CREATING YOUR OWN DYNASTY

I always wanted to be Alexis Colby.   As a young girl, watching Dynasty with my Nana on a Friday night, I longed to don the sharp little office suits Joan Collins wore to the office, adopting the persona of the stylish and smart businesswoman with the intellect to oversee a conglomerate and deal with all the Dex Dexter’s who appeared in her life.  Since this dramatic introduction to the business world, I’ve always admired those with an entrepreneurial spirit.  It takes a brave soul to turn away from the what’s expected well-trodden path, make a U-turn in the other direction and blaze your own trail.  While I forge my own path, I find myself drawn to those with an avant-garde and innovative approach to life.

There are many examples on the Fortune 500 list.  Most recently, I read an article about WhatsApp founder Brian Acton, who proved losing out on jobs at Twitter and Facebook shouldn’t define you.  Instead it can spark innovation in the shape of a little app he sold to Mark Zuckerberg for $19bn.  An act of genius if ever I’ve seen one.  But the icon that makes me believe in the impossible?  Who proved passion and creativity can merge within a successful business?  It can only be Steve Jobs.   I’m well known for my weakness for picture quotes and I love to read words from this trendsetter, who believed the only way to do great work was to focus on what you loved.  This is a man who was fired from Apple, the company he co-founded, only to be recruited eleven years later, to transform them from near bankruptcy into one of the most successful companies ever recorded.

Jobs was more than the man with the Midas touch.  In 2011 when he passed away, there was an outpouring of sentiment for the hippy that lived in jeans and wrote code in his bare feet.  He once said being fired was the best thing ever to happen to him, freeing him to enter one of the most creative periods of his life.  Jobs didn’t like playing by the rules, instead he created his own.  He dreamt big and if you’re going to admire a business icon, I figure it should be best there ever was.  So when I decided to start my own company, Tri-Quill, a few months ago.  I discovered something quite surprising; I didn’t need the Alexis Colby business suit.  I am a writer, who has written four books and is in the opening stages of her fifth.  My strength is my imagination and given a blank page and a period of time, I will find my story.  It turns out you can follow your dreams in a pair of skinny jeans and I believe if you plan for success, and work hard at your craft every single day you will attract your serendipitous moment, making it all worthwhile.

So if I could leave you with one parting wish, I would like it to be this; follow your dream.  Whether it’s your art exhibition, your photography studio, your graphic novel or the dress you dream of designing.  Yes, it’s scary starting your own business but the sense of pride in your opus – your dream – is immeasurable.  As Earl Nightingale once said the time will pass anyway – wouldn’t you rather spend it living the life you dream of?  Go for it.  You won’t regret it for one single second.  I promise.

NEVER GIVE UP

I’ve always been determined.  It’s a characteristic that’s followed me since childhood, encouraging my Dad to refer back to the infamous “tick list.”   The mental list I kept in my head with qualifications, jobs and ambitions I wished for.  The driving test, the car, the office job and the degree are just a few of the ideals I was happy to place a large tick against, giving me a sense of achievement.

So when I unexpectedly crashed and was forced examine my list, I discovered something quite unexpected.  I didn’t want it anymore.  Instead of giving me direction, it stifled me, restricting my breathing and putting me in a box I didn’t belong in anymore.   The procedures and routines that used to settle now made me to scream and hurl things and I was surprised as anyone to find I didn’t like rules, never mind following them.  Once accepted, I found I could finally breathe and the air that greeted me was sweeter than I ever believed possible.

So once, after years of convincing myself, I decided to pursue my passion for writing.  My old friend tenacity came back to haunt me, followed by his companion impatience and their stalker self-doubt.  I’ve done the work, my Trilogy is finished, professionally edited and I’m playing tennis between story editing and creating the new world in my next Trilogy that I’m giddy with excitement about.  Recent changes have made me question every area of my life, making me vulnerable to the seen and unseen.  It turns out that whilst I don’t like the rules I need the validation.  The words or message that restores your faith in what you’re doing.  I need to find my audience and share my stories, it essential to me as my newly found fresh air.

