camp.

I now have a well-researched concept, plot overview and well-outlined chapters to work on, and most importantly of all, I have a great story which flows.  My characters, even the side ones, are the kind of people that you would love to share a beer or a cup of coffee with and the crippling writer’s block is firmly a thing of the past.

The fantastic thing about having each chapter outlined in advance is, that no matter when or where you pick up your pen or turn on the computer, you already know exactly what it is that you need to write and what direction your words need to take in order to get your characters to the next stage in your plot.

Creating that outline also keeps your writing style more focused, as the outline for each chapter was created by the same writer, in the same mood and at the same period of time in their life. Something that won’t then change, even if actually completing the novel takes you another year or two. It turns out that this is crucial when it comes to writing anything approaching novel length work.

The moral of the story is that it is very important that you know who you really are as a writer from the outset. If it doesn’t seem to be working for you then explore new ways of working, don’t just try to smash it together in the hopes that it will one day fit. There is a style and a method out there that is ideal for each and every one of us, and once we find that magic formula, there will be no stopping any of us from becoming the fantastic writers that we all have the inner potential to be!

As A Pebble

As a pebble on the bed of a lake, I watch the sky as morning breaks before my eyes, bringing swooping swallows in its wake. The small, perfectly round ripples from their acrobatic, on-the-wing sip, spread out all about me. I feel the mirrored reflection of those same ripples warming my cool surface in undulating waves of soft diffused sunlight.

A school of silver minnows passes by me, darting in and out of the waving weeds, in a nimble game of hide and seek. I watch their playful antics with a gentle smile. Still, I find myself content to stay right here, Unmoving and serene, in pure undisturbed perfection. I am happy just to exist beneath the dappled sunlight from the overhanging bows, which drip their green leafy offerings towards the still, crystal clear water.

My mind drifts there, gently caressed, by the faint sound of lapping waves on some distant sandy shore.

 

Let It Be Known

Let it be known – I’m done with hope –
As hope is done with me.
It lead me on with bright gold dreams
that hid its falsity.

Let me believe – in truth and dues –
in fairness and in faith –
and then at first adversity
proved fleeting as a wraith.

And as a wraith – hope – chill’d my heart
and turned my dreams to ash.
It slammed the door and left – the dark –
where light is feared to pass.

But in this dark – is comfort cold –
at least the dark is true –
no fickle hope to tear my soul
or rend my heart in two.

© Bernadetteflynnauthor.com 2017

Increasing Creative Flow

It is often a common problem, for writers the world over, to keep their creativity levels consistent from one day to the next. There are many things a writer can do to try and boost their level though. I find that researching images of characters, places and things that would fit into my story helps a great deal.

Another thing that you could try if you are really stuck is writing from word prompts. My flash fiction piece ‘Grace Departs’ was written from a three word writing prompt. I was provided with the words ‘grace’ ‘train’ and ‘whistle.’ You can get randomly generated word prompts from various sites online, or even by just by picking up a random book, choosing a number, and then use whatever word is on the correlating page and word number within the text there.

You could also join a writers group online. I am a member of a couple of writers groups through Facebook, and as well as being super useful for things like word prompts and generating new ideas, it can be really good to get the opinion of other people who are in the same positions as you.

Here is my 3 word prompt of the day just to get you started…

  1. Window
  2. Skateboard
  3. Milo

Enjoy!! Feel free to share the results in the comment feed if you feel inspired! :}

Rudvar’s Journey : New Beginnings

It was still quite early in the day. The sun was just beginning to warm the valley floor as Rudvar, the Hob, slowly made his way back down to his cosy barrow, far beneath the deep red soil. He had spent the morning caring for the many plants, trees and animals that shared his valley home. He didn’t work alone either. Many other members of his clan, as was Bolgar tradition, had also been out and about, ranging across the valley floor and ensuring that everything was just as it should be. Hobs were caretakers of a sort. Instead of caring for home and hearth though, as was more commonplace throughout Hob society, the Bolgar Clan had chosen, instead, to live out their long lives giving mother nature a helping hand. His people had found, over the centuries, that there was a much better existence to be had, far distant from all the bustle and hubbub of crowded town and city life.

Many people, across both of the realms, thought of Hobs as a lazy, slow witted race. Rudvar and his people paid them no mind. After all, at the end of the day, when all was said and done, his clan had the most beautiful home in the world. Every day they did just enough work in order to keep it that way, and that sounded pretty damn sensible, at least to Rudvar’s way of thinking anyhow.

The small arched stone door to his own barrow was located just off the main clan hall, conveniently close to the kitchens too, a fact of which Rudvar never failed to remind the other members of the clan, any chance he got. Squeezing his large form through the small entrance, he walked over to the central fire pit and poked the dying embers back to life. Adding a handful of dry sticks and a couple of large oak logs to the gently crackling glow, he made his way slowly across to his soft, cosy bed. Yawning loudly, he plumped up the pile of dry grass until it was just right, before rolling gratefully into its cosy embrace, and falling almost at once into a deep untroubled slumber.

