Archive for the ‘creativity’ Category

I wrote this in my journal last summer. It’s the middle of winter today; rainy, cold…I can hear the wind swirling under the eaves and rattling the windowpanes. But last summer, sitting in the park was another season. Another time in the film rushes of my memory.

Watching the world unfold. Faint sounds of young children in the nearby playground. Strains of music from the nearby club. Statues stand amid pioneer plantings, reminding me of this civic history and dispossession of First Nations. I pay my respects.

I think of my own history, and feel into my immigrant roots. I wonder about my ancestors a century ago in the coastal town of Troon in Scotland, where the hinterland ground was fertile; yielding. Of young love and a seaside crossing to settle in outback Australia. I think about young love in Ireland this time, and I feel the gentle ocean breeze, and the green-ness and rain on grass as the sun emerges. Another young couple leaving their lands, and clan, for Australia. One day their child would meet a man whose parents were immigrant farmers from Troon. My ancestors and my roots in far off places and cultures. Meiosis.

A young boy with a lollipop and a huge Acubra stops to stare. His Nona stands and waits, patiently caring for her family. In Italy, and perhaps Australia, she might live with her daughter and grandchildren. The sun on the back of my neck, too hot, I don’t want to burn. Bird sounds in this little oasis, surrounded by concrete footpaths, bitumen and petrol driven cars.

Three running boys are immersed in their game. A family from Asia is close; grandparents taking teenagers on a trip. Respect and the bonds of blood, celebrated and sustaining.

I have a rose scented hand cream on and I breathe its velvety perfume.

I wonder about the connectedness of everyone in this park. Why they come here? Why they choose to be near one another? And I know, or sense, or think, it’s because of the peace and belonging we find in community, and the quiet of observation, and nearness. It’s a good place to come on a sunny, Saturday morning.

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A lot has happened in a month. We’ve started 2017, set our goals, and our sails, and got on with the start of the year. I was pleased to start a new year as 2016 brought many personal and health challenges. However when the new year ticked over it was like someone had wiped my slate clean. The old fears and worries disappeared, replaced with optimism. Yes, optimism.

I’ve always been relatively optimistic,  believing that opportunities and new horizons would come my way. That was a belief that was based on experience. I’ve been incredibly lucky throughout my life to have had many adventures but the horribleness of cancer treatment during 2015 and 2016 made me wonder if there’d ever be anything to be optimistic about again. Well somewhere along the line, something switched and I greeted 2017 with excitement. I wasn’t sure why I should feel that way, the old challenges were still there, but I couldn’t help it.

Without conjuring anything up, I really feel optimistic about this year. That’s based on   an expansive view of the future and renewed interest in the present. And also something else. I’ve decided that there is nothing to be gained from being pessimistic or doubtful even if the situation is dire. Far better to keep a positive mood because any other way is just a waste of time. I don’t know about you, but I’ve not got any time to waste.

So whether it’s watching my favourite English drama on tv or writing a report for government or industry, or writing a future bestselling manuscript (gotta have hope), or walking the dogs under the canopies of Elm trees, or yarning with old friends, I’m interested in having a go. And that makes me optimistic about the future.

When I returned home to the farm between uni and finding a job, I began walking the couple of miles down to the front gate each afternoon. It was a hot and dry walk; another big dry had our family farm firmly in its grip.

Undeterred by the heat, and with John Mellancamp Jnr blasting in my ears, I strode out across the paddocks with my eye firmly on the horizon, at the place where an orange sunset met the red earth.

Black crows circled overhead and, despite their caws, there was a stillness and a peace about the land. Somehow the big dry was as natural as the green paddocks that had rolled into a blue horizon only a few years before.

On those hot, burnished afternoons, I loved that land. It spoke to me with a sense of place and of belonging. It was a belonging that drove away all fear; that somehow, if I were to die there and then, its peace and stillness would wash over me and I would become part of it.

