Andrew James Whalan

Poet Blogger Writer

Tag: art

Write, Rewrite, Then Don’t Rewind : Writing Out Loud #4

I paid my money didn’t I? I should be able to take my choice then?  No, not when NYC Midnight have their flash fiction competition.

One thousand carefully chosen words,  a genre, a scene and an object chosen at random. Forty Eight hours to write it.

And on Saturday 15th July, the email arrived. Genre: Ghost Story, Scene: A Basement, Object: A Tattoo Machine.

I had to find out what a tattoo machine is, didn’t I?  That was the easy part.  A quick Google search and I found one.

I even listened to recordings of tattoo machines. Which reminded me of the dentist’s drill. That at least ended up in the story. But after listening to that, there was no way I was going to be inked in the name of research.

But me? A ghost story? My first reaction was:  I haven’t written any. I was wrong. I’ve written two. One fact. One fiction.  Still I researched my genre. And read some ghost stories, some great, some indifferent. And brought to mind my secret love of Edgar Allan Poe.

But a basement. I really don’t know what to do in a basement…Self doubt occurred early. But I persisted…

I scrabbled and scrambled for thoughts. Then came the flood of nefarious ghost-like events. I wrote them out. Then…

I revised what I had written. And threw it all away. Somewhere, somebody is looking at my lost notes and saying, “I wouldn’t write that either.”

Then the premise arrived. The idea was a ghost requesting permission…But I won’t add to that otherwise it would spoil the story.

And I wrote it. And I was pleased with it. But there was a problem…

The rewriting. The last time I wrote a short story (The Great Blow), I went on a re-writing frenzy. Eight or nine rewrites until I could take it no more.

This story (called Ghost Tattoo) was rewritten about four or five times.  I only realised it when I posted it on the competition forum. Some of the feedback was similar. And when I read the story, I realised they were right. A few more rewrites…Still when I receive the judge’s feedback, I will rewrite it. And post it. And learn my lesson. Otherwise I will have to take the test again!

 

 

 

 

Why I Write:Writing Out Loud #3

If money is the measure of success, as a short story writer and poet, I have little chance.

So why do I turn up? Why do I fill notebooks with words? Then copy and rewrite it in Evernote. And then again into Scrivener?

I now know I’m borrowing a talent as it were, but that doesn’t explain my motivation to write. Especially when the story or poem is demanding to be written.

Why do I do this?

Much like a poet who expresses those thoughts best unsaid, the author, Natasha Lester answered for me in her blog Success as a Writer: What Does it Mean? Understanding.

And she speaks for me. I was joyfully surprised by the feedback I received for the Great Blow. I wrote a poem called The Unravelled Heart , then attended a meetup. Two people had read it and they understood.

But the first time I really found out why I write occurred when I wrote a story called Medicine Woman.  A few days after publishing it, I received an email containing the French phrase, “On Ne Peut Sauver Celle Qui Ne Veut L’etre.” My school French could not suffice and I googled the phrase and also checked with my French teacher friend.

The phrase meant, “One cannot help those who cannot help (themselves).” Which is what the story really was about. Which is why I really wrote it.

Which is why i write.

 

Suffering Is a Superpower

Bleed out drop by drop,
Breathe out gasp by gasp,
Lose time tick for tock,
And love beat by beat.

Each day darkens upon dark,
Each touch lessens its loss,
I watched my heart disappear,
Shrivelled and dried by fear.

Push me away, slap my face,
Shove me to the wall, that’s my place,
Punch my chest, kick my head,
I fend off the blow. And now I’m dead.

For you’ve found the impetus enough for you,
Though I’ve stopped you, you take your revenge,
I see it double inside you as i double up too,
For many are the offences I could avenge.

I could easily kindle that evil in me,
Take hold of your rage and reciprocate,
Your anger as mine, now pure and clear,
But surrendered to the void of fear.

I know and see that you’ve suffered,
I’ve been racked by your loss unsalved,
If I could, I would offer you comfort,
But I found the healer was killed by the cure.