This week my faith in my writing, my most sacred unshakeable place, was tested.  The flashes in my head that encouraged me to write my fantasy faerie tale have both equally teased and terrified.  Leading me to ask myself questions I never thought I would.  Is there a point where you should give up on the dream?    When do you decide enough is enough and throw in the towel?  Are you long past due for the reality check?

Instead, I’ve discovered that faith comes in small, surprising doses.  From the unexpected song playing on the radio, to the e-mail from a friend who loved a recent blog and wanted to tell me, to the supportive community on Twitter that constantly amazes me with its kindness and my friends who believe in me, when I hardly believe in myself, never doubting my abilities or future success.  Not even for a one solitary second.  As George Iles has said, hope truly is faith holding its hand out in the dark and when you realise you’re the recipient of such precious belief, you’re more blessed than you’d ever imagined possible.

It is always darkest just before dawn.  Then the sun rises, illuminating your world from shadow into breathtaking glorious light. 

It is always darkest just before dawn.  Then the sun rises, illuminating your world from shadow into breathtaking glorious light.  The moments in between are the true test.  When you sit in the dark blanketed only by the promise in your heart that the Sun will rise again, just as it promised when it left.  Belief can foster the same magic, taking you from the bleak darkness of no man’s land to the warmest brightest sunshine of a Santa Monica beach.  So, does it work?  Yes, it most certainly does.  I got the message I so desperately needed.  The faith that trembled proved it was stronger than I was.  My writing; the characters, relationships and world I created believed in me when I didn’t.  A realisation that is both mind-blowing and humbling.

So if I could leave you with one parting wish, I would like it to be this; never ever give up.  Acknowledge the battle between your head and your heart and let it continue without your involvement.  Believe in the whisper that reassures you that your choice to follow your chosen path will illuminate the best way forward at precisely the right time you need it.  Ignore the negative doubters and choose to believe in the creations that you’ve nurtured, honed and worked on until the wee hours of the morning.  Believe in the person you’ve become and the life you want to live.  Believe in what others say is impossible.  Believe in yourself. 

NANA

I’ve always been close to my grandparents.  My childhood is littered with memories of time spent with them; Sunday afternoon dinners, birthdays and Christmases filled with excitement and laughter.  I never went a week or two without seeing them.  Even when I reached adulthood, my internal alarm clock would remind me to phone at least once a week for a chat and to plan a visit.  Life’s eternal changes ring deep.  The last four months of my life has brought changes I never planned or anticipated.  I have given up a career in Police Scotland to pursue my dream of being a writer.  I have returned home after years away.  I’m starting again in every possible way.  A feat that’s equally daunting and exhilarating.


So when my Dad phoned to say that at 86, my Nana had passed away, it was a sudden blow I never expected.  She’s had Parkinson’s for many years, but it was losing my Granddad four years ago that led to her decline.  They were always together and the loss of her Andy hit her hard.  Sitting alone in the house listening to the dial tone after my Dad rang off, I tried to digest the news.    It’s was difficult to fathom that I’d never speak to my Nana again, that I wouldn’t hear her laugh as I kissed her cheek goodbye and told her to behave herself.  Then, without warning, the theme tune for ‘The Golden Girls’ began to play in my head, bringing back memories of staying with my Nana on a Friday night watching Blanche and Dorothy drinking hot chocolate.


The next day we went to her home, using the same route I’ve travelled all my life.  I was able to pretend until I walked into the living room and saw her empty chair.  In that moment, it hit me and I started to cry as I realised I’d never again visit for a cuppa and a chat and watch her wrestling with the TV remotes.    It’s hard to pack up someone’s life into boxes and put treasures so lovingly placed on a mantelpiece away from sight.  But as the weeks passed and the last night arrived, the emptiness of the house echoed our toast to Evelyn and Andy with a glass of glayva and we locked the door for the very last time.  Pausing to make the special knock on the window we always used so they knew it was us at the door.