I never forgot that feeling or the way a sense of place and belonging can drive away all insecurities; all fears.

I travelled overseas in my youth and across Australia for work. I’ve lived in a city and in other rural communities but I’ve never found a place like my childhood home. It’s not with regret that I look back at that home that was eventually sold, but with gratitude that I was able to experience a childhood in the country.

As I grew into adulthood, I made the deliberate decision not to live in the cities. My spirit craves nature; I need to look at the horizon and everything in between.

Today I live in the country and I’m happy with that decision. I walk out of my front door to trees and birds, snakes and lizards. Every now and then, there is an orange sunset and that sense of belonging stirs. When I get that feeling I know that time is endless, and that our spirits are a part of something much bigger, yet the same, as ourselves.

Every morning multitudes of people wake up and reach for their phone to check their facebook newsfeeds. On their specially crafted reel of favourites, they’ll scroll through and maybe like or share content with other users. Instead of going to websites, perhaps even newspapers now, people open facebook for connection to society and the world.

It’s the portal to end all portals; one that sucks us in and keeps us there. There are quizzes and tests to take on facebook that predict everything from which movie star you look like, to the year you are going to die. It’s both infotainment and a humongous time waster.

I took one of the tests once – the one about which celebrity you look like. I got the ‘grumpy cat’ – a facebook famous identity. Yes, it’s a real cat who looks grumpy and has more than 8,000,000 followers.

Are we stupid to devote so much time to an artificial and I would say influential learning environment? As of the third quarter of 2015, Facebook had 1.55 billion monthly active users. While the grumpy cat mightn’t have much to teach us, the news, lifestyle and new age sites might. Just about everyone – artists, authors, the Dalai Lama – is on facebook.

I remember when I first started out on facebook. I liked Oxfam and the RSPCA, spiritual sites and the New York Post. As newspapers realised the news distribution had entered a new era, they too began to build their facebook platforms but the twist for them is they don’t control the advertising dollars. Facebook does.

And it is attempting to control our memories now too. Aside from the greeting facebook gives you when you logon in the morning, it is now providing you with ‘anniversary’ posts for you to share – so you and your friends can reminisce.

What’s next? Hopefully it won’t attempt political influence though I’m sure there are subtle signs there if you looked.

I would really ‘like’ to take a break from facebook for a week. It would take real discipline, as I’m one of those people who reach for their phone and newsfeed each morning upon waking. Someone once likened that to reaching for a glass of whiskey. They might be right.

It’s Saturday; a beautiful and gentle sunny day. Right now I’m overlooking poplar trees swaying in the breeze, a graceful liquid amber and a gnarled (and most likely dead) ghost gum. All things of beauty, even the twisted, dry branches of the gum, still standing despite a lightening bolt hit and a termite infestation.

Like the breeze that feathers my bare arms and cheeks, I’m feeling easy as I also overlook the golf course next door to our home. It’s dotted with the bright colours of the golfers who, literally, play rain, hail or shine.

Today is a good day – a busy day and a relaxing day.

I’ve decided I like good days. They’re the ones with just the right combination of activity, sometimes even action, and that sit back and survey the world, let it pass you by feeling. They are definitely days for positive thinking, for creativity and for enjoying the company of those lovable human beings you were lucky enough to meet in the past, on another good day.

That’s not to say that every day is good. It isn’t; can’t be. You need the dark to appreciate the light; the grey to appreciate the rainbow.

And that’s ok with me. I’ll take it all because that’s what it means to live. What I hope never comes my way is the despair or the bitterness I just can’t shake. I choose to have as many good days as I can, in the here and now and to create memories for me and those closest to me. There is everything right with generosity and little with selfishness.

My word for today is gratitude.

A few months ago I told you that my first horror/supernatural novel was being published by Whiskey Creek Press, a division of Start Publishing in the US. So far, I’ve worked with an editor and cover artist and I’m now working with a publicist who requested five of the top quotes from the book.

