Rejection Letters: ‘Perhaps we’re being dense…’

Congratulations!

On finally completing that manuscript, crafting one sublime essay, mastering a poetic masterpiece, achieving your greatest photographic composition…now what?

Since writing here last week about deciding to collate my short stories into book form, aside from finishing the novel currently hogging my hard-drive, I’ve been considering rejection letters that surely will one day clog my inbox.

It undeniably takes guts to distribute one’s work to discerning literary and visual top-brass in hopes of securing their approval, leading to both professional validation and an increase in bank balance. Yes, yes, we all know that casting a net wide in this Writers & Artists pool will inevitably bait rejection but, parking our realism aside, each of us creatives hope for snagging that big break, to arise to the top of murky slush pile, be discovered, not adrift in sea of aspirational uncertainty.

So, this Monday morning, I approach the week with three rejection letters to lift my spirits. I laugh at all three–not just because creative brilliance was overlooked only to be inevitably discovered and produced, but the wording of said letters is quite hilarious.

Plath:

Plath Rejection Letter

I love that The New Yorker admits to perhaps ‘being dense’ in not understanding the correlation between sections of Sylvia’s Amnesiac submission; however, this is a fine example when the crux of a rejection encourages improvement to the writer’s work. Plath heeded their advice, crossed out the section TNY refers to and that deleted poem subsequently became ‘Lyonnesse.’

Plath reads the published Amnesiac here.

Stein:

Stein Rejection Letter

Gertrude Stein is a genius and ‘a trickster,’ says The New York Times in 2012. But Stein received this rejection letter in 1912.  The rejection letter is rather ranting and odd, with Alfred C. Fifield mirroring Stein’s repetition in her submitted manuscript. Fiefield writes:

Only one look, one look is enough. Hardly one copy would sell here. Hardly one. Hardly one.

Hardly one copy? Stein did publish this manuscript, The Making of Americans: Being a History of a Family’s Progress, in 1925. But would you recover from receiving such a rejection letter? Would it pack a hefty blow to your ego, to your confidence? Or, would your skin be thick enough to plough forward until publication? Stein certainly maintained a mighty determined focus throughout her career.

Fawlty:

This year, a survey of comedians and comedy writers/actors cited Fawlty Towers as ‘the best British sitcom of all time’ but its rejection letter sent to BBC’s Head of Comedy and Light Entertainment demonstrates that comedy genius can be overlooked. I wonder if Ian Main, the author of the rejection letter at top, later sat through all twelve of Cleese and Booth’s episodes, tossed back a few whiskeys and reconsidered his perhaps rash assessment that Fawlty Towers was anything other than ‘a collection of cliches’ that would ultimately prove ‘a disaster.’ Fawlty Towers can be marmite—some absolutely love it, some are not massive fans—but it’s survived many decades and Manuel still evokes guffaws worldwide.

A toast today to rejection letters!

Receiving one may punch the air temporarily from one’s gut but clearly, from the above and countless other examples (say hello JK Rowling), one agent’s mud pie is another agent’s scrumptious gateau.

Keep submitting your work. Success may just be one letter away.

Staring You in the Face

Behold, the aha moment!

That nanosecond when at last your brain engages gear.

When the Vaseline smearing your inner-camera lens is wiped away and you perform an internal triumphant victory lap that clarity is now yours. The answer, the truth, all the clues you needed were there all this time…staring you in the face.

Perhaps this aha moment then paves way for a more successful change in life’s direction or attitude.

Perhaps this spark of clarity impounds repercussions for you being last off your mark (aka, you should’ve spotted the glow of neon earlier).

Invite farce and folly to lighten the mood!

Some days, all one needs is a cleverly-drawn cartoon. One with astute caption to reignite synapses and prompt a pause of levity. I love New Yorker cartoons by David Borchart. I’ve held on to this one for ages and always smile when glimpsing The Raven outwitting its opponent with a supremely ironic Scrabble coup de grâce!

‘You’re gonna hate yourself,’ quoth the raven. Not mocking, merely stating the obvious.

It’s that forehead-slapping doh moment that can baffle the sharpest and wiliest of characters.