The last few weeks although tinged with sadness brought back memories as we remembered the quirks of my Nana’s personality.  Evelyn Young was unique and I’ve never met anyone quite like her.  She was a strong lady confident in expressing her opinions, a trait my Granddad handled admirably, by waiting for her to finish speaking then asking “Are you done?”  She was proud of her family history, always sharing stories of her “Granny at the Toll” referring to the ancestral home in the West Wemyss.  She loved people and always used their full name when including them in a story.  She was always well turned out with a plethora of rings and brooches.  She shared her love of musicals with The Sound of Music and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers to the point where I know the words to every song.  She was generous, loyal and there was never a moment of our loves that we doubted her fierce love for us.

When it came to organising the Order of Service, my Dad asked me to look out some photographs.  When packing up the house, I was worried I’d forget the memories that gave so much comfort.  Hours passed as I searched the numerous boxes visiting the past in the form of holidays, days out and sunny days in the back garden.  Remembering the camera forever in her hand, and looking at the results, I realised I didn’t have to remember.  Nana had already done it for us.  She’s captured every moment of our lives together.

Nana also made it into my writing.  I didn’t purposely plan her inception into my creative world.  She has been a profound influence in my life.  How could she not be part of the world I created?  Memories of her holding the camera has started my own love affair with the lens and I can’t help but want to take photographs, understanding that they are not just a visual record but a snapshot of the memory for the future.

The people we love never truly leave us

If I could leave you with one parting wish, I would like it to be this; capture the moments.   Remember them through photography, art, song and word.  Imprint their memory into your soul and appreciate the moments they lovingly leave behind.  The people we love never truly leave us; we just can’t see them anymore.  So, I know my Nana will always be there because I feel her with every beat of my heart.

MUSIC MOOD CHANGER

I love music and can’t go a day without listening to it.  When my PTSD, now thankfully long gone, was at its very worst, watching television only festered it.  The pictures on the screen only reminded me that others lived their lives while I hid from mine.  Some days, I would sit in the kitchen feeling desperately ill and lonely, wondering if I had a future beyond the four walls I’d imprisoned myself within.


One day, frustrated and tired of the infernal silence, I picked up my mobile and played some music.  The quiet receded and its place in the form of notes and chorus emerged a smattering of hope.  Within minutes, I went from a vague numbness to feeling alive.  From then, I purposely integrated music into my daily life, seeing the silence in the room not as an echo of my existence but a space in which to share another’s creation.

I’m an eclectic music lover

I don’t do reality television or the soaps, no judgement; they just do nothing for me.  Instead, I’ve got a weird fascination with National Geographic documentaries on bigfoots, crop circles and a near obsession with Game of Thrones.   These wide ranging tastes also run to my playlist.  I’m an eclectic music lover, refusing to be tied down to a particular type of music instead enjoying a love affair encompassing a little bit of everything.  In all honesty, given a choice between the glass box in the corner and music, there’s no choice to be made but one of mood and memory.

For nostalgia I love the classics; Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Doris Day among them.  I have a soft spot for musicals; an interest fostered by my Nana and can’t help but smile when I hear ‘My Favourite Things’ from The Sound of Music.

For adrenalin, I need rock that gets your heart racing and threatens to burst your ear drums, in the form of the Foo Fighters, Linkin Park and AC-DC.  I prefer live performances, reminding me of sore hands and feet from attending concerts on a school (work) night, showing a raw version of the song, more in tune with what the musician wanted to communicate when they wrote it.

I have a burgeoning love affair with classical music, more to do with appreciation than knowledge of the pieces performed.  I’ve always loved Pachelbel’s Canon in D and The Flower Duet, and am of the humble opinion that ‘Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis’ performed at Proms 2012 is the best piece of classical music…ever.

I love film soundtracks enjoying the quiet instrumental pieces from ‘The Grey’ and the ‘Last of the Mohicans’.  I admire the selection of music by Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino that cleverly cultivate music as a pivotal character within their stories.  The opening scenes of ‘The Departed’ played against ‘Gimmie Shelter’ by The Rolling Stones is an act of genius.

