Why Not Me?

queen

I started writing a story, when my now four year old daughter was a baby. It was slow going. I was studying my Bachelor too and didn’t have much time to write, so it kind of got pushed aside. Then when I started back on it. My laptop blew up and I lost 3 chapters of the story and couldn’t retrieve them. So once again it got pushed aside and than I fell pregnant with my second child and it wasn’t the easiest pregnancy, so again it got put off.

Until this year, when it suddenly hit me. I’ve got to get this done. I’m not exactly sure what triggered this sudden urge, so strong that I couldn’t leave it any longer.

Maybe it was the writers meeting I attended and the inspirational speakers and fellow writers. Perhaps it was an awakening? I’ve struggled with anxiety and PTSD and through this, I’ve learnt so much about myself and I’m beginning to realise that I am capable of so much more then I give myself credit for.

So I ask the question, to myself and to you…WHY NOT ME?

So my first achievement was publishing my poetry collection; Horns & Halo’s and the next big thing is publishing my fantasy novel, Raven Child. Which I’m very close to finishing my first draft. (In my next post I’ll explain the storyline.) rise

I have two young daughters with no family support, so this has been a challenge in itself. But when you have passion and love for something, you make it happen.

So, no matter how small, work towards your goals each and everyday. Even just 20 minutes spare each day or just jotting down idea’s. You’ll be amazed at the results!

Love Jen xxx

 

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Fuck It

I wrote this poem, with tears in my eyes, for the words are real and raw. I’ve always struggled to believe in myself and especially my writing. But it seems I’ve turned a point in my life now and there’s no going back. I’m realising that I can write. And am going to, no matter what. So ‘fuck it’ can be my mantra. Because I’m moving out of my comfy home and into the wild 😜

Thanks to my dear friend Cassie for the mantra 💗

FREE Horns & Halos Poetry Collection

Poetry is fluid and interchanging based on emotion and perception. It allows both the poet and the reader to discover and interpret the words, for themselves.

Life is a lot like poetry, always changing, unique, flexible, forever challenging the mind, and flooding the senses.

Horns & Halo’s was written to convey this sense of self through both emotion and experience. Horns & Halo’s connects the written word, with the real world. No bullshit, no sugar-coating, just up front and raw…

BOLD AND STRONG…LIKE A WOMAN

 

Horns & Halos is available worldwide in paperback and Kindle, from Amazon and a free e-book is available from https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/746721 use coupon code to get your free copy PT96V

I’m Back

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It’s been awhile my friends. But I’m back!

I haven’t forsaken my writing, in fact I’ve been working harder than ever before and that’s why I’ve been absent here on Word Press.

In the time I’ve been away. I’ve had another beautiful baby girl, Audrey who is already 9 months old. I’ve published my first poetry collection, Horns & Halos. I’m almost finished my fantasy manuscript and working on a children’s picture book. My publishing journey feels more tangible than ever before.

I’d love to hear from you and see how you all are going with your writing and I will be making sure I check out your blogs!

So happy to be back. The writing community is so important in the writing process!

Jen xxx

Vintage Stones and Flowers Bent

I went AWOL
For a while
Lost in the clouds
Under feathers of plush-downs
Quills and spines,
and buried beneath
a tree
and vintage stones
and flowers bent and overgrown,
It was a blissful place
of undergrowth,
Where I visualised myself
floating softly in a pond of peace,
It was soothing and calming
and my mind was at rest
But here I am
back with my thoughts stirred.

J.CALVERT 2016

Guest Writer On Ink and Quill: P.I Barrington

My guest writer today on Ink and Quill, is the very interesting and talented author P.I. Barrington. A lady who won’t stop until she get’s what she wants, and has achieved great publishing success.

NAME: P.I. Barrington

COUNTRY: USA

AGE: 58
Please tell us a little about yourself:

I am one of those people who don’t stop until they get what they want! What I wanted was to work in the music industry & meet Paul McCartney and that’s exactly what I did. I got to be a part of a tiny bit of music history. I also worked as an air talent in radio. That was all before I returned to writing of course!

When did you first start writing?

In grade school—third grade to be exact. They had some huge writing contest and it had to be in First Person POV as the American Flag and we had to write about the care of the flag. I thought it was the silliest thing I ever had to do and then I won. You’d think I’d start writing at that moment but I had other career ideas.

What does writing mean to you? Why do you write?

You know, it’s something that I loved I guess and didn’t realize it until a few years ago. It’s like when I create art, it’s an urge you get to put words on paper and you can’t think of anything else until you satisfy that urge. It’s same with art for me.