Have we not all experienced this?

‘Gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door ‘

My blog has idled for over a week.

A raven’s been perched on my shoulder. When I have questioned will I ever find time to post here, he pecks away with cries of ‘nevermore.’

I’ve been writing in my head for hours per day, boasting less-than-impressive actual production on the page. I am plagued by characters’ voices imploring me to type out their dialogue and hit cmd+S so their words and feelings are secure in my hard-drive. I have pretended not to hear them.

To my rescue enters my too-wise-to-be-believed mother, who has never admonished me in my lifetime. I share with her that I have hit a block of writing bricks. As ever, she assures me that ‘even when you are writing in your head, you are writing.’ My mother is an editor, she is truly lovely and I make a note in my journal to keep her.

I wrote here weeks ago about experiencing a resurgence of imagination—lack of imagination is not the barrier now, it’s the feeling of too many projects that damns me to unproductivity. My head houses a hurricane of words that all morph into a cataclysmic crash of lexicon carnage. I dream in technicolour.

Then I woke today with this New Yorker cartoon etched behind my still-closed eyelids. Cue creative epiphany:

Stop setting out each day to (metaphorically) scale the Chrysler Building. Cease raising the daily bar of literary expectations to produce work rivalling Dorothy Parker’s. Writing can be simple. Effectively simple.

This is the answer. Look squarely at what is staring me in face, do not flinch and move forward. Acceptance is key. I am lucky to have several writing outlets:

  • The novel is there. It often writes itself, flowing on my MacBook or woven through grey matter.
  • I love my blog and the connective blogosphere. If I can’t find time to post, reading others’ blogs is an impressive trek through the garden of other writers/photographers/ruminators/bright sparks spanning the globe.
  • This was today’s true lightbulb moment: I’ve amassed a towering Everest of short stories that now suck up the majority of my computer’s memory so why not publish those? Why not, dammit? Why only realise this now after slogging away at them?

 Word-count or words count?

This post has most assuredly gone off piste. So, what I have learned writing it?

A few weeks ago I confessed to cheating on my blog with my novel; now, I am inviting another feisty guest to the party: a book of short stories.

I may self-publish the collection just so feel the weight of it in my hand by end of 2017. Also, bound paper makes a useful gift for friends at Christmas—read it, use the book as a coaster, tear out pages for emergency gift wrap.

I know nowt about self-publishing but, until the novel is complete, this short story concept rocks.

‘Still beguiling all my fancy into smiling’

Consider the raven playing Scrabble.

Inspired by poetry, he is fixed on altering ‘evermore’ to ‘nevermore.’

Be gone!’ I curse the bird, nestling his sleek ebony feathers against my neck.

Today, I am shouting only positive statements to encourage creativity in myself and any other creatives cruising this blog. After all, Poe faced some mighty personal and professional demons but clearly never banished his quill from the paper, nevermore to be writing again!

Poe wrote powerful stuff, did our Edgar Allan. He is credited for inventing detective fiction, the artful writing form of twisting an ending so the reader does not see what is ‘staring them in the face’ all along as they turned pages.

This post itself has been rather a twisting tale: Scrabble, Poe, ravens, overcoming writers block, general musings.

I appreciate your company on my meandering train of thought.

Estella

Jolt to the Heart

Flash fiction writing in twenty minutes–the perfect means to kickstart a day of carving new chapters in my novel. Thanks to The Daily Post for providing a morning prompt to write.

A Tale of Love and Loss

There is a man. He looks eighty. He is crossing the road whilst gently scolding his Pekingese for the dog’s meandering pace. She will have dinner waiting and promised to make his favourite: roast lamb with homemade mint sauce.

There is a woman. She looks young. She is navigating a sharp bend whilst swiping left and right with thumb across illuminated screen. She is seeking passionate connection on her mobile phone but most faces are a disappointment.

Ten seconds until they collide.

The woman is now kneeling, cradling the old man’s head. His legs are crumpled and his wee dog squeals. The woman is baying loudly, cursing her choices, fearing what next. This is a gut-churning scene.

Strangers amass around this pair—the crackled-faced man with slowing heart, the guilt-filled woman with broken heart. A heart-connection. Consequences of two lives making choices.