And now with my heart spent,
I am poured out and empty,
All I have left are questions
To ask of you, one or two, if I may?

Will you let this dissolve you?
As you enjoy the hurt cast on others too,
Now, my question is better said:
Would total revenge be a comfort to you?

Or would it, a second one, if I may ask,
Be a false cure to a pain eternal,
An acid that melts a dying heart,
And bile that burns your mouth?

Perhaps I may suggest an answer,
Diffcult though it may yet be.
A hope perhaps still shrouded
But it may be happening to me.

Out beyond the passing pain,
Lies a desert now watered by rain,
And in it an oasis of comfort and healing,
Where you’ll rest and regain your healing.

And there you will rest and be restored,
There you’ll receive a power conferred,
There you’ll learn to love your suffering,
And that will be the superpower.

An Everlasting Light

The worst doubt drives my fear
Do I really have any light to hold?
When all I have will disappear
Once all I am and was grows cold.


When that light I carry dies out
Another question I'll ask with more doubt
Will I leave the world dark once I go
Or bathe it briefly in an afterglow?


It's unknown. I may be mistaken.
I may be given a gift more bright 
That shines through the dark taken
And live as an everlasting light.

Call This Love

You call this the essence of love
It's banal and colourless to me
I can't keep the quickened heart
Or hold the lovers silvered eye

You rest in this so complete love
Always too soon it passes me by
And that languid lingering caress
Becomes the swift kiss goodbye

You tag this an endless love
For at the end of that day
When the springs run dry
All but me will walk away

You call it a lost fairy tale love
A fable with a no happy after
And chastened you pack and leave
To seek another temporary shower 

You then call that a desolate love
No rains will stop your thirst
I stay and divine the water lost
For I knew that love from the first.

Walking Through Pendulums

A few weeks ago, I checked out Sydney Biennale‘s the Embassy of the Real at Cockatoo Island. Cockatoo Island is a now heritage listed former factory and shipyard and is fascinating in its own right.

Cockatoo Island Sydney

Cockatoo Island Sydney

But what I found fascinating were some of the exhibits of the Embassy of the Real including the dirigible on the left.

 

But then I walked through pendulums. Created by William Forsythe, Nowhere and Everywhere At the Same Time, a n open factory floor was filled with suspended plumb bobs (pendulums) slowly swinging from fishing lines. Mostly in the same direction and mostly in unison.

Walking Through Pendulums

Walking Through Pendulums

Which sounded innocuous at first and then looked foreboding upon second thought : I didn’t really want to be hit by those things.

Despite my misgivings, I nodded to the attendant and entered the open space. I really felt that I would spend the next few minutes or so dodging, ducking and weaving. But I was wrong.

The effect for me was like walking through light rain. It was as if I couldn’t get wet as I avoided each and every raindrop. And yes avoided the people going forward and backward. But for some reason that extra imposition wasn’t a worry at all.  And time stood still, until I found the exit.

In truth my overall sense of the experience was meditative : choosing your own destiny no matter what happened. I left with a gentle quiet surprise which still returns to me!

And perhaps some pendulums did change their swing for me?

Soaking the Beans : Megan Washington and Writer’s Block

Sometimes after all one’s efforts, everything looks like it’s turning out for the worst.

But then the rain clears, and the moment is right. Sunlight Over Clouds

Such was the case when I went and saw Megan Washington sing and be interviewed at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in Melbourne.

I arrived on time. But at the wrong venue. The NGV has one site in St Kilda Road and another at Federation Square.

I took the stairs and heard not a note of music or talk. I backtracked to reception and was vectored to the NGV at Federation Square.

I picked my way through Sunday afternoon walkers then ascended to the right floor. Then I was turned away as the venue was full. Luckily, as  there were people were coming and going so in the end I was motioned through.

And I witnessed the final moments of a musical interview. There was Megan Washington answering rather complex interview questions with great dexterity.  Then singing and playing beautifully and thoughtfully.