I grew up in a time when there were no computers (until I became a newspaper reporter and then they had just been introduced) or fax machines or Internet. So, writing for me was either using pen and paper or one of those old, now historic, type writers! That’s what I did when I could sneak into my uncle’s office and bang away on those keys writing silly little stories.

Of course now I wouldn’t be without the Internet—the speed alone allows me to write books almost back to back! I really don’t have any serious, deep need to be some writer like Hemingway or Steinbeck. I’m writing only because I want to entertain people, to make them feel like they’ve been somewhere along with the characters. I want them to see the settings, feel the emotions, the trauma, the plotlines and action everything in that world.

“My readers are the ones that are the most important and I want them to feel about my books the way I felt about my favorite books. If I’ve done that, I consider myself successful.”

 

Where do you find your writing motivation and inspiration?

I do have one secret place where I go to feel inspired and develop story ideas and which I will never reveal, lol! But usually it’s a rather simple formula. I’ll start with characters either their names, the way they look, and their personalities. Once I feel I have any one of those things down, I just start writing and place the story there. For the Brede Chronicles, Book One, the first line just kept popping up in my head and the story took off from there.

What are your current projects?

I’m feverishly writing Book Two since I suffered a cardiac arrest last year and was comatose and then in rehab for months. My publisher, First Realm Publishing, are wonderful and have been so patient with me, so every second I get I’m writing. Other, major changes in my life are also happening so I’ve been crazy busy trying to fit it all in as fast as possible. I’ve got three or four other stories I haven’t been able to even think about yet.

Writers/poets who inspire and influence your own writing?

There have been so many it’s hard to just pick one but I think that I started out at age seven with Shakespeare’s MacBeth and then Stephen King and then Colleen McCullough’s Masters of Rome series. Oh, and also Allen Drury’s “A God Against the Gods and Return to Thebes and Mary Stewart’s The Crystal Cave. One line from that book was “the gods only go with you if you put yourself in their path.”

That philosophy got me into the music industry and into radio. This may sound silly but I found another piece of advice that had to be written for me expressly:

“You are in your own way. Stand Aside.”

 

I got that in a Chinese fortune cookie, lol. I do stand in my own way A LOT!

Have you any published works, or do you plan on publishing in the future?

I hate to say this, but I did self-publish one novel and doubt I’ll ever do it again. I lucked out on cover art that I loved but that whole process was a disaster for me. Besides, I really support smaller independent publishing houses. They gave me my first break and taught me things that an author should know how to do but many don’t because they think they’re going to make billions in royalties.

In fact I recently saw a publishing article that said there are only 40 authors who self publish and make any respectable money but those authors are selling millions of books. In fact I just got into a heated discussion with another author who insisted he self published for that very reason. He sold a lot of books but nothing like those authors who practically have a right to self-publish and worry about keeping their royalties which are in the six to seven digit money makers.

What process did you go through to get your book published?

I joined an online writing group and they announced a submission call for a new publisher Desert Breeze Publishing who had just moved to California. I sent an actual script (film) I think and Gail Delaney (EIC) asked me to write up a chapter for her for a new book and I did. It was a three book deal by the time we got through. Her partner Jenifer Ranieri was the cover art designer and let me tell you she has outdone many of the big pub houses.

They are very professional and my trilogy has reverted rights to me which makes me sad in a way and happy in another. I don’t think authors use indie pub houses enough because again, they think they’re going to make millions. DBP taught me about cover art, contracts, etc., and I thank them for that. First Realm is the same way.

Tell us about your writing process:

Well, as I said, I’ll pick out names and then physical description, then personalities or I’ll reverse that order. Once I have those, I’m a pantser all the way. I absolutely love when this happens in my writing: I’ll be writing and put some seemingly unimportant detail (usually to me too) in the beginning and then it becomes a huge pivotal point in the story.
That happened again in The Brede Chronicles and I was thrilled.

I write what I call “Linear” writing and I’ve only met one author who writes like that. Linear writing works one of two ways: Vertical where you open up a document and start writing down the page until you can’t write any longer and then you pick up where you left off. Horizontal writing is like a timeline. Imagine the crease in the middle of a checker board. That’s your timeline and all the black & red squares are your characters that are leap-frogging over each other to get to the end of the story. That’s how I usually write my crime thrillers and sometimes my sci-fi books as well.

Do you have a specific writing style/genre?