A crowd now surrounds. Some onlookers weep, some try to console. Sirens blare loudly, the alarming volume increasing as help nears. The old man is mumbling softly into the lap of the young woman, where her hands hold his head with comfort and shame.

‘Tell my wife I loved her all my life.’

An indiscernible shape approaches and wraps his jacket over her shoulders from behind. She does not see his face. Her shaking is soothed slightly by the fleece lining of his coat. Two figures sporting green jumpsuits take action swiftly, disentangling the woman from the lifeless man. They unfold him carefully onto stretcher and wheel him with dignity to the open ambulance doors.

She watches the flickering blue lights retreat down the dark road ahead as police approach.

Then hands on her shoulders. Her head tilts up, catching glimpses of a tall man’s profile beside her. He has come to remove his insulating coat from her body. When the swirling lights rhythmically cast against his cheek, she notes his kind and handsome face. Her heart jolts. She would have swiped ‘yes’ if his photo had graced her screen.

But in that moment, there is no place for love to be found. Love is lost. And so it shall be forever more.

Estella Lynch,  2017

All writing and original photographs published on my blog are copyright of Estella Lynch and can only be reprinted by my permission.

Girl of 100 Lists

Cardboard time capsules prop up books on shelves lining my sitting room walls. My life preserved in boxes, overstuffed with lists—some are vertically-scrawled on torn scraps of paper with names of boys I have kissed and global cities I once upon a time hoped to visit; other lists boast of a more mature woman, meticulously itemising future drygoods purchases, my employment history and a balancing of household bills.

For all negativity propelled at the dysfunction of hoarding, I consider these boxes of perceived clutter to be my treasure of gold.

A reflective list–

  1. Scientific: Educators uphold that each human possesses a natural preference for how they best learn. Does your brain boost when moving your body? Perhaps then you tick the Kinesthetic box. I thrive with words—ideally with the aid of bullet-points on notecards—thus, I am designated a Read/Write learner. I often cite this internationally-recognised morsel of fact as proof that my lifelong addition to list-making is a biological condition—not a quirky habit.
  1. Evocative: I was never a girl who knew what she wanted to be when she grew up. I was always a writer but also painted, danced, studied law and fronted bands. I love this list (attached). I recall the sun-filled afternoon ten years ago when I leaned my red head against that of a charismatic bassist, after he convinced me to belt the blues in his local band, and jotted down set-list ideas. What a mixed-up mixture of tunes! I see ‘Valerie’ there and lurch slightly with sadness for Amy Winehouse; I applaud our aim to perform alternative versions of Dylan and Lou Reed and The Smiths. The band proved a mild success. Then I left. The bassist tragically died of a heart-attack too young. I cast eyes over this list and remember all of this. I revel in memory of the vivacious, vigorous girl of my youth and measure her against who I am now. What would grace my set-list today?
  1. Emotive: I discovered an old To-Do list yesterday on which, amongst seven actions, number six was a prompt to purchase a card for my Uncle David. That is the only item not crossed off on this list. I did not buy the card. David died a month later. The regret in my belly is a shaming, black mass. This was a timely discovery to reflect upon as my mother spoke about her brother recently and I realised the pain of loss shall always lurk within her.
  1. Momento: My lists are precious mementos of spaces where I have reclined with pen and paper, when I expressed a fleeting thought, outlined ingredients and method for a delicious recipe, encapsulated what I ate, whom I loved and what my DIY plans were to redecorate the nearly twenty bedrooms I have inhabited throughout my well-travelled life.
  1. Memento: Remember this Guy Pearce film where his character suffers short-term memory loss every five minutes? As I age, I am him. My memory is fading at speed so I employ post-its daily to squiggle ideas for writing plots and reminders of big events for the day. My fridge is speckled with them.
  1. Moments: Etched in my long-term memory, this vivid day: I am a lean, long-legged twelve year-old girl, coasting on my new ten-speed bicycle in summer sunshine. Clipped to beltloops is a vintage Walkman, into my ears streams a classic Go-Go’s cassette. Belinda Carlisle is singing ‘Girl of 100 Lists’ and, even in that yet-to-fully-blossom body and mind, I feel a connection beyond my years and my small town, affinity to a woman singing about her obsession with lists. To observers, this would strike as an ordinary girl on an ordinary day but that moment was a gift to me. Hell–if an all-girl rock band could make lists sound cool then, by association, I felt that much cooler myself.

