Family Writers

There are those in the family who love to write, prose or poetry, those who love to paint and some do both.  One grandchild is doing journalism at University.  This urge to write comes from a long way back. 

My great grandfather on my paternal side owned and was the Editor of the Boorowa News sometime in the eighteen hundreds.  His brother went to Dublin, Ireland, and opened a book store, Eason’s, which is quite famous.  My uncle wrote a book about himself and his family growing up in the early twentieth century and his son has written a book about cricket, having himself played for Australia. 

Myself, I have always written letters, not wonderful epistles from boarding school, I might add, but doing the dutiful thing with “I am well.  How are you?” and not much else.  As our letters were vetted before being posted on, there was not much to say that wouldn’t have incriminated us, like “I hate this place”, “I stood in the corner all day yesterday, I hate this place”,  “The food is awful, I’m always hungry.  I hate this place”.

Still, in later years, married and with children of my own, my mother, at the time living in Raratonga, received great long screeds of letters from me telling of our daily life, the funny things that had happened, exploits of the children growing up.  She didn’t ever reply but my stepfather, who was himself a journalist, did write long letters back to me, commenting on the things I had written and telling me of their lives over there, the trips by boat to and from Australia and New Zealand, the tropical flowers and weather, my mother’s ability to belly-dance along with and as well as the Raratongan women.  His letters were amazingly entertaining and informative and the more he wrote, the more I wrote, he more I noticed what was going on in our small community, the weather, dust storms, welcome rains when they came.  In a way I was having lessons from him without either of us being aware that this was happening and he helped to foster in my this love of words.  I was always a reader and of course this helps..   

He was a professional, after all, having not only been a journalist but also having written a book about being brought up by his father, travelling around the Polynesian Islands where his father was a trader in pearls.  In the book he tells of being only fourteen years of age when he witnessed his father being hacked to death by some crazy native as they were about to board a boat leaving one of the islands.  His father was well respected and well liked but this was just some random attack by someone, probably drunk or under the influence of some other form of intoxication. I don’t remember in the book how he spent the next years of his life until becoming an adult but do know that he was fleeced of much of his father’s money during these years because he knew nothing of his father’s affairs. 

This was a strange relationship.  I didn’t particularly like him and I am pretty sure he didn’t particularly like me but we had this affinity of writing and it went on for at least three or four years until he and my mother separated. She never mentioned him again and as she lived until she was 98 and died ten years ago, I presume he is well and truly dead himself by now. 

What makes a person start to write and what keeps the urge going about what you see and what you hear.  Are we story-tellers?  In he times of our distant ancestors would we have been some of the ones to pass on the legends word for word as they did before writing was invented?  How did it all start, the written word instead of the verbal telling of the stories?  Looking at the ancient Runes in a museum in Bergen, Norway, makes me think of these beginnings.  They claim to have the oldest Runes in the world and you can almost see a likeness of what was to come, and so the love of words began.

I have been to many writers’ workshops over the years and the last one was in Dublin, a couple of years ago with Monchan Magan, an entertaining, informative and inspiring Irish writer.  There were about fifteen of us at this workshop and I was blown away by the talent which was emerging over there.  Will be looking out for their writings in the near future.

We had to write a couple of short pieces while at the workshop and he had us read them out.  I find this a bit nerve wracking but good experience.  In the end he asked us to submit a short piece to him personally and he would assess it and let us know what he thought.  This was my piece:

THE DEVELOPER

Evidence of his presence was everywhere.  Huge, ugly structures going up overnight, or so it seemed, and without me even setting eyes on him.

I came across him unexpectedly, going up the stairs early one morning.  He had strung a rope across from one bannister to the other.  Half asleep, I ran into it.  As I did I realised he was still there but my upward momentum carried me forward and I kneed him as I reached the top step.  He went sprawling across the floor but without first biting me on my own knee, stinging and jerking me fully awake.  He was lying there, stunned and frightened.  I was startled but on looking closer saw that he had broken a leg and was having difficulty moving. 

After all this time of searching for him with murderous intent, wanting to put a stop to his career, here he was, lying there, black and white, pretty, frightened, injured. 

I hesitated for a moment then, slipping a piece of paper under him I picked him up and gently deposited him out the window onto a branch. 

The developer was, of course, a spider.

Monchan had told us that he had built a strawbale house and I had told him we had done likewise and enclosed a couple of photos of the exterior and interior to show what ours was like.  This was his reply: 

Patricia

Sincerest apologies for the delayed reply. ...

It's hard to underestimate how much I love that piece of writing. It had me totally captivated for every word of it, trying to work it out, make head or tail of it. It was so well written that there was clearly great intent, and thus meaning behind it, and so I was desperate to work it out. I was hooked. So strong, so simple and such a great reveal at the end.

Your house too is enviable... so idiosyncratic, cosy and characterful..... I think my favourite line of all of your email is the following one which is so  humorous and natural and human: " There is also a kitchen but the photo has a fat person in it and she is too fat to air brush out so you can't have that either."

What a pleasure to receive an email such as your... My sincerest thanks

Manchán

What made me start this Blog?  Mainly, as I have said in the Musings, just that, bits of my life for posterity or for anyone finding it interesting.  Each person’s life is different and changing times bring this to the forefront so clearly.  My children’s lives are different to mine and their children’s lives are completely different again.

When my children asked me to write about my life as a child I wrote screeds about my grandmother and growing up with her in a tiny town.  These are all somewhere here and this computer and I haven’t looked at them for years.  They probably aren’t particularly interesting to my children now and certainly not to my grandchildren.  I don’t know if I would find them particularly interesting to myself at this stage but will have a look one day. 

My son, Andrew, is however, a writer, a poet.  Where did that come from?  As he was growing up I didn’t notice any sign of this emerging writer but emerge he did and I think his poetry is wonderful.  I would, of course, being his mother, but that is by the by.

I’ll ask him to be a guest on this my Blog in the near future and see if he’ll oblige me. In the meantime, you can see the calibre of his writing by going to  hullyjoe.com  and see what you think.  I must ask him how he started writing.  Maybe sometime over a lovely bottle of wine, he’ll enlighten me. 

His daughter is the aspiring journalist who also has a Blog of her own and I would also like to have her as a guest on this, my Blog, as well.  I have suggested it but she hasn’t said yea or nay at this stage.  A guest on your grandmother’s Blog?  Not the coolest thing around.