Tag Archives: Creative writing

A loss of creativity

Unable to think outside the box

Have you ever read something that you have written years after you wrote it and wondered, “Where on earth did that come from?  Did I really write that?”

That happened to me earlier tonight.  I was looking back at some of my very  early writing and while reading one short story had no recollection of writing it.  If it hadn’t been a rough draft in my own handwriting I would have thought someone else had written it.

Normally when I read stories or articles I have written I get memories of where I was sitting, what I was thinking, where the inspiration came from etc, but for this piece I have a complete blank.  Why would that be?

Anyway, going back over some of my old stuff will hopefully inspire me to write some new stories.  I have been overwhelmed by emotional issues for quite some time now, and as a result have been on medication which I believe has hindered my creativity.  Oh, I still get ideas, but instead of being sparks that last long enough to be fanned into something more substantial, these are like instantaneous flashes that die and fall away before there is any chance of moulding them into anything useful.

Now that I can acknowledge my lack of creativity and the possible cause of it, I hope to formulate a plan to get me back into some kind of writing routine.  I miss writing, a lot, and I really want to get back on track – I’m just not sure how to do that yet.

So, while I’m trying my best to get some kind of story down, you will probably see a few more contributions from my unbelievably talented young cousin, Lucinda.

Fire

The following is a guest post by my 11-year-old cousin, Lucinda Cubbard.  Please feel free to leave some feedback for her in the comments section below.

Nobody guessed that it would happen.  The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and I was enjoying listening to the Old Gum telling stories of ancient times.  It was always great fun to listen to him.  He would explain everything in great detail, and would recite his stories slowly and carefully, as if it would demolish the purpose of the tale if he were to mispronounce a word.  I usually interrupted him while he was mid-way through a sentence to ask what something meant, but he was always patient with me and didn’t seem to mind if I expressed my curiosity, unlike all the other Old Trees.

He told tales of all sorts.  Sometimes he spoke of aboriginal rituals and beliefs, and other times he tutored me on forest ways.  All in all, he’s a great tree. Today, he was telling me about how whip birds cried to each other as a way of talking.

“Truly beautiful creatures,” he rustled.  “You may think that whispering through leaves is the best way to communicate, but I’m telling you now youngster, the feathered critters are geniuses when it comes to speech.  They are also the best ones to rely on when it comes to sending messages. The tune of the bird song stays in their head you see, so it is nigh impossible that they would forget the message.  And their wings are an ideal way to travel, as it makes them faster than most animals and they can also get through places when nearly nobody else can.  As you can see, they are the ideal mes-…“

“How fast could they get over the mountains?” I asked. “Surely they can’t go any faster than a brumby.”

“Oh, they can go much faster than a brumby, youngster.”  He seemed very amused by my question.  “They can get over the mountains in about an hour or so.”

“Really?”  A small shiver from his leaves sent me an affirmative.

“So as I was saying, whip birds are the ideal messengers.  Curlews are also good messengers, but not as so.  Their strong voices can be extremely useful, but not to someone who’s a mile away.  No, if you ever have the choice between a whip bird or a curlew to take a message, choose the whip bird.  Now I’m going to catch myself some shut eye, as I suggest you do too.  I have a meeting with Boobook tonight, and it’s probably going to go on for a while. ”

And with that he dozed off.  I watched him sleep for sometime, but I quickly grew bored.  I gazed up into my leaves, seeking out the purple flowers that I was now old enough to have.  As a jacaranda, I was supposed to gain my first flowers this Summer.  It had been a week since the first of December, and I was getting worried.

“They will come with time.”  Old Gum had told me when he had once caught me searching my branches for a blossom.  Lost in thought, I kept searching my leafy branches.  Five minutes passed and still no flowers.  I gave up and examined a bellbird perched on Old Gum.  I wondered if bellbirds were as good as whipbirds at messaging.

“Go to the Ancient Holly and tell him that his flowers are the finest in the whole forest,” I said to it.  The bird cocked its head and flew off.  Shock filled me.  I hadn’t intended it to actually work.  Oh well, the flowers were quite spectacular.

Suddenly, a curlew cried its blood curdling call from somewhere in the distance.  It sounded strained and panic filled.  I squinted in the direction of its scream.  Black smoke was rising from a few trees.  Horror blossomed in my trunk as I realised what the cause of the curlew’s alarm was.

