I wrote this originally for my youngest child. She has never been difficult, not as a baby, a teenager or as an adult. I always felt truly blessed because the pregnancy and birth were traumatic. Yet I knew the moment she arrived everything would be as it should be. To me she has been the butterfly, a light touch only needed to guide her to becoming an adult. She was born knowing she had to pick her flowers carefully and then to land softly and with great care.
Butterflies have always held a fascination and so years later, I found myself writing a poem for this incredible child, and linking them, the butterflies, to her incredible softness. Then years later again, I found myself weaving not the words of the poem but the feelings evoked, into Lia’s personality when I was writing Unexpected Obsession.
Lia has that same softness, but there is also a thread of steel blending with the care and consideration she gives to others. In so many ways she became my child too. I grew her into a personality able to take on a man like Nico. Each book will see a little more of her growth because like him I have fallen into love with this amazing woman who has and will continue to have an effect on the people around her. I hope you enjoy my words.
Butterfly Child (Lia’s song)
Because of you
I feel the lightest touch of soft satin wings.
I see the rainbow in all things.
If I could contain you upon my hand,
you would be as delicate as grains of sand.
Finely formed, reflecting the glimmer of summer shine,
Sometimes our fears can hold us back from what makes us grow. Voices from the past remind us of our mistakes. We need to ignore them and instead go forward. We need more faith in ourselves, we need to believe in the voices of the future.
I hear You.
But, those voices,
those escalating influences
call me and I falter.
Your echo is far better.
It triggers a spiritual spiral
towards a lucidity
so often escaping my notice.
To be calm,
to be tranquil shudders
me into splintered fragile
snowflakes of melting
I know I am the creator.
I know my power but
still I am hostage to
silvered slides of
syntax makers, who want
their universal limitations,
to rule supreme
over others, others
who do not understand
the glory of manifestation
and sadly, cowardly
bend to the collector.
I am left frozen,
the withered wraith
of a broken spirit
bereft of presence,
a diminished aura
of splattered, faded and
never to blend.
I hear You.
I know what You say.
Be patience generous,
for I am
only now unfurling
Questions for me? Want to share your views and ideas? Follow me and ask away:
Can anyone relate to the frustrated desire to fix things when they go wrong and end up taking that desire too far? I mean as in wasting time too far? Sometimes we have to prove we can make it right even after understanding the mistake is there, and it’s too far gone to fix. Call it stubboness, foolishness, correction fixation or whatever word best suits you but ultimately it is a waste of time when better things are waiting.
Hanging onto a job you hate, a marriage or a relationship that is hurting you, buying six other pieces of clothing to make the pants work that should not have been bought in the first place, living the ‘j’ word over and over (you know, justifying) are all self-harming but we do it. Maybe, we shouldn’t, maybe it’s time to say stop and let another Spring begin instead. What do you think?
This blog post I am thrilled to be doing something different, and presenting a piece on Australian Jill Staunton, author of Reivers Moon, a beautiful read which I thoroughly recommend. I haven’t known Jill long, but what I know I like, particularly her passion for the land. It is inspiring.
Generally, I am not a big rural fan, but I will read the odd one here and there. I do however like to read new Australian authors and I am so glad I came across this. I joke and say the sao biscuits and vegemite cemented my love affair. They probably did. It’s an Aussie tradition even a migrant child can relate to, although my Italian cousins ran screaming when I offered it to them to try. It is also a very inexpensive snack in hard times. I grew up understanding that, despite the cultural differences. There is a moment in every book that connects us and often it can be a small thing. I found myself inside a world vastly different to mine but completely fascinating.
I won’t touch too much on the plot except to say the novel is a mixture of family drama, hot romance and the kind of crime people on the land should never be subjected to. Their lives are hard enough. Beautifully crafted the novel is an insight into Australian outback life and one that people everywhere can relate to. So much of that is due to the author’s skill in the use of descriptive language, and to the love of the land that shines through in every word. It draws the reader, no matter their background, into the world of farmer, the man on the land. I will let Jill tell you a little more about that, and the book.
Meet Jill Staunton
So many things inspire me to write. Mostly, I write because I love writing – love putting together a story, playing around with words until I find the ones I’m happiest with, the ones that give me the shades of meaning I really want.
