Category Archives: Writing 101

Dear Once Upon a Time

Dear Once Upon a Time,

For once, you are not going to be the start of a piece of written work because guess what? I’m in charge and you will not get another fifteen seconds in the limelight.

To start off, let me fill you in on all the things that I think about you:

1. You hog all the attention simply because you’re the precedent.

2. You set the tone and drive a story.

3. You take me for granted.

People think that we go together like peanut butter and jelly or like Laurel and Hardy but they have no idea what it’s like to put up with your cocky arrogance. You make a mess and then I have to come to the rescue, cleaning up the breakage.

Having said all this I can honestly say I don’t like you very much. Because you will always be first and I will always be last.

Sincerely yours,

The End


 

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Lifejackets

It has been said that our lives are like stories that we write as each minute passes. If life were a book, then there would be characters in our narratives. These characters are the people we are surrounded by and choose to surround ourselves with.

I hear so many stories about the will to survive and fight cancer, the stories of a mother’s undying love for her children and how when it is put to the test, her love will always win no matter what. I’ve heard the plights of children who have come from nothing and have now become happy through a long and difficult journey. I’d like to say I have a monumentally inspirational story that made me wake up and see everyone around me in a new light. I don’t. But I do know we should be ever grateful for the people in our lives.

We are fortunate to have loved ones and unfortunate to have those people who think they know us but don’t; yet they have the audacity to judge away.

There are those who go out into the world to achieve for the sense of accomplishment…and there are those who do the very same but for that euphoric feeling of victory when they crush and put down others.

There are all kinds of people. There are the people who have everything and still feel the need to crib. Who don’t realise how truly lucky they are and use harsh words. People who thinks it’s all about them. People who couldn’t care less or say something as simple as have a nice day. People who have so many facets you can’t even keep track. To all those who who are the reason someone goes home and cries; you don’t know the pain you cause but you should. You wouldn’t be able to handle it if the tables were turned. You are the shackles that hold others down.

But it’s nice to know there are others. The complete opposite of the afore mentioned. People who are not that much better off than before but are still happy. Those rare people who take the time to write loving and meaningful messages and tributes to light up a few faces and make them smile for as long they are reading it…maybe longer. People who make you smile by doing the simplest thing. People who make you feel like it will get better down the line. To all these people, to the REAL people: you are wonderful and you do make an impact on others lives for the better. You are our life jackets.

So when you find you find yourself drowning in a sea of despair, loneliness and insecurity, don’t let the shackles strapped to your ankles drag you down. Break free of them and use a lifejacket. Then take a deep breathe when you reach the surface. Hold on to that lifejacket and don’t let it go. And lastly and perhaps the most important note to be left with, save the others who are drowning as well. BE A LIFEJACKET.


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Caged in Paradise

The second installment of my three part series post 🙂

Sometimes what you find is not what you want…

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Caged in Paradise

Milton wrote of a paradise lost

and it seems that is what I’ve found

Only she’s not here with me

As I lay disheveled on the ground

The white walls gone

The sunlight filters in

I think I’m being punished

For my abundance of living sin

Because what better punishment

Than being given everything you dream

Without anyone to share it with?

Paradise is not as it would seem

 

Pills and Vodka

This is a prologue to a novel I started about the underworld of the music industry.

I decided to stick to the home aspect of the prompt and perhaps in this piece it sounds like there is none. I suppose in a way, even though you live somewhere you may still feel unprotected and lost. So we make our home in the art of writing.

That’s what I wanted to convey.

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The house is empty. They’ve all gone. I sit slumped on a chair in the corner of the room. My hazy eyes surveyed the remnants of extravagant social interaction, nothing but a huge party that served no purpose apart from supplying alcohol and euphoric feelings to those invited.

There’s pills skittered across the floor in a sea of vodka below my feet. I feel sick. My head hurts, my vision blurred. The sad thing that is that I’m not the type to crash in a drunken stupor. Instead, I tend to think. Which, I assure you, is far worse than anything else you can do when inebriated. At least having sex when drunk is fun. But then again, maybe it isn’t. Maybe it’s just sad.

I walk to the bed a few feet from where I sat and lay down, embroiled in reliving mistakes. There have been far too many. My eyelids close, the thoughts stop streaming like an incessant radio station.

108 fm Radio Crazy! Tune in to the Buzzzzzzzzzzz

Seconds pass.