I like the quirky individual.  The random songs you hear once and stay with you forever like ‘Chan Chan’ by Bueno Vista Social Club and ‘Homelands’ by Nitin Sawhney.  I like the cheeky fun ones.  I loved ‘Blurred Lines’, or ‘burnt water’ as my Mum once referred to it, with its hypnotic beat that I couldn’t help tap out with my fingers.

Music syncs easily with the scary and exhilarating life I’ve created for myself. 

Music syncs easily with the scary and exhilarating life I’ve created for myself.  I love the unpredictable nature and its aberration from routine.  When you hear a song for the first time, you’ve no idea what words will be sung, what direction a verse will take or what form the chorus will follow.  You have no idea why you like it or you don’t.  There’s no logic involved instead only the undefinable.  The magic that sparks from the creation and resonates with you, creating a connection and embedding a memory that stays with you forever.

For me, it’s the same when I write; I never analyse the reason or purpose to the images spilling from my head onto the blank page, only seeing myself as the conduit responsible for capturing the words.  At first, they appear messy and incoherent until the moment when everything clicks into place. I have same experience with reading.  I can’t explain why I feel like I’m eating a smooth bar of galaxy chocolate every time I open the latest Nora Roberts.  There’s a secret ingredient, a connection between the words and the experience that makes your soul sing.  As a writer, it’s my hope I can deliver this experience to my readers.

When I began writing, I started a You Tube playlist that would play in the background.  I have a knack of separating the two acts, managing to keep one ear on the music in the background and another on the images playing on my head.  Sometimes, I sought solitary silence, especially when I was held within the grip of the last three chapters of my trilogy.  I was so consumed with the world I’d envisioned in my head, and dreaded ending the story I loved, I needed the silence to cushion the myriad of emotions overwhelming me.

The power of invention is extraordinary

The power of invention is extraordinary, lifting you from the place you were faltering to where you’re meant to be.  Whether its music, art, photography or film.  Your production is your opus.  It’s sparks and lights a passion inside you that will never burn out.  Making you believe the impossible can come true.

So, if I could leave you with one parting wish this week, I would like it to be this; turn up the volume and follow the yellow brick road.  Let yourself be swept away.  Chase the undefinable and trust it will illuminate at the exact moment it’s meant to.  It’s worth the wait.  I promise you.

THE MAGIC MOMENTS

I love Christmas.   Absolutely everything about it.   The excitement, presents, turkey and all the trimmings, with obligatory chocolate and the endless disco naps needed to cope with it all.  I love buying presents, always getting a kick out of the look of surprise on the face of the person opening my gift.  I get misty eyed over Christmas tunes particularly “Fairytale of New York” by The Pogues and Kirsty McColl and can argue a justifiable case for playing them from 1st December.  I love the tingle of tangible excitement in the air, and the acts of kindness that come easier the closer 25th December comes.  This year, I started the tradition of the mad Christmas jumper, donning my robin with a scarf proudly, only swapping it for an acceptable substitute; a Christmas themed onesie.

In the midst of the celebrations, what mattered to me most were the unexpected special moments.  The look of love between my parents when my Dad opened an unexpected, but mentioned at every opportunity, gift that my Mum promised to hide until the afternoon, only to get over excited and hand it to him five minutes later.  The giggles and smiles of my nephew as he ran through a sea of bubbles from the ‘bubble gun’ Santa brought.  Then there was the moment after dinner, when tea was poured and the quality street tin was opened, that we spoke of the man who wasn’t there.

I think of my Granddad every day

I think of my Granddad every day, always with a smile.  He was a gentleman, with quiet ways.  Always dressed immaculately, he never left home without a cloth handkerchief, his pocket cap ‘bunnet’ and a packet of Weathers Originals.  Since I was a little girl, he affectionately called me ‘cuddles’ in testament to my tactile nature.  He lived for his golf, never missing tee off time and when my Dad wanted to place a commemorative bench at his golf club, we could only place it near the 6th hole, where he got his only hole in one.  He was modest, admitting, when prompted, that he’d won a medal for bravery during World War Two, saying “I lost a lot of friends” only for us to find two medals after he passed away and in my whole life I never once heard him utter a bad word about anyone.