Well, since I started writing I’ve always said that writing should be tight and as concise as possible and people thought I was an egomaniac who thought she knew everything. Then after a year they started saying the same thing as if they’d just come up with it, lol. Why say something in a hundred words when you can say it in fifteen? My work can be gritty but no excessive violence or sex. Writers think they can just stick the F-word and some explicit sex scenes and that makes their work “edgy.” It doesn’t and if they’re struggling to make it work it shows.

The deeper and darker you go with a character that’s when it gets edgy and I’m not talking violence and or insanity either as in horror stories. It has to come from trauma, from the gut so to speak. There’s more to human emotions than madness and if you can harness that and reproduce it in the correct way to make it affect your readers then you have mastered at least one part of your writing style. I think that’s my voice. As far as genre goes, I gravitate toward futuristic, sci-fi, and crime thrillers and I have no idea why. I think it’s because I grew up in the nuclear war era and my entire childhood and young adulthood terrified nuclear war will destroy not only the planet but humanity as well. I try not to go too deep into dystopian but to have a hope for the future. It’s the only way not to become constantly depressed.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

If you want to be a serious writer, you don’t just one day sit down and write, you study writing until you can easily manipulate it. If you’ve never read a book, and then decided you were a writer, that’s going to show.

“It’s like learning an instrument. There’s practice, practice and more practice to be a master of your instrument and for writers, words and their usage is the instrument.”

 

Like art, learn your craft. If you don’t, readers will. And no one wants that, trust me.

Please share your favourite piece/s with us and a brief description of the inspiration behind it:

This excerpt is a bit of back story and paves the way for Elektra Tate to have some unusual skills to keep her alive. I’d given those skills to her early in the book I had to explain now how she got one of them.

PI

She didn’t know much but she knew when someone was bad. And the man who carried her over his shoulder like a sack of garbage was bad. He scooped her up ignoring her terrified screams and slapping her face until she shut up as he ran through the piles of filth that lined the streets of Garbage City. She tried to resume screaming but her body bumped up and down on him so hard she could barely breathe and concentrated on that for the moment. At last he stopped running and flung her down at the end of an alley where she hit the ground with a lung shattering thump. For a moment everything went dark and when she could see again her clothes were ripped apart and his hands were touching her roughly everywhere. Too terrified to make noise she struggled to no avail and even biting him did not help. When he knelt over her undoing his pants fear gave way to fury and she glimpsed something protruding from one of his pockets. She quieted for a moment and she could smell and feel his rancid breathy laughing over her. She waited for the opportune moment and the grasped the only thing that might come to her rescue.

“You are bad.” She said in a small angry voice. “You are very, very, bad.”
He laughed again until she pointed the gun at his face. He tried to swat it out of her hand but wrath made her aim precise. She pulled the trigger making his hand and arm  snap back and he screamed with pain, staring at the hole in his wrist.
“You little—” He tried to lean over her again but she sat up and pointed the barrel at him again.
“No. You are bad.” She pursed her lips solemnly and aimed for his shoulder.
When he screamed the second time people’s heads appeared in their windows and by the fifth scream many ran into the alley to see what could make a grown man sound like that. None dared approach her as she stood over him gun still in her hand, frowning and breathing hard. He looked at the gathering his face imploring.
“Catch this bitch! Look what she did to me! God damn it don’t let her go! Look what she did!”
No one moved.
“Catch her for God’s sake! She—”
“No!” she cut him off. “He is bad. He tried to do bad things to me. He is bad.” She never took her eyes off him and even took a step toward him. “If you ever do bad again I will do more bad to you.”

He tried to sit up and she shot the ancient cobblestones near his knee. He screamed again and managed to scramble to his feet fast enough to avoid being shot at again. He looked around the crowd with wild eyes until he realized none there would help him. “She’s a crazy little bitch! You’ll be sorry you let her live.” He backed out of the alley never taking his eyes off her and the gun. “You’ll be sorry. You’ll all be sorry! Bitch!” he spat at her feet and then turned and ran.

She faced them all, gun dangling in her hand waiting for reaction. None came. They slowly turned away and went back into their three room apartments silently until no one was left. No one said a word, no one berated her for bad behavior, all turned away silently as if she was a disease not to be discussed openly. At last she stood alone in the full nightfall; building high piles of trash giving off horrific stench as they cooled from the searing daytime heat. She gazed down at the weapon in her hand and knew it was her best friend. She shuffled among the filth until she found a niche carved into a wall and crawled down into it, covering herself with trash and cradling the gun in her arms.

