Summers from a Childhood

Summers from a Childhood

Fires banned, cold meat and salad replace barbeques

Ears strain until the sound of Greensleeves drifts down the street

Our destination, outside number five

Us, licking sherbet covered soft serves

Mum, a double choc dip cone; Dad the same with nuts

 

Fights over who will be first to bat

Up a tree, six and out

An evening of street cricket amongst friends

A broken window scatters children, the game abandoned

Longer days give time for grander adventures

Beneath windows cicadas serenade children to sleep

 

In tank tops, Hawaiian shorts, terry towelling hats

Bare skin fuses to the vinyl seats of the EH Special

Our destination the public pool

Us, armed with kickboards, floaties, masks

Mum, a green vinyl bag of drinks, towels, sun tan lotion

 

Fights over the towel spots next to Mum

Dropping shorts reveal pre-fitted togs

An afternoon swimming, collecting drink cans, loose change

Bracing for second-degree seat belt buckle burns

Chlorinated togs, towels consume the laundry trough

Pyjamas cling to incandescent, calamine painted skin

 

In cotton shirts, knee high socks, sandals

Feet skim the pavement in a race to the car

Our destination, Grandma’s for Christmas Dinner

Us, clutching new favourite toys

Mum, a basket of presents; Dad, a cooler of beer, trifle

 

Fights over who will get the wishbone

Ripping paper reveals yet more socks

An afternoon eating, unwrapping gifts, playing with cousins

Bracing for cheek-pinching, hair ruffling aunts

Lifted from the car, sleeping children stir

Faithful bears dangle from familiar, loving hands


Copyright © 2017 Bronwyn Joy Hansen. All Rights Reserved.

Image: Lyon Maid Ice Cream Van By Gizur (via wikicommons [CC3])

Safety In Numbers

Safety In Numbers

There is no safety in numbers. Not for her.

Crowds entrap and surround her. She cannot escape. Break free. Be an individual. A crowd is the most terrifying experience possible. For her.

Far from obscurity or anonymity, a crowd means more people to judge her. Suspect her. Belittle her.

A crowd expects conformity. Enforces it. In a crowd, she has to be someone. Something that she is not. In a crowd, being different, being herself is not an option.

Do not rock the boat. Do not be difficult. Do not be different. Do not be.

These are the laws of the crowd.

Being alone she can rock boats. Buck systems. She can be different. Herself.

Being alone she can think. Relax. Believe.

Being alone she can be.

Being alone, she can.


Copyright © 2017 Bronwyn Joy Hansen. All Rights Reserved.
Iamge; Crowd by James Cridland ([CC 2.0] via Flickr)

Fish Paste

Fish Paste

Charlie knew things would be different. Everything changes with time. Still, he had not expected anything any on this scale.

Looking around, Charlie’s memory takes him back to when his Uncle’s caravan park stood here. Carefree childhood summers invade his mind. Images and sounds impose themselves over the shops and buildings now scarring the landscape.

A group of trailers become the old wooden fishing boat that was once part of the caravan park’s playground. Three young boys scamper about her cabin, waving plastic swords, affecting rough pirate accents. The carwash disappears, replaced by the camper that was the centre of so many holidays.

Behind the caravan park, his Aunt’s holiday house ghosts over a block of townhouses. The smell of Grandma’s butterfish wafts out to where Charlie and his brothers dangle from the old swings. While his brother has a bath in the stone trough, Charlie watches his Uncle pulling coins from behind his sunburnt ears.

During a break in a storm, Charlie’s young family trudge across the caravan park, returning from tea with their Aunt.

Beside the bungalow, another summer. Charlie is stuck in the gnarled conifer that towered over the holiday house. From the ground, Mum is guiding him down. Even now, heights terrify Charlie.

An old Holden pulls up to the house. Charlie watches his sleeping self being carried to the bungalow after a night watching the fairy penguins come ashore. A small, pyjama-clad figure armed with a torch makes a trek to the outside toilet, watching for monsters along the way.

The salty tang of the sea reaches Charlie. Now that the avenue of conifers has been cut down, the wind seems harsher. In the caravan park, Charlie and his brother run back and forth, trying to get their kites off the ground. Clad in matching cowboy costumes, Tim complains about Charlie shooting him. As usual, Tim refuses to die.

Four brothers stand over a bucket of toadfish. Charlie’s first successful fishing trip. The last summer at the holiday house. Strange, thinks, Charlie, watching the only time the four siblings were there together.

The caravan park had gone, but the land was still vacant. That was a different stay, the final holiday here. Charlie’s father had left. His Grandmother had died. There were no more family holidays after that summer. Not real ones, at least.

