The envelope landed heavily into Hannah’s life like a choice already made. His face was branded into its white perfection, the nameless man who had likely stolen her fate. She picked it off the matt and held it ceremoniously in front of her as she took it to the kitchen, its weight a burden she struggled to carry. She flopped it onto the kitchen surface and turned her back, hoping to forget its unwelcome presence but it wasn’t long until she had no choice but to face it once more.
‘It’ll be fine.’ Her mother had assured her every day for the last three months.
‘What if it’s not?’
To this her mother had little to say because in truth, neither of them could be sure. The envelope could contain everything and nothing. It could free her or lock her in chains. This day had been so long awaited that its arrival should have heralded celebration but instead, she wished she could go back to waiting. When she was waiting, she was working towards a goal without having to face its reality.
She picked up the envelope and twisted it in her fingers, wondering how it could look so innocent when it was anything but. She couldn’t shift the blame for this. She couldn’t even blame the nameless man with the enchanting smile, although she had tried many times. She was God of her own mistakes. She had thought little about the event itself, so wrapped up was she in its consequences. She had thought little of the joyous laughter and rolling pleasure. Instead she focused on the bitter taste it had left on her skin and the way she may never be able to wash it off. She studied the envelope hard and held it to the light to try and gage its contents. She saw nothing but a blank space and chose to take this as a bad omen.
She hovered the letter over the bin, wondering how it would feel to never know. Innocence would be bliss but she already knew so much, how could she forget either way? How could she continue naively, doing to others what he had done to her? She couldn’t inflict that kind of horror. She needed to know, and then she would be able to move forward, to cleanse herself. The corner of the envelope had come unstuck and she pulled at it hesitantly, fear convulsing through her body. The contents were revealed bit by bit, the white paper looking as innocent as the envelope had before them. She unfolded the letter slowly, knowing it could all change in just a few simple moments. The health centre logo glared at her as she began unravelling the letter’s secrets and she took a deep breath. The letter was brief and of this she was glad. She skipped through the small paragraph to the bottom of the page, where the important information lay in wait. ‘HIV-Negative’ it stated, plain as day.
The arrival of my monthly magazine has brought with it the confirmation that I have not been successful with my competition entry. This has left me swamped with bad feelings about EVERYTHING. I know these rejections are just a fact of the writing life but that doesn’t stop me dwelling in the bog of dissatisfaction. Tonight, I feel as though everything I have ever written is of poor and boring quality. Where is my character development? Where is my gripping plot? Nowhere, that’s where. I am unable to judge whether this feeling of failure comes simply from my disappointment or whether there is truth to my worries. I intend to spend the evening reading the winning entries and sulking. On a brighter note, here is a piece I have begun about the end of the world (obviously an overwritten subject but one I felt I should play about with anyway).
When the planets align, the world will end. That is what was predicted and now we know it will happen. I have been sat in the darkness for at least a day now, just waiting for this to be over. My hands are shaking from the hunger and the cold but I dare not move from the mattress that has become my home. I gain comfort in knowing that the whole world is underground with me, even though I can’t see them. I cannot believe this day has come. I remember when we used to talk about this in school, joking about what we would be doing right at our last moments. We never knew then that the gospels were true. If that were the case, we wouldn’t have been laughing. The warning came only yesterday evening. Slipped among the news of petrol shortages and celebrities was the statement that the world was soon to end. I laughed with shock when I heard, staring into the face of the newsreader as she continued as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened. The world has always been full of half-truths and cover-ups but this is one story they couldn’t gloss over.