It switches off…

 

In my dreams I am the same person. No idealised notions. No heroic actions. Just me. So even my unconscious is trying to screw me over I guess (haha, very funny). I can’t even dream anymore. That’s why sleeping isn’t any good.

I see colours shifting and flashes of irrelevant gaunt faces in a whirlwind of hostility. Psychedelic highs don’t compare. This is something else entirely.

Red, green, blue then black. Family, friends and the boys I liked. They mixed until I didn’t know the difference. The rainbow looked like shit to me. The people were just as bad. In my dreams that is…

 

And then I wake up.

Daylight filtered into the room through the pastel curtains. I don’t know what time it is but I know it’s the afternoon. Although it really didn’t matter.

Lying there, I didn’t know what else to do.

So I decided to write.

Like I was told to do when things got out control.

Marmalade and Peas

I went the fictional route to explore the beauty of food and what it means to us and I incorporated my favourite dish, the one my mom makes best and that is lasagna. How I adore it 🙂


After years of tasteless porridge and watery soup, Tristan always thought and dreamed of what would be on the table when he was ushered into his new home, imagining a warm living room with a crackling fire which is odd because he lived in the sunny side of the country where it never snowed. He must have watched too much television where families were happy and cozy inside their homes, thinking of the same whenever there were couples who came to the orphanage looking to adopt a little boy of their own.

He was always too much of something or too less of something else. Too old, because what everyone was looking for was a little boy who still had baby fat. He was less interesting since he liked to keep quiet not because he did not have anything to say but because he had become too closed off after bouncing around from foster home to foster home as a young child till he was finally ended up at the town orphanage. He hadn’t spoken in years. So long that he couldn’t remember the sound of his voice. He thought it was always safe to be silent. And that’s how he lived.

For three years he watched in silence as the other boys got adopted, being robbed of his friends and the worst thing was that he couldn’t even be truly sad about it because somewhere out there,  they were happy…without him. With a mother and a father to love them. And maybe a dog with black spots playing in the yard…

He wondering if the boys he’d left behind were jealous of him, that his turn finally came because somehow he had been adopted. Now, he sat in the back of the car, driving through the countryside with the foliage whipping past in a blur of yellow, orange, red and green. It reminded him of marmalade and peas. Of steak and hollandaise sauce that he’d seen in pictures. Of the things he wanted to taste.

His thoughts turned to a clean white plate, heaped with a mountain of mashed potatoes with a sprinkling of pepper. Then a sizzling filet next to it, steaming still and mouth watering. And of course there would be the pesky vegetables, a clump of carrots and beans, that came to ruin the party. Tristan grimaced. How he hated carrots and beans.

Finally, the car came to a halt and a yellow bungalow stood before him with a small yard and no dog. He got down.

“You’re going to love what Nicole made for you, Tristan.” Mark, his adoptive father said, patting him on the back, leading him up the two steps to the door and inside the house.

Tristan was whisked into the kitchen to meet Nicole who hugged him and said wonderful things about his new room and how happy they were to be his new parents but all through it he remained quiet. Then he was sat down at the dining table, awaiting his first meal in his new house with his new family and a plate of lasagna was set before him.

He eyed it interestingly. Then taking a bite, he smiled. He had never had anything like it.

The layers slid along his tongue, the ground beef mouth-wateringly delicious. Then the wave of tomato sauce whisked his taste buds away into the wonder of bell pepper, parsley and oregano topped off with mozzarella cheese cradled by the pasta.

Eating had never been so marvelous. He never knew what a meal could do beyond feed him for the sake of not looking ‘malnourished’ whatever that was. Forkful by forkful, he ate and marveled at the taste.

Then through a mouthful of lasagna, he mumbled:

“This is good.”

It was the first thing he’d said in years.


 

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Memory Park

I wasn’t particularly inspired by this prompt so I postponed it but now that I’ve realized how far I could twist it, it become very interesting.


Woman’s P.O.V

The sound of birds always pleased his ears though he was hard of hearing. I kept steadily, supporting my father’s arm as we walked through his favourite park. Every day it would be a moot exercise. For I would always come with him to help jog his memory…and I would always be disappointed.

He would look about and smile. As if everything were new to him, like a blind man seeing the beauty of the sun for the first time in his life. And perhaps in some ways, I can only imagine that it was like that for him. As we passed the pond, my thoughts retreated into the past…

“Ms. Hawthorne, I’m afraid your father has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.”

