Friday, 31 July 2015

Dealing with Inertia

Blogger asks me, ‘Where have you been?’ I consider giving a blow by blow account of how busy last year was and how I haven’t adjusted to not being that busy; how tired my brain is and how, consequently, I can’t think of anything insightful to write about; how the effort of crafting, editing and honing even a Blog piece, wearies me to the point of inertia. And actually, I’m not sure I remember how to blog. What process did I employ all those months ago?

I open up Blogger to jog the memory, and it tells me rules and regulations have changed. All I wanted to do was write something, anything, not plow through two pages of intertech-babble! Now I have to deal with what has turned into a blog phobia. Feeling very ostrich-like.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014


As a very little girl – perhaps five years old – I dreamed of being a trapeze artist. It is possible I was influenced by old circus films and frothy pink costumes, but I believe the desire spoke to something deeper than that which I had seen with my physical eyes. I believe it spoke to something embedded in my spirit before I was formed in my mother’s womb; that when God dreamed me up He also planted in me the dream that would lead me to places of fulfilment.
            For most of this year I have been travelling and speaking to groups about Marion Fromm’s work with landmine survivors and the book I wrote about this. In her childhood she dreamed of defying convention to do dangerous and outrageous things like smuggling bibles into China – all of which prepared her for what she does, today, in Cambodia. I use my trapeze story to illustrate how childhood ambitions seem to influence our adult choices and interests and how this was so in Marion’s life. I encourage my audiences to allow the resurrection of dreams that died long ago, and use them to fulfil their deepest heart desires.
            This has led me to thinking about trapezes and what this might say about the dream God embedded in me before I was born: perhaps it did say something about my enjoyment of performance – singing, acting, public speaking – but if that was the case why do I so dislike heights? And why have I never been interested in anything remotely sporty or physical?
            Recently, I woke up thinking about a picture that a week or so prior had appeared on my Face Book. In a split second a trapeze superimposed itself on it. It was like a window opening on my soul. Suddenly, it made sense.

           Learn to view things from a heavenly perspective. And dream big with God.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Whittling With Words

A recent topic at my writing group posed the question, “What most lights your fire about writing?” Was it the aspect of being able to go anywhere, anytime, in flights of fancy? Was it the opportunity for unfettered self-expression? Was it simply to delight in fencing with the English language? Of course, it was all of those things, but the last one hit the sweet spot. Without a doubt it’s in the process of crafting a piece of writing that I find the most pleasure.
            I spend time finding just the right word. I get lost in a thesaurus, going down side tracks and detours of meaning and nuance, until I find the one word that sings to me. It fascinates me that the right word is rarely an unusual or lengthy one but a simple one of common usage. Placing that one right word in a phrase, and then a sentence, where all the other words have rhythm that complement it, is rather like a piece of music where particular intervals between notes make for a more striking melody.
            Like an old-timer on the front porch whittling away at a stick to make a whimsy toy to amuse his grandchildren, I can whittle away at words; building a sentence to build a paragraph and, from there, a short story or a chapter in a book.  
            The shavings? That’s called ‘editing’.

Monday, 15 September 2014

With the release of my first book earlier this year I was dreaming and living bigger than I imagined was possible. For several months the adrenalin rush energised and sustained me through bouts of panic. I discovered I wasn’t a coward, people received me and the book and…hey, this is fun!
                Then a fresh wave of inadequacy dumped on me. Exhaustion set in. Scouting for prospective speaking engagements became the equivalent of a hike along Kokoda. Could I keep doing this? And for how long? I wasn’t getting any younger, so did I really want to push myself this hard?
                This was alarming enough, but when it began to affect my longer term dreams, I knew I was in trouble. Will I be able to continue short term mission trips to Cambodia? Will I have the energy to go, one more time, to Finland? Will I ever visit the Pitjajinjara Lands and sit in a circle with its women? Will I ever finish the novel that’s been in my heart for nearly twenty years? Contemplating the last one brought me to my knees. And I’m still not on my feet, not really.
                But the truth is I have come too far to go back.  Like the Australian soldiers on the Kokoda Track, it’s down to one foot in front of the other, keep up and keep on, or lie down and die.  The only shame is in giving up.
                It's time to stop gasping for breath and put on a shark suit.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