Charlie’s memory takes one last glance around the kitchen of the house. The smell of calamine lotion on sunburnt backs and fish paste sandwiches linger in his nostrils. Sounds of packing at the end of summer ricochet around Charlie’s mind.

The petrol bowser shuts off, bringing Charlie back to now. He looks at what progress has done to the backdrop of so many childhood memories.

For a brief moment, he thought he caught a glimpse of three young boys, climbing over an old wooden fishing boat…


Copyright © 2017 Bronwyn Joy Hansen. All Rights Reserved.
Image Copyright © 1978 & 2017 Hansen Family Archive. All Rights Reserved.

Words And Music – Lyric Inspired Fiction

Words And Music – Lyric Inspired Fiction

Waxing Lyrical

Catherine and Heathcliff inspired Kate Bush. Pink Floyd’s album Animals, so the story goes, is a nod to George Orwell’s Animal Farm.  Nabokov’s Lolita was the inspiration for Don’t Stand So Close To Me (The Police, 1980; A&M).

Even Russian poet, Vladimir Mayakovski had an album named in honour of his work – Billy Bragg’s “difficult third album”, Talking With The Tax Man About Poetry.

Does this inspiration work both ways? Can music have the same influence on literature?

I Have Got To Leave To Find My Way

Over the years, I have written several pieces that were inspired by songs.

The beautiful Find the River from R.E.M.’s Automatic for the People (1992, Warner Music) was the catalyst for a short story based on childhood family camping trips. These took place during a very difficult period of my life. The majority of memories from that time are dark and unpleasant.

Thanks to Messrs. Berry, Buck, Mills, and Stipe, I not only ended up with folio filler but also was also able to get rid of rather heavy baggage.

Did I Find You Or You Find Me?

They say that you can choose your friends, but not your family. I for one do not agree with them.

This Must Be the Place is a short story in which the characters chose the families they were born into, but had no control over the friendships that they forged in life.

A little out there, I guess, but then so am I!

The title was inspired by a line from the Talking Heads song This Must Be The Pace (Naive Melody) from the album Speak In Tongues (1983 Sire Records) – “I come home, she lifted up her wings. I guess that this must be the place.”

 It Only Takes One Line

Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup…

 The first time that I heard those words, I knew that I had to do something creative with my life. Being of all seven years old at the time, I did not understand the meaning of the lyrics. All that I needed to know was that they were – and remain – beautifully mystical.

Across The Universe by The Beatles (Lennon/McCartney, Let It Be, 1970 EMI) is one of the most played songs in my home. Whenever I find life getting on top of me, this song helps snap me out of it and reminds me why I do what I do.

Nothing’s going to change my World.

 There have been many cover versions of the song that most inspires me to write. During my time as a radio presenter, I was able to play Across The Universe – in its many variations – on a regular basis. If doing so inspired only one listening, then it was worth it.

When the time comes, the song that inspired my spirit to express itself will send it on its way Across The Universe.


Copyright © 2017 Bronwyn Joy Hansen. All Rights Reserved. 
Image Record Shop9 by alexunderwood910 [CC2.0] via Flickr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer’s Gone

Summer’s Gone

Rain collects on the barbeque plate. Eddies of red and bronze swirl along the footpath. Anonymous dogs bark, invisible in the thick, grey morning.

Ovals shed their grass stained whites for more colourful livery. Potato salad yields to potato soup. Clocks corrected, darkness arrives in time for tea. Summer’s gone.


Copyright © 2017 Bronwyn Joy Hansen. All Rights Reserved.
Image Eric Jones [CC2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

The Only 13 Writing Rules You Need – #1

Welcome to the first of a series of articles on The Only Thirteen Writing Rules You Need.

For several years, I have had a print out of an email attachment sent by a friend pinned on the board above my desk. Entitled The Only Thirteen Writing Rules You Need, it has motivated, harassed, and tortured me.

Over time, I have slowly worked my way down the list, attempting to follow at least some of the Thirteen Writing Rules. I have to say, that from a personal perspective, they have proven to be extremely helpful in both my professional and personal writing.

Rule 1: If you write every day, you will get better every day

Writing is about time and practice – spending time with words until one day, they start co-operating with your inner storyteller. Diaries, journals, letters, shopping lists, poetry, prose – it is all writing, and it is all practice. It does not matter what you write, as long as you sit down and write something on a daily basis

By the time that the late Bryce Courtenay (The Power of One; Jessica; The Potato Factory; Tommo & Hawk) became an “overnight success” at the age of fifty-five, he had been writing seriously every day for forty-four years.

Courtenay’s philosophy was “glue your bum to a chair… and never give up.”

