NOT another Resolutions List

I received an email today from someone who has inspired me with a great idea.  It may or may not be her own original, but y’know – I don’t care.  I’m going to try it, and promote it, anyway!

Instead of having a ‘New Years Resolution’ list of things I want to achieve, I’m going to concentrate on how to achieve those goals I’d otherwise have written down.

Here’s a starting point:

Your thoughts become your words
Your words become your behaviour
Your behaviour becomes your habits
Your habits become your values
Your values become your destiny
– Mahatma Gandhi

So there’s my challenge.  Not just ‘think positive’ – I already do a lot of that.  But speak that way too, and act it.  Create some new habits.

“Getting better every day” may be a cliche, but cliches only become so by repetition, and repetition doesn’t necessarily mean something isn’t true.

I will try to do my best, and the more I do it, the better that ‘best’ will become.  And that, my friends, sounds like the road to success.

Wherever your roads lead you in 2017, may you travel them with courage.  We can’t always control our destination but we can control the way we carry ourselves in getting there.

Peace.DSCF0203

Advertisements

The Clicking Thing

200 years ago Mary Shelley wrote a wonderful novel called Frankenstein.  There was a competition to celebrate the anniversary.  The challenge was to write 1000 words or so on “The relationship between creator and creation.”  Here’s what I did.  (I set up this post on what would have been my Dad’s 96th birthday.  I know he’d have gotten a kick out of it.)

A remarkable inventor was Professor Thaddeus Plumpton-Green,

The man who was responsible for a most unique machine.

It turned out to be one of the best the world had ever seen.

 

He wasn’t very popular with other scientific brains.

They thought him odd, old-fashioned, and not up with modern gains

And in return he thought them trapped in unimaginative chains.

 

How things should work was what the Prof and his colleagues most would clash on.

Electronic new technology and computers may be fashion

But he didn’t care – gears and springs and clockwork were his passion.

 

He worked with cogs and wheels and springs and widgets made of tin.

Rack and pinion joints, and spools, and wire he’d coil around a pin

And the hammering of metal sheets that created quite a din.

 

The sound of his constructions could be as loud as you’d predict

So he lived and worked outside of town where the noise rules weren’t so strict,

And in that lab he called his home, he built the Thing that clicked.

 

Although he lived all by himself he seldom felt alone.

So much went on inside his head – a heavy traffic zone

But the Thing that clicked was company, in a way he’d never known.

 

Of course it could do more than click, if given half a chance.

It could nod and bow, and smile and wave. It could walk and run and prance.

When it was moved a special way the Thing would even dance.

 

That delighted old Prof P, who’d dance when on his own

To foxtrot records, classic jazz, on his wind-up gramophone.

If he tripped, or didn’t keep in time, the Thing would never moan.

 

Its clicking fitted with the jazz, in rhythm with the beat.

A dance partner who did not complain was, for clumsy Prof, a treat

For the Thing, it didn’t feel a thing if he trampled on its feet!

 

Once he told his Thing a joke and it gave him back a wink. It

Startled Plumpton-Green. He loved his animated trinket

But to call it ‘life’ was just too much – best not overthink it!

He hadn’t made a monster, of that he was quite certain.

The Thing was all of clockwork with no feelings to be hurting,

But Plumpton-Green still fretted as he peeped out round his curtain.

 

He went into town as he sometimes did to buy food, supplies and tools

When he saw some children as they walked to playgrounds or to schools.

“If they like my Thing I’m safe,” he thought, “For the young are no-one’s fools!”

 

Back in his lab he made more Things – just a few at first to share.

No monsters these, but playmates, each made with skill and care.

“If these kids like them I’ll make more for children everywhere!”

 

He took the new Things into town and gave them out for free

They clicked as they ran and danced and played and filled young hearts with glee

And parents seemed quite satisfied with his safety guarantee.

 

As children played with their clicking Things two men in suits walked by.

The fun the children clearly had caught one shrewd man’s cold eye.

He nudged his pal, said: “The next big thing! Let’s get rich, you and I!”

 

The men in suits were already rich from selling other stuff

But the funny thing with money is for some, there’s never enough.

When Professor P. said, “Not for sale!” they left him in a huff.

 

They found a boy who swapped his Thing for a computer game and sweets.

The lazy lad would rather play inside than on the streets

And the company of friends was less important than his treats.

 

So the men in suits had got their Thing and hardly spent a penny.

They had plenty cash, and grand ideas, but morals? Hardly any.

“If a few of these are such big hits, what dough we’ll make with many!”

 

“We can make more faster, cheaper, better too when we understand the trick!”

So their smart guys took the Thing apart to see what made it tick.

They even found the little bit that had given it its click.

