The Coat

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He wears the coat,

it bends him over

as he shuffles along

the gritty road.

Aches and pains merge with

petty disappointments,

deep sorrow is the thread that

binds it all.

Niggling regrets

crowd his shoulder

whispering nay-say

in his ear.

Yet the thing weighing most

is wrong he’s done to others,

his conscience is bundled

on his back

like a tumour of wet rags it

weighs

him

down.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Then one day he wakes and

his arms slip easily

from the coat of

human condition.

He laughs like a boy

and dances wildly

free at last from

earthly troubles.

Pen Avey — June 2017

 

 

Refuge is a Taxi

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My poem ‘Refuge is a Taxi’ was recently included in a Patrician Press anthology entitled ‘Refugees and Peacekeepers’. Thanks to Amazon’s ‘Look inside’ facility, you can read my poem in its entirety here, immediately after Anna Johnson’s introduction.

It was inspired by a real person — someone who ran away from the horrors of war to start fresh in the UK. The media often casts refugees in a negative light, but I hope this poem will help in a small, positive way to redress the balance.

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The Gift.

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The Gift

His back bowed by the world’s weight.
His neck sore from holding up a weary head.
His eyes, red-rimmed, rubbed raw,
through dust clouds kicked up by bustling crowds.

‘Spare some change?’ he mumbles past chapped lips
as people rush by, embarrassed to see
a fellow being reduced to this.

A dull gold coin thuds into
his thin plastic cup.
He plucks it out with gnarled fingers
and rubs it in rough palms.

Up and down.
Up and down.

A small boy stops, wide-eyed,
watching in the moment before his
mother pulls him away.

The beggar winks and grins
then opens his hands
prayer-book style,
to reveal a vermilion butterfly.

The insect opens and closes its wings
twice, before fluttering up into the
grey city sky.
Man and boy watch
its bittersweet gift to humanity,
with hope singing in their hearts.

Pen Avey 2017monarch-butterfly-27320476

 

Ride that rollercoaster, and whoop it up!

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The past 6 months haven’t been great for me. Towards the end of 2016 my mojo took a huge dive.

Writer’s block? More like writer’s removal-of-creativity-to-be-replaced-by-Spongebob-pasta-shapes.

spongebob

Then, just as I began to get back into writing, my former literary agent and I parted ways.

So, on paper I’m back to square one — looking for an agent who’s a good fit.

I’ve learned a lot in the past few years though, mainly that it’s the journey not the destination that matters. It’s what you pick up on the way, as you ride the ups and downs of life’s rollercoaster which shapes you as a person. It’s how you behave when a gust of wind blows a crisp packet into your face, or your coaster-buddy throws up on your new jeans.

If you’re riding your own hairy rollercoaster right now, repeat after me —

‘It’s all fuel for the fire; it’s building your character in order to inform your characters.’

So, lift your arms high, and scream into the wind.

It’ll soon be over and you’ll be back in that queue wanting more of the same.

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Hiatus

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Time has got away from me — as far as this blog goes — but life has been busy (a good excuse and I’m sticking to it!).

My head has been so taken up with practicalities that I’ve not been able to settle on writing anything longer than a page or two. Ideas came and went, but nothing grabbed me enough to persuade me to commit. The only thing that excited me was poetry, so I wrote that, and entered competitions — with a small amount of success.

I was shortlisted for Fenland Poet Laureate (my poem ‘The Joy of Mindfulness’ can be read here ) and also for the Patrician Prize — My poem on the subject of refugees and peace-seekers will be published in a Patrician Press anthology in February 2017.

I also did a lot of sketching — mainly of cats!

These endeavours kept the creative juices flowing and I’m now happy to say that a new novel is at last starting to take shape.

If your creativity decides to take a hiatus don’t despair, just tick things over in its absence.12936687_10153988348639360_4251316217995437898_n_kindlephoto-353131228

Rewrites

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I recently finished the first draft of my work in progress (just under 51K words — it’s a YA) and am getting stuck into rewrites.

Some people dread this process, but I relish it! The difficult work of conjuring characters and plots is largely complete, and now I’m boiling down some parts while beefing up others.

At the moment, I’m going through my manuscript line by line and trying to improve as much as possible.

For instance, I just took this sentence:

‘The helpless sparrow fluttered its wings uselessly against the tangle of netting in which it was now caught.’

And changed it to this:

‘The sparrow desperately fluttered its wings against the tangle of netting in which it was caught.’

The sentence is now two words lighter and flows better, yet I’ve kept the feeling and meaning intact.

I’m also on the look out for filtering, i.e. ‘She saw the bird dig up a juicy worm’ is better put simply as: ‘The bird dug up a juicy worm’.

I’m killing off lots of adverbs and adjectives too, although not all of them as they add flavour to writing imo.

In all, I’ll probably do several rewrites before sending copies off to my beta readers to critique.

Wish me luck!