He certainly practiced what he preached. When he died in November 2012, Bryce Courtenay had published twenty-three novels.

Alex Haley’s lifelong ambition was to be a writer. Despite having little natural talent, he was a great storyteller. He worked hard at writing daily, and read everything about the subject that he could get his hands on. More importantly, he never gave up.

Alex Haley went on to write countless articles for magazines, including Playboy. Today, Alex Haley is best remembered for the best-selling, Pulitzer Prize and (American) National Book Award winner, Roots.

Like Bryce Courtenay, Truman Capote began to write seriously at age eleven. He would write for three hours every day after school. His hard work and practice paid off. Before starting the first grade, Truman Capote had taught himself to read and write.

Capote_05

Truman Capote

From the age of five, he carried a dictionary and notepad. At age of ten, he began writing, submitting a short story Old Mister Busybody to a writing competition for children, sponsored by a local newspaper.

At seventeen, Capote began work at The New Yorker, and two years later, his stories began to be published in magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, The Atlantic Monthly, and The New Yorker.

As you can see, practice does pay off in the end.

Remember – If you write every day, you will get better every day.

In the next article, we will look at the second of The Only Thirteen Rules You Need – If it is boring to you, it is boring to your readers.


Copyright © 2017 Bronwyn Joy Hansen. All Rights Reserved.
Original Images Copyright © Bronwyn Joy Hansen. All Rights Reserved.
Image of Truman Capote 1959 by Roger Higgins (Public Domain)

Writer’s Block, Brain Fade & Other Ailments

Many ailments effect writers – writer’s block, brain fade, and procrastination, to name a few. But what exactly are these conditions that conspire against us in our creative endeavours?

Writer’s Block

The arch nemesis of writers the World over, writer’s block is defined by The Oxford English Dictionary as:

“The condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.”*

When struck down with writer’s block, I find that the worst thing I can do is sit at my desk, staring at a blinking cursor. I switch off my computer, go walking with the dog, potter in my garden, or whip up a batch of biscuits. Of course, I always take a notebook and pen with me.

This cure does not always work, but it does beat sitting in front of a blank screen, vegetating.

Brain Fade

This describes the sudden forgetfulness that strikes during the writing process. Unlike writer’s block, brain fade waits until you have the idea for your piece, and are underway. In my experience, this can happen anywhere from two sentences to two chapters into writing.

As the name implies, brain fade wipes all traces of what you are writing from your mind. Again, from a personal perspective, this lasts anywhere from a few hours to a few months. I do usually have something else I can work on in the meantime… unless of course, writer’s block sets in.

Procrastination

“I will sit down and write that submission/synopsis/character study… tomorrow.” Sound familiar?

My grandmother used to say that my gravestone should read “why do today what can be put off until tomorrow?” It still may.

In short, when there is work to be done, sit down, and do it.

Other Distractions & Obstacles

Life

While life is the greatest resource for a writer, it can also be the greatest distraction. More of us than not have the responsibilities of “real” jobs, family commitments, study, and so on.

Visitors

Unexpected visits from family and friends can be an unwanted distraction. In my case, not even living on a property twenty kilometres from the nearest town stopped people from dropping in.

Once they arrived, it was rather hard – and rude – to send them home. I found that letting people know when I am working on a story/article/blog on helps reduce unexpected guests.

Television

Every book on writing that I have read sets the same rule. Give yourself a relaxing environment in which to work. They say not to set up shop in your bedroom, living room, or room with a television.

Personally, I could not see the logic behind this doctrine – until I started writing seriously. At the time, I lived in a bedsit (single room) flat. The temptation to turn the football on – just to check the score – became too great. I would end up watching the entire game and not working.

These days, my spare room serves as my television free writing retreat.

Mobile Phones

Telephones can also be distractions. There is nothing worse than a telemarketer calling, just as you reach the point of your article or story. Caller ID is brilliant. When the phone rings while I am working, I glance at the number. More often than not, it is nobody that I need to speak to right then, so I let the call go to voicemail.

The Internet & Social Media

Finally, I find that the biggest distraction is the internet. Yes, I am aware of the irony.

The internet is undoubtedly the greatest research resource for the writer. I use it regularly for just that reason.

You have to ensure that once you find the required information you get to work. If not,  before you know it, you are watching some guy in LA blowing up balloons with his own bodily gases.

I use it regularly for just that reason.

I wish you all the best in your creative endeavours. May you avoid writer’s block, brain fade, and other ailments.


 

 

*Paperback Oxford English Dictionary Ed. Catherine Soanes (2001, 2002, Oxford University Press)

Copyright © Bronwyn Joy Hansen 2017. All Rights Reserved.