 

They built a grand new factory with machines all big and fine,

Even automated polishers to give a brilliant shine

To New Improved Things by the thousand, off a huge production line.

 

Professor Plumpton read a press release of what the men in suits would do.

They’d flood the market with new Things, click-free, and cheaper, too.

He sighed and patted Thing the First and said, “At least I’ve still got you.”

 

But the New Improved Things didn’t sell – no-one wanted them as toys.

“What’s wrong with them? What’s wrong with you?” the men asked girls and boys.

The answer came, “They’re not the same. We liked the clicking noise!”

 

The men in suits were horrified at what the children spoke.

The factory, sales plan, marketing had all gone up in smoke.

Their production line of monsters left the men in suits quite broke.

 

The men in suits sold all their Things to the sheikh of a far-off land

Who used them as cheap labour to construct his buildings grand.

But alas, they didn’t last for long as their gears were clogged with sand.

 

Tastes change quickly nowadays and novelty wears thin.

Even those few Things that clicked were soon no longer ‘in’.

But the Prof back in his lab still wore his quiet contented grin.

 

For he still had his Thing the First to proudly call his own.

They’d stay up late and dance to jazz on the trusty gramophone,

As years went by old Plumpton-Green never had to be alone.

 

When the old Professor passed away, the Thing it couldn’t cry.

It didn’t have the means for tears, however it may try.

It hadn’t been designed to weep or mourn or even sigh.

 

It held his body to its breast and danced a gentle sway.

The music stopped, the Thing still moved in a tender, loving way

Until the gears at last wound down, and the last click died away.

 

 

TAKE ME AWAY

We should all have the right to die with dignity, on our own terms. Visit www.dwdnsw.org.au if you’d like to know more, or show your support. 

Imagine the sound of a bullfrog whispering.

That’s what Lander’s voice reminded the staff of, whenever he’d manage to make them hear him say, “Take me away, please…”

He didn’t manage that often. Not any more.

It wasn’t anything wrong with his throat that was the problem, although people hearing him lately for the first time tended to assume he was another victim of too many cigarettes.

Truth: the deep gravel voice was natural – he’d never been much of a smoker, other than a brief flirtation with a pipe in the mid-Sixties when he’d first been recognized as A Writer.

Scott William Lander. Creator of the Morton the Lunatic series of novels. The eponymous Morton was a teleporting hero who operated from a base on the moon, hence the ‘Lunatic’ tag. Scott couldn’t resist a pun.

He was never quite a darling of the critics, especially in his early career. He was dismissed as a bit too populist, perhaps, at a time when science fiction was meant to be intellectual, deep and meaningful. Lander’s work had seemed almost a throwback to the pulp fiction heroes of the Thirties, like Tarzan and Doc Savage.

But Scott and his hero were made of sterner stuff than the critics realised. When Armstrong and Aldrin kicked up the moon dust in ’69, some thought that would end Morton’s adventures. After all, anyone with a television now knew what the moon looked like. Nobody could really live there. NASA or the Russians would know if there was any sort of base there, wouldn’t they?

Lander saw it as an opportunity, though. In his next book, What The Eye Doesn’t See, he referred to how Morton used his own advanced technology to keep his base from the prying eyes of the space programs. It raised gentle questions about how trustworthy those agencies might really be, long before any conspiracy theorists proposed that the whole Apollo XI landing was an expensive hoax.

Scott had smiled in quiet delight when he read a magazine article headlined “DID ‘LUNAR’ LANDER GET IT RIGHT?”

That had all been a long time ago. Although his book appearances had become fewer and further between Morton had learned to overcome time as well as space. Alas, the same could not be said of his creator.

Scott Lander had fallen prey to Alzheimer’s Disease. It was insidious – slow and progressive. That had been the most distressing aspect of all for both Scott and his son William – both of them knew what was happening to the older man, and neither could do anything to prevent it.

After his diagnosis Scott had broken the news to Will, also an aspiring author, in a discussion about writing.

“Writers never retire,” Scott had observed. “We go in and out of fashion, and in and out of passion with our muse, but writing isn’t a job you can retire from. It’s a compulsion.”

“A need,” said Will, nodding.

“Like a driving force,” agreed his father, who then sighed deeply. “But I’ve realized I can’t steer.  Then I forgot and kept trying. And kept on realizing, and forgetting, and realizing again. I spoke to the doctor about it, he did some tests, and now he’s told me why. It’s only going to get worse.”

Continue reading TAKE ME AWAY

Cancer has limits.

Cancer is so limited.

All it can do is damage cells.DSCF1746

 

There is so much it can’t do.

 

It cannot cripple love.

It cannot shatter hope.

It cannot dissolve faith.

It cannot destroy peace.

It cannot kill friendship.