When he left us, four years ago, and people learned he was 89 years old, they said he’d had “good innings” to comfort us.   We soon realised that no matter what age, you’re never ready to lose someone you love.  So, on Christmas Day, when we talked about this quiet man and all of his little idiosyncrasies, for a few brief magic moments he was there in the room with us.  We just couldn’t see him.

He never knew about my writing, and my secret notebook with character names and storylines but I’ve no doubt that he’d be proud of me.  Since I’ve begun storytelling, I’ve always based my characters on two or three people.  Not by plan or design, but mostly by kismet, that brings me into contact with a serendipitous combination of characters I need at that particular time.

Andy Young was too special not to share.

I will write about my Granddad one day and that character will be wholly him. But I couldn’t write about him without celebrating who he was, so I’ll remember him in the best way I know how; in the world of my imagination.  So, when you see his name in one of my stories you’ll know who he was too.  Andy Young was too special not to share.

So, if I could leave you with one parting wish, I would like it to be this; share your magic moments.  I believe that the people we love never truly leave us; but instead take refuge in our hearts and come alive when we remember them.  Celebrate all those you remember and share them in the best way know how through words, poetry, art or song.  He’s here with me now.  I believe it, just like he believed in me.     

LEAP OF FAITH

I walk every day.  It’s a recent habit encouraged by a change of circumstances and one, with hindsight, I wish I’d started sooner.  There’s a simplicity in the open air; in your footfalls falling on a pathway, in fresh, clean air that cleanses your nostrils and a strange comfort in the sharp coldness that awakens your limbs.  So, every morning, come rain, hail or shine, I don the trainers, plug in the earphones and walk.  This first hour of the day brings a clarity I never knew I needed; helping me to see what I’d been too muddled to before.

So a couple of days ago, when the weather turned colder, I didn’t to hesitate to leave the house, only pausing briefly to add a pair of gloves to my itinerary.  It wasn’t until I reached a nearby pathway that I realised something else had arrived overnight; black ice.  Gingerly, circumnavigating the invisible ice swirl pathway, I made the mistake of forgetting how clumsy I am, and got over confident, only to turn the corner, lose my footing and fall headlong into a Looney Tunes cartoon.  You know the one I mean; where Tom chases Jerry around the corner only to fly into the air before falling spectacularly down onto the ground?  That’s exactly what happened, and whilst I picked myself up from the ground and hastily checked for an audience to another clumsy incident, I couldn’t help but laugh, as my inventive life once again merged with my daily activities.

My epic fall reminded me of how I felt at the beginnings of my trilogy.  Recent submissions have led me to read over my manuscripts.  Immersing myself once more with the characters, places and world I conceived without rhyme or reason.  Now on the cusp of embarking on my next trilogy I find myself asking if I could do it again.  My physical fall, with the bruises to prove it, reminded me of the leap of faith I took when I began writing the story.  I had no synopsis; choosing instead to trust my characters would take me where I needed to go.  A faith that has been paid has been a thousand fold.

the euphoric high of that gigantic leap into the air as you launch into the unknown.

The emotions are the same; the euphoric high of that gigantic leap into the air as you launch into the unknown and the sharp bite of the low; as you crunch into the ground.  But sometimes, without realising, you need to fall to understand you’re strong enough to get back up again.  Trust your characters to keep speaking to you; encouraging you as their conduit, to tell their story.  Even once you finish, they won’t stop.  Rose, one of my protagonists, literally stood over me; belligerent and indignant, when I thought for a second of giving up.  Instead, insisting that I keep on sending her out to share her with the world.

take your leap of faith.

So if I could leave you with one parting wish, I would like it to be this; take your leap of faith.  Trust your instincts as you jump into the darkness to illuminate the story that you’re meant to write.  I’m about to jump again and it’s scary and as exciting as hell.   Who was I kidding thinking I could never give this amazing life up even for a second?  My creations will never leave me or the home I’ve made for them.  So, are you ready to take your leap of faith?  I am.  Here we go.  I’ll see you on the flip side.