“FIRE!! FIRE!!” I yelled. “FIRE!!”

The Old Gum was instantly awoke to my shrieks.

“What?” he yawned.

“FIRE!! FIRE!!”

The black smoke was approaching us quicker than a possum gliding through the trees.

“FIRE!! FIRE!!”

I glimpsed a golden flame slithering its way towards me.  Dread drowned my heart.  No longer could I scream.  The soil around my roots was suddenly dry and acid-like smoke was filling the small clearing that I grew in.  Flames whipped my trunk, setting it ablaze.  I cringed in agony as the inferno engulfed me.  It was as if the entire world was being set alight.  Through the flames, I saw many birds soaring from the trees.  Creatures of all sorts were shooting past my trunk.  I wanted to scream for help, but my throat was drier than a rock in the Simpson Desert.  And any way, who would stop to help a mere tree when their own life was in danger?

Glancing to my left, I saw that Old Gum was also alight.  But he seemed calm.  It was as if he welcomed the thought of death.  Well, I certainly didn’t!  Pain shook my body as my branches crumbled to ash.

“Hmmmm…,”  I thought.  “It looks like I won’t be getting any flowers today!”

I was disgusted by my own black humour.  With a sickening crunch, my trunk gave way, unable to bear the heat.  I tumbled down, and for a dreadful moment, the world spun.  Round and round.  The sky was now a charcoal black, or was that the ground?

That was when I blacked out.

*   *   *

With a groan, I reluctantly opened my eyes.  I had to blink a few times because of a shining light.  When my eyes adjusted, I saw that the dazzling light was the sun.  The sun, shining through what looked like black and white bones protruding out of the ground.  I looked closer and realised with a shock that they were not bones but trees.  Burnt trees.

Suddenly, memories started pouring into my mind.  I remembered that there had been a fire. I grimaced at the recount of my agony of being set ablaze.

This led me to remember that I had collapsed and rolled along the ground.  But if I was on the ground, then the world would be horizontal, not vertical.  I scanned the clearing, searching for my trunk.  I noticed that the ground did seem a lot closer to me now than it had before.  Ignoring this fact, I continued to hunt for my body.  And there it was.  A lifeless log was resting against another tree.  I recognised it as mine immediately.  Sadness filled me like water into a jug.  An empty jug at that.  It took me a while to realise what tree my body was resting on.

“Old Gum!” I exclaimed.  I was surprised I could talk after my voiceless episode last night. “Old Gum! You’ve grown!”

The ancient tree smiled down at me.  His trunk and branches were now white and black.  His branches were bare, which sort of disturbed me, for I had known him for my entire life, and he always had had leaves clouding his top half.  Only now that I saw the tips of his branches did I realise how big he was. He had known I was awake, but had chosen to let me recuperate instead.

“No, Jacky, you’ve shrunk.”

I stared up at him in dismay.  It was true.  I was now nothing more than a pile of roots and a small section of trunk.  The old tree saw my misery and then said, “You should be grateful to be alive.  That fire did some serious damage to you, but still, you survived.  And anyway, now I get to see you grow up all over again!!”

© Lucinda Cubbard 2011

Alone

She sits in the dark

and starts to cry

and doesn’t let

herself

wonder why

if people knew

they didn’t do

but turned their

backs,

and now

everything turns

to black.

The Awakening

This is unedited and incomplete.

I don’t know why you bother with all this shit, you know.  You’ll never amount to anything anyway.”

Mandy glared at her father as he walked away from her.  He was always saying stuff like this, always tell her how useless she was and how she was good-for-nothing, and would never do anything with her life.  She had learnt that reacting in any way to his assertions would result in a pounding that would have her trying to hide bruises for the next two weeks.  Of course, not hiding the bruises well enough, and raising the suspicions of neighbours or teachers would result in another belting in order to teach her a lesson.

Most of the time Mandy accepted what her father told her, and assumed that he was speaking the truth, but for some reason, she was now finding this harder to do.  It was also becoming more difficult to lay still and quiet on the nights that he came to her bed…

The Past and Present

Dear Quondam,

There are some things I need to say to you.  Words I should have said a long time ago, but never had the courage to say.  Things that have lain between us for nearly twenty years, left unsaid and festering.  Now the scab has been removed from the wound in my heart, and it is time to clean out the mess, including what has been left by these unspoken words.