I feel like my blog has come to a complete standstill and for this I apologise. My writing, like my blog, has also been somewhat neglected in past weeks and I long for my writing classes to start again so I can get back into the swing of things. Life seems to me filled with things i have to do, I am so torn as to which task to get through that I end up doing none at all because it seems easier than choosing. Take at the moment for example; I am in the middle of reading a book, trying to keep up with my blog, trying to keep my writing going, trying to learn guitar, trying to start drawing more often, trying to knit a blanket etc. etc. etc. Not to forget the ever tempting idea of watching television and doing absolutely nothing. Oh and then there’s work. If only there were more hours in the day. Reading, I am ashamed to say, is my most time consuming hobby. I have been feeling for a long while that my love for reading borders on addiction. The idea of a day without reading sends me into a whirlwind of panic. As there are worse things to be addicted to, I have decided to let that one slide. In ‘The Artist’s Way’, there is a challenge to give up reading for a week to see how much creative time is freed up. Quite a lot I imagine but I didn’t even attempt to achieve that goal, it was just too hard for me. I cringe to think of the amount of potential writing time that has been spent curled up in someone else’s imagination.
I feel especially in the last few weeks, that my writing self has taken a back seat to get immersed in my bookcase. I have however begun small steps towards my first novel. I am in the very early planning stages but am already enjoying the idea of being a novelist. Short stories are all well and good but the length and depth of a novel seems very appealing to me at the moment. I am excited to meet my characters and have them show me the way things are going to be. I have a feeling it will be a great relationship! In my quest for deeper characters, I have stumbled upon a gem of a book which I would recommend to anyone, writer or not. ‘Writer’s guide to Character Traits’ by Linda N Edelstein is by far the best book i have come across for writers. The pages are filled with Edelstein’s findings as a psychologist and covers character sketches for just about anybody you can imagine. From toddlers to murderers, it has everything. I warn you, it is very easy to get carried away. I had a quick flick through when it arrived yesterday and was still engrossed four hours later. Not only is the book a very helpful guide for writers, it is also fascinating!
In other news, i have still not heard back from a single competition. This is heartbreaking and I have resorted to checking my e-mails about three times a day just to double check. My new development is to check the junk mail section just in case. This obsessive behaviour is disheartening but I long so badly for that e-mail telling of my success. I will not be put off by this lack of news however; having only entered four competitions, I feel that I have a lot more failure to come before success. Failure, after all, is the best way to improvement. I also feel it’s difficult with competitions, because no matter how good a story may be, there’s no guaranteeing that the other’s entries aren’t a whole lot better. Not to worry, perseverance is key after all.
I came to a stand still with my post natal piece and have therefore given it a rest. I know it’ll come to me eventually! I have however begun another piece about a heart transplant, written from the points of view of the mother of the deceased and the transplant patient. I had a few difficulties with the technicalities on this one, knowing nothing about heart transplant personally! It’s a work in progress but here’s the first paragraph. Any comments would be greatly appreciated.
Fran looked down at her sons face. Even among the stark white surroundings, he looked painfully pale. She studied his closed eyelids for any signs of a flicker but they remained lifeless, just like the rest of him. The aching pain inside her chest was fighting to surface. She hadn’t shed a tear as she had sped to the hospital and had remained calm as the doctors had explained what had happened. A car crash had killed her son and she now had to allow his organs to be sent for donation as he had wished. Now, in the early hours of the morning, they had let her view the body. The sight of him had hit her like a train. He lay motionless, attached to tubes that were keeping his organs functioning when the rest of him was gone. She was weighed down by a grief so strong she could barely stand. Her legs gave way underneath her and she found herself gripping the side of the bed for strength. She began to wail, silently at first, then her grief escaped her in loud, racking sobs that ached throughout her body. Nurses offered their words of comfort but she was beyond hearing them. Michael had been her foundation and she could feel herself crumbling to pieces without him. Anger began flashing into her grief the longer she looked at his face. She had warned him countlessly about the dangers of fast driving, why did he have to be so ignorant! Look where it had gotten him, twenty-four and dead. Stone, cold dead. She reeled at how selfish he had been, probably barely giving her a second thought as he had driven carelessly down dark, winding roads. Anger stretched itself across her face as she began pounding the bed that had supported her only moments before. The nurses gently ushered her out of the room in attempts to calm her down. They hushed her and explained that what she was feeling was normal. Normal? There was nothing normal about any of this. There was nothing normal about the death of a twenty-four year old man.