PERSPECTIVE

Life’s unexpected events collide when you least expect it.  For me, 2013, has been a year of rehab.  A series of rollercoaster events that has taught me never to take anything for granted.  For in that moment when you think you one part of your life is bolted down and secure, it flies off into the air, leaving you staring wistfully after it, wondering how you got where you are in the first place.

listen as the words increase into a crescendo. 

I do what I always do in these situations; press my reset button and listen as the words increase into a crescendo.  Thundering through my head like a stampede of elephants demanding escape onto the nearest page.  Reinforcing my belief that writing is all the therapy I will ever need.

When writing my fantasy series, I happily lived in the world I created.  Immersing myself in my safe place with the characters and places I vividly imagined.   Never anticipating that my belief in the magic; in what you can’t see is just as real as what you can, would offer me a helping hand when I needed it most.

For there is magic in the invisible; in simple kind gestures that you never knew you needed; but squeeze your heart when you realise you are the lucky recipient.  Like the neighbour who stops and offers to help with that stubborn car bonnet.  Like the friends who text you every day just to say hello and make you smile.  Like the brother who teases a smile when you think you have none left.  Like the nephews who remind you that life for laughing and running – very fast.  Like the Aunt and Uncle who offer a glass of wine and a hug.  Like the Mum and Dad who accept you for who you are and provide chocolate when you are in danger of forgetting.

In this week where the unexpected became the norm, my Dad returned from a working trip in Eastern Africa.  His arrival followed two weeks of fractured calls home where he would describe a beautiful hotel surrounded by an empty land.  My Dad, the kind-hearted soul he is, arrived home with half a suitcase; having given away most of his clothes and shoes to the workers he met on his trip.  When asked he only said; “they have nothing and we have everything.”  Describing the ravaged clothes, bare feet and the stalls that sell empty plastic bottles; an item I naively considered worthless.  The small derelict shacks that hold families of eight and the barren land that does not yield enough food or water to feed them all.

So, this week, I leave you with no parting wish, but instead ask you to witness a lesson in perspective.  For in receiving the invisible; the magic.  I realise I am richer and luckier than I ever imagined or appreciated.  Look around for your magic.  It’s out there.  Then smile and say thank you.  I just did.

FAMILY FOLKLORE

Since childhood, the notion of storytelling has completely and utterly fascinated me.  My first memory of my favourite pastime comes from listening to a cassette of fairy tales that my parents had bought for me for Christmas.  Bringing back memories of princess pink bed covers and listening to ‘The Princess and the Pea.’  The words painting vivid pixelated pictures in my head of the Princess trying desperately to sleep on thirteen mattresses.


My foray back to childhood was prompted by thoughts of my next story; piquing an interest in my favourite folklore.  In the midst of the search, I began to think about my own family folklore, rekindling an interest in the stories that have stitched and weaved through the fabric of the lives intertwined with mine.

As a gesture of friendship, he sent her a treasured possession; his gold ruby ring.

There is story about my Nana and the ruby wedding ring.  During World War Two, my Nana had a pen friend from New Zealand, a gentleman named Claude who sustained injury during a campaign.  Although she refused a marriage proposal from Claude, she continued the friendship until she met and married my granddad in 1952.  As a gesture of friendship, he sent her a treasured possession; his gold ruby ring as a wedding gift for the girl he hoped to marry but was never destined to.  My granddad wore that ring until he left us.  Now my Dad wears it, to remember the man we lost and still miss every day and Claude, who died shortly after my grandparents married, is forever remember for his kindness to my family.

Then there is the tale from my Mum’s side of the family centring on my Granddad and his return from Kelty Club on a Saturday night in the 70s.  My Granddad, a loveable rogue of a man, was so intent on saying goodbye to friends that he spun unexpectedly and face planted into the hedge behind him.  Until the wee hours the only sounds that could be heard in the house were the bursts of giggles coming from my Gran as she remembered what happened.


