Work the numbers

 

Been trying to work the numbers

a thousand words

ten thousand hours

the rays of light blur and I snatch the curtain closed

concentrate, mother

I spend my time guzzling water

coffee, cakes

I know I’m smart but

sometimes I just sit here listening

to the whine of the drill

from the building site

gristling and

grating on my ears

and I don’t know how I’m going to write

all the things I want

both failure and its fear

hover heavily

like a blight

 

This was a poem from a writing prompt – grab the nearest book (Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake), turn to page 29 and pick ten words that resonate, then use them in a poem. I only used nine of the words as one was “pigoon” and ain’t nobody got time for that. 

Like a Lover

Image: John Towner https://unsplash.com/@heytowner

 

Sometimes he treats me
like a lover
the drape of coat on my shoulder
finishing touch, perfect object
of affection

the night where
we fell
no, not like that, but still

I wonder if it
could have all gone to hell

the patched-up,
still-brilliant tooth smile
of shared belonging

our concurrent ways
hurtling through space

time spent, time wasted
so wasted…
the wax and wane of
sun, moon, stars
and
guitars

My sometimes brother
my almost lover
we are

like sibling planets
whose
orbits align

Hello WordPress

Author selfie

I’ve been on a slight hiatus this past week or so. With Spring arriving, it feels like time to pause and check in with myself. I’ve had a bit of success with my writing. But I’ve also made a few rookie mistakes and started grappling with that learning curve. Basically, I found that I really wanted to submit my work to a bunch of literary journals because I’m used to the Shoot! Cut! Print! mentality of working in media and I find it really hard not to have a “finished” product for my work. I’m trying to wean myself off this feeling as I think it means I sometimes send stuff off a bit half-baked in my desire to be done. That said, completion is no bad thing. DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT is a bigtime mantra of mine.

I wanted to talk a bit about WordPress as well. For those who don’t know – WordPress is the blogging platform I use here for Clairevetica. Around Christmas time, I took Facebook off my phone which has meant that now, instead of noodling around on the ‘book, I tend to read a bunch of blogs instead, which is nice. Although I do find the WordPress phone app does some odd stuff with its feeds. So, if I followed you but it seems like I never ‘like’ your stuff – it might be because I never see it? My feed seems to be full of the same 10 or 20 blogs even though I follow a few hundred. Oh well.

In writing news, I’m doing two things in the next few weeks. One – I’m starting an online writing course, which will be interesting and hopefully valuable. Two – I am planning to participate in GloPoWriMo again – the Global Poetry Writing Month that last April kind of kicked me into a new dimension of creativity. If all goes according to plan, both these things should help consolidate and advance my writing. Or it could all fall in a screaming heap because how tf do I have time for both these things?!

Anyway, I have at least one more story that’s being published but not until end of April so I’ll wait and tell you about that when it’s live. And I’m planning to keep submitting stuff but it takes ages – not just the actual submissions but reading the journals and trying to work out if my stuff will fit (usually, I think yes? But it’s hard to know for sure).  And then you get into this weird rabbit-hole of all the short story and poetry competitions – most of which you need to pay to enter. So it becomes a situation of do I put my money where my mouth (or pen) is? And, although the rewards could be huge (comp winners often find agents and book deals come knocking), it’s also stressful and a bit distasteful. Like – what an indication of privilege to be able to enter stuff and pay… and the other entrants will surely just be other rich first worlders so where’s the diversity in that? But, if I CAN afford to enter a few things and I really believe in my work… argh… you see the dilemma. Maybe once I’ve done this course and got some genuine feedback on if my stuff is “ready” I will be able to judge better whether it’s worth entering competitions. Anyway, hence the attempt at another author selfie. I don’t know about the sunglasses. A bit too closed off, no?*

PS: Do you guys want to read some flash fiction writing prompt stuff on here? I’m not sure if it’s really worth publishing but trying to ‘keep the hand moving’ and, as stated above, I feel the need to cut, shoot print.