Oh, for the love of lists!

 

Estella Lynch,  2017

All writing and original photographs published on my blog are copyright of Estella Lynch and can only be reprinted by my permission.

Outlier: A Writer’s Life or Fictional State of Mind?

Today, I go without food. Stale bread for my boy, the last drops of milk I selfishly steal for my coffee. I need that injection of caffeine or I cannot make the school run–I need it to inject petrol into my eyelids. He will have to go without Rice Krispies today.

I deliver Ritz crackers smeared with peanut butter to his lap, a store-brand box of apple juice as accompaniment. The slim cardboard drink fits awkwardly into his hand. I remember when he would hold his drink with two dimpled hands. I am lost in this reverie of when he was tiny, then retreat to the kitchen, murmuring promises under my breath that soon we shall afford freshly-squeezed juice in see-through bottles, containers that offer you a glimpse of orange pulp creating a pond under the lid. I look at these expensive drinks on shelves in my supermarket and salivate, virtually tasting nutritious sweetness guaranteed to ignite a happy, sunshine feeling throughout my body with each sip. Energy would be restored.

He is licking peanut butter from the crackers. I fix eyes on his silhouette from the kitchen. It’s cold today. I daren’t boil the kettle again for another coffee. The milk is gone anyway. Soon we will afford better juice. How stupid I sound. I should be grateful for being able to give my son breakfast not murmur promises to him. Years of promises to my boy remain a steady, unbroken stream. Undelivered ‘some day we will have’ mantras, spoken to his cherub face. In the corner of the kitchen this morning, shoulder pressed against my fridge, I curl fingers over my eyes. I shield my shame from my boy.

I have tried. Tried my best. I see now that our poverty is easing onto my son’s radar. The other boys have Playstations. They have sleek, shiny bicycles and look forward to holidays in France. I observe his smile weakening as he reassures me that I am the best mother in the world and he is happy. I consciously distance myself from comparing my life now to when I earned a six-figure salary and amassed a collection of over one-hundred pairs of stilettos and practical pumps for work.

I curse the decisions I have made to render us into this place. I hold firm affirmation that the big break I need to regain my footing in life is lurking behind a cunningly disguised hiding place around the bend. I dream one day of being discovered. I am determined to write every day and apply for jobs employers ultimately declare me to be too experienced to fill, then my talent as a writer will emerge from this darkening, abridged life of not sleeping and my daily state of ‘just getting by.’

I am hungry. I won’t empty the box of Ritz crackers so there will be a few left to munch on when we have our tomato soup tonight. Soup again. But my boy smiles at this meal: his small but maturing face still crunches up with delight at mealtimes when I serve the heated tin of Campbell’s aside toast topped with circles of ham for eyes, a knob of cheese for a nose and squiggles of bright yellow mustard for a mouth. He still laughs at this, my gorgeous boy. How long will he continue to source joy in my efforts to dress up our bare cupboard with such imaginative folly?

