I Can’t Write Anymore

The title of this post may sound brutal but, then, the title isn’t exactly true either. Yet it is what I have been telling myself pretty frequently over the last couple of months.
Usually, it involves looking at an empty page, flinging my arms skyward, cursing, before exclaiming “I can’t write anymore”, “I’ve lost the words” or something similar.
During this time I’ve only written two poems and I wrote hardly anything poetic during September. Well, I wrote one poem during the month but at most no matter how many times I read it I could only categorise it as inoffensive. I can’t feel any more enthusiastic about the words than that. My response to my own work is lukewarm. I apocalyptically opine that I have been deserted by my Muse. Though I occasionally think I can hear her laughing behind my back as I stare at the flashing cursor on the naked flesh of the computer screen.
But then this is what I do. I always used to resent the time I spent writing poetry while I was trying to keep up my daily word count in my fiction writing. It took me a while to accept that I needed to have the creative escape hatch of writing a poem unconnected to the story universe I was writing in while I figured out the problems within the fiction. Sometimes though I used to write a poem connected to the fiction, cementing the atmosphere of a story location in my mind or allowing a character a chance to express themselves outside the restrictive form of sentences, paragraphs and chapters.
But still, in my mind, it was only sentences, paragraphs and chapters that mattered when it came to word count. And a lack of word count was one of my favourite things to beat myself up with as a writer.
To that end can writers not share on social media messages such as “… written 5k words today, best day ever whoop, whoop… ” or complaining “… 11 am and have only written three chapters so far today… ”. Because I can’t relate with that, the more relatable message for me would be “… really pleased, with today’s score Chocolate Biscuits eaten 7, Words Written 8 …”. That’s the sort of message that resonates with me.
Yes, I’m very happy with the chapters that I have managed to write during September and October. I’m especially pleased with the opening sentence of one particular chapter …

… yet I stress myself over my lack of output when I need to look at my creativity more holistically.
I know I need to be kind to myself, yes quite a lot of the time my creativity, the poetry especially, comes out of the stresses and anxieties within my life. But if I focus too much on the negatives I risk shutting out all the other avenues of creativity for occasionally I write about sunlight and warm feelings. Too much darkness will only lead me into a dead-end of zero creation. Word-count is not my friend because I know I need time away from one creative coal-face occasionally to recharge my batteries. And finally if I wake up in the morning and write five-hundred words relating to a completely separate project in a storm of creativity that is because that is the strand of my subconscious that wants to communicate at that moment, I shouldn’t try to silence it and having ideas on one topic can lead to more ideas in time on other projects as long as I am patient with myself, because I need to make-believe. And I need chocolate biscuits too but that is a separate story.

© 2019 | Frank Regan, All rights reserved.

Unravelling Twine

photo credit: Piyushgiri Revagar Centre via photopin (license)

I never knew my father. I recognised him of course, I’d see him every morning silently cutting up his bacon rashers and sausages before forking them into his mouth; while us kids bickered and fought using our cereal spoons as make-believe swords. Then in the evening he would be found hiding in the dark shadows of the living room while the rest of us hovered like a family of moths in adoration around the flickering light of the television screen.

The rest of the time he seemed invisible, apart from the odd glimpse of him sat on the old wooden bench in the shade of the crab apple tree at the bottom of the garden. Mum used to send him there as she hated the smell of his tobacco. There he would sit his pipe gripped between his teeth while his hands worked unravelling a twisted mess of green twine. He never seemed to unravel it, every time you saw him there he seemed to be, starting his own labour of Hercules anew.

I never found out what he was doing it for or if he ever finished, and now I’ve left it too late to ask him.

© 2019 | Frank Regan, All rights reserved.

Originally Published 22 October 2017

Consorting with the Enemy

photo credit: Lammyman Rita Hayworth via photopin (license)

photo credit: Lammyman Rita Hayworth via photopin (license)

‘American girls are not like us.’ Violet said.

She stood at the mirror fixing the suspender to her new stockings.

‘My Davey wouldn’t like me consorting.’ Enid replied, ‘He warned me watch me’self with the Yanks.’

‘So they get a little fresh.’ said Violet, as she smoothed the silk down her leg ‘Wouldn’t be good for morale to say no, not after they’ve taken me to the pictures and everything.’

‘It just seems wrong.’

‘It’s only a kiss and a cuddle, poor ducks might die fighting Hitler tomorrow. I’m only doing my bit for the war effort sending them off with a smile on their faces.

‘Anyway what about your Davey? All alone in a strange port you can’t tell me he wouldn’t?’

‘All the nice girls like a sailor.’ I sang.

Violet smirked at my reflection in the mirror as she paused in touching-up her scarlet lipstick.

‘Oh Mo, how could you. My Davey ‘e wouldn’t.’

‘Sorry Enid, we were just having a joke.’ I said, ‘We both know your Davey wouldn’t look at anyone else. Don’t we Violet?’

‘Mmm,’ Violet mumbled, ‘it’s not just the nice girls that like a sailor though.’

I didn’t think I would have been friends with Violet if we had not been billeted together. “All fur coat and no knickers” Mother would have called her, but she was at least a spot of colour amid the drabness, a welcome distraction from Enid’s moon-faced earnestness and constant talk of her Davey.

‘What do you find to write in that diary Mo?’ Violet asked, ‘Scribbling away all the time like the Daily Mirror, is any of it about me?’

Violet had stood back from the mirror to turn side to side and view herself from all angles.

‘Of course it is Violet,’ I replied, ‘every single word.’

Violet turned around to face us now, arms spread wide.

‘So girls how do I look, will I make old Winston proud?’

‘Ooo just like Rita Hayworth,’ Enid sighed, ‘my Davey took …’

Violet stood at the door, giving us a “V for Victory” sign before slamming the door shut behind her.