Rudvar was abruptly woken from his nap some time later, by a violent shaking and what sounded, very much, like a thunderstorm and a rock slide all rolled into one. He attempted to sit up, but the shaking just knocked him straight back down again each time he tried. Rolling to his side, he crawled from the hollow that held his bed and out into the main room, skirting the fire pit as he made his way slowly to the outer door. Soil rained down upon him as he went, making it very hard to see and breathe in the near darkness. It seemed that all of the pitch torches lining the walls of the clan hall had been smothered under the thick cloud of choking dust and debris. It was so dark, in fact, that although he could hear the muffled cries of alarm coming from other clan members throughout the warren, he couldn’t even see where his own hands were on the stone floor right in front of his face. It felt like the whole world was raining down upon them. If the shaking didn’t come to an end soon, there would be nothing left of his ancestral warren. In fact, if the shaking didn’t come to an end soon, there might be no one left to live inside of it either! Suddenly there was a huge tearing sound from somewhere above his head. Forgetting that he couldn’t see anything, Rudvar raised his eyes to try to discover the source of the horrid sound. As he did so, he felt a flash of searing agony as something heavy cracked painfully into his forehead, and then there was only darkness.

When he finally came to, it was with total confusion and the worst headache he had ever felt in all of his years. It seemed that dusk had fallen at some point while he had lain there unconscious. He could feel a light breeze upon his skin, telling him that he had somehow ended up outside of the warren. Although his eyes were still half blinded by the dust, he could already tell that the light around him was dim and nothing like the sunny, bright morning which he could still picture so clearly in his mind’s eye. He raised a still trembling hand to his pounding head, and when he brought it away again a moment later, his thick fingers were smeared with an unpleasant sticky paste of his own blood mingled with the deep red soil, which was currently covering most of his body in a thick blanket. It was very lucky that Hob skin was so much thicker than most of the other races, and that their bones were far sturdier too. A blow to the head that was hard enough to make a Hob bleed was usually also hard enough to kill any non-Hob outright.

Climbing free of the uncomfortable bed of soil and stones, he pushed himself to his feet and blinked away the last of the dirt which was obscuring his vision. The moment his eyes cleared he stared around himself in horrified amazement. The warren was gone! There was no grand clan hall in which to hold their celebrations, no kitchen left where Hob cooks could prepare their lavish feasts, and worst of all, no comfortable warm barrow with its soft grass bed and crackling fire pit. There was nothing at all left of the place that he had been proud to call his home. It felt to Rudvar that, from one moment to the next, his peoples’ entire existence had simply been erased from the world. A single fat warm tear slipped unnoticed down his dust covered face, followed a moment later by a second, leaving red wet tracks in their wake. Dragging his gaze away from the emptiness that had once been his ancestral home, he scanned the area around him, eyes searching desperately in the dim light for the rest of his clan. Had there been a cave in? No, he knew already that that couldn’t be the case. If it had been so, then he would have certainly been buried alive under several hundred tons of stone and earth now, his life journey and all of his worries at an end.

Finally, he caught a glimpse of movement over by a large pile of rubble, near to where he thought the grand clan meeting chamber had once stood. For the first time in his life, Rudvar found himself running. Hobs never usually moved at anything much faster than a slow lumbering walk, there had simply never been the need before. He felt the need now though, and fairly flew at a stumbling run over the scattered piles of debris. Finally he slid to a stop in a small cloud of dust at the feet of Galden, spiritual leader of the Bolgar people.

What has happened here Galden, why is this happening to us?’ His voice was even more gravelly than normal, in part due to the dust still making his lungs feel heavy, but more so because of the vast well of despair that had sprung into being deep within his soul. Galden, he saw, had several small cuts and bruises over his heavily lined face and arms, but aside from those few marks, the clan elder seemed to be otherwise uninjured.

I do not know the why my son, but the what I can shed some light upon, I think’ He pointed a single gnarled finger skyward. Rudvar’s gaze followed in the direction to which the old Hob pointed, desperate for any answer at all that would help to quieten the panicked questions screaming inside of his mind. What he saw up there, high above them, only added to his despair and confusion. About ten metres above their heads and still rising, he could clearly make out patches of the decorated stone ceiling that had for centuries been the pride of the clan. The ceiling had been created over too many generations to count, with each generation adding something new to its intricate design, telling the proud story of his people. Up until today its beauty had graced the great hall, where untold numbers of feasts, celebrations and meetings had been held beneath its magnificent arches. His own coming of age had taken place below it, as had the worst day of his life to date, when he had tearfully carried the broken body of his father to the high dais for the gloaming rites. It seemed that his entire life thus far had passed beneath that ceiling, and now, along with everything else he had ever known, or had ever wanted to know, it was gone.

Seeing the unstoppable tide of emotion rising within the young Hob, Galden laid his hand upon Rudvar’s shaking shoulders.