I think you now know that our time together was doomed from the start.  Right from the very beginning, in fact years before we met, our future had been destroyed by the things that had been taken by force from me as a child, by someone who was meant to protect me.  I was not whole, even at our first meeting, so our feelings for each other never had a hope of blossoming into anything more than nameless, shapeless forms that were destined to remain unidentified and unexplored.

Oh, we tried to make things work, I know that, but neither of us had the knowledge, experience or skills to understand that our problems were not really ours.  The problems that we had, well ninety-nine percent of them anyway, were rooted in all the secrets I carried with me.  In all the fears I tried to keep buried, all the nightmares I never told you about, and my constant expectation that the world would end without warning if you became to close to me emotionally.

Thanks to our ignorance, when we parted I did not feel the slightest twinge of sadness and regret.  To be honest, I didn’t feel anything, not even indifference.  I just carried on and tackled the challenges that came my way to the best of my abilities.  I never regretted or begrudged our time together, but I didn’t dwell on our past or fantasise about a reunion either.

Almost two decades later I am feeling somewhat overwhelmed and confused.  All the feelings that I never identified or acknowledged are now pouring out of my inner core.  With each conversation that we have, I am not only flooded with memories, but with the unacknowledged feelings that go with them.  Did I really feel all of this at the time?  Or am I now creating fantasies of what should have been?

It is hard to know if these feelings were there in the past or not.  I would like to think that they were.  It would be nice to think that the unconscious parts of ourselves did know that we truly cared for each other, even if our conscious minds didn’t care less.

When I talk to you now, I feel like you know who I really am.  I feel as though I can tell you anything and you will not judge me, nor will you feel any differently about me after listening to what I have to say. I feel as though I can turn to you when the chips are down and that you will be there to pick me up.  I feel as though we are connected on a soul level, and that no matter what we do, that connection will only ever get stronger not weaker.  I feel like we have wasted too many years not speaking, not caring, and not listening.  I feel tempted to make up for lost time.

On the other hand, I know that things will never change.  We will never be anything more than what we are right now – but there isn’t a name for whatever we are.  We’re not lovers, but we have been.  We’re not friends, but we could have been.  We’re not family, but we should have been.

I will never recover the things that were stolen from me, I know that now, but I am learning that I can live without them.  I wish I had learnt it sooner, so that we could have benefited from an amazing opportunity to build a life together.

The final thing I want to say right now is “Thank You”, and I look forward to talking to you again soon.

Yours in memory,

Au Courant

They Told Me To Write

This is all I have written in the last 24 hours.  It’s not much, but it is at least something.  This piece is not finished, and as always, it is unedited.

They told me to write, so I did.  That’s how I came to be here, sitting on Death Row, waiting for them to take my life.

I can almost see you scratching your head, wondering how on earth the simple act of writing could lead to Death Row.  There’s probably a dozen different scenarios running through your mind right now, but I’ll bet you ten quid that none of them are as far-fetched as the truth.

It all started twenty years ago.  I was a witness in a trial and I had to speak the truth about my past.  Half-way through my cross-examination, my voice faltered at first, and then died completely.  I became mute, trapped inside my body, alone with my thoughts, and unable to communicate without the aid of the written word…….

When Enough is Enough

“What the hell do you want from me Steven?”

Steven turned away from Marie as she yelled at him.  He had heard this so many times before and he still didn’t have an answer.  This was how their arguments always ended – with her shouting this question and him walking out of the house.  Today, however, was going to be different.

“Marie,” Steven said as he turned to face her again.  “We need to talk about this when you’ve calmed down a bit.  I don’t want to argue with you any more, but there are some things I have to say.”

Marie looked surprised.  This wasn’t what she was expecting.  Steven was supposed to storm out of the house – he always did once things had progressed this far.  What was she meant to say, or do, now?

Steven left the room and walked to the kitchen.  He filled the kettle and methodically went about making a pot of tea.  He needed to do something to calm his nerves.  Concentrating on measuring the leaves into the pot, he started to breathe slowly and deeply.  Steven knew that if he lost his resolve he might not have another opportunity to speak his mind for a very long time.

Marie did not emerge from the bedroom until Steven was half-way through his first cup of tea.  The variation from their normal argument ‘routine’ had thrown her.  Confusion replaced anger and she was becoming anxious about what Steven would say.  Why had she been angry in the first place?  Marie couldn’t remember exactly what had set her off, perhaps it was the tone she had detected when Steven had asked her what was for dinner.