 

Guest Writer On Ink & Quill: Adam Dixon

Todays guest writer on Ink & Quill, is Adam Dixon. Adam is the very talented and creative fiction writer at Adam Dixon Fiction. I was thrilled when Adam offered to write a short story, especially for this feature; LIVE A LITTLE.

Please follow the links and show your support to a talented new writer.

adam d
NAME: Adam Dixon

COUNTRY: England, United Kingdom

AGE: 24
Please tell us a little about yourself:

I was born in Carshalton in 1992 and gave grown into a scrawny, bespectacled nerd with a passion for history, literature and all things fantastical. I studied English and History at the University of Sussex and I currently live in Woodingdean, Brighton. It is my ambition to become an author as I have dreamed of writing stories for a living since I was a child. I write short stories in my spare time and I publish them on my blog Adam Dixon Fiction

When did you first start writing?

I first started writing when I was very young, probably around ten years old. Previously, I had had aspirations of becoming an artist, but I quickly came to realise that I preferred the creation of images through words and imagination rather than by brushes and paint.

What does writing mean to you? Why do you write?

Writing provides me with a creative outlet which makes me incredibly happy, and even more so when people respond to my work.

‘The sight of my ink-stained fingers and pages of scribbled words in front of me never fails to satisfy me.’

 

Do you write poetry, short stories and/or novels?

I currently write short stories because I am enjoying the discipline it requires. I am also working on a sci-fi novel which is very much in its early stages, but it is still very exciting! I’d like to try my hand at poetry in the future, but I find the idea extremely daunting, especially since I have discovered such talented poets on WordPress!

Where do you find your writing motivation and inspiration?

I am constantly reading, (a trait inherited from my mum), and it fosters in me a desire to write my own stories as well as providing a vast source of inspiration to draw from. I also find inspiration from conversations, television programs and real-life events. Anything that can spark an idea in my mind and get the creative ball rolling.

What are your current projects?

I am currently working on a couple of short stories for my blog. One is a crime thriller and the other is a supernatural fantasy. As previously mentioned, I am also working on a sci-fi novel. I am also a student with the Writer’s Bureau and am currently enrolled in its Creative Writing Course.

Writers/poets who inspire and influence your own writing?

I am a massive Stephen King fan and his work has inspired the darker side of my writing on several occasions. My favourite books to read are fantasy, and the works of David Gemmell, Robert Jordan, Christopher Paolini, J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien, to name but a few, constantly inspire me.

Have you any published works, or do you plan on publishing in the future?

Unfortunately I don’t have any works published yet, but I hope to in the future.

Tell us about your writing process:

In the last year I’ve become a convert to the idea that “writers just write”, and by that I mean that if I want to write something then I have to sit down and write it. I find a slot in my day where I can devote my energy to writing and I put words on to paper. I’ve found that this helps me work through any stagnant ideas I might be having difficulty with and that the spectre of “writer’s block” doesn’t really frighten me anymore.

In terms of my surroundings, I have realised that I can pretty much write anywhere as long as I actually get started. Complete silence unnerves me, so I like to have at least a little bit of background noise, be it the chatter of a café or some instrumental music on Youtube.

Do you have a specific writing style/genre?

I used to think that all I could write was fantasy stories, but since I started my blog I have realised that I can try my hand at a few other genres as well, with some degree of success. In terms of style, I seem to gravitate towards character-driven stories with a twist at the end, more often than not a dark one.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

‘Keep writing; it is the best way to stay motivated and maintain your creative energy.’

 

Please share your favourite piece/s with us and a brief description of the inspiration behind it:

I’m attaching a short story called ‘Live a Little’ to this email.
I asked Jen during our correspondence whether or not she would like me to write something brand new for this guest post, and she said that she would. The inspiration for this story came to me when I was getting into my Dad’s car we both automatically reached for our seat-belts. A mocking voice in the back of my head suggested that I “live a little” and remain unbuckled in my seat. I didn’t like the sound of this voice and I had no idea where it had come from, but I noted it down in my phone along with what would later end up serving as the final line to this story. I filed the idea away for a few months and decided to complete it for this guest post.

Live a Little

By Adam Dixon

I can still remember the night that I died; it’s seared into my mind like a cattle brand, white-hot and permanent. I can still hear the sound of my own laughter in my ears coupled with the cheers and encouragement of my friends. I can still feel the bitter wind tearing at my hair and clothes as I waved my arms above my head. I can still see the painted lines on the tarmac racing past in a blur of white. I’d never felt so alive, and I’d never been so reckless. It was all their fault.