I never cry. Okay, untrue. I cry at silly triggers. Not the obvious ones about my life or personal hopelessness. I cried yesterday when I moved the sofa and trickles of coins littered the floor. The relief! I watched an old man last weekend incite an argument with a group of young boys in the park. They were dropping wrappers and plastic bottles indiscriminately as they munched and gulped along the path, paying no heed to the littered trail that exposed them as culprits. They didn’t care. They don’t care. The old man cared. He spoke up, shaking his walking stick their direction and ordering them to pick up their mess. The stick was a mistake. One lad grabbed the end—not harshly but enough to stop the flailing action and it scared the old man. I watched them lock eyes—two men, one shrunken and silented by the world, the other youthful and brash in his loudness. The young gang then continued on their way, discarding detritus in their wake. The pensioner retreated to the nearest wooden bench. My son continued holding my hand, looking up at me for answers. I cried. Not so much for the old man or the fear of what is happening in our world, where people stomp around dirtying the few public places left for me to bring my child. It costs nothing, an afternoon of kicking a ball around together in the park. I didn’t even cry because how deeply saddened I felt that this is the world my son will inherit. A world of rudeness and entitlement by some who still have not reached the age of shaving their pimply faces. And it was not a big cry, so do not worry that my son witnessed any outdoor breakdown by his mother. No, it was a simple cry, over in seconds. A release of grief in a moment of helplessness, a sympatico felt for the old man who similarly inhabits a world where he knows what is right and has a good heart, but he is also silenced and he has then, invariably, been disempowered. Deep in my core, I feel a rage of power rumbling like lava—it’s a determination and knowledge that I have everything I need to propel me and my boy out of this life, towards something better; for now, though, I sat on the park bench alongside the old man, contemplating how to share my voice with the world and consider tactics how to increase its volume. Using my voice, not a cane as weapon.

Like the majority of television-gazers each December, I also weep at John Lewis Christmas adverts. We know these are designed to be emotive, to elicit tears from even the hard-hearted of individuals, yet we fall for the advertising trap. I do. I cry for the images of family portrayed in beautifully-filtered videos: always a mother and father and child experiencing holiday magic in a knife-to-the-emotional-fortress scene where even a dog or penguin or gorgeous garden features. A child wishes for Santa and dreams come true. Yes, it is obvious. I don’t cry then for what my boy and I do not have. I well up. Not because I no longer can afford to shop at John Lewis. Not for my present circumstances, but I weep at the surging attack on my nostalgic sense of when my little-girl-self stood at the window of my grandparent’s house and expelled Christmas wishes with hot breath against cold glass, then traced my finger through the steam to make small pictures my grandmother would have to work hard to remove from the pane.

I am determined not to reach a day when I sit down and tell my son how poor we are becoming. I sold my grandmother’s jewellery last week. The sole possessions left to flog now are my grandfather’s coin collection and the pearls my mother gave me on my sixteenth birthday. But these I want to save for my son. Maybe someday he will hold each cold coin in his hand, as I did decades ago when sat on my grandfather’s lap, running my thin fingers around smooth edges of round and octagonal metallic circles. I have looked into selling this collection and the reward would be next to nothing. This is purely a sentimental hoard. Copper and silver with little value, only precious to me, stored in my closet but I remain hungry.

Perhaps one day my son will love a woman enough to enclasp my strand of pearls around her neck. He might streak his lips near her ear and whisper tenderly that he loves her. She would feel warmth emanating from his body, the warmth that fills his body now, the blood connection he and I once shared when his heartbeat began inside of me. The blood now circulates through his small body, pumping his life in rhythmic beats, nourishing his organs, blood flowing to extremities so his fingers still move and can clutch that juice box and crackers, tie his own shoes and control the telly via remote.

I pray he becomes a man one day who knows he can excel at whatever his passion. I fear my shame will stick to him and diminish his destiny to be a grown up with loving heart and integrity. Despite barriers, I trust I have carved a childhood of learning for him that fortifies his mission to be a human emanating kindness to others and to himself.

My belly is empty. I last ate yesterday morning. My hands tremble as they hover over keyboard. I am mistyping sentences because I lack any source of energy to sustain me. I hear my son watching cartoons in the other room. He is giggling at silly voices of puppets and animated characters.

I will write myself to a better life. I will do this for him, for me.

After an indulgence of soup tonight, I shall write with a steady hand.

[Daily Post]

The Champion of Charades

Tipples toppled down merry throats, the guests warming themselves by crackling fire—some slouched whilst patting their overstuffed tummies, others arranged their legs in lotus position, backs straight and eager to glean what adventures awaited them before dessert.

‘Charades?’ Maurice queried the group of eleven other warm beings sat around the skewed circle, an equal balance of men and women.

Jonty extracted vintage briar pipe from pursed lips, his other hand pinching the lapel of tartan waistcoat and proclaimed: ‘A champion idea!’

‘Indeed!’ The rest of the gaggle agreed.

