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Light – A Writing Activity

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The days are getting longer, very gradually. This exercise gets you thinking about light, and the many forms in which it appears.

  • Think about daylight first. Each morning, thank goodness without fail, the sunlight gradually greets us. Think about its qualities. Maybe there’s a particularly memorable dawn you once saw, and a story around it which you want to tell. Think about the sheer power of the light from the sun – it can even be dangerous – if we’re driving and momentarily blinded, or when it causes skin cancer, or if we use a magnifying glass to focus its rays. Maybe there’s a fictional story to create in which a character is momentarily blinded by the sun and risks his / her life, or someone else’s.
  • When the natural light lessens then artificial lights come on – street lamps, house lights, headlights. And twilight is an in-between time when perceptions change, a time symbolic of near-endings, dwindlings, and change generally. Maybe something particular happens for you or your character at this time.
  • And how about when it’s night…. There’s the cold light of the moon, reflecting the light from the sun. There’s the monthly full moon, with all its associations of wildness (literally lunacy) or romance. There are stars, each shining with a different quality of light – some twinkle rose-pink, some glimmer white – and often planes pass overhead slowly with tail and wing lights blinking. Shooting stars, or satellites, sometimes delight us. Maybe you once stayed out at night lying on the ground watching the stars and the night sky. Maybe you were an expert on the constellations as an avid science student. At night, the lit windows of trains hurry down the tracks, the windows of houses offer a small yellow square in the dark. Maybe you see something through one of these windows, maybe even something secret, something you shouldn’t have seen.
  • Maybe you have a favourite lamp, or there’s a lampshade you inherited, and it has a story to tell.
  • Maybe the light from your mobile phone stops you sleeping at night and you’re exhausted, and you want to sing about it.
  • Maybe you want to create an exciting story about something that happened in the dark – in a forest when someone’s torch stopped working, in an ancient imaginary cave when the fire went out, in a cellar at the bottom of a house.
  • Maybe you’ll choose to imagine what it’s like to go blind and lose light – or, conversely, to gain too much of it – to enter the long, sleepless Scandinavian summer waiting for a restful night-time that won’t arrive?

Real or fictional, write a story in which light is important.

[this exercise is derived from Jo Bell’s marvellous blog of writing exercises called “52”, one for every week of the year

https://fiftytwopoetry.wordpress.com/

Look out for a soon-to-be-launched book of writing activities by Jo Bell, based on her blog]

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Don’t Judge a Book by It’s Cover by Kate Simpson

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Here’s another terrific piece of writing by Open Age member Kate Simpson – Thank you Kate for sharing this inspiring short story about an older lady and her husband who is living with dementia – a very captivating piece of writing!

Don’t Judge a Book by It’s Cover

Days of sorrow are etched sometimes in the core of one’s lifetime like the rings round the bark of old oak treas.

I thought of this as I watched the elderly lady in the supermarket carefully pick out her shopping. Something about the way she chose her goods and hovered over the amount made me wonder if  she was recently bereaved. One or two of this and that, and finally at the till her basket seemed empty and meagre. Her purse worn and by far from full.

I wanted to go up and say hullo but shyness stopped me and I let her shuffle off into the distance.

Some days later I saw her again by the bus stop and as it was a cold day I stopped the car and offered her a lift. For a second a proud refusal crossed her face, but the elements won her cold frame over and she climbed into the warmth of my little car.

We exchanged only brief introductions and then she told me where she lived. The silence seemed companionable so I was loath to break it. I was therefore surprised somewhat after her reticence to be asked in for a cup of tea, on reaching her house. I accepted and followed her into the house.

Small and neat but carrying an aura of emptiness.  She showed me into ‘the parlor’ where I perched on a faded chair one of two in the room. Looking around I noted no photos, no ornaments, nothing to say who she was or had been. An outdated television in one corner looked lonely. It’s only solace a small lace doily on top awaiting a plant or object.

The only other fixture in the room was the outdated electric fire with pretend coals. And a small coffee table.