It was then I found what I was looking for.  Megan Washington was talking about the artist’s eternal problem of  identity and being unable to write.  Her first wisdom was saying that she was not her art.

Her second wisdom was not to disdain the idleness of being unable to write (See also Leisure : The Basis of Culture). Soaking The BeansRather she described it as a phase of  “soaking the
beans”  : a waiting period until you return to being creative and energised.

Meantime, I’m looking for beans….

Soaking the Beans : Megan Washington and Writer’s Block

Sometimes after all one’s efforts, everything looks like it’s turning out for the worst.

But then the rain clears, and the moment is right. Sunlight Over Clouds

Such was the case when I went and saw Megan Washington sing and be interviewed at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in Melbourne.

I arrived on time. But at the wrong venue. The NGV has one site in St Kilda Road and another at Federation Square.

I took the stairs and heard not a note of music or talk. I backtracked to reception and was vectored to the NGV at Federation Square.

I picked my way through Sunday afternoon walkers then ascended to the right floor. Then I was turned away as the venue was full. Luckily, as  there were people were coming and going so in the end I was motioned through.

And I witnessed the final moments of a musical interview. There was Megan Washington answering rather complex interview questions with great dexterity.  Then singing and playing beautifully and thoughtfully.

It was then I found what I was looking for.  Megan Washington was talking about the artist’s eternal problem of  identity and being unable to write.  Her first wisdom was saying that she was not her art.

Her second wisdom was not to disdain the idleness of being unable to write (See also Leisure : The Basis of Culture). Soaking The BeansRather she described it as a phase of  “soaking the
beans”  : a waiting period until you return to being creative and energised.

Meantime, I’m looking for beans….

Buy the StegoSaurus

A few weeks ago I visited the Melbourne Scienceworks and was reminded of the following.

Quite a while ago, I was at Questacon (The National Science and Technology Centre).

They were having a dinosaur exhibition which was fantastic as I remember. For all I know it could have inspired Clive Palmers Dinosaur Park. But I’ve wandered off track.
To leave Questacon, we had to pass by the shop. Out the front was a tray table of plastic dinosaur models.

Jurassic II Dinosaurs by Imperial Toys

Jurassic II Dinosaurs by Imperial Toys (Photo credit: Cryptonaut)

A little girl broke free from her parents and started picking up each model.
She would turn them over and looked underneath and put each one back.
Then she found the one she wanted and held it high. She asked her parents ,”Can I have the stegosaurus please?”
She wasn’t even four years old. Of course it was bought for her!!

On Unselfish Love…

There is almost an obsession with being loved unselfishly.

Out there is the perfect person who will supply your needs forever.

Your mission impossible is to find that person, convince them to love you and you will be happy forever.

And you will love them back, but secondly.

Unfortunately, this love is the one that makes the world go round.

And yet there is no freedom in this love, only obligation.

For me, I thought that if I loved someone unselfishly they would love me back unselfishly.

I was wrong. I found that out the hard way.

Such unselfish love is still obligation: it is still a deal: it is love transactional.

Now I have created a contradiction. But there is an alternative. It is not for everyone though….

Perhaps this story might throw some light on the dilemma. I came across this Sufi story about a week after my second marriage failed:

“A lover came to the dwelling of the Beloved and asked to be admitted.

‘Who is there?’ the Beloved asked.

‘I am here’, the lover answered.

The Beloved refused to admit the lover. After wandering in grief and longing for years, the lover returned to the Beloved and begged to be admitted.

‘Who is there?’, the Beloved asked.

‘You alone are there’, the lover responded.

The door opened.”

I was deeply moved by this story. Instantly I knew its meaning. As I wrote this I drew even more insight from it.

The lover cannot be selfish: all grief is gone.
The lover cannot be obligated: he or she is free from everything that would thwart unselfish love.

The lover is free to love.

For me I have some way to go.

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