My Words, My World

First drafts – A few pages in the large wilderness of the world of writing

Archive for the tag “non-fiction”

English teacher (with writer’s block)

My day is filled with verbs and tenses
clauses, phrases, words and sentences
grammatical structures
quantifiers and determiners

My past participle participated and departed
my present continuous continues to continue
while my future simple
will be far from simple

I’m conditioned by my conditionals
and positioned by my prepositions

I’m an English teacher who wants to write
my language is my day
but when I put that pen in my hand
I’ve nothing left to say

Nightly battles #2

I thought black was black
as in: the night was pitch black
but when I close the windows
and pull down the shades
I see shades
of black:
pure black,
light black,
eerie black and
rich black
which is not pitch black;
the night tattooed on my mind
With my eyes closed
I see black
With my eyes open
I see black
As I wait to see
the grey of day

Dark morning

Dark, dark morning
If you were an emotion
you’d be despair
If you were a state of body
you’d be fatigue
If you were a state of mind
you’d be confusion
At this hour my brainwaves
should be delta or theta
but I’m full-blown conscious
brainwave beta
If you were a book
you’d be Skeleton crew
because we that walk the corridors of night
are few
If you were a song
you’d be The Sound of Silence:
Hello darkness, my old friend.

A little piece of me

Once in a while I look back over my previous writing just to try and gauge whether, over time, it’s improving.  I think it is.  I also look for patterns.  Patterns reveal the state during a certain period.  My writing of late, especially the poetry, has taken a darkened path.

10 years ago I started having massive sleep disruption.  This quickly grew into chronic insomnia, which I chose to ignore at my peril for a few years.  6 years ago I went under the ‘care’ of the local hospital, following visits to psychiatric specialists who tried to fathom out what the problem was.  I was depressed, apparently.  No shit, Sherlock.  A few years of sleeping no more than 4 hours a night was conducive to wiping the smile off my face.  They put boxes of pharmaceuticals in my hand and sent me away.

During this time I started writing.  I was trying to read a book, unfortunately I can’t remember the title, which was so bad I gave up after 20-odd pages, which is something I never do.  One dark morning I decided I would try and write something, surely it couldn’t be as bad as that crap I’d just given to the charity shop?

Writing became a regular in my life and it helped me where no amount of Benzodiazepine or Escitalopram could.  In fact, I stopped taking anything after two years, against the hospital’s wishes.  Fine, the pharmaceuticals help you sleep, but they leave you feeling hollow, devoid of emotion.  I decided I’d rather not sleep.  So here I am, not sleeping.

For anyone who doesn’t know, insomnia is a bastard.  Mentally, it’s a dark and lonely place that leads ever downwards, where you will eventually come to your own private Niflhel.  It cleaves you open and wrenches your tortured soul from your body while leaving you running on empty.

You stop telling people.  You have to, because all you hear is “Yeah, I had a terrible night as well.”  What?  You can’t explain and they can’t understand so your interactions become sullen standoffs.  You spend the day with a head full of cotton-wool; thinking becomes laborious and even the most banal of tasks requires consideration and reconsideration.  Clear thinking is a reality enjoyed by other people.

Physically it leaves you hollow, like a wind-blown wheat husk dried in the summer sun, light and directionless yet always hoping for a respite, a resting place from its torments.

On the other hand, creatively it has been a wonderful input and output, where my notebook, 2H pencil and I join hands in the early hours and together we chase away the demons that frequently slip the pillow out from under my head.  Those deep still hours of the morning welcome me, absorb me in their serenity and give me time and space to write.  Ideas form and become words because of this.  The majority of what you will find here was written while the world outside slept.

I hope reading this blog gives you at least a little of the pleasure it has given me.

So you keep writing

So you keep writing. At least, you try.

You lie awake in the darkness waiting for the morning sounds; the crows in the fir tree, the far-too-early church bells, the Harley Davidson that surely must have an illegal exhaust system stuck on it. And so you lie awake and you write, except it’s all in your head. You know you should get it down on paper lest you forget (and you will) but you don’t want to disturb the part of the bed whose soft breathing confirms she has finally found sleep, so you continue writing in your head.

