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

 

 

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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.

rollercoaster

 

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

On finding the key to my writing door.

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The most difficult part of my writing process is right at the  beginning.

Actually, that’s a lie.

Right at the beginning a lot goes on between my ears… Characters tell me funny one-liners, plots start to unfurl into the hazy distance and I get a very rough (and I mean ‘waking up the morning after a hen night’ rough) idea what the book is going to be about.

It’s the angle into the whole story that proves difficult for me, and I procastinate like mad to avoid deciding on a starting point.

But why is it so hard?

I, like all writers, was a reader first. This makes me acutely aware that if my latest offering is worthy enough to be published,then the whole book will likely be judged on the first few paragraphs.

So… no pressure then.

Last night I set a reminder on my phone for this morning.

It said: ‘Start writing book.’

So I did as I was told, and plunged into chapter one.

The words I scribed will doubtless be rewritten several times, but I have made a start, and it’s as if a weight has been lifted!image

MG or YA??

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I started writing an upper middle-grade book last year, but as it progresses I’m beginning to question whether it’s actually YA.

After lots of research on the subject I’ve come to the (slightly uncomfortable) conclusion that it probably sits somewhere in between both camps, but as there is no ‘Somewhere between MG and YA’ shelf in my local bookstore I realise I’m going to have to commit to one or the other.

So I have been asking myself some questions (and you can ask yourself these too if you’re in the same predicament as me)…

1. Word count.

It looks like it’s going to be around 50K words when complete, so more of a YA word count than MG, but factor in that it’s a fantasy, and it may fall a little short…

2. Language.

Complexity of language is probably more YA than MG, but I’m an advocate of encouraging young people to increase their word power, so… meh.

3. Theme.

I guess it’s more YA in that key characters change throughout the story, but the themes are trust and false pride, which could be appreciated by older MG readers

4. Content.

No sex or overly bad language, which is suitable for both MG & YA (Tick!)

All in all, I’m leaning towards YA, as I think younger readers who are interested in the premise would read it anyway.

Thoughts?

A Secret Love of Astrophysics!

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I love to learn, and feel it’s important as a writer to stretch myself, as my imagination is like a muscle which strengthens with exercise.

Which is why my interest was piqued when a friend recently told me about ‘MOOCs’, or ‘Massive Online Open Courses’.

They are offered through universities across the globe in a vast range of languages and subjects, and more importantly they are FREE!

I’ve signed up for a MOOC called ‘The Greatest Unsolved Mysteries of the Universe’ offered by the Australian National University. It will take me around 10 weeks to complete and covers astrophysics such as the Big Bang Theory (not the TV show!), redshift, quasars and dark matter.

The maths involved is pretty hairy, but I’ve taken my scientific calculator out and dusted it off, and seem to be keeping up so far.

The subject matter is about as far from my current w.i.p. as you could get (upper MG fantasy) but I love bouncing from one to the other on my computer screen.

So if you love to learn, sign up for a MOOC today — it’s free if you don’t require a certificate, and even if you do, it’s only a nominal fee.