As I mentioned yesterday, I am fearful of blog entires overtaking my usual writing sessions. It is for this reason that I have chosen to post a piece I’m working on. This is just the introduction of a story about a mother living with post natal depression. This is just a rough so I would be grateful for any comments anyone has or any extra information on post natal depression itself:
The baby wouldn’t stop crying. Mary didn’t care. She had led it in the cot, shut the door and turned off the monitor. Even so, the walls were thin and the crying was still audible. It sliced through her like knives. She led back against the wall and shut her eyes, trying to stop the anger that bubbled in her stomach. The baby was a month old. An alien invasion on Mary’s otherwise beautiful life. During her pregnancy, she had been as excited as any other mother would be, preparing the home and stocking up on the miniature clothes. This was her first child, so of course she had been nervous but no doubts had plagued her mind. That was before. Labour had been a gruelling race to an elusive finish. After hours of strain, the midwives introduced her to her daughter. She looked at the red faced, angry beast and felt nothing but repulsion. There had been no motherly gush. There had been no instinctive warmth. There had only been repulsion. Something wasn’t right. Her partner, Chris, had gushed hopelessly when he first held the little snuffling bundle. His eyes had welled with joy from looking into the small face and Mary had been greatly confused. She was sure there had been some mistake. Satan had fiddled about with her child to make it a demon in the womb. Yet her partner was saying that their daughter was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. She took the child in her own arms to ensure that they were looking at the same thing, that nothing had changed. She studied the small face as hard as she could but still saw the same ugliness as before. The red skin of the baby was scrunched, as if it was angry at Mary. What right did this unknown invader have to look at her in such a way? Mary tried her best to play caring mother when others were around. Even if she had given birth to Satan incarnate, she would be judged if she didn’t display the correct amounts of love. As soon as her hospital room was deserted, she would put the baby in it’s crib and turn her back. They had agreed to call the girl Abbi but, in private, she refused to call her anything at all. An inhuman being did not deserve a human name.
Things had gotten worse once Mary and Abbi had returned home. In the hospital, the midwives had been bustling about and doing the things that Mary didn’t want to do. At home however, with Chris at work, Mary and Abbi were left alone.
It’s a Tuesday night which means writing group is upon me. This week our theme is blogging. Our homework is to create and execute 5 entries for our blogs. I find this prospect daunting. My blog has been vacant since I created it about two months ago. I am fleeting in my interests and while my first post floated the web unread, I forgot the endeavour completley. I admitted to the blogging expert that I was disheartened by the feeling that nobody was reading what I wrote,
‘Blogging is not about popularity, it is about personal enjoyment.’ She informed me. Maybe that’s where I was going wrong. Next, she tells us we must create an angle to our blogs. My mind flashes blank. Apart from a page of shameless confessions which would leave me hiding from public view forever, I could not think of any angle. It seems then that the only thing I could write consistantly about is my writing attempts. This may not be an original nor edgy idea, but I am sure the interest comes from the execution! As my writing has consumed me entirely this year, it seems an adequate subject choice. I have been writing my musings for years and yet have only recently made any real effort to persue this further. Proffesional writing has always been my ultimate goal and yet, through fear or laziness, I have always put off serious action. That is until this year when I took the ultimate step and joined a local writing group. Since then, I have moved mountains.
That’s a lie. I have however entered into a short story and poetry competition. That’s pretty mountainous in my book. After years of writing for nobody but myself, I have finally moved in a much more serious direction. As I wait impatiently for results to be announced I am busying myself as best I can. Me still being an amateur, I am quite sure I will not be placed but a girl can dream. In my idealistic head I will win my first competition and things will go from strength to strength. In my logical head, I realise this will not be the case. Despite this, the lessons I have learnt so far have been invaluable. My mind is open for absorbing and I would like to think that this blog can offer comfort and giggles for other fellow begginers. As is thusfar the case, I will probably remain as my only reader but a wise woman once told me to blog for the enjoyment and that is ultimately what I intend to do!