Enough! You ignore the hour, you defy the fact the crows are not yet even moving, let alone crowing in the treetops. You’ve anticipated the church bells and the (no doubt fat, short-legged) Harley Davidson owner is probably still tucked up in bed, riding noisy dreams.

The pen and paper await you like dogs waiting for their morning walk. You ignore the need for coffee as you rush to put on paper that which was rushing through your mind, lest you forget.

Sat at the table on the balcony breathing in the cool morning air with pen-scrawl for company. A pink-blue sky crawls out from under a dark cloak. A small bank of cloud above Mount Tamaro resembles the first huffs and puffs of a volcano, cars hiss along the distant road and birds chatter their morning stories.

The words on paper reveal themselves to you in the cool, blue light of day and have taken on an aspect and meaning different to that which came to mind, lying there in the darkness. The words that ran like liquid silver now seem lead-filled, dull and heavy.

So you keep writing. At least, you try.

Love thy neighbour…give me space.

Enclosed space behavioural patterns, what’s it called, lift behaviour? The doors close on two people who only seconds before were having a friendly chat over an espresso in the hotel bar. Now they shut up shop and silence ensues when the doors close like a pair of folded arms. The will to wish the lift to rise is strong and the relief is almost tangiable when it arrives. It seems like the lift and its occupants are holding their breath and finally let it out when the doors open, when those arms unfold. It’s a unique situation; it doesn’t happen when four people are squashed into a car. Space.

Then we have train space conservation; we do, so bear with me.

Four seats and only one of them occupied, their occupant relaxed and probably reading, playing Candy Crush or possibly, Heaven forbid, writing, with a pen and paper don’t you know. A second person arrives and sits down diagonally opposite. A shuffling of feet and space, reluctantly, is conceded. This is still bearable. The first occupant continues as before; reading, Candy Crushing or maybe writing. The new arrival starts to rummage in his bag and out comes a book, a phone or maybe, just maybe, a pen and paper. Two people sitting diagonally can share the same space comfortably; they may even swap greetings – sometimes it still happens, it really does. This sense of conviviality continues, each to their own doing what they’re doing with possibly the occasional glance out the window, looking at the black and white cows in the fields. Why are all the cows black and white when seen from the window of a train? Where are the other cow colours? Is there a law that says only black and white cows can graze near railway lines?

Then the train pulls into the next station. Both occupants look up from what they’re doing, look at the seats next to them, move their bags half an inch nearer their feet and wait. They hold their breath. Time doesn’t stand still but they wish it would; they want to remain with an empty seat next to them forever. They don’t want their space encroached upon but they know it’s going to happen, it has to.

The doors of the train open with a swoosh and people file in, looking for a seat, any seat. It doesn’t matter next to who, they just want to sit down, to have their own place where they can sit and read a book, play the telephone or possibly write. The two original occupants frown, engage in more feet shuffling and move their bags another half an inch to see if that is enough. If not they will sigh, sometimes audibly, and rearrange their space; four seats, four people. With space dramatically reduced the original occupants will have to get used to it. The two new arrivals on the other hand are as happy as Larry. They have their seat and now they can relax, coat off and a big, happy sigh of relief and then out come the books, phones or pen and paper (all four of them?  Oh come on…). They’re on holiday these newcomers, look at them! Any more relaxed and they’d put their feet up (well, if the seat opposite wasn’t occupied) and ask the ticket inspector for a pina colada. The two original occupants are most definitely NOT on Holiday.  Their winter has returned; it’s darker now the light from the windows has diminished in the crowded carriage. The book has become harder to read, Candy harder to crush and the thoughts transmitted from pen to paper are harder to come by.  Frowns indent foreheads and half-hidden glares stared.  Goodwill to all men, except those sitting next to you.

Love thy neighbour, but only if you have the space to do so.

Spring morning

Spring morning, spring dawning.
Sparrow, starling, blackbird
in unison calling,
out their names, and
singing loud their songs.
What is the language
of the birds that I hear?

As my love sleeps,
a sleep content
and undisturbed.
Whilst I, I alone
sit with eyes and ears open,
to the coming of the dawn,
as the birds greet the morn
and each other.

