Saturday, 15 May 2010

A poem I wrote in 1997....

Grey clouds pile up and drag their rain through a deserted street.
A cruel wind wanders through a back green and fans the ash of a dying fire.
An abandoned mattress appears to breath in time with the wind,
while discarded rubbish spins like a flock of panicked birds.

Upturned shopping trolleys lie like the skeletons of long forgotten beasts
that died where they fell.
A barefoot baby searches for something at the bottom of a puddle,
only the wind combs his unruly hair.

His home, a graffiti stained block has no windows left to smash -
This neglected shell condemned to stand not fall.
He laughs at his reflection as somewhere a dog barks an angry lament.
All around, the cracks deepen and a battered door slams shut in the wind.

His mother hides from the world and watches her dreams unfold under heavy lids.
Her crooked man smokes at a table, his chest rattling like a door in its frame.
These once helpless children are now adults with no battle left to fight.

On the television a newsreader speaks about struggles in a faraway place.
The man stares at the screen with unseeing eyes.

Monday, 10 May 2010


Wikipedia states that ambivalence is "a state of having simultaneous, conflicting feelings toward a person or thing" In this case it's my career as an author. I guess every writer reaches this point. Sometimes I feel like jacking the whole thing in and finding a more conventional way of life, one that doesn't consume every waking (and some sleeping) moments of the day. If I'm honest I have come close to scrapping the pursuit of a writing dream a few times. During a rather dark period at the end of last year I seriously considered drawing a thick, black line under the whole thing. Then I met my friend Paul for coffee and as always he encouraged me to reflect on things and gave me the proverbial slap in the face that I needed. He reminded me that I did not embark on this adventure for fame or financial rewards but because writing was something I loved doing. So I got straight back to it and swiftly finished the sequel to "Bree McCready and the Half Heart Locket". And loved doing it. Just last week I was struggling with the thought of making a start on my third book when I received an email from a lovely woman in Hertfordshire. She wanted to let me know how much she had loved my first book, in particular the thread that runs throughout the story about bullying. This lady's daughter had been so badly bullied that she ended up having to leave mainstream education to attend a specialist school, a sanctuary for bullied children. I had touched this lady with the words I had written, enough for her to take the time to write and tell me so. Sometimes it takes a moment like that to prompt me to keep going. Perhaps these small glimmers of niceness are the only rewards I will reap for my hard work. Perhaps these moments are enough. After all, reaching people in that way is a privilege that only a select few of us get to do. I must not lose sight of that when I am down in the dumps about the path I have chosen to follow. I started out with the goal of writing a good story. Then the goal shifted to getting that story published. Once that had happened all I wanted was for young people to like the story. All my goals so far have been attained. Of course it is natural for me to want to keep shifting the posts, to see how far I can stretch this dream of mine. I understand that no writer is an overnight success and I'll just have to get used to living with impatience and frustration as my daily companions.
"Stated another way.." continues Wikipedia, "..ambivalence is the experience of having thoughts and emotions of both positive and negative valence toward someone or something. The term also refers to situations where 'mixed feelings' of a more general sort are experienced, or where a person experiences uncertainty or indecisiveness concerning something" Yep, I'm nodding furiously here. I am experiencing feelings of uncertainty. Should I continue investing my time and energy into a venture which may never come to what I would like it to come to? I cannot seem to pull myself away from this mental slump. It's not so much writer's block as writer's droop. I know where I want to go with the series - Bree McCready was always going to be a trilogy and I'm two thirds of the way there already - but this final hurdle seems somewhat higher than the other two put together. Perhaps the dangling carrot seems a bit more shrivelled than before? Ambivalence is a psychologically unpleasant state of mind. When the positive and negative aspects of something are both present in a person's mind at the same time it can be quite torturous. This schizophrenic state inevitably leads to procrastination, or just outright avoidance. Suddenly, cleaning out that cutlery drawer seems way more appealing than sitting down and drawing out a synopsis for book three. Sigh, I know everything will turn out fine in the end. It always does. What I have to keep remembering is at the core of things I still care deeply about what I'm doing. Okay, the dream has been tempered slightly by reality but it's still my dream and that surely makes it worth holding onto.