I nodded mute. I’d only heard of Alzeimer’s, I didn’t know what it really meant. I did not know it meant that I would be bitter of my father’s memories stolen by the devil. I did not know I would sob unbearably when he couldn’t recognise me.

Now I remind him who I am and he nods but he does not know what it means when I tell him I’m his daughter. He does not know how to be my father anymore…

We stop walking, he stares off into the distance but then I realise he’s looking not at something but someone.

Old Woman’s P.O.V

My fingers tremble as I push the yarn through the needle, impatient to finish knitting my granddaughter’s sweater. The breeze danced in the park and the sun shone just right so that my eyes didn’t feel overwhelmed. Sunrise Seniors Old Age Home wasn’t as sunny as it seemed, I would joke with my friends at the home. But…I’ve lost a few during my stay at the home and now the ones still here with me have heard the joke far too often. Conversation isn’t always solace you see. That’s what I tell my daughter and her husband when they come to visit me. Oh the stories I tell them of my younger days! Like the time when Eleanor wouldn’t eat her vegetables and her father tricked her into it, when I would take a walk in this very park with my own mother …so many stories. Such good memories. I seem to have rambled on in thought. That seems to be happening lately. Perhaps it is my new medication…anyway, back to my knitting. I have to finish the sweater by Christmas or Nancy will have thought her grandma had forgotten to give her a gift….But who is this man staring at me? The woman next to him was young and held his arm for support…my, he looks so much like my late husband…oh! He’s begun to tear up! I wonder why!

Man’s P.O.V

It’s Jo! That’s Josephine! She’s sitting right there on that bench! I wave to her and she looks up from knitting that bright red sweater and gives me a puzzled smile…no that’s not her smile. My wife had a beaming smile, so wide I could count her teeth. A brief flash and I remember the day when we came to this very park with our newborn baby girl…that red sweater, it looks like Jo’s.

“That sweater resembles one of your mothers.” I remarked, and my daughter smiled thinly.

“I should ask her to wear it more often. The colour suits her. Don’t you think? Your mother looks beautiful in red, I always think.” And I made up my mind. Yes I would tell her exactly that.

Woman’s P.O.V

I often only hope for glimpses of my old man, a moment, a second, just something… but nothing like this. I can’t tell him… how can I?

“Dad…”

“Hmm.” He said absently,staring at an elderly lady knitting a few feet from where we were standing.

“Jo…”

It pained me as I collected myself enough to tell the truth. “Mom passed away a few years ago, Dad. It’s just you and me now.”

“What are you talking about?” He said alarmed. I could see him try to think clearly but he couldn’t.

And to my surprise, he kept staring at the old woman until…he began to cry.

“We buried her on a Thursday. I don’t know how and why she died, I don’t anymore but it was a Thursday.” He said trembling as I led him away from the trigger of his emotional state.

“Do you know how I know?” He continued.

It was easily the longest conversation I’d had with him in months. “How Dad?”

He sat down on a bench slowly. “Your mother makes spaghetti on Thursday and I remember thinking at her funeral that there wouldn’t be any more spaghetti…”

I waited…and waited.

Then finally he said:

“You know…” He looked around. “This park is beautiful. I can’t believe I’ve never been here before.”


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Blackheart

I re-wrote a piece of fiction (the history is fictional as well) according to the prompt 🙂


It just so happens that I live in a haunted castle in Ireland. Beyond the craggy cliffs of Mohr, lies a bruised medieval castle by the name of Blackheart. I had happened upon this castle when I was out exploring the scenic Irish countryside that boasting of colour and beauty. My attention was immediately drawn to the blackened towers intruding into the pale blue sky, setting a daunting image before my very eyes.

Of all the castles peppered across the country, Blackheart is the least appealing and perhaps the most dangerous. That is precisely the reason why I chose to live there.

According to an amalgamation of history and folklore, Blackheart was the battle ground for the war of 1719, fought between the neighbouring kingdoms of Perinthian and Worsomner. Their respective kings, Lineas and Alexander fought to the death without a single soul left standing. So much for the luck of the Irish.

When I am sleeping in the tower chambers I can hear muffled whispers of lost souls rifting in the air. On many occasions I’ve woken up, startled to hear cries of vengeance by long gone blood thirsty soldiers lost in limbo.

In my explorations, I discovered hidden passageways which were strategized for times of war and siege. Once I heard a man’s voice saying, “Those set on revenge must dig two graves, one for his enemy and one for himself.” Perhaps it was the ghost of King Lineas repenting his sins.

