Forever in Ink

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Pens and Pencils.”

I keep my most private thoughts in a hand written journal, as I have since I began my first journal at the age of 13. I don’t write frequently or with any consistency, and mainly only when my mind is troubled. But I wouldn’t trade the cathartic experience that dragging pen across paper gives me when I expose my innermost thoughts and feelings.

Scrawling my words in ink gives me a release that typing on keyboard could never bring. Seeing my own handwriting is a permanent reminder that I wrote those words. Though they may be full of pain, or anger or grief – there is no doubt that I wrote them.

The trouble with typing is that years later I’ll revisit something I’ve written only to marvel at it, and wonder if I really wrote that. I don’t remember writing those carefully constructed sentences. I don’t recognise the style of writing or the rhythm of the words I’ve typed. At least with a handwritten entry there is unmistakable proof that I wrote it, they were my words, my feelings.

When I write by hand, I write freely and without the careful revising and self censorship I experience when I type. The impulse to delete, retype, edit is too strong for me to write without restraint on a computer. I can reveal my inner self on paper in a way that I could never do on a screen. With the power of a pen I unleash my inner world. A world that is only fit for very personal and private consumption. It reveals the absolute, unabridged, unadorned, true me that I’d never have the courage to reveal to anyone.

Writing by hand also provides me with the evidence that I was here – indelibly marked on paper. It provides physical evidence of my thoughts, my presence, and gives me a sense of permanence that a computer could never give me.

Writer’s Quote Wednesday – Anton Chekhov

antonChekhovQuoteOne of the things I really love about reading a great book is the imagery my mind conjures up. And for me the difference between a great book and a mediocre one is the difference in how well the words can paint themselves into a picture in your mind.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is a master of such imagery. Take for instance this paragraph taken from one of his Sherlock Holmes short stories The Adventures of the Three Gables:

Holmes raised his hand for silence. The he strode across the room, flung open the door, and dragged in a great gaunt woman whom he has seized by the shoulder. She entered with ungainly struggle like some huge awkward chicken, torn, squawking, out of its coop.

The description of this woman’s entrance is made all the more interesting because of the vivid imagery associated with a distressed chicken. Imagine if instead the last line was written as “She struggled and shouted as she entered”. Doesn’t really give the mind anything to picture does it?

Another author who mastered the art of showing over telling was Oscar Wilde as shown in the this example from The Picture of Dorian Gray:

Yes, there would be a day when his face would be wrinkled and wizen, his eyes dim and colourless, the grace of his figure broken and deformed. The scarlet would pass away from his lips, and the gold steal from his hair. The life that was to make his soul would mar his body. He would become dreadful, hideous, and uncouth.

As he thought of it, a sharp pang of pain struck through him like a knife, and made each delicate fibre of his nature quiver. His eyes deepened into amethyst, and across them came a mist of tears. He felt as if a hand of ice had been laid upon his heart.

In contrast, imagine if it was written like so: “He started to cry when he realised that he would grow old and lose his beauty”. Whilst it’s to the point and obvious, my mind couldn’t picture the scene as distinctly and graphically as I could with Oscar Wilde’s words.

These two example clearly show just how important it is to show not tell when writing a story. A sentiment perfectly echoed in this quotation by Anton Chekhov:

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.

This post was prompted by Silver Threading writers-quote-wednesday_thumb

To My Guilty Pleasure.

Dear currently popular boy band,

When my seven year old daughter asked me to download some of your songs for her I was so disappointed. How could my precious little girl like your catchy and totally cheesy pop songs? But I did what any good mother would do, and got onto iTunes and downloaded the songs she requested, and let her watch the video clips on YouTube.

Little did I know that you would have that one thing to draw me in. I don’t, I don’t, don’t know what it is about your bubble gummy, sweet like candy, cavity inducing music but I find myself singing along.

Worse still I actually enjoy doing it.

I’m not by any means into boy bands. Yes, I might have been once upon a time (hello N.K.O.T.B, Backstreet Boys & N*Sync I’m looking at you). But I grew up. My music tastes changed with the times. At least, I thought it did. Maybe it’s just that your songs kind of remind me of those days, my boy band crazy teen years, and the fond memories I have of days gone by.

It’s not like I actually think the music is quality by any stretch of the word. But I will admit that it’s simple, it’s catchy, and it makes me smile. Maybe that’s all music needs to be sometimes.

I only listen to you once in a while, when my daughter asks to watch your videos, or she plays it on her iPod. But I’ll never admit to anyone that I actually enjoy your songs. Not in a million years.

My daughter wants me to take her to see you guys in concert the next time you are in Australia. Please don’t come. I honestly don’t think I could live it down if I went to one of your shows.

I am Grateful and Guilty for your corny music, so thanks.


I Should Tell You.

“I’m sorry. I should’ve told you months ago. Bye.”

That was the only part of the voice message that I was able to hear. The rest was obscured by a bad signal, loud traffic, and the sound of a very angry man shouting briskly in a foreign language. It was the final message Evvie left for me, the tinge of regret in her voice almost obscured by her excitement over whatever it was causing to her leave me this goodbye message with some sort of half apology that was months too late.

Evvie and I had been best friends for 15 years, she’d helped me through some very difficult times – my parents divorce when I was sixteen and an emotional mess; the time I broke both my legs skiing and was wheelchair bound for almost a year; my brother taking off for Spain last year and leaving me as guardian of his three year old daughter (the child’s mother had vanished soon after her birth and never made an effort to contact or see her).

Through thick and thin, Evvie and I were almost like sisters. The only thing we ever disagreed upon was that she never approved of my husband John, always told me that she didn’t trust him, that she believed he was the type to play around. She told me he’d tried to hit on her once, at a party – he told me he’d had a bit much to drink and was just being silly. And when he admitted to cheating on me with a colleague from work and I made him leave – she was there to help me pick up the pieces of my life.

In a million years I never ever expected her to be the one to stab me in the back. Especially not in the way that it happened.

Three months ago she went to London for business. It has since come to light that she ran into John and one thing lead to another and they slept together. Of course she never told me she’d even seen him, let alone what they’d done. A month after this she received a promotion at her work, one that involved a transfer to London.

Three weeks ago, registered mail arrived address to me – John was filing for divorce. I was devastated, we’d been talking and seeing a counsellor, and I thought we were giving our marriage another go. Of course I tried calling Evvie because I needed a shoulder to cry on, but every time her phone went straight to voicemail.

Last week I saw a Facebook posting on Evvie’s page. A picture of an ultrasound, and an announcement that not only was she pregnant, but the baby’s father had proposed to her. The next two photographs she added were one of her sparkling engagement ring, and another of her and my husband (her fiancé) in a loved-up selfie.

This week she tried calling me several times. I’ve listened to all of her voice messages but never replied. Apparently her and John are holidaying in Rome, a place he’d always promised to take me, but never got around to doing. Fancy calling me while you’re on my dream vacation shagging my husband. Such class.

And now I’ve just turned the TV onto the news. Apparently there was a horrible traffic accident in Rome. It made the news here because an English couple were involved. Apparently a drunk driver careened into their moped; instantly killing the woman and leaving the man grievously injured and on life support.

Oh god. It can’t be.

Author’s note: I know it’s a few days late, but this Daily Post writing challenge really sparked my imagination:

Someone’s left you a voicemail message, but all you can make out are the last words: “I’m sorry. I should’ve told you months ago. Bye.” Who is it from, and what is this about?