Writer’s Routine


The alarm announces the day with an irritating excuse for an uneven melody. Perfect because it works. Five a.m. and the long days journey into night begins. No light yet, just the stirring sounds of workers reluctantly preparing for a repeat of yesterday.

The dog lets out a barks of frustration as a lone male walks in front of the house. The thought of breakfast breaks through the befuddled mind as it fights the urge to remain inactive. No bouncing out of bed to meet this new day. Slow right sided roll to the edge of the bed, then an arm thrush to stagger into an upright position. Unsteady gait, a balancing act on an imaginary tight rope, undignified thrusting of one then the other leg into the opening of a pair of shorts. The engine needs time to warm up.

The early morning pre-dawn air is thick with moisture as he walks up the stairs to the kitchen at the back of the house to prepare the breakfast. Two bowls of cereal and three cups of coffee begins the ritual. Pairs of eyes stare into miniature screens to peruse any information that has made a difference. The sounds of eating, ironing and bathroom duties reverberates throughout the house as time watching becomes increasing paramount.

Six a.m. is the deadline for departure, to be met by most members of the household except for me. The first sliver of tropical light dances over the surface of the weatherboard houses. Wave goodbye, watch the car disappear around the corner and like a recluse retreats to the sanctuary of electronic aids of information and creativity. The door is firmly closed and locked to shut out the increasing active outside world.

Time marches on, an active mind makes it fly along, an inattentive one grinds it to a halt. Reflection and mulling leads to periods of both. Hours can turn into minutes or minutes turn into hours; the dice of daily fate decides. Thus is the meanderings of a reluctant scribe.

Inspiration flows like a creek bed in a dry country; flood or drought with zilch in between. The tap is either on or off.

Working feverishly on the keyboard, thoughts to bytes building upon themselves creating layers of stone to support the complexity of ideas that form the structure of a new story.
Otherwise, lying on the bed watching the mosquitoes circling the room wondering which one will attack next.

Ten thirty and the next pattern begins. Showered and prepared to enter the outside world of predictable chaos. The ebb and flow of unbridled emotions a constant in the background during the walk from one sanctum to another – the coffee shop. Twenty minutes of automation, one foot in front of another, no thought involved, a well ingrained path in the memory of routine.

Sanctum Two, the weigh station, the second home of possible creativity. Coffee and cake, the fuel needed to plough on through a very long day.

Fleeting moments of conversation coupled with reading and writing; the pattern never straying too far from the original. Struggling to avoid the pitfalls of staying relevant to the world of the reader, staring and thinking, examining every nook and cranny for inspiration.

Twelve thirty, work completed, uncompleted or not started. The dice only knows;
automation takes over again.

Inner sanctum one has changed shape and form by the afternoon light. Neither comforting nor reassuring, but a place that separates the outside world from the existential self.

Period of satisfaction or despair, the struggle continues on and off until five pm when the routine of others intervene. The need for sustenance brings with it normality as daily events are discussed around the table. Writer’s inspirational thoughts and ideas simmer in the background all but forgotten.

Domestic duties prevail until seven thirty. Propped up in bed, no television, nor radio for distractions, just the electronic companion which screen dimly lights the four nondescript walls. Ideas surface without warning; being prepared to grab and mould them when they do is the key. The search never stops, the peak is never conquered, good is never good enough. Productive or not, the end comes when the writer no longer needs this day but yearns for the next.



Is This Right?


Approaching La La Land

“Is this right?“  Deep within the recesses of my mind, these simple three words radiate into my consciousness.
“What err agh?” is my slow response. Then, through the clearing fog of sleep deprivation realisation strikes me like a hammer slamming on an anvil, I’m married to an English Teacher!!
Ok, ok a little dramatic I admit, but when you share a life with someone who lives and breathes English teaching, spontaneous  discussion on the subtle nuances of the English language is never far below the surface.

My wife teaches English in a Malaysian high school.  She is a local and English is her 3rd language.  Because I’m a native speaker, I am often relied upon for advice to help correct any difficulties that arise in the spoken and written language that crop up from time to time.

I am capable in the language, but nowhere near and an expert.  In fact, when it comes to editing my own work I’m what you could call, copy blind.  I can read a sentence I have written numerous times and still not pick up an obvious mistake.  My wife is much better at it.  Where I do have an advantage is in conceptualising where upon my writing relies on knowledge gained through a life time of experiences and extensive reading.  This has help galvanised my thoughts into a reasonable coherent way when it comes to expressing myself on paper. (You might want to disagree after reading this)

My wife, however, is the technician; much more structured and defined in content than I.  She is more constrained in general usage whilst I, on the other hand, tend to be uninhibited.  In other words, her style is adept for teaching the mechanics whilst mine is better in expressing fresh ideas in free form. ( Code for crappy in Grammar)

That was a little long-winded in explanation, but in essence, we compliment each other well when it comes to doing a project together.  But and it’s a big BUT.

I don’t live and breathe it like she does.  So come midnight when I am in la la land and those dreaded words drift over into my dream state, I tend to get grumpy.  I’m naturally grumpy and as old age approaches, it isn’t getting better.

Now, I don’t want to give the impression I don’t co-operate with the request.  I do, but I do it under duress. The way my mind works is that I can’t contemplate anything by just listening to the words.  I have to read what is being said.  Needless to say, I have to drag myself over to the desk to help.  After much toing and froing, we come to some sort of consensus.  I go back to bed, re-enter la la land until once again the spell is broken with those most damning of all words.
“Is this right?” Continue reading