Someone once called me a wordsmith and the first time I heard the term, I was thrown back to my childhood and my uncle whom I could always track down in his smithy. He taught me to work the bellows while he beat red-hot metal into shape on an anvil, then dunked it into a bed of coals – which I had to keep red-hot for him by pumping the bellows. He could make anything he needed for the farm; there was artistry in his hands. He came from a line of artists – painters and woodcarvers – and women who could crochet, knit, sew, cook and garden the way we don’t today. So many of those skills have diminished or been lost to us. He, and they, were smiths in the true sense of the word.
I wondered then what value there was in being a wordsmith. Compared to my Scottish and Irish predecessors, I had little to show for my art. Or so I supposed. There were no crocheted bedspreads, or intricately laced tablecloths; no knitted dresses or patterned jumpers; no deliciously fluffy, light sponge cakes; no colourful bottles of pickles, relishes, jams and preserved vegetables lined up in the pantry and no oil paintings positioned proudly above hand carved wooden mantelpieces. Words on paper were largely invisible in a home filled with such useful treasures. Still, I loved words.
And my parents loved the land and taught their children to love it too. I soaked up the language of the bush like dry ground soaks up a rainstorm and found that words had their own kind of magic and artistry. They enabled me to write about the country I loved, about a way of life that mattered and still does.
It matters because farmers are artists too and their palettes are living blocks of land upon which they must constantly position and re-position crops and livestock in ever changing environmental landscapes and moods. Whether we are vegetarians or meat-eaters, we need our farmers. And we need to respect their knowledge, skills and artistry in managing our survival. Yes, our survival. For without farmers, we’d all die.
So, when I see organisations like PETA, scurrilously slandering our farming communities, words spill from my mind and swirl into poems of protest like this one.
Drought-dry paddocks sit brown and bare,
Devoid of grass and seared by the sun
Their friable soils fragment, crumble undone
And rootless, they lift into hot dry air.
Blown by bitter winds, dust clouds flare
Across outback towns and cattle runs
As life succumbs to a burning sun
And bleaching bones lie bereft of care
While you, PETA, arrogant, ignorant, urbanite
You, who live in comfort through oblivious days
You, who shop for bloodless foods, prettily pre-packaged
You dare to vilify those whom death stalks, unites,
Who look into dull, glazed eyes and euthanaise
Day after drought-dry day? Shame on you and your sacrilege!
I also write Outback fiction – a blend of romance and adventure based around real rural issues such as reiving. Now there’s a word my Scottish ancestors would have used! I like to take a romantic and optimistic viewpoint in my stories so ‘Reiver’s Moon’ is an Australian Outback romance and rural crime story about cattle theft in north Queensland, set between Townsville and Hughenden. Annella MacAdam and Mitchell Fallon are the key characters and as the lead says, Annella MacAdam loved a lie and didn’t know it. Mitchell Fallon was the lie and knew it.
What inspires me is my love of the Australian bush, my family, a sense of justice and my delight in playing with words. I think writers simply love creating stories.
I think children are such a gift and grandchildren even more so. Watching them grow and develop their own personalities is a fascinating process. It is the continuation of life, and observing the repeated features of loved ones reflected in the turn of the head, the shape of the eyes, or just a look, is magic unfolding.
But wait, there is more. The best part is when they are entirely new in their actions and behaviours and you really understand this is an independent creation – a miracle of life.
Failure is a word. Words can be manipulated. Certainly, failure on first acquaintance appears unpleasant but if we look beyond that initial first reaction we can view it as a gauge to improvement. It also provides the impetus to re-group and acts as the challenge to our creativity. With luck and hard work, it can bring out the very best in us.
Our negative view of failure, or rather society’s view, can stop that from happening. Making mistakes is acceptable, failing isn’t and failing often is unconscionable. For some reason as soon as the word appears, reason flies out the window. Why? We failed early and survived. Why shouldn’t we fail often and keep surviving or possibly do better than that by improving whatever it is we are doing?
I am an English teacher and so there are expectations when I write but I make silly errors and I make them often. I have worked hard to be comfortable with this, and I work harder to make my students comfortable with their errors. Not complacent, comfortable and there is a difference. I had to learn that because without realising it I managed to cross over into the second phase, the one where we fail often.
There is so much out there to learn, and I can’t do it all at once. I am sure some people can. I can’t, so the only way forward was to accept failing often. Rather than a comfort zone I sought being comfortable with failing often, and consequently the negative connotations have been replaced with believing each failure will offer secrets, new information to make the next time easier.