 

*Sometimes my inner voice goes a bit Karl Lagerfeld

#26Cantons52Weeks: St Gallen

Walensee

Canton: St Gallen

Destination: Walensee / Seerenbach waterfalls

Interesting thing: One of Switzerland’s favourite sausages, the Olma Bratwurst, originates in St Gallen. Also called the St Galler Bratwurst or Kalbsbratwurst, this tasty veal sausage was awarded IGP – Protected Geographical Indication – in 2007.

 

St Gallen is one of the bigger cantons, both in terms of population and area size. It’s quite close to Zurich and famous for its incredible medieval monastic library and next-door abbey, which I visited 18 months ago. It also forms part of the eastern border of Switzerland where it hits Lake Constance and is the ‘gateway to the Appenzell Alps‘. So, I was somehow thinking our St Gallen canton visit would be a bit more of an “occasion”. However, Saturday found us with the first real springlike day of the year and we were itching to go somewhere. In our usual Slapdashian fashion, we’d not really planned it, and didn’t want to go too far afield.

I have to give a shout out to two other local bloggers for the inspiration here — I remembered Mom in Zurich’s post about the Walensee and Himself is a big fan of Moms Tots Zurich‘s hiking info (as am I). We’ve driven past the Walensee on numerous occasions and it always looked lovely. So we figured, why not make a specific trip there.

The Walensee on a sunny March day is pretty stunning (more pics below). It’s one of Switzerland’s largest lakes and is mostly surrounded by dramatic cliffs. The bits you drive past are not anywhere you can stop. So we headed to the other side of the lake to Betlis with the idea to visit the Seerenbachfälle — the country’s highest waterfalls, with a drop of over 700 metres (I’m slightly confused as to whether this is for the two sections put together or the long, thin top fall alone but it matters not).

Those who had planned better could park near the ferry stop (the ferry wasn’t running when we went because: winter) and do a ~45 minute hike to the falls. Or, you could take the slightly hairy, one-lane road and then walk for 10 minutes. When I say a single-lane road, I mean it. The road is so narrow, there’s a strict regime for coming and going in 15-minute intervals so there’s only traffic going one way at any time. You are squeezed between the rockface and a sheer cliff down to the water most of the time. Of course, we blithely ignored the sign in German and almost had a head-on collision (at 20km/h) in a narrow tunnel but hey ho! Luckily there was a small verge that Himself managed to reverse into so the three cars going the correct way could pass us (two of which stopped to explain how stupid we had been). Anyway, it gave us an excuse to stretch our legs and take in the lake views.

When we reached the end of the road, however, our timing was perfect. Just the right amount of time for a stroll up to the falls and back before lunch! The Waterfalls were pretty cool – I was impressed by how close you could get. And the day was just magnificent. Green, green grass with its first smattering of spring blossoms, snowcapped mountains, the jade lake, blue skies with barely a cloud. Simply stunning. This is Heidiland (it actually is). And, to stick a bunch of metaphors in the blender, my little girl’s heart was alive with the Sound of Music.

Making our way back, we had a lovely lunch at the Paradiesli Landgastof – a very pretty hotel inside and out that reminded me of a Blue Mountains B&B. The kids also enjoyed looking at the handsome rooster and Llamas in residence. After that, we got back on the road — during the correct timeslot. And made our way home.

A lovely, if slightly last-minutey canton visit/ day out!

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The first half of March

So… I wrote this cool poem and I wanted to record it. But only the first half came out right. Anyway – so you, dear readers, get the full thing and those who listen only get half. But please listen anyway, because it sounds just how I want!

 

March

 

I’m just trying to know things

trying so hard

like, is February always difficult

and March always sad?

or is it just this year

and has something gone bad

cos I hope

it’s just my brain

come to trick me again

and maybe the dark

is always

just a lack

of light

so

I wait

in shadows, hoping

for something

to come out right

 

 

WordPress link (for the first half only) https://soundcloud.com/user-808707280/half-of-march

Giggle Quadrille for dVerse

A study in squares
Four by four
They go
Ho ho ho ho
Books on a frosty morn
As I proceed to my pond
Scribbles over the aircon
It looks a bit forlorn
Ho ho ho ho
The tiny legs made
Me giggle though

 

This is a Quadrille written for the dVerse poetry prompt. A Quadrille is a poem of 44 words (not counting the title) and this week’s prompt was to write one that included the word ‘giggle’. Right after I read the prompt, I happened to look back on the four photos I took today, which were, randomly, all squares. 4×4 and 44 lines – it seemed too perfect!