It cannot suppress memories.

It cannot silence courage.

It cannot invade the soul.

It cannot steal eternal life.

It cannot conquer the spirit.

 

It can take away the ones we love,

But it cannot take away the love.

The blind leading

I’m always impressed by people who overcome adversity to achieve the stuff they really want to do. Economic, social, psychological or physical adversity.

That last one used to be called ‘disability’ or more recently, being ‘differently abled’.

I was chatting to a bloke recently who works for a really big Information Technology company based in Europe. With enormous respect in his voice he told me about a small group of programmers in his company.

The distinguishing feature of this group is that they’re all blind.

Think about that for a moment. Blind computer programmers – they have Braille keyboards but can’t see any monitor screens. As my mate explained, they retain the equivalent of whole screens full of coding (the raw data of programming) in their heads.

I wonder if they’re able to do it because they don’t have the distraction of a lot of visual information cluttering up their memories?

Tears

I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve cried more than I would have liked in the last couple of days.

I’ve lost a dear friend in John Bos, who I’d share a drink and a laugh with. We’d help each other out without question or pause. I had the pleasure of actually getting him to appear on stage, just once. He wouldn’t memorise lines, but he did dance, more than willingly, with the woman he loved.

And I’ve lost a mentor, inspiration and yes, even a friend in Sir Terry Pratchett. The privilege of adapting his books for stage was wonderful – even better was the joy of watching his genuine laugh-out-loud delight when I wrote something new for him and he saw it performed for the first time.

I’m not crying for John or Terry. They’re both out of their pain and suffering, gone on to whatever is next in their journeys. I’ve wept for me. Selfishly, for my loss – for the conversations not had, the laughs not shared.

That’s what grieving is. My life is a richer thing for having been touched by both men. Thank you, guys. Be seeing you.

Renoir, Terry Pratchett, Discworld, fantasy writers
Renoir (L) and Sir Terry Pratchett discussing characters

Happily Ever After

“There’s no such thing as living happily ever after!”

said a mother to her children.

“You shouldn’t read silly stories that tell you such untruths!”

“Bad things happen to good people!”

“You’ll be disappointed!”

“Promises get broken, and things end!”

All of that is true, of course.

But remember this, my friends:

Living happily is not the same as being happy all the time.

Sometimes you will be hurt.

Sometimes people will upset you, or let you down.

Even your friends and the people you care about.

But there is always someone who loves you.

They may be right beside you.

Or they may live in your memory and your heart.

Or you may not have met them yet.

But they’re there.

There is still beauty in the world.

Beautiful places, beautiful things, beautiful people.

Look out for them.

Find them, and cherish them.

Remember the things that have been good.

Believe that there will always be more.

Live happily.  Ever after.

One step at a time…

I apologise if you’ve missed me!

It’s been a challenging few weeks since the last post.

Some significant Unwellness, then what can be best described as a mojo deficiency.

Thanks go out to my darling bride Meredith, my housemate Stevie, my doctor Jess, and a bunch of good people at Lismore Hospital.

I’m back now, taking it gently, but importantly back in front of my keyboard and writing again.

Best piece of advice I’ve heard lately:

  • Follow
  • One
  • Course
  • Until
  • Successful!!

The influence of others

I wonder: how much to read while I’m writing?

DSCF2751 I posted this comment on the excellent page of WitheringThyme (recommended reading, BTW).  As I wrote it occurred to me to ask this question of my own readership…

I find I’m torn when I’m in the process of writing (and that’s most of the time).  I love to read other writers’ work, especially though not exclusively fantasy.  I’ve gotten past the whole “Oh, I’ll never be as good as this” self-doubt thing, realising that we’re all different with different things to offer.  But I do worry that I’ll find myself channelling or copying their style or content, consciously or otherwise.  I’m curious to hear others thoughts?  Thanks!

(And remember – you’re invited to visit my Market Place page to see what I have ‘out there’ at present!)

My purpose

I would like to share this with you all…

MY PURPOSE AS A WRITER IS TO GIVE EXPRESSION TO ALL OF THE STORIES IN MY HEAD. AS I WRITE THEM, MORE APPEAR.

I WILL ENTERTAIN READERS AND MAKE THEM THINK ABOUT THEIR POTENTIAL, THEIR RELATIONSHIPS AND ATTITUDES.

I WILL RESEARCH BY TRAVELLING, READING AND LISTENING.

I WILL INSPIRE OTHERS TO EMBRACE, EXPLORE AND EXPRESS THEIR OWN IMAGINATIONS.

If you’re a regular follower, I trust this gives you some insight into me.  If you’re new here, please look around, read what appeals to you.  I’d value your feedback – it helps me know how on track I am.  Thanks – Renoir