Then there was the time, my Mum, Dad, brother and I were on Stirling High Street and my Dad suddenly stopped walking.  When we turned round to see what the matter he gasped out “Did you see that?” and pointed to a woman walking down the road.  “That was….Gloria Estefan!”  Bemused, we turned around to see a woman with curly red hair getting into a battered old mini.  To this day and with complete justification, we continue to tease my Dad mercilessly about his fan boy moment but he remains adamant that one day in the early 1990s Gloria Estefan was in Stirling – keeping it real.

“That was….Gloria Estefan!”


My exploration of family lore has prompted an interested in fabled and hidden treasure, inspiring a trip to Rosslyn Chapel, made infamous by The Da Vinci Code.  My visit encouraged not just by the musings of Dan Brown, but by the stories of Knights Templar Treasure that is rumoured to be hidden beneath the walls, protected by the intricate carvings dotted around the structure.  My recent musings on storytelling led me to ponder a question.  Where do we the modern storytellers of the digital age sit amongst these legends of lore?  What will my ancestors think of my creative mutterings hundreds of years from now?  I guess that’s one question I’ll never have an answer to.  I still feel the same hope that I do with the readers with me in this time, that somewhere among the twisted sentences and verb formations that a word or a sentence strikes those who need it and helps them become the person they are meant to be.  That’s what I think my job as a Writer is; to add a little splodge of colour to the great creative landscape.   To add a little part of me that will stay within this space and mean something to someone…somewhere.  That’s what happens to me when I see a painting, a photograph, hear a song or read a poem or story.  For a moment while my eyes adjust to the colours and my mind takes in the words; I am transported on a journey manifested by the person who created it.  It’s invisible, untouchable and pure unfathomable magic.


So, if I could leave you with one parting wish, I would like it to be this; tell your fable.  When I open the cover of a new book, I feel a frisson of excitement as my eyes hungrily scan the words unread and yet to be realised within my imagination.  The 6-year old hiding within me does a little victory dance, in celebration of all things creative and my everlasting belief in what you can’t see is just as special as what you can.  We are all living lore.  So, splash paint over your cave wall and share your hopes, dreams and stories.  Leave your imprint to be celebrated and mused over by future generations.  I dare you.

THE LAST DAY

I guessed how I would feel today; relief and euphoria mixed in with a little sadness.  This is the day I has been either thinking about or planning for a year; hoping reverently that the image in my head would match up with the reality I had instigated.  It ended with a short four-word sentence.  Four words that I have dreaming of writing for a year.  The small sentence does not appear to mean much.  But to me, after three books, 128,000 words and a year of my life; they mean the world.  Telling me that my absolute belief, in the smidgen of a story, its characters and their fates, become so much bigger than I ever imagined.

I wasn’t meant to finish this soon.  A month ago, a sudden desire to finish the story came upon me.  Trusting my instincts and following the wish without rhyme or reason, I gave myself a self-imposed deadline upon which to have the story finished.  In the last week, my characters gathered and shouted as a crowd, chasing me in my dreams, urging me to finish the story as they chased me through woods and mountains into fathomless black water outlined by vivid purple skies.  In finishing the story I fulfilled a secret wish to myself.  My initial ideas for my fairy tale were so random and perplexing that I only had trust and instinct to guide me.  Being relatively new at the writing game, I’m without the years of experience that would point the compass in the right direction.  So when I took my initial chapters to my writing class to gauge opinion, I listened when my experienced writing teacher said three magic words; “finish the story.”  Taking the advice to heart, I kept writing ignoring the temptation to edit the obvious mistakes in composition and grammar obvious on review.

My mood bounced from euphoric to passionate and I have never felt more alive.  