‘Here we are’ Mrs Busby said as she shuffled in carrying a tray on which sat two cups of tea and a sugar bowl. She sat in the other chair and we sipped in silence. My curiosity was growing by the second but I knew somehow she had to be the first to speak. Eventually she spoke softly, as though speaking to someone far away.

Her story as it unfolded was as I had seen that supermarket day one of sorrow and sadness of a magnitude I could barely contemplate.

As she spoke she twisted a worn wedding band. Married when they were 16 and both in service, he joined up and was invalided out with the affects of gas. Life was had after he was demobed, too ill to get a job she had to be both carer and bread winner. Still their marriage survived.

His health got worse and then in his eighties dementia was diagnosed. Still she refused to have him ‘put away’. One day as they sat in their chairs after lunch snoozing gently the door crashed open and a man with a mask on and a baseball bat came in and starting hitting her husband over the head. With all the strength in her worn out body she took a large ornament and crashed it over the assailants head. He fell to the floor. She crawled to the phone and dialed 999

Police came and ambulance. Both she and her husband and the assailant were taken to hospital. Later she was told both the assailant had died of his injuries and she was under arrest for murder.

Once considered well enough to leave hospital she was taken to the local police station and formally charged. Their home a ‘crime scene’ there was nowhere for her to go, so it was decided to keep her in custody. They were kind but nobody seemed to care that she was missing the ‘other half of her life’.

In court she was confused and admitted the crime and given a lengthy prison term. The Judge was gentle and sympathetic and sadly explained to her that because she had ‘confessed’ to murder, he had no option but to give her the only sentence for that crime there was – life.

As sentence was pronounced she looked confused – like a lost child. The police officers out of respect did not use cuffs as they gently led her down to the custody cell and then the awaiting prison van. Her lawyer was allowed to see her and gave her a big hug and when she enquired after ‘her Bill’ told her that he was being looked after.

A model prisoner she served her ‘time’ and despite her grief at being parted for her beloved Bill, almost thrived in the security of the environment she was in, working in the kitchens, quietly waiting the day when it would all be over, and she would be reunited with her beloved. Unlike others she made no friends despite other prisoners trying to help her and make her feel less alone. Her nickname was Gentle Grannie so quiet was she, and when on the rare occasions she smiled, it was as though the sun came out.

One day she was called into the warden’s office and there a nice lady from the social told her that her husband had been serving ‘his time’ in a dementia home, until the night before when he had quietly passed away.

Inside her grief and guilt that somehow she had caused it grew to such a magnitude that she considered ending her own life, and then she would she told me, give herself a shake and remember the stoicism of her generation. ‘You just have to get on with it – don’t you love’? I just nodded quietly.

Years later once again she was called into the warden’s office, this time to be told she was ‘free to go’ – A nice lady from Age Concern met her as she crossed the threshold into the world again, and drove her home with a bag of Asda groceries ‘To keep you going until you get on your feet”.

On returning to the outside world, she found it a strange and lonely confusing place. The ‘home’ she had shared had long gone and she was rehoused in this little cottage we sat in. No one had bothered to parcel up her mementoes of her previous life. It was as if that had never happened. The only memento her worn wedding band.

Her story having been told, her shoulders sagged and a lonely tear coursed down her cheek. I took her hand but said nothing for a while. Then my words were simple “Thank you for sharing your story with me. I feel incredibly honoured” “What a brave lady you are, may I come and see you again”?

“Don’t you think I am one of those charity cases coz I’m not”

“I wouldn’t dream of it” I replied “but we all need friends do we not and I would be honoured if you would be mine”

“Well put like that – I think we can as the girl’s taught me to say – seal the deal – with another pot of tea”! The glint of humour in her eye made me want to get up and hug her, but as my girl’s taught me ‘slowly slowly catchy monkey’!

Over the years Mrs Busby or GG as my girls’ called her became an all important part of our household, I did not tell my husband even the full story until today when we finally laid her to rest with her beloved Bill, he gave me a hug and chuckled “So I have been entertaining yet another ex con under my roof!” For only he knew that I too had been ‘inside’ for a much less milder misdemeanor – but never the less I knew the fears of prison life and what GG must have been through.

