Archive for October, 2013

He never wanted to be close to

anyone, let alone her. A child, naive

in her searchings, for some far off

ideal he knew just wasn’t real.

 

But against his better judgement

he let his metal down, fortified steel

that kept his softness protected

against the jaggedness of life.

 

That cut like a knife,

lines in your flesh.

 

You wouldn’t have thought a bloke

like that  could be proud but he was,

grinning ear to ear on his wedding day,

and when his first son was born.

 

Over the years the grin faded and

lips turned down, he saw the world.

For a while there he was happy

and in the end, that mattered most.

 

But I remember in this time and space

who you are and what you were.

The passion, and yes the anger

against that steel  blade of life.

 

What were we, you and I?

Softness. Hardness and hope

for what was possible. An ideal

that bound us. Together.

 

And when there are no more words

and no more you, I will listen for

your voice on the wind. And then I too

will become the dust of dreams.

 

That carries hope in a gentle whisper.

~Maryann Weston

 

I’ve often been asked how do you write your stories – do you plan them down to the last detail, or create them intuitively as you go. It’s a bit of both.

Like most writers an idea ‘brews’ for months, sometimes years. It’s a feeling in the pit of the stomach, and something that stays put, not going away until it’s written. I’m not sure what motivates this need to get the story out (birth it some would say), but I suspect it has something to do with wanting to understand an event, an experience or even a deep philosophical question that has been keeping me awake at night…for years even.

I take my odyssey in this life seriously – the quest to journey towards an understanding that enables me to sit comfortably in myself. Expression is always a privilege and I am lucky enough to be able to put words together to create meaning. So that’s the basis of my writing – a deep seated need to understand myself and the world around me.

The other side of the story are the plots, scenes, characters and ‘voices’ that come from my imagination. This is less conscious and, I guess, comes from my subconscious. When I’m writing a story, I let it flow freely. After taking what has been brewing and roughly crafting a plot, I let the rest come naturally, from that dark place I know very little about. That’s the subconscious, the vast reservoir where the feelings, desires, motivations and the imagination dwell. It can be as simple as drawing on a memory of the sweet smell of jasmine as a child, that awakens a thought train hitched to the wagon of a ‘brewing’ story.

I read a quote from that beautiful literary doyen Maya Angelou the other day. She said, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have .” I have been writing creatively, reasonably seriously now for two years and I agree with Maya. Rather than be depleted, I’ve found a wellspring of stories just waiting to be told.

Some people climb mountains, others build houses. The passion through which we approach what drives us is about creating meaning. Everyone leaves a legacy. I hope the words on my page will be read, by even a few, and somewhere in my journey another may find a small meaning which helps them sit comfortably within themselves, even for a short time.

And for the record, I have yet another story ‘brewing’ that has begun with a poem:

“He held onto his dream, long after it was over.
His battered, verandah rocker, creaking with memory.
Of the woman he thought he knew.”

Now just where will that thought take me…

I am completing work on my YA trilogy that’s a mix of fantasy, adventure and spirituality. The first two books Shadowscape and Dawn of the Shadowcasters will be available soon.

One dark night I will ride a dream,

surfing the waves of imagination.

And thumb my nose at the cycle of

life and love and eternity.

For what is the subconscious

but a darkness always rising

to the surface, toward the

glimmering portal.

Time travellers you and I.

Take a deep breath, push off,

toward the beginnings and

the endings.

And one night,

toward the end,

Dream,

break the surface

and step outside

yourself. Into the

Light.

I have had a first-time experience over the past few weeks and it was a good one. Receiving my copy edited manuscript from Lodestone Books, I wondered what was in store for me. I’ve never had a manuscript editor before, so this was territory I hadn’t been in before.

When I was starting out as a journalist in newspapers the chief sub was always the one to please. If you served up a substandard story, look out. Basically when the sub so much as looked in your direction you responded because time was always of the essence and half-baked quality and mistakes were just not tolerated.

So I learned the discipline that comes with serving up copy that makes any sub editor pleased they got me on a bad day. I tried to also do that with my manuscript, figuring I’d been writing for years but I was in for a bit of a wake up call.

My copy editor pointed out the times when I was guilty of ‘author intrusion’ – in the nicest of ways but a learning experience nonetheless. Through her comments I was able to put myself in the reader’s position and experience what the reader does. Yes every time my voice intruded it ‘jarred’ the reader out of their own headspace which was previously immersed in the character’s. Note to self, don’t intrude where you’re not wanted.

Oh and there was the ‘head-hopping’ my editor pointed out. I had to read over that comment twice before I realised that, yes I had switched the point of view on the reader. Another note to self: watch that in future.

There were the usual sub editing corrections which gave me faith that the copy editor knew what she was doing – ones I had actually missed – and others around consistency and style. Working my way through my manuscript, Dawn of the Shadowcasters, I painstakingly addressed the comments and rewrote where necessary. Yes it was hard work, but enjoyable nevertheless.

At the end of the process I was pleased with myself on a couple of levels. The first that I actually had a great editor and what a luxury that was, and secondly that I had hopefully followed the copy editor’s map for improving Dawn of the Shadowcasters, painstakingly well.

And now we move into cover design stage. Absolutely exciting times for me. After that, proofing and e-book and print production. All the stages of writing, from manuscript conception through to seeing the completed novel distributed worldwide, in print or e-book form, is a somewhat surreal and profound experience. What better outcome for those imaginative escapades in the wee hours of the morning, tapping away on the laptop, than to see your story take flight, into the minds and hearts of future readers.

I remember reading the Book Thief, about 5 years ago. I’ve read since I was 8 or 9 years of age, starting on those childhood adventure series and then moving through to Hemingway in my early teenage years.  From imaginative adventure to gripping realism, I’ve traversed the literature landscape like an explorer climbing Mt Everest.

