Saturday, August 22, 2015

Building a River Part 2

I have questions about people and relationships, and I attempt to answer those questions by creating characters who are totally believable, and placing them in difficult circumstances. The major concept I wanted to explore with this novel, A Muddy Red River, was what it would be like to have a brother. 

In the novel, my two lead characters, Shane and Rob Archer, are brothers who have grown apart due to their differences. As children these differences were complementary, but in adulthood they are catalysts for separation. Shane and Rob are essentially opposites; two sides of one coin. A Muddy Red River was originally a single point of view narrative but wanting to show how inextricably linked the two men were, demanded I use a dual point of view.

My hope is that the reader will see the importance of relationships, and in particular, the unbreakable ties of brotherhood, and appreciate that reconciliation is never as far away, or unlikely as it may seem.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Building a River: Part 1

A Muddy Red River was originally inspired by a chance meeting which in fact was barely worthy to be called such. In 1990 I was working with a volunteer missionary group called Youth With A Mission (YWAM). I was in Thailand where my team visited a high school in a province whose name I can no longer recall. I may have forgotten that name, but I have never forgotten the name of Jam, a beautiful young student to whom I was briefly and perfunctorily introduced.

Her name, her pretty face and her slender feminine body became the inspiration for A Muddy Red River. I never saw her again, and it was not until ten years had passed that I began to write the story: a handwritten draft about an Australian man who falls in love at first sight with a Thai women after a chance meeting. As most romances are, this tale would be full of drama and difficulty. Chris Cornell's lyrics sum it up nicely. "You fall in love from a great height, now the easy part's over."

The manuscript ran out of steam after four chapters so I shelved it. At that time, I was concentrating on short stories, believing I was too busy to attempt a novel, and very uncertain about my ability. The very short life of A Muddy Red River proved the point, and those first four chapters remained hidden away in a drawer for more than ten years. Until...

Friday, July 31, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things:Online forms

The online form wants to verify my identity, and it must do this in a number of ways in order to protect me with added layers of security. Like thick, soft blankets to help me sleep in comfort and space on cold winter's nights.

This particular form had to assign me a colour for my online account, and a three word screen as well as my user name and password. (I chose orange by the way.) Next there were three security questions. The first one asked for the name of my eldest nephew. This sounds like a joke, doesn't? I dutifully filled in all the spaces, and was then taken to a page called the verification page. Here, I needed to add two forms of ID. I had a choice of driver's licence, Medicare card and passport. Medicare card was an obvious choice, but it wasn't clear to me why they asked for the colour of the card. I didn't actually know they came in different colours, and I'm a little bit upset that I've only ever been offered a green one.

Are we there yet? Next, I attempted to add my driver's licence number, but it was rejected on the grounds that it had to be a nine digit number. My license number is 4 digits followed by two letters.

To cut a long story short,  I was then locked out and unable to finish. The company does not have a telephone, and their online chat service is a computer program, not a person, so I had to send them an email asking for help. They'll get back to me in five business days or so.

I think life has become ridiculously complicated, so I am going to switch off this computer, after I post this, and put on some good old fashioned heavy metal music. I'm thinking Black Sabbath or Metallica...these tough choices are the nuts and bolts of life, aren't they?

I don't know what I'm giving thanks for today. Oh, I know! My daughter passed her driver's test, so after over 120 hours of supervised driver training, she can now fly solo. Hurray!

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things: Shoelaces

Today I had occasion to hurriedly remove my shoes, and I did so without undoing the laces. To my credit, I did undo them before I put the shoes back on, and then re tied them. That's what you're supposed to do with them.

They're a very old idea actually. Thousands of years before Christ men were lacing up, and although shoes have taken on all manner of weird and wonderful forms, the laces with which we tie them haven't changed much at all.

Anyway, how many times have you chastised your children for slipping their laced shoes on and off? How many times have you done it? Is it really the serious concern that some have made it out to be? Are these questions important to the future prosperity of mankind?

I like undoing and doing shoelaces. I find comfort in the well practised routine. It's an orderly and proper thing to do, and I like orderly and proper things. That's why I was inspired to write this trivial blog...because I circumvented the right process. Shame on me. I'll never do it again.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things: Words

Today's blog is brought to you by the letter 'F'. (Hats off to Sesame Street - what a great show!) In the A-Z Blogging Challenge, each day began with a letter and the opportunity to choose any word beginning with that letter, or any theme, and write about it.

In language, the smallest units are called graphemes, and these combine to make phonemes which in turn unite to form morphemes, and morphemes collaborate to form words. And words, as we know, are put together in such a way as to communicate a meaningful message which we call a sentence. It's beautiful, isn't it?

Most people take words for granted. Not me. I love them. I like playing with them, using them, and discovering new ones. I love putting them together. I get excited when I hear or read others do it well. I feel proud when I do it.

Yesterday I wrote another chapter in the first draft of what will be my fifth novel. Chapter 37 contains these words: Did she love Angus? Did she want him back? Forgiveness. Easy to say, hard to do. Nice word. Potent word. Terrifying word. The last adjective in that triplet did not come to me immediately, but when it did, I stared at it with a big smile on my face. Forgiveness is a terrifying word.

Today I give thanks for words. Do you have any favourites? I still get a thrill when I hear someone say pulchritude.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things: Tags

Have you ever tried to dress in the dark? You rise early to work, leaving your partner in bed to slumber on, and you don't want to disturb them. You're very considerate. You can find you clothes. You may have even arranged them just so, thus facilitating potential ease of donning said clothes. You understand the theory of dressing in the dark. You've practised it many times. You are no novice 'in the dark' dresser.

However, it's hard isn't it? If you miss one of those leg holes on the first thrust, you are gone. You could end up on the floor: contorted and ensnared.

Naturally, I can't speak from a woman's point of view. Not only am I not a woman, but I have never attired myself in women's garb. However, there is no doubt that ladies wear, being occasionally less orthodox than men's, also presents challenges.

Today, I am giving thanks for a little thing which makes a difficult task somewhat easier: the tag.

If I can feel the tag, I know I have found the back of my pants or shirt, and knowing the front from the back significantly aids the putting on of said garment. I want it right the first time. I can't be expected to leave the sanctuary of my bedroom for the glaring spotlight of my empty living room with my shirt on back to front. Neither do I wish to end up on the floor of my bedroom with my head in the cupboard. Come on. Thank you tags.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things: Hugs

This may cause some discussion amongst readers. Is a hug a small thing? Some would say even a small hug is a big thing. Others might suggest that some hugs aren't as meaningful or poignant as others, and that can't be contested. Although one might think that all hugs are nice, some would disagree: unwanted hugs, for example, are certainly not nice. Anyway, I'm not here to debate the merits or significance of hugs. I'm here to tell you about a recent hug which meant a huge amount to me personally.

Last Sunday night we had a family farewell dinner for my son who was heading off to Europe for a six week holiday. After dinner we hugged, and I wished him well, thinking that would be the last time I saw him before he left. Four days later, the day before departure, I was at his house to pick up my daughter and my son was unexpectedly there: washing clothes and packing. We talked for a bit, and then we hugged again before I said goodbye. It was such a lovely bonus to be able to hug him once more.

I don't see much of my son these days. He's busy with work and uni, and his girlfriend, and that's all okay. He's 19. He has his own life now. I've been letting go of him slowly every since he started school, but I am thankful for the fact that we have a good, close relationship. Despite some dramatic turbulence over the last 12 months or so, due to the break down of my marriage, we are still friends and of course I am very grateful for that. That last hug was serendipity: a small thing and a huge thing simultaneously.

Have you had a nice hug lately?

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