Magic

Zan Zig performing with rabbit and roses, including hat trick and levitation. 1899 advertising poster for the magician (who seems to have left no other trace behind) . Copyrighted by The Strobridge Litho. Co., Cincinnati & New York. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Zan_Zig_performing_with_rabbit_and_roses,_magician_poster,_1899.jpg

Zan Zig performing with rabbit and roses, including hat trick and levitation. 1899 advertising poster for the magician (who seems to have left no other trace behind) . Copyrighted by The Strobridge Litho. Co., Cincinnati & New York. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Zan_Zig_performing_with_rabbit_and_roses,_magician_poster,_1899.jpg

 

I haven’t changed my habits
Merely shuffled them around
Dealt myself a new hand
From the same pack

Pick two cards
Don’t show me which two
Are they…
Alcoholism and nail biting?
Yes!
How did she do that?

Ok, next
Give me your watch
Don’t worry, you’ll get it back at the end of the show
See how the time tick, tick ticks away
When you’re
Checking social media in bed?
Bingo!

I will now saw this lady in half
Because she’s not always ‘present’ and mindful!
This half – the parent. That half – the worker.
And that’s it folks, I can see you’re astounded
By this completely ordinary woman performing two diametrically opposite roles
But I’m afraid
A magician never reveals her secrets

For my next trick. Handkerchiefs! How many can I pull from my sleeve?
One – grocery shopping.
Two – cleaning the oven.
Three – the park.
Four – can there be more?
Five – how is she be so busy?
Six – oh, oh stop you’re making me dizzy.

Abracadabra one two three

Boom

Magic me.

Lueg die Werkstatt

It’s now been a few weeks “full time” (which means approx 1.5 days / 12 hours per week) into my Writing Thing. I have created my own home-based Werkstatt (workshop) – a space to write. And despite the to-be-expected wobbles and mini crises of confidence, things are going pretty well.

I’ve been bashing out lots of poems and submitting them to various journals and also trying my hand at some short-story writing. I think short stories are the hardest so far for me, compared to poems and even the novel. Although it still feels like early days on the novel.

Anyway, I just had my short story “Mark’s Funeral” published at http://www.quailbellmagazine.com/the-unreal/fiction-marks-funeral-by-claire-doble

Yay!

Hopefully more good news to come in the following weeks and months. Watch this space / Lueg die Werkstatt!

Notes on a suspected suicide

Photo: Greg Ortega @https://unsplash.com/@antisocia1

I am an arrogant twit

But I know that woman was in a bad place

I knew

and I stepped back

Because I didn’t want to be drawn into… something

Self-preservation

Or cruelty

I guess we’ll never know

But she’s gone now and I could have-

oh

I am an arrogant twit.

 

(*I since found out she had a heart condition but that doesn’t make it any better or worse)

Spoken Word collaboration

Image: Riccardo Annandale @ https://unsplash.com/@pavement_special

Pic by Riccardo Annandale @ https://unsplash.com/@pavement_special

Well this is exciting. My first spoken-word-poetry collaboration!

I came across Kate Duff’s poems through the blogosphere a while ago and they really resonated with me. I approached her about doing a reading of one of them and she was kind enough (and brave enough!) to say yes.

I enjoyed reading someone else’s work and -ahem- it may have even provoked me to try a bit harder and do a few more takes than my usual slapdashian approach!

I’m really pleased with this one. Have a listen (it runs for about 1.5 minutes). And throw some blog-love towards Kate over at https://athousandbitsofpaper.com/  Thanks Kate!

 

Soundcloud link: https://soundcloud.com/user-808707280/thinking-by-kate-duff-read-by-claire-doble

Link to original poem: https://athousandbitsofpaper.com/2016/12/01/thinking/