new short story collection. Out now!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Creative Juice

It was while drinking a glass of orange juice one morning that I had a burst of creativity. In just a few minutes, as the sweet citrus danced on my taste buds en route to my stomach via my throat, I came up with three ideas. This post is one of them.

The idea for my most recently published short story, Goyyou, came to me in a dream. Another time, I was standing at a urinal in a public toilet in Greta when the idea for a story about a small group of insects meeting in a awkward social situation struck me. It became the story, A Place of Refuge which was published by Countdown: School Magazine.

Virtually no one reads Square Pegs so I feel there is no harm in blowing my own trumpet. However, that's not what I'm trying to do. Here's my point: I have lots of ideas. I'm always coming up with interesting characters and plots and weird situations. I've written over 60 short stories and I have plenty more to come. I'm a creative person. God made me creative.I love to write and I feel exhilarated by the process of writing. When I write a story, I feel "right". It is one of my escapes. One of my pressure release valves. Writing helps me maintain my sanity. I have to write.

To paraphrase a quote I read a long time ago, "why wouldn't God, having made me this way, not provide opportunities for me to use my talent to bless others and glorify Him?"

It seems as logical to me as orange juice and toast for breakfast. I have a way with words. I'm not Shakespeare but I can write and I love it, so why shouldn't I pursue it? The answer is, that I am, but it can be awfully frustrating. Writers want readers but I have so few that if my readers were books they wouldn't even occupy one shelf in a small library. For thirteen years I have been working on my craft; writing stories, using valuable writing time to research markets and fiddle with the formatting to satisfy various submission criteria. Submitting stories, waiting sometimes for months, sometimes literally forever, and then having those stories rejected, frequently. Finding time to write more stories and repeating the whole process. It can be terribly disheartening but what can I do? It is no overstatement to say that I was born to write. I love writing. I am a writer so I'll just keep writing.

And so ends my self indulgent post for this week. To my army of readers...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Familiarity Breeds Contempt

There is something that both amazes and pleases many parents, at the same time, about their children's behaviour. Your son for example, spends some time at a friend's place and you speak to the friend's parent, thanking them for looking after your son, and they say, it was a pleasure having him. No trouble at all! He's so quiet. You ask yourself: who are they talking about? Not my son. It couldn't be. Quiet? He's not quiet at home.

Hands up if you've ever had that experience? It's not that much of a mystery at all really. Most children subconsciously modify their behaviour depending on their circumstances. They reserve their worst behaviour for the people they know best: their parents. Most of those children grow into adults who consciously alter their behaviour depending on the situation in which they find themselves. Do you only show your worst to the people you know best? Familiarity breeds contempt. Ouch! That shouldn't be true, but it is.

In different groups of people, we act differently. Especially when we are new to that group. Or is just me? Am I the only one who bites my tongue when I strongly disagree with someone I have just me, and with whom I am going to have to spend more than five minutes? Aren't we all naturally more relaxed and friendly when the people we are with are chilled and amiable? Am I the only one who doesn't say much until he figures out the dynamics of a new group?

Sometimes I actually admire those people who apparently aren't bound by the aformentioned conventions. They act the same, speak the same to all people, in every situation. They are seemingly so comfortable with themselves that they can be themselves all the time. Or is it a lack of self awareness and sensitivity rather than a supreme sense of comfort in their own skin, that makes them act so?

Take the guy who drops the F-bomb regardless of who hears it. Or the woman whose breasts always overflow her low cut dresses. Or the man who makes tasteless jokes, which he thinks are funny, just to break the ice. What about the woman who laughs like a woodpecker, or the fella who has to virtually touch his nose to yours in order to speak with you? Or how about those who have loud personal conversations in public places?

When does 'just being yourself' end, and causing offence, or public nuisance, begin? When does adjusting your behaviour, (controlling yourself) out of sensitivity or simple shyness or caution end, and being a faker, or a game player begin?

If you have simple answers to these questions, I'd love to hear them but Solomon's been dead for thousands of years, and I'm just bumbling through life by the grace of God. Sometimes I don't know who I am.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Household anti-rules

One of the best pieces of advice you can give, or receive, with respect to managing the inevitable problems which arise out of co habitation is "choose your battles".

Basically conflict is unavoidable because people have a propensity to annoy other people. However, if you want to fight about, or pick on everything that someone you share a house or home with does, then you are essentially precipitating nuclear war. One of the cute acronyms which arose from the arms race between the USSR (now defunct)and the USA (now sliding down the toilet on its way to defunct) was M.A.D. Mutually Assured Destruction, and that's basically what you get if you don't know how to choose your battles at home.

In the spirit of acceptance and tolerance, and of forgiveness and grace, I would like to present the following household anti rules.

1. Don't park the car in the empty garage. It must be left on the driveway so the birds can have their evil way with it.

2. Don't hang the hand towel on the rack after you use it. It looks much better, and dries much better if it is left screwed up on the bathroom floor.

3. Rinse the dishes in dirty, oily water and leave them there overnight as this will make them easier to clean in the morning.

Do you have any of your own household anti rules to suggest. I'd love to hear them.