Not knowing what their argument was about was nothing new.  Marie often wondered later what they had been fighting about.  All she knew was that Steven would say something, or do something, and then they would be screaming at each other and she would ask him what he wanted from her.  Then Steven would leave the house for an hour or so, and when he returned it would be as if nothing had ever happened.

Steven always left the house.  Always.

Except today.

Steven poured tea into a cup for Marie as she came into the kitchen.  He motioned to her to take a seat at the dining table, and he took the cups over to sit with her.  As he sat down, Steven looked at Marie and took a deep breath.

Exhaling slowly, Steven asked, “Are you feeling a little calmer now?”

Marie nodded but did not speak.  She was not sure what she should say.

“Marie,” Steven said, “There’s some things I need to talk to you about.  I know this is probably not the best time, but I don’t think there will ever be a good time.”

Marie took a sip of her tea.  It was hot and burnt her lips and tongue, but she swallowed slowly and indicated for Steven to continue.

“I can’t do this anymore, Marie,” Steven said.  “I can’t take one more argument about nothing.  I can’t watch you go through your rollercoaster of emotions anymore.  I can’t live here any more Marie.  I’m sorry.”

Marie willed herself not to show any emotion.  She had known this day would come.  She had known her emotional instability was too much for Steven to bear.  She had seen the signs that he was no longer able to cope.  She understood his need to leave her.  All of this did not, however, lessen the pain caused by the confession of his feelings.

“Steven, we have talked about this before,” Marie said.  “We talked about what we would do when you could not cope anymore.  I have tried, you know that.  I appreciate the support you have given me so far, and I know it hasn’t been easy for you.”

Steven lowered his head and said, “I am really sorry Marie.  I know you are doing everything you can, but I just can’t keep walking on egg-shells all the time.  I never know what mood you are in from one minute to the next.  What was a joke five minutes ago can become a full-on war without notice.  I just can’t take it anymore.”

“So, what do we do now?” Marie asked.

“I’m going to pack a bag and find a place to stay,” Steven replied.  “I’ll get the rest of my stuff when I’ve found somewhere permanent.”

Steven couldn’t look at Marie as he spoke.  His eyes were brimming with tears, and he didn’t want her to know how much he was hurting.  He also didn’t want to see the pain that he knew he would find in Marie’s eyes.  Yes, they had talked about what would happen if it all became too much for him, but those conversations had always made the decision seem easy.  Neither of them had considered that they would still love each other when the time came for the decision to be made.  Well, he had never considered it.

By now, Marie had completely forgotten that they had been fighting less than an hour before.  All she could think about was how much pain she was in, and how hard it must be for Steven to tell her this.  She had seen the tears in his eyes and had started berating herself for being such a horrible person.  Why did she have to be the cause of so much pain?  Why did she have to be so abnormal and have no control over her emotions?  If she were normal, Steven would not be going through this right now, and he would not have had to endure ten years of hell while being in a relationship with her.

Steven left the table when he saw Marie become focused on her thoughts.  He could guess some of what she was thinking.  She almost glazed over when she started turning on herself, and he had seen this so often before.  This time though, Steven had to be strong or he would be in danger of losing his own sanity.  He would go and pack his bag, but he would call Marie’s counsellor when he left so someone could come and stay with her.  He knew the consequences his leaving might have, but he couldn’t think about that now.  He had to go.

Marie was still sitting at the table when Steven came back with his overnight bag.  She looked up at him and could not stop her tears from overflowing.  Wiping them away with the back of her hands she said, “It’s okay Steven.  I understand.”

Steven nodded and touched her on the shoulder.  “I’ll give Jeff a call and let him know what’s happened.  He’s been a good counsellor for you Marie, you need to keep seeing him, okay?  You need to keep working on this.  I’d like to say that I’ll be there for you, but I really need a break – some time to work on me.  Who knows though, maybe someday…”

“Steven, don’t make promises you can’t keep,” Marie said.  “Yes, I’ll keep working on it.  You take care of you.  I’m really sorry.  I know you’ve been through so much because of me.  I hope you find some happiness, I really do.”

Steven patted Marie’s shoulder, then turned and walked to the door.  He didn’t turn before he went out, and Marie didn’t say anything more.

Just like that, she was on her own – and she had no idea what to do now.