The party had been a riot. A mutual friend had just joined us in the ranks of the over-25s and we four were still buzzing from it. Jen hadn’t wanted to leave, but Bradley had insisted. He never would back down once he’d got an idea into his head, and Jen never would resist him for long. I’d have happily gone home, myself. If only I’d said something, then maybe all this wouldn’t of happened. But I didn’t, and sometime after midnight myself, Jen and her older brother, Steve, all piled into Bradley’s car and set off down the motorway. We were laughing and joking, singing loudly and badly to whatever was on the radio and passing a bottle of vodka around. The familiar burn in my throat and the rush of alcohol to my head was as exhilarating as ever, and I soon got in the mood to find another party.

But it was then that I noticed how drunk Bradley was. He was blinking rapidly behind the wheel, grinning like an idiot and slurring his words whenever he spoke. He hadn’t seemed that bad before, but then again we hadn’t really been watching him. I’d told Jen to keep an eye on him, damn it! At one point Steve said something which made him laugh and he sent us careening across two lanes! The motorway was deserted, of course, but still…

After a while I asked Bradley to slow down. He wasn’t listening because Jen had her hand on his crotch and was whispering something to him as she caressed him through his jeans. Steve was being a nuisance; he seemed to think that because I was drunk I would be doing the same. I can still feel him nuzzling my neck as one hand clumsily pawed my breasts and the other slid up my skirt…I can still hear the ‘crack!’ as I slapped him, too. Christ, that was satisfying, and it succeeded in finally getting Bradey and Jen’s attention.
“Oi, what the hell are you playin’ at back there?” Bradley thundered, glaring at me via the rear-view mirror. Steve was stunned, rubbing his cheek and staring at the back of Jen’s seat.

“Oh, Lisa’s just bein’ a spoilsport, babe!” Jen mocked, rolling her decorated eyes and flicking her perfect hair. “Looks like she doesn’t wanna have some fun with Steve. Can’t blame her, really, he is an ugly bastard!”
“Oi!” Steve protested, still rubbing his cheek. He wasn’t that ugly, but drunk or not I didn’t appreciate him being so forward.
“C’mon, Lees!” Bradley said, annoyed. I hated it when he called me that! “What’s wrong with old Steve-O, anyway? C’mon, live a little, for fuck’s sake!”
“Shut up, Bradley,” I spat, but secretly I felt bad for hitting Steve. That was the effect that Bradley had on people: he was too bloody good at making you feel like the bad guy.

The next few minutes consisted of Bradley and Jen laughing about how uncool I was and how much of a stick-in-the-mud I could be. I angrily disagreed with them, of course, but it really got under my skin. Steve didn’t say much, he just carried on sitting there looking like a kicked puppy. Maybe it was the drink, but I was suddenly determined to prove them wrong.

“I’m not boring, I can do anything you twats can!” I said after downing another mouthful of liquid fire.
“That so?” Bradley asked, still laughing. “I don’t believe you, Lees. Look, you’ve still got your bleedin’ seat-belt on for a start! Why can’t you live a little?”
“Fine!” I had practically ripped my seat-belt off at that remark. I immediately felt it was a bad idea, but I ignored the thought. Big mistake.
“Oooh, look at the balls on you, babe!” Jen had twisted round in her seat to flash a big, stupid grin at me. I felt like we were back in the school playground. “Betcha won’t do anything else though! Betcha wouldn’t lean out of the window while we’re movin’, would you? Nah, course not, you’re too much of a wimp!”
“Just watch me, bitch!” I said and moved towards my window. I remember clearly the struggle I had unwinding the stupid thing, and the memory comes to me in slow motion.

It’s torture to recall it, to remember how I gripped the cold roof of the car with one arm as I leaned my torso out into the night. I even lifted my leg and rested my thigh on the thin glass so that I was more out of the car than inside. The wind buffeted me and tore a gasp from my lungs as I steadied myself. I remember squealing like a giddy child as I raised first one arm, then both into the air as my soul rejoiced at my freedom.

“You see me now, you arseholes!” I screeched at them, laughing deliriously. “I can fucking do anything!” They were laughing too and even Steve was cheering. It was fantastic. It was fatal. Leaning out of a car travelling at ninety miles per hour driven by an intoxicated monkey in a shirt has consequences. Nobody saw how close to the edge of the railings Bradley had gotten until it was far, far too late.
Now I’m trapped in a lonely existence on this barren stretch of asphalt, doomed to watch speeding cars and fester with impotent rage.
Live a little, they had said….
They all wear their seat-belts now.