All will come right Rudvar. You must place your trust in the ancestors now. They will ensure that our people will rise again, as and when the tides of fate allow’ Galden’s words would normally have set his mind and soul at ease, but today Rudvar just couldn’t find the same comfort in the elder’s unshakable faith and calm even tone. He couldn’t help the flash of anger inside of his chest at the knowledge that someone or something had done this to his people, nor the bitter realisation that the ancestors, who he had put his faith in his entire life, had been either unable or unwilling to do anything at all to stop it. It shook the very foundation of everything he thought that he knew, as if the ceiling of his own inner faith had too been ripped from him, sent soaring skyward along with the home which he knew deep in his heart that he would never again be able to set foot in. He tried to mask his inner turmoil, but his words as he replied to Galden sounded clipped and tense even to his own ears.

As you say Galden. What do you require of me? Is every member of the clan accounted for?’

Galden got slowly to his feet waving away the instinctive offer of Rudvar’s arm to steady him.

Thank the Ancestors, yes. No clan member will face the gloaming this day’ He walked over to the edge of the large ledge that Rudvar hadn’t even noticed that they were stood upon, and gestured down into the expansive almost bowl shaped crater that now fell away a handful of centimetres in front of their feet. The crater was huge, giving a clearer visual scale to the vast mass of rock and soil, which was now floating somewhere high above them. It blocked out the blue sky completely, casting a dismal shadow over all of the land below it. He swallowed back the sour taste of bile, realising, that that area now comprised almost the entirety of the beautiful valley which he remembered. No wonder it had felt like dusk, Rudvar thought bitterly. Beneath the floating island it would always be dusk. There would be no more sunny mornings, no more wildflowers or rolling meadows of sweet smelling grass. Even the handful of animals and birds, who had not fled the initial wave of destruction would be forced to leave. The lack of food and others of their kind would see to that soon enough. Oh, how he wished he could be just like one of those birds, able to spread his wings and leave all of his sadness and heartache behind him, in favour of new lands, far from the reach of such an evil as this.

Even if he could leave this place somehow though, he knew with certainty that his people could not follow him. Before this day the clan had lived the same simple lives as all of those Bolgar who had come before them. If there had ever been a pioneering spirit within his clan, then its flame had long since been extinguished. Even now he could see some of his people far down in the bottom of the crater gathering what little they could from its rough, uneven slopes in a vain attempt to try and build some form of shelter from the cold, dust laden wind. In a week or two those crude muddy shelters would become more substantial dwellings, and not long after that they would become homes of a sort. To be just so, was intrinsically bound up in the very nature of the Hob race, after all. Yes, his people would adapt to their new bleak surroundings, and without a single grumbled complaint, they would make what they could of their new very different existence.

Not Rudvar though. He had known, somewhere deep within his soul, as he stood watching his beloved home disappear into the clouds above, that he was changed now. What that would mean for him, he didn’t yet know, but whatever happened now he knew two things for certain. Firstly, he would never abandon his clan, especially in the face of the evil that they now confronted. Secondly, from this day forth he was going to spend every single moment in an effort to find some way to restore his people, and the future generations of Bolgar Hobs, to the unspoiled way of life that they had earned, and worked so diligently to protect since the very founding of their people.

Yes, today would mark the first new beginning of many for Rudvar the Hob.

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Grace Departs

As Grace listened to the distant whisper of the train approaching from further down the track, her heart sank. Gripping her mother’s hand tighter, she glanced up at her normally smiling face, noting instead the deeper lines of worry that now seemed permanently etched around her grey eyes and the pale strained look of her unsmiling mouth. Had it only been a few short weeks ago that they had laughed together in front of the vanity mirror, trying on different shades of lipstick and eyeshadow to make themselves look like glamorous and exotic Hollywood actresses? What changes only a few weeks could bring.

The train was so much closer now, it’s noise almost deafening, drowning out the hum of of voices from the other people waiting along the platform. As the carriages rolled to a stop in front of them, and the platform attendant slid open the heavy door, Grace felt tears well in her eyes. Her mother’s eyes were damp too, as she bent and kissed her gently on the cheek.

‘Be a good girl for your Aunt Susan’ she told her her voice husky with emotion, as she helped Grace up the steps and into the carriage. Handing her her small brown suitcase, she slid the door shut again stepping back to silently watch as the train slowly began to pull away from the station.

For her mother’s sake Grace refused to let the tears fall from her trembling lashes, even though she knew deep inside that, from this moment forward, her life would never again be the same.

© Bernadetteflynnauthor.com 2017

A Shadow Walks With Me Today

A shadow walks with me today

– I wish that he would leave –

He reminds me of my deepest loss

And forces me to grieve

 

He tells me that you’ve gone away

That I – alone – must stay

Without your smile

– your gentle touch –

Until my dying day

 

Without your soul

The world seems dim

– All shadows –

Drab and wrong

I never realised before –

My life would feel so long

 

Tomorrow – I’ll get out of bed

Tomorrow – I won’t cry

Tomorrow – I’ll do like you said

– I’ll do my best to try –

 

Time heals all wounds I’m told again

– He’d want you to be strong

They must not feel your loss at all –

To be so very wrong

 

A shadow walks with me today

I know now – he’s a friend –

The only one not watching on –

Expecting me to mend.

© Bernadetteflynnauthor.com 2017