I went down the passage till it led me outside where I breathed in the fresh air. With musty dungeons encrusted with blood and ghosts roaming the corridors, I’m reminded that Blackheart is indeed a terrifying place to live.

Yet it draws me in all the more because every second I spend inside convinces me that there are stories seeped into each tapestry, painting and brick of the wall just waiting to be discovered…waiting for me. It almost bleeds of the past.

History can speak in so many ways and Blackheart teaches me to listen.

Of Artists and Scholars

An interesting debate arose in my literature class claiming that it is artists who interpret while scholars analyse. (By scholar, I refer to the traditional use of the word meaning a student of a certain discipline.) Is that true, I thought? Do both processes need be segregated? In the end, I thought not. Interpretation and analysis go hand in hand, simultaneously occurring in our lives be it when reading or writing or admiring art.

We are both artists and scholars, academic and creative at the same time, and I imagine these two sides of our being conversing like so, opposing at first but harmonious in the end.

“It is a piece on human misery.”

“No, actually it is a piece on human relief.”

“Oh and how do you see it that way, may I ask?”

“It’s simple, really. I painted it to represent human relief.”

“You’re the artist?”

“And you, my friend are the critic, if I’m not wrong.”

“I am…can I ask how this piece of work is meant to convey relief because all I see are miserable faces!”

 “Nothing is as simple as that, I’m afraid. You see, what causes us to be relieved may also make us miserable. For the consequences of tragedy are not always happy but they are relieving.”

“Misery loves company.”

“Yes.”

“So this effect is similar to Stockholm syndrome, the kidnapper and kidnapped represent misery and humans for we do become attached to such feelings if we live with them long enough. Perhaps not only are they relieved but they are sad that they no longer feel sad? Because now they know not how to feel anything else.”

 

“…I hadn’t thought of that…”

There is a moment of silence that passes where both realize what they did not realize.That they could both be right and they could both be wrong.

They did not know who was who or which was which,

And that is art.

Whether we create or we admire, we are one.


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The Perfect Imperfect Character

If someone were to stop me on the street and ask me to describe the perfect character I’d only say there are none. And that, to me, is what makes them all perfect. The imperfections.

There isn’t any fun in writing someone unrealistic because the flaws are the foundation to anyone in the world-fictional or not.

So if I were to write the perfect imperfect character who would potentially change lives, perhaps not necessarily mine, he or she would do a lot of things. Some similar to me, some similar to my enemy, some good, some bad, but something nonetheless.

If in fact he or she were to happen upon me sleeping with the pages of my paperback clutched between my fingers as I fell asleep whilst reading, I should hope he or she would have the decency to attend to both my book and I by placing a blanket over me and place a bookmark between the pages so that once I wake up, I shall not have lost my place although I may have lost my ability to consciously read last night.

I would imagine he or she would make an irreparable mistake that would indefinitely make those around him or her to look at them differently and I expect them not to let that change everything but rather some things. For that is only right.

I hope he or she would be smart but then again, there are so many meanings to intelligence than that of a report card.

I also hope my character does not glance at other characters thinking how they are better than him or her and god forbid he or she would want to be one of them, somewhere else and someone else.

Most important of all, I would like my character to be content with his or her creation. So that if in a hypothetical situation I should meet him or her that he or she will thank me and enjoy a conversation about how they came to be over a cup of tea, just as proud mums tell stories to their kids.

For us writers, our characters are our children. Though we torture them with impossible challenges, we grow to love them, embed pieces of ourselves in them and would defend them with all forms of verbal ammunition.

They are ours but…

we share them with the world.

That’s the beauty of it.


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ings,

Focusing more on the twist of keeping it succinct, I decided that if a letter said this literary piece on a sheet of paper, I’d be deeply affected by the advice and wisdom of life it contains.

Inspired by E.E Cummings r-p-o-p-h-e-s-s-a-g-r, I give you ings, brief chaos featuring intertwined meaning.


ings,

D(si)on’(ng)t                          when,                                                          own:

      a       l        o       n         g                    -OUY-                 YOUR                         song.

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   can  wri(gh)te


It is meant to say , “Don’t sing along when you can write your own song.” Look closely and you’ll see it.

The placement of the words is meant to mimic the movement of musical notes and that of the heart beat when listening to music, a rhythmic up and down progression.

I left some bits up to interpretation for the reader so let me know if you like it, have a question or even hate it.