Published On Poppy Road Review

A massive thank you, to Poppy Road Review for publishing my poem Dead Sisters.

I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am.

A BIG thank you to Ryan, at Days Of Stone, for suggesting I submit Dead Sisters to Poppy Road. Thanks for your encouragement and support Ryan!

Pretty please follow the link,

Poppy Road Review: Jennifer Calvert

Guest Poet On Ink & Quill: Al Lane

I’d like to welcome my next guest on Ink and Quill, Al Lane, from Al The Author, a writer of poetry and songs, for both children and adults. As Al says in his interview, he like most writers, is searching for his voice. It seems his children have helped him find his niche and passion, which I can really relate to.

al

NAME: Alistair Lane. Al to my friends. We’re all friends here, right?

COUNTRY: England

AGE: 38

 

Please tell us a little about yourself:

I am a writer, of stories, of poems, of songs, of whimsical ditties and heartbreaking ballads. Of haiku and rhymes, for children and adults, on Star Wars and superheroes and zombies and love and clouds and puddles and cake. Of words that will lift and inspire… and (sometimes) words that don’t quite work. That clunk and crash.

‘But without the permission to make mistakes, we can never really free ourselves from our shackles. Stick with me while I’m finding my voice.’

 

When did you first start writing?

I like to think I’ve always had something of a way with written words (certainly more so than my verbal ability!), but the inciting incident was the birth of my eldest son six years ago. We started reading to him from an early age, as many parents do, and the rhythm of those rhyming picture books (especially Julia Donaldson) got into my system. It infected me from top to toe.

Reading to my son was an amazing way to bond, and something that he really responded to (his reading ability now is incredible)… who wouldn’t want to be able to generate that reaction from their own words? So, I started trying to write rhyming picture books, and developed from there into children’s poetry, short stories, and poems for adults too.
This has helped me to “find my voice”, but also it helps to keep things interesting, to constantly challenge myself to write in different styles, for different audiences. I have just started a screenwriting course for this exact reason.

What does poetry mean to you?

‘Poetry is the distilled expression of a moment. It encompasses the history of the universe, and the flapping of a butterfly’s wings. It is the universal and the personal, the bludgeon and the rapier, the heartbreak and the rapture.’

 

It is a way for me to communicate the more interesting (I hope) ideas that pass through my head, and give them a form that (I hope) merits attention.

I’m also a big believer in keeping poetry accessible. I’m an intelligent person. I don’t need to demonstrate this by using obscure, fancy words, and don’t react favourably to other poets who write this way. (Anything that distances the poet from the audience bemuses me, for one.) I’m all for layers of meaning, and finding the perfect word, but there’s a reason that many people profess not to like poetry, and such intellectual snobbishness perpetuates this.

I believe that one of my strengths is the ability to keep things simple, while also conveying wider themes. Although I’m serious about my craft, I don’t take myself, or my poetry, too seriously. Profound messages can be put across behind a veneer of fun. For proof of this, check out how often Dr Seuss’ quotes are used for writers’ motivation!

What might inspire you to write a poem? How does a poem begin for you, with an idea, a form or an image?

I take part in a number of poetry/ haiku challenges – I enjoy taking the prompt words and bending them to my own shape. I will play with the words in my head, looking for an interesting angle to take, trying to avoid the obvious where possible. Often, especially with haiku challenges, I write a whole stream of unrelated haiku, using the words in different ways, some comic, some serious, some direct, others more layered. I enjoy the mental workout this gives me.

For unprompted work, the ideas can come from anywhere – lines from TV shows, films, print media, books, something I hear on the bus, fun turns of phrase that my boys come out with… I make a note of the idea on my phone, and work it over in my mind, seeing if it develops. Some don’t. I have numerous ideas recorded on my phone that will never go anywhere. But if something sparks, or I get an idea for a refrain… then I will develop it into something more substantial. I literally had one line pop into my head while I was in the shower last night – “these words, alone, to woo” – and have written a poem around that theme, with that as a recurring end line.

All of my ideas revolve around words, and ideas. I am not a visual thinker (even for picture book texts that I’ve written, I have no strong ideas of what the characters look like). I love language and playing with words, and follow them down alleys and cul-de-sacs to see what might become of them.

Which writers/poets inspire and influence your own writing?