I’ve gone through my Charles Dickins stage, my DH Lawrence, my Virginia Wolfe and my Aldous Huxley stage. I’ve read Freud and Jung, and ploughed through the feeling words of the poets, empathising, agreeing and being emotionally moved.

I have been through my spiritual reading stage – the power of crystals, Mayan prophesies, ley lines, runes, tarot, psychic protection, chakra cleansing, mediumship, Indigenous culture, paganism, the Celtic book of dying even. And then there was Zen and Buddhism, Christianity and Paulo Coelho. Wherever my soulful life quest went, you could find me in a bookshop or library researching and following up that thirst for knowledge.

And during all that reading and all those years, I have never been moved to tears, until the Book Thief  and then I sobbed and sobbed with that book, and couldn’t stop for ages.

You can imagine my excitement when I read Markus Zusak’s blog and discovered they were making a movie of the Book Thief. I shared that post on my Facebook page with a mixture of anticipation, and something else.

You see the Book Thief also holds mixed memories. It was lent amongst my extended family and went missing. Around the family circle the question was asked: “Who has the Book Thief?” (it should have been Who is the Book Thief?). This went on for months and if it hadn’t got so bizarre it would have been funny.

The book could simply not be found. Some members were accusatory. “I bet so and so has it…” To cut a long story short, it was found in the end and in the possession of someone no-one had thought of, and the lender had simply forgotten they had passed it on.

I suppose that demonstrates the importance of a book – that it could be so precious, such a sought after possession, that it would cause such consternation. It also shows the level on which a good book can impact. Books can take you on a very private and personal journey that you end up ‘owning’.

My reaction to the Book Thief, and the controversy it ultimately caused within my extended family, only makes me like the book even more now. The one thing I have resolved to do is finally purchase my own copy. And not loan it to anyone, ever. Or maybe I will and simply buy another copy.

And what a marvellous thing that it has been adapted into a movie. I can’t wait for it to come out.

I have my second book coming out soon Dawn of the Shadowcasters via Lodestone Books, an imprint of John Hunt Publishing. It’s for young adult readers who like fantasy and adventure. However there are strong spiritual themes that set it apart from the average fantasy read. That’s because a little of my own spiritual quest has found its way into the pages. I hope you enjoy it when it comes out, which should be in the next few months.

 When the penny drops, into the slot

the wheel of life spins then stops,

and you realise it’s a game of numbers,

and a press of a shiny button.

 

We are all players in life’s game,

and the clock’s ticking, just as surely

as the contour lines deepen

on your hands. But we have time?

 

Remember that in the morning

when life’s banality intrudes,

and you frown and want to sink

lower on the pile of life’s dung heap.

 

No, don’t spare a thought

for your silly troubles and woes.

Live, love, look around and be glad.

Your number’s not up, well…not today.

 

 

A lot of things have crossed my radar this week, inspiring me to post a blog so rather than talk about one specific subject, here’s my week in review. Well, firstly I received my copy edited manuscript from Lodestone Books, an imprint of John Hunt Publishing.

I’ve never had an editor before – well, I’m trained as a newspaper and magazine editor, but not as a book editor. What a great experience having someone who is professional go through your manuscript. It reminded me of my early college days, where in a lecture a light would come on, an Ah Ha Moment when you got that much needed visual on what the problems or issues were. Eureka, as we say in Australia.

One of the things I am guilty of from time to time is ‘author intrusion’ – so the reader will have their head in the dialogue and the descriptions, getting right into the characters, and next thing my voice is right there in the mix. Being made aware of that by the editor, was good. And she didn’t correct it, but left it to me to rewrite. Wonderful. I’m learning.

Re-reading over Dawn of the Shadowcasters which will hopefully be out on Lodestone Books in the very near future, was a good experience and while it’s hard to be objective about your own work, it made me sit down and congratulate myself…just a bit (hubris is quite dangerous you know). The manuscript was written on weekends and in holidays, at a time when I was particularly busy with my day job/career – it’s a testament to the willpower of authors that they stick with the task, and perhaps an indication of the passion with which we go about achieving that task.

From novels to dogs. I am a self-confessed dog lover with the most adorable English Staffordshire you could wish for. We are thinking about fielding him in one of the Australian Rules Football sides because he is an avid football player, using his feet to ‘hold onto’ the ball and jumping in the air, like the best of the highflyers, to catch a football when it’s kicked in his direction. I reckon he would go alright at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on finals night.

And onto social media. Came across the debate this week on whether Google+ is better than Facebook. The evidence says no – it’ll take a bit longer to knock the Facebook juggernaut that blazed the path for social media, off it’s course, but I really believe all the platforms offer something valuable for authors. I’ve found that different ones suit me better than others. I love Twitter for it’s community, information and opportunity to express. I’ve only just joined Google+ and I find it interesting. I’m not a big fan of Facebook, but I know that’s where you’ve got to be to connect with readers, so I persevere. And I love to blog, on the weekends when I’ve got time.

Speaking of social media, I got a comment on a post about the importance of ‘being who you are’. The commentator pointed out it was often easier said than done. True enough, but it’s got to be at least an intention. I replied that it was always a goal that was right to strive for and that doing what makes you happy is a good place to start. Ummm. Intention + goal + choice = happiness. A most logical equation.

And on that note, I’ll end where I’m happiest – ready to do some more with my edited copy of Dawn of the Shadowcasters.

Oh, and if you want to follow me on Twitter I’m @MaryannWeston. Google+Maryann Weston and if you feel inclined to like me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shadowscape.stevievegas