BOOKS THAT INFLUENCED MY LIFE
At a recent meeting, we were given the opportunity to think about books that had made an impression on us during the course of our lives. Animated discussion ensued and, as memories began to pour out, we soon realised that there were many influential books that had remained in our minds, for a wide range of reasons. It immediately became evident that it would be virtually impossible to recount them all.
Some of my earliest recollections were stories by A. A. Milne, including those about Christopher Robin and his friends having adventures in the forest. My grandparents’ bush block where I spent my school holidays became my forest and my father encouraged me to look out for Eeyore and Pooh. I learnt some of his verses by heart as well and always enjoyed reciting them at any opportunity.
Tales by Rudyard Kipling also stand out and I remember that I loved to quote “the great, grey-green, greasy Limpopo River” from The Elephant’s Child in the Just So Stories, rolling the words round my tongue with relish. This was surely where I began to realise the fascination, beauty and power of words, the essential tools of a writer.
Myths and legends of different cultures not only taught me to read and extended my vocabulary, but gave me insights into how people viewed the world around them and attempted to explain the grand questions that have puzzled humanity throughout time.
Books were the means to escape from everyday, mundane existence and explore strange, exotic worlds of fantasy and adventure that fired my imagination and opened up endless possibilities for writing my own stories. These included The Faraway Tree, The Land of Green Ginger, The Dragonriders of Pern, The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings.
Books introduced me to unique and eccentric characters, such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and The Saint by Leslie Charteris.
Georgette Heyer’s romantic novels unfolded a world of grown-up situations, mystery, intrigue, and passion, along with Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Mary Stewart and Baroness Orczy, the author of The Scarlet Pimpernel.
Books guided me through my studies at university and provided relaxation when the academic year ended.
Books have ever been my constant companions, offering entertainment, wonder, solace and learning. They are among my most treasured possessions.
© Judith V Cooke 14th May 2019
Atmosphere- C. Waterman © - 20/4/19
I and the other passengers hurry to the exit of the station as the twilight is slowly
fades into the blackness of the night. The station is in a cutting with high walls of
weathered sandstone. The lights from the train as it slides from the station dance off
the walls creating shadows that move like spirits from another world. We hurry up
the steps and upon reaching the top some of the passengers turn left to the highway
whilst I and a few other passengers turn right to take the path that runs down the
side of the station cutting. The lights on the path are diminishing as the darkening
twilight and fog close in.
I start down the path which has trees on the road side and a fence on the edge of the
cutting. The cutting looks foreboding as the lights from the station show only the rim.
I concentrate on the path; the wind is blowing through the trees sending the fog in
swirls that rise and fall around me. The fog is thickest around my ankles which
makes finding the path hard. I hear footsteps ahead and behind me, other
passengers, I hope.
The fog starts rise around me as I walk towards home; I hear quickening heavy
footsteps behind me. Who or what is it. I try not to panic or look back as the
footsteps get closer. Suddenly a hand grabs my shoulder, I freeze. “Hi Carol I
thought it was you. How are you?” I turn; it is a friend from school, Ted.
The Thursday Writers Collective has been meeting at Mitcham Community House for over ten years. We love to write and support each other in our writing aspirations.
This year, we have entered a new phase of our collaboration by becoming a self-managed group and we are enjoying this exciting adventure. We began by setting some short and long term goals for ourselves and the group. One of these is our possible participation in National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO) in November, a worldwide online challenge to write 50,000 words in a month.
Each week we take turns to present a writing exercise for the group and this is proving very successful and great fun.
So far, we have explored fictional character development and arranged random words to create a story. We have used a picture as a writing prompt and learned to set aside our inner editor and just write whatever comes to our imagination. We have also taken one of our members’ poems as inspiration for a discussion about how our writing might affect our audience. Of course, our activities are always assisted by some yummy morning tea!
We know that if we work together and follow our dreams, then there is no limit to what we can accomplish.
© Judith V Cooke
Photograph by Judith Cooke
7th March 2019
Since the unprecedented firestorm that swept through the High Country on Black Saturday, leaving utter desolation and despair in its path, my place is the sub-alpine plateau at Lake Mountain, east of Marysville. I first visited the area in the 1970s, for the spectacular flowering of the alpine spring. Returning 11 months after the fire caused a profound sense of shock. A landscape of scorched earth, shattered granite boulders and charred tree trunks lay before me.
Nevertheless, already small green shoots were visible. I made a commitment to photograph and record the natural environment's response to the catastrophe. My pilgrimage has taken me along every trail on the plateau. Each visit contributes to a life-changing journey of discovery. In November the Mountain Hovea spreads a deep purple haze, while delicate alpine orchids appear as if by magic as the air warms. Sky Lilies spangle the ground in December. Drifts of magenta-hued trigger-plants proliferate in January. March brings white clusters of Mountain Gentians, streaked with violet.
As the complex web of life re-establishes itself, brightly coloured butterflies decorate the mountain breezes. Snowgums, Alpine ash and Antarctic beech will take decades to regain their former height and maturity. The landscape has been altered forever for our generation.
However, the power of nature to heal itself is undeniable and offers a priceless legacy to everyone struggling to come to terms with what it means to live in a fire-prone country such as ours.