My favourite authors are Neil Gaiman and Douglas Adams. They are both huge influences, in terms of style and sense of humour.
In terms of poets, I have binged on children’s poetry in the last couple of years. Allan Ahlberg and Julia Donaldson are probably my top picks there. I do get frustrated by the number of instantly forgettable, single joke poems that persist in the world of children’s poetry publishing. We can do better for our children. Joseph Coelho is a notable recent exception to this trend.

I have a range of poetry books and pamphlets that I dip into – I read different poets every day, for different reasons, studying their turns of phrase, or the way they use rhythm, or rhyme. In the reading pile, I currently have: Roger McGough, Shel Silverstein (big fan), Roald Dahl, Jim Carroll, Billy Collins, Spike Milligan, Ogden Nash, Michael Rosen, TS Eliot, WH Auden, John Hegley, Emily Dickinson, Philip Larkin…

The poet who has had the biggest influence recently is definitely Billy Collins. I binge-purchased half a dozen of his books. I’ll never finish them, because every time I read one of his poems, it inspires me to write one of my own, riffing off a phrase that he has used, or an idea that he’s created in me.

I should also give a nod here to two musicians, whose lyrics have a very poetic quality, in differing ways: David Bowie, and Nick Cave. The combination of music and poetry, in such hands, is intoxicating.

Has your idea of what poetry is changed since you began writing poems?

I don’t think so: it’s such a personal, malleable thing anyway. My appreciation of poetry, good poetry, though – that’s a different matter. The more I read, the more I appreciate.

Tell us about your writing process: Pen and paper, computer, notes?

Everything starts on my smartphone. I commute to work on the bus, and use that time (plus any snatched moment around the clock) to draft and edit poems and story ideas, texting them to myself with each revision. I don’t like typing them up on the laptop – there’s something about seeing the words on a computer screen that’s too final, when the text may not actually be ready yet.

I sometimes make notes with pen and paper, but that tends to be at the brain-storming phase, taking a word and expanding out the possibilities contained within it, until I find something that fires my imagination.

When my phone needed repair last year, I didn’t write a single poem in the week I went without it. My process, as well as managing my life, is totally dependent on it!

Please share your favourite piece/s with us and a brief description of the inspiration behind it:

This is my favourite recent poem: Al The Author: Ten Tired Parents I met the author of the children’s rhyming picture book Ten Little Pirates at a writer’s conference last year, and gushed to him (at the bar!) about how much my youngest son loved his book… We became Facebook friends, and I made a joke at the time about writing another one in that series for grown-ups. As happens often, I didn’t do anything with that idea. And then, recently we were invited by friends to come and spend the weekend with them while they were on holiday with their young children… I wrote this on the way home, with all of those previous elements coming together at once. Some of it may be autobiographical!
I sometimes adopt personas for poems, or write about ideas or positions that I don’t agree with, or haven’t experienced. Not this one. This one is very personal, and self-explanatory – a haiku on first meeting your newborn baby –

Haiku: ‘Tight and Warm’

baby

Newborn fingers grip
Warm, soft skin seeking comfort
From here, I am hooked
This limerick is in a similar vein –

Limerick: Birth

child

On the wonderful day of your birth
I was the happiest person on Earth
Now you teach me each day
In your own special way
How much this life truly is worth

 

Guest Poet On Ink & Quill: Ryan Stone

ryan

 

Todays Feature Poet on Ink & Quill is Ryan Stone, from Days of Stone. It is with great pleasure to introduce you to Ryan, a fellow Australian and an extremely talented writer, whose poetry always leaves me inspired and contemplative.

Name: Ryan Stone
Country: Melbourne, Australia
Age: Old enough to know better…young enough not to care.

A Bit About Me:
I have no formal credentials, just an observer’s eye and an insatiable appetite for books. I’m rough around the edges but the right turn of phrase will stop me dead in my tracks every time. I love Metallica and Ted Kooser with equal passion and my closest friend in the world is my German Shepherd (just don’t tell my wife).

A selection of my writing and artwork can be found on my blog – Days Of Stone

When did you first start writing?
The first time I ever considered my writing to be ‘writing’ was towards the end of high school when I was blessed with an incredibly passionate English teacher who managed to channel a teenage boy’s angst and anger into something less destructive. When one of my poems earned me a kiss from a pretty girl I had a crush on, I knew writing was something I’d stick with.

What does poetry mean to you?
I think Anton Chekhov explains what I like about it best – ‘Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.’

