Death of A Sandwich

On a beautiful hot and sunny night in the merry month of May, with the promise of a few hot days in the garden, fence painting and catching up on other essential work, after being in mourning, why oh why did I volunteer to write the May blog? I have more than enough on my plate to do in the next two weeks before we leave for a wedding in sunny Cyprus, besides I am not as good at being funny or as articulate as the seasoned blog writers in the group!! I think it was the double act look from the Chairperson Debbie and Marian that seemed to send a laser beam locking on to my direct eye contact that forced me to say feebly, yes me, I will do it!!

So here goes!!

I found my mind wandering through the evening as it was one of those nights when sunshine fills the outside air and inside all was merry and light too amongst the writers, after all it is May! Little did we know at the start of the meeting just what treats were in store!! We completed a brilliant exercise from Shona about death, or rather an eulogy about a sandwich and ended the meeting with a humorous poem from David about the forthcoming election. Not much different than death really!! It was an amazing funny poem; I so want to read it again and wondered for the millionth time, whenever I listen to work like this, why can’t I write something just as mind blowing, to hold the group in the palm of my hands with mirth and laughter too?

The exercise about death has made me think more since Monday about our lives and that of the sandwich whose eulogy we had to write about which produced work including recipes, philosophy and a frying pan full of ingredients surrounding death in its many forms.

I was reminded of the book and film called “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak narrated by death and I often think about our souls and how we go on long after our death, whether it be a sandwich or a living person or animal or plant death, feelings exist right to the very last second.   I know this to be true as we spent an entire week 24/7 with my father-in-law and said our sad final goodbyes to him with love and a sprinkling of humour too, during many tender and poignant moments in that week. It made all of us feel loved so much by him, he was strong and brave right to the end, likewise we were strong too for him!! To get the chance to say goodbye is so special. Remember this next time you bite into your sandwich!!

Talking of eulogies reminded me of a poem that I wrote for his 90th birthday 7 years ago. The poem captured my father-in-law during his life with us, how our children continue his sayings too in their lives, like “rack of the eye” and “see you on the wing” whenever we said goodbye to him. Everything is full circle don’t you think? Repeated over through centuries gone and those yet to come!! That’s why we write to keep history going forever and to be remembered for the legendary concepts we are!!

Throughout our meeting on Monday 8th May, I found myself trying to stall thoughts of death as I wrote, by drifting in and out of summer blue skies, warm golden sunshine on my face, the sea lapping at my feet. The musky perfume smell of the garden after rain has fallen, our writing group holiday with Liz as our outstanding host over in the Dordogne Valley, where the view from the window had a fairy tale castle looking back at us. The fresh bread that we went for every morning, the cakes and pastries from the Boulangeries, no one can make bread and cakes like the French do! The pleasure of walking down the lane in summer to choose and drool over the breakfast fare for the group, by those of us who were up early, wanting the chance of an early dawn stroll. The wine that tasted like nectar as we shared life together, watching the sun set and the hot air balloons drifting lazily across the view from the balcony.

My happier thought drifting did not last long; death surrounded us as we all wrote our pieces, thinking of a fitting eulogy for a humble sandwich. Just writing this blog, I am thinking more things, such as the death of the grapes that went into making our wine, the feet that trampled on them in the vats, is that person dead now that made the wine so long ago? Death is around all of us daily with his bag of souls and the need to have one more to fill his bag!!

We live our lives every day, never knowing the moment, day or hour that in a Nano second, life is over and ended!! So we learn to live our lives to the full, including the chance to write more each day. I learnt that once more on Monday night, in the very merry month of May, when I listened and applauded all of you for being such amazing talented writers and friends!!

 

Linda Leigh, May 2017

Writing Exercises

Some people seem reluctant to take their turn to write an entry in this most auspicious Vale Royal Writers’ Group blog thing.

But not I.

Last month I seized the nettle of fame with both grasping hands, unable to contain my enthusiasm, and then eager for the meeting to end so that I could get home and start penning my masterpiece!

And then I got distracted.

I now have about 30 minutes to come up with something, and I have made a mental note never to volunteer again.

Yes, I have become one of the reluctant ones.

Anyhow, here we are… and rather than just moan about how I have no inspiration and no capability and no time, I am going to use this blog entry to help anyone who reads it to become a better writer.

There are no end of writing exercises on the internet.  I have tried many of them and even if I did them all together simultaneously and backwards whilst standing on my head and singing my least favourite Abba song I can assure you that I would hardly break a sweat.

So this month I will share a few techniques of my own devising which you are welcome to use, but please note (a) that you should consult your medical practitioner before undertaking them, and (b) that I can accept no liability for any injuries (or worse) that might arise.

Writer’s Block

There is no such thing as writer’s block.  It is just laziness.  Use the following technique to unleash your stream of brilliance.

  1. Sit down with pen and pad or with computer.
  2. Set a timer for 15 minutes.
  3. Write continuously until the timer sounds.
  4. If you stop or if you score anything out before the timer sounds, then go to the nearest wall and bang your head against it 5 times… hard.
  5. When you recover consciousness and have cleaned the blood off the carpet, return to Step 1.

Writing/Typing Speed

There is nothing so frustrating as coming up with the best words you have ever thought of but then being unable to get them down on paper while you can still remember them.  This problem will eventually be resolved by neural transplants and reliable speech recognition, but in the meantime the only way to counter this problem is to train yourself to write fast.

At least 3 times a week you should choose a suitable word or phrase and then write or type it as many times as you can during a timed 5 minute session.  Graph your results and you will see improvement week on week until you reach the physical limits and your fingers go into spasm.  (See next exercise.)

A potential bonus of this exercise is that it will transport you back to punishment exercises during your schooldays…. supposedly the happiest time of your life.

Writing/Typing Stamina

In order to delay the onset of finger/hand cramps or spasms (see above) it is important that we regularly exercise the muscles involved.  The best way of doing this is to get a couple of old tennis balls and to squeeze and release in a rhythmic pattern.  It is recommended that this is practiced for 10 minutes three times per week.  Squeezing your balls can be done anywhere and at any time, so it is a good idea to carry them with you to allow you to make good use of what might otherwise be wasted time.

Summary

Writing exercises aren’t all about brainpower and inspiration.  To be a truly successful writer you must find the right blend of physical and intellectual exercises.

Bill Webster May 2017