“Good morning to you too,”
I say, as I open the window
and breathe in the air,
as yet untouched
by the waking of man
of cars and vans.

Enjoy the moment
though in silence
it not be.
As the break of day
not far away,
has been announced to me.

Amsterdam; funny old town

Amsterdam; funny old town

Rain splats in the Dam Platz

Friendships deeper than the North Sea

Red light window girl for all to see

All smiles and business

Display and pay

Canal boats and bicycles

Blond girls and blue eyes

Coffee shops and red eyes

Amsterdam; funny old town



I walk alone

I walk in company

I walk directionless

I walk with purpose

I walk in the sun,

and in the shade.

Every step nearer to my destination

Every step nearer to that final one I’ll take

So I shall walk

While I can

And be grateful.


Lugano Summer

The heat
The sultry heat
Show humility
When my temper frays
And my patience craves
The rain
The wind
And the cooling
Of my soul
The summer lust
The heat-filled dusk
The night
The tortured night

Grey sky, leave me

Monday morning, dingy grey

Rain and sleet, sleet and rain

My mood, my being cannot sustain

The will to weather the winter

I wonder whether

I will fade to grey

As will fade this winter’s day

But a ray of light, burning bright

Incandescent, infinite

Crosses the continental divide

Across the ocean, cold and wide

But wider is the chasm without love

When I look upon a grey cloud sky

I should see the blue above

Niente di nuovo (as they say in Italy)

Nothing New – great song by one of the greatest bands ever to grace the stage – albeit till 1985 – Hanoi Rocks.

It sums me up at the moment.  Nothing new, nothing borrowed, nothing blue.  I’m on a creative non-wave.  It’s not writer’s block; I have flashes of inspiration all the time, I just can’t do anything with them, or rather I can’t sit my ass down and do anything with them, which is worse.  I blamed it on the summer – beautiful weather, drinks with friends on the lake, holiday in Ibiza etc. but now autumn is officially here (a week of rain proves it) I am still producing Nothing! Nada! Zilch! Niente! Rien!

A writer should be able to at least read when he’s not writing – I can’t even do that.  I’m sifting through (albeit pretty damn good) music biographies (Mötley Crüe, Led Zepppelin, New York Dolls, Johnny Cash).  I’ve hit a literary (literally) wall.  Aaaahhhh!!!  What do I have to do, wait till the snow arrives?  Become like Jack Torrance in The Shining (without axe-weilding tendencies obviously…)???

I’ve slept on it, I’ve drunk on it, I’ve partied on it, I’ve moped on it, I’ve meditated on it – I am a man without an answer.

What am I gonna do?  I’ll let you know.  I’ll be back…

One Lovely Blog Award

Firstly, I want to thank Loni for the nomination – you surprised me there, and although this is belated, again I want to say “Muchas Gracias!!”

For those of you unfamiliar with Loni’s work (and blog), she can be found at – before reading any further please go see – you will NOT be disappointed.

So, after several weeks I’ve finally got round to posting this – busy, busy etc.  So, where next?

Ah, 7 random things about myself…Hmmm…

1) I love reading on the balcony during a storm, however lightning striking the garden opposite is pretty damn hairy.  The cognac WAS for medicinal purposes.

2) I love the sun but don’t like lying in it – is there a happy medium?

3) I like poetry, but don’t understand it.

4) I want to grow chlili plants, but southern Switzerland is not the ideal climate.

5) I want to ride the Pan-American Highway on a BMW GS1200, which would probably mean I’d get lost in the Mendoza region drinking Malbec for ooohhh, several years I guess.

6) I want to write something in Italian – my second language, but can’t…just can’t get it to flow.

7) I live surrounded by mountains, yet my heart lies with the ocean.

Voila! Now I’d like to introduce you to 15, yes 15, blogs which I follow.  In no particular order and for a variety of reasons, I present:

1) Morgen Bailey – a veritable mine of information, and a couple of my Flash pieces to boot.  Always helpful, I am in your debt.  Thanks Morgen.