‘Bunny is the charades champion!’ Boasted Maurice, Bunny’s fiancé who idled most at his days at Father’s vineyard, savouring liquid grapes before firing purple streams of wine into spittoons.

‘Good girl yourself, Bunny!’ Puffed out Pierre, circulating a stock of Montblanc pens and watermarked paper to his guests. ‘A champion girl!’

Bunny beamed with pride at this affirmation from her old school chums. She had never been champion of anything at school—hardly passed a subject each term—but Mother’s call to the Headmaster of Claridge’s Day School netted Bunny admission despite her universally-acknowledged inferior intelligence. Requiring little reminding to the Headmaster, Bunny was Bunny Richmond of the Richmond Richmonds, a family dripping with riches and titles. Whilst her brain was under no pressure to perform at school, Bunny had excelled to inspire fellow Claridge pupils in all matters of disguising provocative brassieres beneath cashmere twinsets and mastering the art of peeling curly lemon twists for martinis. She was a good-time girl.

‘Oh, Maurice! That was a million years ago at summer camp!’

‘Yes, but when you are crowned a champion you are a champion, m’dear,’ her fiancé clarified. ‘And if I remember rightly, you were the champion of strip charades!’

At his risqué disclosure, the ensemble tittered and guffawed, some tinkled expensive pens lightly against their lead-crystal flutes of bubbly. Bunny blushed at the yesteryear memory of late-night frolicking with fellow campers amongst the lush Welsh cabins on the lake. That was a summer to remember. There, the posh young teens assembled in secret when those in charge tucked into bed on 300-count sheets. There, the boys with exploding Adam’s apples enticed girls blossoming to womanhood to kick off the games with Spin the Bottle, then Truth or Dare. Strip Charades was the finale of the night and, like tonight, a youthful and rather bawdy Maurice had played compere.

‘A jolly good night that was! One to remember, Bunny. One to remember!’ Shouted Jonty, looking her up and down with obvious jut of his strong jaw, evoking a greater volume of guffaw from the guests.

Lord Harquest’s daughter, Angelica, tried to calm the throng sprawled out across the wall-to-wall Persian carpet her father had imported to match the floor-to-ceiling crimson curtains. ‘Shush now! This time we’ll keep our clothes on—we were kids then! These are the teams.’

Angelica reeled off the list of six names, followed by confirmation of the other six who would oppose them. Half a dozen then retreated to the drawing room with paper and pens, the other half remained in situ and began writing their charade clues—ones that surely the other team would never guess.

Fifteen minutes and three more bottles of Dom Perignon later, the full group reassembled and each team captain released their folded clues into shiny brass bowls atop either end of white marble mantelpiece. Jonty stoked the fire, illuminating the room further and reddening the guests’ cheeks.

‘The champion must go first!’ Christina heralded from her supine perch on chaise lounge.

‘Here, here! The champion!’

Butterflies fluttered Bunny’s belly and, were she not feeling increasingly squiffy from three hefty glasses of Barolo with the Beef Wellington and six flutes of champagne since, she would have retreated. But it was stirring to hear herself be proclaimed ‘a champion.’ Such victory had not been bestowed upon her bodacious and audacious self since life was a day of dreaming of her future.

‘And we have the perfect clue for you to start us off, Bunny.’

Antonia pressed a small, folded paper into Bunny’s manicured hand which Bunny unfolded, careful not to allow her team a glimpse. She stared at the word, written in neat and fanciful blue ink, gulped a weighty dose of oxygen then nodded to Pierre who clutched his gold Apple Watch, timer primed for countdown.

‘Go!’

Bunny slid the folded paper up the inside of her left wrist, tucking it inside the her pink cardigan cuff. To her team of faces staring agog, Bunny clasped her hands together, making sweeping gestures over her head in celebration. Her team remained mute. No guesses.

Next, Bunny extended both arms out each side of her body, bending them at the elbow then crunching fists together to show off her muscles. No guesses, just silence staring back at her.

‘One minute left,’ chirped Pierre.

She decided acting out the word was a fruitless exercise. She would break the word down into syllables.

Then they were on a roll. Three syllables they guessed when she brandished three fingers from right hand on left arm. Bunny nodded affirmation.