A Thursday Writers’ Collective member’s response to the
400 TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’S CONTRIBUTION TO WORLD LITERATURE
Shakespeare: 1564 - 1616
“The game is up!” exclaimed Shakespeare, his chair clattering to the floor in a mad dash from dinner table to den. He had not a second to lose or that blessed muse would surely elude him. William’s dear lady wife and their numerous offspring were accustomed to Eureka moments, but this one was more animated than usual. They ceased their jawing in unison, straining hard to make out his baffling mutterings. But it all sounded double-dutch: what could he mean by ‘the time is nigh for the GLBT community to come out and demand equal rights and marriage equality’? And that other gibberish, ‘the heterosexual nay-sayers contention that all that glitters is not gold’ – what was that about? Had he finally flipped his lid? With a shake of her head, Anne pursed her lips, glared at William, then the chair, while the children just rolled their eyes before all getting back to mopping up the greasy remains of the evening’s mutton stew. But something remarkable did come to pass that night. William hastened to his writing table, lit a new candle, arranged a pile of paper, sharpened his favourite quills, topped up the ink and then, at one fell swoop set to and turned literary romantic fiction on its head. He toiled all night long reworking his immortal classic with a breathtaking twist. He was truly inspired and inky words flowed freely page after page as fast as his scratchy quill would go. As the soft, dawn light broke at his eastern window, heralding a bright new day, William snuffed the guttering candle, stretched, flexed his cramped fingers then sat back, quite satisfied. He’d come up with another curly idea for the masses to think about. It’s high time, he thought, that my valiant night owl of a Romeo twigged that neither Rosaline nor Juliet was right for him. Did he not already know that love looks not with the eyes; in fact, love is blind? Did he not already share a bond with Benvolio, who understood and cared more for him, and his happiness? It was probably only a matter of time before it dawned on Juliet that he was not, after all, a dish fit for the gods. To be perfectly honest, everyone who really knew him knew he’d seen better days. What if this new insight should transform Juliet into some sort of a green-eyed monster casting slurs and slights enough to make your hair stand on end? She could well send him packing in front of his peers with much taunting and derisive laughter – enough for the royal court to fall
about quite bent over in stitches. Certainly it was time to admit he’d had too much of a good thing. Pretty
speeches like, ‘But soft, what light in yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet the sun!’ Pure tosh. Now was the time for pragmatism, and thus he had decided to fight fire with fire, murmuring, ‘and more fool you Romeo, for risking even the possibility of a suicide pact with any sharp siren. Better now that I vanish into thin air and lie low until Benvolio can be mine, and we can ride away from Verona and into the sunset together for a life - happy and gay, footloose and fancy free’.
© Kerrie Waters, 14 th May 2016
This is so true. The more I write, the better my language. The more I stretch my creative brain, words forgotten fall into my vocabulary and writing.
When I write I verbalise better in words and enjoy their lovely rhythms. I think often in images:
imagining the person in front of me in an absurd situation. Then I think of more stories to write.
And when I hear a conversation, it becomes a potential writing addition. Before it was, ‘Wow that’s a strange thing to say’. Now it’s, ‘Maybe I could create a story around that strange thought, or maybethat idea will add drama to my story’. And sometimes those odd thoughts come from me.
I think once you start to write, the first few paragraphs are a lot of fluff. Then the subconscious kicks in and often what you write comes from a deeper place, a memory or a lost experience, a story waiting to be told. And there is the self therapy.
I find the same with art. Sometimes I feel really unsure as to why I’m uneasy or sad. My intuition tells
me that someone I love might be in trouble, or someone has died, and so I take my pencils and start
drawing. I go to another place and when I feel I’m finished, I’ve let go of something -- it’s been
transported onto the page. I feel liberated. Only then do I understand what was upsetting me.
I also think that varied reading -- biographies, fiction, and poetry -- is good for your writing. The more
you read, the more you can create better rhythms in your writing, better plots and spicier nuances. It
become almost a reflex action. And, of course, the stories told create more ideas for your writing.
“Keep in mind that your voice is extraordinary. It’s unique. It’s individual. It may be flawed. But it’s
the flaws in the glass that let the light in.” - Kate Forsyth
© Pat Carey, April 2016
Exercise; when somewhere familiar, observe and write about what’s going on, writing whatever the mind is pulled towards.
Here we are again, pen on paper, and mind set to wander. I wonder where I’ll travel. Should I announce it formally? Yes, I will - ready, set, go!
And they’re off. All bunched together, no clear leader, as the thoughts sprint towards the first turn. All motivations are riding their steeds well; no whips used as the turn is rounded but no clear leader, either.
Yes, the pack approaches the finishing post with one clear circuit left. I can see confusion, the young colt, breaking ahead with Subterfuge, the mare, a neck behind. Hear the roar as thoughts and motivations round the bend for the back straight.
But there’s about to be a spanner put in the works – it is me, the race caller, governing this race. Observation is my name. The observed don’t know this, but I am in control.
© Mark Toogood, November 2015
The Writer's Group were reminiscing yesterday, and all remembered this piece by Kerrie Waters, and wished they could indulge in it again. It shows just what can be done in a few words.
This one's a ‘classic’ – a piece of writing that’s not been published, but is regarded as one of the group’s most memorable favourites.
Very exciting news for the Thursday morning creative writers - Glenda Janes brings fame and praise to Mitcham Community House and the Creative Writing class through her my place article published in the Sunday Age this morning.