We listened to the sound of Violet’s feet as she descended the stairs.

‘I’ll bring you back some candy Ducks.’ She shouted, her voice echoing through the wall.

Enid grinned at me, the only thing she loved as much as her Davey was chocolate.

 

© 2019 | Frank Regan, All rights reserved.

 

This little story developed out of an exercise I did on a course I went to earlier this year. Combined with a snatch of conversation overheard in a coffee shop; while I don’t know what exactly the person I heard speaking thinks is different about American girls, I’ve left it to Violet to express her opinion on the subject.

Originally Published 28 September 2016

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Memento

war kids

Ethel looked at the photo it was the only image she had of her with her siblings. They were sitting on a bench happy and together. It had been taken about six months before the bomb, before their house had been destroyed by the doodlebug. Their parents had been killed, but somehow the three children had survived, hidden in the cupboard under the stairs the fireman had found them huddled together shivering and crying, but alive.

Ethel remembered the place they had been taken too, the place where all the children cried throughout the night, shouting for a family that would never come back for them. Eventually the new parents came, but they were old and felt three kids were too much and so they just took her. She last saw Gladys and Johnny when she had been taken away kicking and screaming by her new family. And to this day she could still hear Johnny’s screams as she taken away. The Micklewhite’s were not bad people, they looked after her well, but they were just not her Ma and Pa and it was like having a limb removed growing up without Gladys and Johnny.

She was eighty now and she had had a good life. There had been two husbands, both now in their graves. She had raised four children and there were eight grandchildren to visit and fuss over her. But all that mattered as she sat alone in the coffee shop nursing a strong cup of coffee as the world went on its merry way outside the window, was that in a moment the door would open and Gladys and Johnny would come in, they would be together again for the first time in seventy-five years.

© 2018 | Frank Regan, All rights reserved.

Originally Published: 17 March 2014

How to Satisfy a Dragon

Day 2 of my review of the year and a tale about Dragons from my other blog – On the Broken Road

On the Broken Road

photo credit: Look into my eye via photopin (license) photo credit: Look into my eye via photopin(license)

Thomas stared directly into the eye of the dragon and the dragon stared back, unblinkingly at him.
Thomas knew he was responsible for his own predicament, as a long reptilian tongue snaked in through the open bedroom window – Thomas imagined the dragon’s tongue could taste his fear, the dragon salivating at the thought of eating Thomas down whole.
Because that was what the dragon had said “I like to taste their fear, it makes them so much juicier.” when Thomas had first summoned it and asked it to eat his stepmother.
Now as Thomas lay in bed his eiderdown pulled tight around him as the dragon’s tongue gently brushed his cheek. He realised that he should have made sure before he began whether one stepmother alone was enough to satisfy a dragon.

© 2015 | Frank Regan, All rights reserved.

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Travels on the Broken Road.

Black_Crow_clip_art_hight (2)

As promised earlier in the week I’ve got a new project to announce – I’ve launched a new blog and the first post went live last night. Made of Sticks and Stones will be remaining my main blogging  home but the new venture will act as a retreat or place in the country where I can get up to all sorts of fictional stuff without the neighbours watching.

The only rules being that all stories are between 50 and 600 words in length.

On the Broken Road

So I do hope you will visit, and any feedback is as always greatly appreciated.

 

Checkmate

Day 11 of the Review 30 and a little tale of spies

Made of sticks and stones

photo credit: Shadow Chess via photopin (license) photo credit: Shadow Chess via photopin(license)

He had not expected the King to be a woman. But his briefing had given him very little information, all he knew was he was meeting an agent in a shabby cabaret bar in a Vienna backstreet who would recognise him.

A blonde, long hair falling onto bare shoulders, had sat herself down next to him her skirt rising as she slid herself along the seat towards him revealing long shapely stocking clad legs, he had been about to tell her to leave when she had given the password, her voice intoxicating as she whispered in his ear. He had asked whether she had the package but the King had not answered just placed her hand on the inside of his thigh, her blue eyes staring challengingly at him as she stroked her hand up and down his thigh.

Hurriedly they had left…

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Surplus to requirements

And so to Day 9…

Made of sticks and stones

It was not when the self-service tills began to multiply. Not even when the postal drones made the mailman redundant or the robo-soldiers disarmed the troopers for their own protection did the humans realise they had a problem.

And even when Google and Apple replaced their chief execs with algorithms there was barely a raised eyebrow.

It was only after Politician 2.0 was elected President and began decommissioning us as units surplus to requirements did the human race start to wonder whether progress might not have gone a little far.

© 2015 | Frank Regan, All rights reserved.

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A six word Advent calendar – Day 12

Short and sweet for Day 3 of the Review 30 for November

Made of sticks and stones

It sounded much cooler in Spanish.

© 2014 | Frank Regan, All rights reserved.

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Embers

Let us kick off the Review 30 for November with the opening chapter of something I’ve been working on; other than world domination.

Made of sticks and stones

As I said at the beginning of the week I have been working hard on a new project. This has developed out of the final exam project for the University module I completed in the last academic year; a small idea that has grown and grown, this is its beginning.

photo credit: Phoenix rising, with babies via photopin (license) photo credit: Phoenix rising, with babies via photopin(license)

Chapter 1

A shout from one of her clan sisters brought her back to the moment. All the clans were coming together, flying south. She had never seen so many of her own kind before, eighty at least and more shapes appeared on the horizon all the time and slowly coalesced into the distinctive shape of more lizard birds.

Most were brown like her family. Some were grey, the winter sun glinting silver off of gleaming plumage, while others still appeared to sparkle an iridescent blue, light dripping on to their feathers…

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