2) Jason Alan – writer, poet, cow photographer  🙂

3)  Patrick O’ Brien –  you have balls the size of watermelons for your decision. (People, don’t take my word for it, READ this blog).  Sir, take a bow.

4) Sharmishtha – for the input your blogs give me (yes, Trisha has more than 1).

5) Cara Olsen – Your words of encouragement are priceless.  Thank you.  I now know what Dutch-doors are  🙂           (Cara also has several blogs, all merit a click). You are to vocabulary what Emerson, Lake & Palmer are to music.  I, for good or bad, am The Ramones.

6) Stella Marr – For showing the realities of a different life and having the guts to do so.  It’s not so much a lovely blog as a damned hard hitting one.  No roses grow from this bed but I want to nominate it, simple as.

7) Ruth Jacobs – whilst we’re on the subject; a fascinating insight.  Again, not lovely in the flowery sense of the word but the truth, no matter how hard and ugly, will always win through.

8) Cristian Mihai – never dull, always informative.

9) Cheryl Moore – I admit trouble keeping up, but I do try.

10) Max – Dangerous blog, I REALLY should be writing… 🙂

11) Returning to India, Tanushree I must mention.

12) Jennifer Ritchie – Finally a blog from Switzerland and an interesting and helpful one at that.  Must fire a few blog-related questions at you…

13) Lesley Carter – You make me wanna just get up and go.

14) Chicago Addick – Can’t let the opportunity slip to get my football team in somewhere.

15) Jane Wenham-Jones – A star from my part of the world.  Don’t just look, buy!  And no, the wine glass hasn’t been surgically attached…

What’s for dinner? Darned if I know…

Friday morning crisis – friends for dinner tomorrow. He’s a chef, she’s a restaurant manager. Theme? Italian? No, because they are and it would be like trying to show ME how to make a cup of tea (or pour a Weissbier). Mexican? No-one likes it as spicy as I do – I AM the Jalopeno Kid. Indian – way too heavy. Then, an idea…

Greek / Eastern Mediterranean – different, appetizing and good. Trouble is lamb is the staple and in Switzerland (don’t ask me why) finding lamb is like finding a sober judge.

I shall consult the good girlfriend when she wakes up…

It’s Friday, people!!!

Transient Crap

So here I am in southern Switzerland.  The sun is out, the sky is blue and I’m at home with the flu – yes I know it’s not the Buddy Holly lyric but it’ll do.

Is it an excuse not to write?  No.  It does however make thinking a little harder, rational decision making a little more difficult and something I had in the pipeline may now stay there a few more days as I can’t conclude it.  BUT, it is the reason this new page has appeared on my blog.  Till now, I’ve not used it as a “social” thing, i.e. talking with you, if, of course anyone’s out there.

The books tell us to just get words down on paper, irrespective of grammatical error, spelling mistake or, God  forbid, use passive tense.  Well, in my mini-mire of flu-induced writer’s (HaHa!!) block, I decided my blog needed “Transient Crap” under my home page.  Even if I can’t get down what’s in my head, I can still get down what’s ready to come out of my mouth – very often not the same thing.

With this non-thought, I’ll make myself a cup of tea.


The Cliché

The cliché.  The well-worn phrase.  The hackneyed expression.  Tiresome, aren’t they?  It’s well known to anyone, even in the early stages of writing (like me), to avoid the use of the cliché, especially in fiction.  I am in agreement but…

With the football at the moment, it brought me round to thinking of the UK press sports pages, especially football.  In this field (ha bloody ha!!) a manager HAILS a players performance – always!  Why does he not acclaim, praise or applaud it?  Because we don’t want him to.

Manager REVEALS contract talks with…  Striker REVEALS secret of Saturday success.  Why not divulge,admit or disclose?  They do, but as long as they’re revealing, the football fan is happy.

Certain words BELONG to certain spheres, hackneyed or not. Football (and possibly other sports) seems to have its own in-house vocabulary to which only fans and the sports pages are savvy to.

So why am I saying this?  To remind myself the next time I target any section of the non-fiction market (apart from football) that I would do well do understand this point.

Now I’d better get going before some great big hairy arsed defender tries to tackle me.

Come On England!!!

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