© Kate Simpson

Let’s Fly Away! by Caroline Bennett

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We have a wonderful piece of member writing today by Caroline Bennett, who presented this inspiring short-story about ‘flying’ as part of our exhibition at the Second Half Centre, London, in 2014 during London Creativity & Wellbeing Week.

A big thank you to Caroline for sharing your wonderful writing! We look forward to reading more of your work!

It was not a face to face question, it could not have been, for I was taking a shower at the health club. Thus there was a whole line of splashing shower heads hitting their targets: well exercised bodies  being rubbed and prodded and the noise around me was wet and echoing.

It came through the tannoy system, accompanied by an orchestra of droplets; it came to my ears after I’d rubbed the shampoo out of my hair. “Come fly with me, come fly, let’s fly away…….”. I stood still for a moment, hands limp by my side as Frank Sinatra continued, “…. in Llama land there’s a one man band and he’ll toot his flute for you……”

Where is Llama land I wondered? Peru, Colombia? And I could imagine the flutes they play in the Andes tooting away. Frank Sinatra in Peru? The ratty old leader of the ‘rat pack’ stomping about  with his gang of famous friends singing to  the people of Peru? And why did he want ME to fly with him? With his well known toupee I would have thought that flight would be a risky business but I supposed his ‘ol’ blue eyes could still sparkle at 40.000 feet.  Could I explain to Frank, who  is said to be a member of the Mafia, that I was terrified of flying, suffered from altitude sickness and, anyway, preferred Dean Martin’s throaty croon?

So, sorry Frank, ‘my shoes are meant for  walking’ and that’s just what they’ll do, and  one of these days these shoes are goin’ to walk all over you’ and I shan’t be with you on your ‘perfect flying honeymoon’ either.

© Caroline Bennett

Winter Writing Prompts

Here are some great winter writing prompts with photographs to inspire you…
Grab a cup of hot cocoa, snuggle up on the sofa, or get settled in your favourite writing spot… and check out these wonderful writing prompts by Chris Dunmire at Creativity Portal – Click on the text below to view the prompts:

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Cold, snowy winter weather! Looking for some inspiration or the “write” kind of prompting for the winter and Christmas season? Never fear, look right here! These cool writing prompts and photos will help facilitate your creative stories, blog entries, and holiday reflections for the winter season and melt any icy writing blocks you’ve been chipping away at. Grab your writing shovel and dig in!

Interview with an Author – Mike Loveday

In 2012 author Mike Loveday was interviewed by Kingston Publishing – Mike is not only a talented writer but a brilliant tutor that we are lucky to have working at Open Age!

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Mike started teaching with us in March 2013, and now runs the following classes –

  • Creative Writing for Carers every other Wednesday in St. John’s Wood as part of Time for Me
  • Literature Class at New Horizons in Chelsea on Tuesday afternoons, introducing the lives and works of great writers
  • Life Stories at New Horizons in Chelsea on Thursday mornings, writing stories about your own life experiences
  • Creative Writing telephone group for the housebound – the group aims to be a fun and stimulating way to work with words, writing stories (fact or fiction) and playing word games

If you’d like to find out more about Open Age Creative Writing Classes (for residents of Westminster, Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham) or if you know anybody who is housebound or can’t always get out due to poor health etc. then contact Hester Jones on: 0208 962 5584

We also offer other creative writing classes at Earl’s Court Centre for Health & Wellbeing run by our other brilliant tutor Robert Silver and in 2015 a new course run by Hester Jones called Craft Your Lifestory will start at Olive House in Hammersmith & Fulham – which will also incorporate craft to create a book.

http://www.openage.org.uk/

 

PD James 10 Tips for Writing Novels

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PD James the great crime novelist has passed away at the age of 94.

Here she shares 10 Tips for Writing Novels for all you aspiring writers great words of wisdom from one of the greatest crime writers.

I am lucky to have written as many books as I have. It has been a joy.

PD James

 

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