This is what I encourage in my students, this understanding, because it encourages both the continuation of the learning process, and the love of learning. I know I will never reach the stage of stopping. Why would I want to stop something so amazing? Knowledge, and the improvement it brings, is the most satisfying thing in the world. Suddenly that too often fail begins to look more like a win.
I edited over 90,000 words. Of course, I wasn’t going to get it right (FAIL). I learned so much, so much more than I expected (WIN). I did it again and missed things again (FAIL). I recognised what I had missed in my work and I am recognising it in other places. In fact, so much so, that each day I grow a little in confidence (WIN) despite never ending errors that come my way constantly (FAIL). You see, I am learning to transfer that recognition to other work I have in progress (WIN). I have also stopped beating myself up (HUGE WIN).
This is my experience, a personal experience in this journey I have chosen. I am equally sure that you are experiencing something similar in your chosen fields of employment, or even in life in general. I have wished I had never stepped foot on this road so many times. Can you relate? It is so exhausting, mentally and physically, to chase a dream. Succeeding is not about the adage, if at first you don’t succeed try, try again. That would be too simple. It leaves out the fact, the acknowledgement, that failure is valuable. Succeeding is about the willingness to learn from that failure and letting it fuel your next step. I wrote a little poem about my process and making choices.
The do do might be my undoing but I couldn’t resist it. Time is a friend and sometimes time is an enemy, and if we are not dedicated enough to persevere we could end up with this rhyme instead.
Life is for living, and failing is a big part of living well. Stay tune for Part 3
I recently watched a video clip on success featuring Will Smith, and it led me to a slightly longer Denzel Washington (he is an amazing speaker) clip. Dazzled by the content I found myself wanting to blog about it, and my reaction once in words started to grow until it was obvious the word count would get out of control. Off course it did because the more I looked into things the more I realised how well it fitted with the topics I have been pursuing lately.
I have spoken about consistency and confidence, and the need to celebrate the little things along the path to success (the three Cs). Those things are hugely important but I have begun to understand viewing success itself from a slightly different angle, can also contribute strongly to the actual success coming into being. The video clip brought certain questions to mind. Are you, like me, working hard at your craft or profession (including parenting, physical activities and normal everyday life) and still find yourself feeling flat?
Are results elusive even with all that time and effort you invest? What about those three ‘Cs”? You have them down pact but without downplaying their importance, they don’t appear enough. What is missing because the word fail rears its ugly head on a regular basis? The strange truth is that to really succeed we apparently need to fail and fail in a certain order. We need to – well, let’s let Will say it for us.
Do it early.
Do it often
Do it forward
At first it seemed almost a negative concept and far from conducive to doing well. It wasn’t until I watched both video clips a few times that I got it. Denzel’s clip is a little more involved and more suited to Part 2 when we look at failing often. For now it’s enough to accept failure needs to happen. At the beginning of any venture we are all so enthusiastic that the thought of failure is not palatable. We don’t give it value because we don’t see the value yet getting it wrong is an education into what not to do, a way into getting it right.
Venturing into new areas that matter to us can be compared to being given an elephant to eat. We need to understand there is a lot of elephant to get through, and that elephant hide is tough. To get through it we need to attack with one small bite at a time. (Why do we use elephants in this expression? Does anyone know? Elephants are such magnificent creatures that it seems obscene. Why not a tree trunk?) Anyway the point is that it’s logical for a newbie to find it hard and get it wrong. We don’t know enough.
When I made the decision to self-publish I began a journey where getting it wrong was an essential part of the trip, or so I came to discover. No matter the strength of your desire there are potholes even on the best roads, and those potholes are deadly. But, what if we need to get it wrong in order to get it right? Failing early might just make sense. For me, affording editing has been a huge problem. Giving up was out of the question; learning to do it myself a reasonable solution. So, that’s what I did and of course I missed things. It’s impossible not to in your own work. I guess I failed early.
I worked harder. I did another edit. The results were better, not perfect so another early fail. I re-edited. It improved. Failing early provides some useful insights into the process we are involved in. This is a plus, right? We can probably stop at this level and appreciate finding a comfort zone. It’s still success, isn’t it? As individuals we have the right to choose what we do but we need to know why we are doing what we do. Do we fancy the comfort zone because we are afraid to fail again? Are we willing to give up our dreams to avoid failing again? Is there more to this? Is it fear of failing again, or of failing again and again? But haven’t we done so already? And, aren’t we still here to tell the tale?