‘I love the way a poem can capture more than a photograph, can carry an image or emotion over time and space and let me experience someone else’s worldview for a moment.’

I also enjoy reading one of my own poems years after it was written and being transported back to a previous headspace.

What might inspire you to write a poem? How does a poem begin for you, with an idea, a form or an image?
Nearly all of my poetry starts while I’m running with my dog through the rainforest beside my house. Usually a thought, a memory or an observation takes root and nags at me until I manage to jot it down. Sometimes an unusual word or phrase will catch me the same way. My dog has developed his very own ‘here we go again’ face that he pulls each time a run pauses so I can tap out a note or two.

Which writers/poets inspire and influence your own writing?
Originally, my love of poetry was nurtured by Maya Angelou, Kenneth Slessor, Jim Morrison (The Doors), Ani Difranco and Jewel Kilcher. When I first discovered Ted Kooser a few years ago, I think my poetry took a huge leap forwards. His book, ‘The Poetry Home Repair Manual’ was full of ‘Aha!’ moments for me. Most recently, I’ve lost myself in the brilliant Buddy Wakefield.

Tell us about your writing process: Pen and paper, computer, notes?
Almost exclusively, my writing begins as a note or two on my iPhone while I’m running and later develops on my iPad. Writing environment is incredibly important to me and the Mac/IPad writing program – Ulysses – puts me in an excellent creative headspace. I tend to write a first draft very quickly once an idea forms and then I’ll put it aside for a week or two before returning and revising over and over and over…

Teacher

teacher

A wail
of sirens makes
her pale

with fear,
returns her to
the year

she stole
a cub from his
foxhole.

Ryan Stone

Poem inspiration: I generally write all my poetry in free verse or senryu/5-7-5 format. I’ve tried my hand at a couple of forms but they always come out feeling forced. Recently I was introduced to the Musette form by my good friend, Thomas, at Hook Line and Inkwell.

The Musette worked for me like placing a key into a locked door – I had a stack of unfinished poems sitting around staring at dead ends and all of a sudden I found them twisting themselves into Musettes. There is something about the beautiful rhyme scheme and having to conform to a limited number of words that I really enjoy about the form:

Musette

three verses
first line – 2 syllables
second line – 4 syllables
third line – 2 syllables
rhyme scheme – a/b/a c/d/c e/f/e
title reflects poems content

Leaving Violet Town

leaving violet town

The boy sits alone
while the carriage fills
around him. It’s a V-line,
a long haul, thundering
into morning.

Barely legible,
a chipped sign fades
and Violet Town falls away.

He retreats to a paperback
kingdom, while oblivious
wheels devour miles.
Sometimes his eyes rise
to watch the landscape
grind from here to there.

Terminus halogen
holds the night at bay
as a voiceover calls
passengers awake.

At journey’s end,
crisp air whispers
possibility. Behind him,
doors hiss shut. Ahead,
a turnstile beckons.

– Ryan Stone

First published in Writers’ Forum Magazine issue 159, December 2014

Poem inspiration: I served in the Australian Army for a few years, during which time I lived and worked in a border town, many hours from family and friends. During infrequent trips home, I passed the boredom of the long haul train ride by watching other travelers and trying to imagine the stories behind each journey. This poem began as a collection of these observations combined with the idea that a train ride through the night shares similarities with the journey we make from childhood into adulthood.

Dragonflies and Raindrops

DRAGONFLIES

 

It starts with a single languid drop,
beating a hardpan drum.
Cicadas warble a scorched-earth vibrato,
rushing skyward, the long-dry undone.

Rusty tears trickle their bullnose percussion
on verandah iron and brass. While the red dusts
of torment yawn and drink deeply,
thirsty as fire-kissed grass.

My hard-bitten mongrels, in Waratah shade,
flick ears laid unseasonably low.
Drought threatens to claim what Tigers have not.
Limp tails tell tales of woe.

Resembling slender men, brown withered stems
raise limp hands, tattered and burned.
A chorus begins, Magpie trills and woodwind;
life to the outback returned.

Movement staccatos; even dragonflies pause
from their wild tumbles and dips.
A long-absent lover, in the final refrain,
bestows a moist kiss on parched lips.

– Ryan Stone

First published in Of Words and Water 2014.

Poem inspiration: This poem was written for a charity anthology in support of Water Aid. A lot of my poetry is influenced by the Australian outback and the amazing animals and plant life by which I’m surrounded. The return of rain after surviving a period of drought is an incredible thing to experience.