Third syllable was an easy guess: she acted out various prepositions of place and, once the team shouted out a stream of ‘ins’ and ‘behinds’ and other guesses, they correctly nailed ‘on.’

The second syllable called for more brazen actions. Bunny squatted and mimed that she was unrolling loo roll from the wall.

‘Pee!’ Blared Georgina, smug look on her flawless face when Bunny nodded.

‘So,’ Maurice said swiftly. ‘Three syllables. Something-pee-on.’

Bunny nodded.

‘Anyone?’ Maurice asked his team.

‘Fifteen seconds!’ Cut in Pierre.

Bunny was now desperate. How could her team be so dim? How could she lose this, lose her title? It may not be much, but she had her reputation to preserve.

In mad flurry, Bunny resorted to the only means for ensuring victory: she tore off her clothing until only the smallest of smalls shielded view from her most private of privates. The room fell collectively silent with twenty-two pairs of glassy eyes taking in the performance of Bunny’s lifetime.

Bunny ran to the mahogany coffee table which Jonty had pushed into the corner to make room for their game. Her long, bare legs leapt gracefully onto the wood. Upon landing on the table, Bunny extended her arms above head, imagining herself grasping a gleaming trophy, engraved clearly for all to see: ‘Bunny Richmond, the Charades—‘

‘Champion!’ They shouted in unison.

Indeed—Bunny was victorious!

 

via Daily Prompt: Champion

On the Cusp of My Circus

Yesterday, I craved to write. A drought of days where I had not written a word had kept me awake at night for four days. Frustratingly, when a surge of words rumbled to my consciousness, I was either too busy prioritising other people’s needs or, on rare occasion, either floating in the bath or driving–both settings not conducive for tapping on a keyboard. Then last night, this stunning Chagall painting (The Blue Circus) popped up in my photos, along with a quote from the painter:

My hands were too soft…I had to find some special occupation, some kind of work that would not force me to turn away from the sky and the stars, that would allow me to discover the meaning of life.

At risk of hurtling over the wall into sentimentality, Chagall’s words broke through the writing barrier that had contained my creativity since last Friday. Understand this: far from bigging up my ego to the size of a buffalo, I confess that my writing is a slow-burn at the moment. My projects are diverse: two fiction manuscripts, a screenplay idea I am tweaking, a thickening compilation of short-stories ready to print and a pushed-to-capacity external hard-drive packed with ideas begging me to develop them to publication. Too many projects distracting me from mastering just one.

‘There is not enough time in the day!’ I shout at files in my laptop. My head often feels dizzy. It would be easier if I had not made the decision to write full-time; instead, be a casual writer, scribbling Haikus on beermats and banging out flash-fiction when a spare fifteen minutes cleared in my diary.

But I am on the cusp. I feel it. I felt it strongly last night when staring at Chagall’s upside-down woman painted brazenly red, the yellow moon aside her with violin, the green goat against vibrant blues in a chaotic masterpiece. Some days my life is a chaotic masterpiece. My writing is a chaotic masterpiece. It is a circus. Chagall said:

 For me a circus is a magic show that appears and disappears like a world.

So, today I begin to write again. Mundanely and monotonously, I was brushing my teeth this morning when a breakthrough idea about the protagonist in my novel burst in my head. I recognised that fluttering of excitement in belly, that urgency to transfer the idea from grey matter to grey MacBook before it evaporated. I strode with vengeance to computer. An hour later, I am here and my protagonist, Billie, has enjoyed a romp at The Metropolitan Museum of Art within the confines of a 3,000-word chapter. Apparently the answer for Billie was that I as starving her of art, so I delivered my main character to The Met where she, too, can stare at the beauty of Chagall.

With this new chapter added to my manuscript this morning, returning to my blog felt the next step. I sit here, ruminating over the supremely expressive Chagall, his paintings and his words again: ‘…some kind of work that would not force me to turn away from the sky and the stars, that would allow me to discover the meaning of life.’

I may not have discovered the meaning of life today but, damn it, I sit here on the cusp of creating a world of beauty for my life in words.

via Daily Prompt: Cusp