On Cinquains and Sixties Satire

At a recent workshop meeting of my writing group I learnt to write a cinquain – a poem of eleven words over five lines: first line of one noun; second line of two adjectives to describe that noun; line three of three verbs; line four, a four word phrase (a poet’s comment on the noun); last line, a noun relating back to first one).  I can write a cinquain while I wait for a bus. Cinquaines may replace crossword puzzles as my brain gym!
            It set me to wondering; why don’t I write more poetry?  It’s so satisfying, playing with words in ways that delight me and which are so different to writing prose fiction. At school - somehow, sometime - I was infected with the idea that real poetry rhymed and rhyming was hard. Also, poetry was deep, meaningful and serious, which meant it couldn’t be fun.  I had not yet been introduced to the irony and satire of the likes of John Donne, and Roger McGough and Bruce Dawe weren’t in school texts yet.
            Fast forward to 2014. Current time constraints mean I can put together a poem for my monthly writing group more readily than I can write a short story and so I‘ve been ‘having a go’ at verse. It’s also interesting to me that I find it easier to be more light-hearted and amusing in poetry that in prose. Perhaps I can put this down to exposure to the lyrics of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, which were so enjoyed by my mother.           
            Today I unearthed another possibility: rummaging through some second hand CDs I found “Tom Lehrer in Concert” and was instantly transported back to the 60’s. A fellow boarder in the church-run hostel in which I lived had managed to get her hands on a copy, despite the fact that his recordings of satirical humour in verse - accompanied by some clever piano playing - were banned in Australia at the time. Lehrer’s cleverly observant anarchic satire was typical of 60’s uni student humour. Listening to his songs today made me grin with pleasure. What fun they are and how tame by modern standards. 

Friday, 6 June 2014


Kez frowned and twirled a strand of hair round one finger.
            “I feel as though I’ve forgotten something. Can’t think what it would be.”
            Martin lowered the book he’d just opened and contemplated his wife over the top of his glasses.
            “Of course you can’t. You’ve forgotten it, remember.” He returned his attention to the book, shaking loose papers from it onto his chest. “Someone’s forgotten they’ve left all this stuff in here.”
            “Looks like library receipts,” said Kez, reaching over to snatch up the nearest. “Gosh! Who borrows nine books at once?”
            Martin pretended to snatch it back, but Kez held it out of reach, reading out book titles at arm’s length.
            “ ‘Old Filth’. There’s a title to conjure with. ‘Eros Defiled’, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, ‘Love in a Cold Climate’, ‘Nights in Rhodanthe.’ Whoever it is, she’s definitely reading to a theme. I suppose it’s a her.  Oh damn!” She swung her legs out of bed, tossing the receipt to one side. “That’s what it is! Supposed to meet the White Knight for coffee this morning. Damn! Have to rush now. I’ll turn up looking a right mess.” She disappeared into the ensuite.
            As usual, Martin smiled at his wife’s name for her friend, Barb. It was an apt nick name for a woman who affected an all-white wardrobe and a reputation for marrying lame ducks. He picked up the other pieces fallen from the book and unfolded the largest. It was an overdue book notification, complete with name and address.
            “Hey, Kez,” he shouted against the noise of the shower. “Guess, what?”


Kez lowered her latte to its saucer and asked, “Read any interesting books lately, Barbie? Like…visited the library?”
            “Silly. Book groups are your hobby. When do I have time to read? Real life is much more interesting.”
            “Just wondering. Thought your ‘latest’ might like you to read aloud to him.”
            “Not like you to be catty, Kez. He hasn’t had a great education, but I’m proud to be Mrs. Roger Black. He’s got charisma, and he’s willing, and with a bit of help from me he’ll turn his life around and make something of himself. He’s got real potential.”
            “As what?”
            “As a writer, that’s what!” Barb flicked her blonde mane and adjusted the lapel of her cashmere jacket. “Oh, Kez, he shuts himself in the study for hours, won’t let me interrupt. And then, at night, he reads it to me. He’s got talent, he really has.”
            Kez wasn’t convinced, but Barb had once worked in the publishing world, and she used to be a reader, before she started collecting husbands. It’s possible she’d recognise a potential best seller. 
            “Well, I’d be happy to read the manuscript. Copy edit, too, if he wants,” she said, stroking a few ruffled feathers.
            “Would you? That would be wonderful! Especially as I’ve got a publisher who’s agreed to look at it.”
            “Not Bernard?”
             “Yes.” Barb giggled.  “At least one of my exes came up trumps.”


By the time his book hit the shelves Roger had moved on to join Barbie’s list of exes. Not only did he still have a library card in her name, he had signed a contract for further titles to be published under the pseudonym of B. Knight-Black.
            “Barb should have him for identity theft,” said Martin.
            “Yep. Right after Bernard sues him for plagiarism, I reckon,” said Kez.

© Rhonda Pooley  4.6.14                                                                                

Friday, 2 May 2014

 (inspired by a cafe name)

In the Garden of Eatin’
Dining sparse and wise leaves us bereft,
Crying “My genes aren’t my fault, it’s not fair!”
So with devil’s desire we eat, as we please, from the sinister tree on the left
And the result we must suck up and bear.

In the Garden of Eatin’
Choice is undeniable,
Though its root is more pride than need.
To shy at fences of self-denial we’re liable,
Opting less for nutrition than greed.

Too soon in the Garden of Eatin’
We’re faced with a widening girth,
Gut-groaning regret, and reflux at night.
With a wardrobe now useless, we ask “What’s it worth?
Time to dine from the life-giving tree on the right!
For it’s true…desiring a devilish tree
Is to eat inappropriately.”

© Rhonda Pooley  30.4.13