In the last month, as the rush of excitement and consumption with my story increased I felt like I was living a dual existence.  My own life took on a fanatic pace whilst the world of my imagination continued playing in my head, unrelenting, refusing to let go until I typed the very last word.  Despite the conflicting priorities, this time has been amongst the happiest of my life.  My mood bounced from euphoric to passionate and I have never felt more alive.  Even wishing I could invite other people into my head like a tourist guide for the dream like state where my characters existed.  The world you have created so much a part of you its stitched itself onto your soul.  My mood communicated to those around to the point where a lady at my gym who I see about a week commented; “whenever I see you, you are always smiling.”  During the same time, part of me wanted to delay the ending.  Asking why couldn’t stay forever in the world I loved?  So part of me dreaded that last sentence.  Knowing I would cry as I said goodbye to the characters I conceived, loved and have saved me in more ways than I can fathom.  On the last day I lingered for hours over the words on the screen, reluctant to let go but knowing that I must.  For the very moment I stopped typing, the happiness and euphoria ripped through me like a tidal wave and I knew I would forever be addicted to storytelling.

So, what should I do next?  A few months ago, circumstances gave me time to edit Book One of the Trilogy so pending a submission letter and a synopsis it’s ready to go and my well-thumbed copy of the Children’s Writers and Artists Yearbook is finally being put to use.  Knowing I respond well to a personal challenge, I have given myself another self-imposed deadline.  I must follow my own path.  My desire to find an audience for this story is all consuming and my characters still feature in my nightly visions, refusing to leave until I send off the e-mails and brown envelopes.  Whilst I secretly hope they never completely leave.  Two days later the next story began calling.  Ideas began to spark from pictures, television programmes and random thoughts.  I started writing them down just as I did a few years ago.  I already know the title and the main character have begun to whisper and I can’t wait to get to know them better.

So, if I could leave you with one parting wish, I would like it to be this; finish the story and trust your instincts.  Believe in taking step down the dark unrevealed path.  Your trust and willingness to take a chance will repay your faith.  You are a creator.  It’s your job to share the peeks from the invisible world and share your unique view with the world.  Go for it and trust what your creative soul is telling you.  It will give you a new life you never imagined.  

I promise. 

KINK IN THE MACHINERY

Photographs have always fascinated me.  I could stare at them for hours whether it’s in a newspaper, an art gallery, in a book shop or online.  They remind me of visits to the library with my Dad.  Deep-routed, hazy memories of being around seven years old, sitting in a corner, with a dozen books around me.  I was awestruck, not only by their words but also the coloured pictures, while Dad lingered, waiting patiently for me to finish.

The snapshot in my head is already writing a story

At weekends, I like to go somewhere interesting either in the countryside, near some water or somewhere else unusual.  Our expeditions are always interrupted by me stopping and taking numerous photographs.  To help you understand, for me, taking or looking a photograph has never been that singular simple act.  I have always seen more than what is right in front of me.  The snapshot in my head is already writing a story, playing for me like a film on a cinema screen.  I know where it takes place; the characters; names, description, quirks and the part of the story I want to progress.  Then the first line pops into my head and I’m there; living in the world of my imagination.  I am free.  Standing there, stock still, enchanted by what’s before me and its accompanying soundtrack, I do what comes naturally.  I capture the image.

This photograph was taken on a murky Sunday morning at a country park near our home.   I wasn’t even thinking about my fantasy series at the time.  Instead, I was wondering why I had left my gloves at home that morning.  Then I turned a corner at the loch, and wham, in that moment, I had the start of my next chapter.  I didn’t see the mist falling over the trees or the reflective, clear glass water.  Instead, I saw the breaking dawn on the day of battle.  I saw the fear in my characters eyes and I felt the adrenalin pumping through their veins.  I was so close I could smell the sweat off their bodies and finally, I could see who survived and who didn’t.

That’s what creative people do, whether it’s going for walk, staring into space or enjoying that shot of caffeine.  The creation is always there in the background, forming, settling and anticipating its inception.  It’s alive within you.  You just have to set it free.  So if I could leave you today, with one parting wish, I would like it to be this.  Don’t be afraid to let your imagination go wild.  Drink in what excites your senses and let it inflame your soul.  For that image may turn out to be the spark that lights your passion, giving you the story that will change you forever.

It’s the kink in my machinery and I love it.