Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Good News

Today I was asked to take on the position of moderator of topics in a writing forum. I'm now the official moderator of Poetry, Tech Help and Family History. I am utterly thrilled with this, and am sure I'll have loads of fun with it.

Tuesday Writing Group

Well last week's meeting was a little more nerve-wracking than usual. Why? Because I had to run it on my own. First off we listened to the homework - this week's home was "Your computer has met an untimely death and you've been asked to say a few words in its honour. Write a eulogy, remembering the good times and the bad. The answers I got showed the height of talent within the group. One woman wrote about her sewing machine since she didn't have a computer which was an interesting take on the work given. Another wrote using lots of terminology which resulted in a very humorous piece.
I also tried a different tact to usual, which was teaching exercises on the white board, which I think everyone enjoyed.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Tuesday night I had another successful writing group. I told the group the previous meeting that the homework was

Start observing people and places. Keep a note pad and pen with you, and jot down some notes. Good places to do this are waiting rooms, train stations, malls etc. Study the people around you, listen to conversations, study buildings (why were they built like that), think about something extraordinary happening in a seemingly ordinary place.

You may discover (like I have) that you’ll be inspired for entire paragraphs. One plane flight I had resulted in a full description of an outfit a character wore, along with ideas of how that character might talk. Think about how and why people are doing things – if you pass a homeless man on the street, or one of the Big Issue sellers, think about what might have led them into such a predicament. If you see an obviously successful businessman, think about what he might’ve done to get there, where he’s going now. If you see a person with an interesting choice in clothing, think about why they might have chosen such clothes.

If you hear an interesting piece of conversation, use it.

Once you have a few notes, try to create a story, paragraph, poem or the like out of it, using these small nuggets of inspiration.

Everything and everyone has a story – it’s up to you to figure out what it is. Learn to observe and you’ll discover tiny things that no-one else even sees, and you’ll find inspiration anywhere.

To help kick start a story – try writing “What would happen if” and answering that question, it should help to give you an idea or two. When you’ve created a piece of fiction (or non-fiction if you so desire), bring it in and tell the story. If you can’t, but you made interesting observations, tell them to the group and say (briefly) why you thought the person or object was interesting.


It was incredible what everyone came up with and how they were inspired. One in particular talked about how he used the newspaper for interesting articles or pictures to put into his "idea" file.

He also mentioned how one small nugget of an idea, as he explored it, he rewrote it and ended up with three stories each travelling a different path.

Another saw an interesting character in his place of work, and over time, developed an entire story line into what her life had been and now was.

Some really fantastic story ideas came out of small blossoms of inspiration - I hope they keep it up!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

It's hard to believe it's been 10 years since the fateful night of August 31st, when Princess Diana died in a horrific car accident. But what's harder to believe is that Germaine Greer is attacking yet another person who is not around to defend themselves. Did she not notice the backlash she got for being so nasty about Steve Irwin? If she had a problem with Steve's way of dealing with animals, why was nothing said until after he'd died? Is it possible it's because she knows she wouldn't have won had she done it when he was alive?
The reason why? Is because, unlike the people she spends her life bad mouthing, she purely makes these comments for publicity. How does that make her better than Di or Steve?
Steve's methods, like Diana's, were different and unusual, but both got their points across. And might I just add that Steve's methods are no less cruel or frightening than pumping drugs into an animal and taking them from their homes. Steve at least didn't use chemicals, and the animal knew what was happening - it didn't just go dark and discover itself in a completely new place, with no idea what happened.
How brave Greer is, mouthing off about Princess Di and Steve Irwin - notice we didn't hear a peep out of her when either of them were alive? Again, this is because 1. there's less publicity if they were alive and 2. because she didn't have a book she was trying hard to sell - a book which ironically, is having a go at someone else who is dead. Brave woman Greer, only picks on people who aren't able to defend themselves.
Apparently she does not know of the saying "Do not speak ill of the dead". No matter what Diana was like in person, and yes she had her faults, but I don't see how anyone can have a go at a celebrity who still held the hand of a leprosy sufferer against protocol. She may've done some of it for publicity, but I've seen the celebs with fake smiles who look like they want to die before they'd acknowledge a person wearing polyester, never mind if they actually have a disease. And even if it was done mostly for publicity - the point is, she changed our views on people with HIV/AIDS and Leprosy - so even a negative action resulted in a positive, which is infinitely better than Greer's negative thoughts being shoved down our throats. I haven't heard in years of anything good Greer has done, is there any talk about her going through hospitals, cheering up the sick and dying, or walking across potentially mine filled lands. Diana did more to teach people about land mines in the few years she supported anti-mine charities, than most could do in ten years.
The pictures and stories I most clearly remember of her is talking with an African man about Land mines, as she walked where she could potentially have her leg or arm blown off, or Diana with a young girl, injured by land mines, or most controversially, the picture of her holding hands with a leprosy sufferer. Other royals I've seen pictures of are flat out going inside a hospital in London - you wouldn't catch them anywhere near a Leprosy hospital.
So in conclusion, I applaud Lady Di, and hope one day there will be someone as determined to change the world as she was. She made her mistakes, but don't we all? Would anyone care about the mistakes she made had she not been so famous? NO - but by the same token the world would've gone on ignoring land mines. For all Greer's raving on, something tells me she's not any more perfect than the rest of us are, and if she is - well I have nothing in common with her anyway.
The only way to stop this woman and her desperate attempts at making people listen to her is to ignore her completely, if the newspapers stop quoting her - maybe then she might do something useful for the world... at least that's the hope.