What does it mean to be a writer?

I haven’t really thought about this question until now. On completing a five week course in Creative Writing today I am almost ready to hang up my pen! I didn’t research the course in great depth as I just thought it would be great to do during this time of home isolation. In fact the course was geared very much toward writing fiction novels and the development of character, scenes, point of view, momentum etc.

I found that the only way I could develop a character was to base it on the character I know best – ME! That got me thinking and I quickly realised I am not in the least bit interested in writing fiction. I have often thought of the possibility of writing a memoir but I am not even sure about that now.

I have had this idea of “writing” in the background (the name of my blog for example!!!) for many years but maybe it is time to take a different path. After all, why do people write memoirs? Is it to reassure themselves their lives had some meaning and purpose? Or is it to reconcile life’s experience and to find peace at its conclusion?

Maybe it is the COVID 19 affect that is perhaps making me stop and think about where I am headed and to look at possible alternatives for the future. that can’t be a bad thing.

Day 30 Creativity Challenge

For more info on the Challenge click HERE

Today’s topic is writing fiction

I first met Brian when I was about ten years old. There was a knock at the door and I raced to be the first to open it. When I saw him I drew back – he was a stranger and I was shy all of a sudden. He asked to see my mum. She didn’t invite him in but went outside to speak with him in private.

Later on she told us who he was: her long lost brother, Brian. She hadn’t seen him for thirty years. When they were growing up there were ten kids in the family and Uncle Brian was just one too many. My grandfather died when he was in his early fifties and my grandmother was overwhelmed with so many mouths to feed. He was sent to live with an aunt in Western Australia, 3000 kilometers away.

He rented a unit in our home town and we gradually got to know him and his cat, Megs. There was a sadness about him even though there was often a smile on his face. He’d never married. He didn’t talk much about his past but always listened to our stories of childhood adventures. Evidently he spent some time working in the mines. He had that deep, wrinkled suntan.

One day after school we stopped by his place and saw a police car out the front. We crept up to the veranda to hear what they were saying. Surely he wouldn’t do anything bad! They sounded friendly and there were few laughs – even the police were laughing! What on earth could it be?

Brian, all smiles now, saw the police off and waved them goodbye. He said to hop in his old car and he would drive us home. He said he would tell us what happened when we got home to mum and dad; and he did!

A member of the public had handed in a box of stuff belonging to Brian that was lost during his move. In searching the contents to identify the owner, they found a lottery ticket. A story in the daily paper told of an anonymous winner of $10 million. He or she hadn’t come forward to collect their prize.

The policeman checked the numbers on the ticket with the winning numbers and they matched perfectly with the ticket from Uncle Brian’s box. That was one house visit they really enjoyed and would never forget. And we would never forget how happy he was that day.

Uncle Brian was thrilled with his new fortune. He bought himself a new house and some new clothes. He even bought himself a new car – except it wasn’t new – he was happy with a secondhand one! The money didn’t change him much but he loved being able to help family and other people who were doing it tough.

PS Thanks for supporting my 30 Day Creativity Challenge. It has been great fun!

An early attempt at fiction …

I wrote this piece for a recent assignment. I passed – not quite as well as I would have liked to. Oh well … It was based on research from the newspaper on the date of my birth.

2 NOVEMBER 1954
My sanity is slipping away. It wounds my pride, but I call Mum on Sunday, 31 October 1954 and beg her to pick Peter and me up from the farm the next day. My Mum is thrilled I have come to my senses.

Jack breaks down when I tell him I am leaving him. He is devastated. He says, ‘My life is nothing without you and Peter.’ He slowly turns away and Peter follows him to the kitchen. I think Peter is with Grandma Irene but Peter trails a few metres behind Jack. Irene is preparing for the Melbourne Cup BBQ on Tuesday and sees them both heading for the scrub, and smiles.

Jack returns alone around 11.00am.

‘Jack, what have you done with him?’ I screamed, as I pounded his chest. ‘How could you even think I would do anything to hurt Peter? You and Peter are my life,’ he replied. ‘He is only a baby – two and half years old, for God’s sake! Where is he?’ I shrieked hysterically.

Jack and I met on New Year’s Eve 1950. He was twenty-seven and I was nineteen. He is 5’8’’, slim build, fair curly hair, and deep brown eyes. His sister, Hazel, and I were nursing at Princess Margaret Hospital and she was a matchmaker. Jack was in Perth to enlist in the Army to fight the communists in Korea. It was the start of an incredible, magical romance.

My parents disapproved of Jack and said, ‘He is an uneducated, farm labourer and not good enough for a Claremont girl.’ I turned my back on them and married him in June 1951 in the Anglican Church in Boyup Brook. Jack worked on their small sheep farm just out of Boyup Brook, population around five hundred. We stayed with his parents.

His parents supported his decision to fight Communism and he would earn about £12/6 a week. His first posting was with the 3RAR, based in Japan. He left us on 1 October 1951 knowing we were having a baby. I was distraught. I was not ready for this! Especially with Jack away and living with his parents. Regardless, Peter was born, healthy, on 17 June 1952.

A telegram arrived not long after with the disturbing news of Jack’s capture by the North Koreans. He remained a POW until the war ended on 27 July 1953. When Jack came home in August ’53, he was a broken man – just skin and bone, sullen, and withdrawn. He took solace in drinking each day until he passed out.

If I keep loving and caring for him he would get well surely? I would find a quiet place and sob my heart out. I missed my friends and family in Perth. They wrote infrequently about their dances and trips to the theatre.
***
News spreads that Peter is missing. Jack’s father calls the police and asks the neighbours to help search in the thick scrub beyond the farmhouse. By midday there are around one hundred people scouring the nearby scrub. Peter is wearing summer shorts and singlet. It is around 69 degrees with a chance of rain. I stay at the house while the men search the scrub, I pray, ‘Oh my God, find him please!’

Hours pass and the searchers return with no news. It is nearing 6.00pm when they see Peter running through the bush towards them. Jack and I quickly race towards him and we both hold him and each other, sobbing with relief.
Just at that moment, my parents arrived in their BMW …