Well…I couldn’t choose five so I gave her 15 and said, “you choose“. I’m sure she wasn’t impressed because I guess this is a job for the author. In any case, I’ve selected five from the 15 tonight and will publish the other 10 here over the next few nights.

  • Fortuna had been having strange dreams which she called her “blood visions” because they were bathed in blood red violence—suffering and torture, which always ended in a kill.
  • He opened the bedside drawer and took out the knife, running its metal blade along his arms, just enough to cut the hairs. He drew in his breath and held it, closing his eyes and remembering his last kill.
  • Life had a way of dealing one bad card after another, and when Danny Manchester walked out of the Police Force, he found his wife was taking his two kids and leaving with another detective.
  • All she could manage was a guttural groan of disbelief and then despair, into the dark space surrounding her.BloodVisionsback
  • He looked like failure had paid him a visit too, like someone had knocked him around when he was at his most vulnerable. The way a dog looks when it’s been kicked by its master.

I hope you like Blood Visions. I’m finding, more so nowadays, a real joy in creative fiction writing. It is flowing like never before, and I take great joy in creating a ‘killer’ plot. Blood Visions is published on 12 November 2015, and you can preorder on Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Visions-Maryann-Weston-ebook/dp/B015DCH3CW

It’s raining here. The air is still, although the clouds overhead are heavy and grey. Despite the lack of sunshine, it’s comfortable, warm and welcoming within my humble abode. Such luxury; to have the time to write this blog post. This time last year I was toiling away, completing multiple jobs, juggling people and deadlines, in an office where my colleagues were equally busy, stressed and strained.

In February this year I made the decision to take some time off and focus on my health. 2014 had been a tough, tough year and it, along with a backlog of decades of hard slog, child raising and getting through a long and merciless to do list, had taken its toll. I was sick and I needed to get better. So I removed myself from the stress of an executivebless level job and burrowed into my home haven. Six months later, there is no resemblance between the me of last year and the me of now.

Often it takes a health crisis to bring on an epiphany. My realisations are simple – all he best ones are – I’ve realised that the things I was focusing on and allowing myself to be burdened with were really very trivial. We are given a short time here; no-one is immortal though we tend to act like we are, and yet we waste precious energy on the people and situations that don’t matter.

I used to worry about the office politics or get resentful when I was overworked. I stressed over my children, money and the future. I looked for approval in all the wrong places, and for the wrong reasons. I missed the moments that mattered because I was too preoccupied with my worries. I was tired all the time. The truth? I was holding onto the edge of the cliff by my finger nails. Looking back, I wondered how I kept going.

Now, I’m in the now. I am conscious of the rain, getting heavier on our tin roof. I have my dog at my feet. He understands my slightest expression. I answer a text from a friend, wishing her well. I have quality interactions with my friends now – I used to fit them in vaguely and infrequently before. I have time for my writing and to immerse myself in literary journals, books and the writing craft generally. I notice the passage of time, and indeed the interplay of time, and I hold it in my vision, grateful that I have it.

I don’t take anything for granted anymore. The now is my sanctuary and it sustains me like my previous chaotic, high achieving, life never did.

I have had a few momentous happenings this year also. After years of slogging away with my creative fiction writing, I am beginning to gain traction as a creative writer. Earlier this year, I was selected among 25 other writers from around Australia for a writing mentorship program. The judging panel thought my non-fiction manuscript had merit. Just this week, I also found out that my horror novel ‘Blood Visions’ would be published by Whiskey Creek Press, an imprint of New York based Start Publishing. Also, one of my short stories ‘Dark Star’ was chosen in an upcoming, and successful, horror anthology series.

All these happenings are welcomed and gratefully received, but they are not the main game. The main game for me is to continue to live without complacency, and within the full awareness of the gift of life.

My novel ‘Blood Visions’ is due out in November. If you would like to read more of my writing in the horror genre, you can head over to Amazon to find my collection of horror short stories ‘Evil Imminent’.