On a not-so-crowded train. She is the only one standing. Back pressed against the only space that is neither seat nor door. Light brown curly but wiry hair, clear open face, same colour eyes (my best guess as far as I can see), all fully engrossed and engaged.
The bumps and lurches of the train don’t bother her. She just doesn’t lose balance. She sways slightly to the rhythm of the carriage. She is not dancing though. Perhaps inwardly.
Her head is bowed. As if in prayer or contemplation. And her forehead is smooth. Her face serene. And I watch to see if she will raise her head. It’s not just to look at her face. For I’m curious as to her quiet calm and innate peace. Now she is even more fully engrossed and engaged. With her hands held up in front of her.
Not a newspaper. Not a smart phone. Not a magazine. Not even one of those slate-sized flickering whispering mini TVs.
For a second, time stops and everything around her is removed. So much so that I stop and wonder and look again. Yes, now I know what it is. It’s like she’s behind a lectern. She’s reading. A tattered dog-eared hardback with yellow threads fraying the red cover. No title that I can see.
I wait to see if she’ll read what holds her so aloud.
For the last person that held out a book like that let me read it.
And I wanted to read it aloud : it was that good…a children’s book too…
Perhaps I’m waiting for the sequel.
In both cases the sensation was exactly the same. I’m sitting there, open-mouthed, literally watching the pen write the words in front of me.
It would be great if that happened all the time. But it doesn’t. I still can’t say (arrogantly), that it occurs because I’m talented. That it came from me. No…
I talked with one of my sons about talent. His observation was that others suddenly became envious once they found out you’re talented. The feeling for him was being treated as if you’ve stolen something. My rather strident response was tell them that it’s not theft at all. We did both agree that jealousy towards talented people is unwarranted and untrue.
Yes…being creative is like unwrapping a gift. The talent (if any) is can you unwrap that gift? To me, it’s like the poet Ruth Stone as described in Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk. The speech or blog or story or poem is told through me not from me. To tell it well, doesn’t require talent so much as listening (and Evernote).
Quite possibly the people in this conversation may recognise themselves so apologies (accolades and gratitude actually!) to all in advance.
I’m in the queue with my two or three bags (by then) of fruit and vegetables. I’m not prone to queue rage as I’m second in the queue.
In front of me is a woman with a large basket on the counter. The cashier unpacks and repacks and enters each purchase. Fruit and veges out, a touch of the button and fruit and veges back in. It wasn’t taking that long. I’m in no hurry anyway as it’s a long walk home.
Behind me is a couple, a man and a woman. The man leans forward, and steps past me. He has recognised the woman being served. She’s a long-lost friend and he greets her as such. I’m happy minding my own business and enjoying one of the better moments life can offer.
Then the introductions begin. The woman at the counter is introduced (to the one behind me) as an artist. Then the counter introduction, the woman behind me is introduced as an ex-writer!
I start laughing. That’s too much for me.I say,”I can’t pay that. There’s no such thing as an ex-writer. They’re always in between books!”
Last week I came across this article from the Wheeler Centre by Jessie Cole which talks about the self revelation of writing fiction. As an author, I’ve had that happen to me. I didn’t pay much attention to it until this afternoon.
I’m writing about two characters. They’re not getting along so well.
I’m trying unsuccessfully to postpone the final falling out between them.
Today, sadly was the day they got into their last argument.
As the author I was clear what they were going to say and how it would end.
What really happened is that I’m crouched behind a bush, listening to these two people I know unfold themselves in front of me.
Until the argument began. It simply doesn’t go to plan. Until several pages later I realise it’s something I always wanted to be brought into the open. It’s even more confronting as its something I don’t think can be resolved. Obviously I need to write some more about that.
So Jessie Cole is right, writing fiction isn’t safe at all.
But upon reflection, neither is blogging. I just think its a safer. To begin with, I ‘m writing about people I meet and things that happen to me. I can choose to leave things in or exclude what doesn’t make me feel comfortable. But…
Upon re-reading and reflection, even that isn’t safe. Unwittingly I have exposed thoughts and feelings and emotions that I wouldn’t shout out in a crowd. I need to write some more about that.
Literally I clicked the email link and found what I was looking for. A presentation by Euan Mitchell on self- publishing.
So I clicked again to book a place. Booked it.
I arrive at St Michael’s Annexe in Melbourne just after 6 o’clock.
His presentation is about his self-publishing journey. Despite being in the publishing industry himself, he found it no advantage to publishing his own manuscript. That starts to confirm my worst-held fears.
He mentions that many manuscripts aren’t published, many books don’t sell and many authors aren’t rich. For some reason I’m less pessimistic. Besides some stories just need to be told.
He suggests starting slowly and creating a network using social and existing media. And write. Better get to that.
He also has a book (self published) which summarises his ideas available from his web site.
There are questions at the end. I ask mine and get an encouraging answer. And after that all I want to do is write.