My earliest attempts at writing
From a very early age I wanted to be a writer. When I was about age 8 I was given a toy typewriter, probably the same as the one pictured above. This was one available in 1955, about when I was 8 years old. It wasn’t a true typewriter because it had a false keyboard. The letters were formed by turning the central dial to the required letter and then pressing the lever which then left an impression of the letter on the paper. It was a tedious process and operated in a similar way to early dial operated labelling machines (eg Dymo).
Before receiving this wonderful boost to my writing career I would fill scraps of paper, old school exercise books, leftover brown wrapping paper and leftover pads with my writing. With my new “typewriter” came the need for typing paper and replacement ribbons. I graduated into writing stories, jokes and articles using my new toy, leaving spaces for hand drawn illustrations.
It wasn’t long before I discovered carbon paper in my father’s writing bureau, so multiple copies of my class newsletter were now possible. I soon had classmates paying for the privilege of subscribing to my periodical. My career was off and running.
Until Dad found out.
It seems that the father of a classmate complained that, in his opinion, my entrepreneurial endeavours were somehow illegal. Reluctantly I had to pay back the money, and my writing career came to a grinding halt. For next 40 years I dedicated myself to my second choice, teaching. Now in retirement I can finally pursue that early dream, one that was almost snuffed out by an obnoxious and totally meddlesome person.
I sometimes wonder what might have been.
Don’t let anyone steal your dream.
Life is tough in the Aussie bush
Life has certainly been tough in most parts of the Australian countryside for more than a decade now. Many rural people have experienced devastating droughts, overwhelming floods, unbelievable locust and mice plagues, raging bushfires, economic downturns and unsympathetic banks. Sadly, many have not coped with the stresses of these disasters and have ended their lives. Suicide is a serious issue in many rural communities, and all it does is solve the problem for the individual, leaving further tragedy and perhaps guilt for those left behind.
With typical laconic Aussie humour in the midst of all this angst, the poor fellow shown in the photo above couldn’t even get his last act right. Instead of leaping over the cliff to the rocks below, he stumbled into a boxthorn bush. What a harsh way to go!
Seriously, although we may laugh at this poor fellow’s tragic and misplaced end, suicide is no laughing matter. If you are experiencing stress, anxiety or depression, or know someone who is, please consult your family doctor ASAP. In the meantime, sites like Beyond Blue here in Australia can be a first step on the path to recovery. There is help available and professionals can show that there is hope in seemingly hopeless situations. This hasn’t always been the case. When I was young three close relatives needlessly took their own lives; they didn’t know where to turn for help.
Writers make up a group most at risk. We often work long hours alone, cloistered by necessity. Getting published can be depressingly difficult. Finances can be stretched to breaking point just as our spirits can also break. Be sure to get help if that’s where you’re at.
Good writing and good health.
The power of words
I am writing this post at my son’s home where we are staying for a few days of holiday. Our grandson, aged two and a half is a wonderful delight and his bright nature brings us all much joy. One of his favourite toys is a solar powered helicopter. It’s a simple little device made mainly of wood with two small solar panels on the rotor blades. Even a small amount of sunlight filtering through a window will send the blades whirring. It is an amazing contraption which intrigues us all.
One of the amazing things about this toy is the power generated by such small panels. Words are like that too. A few simple, uncomplicated words can have a powerful effect on the reader. A few well chosen sentences can change a person’s life. A story, poem or article can have a lasting influence over one person – or many people.
Choose your words carefully. Craft them lovingly. Launch them out into the wild world where they fly into the lives of others, bringing joy, blessing, laughter and perhaps even challenge to the recipients. Don’t waste your words; make them count for something.
The words we use
Words are the building blocks every writer uses to create stories, novels, poems, articles and many other forms of the written word. Like most writers, words and how to use them fascinate me.
In recent years one use of words has intrigued me more than most: signs. I’ve actually taken quite a few photos of signs. Some amuse me, some intrigue me and others frustrate me. One that amused me was above a restaurant in Kathmandu a few years ago. It was called the “Sweet Memorize Restaurant”. I guess that they didn’t have a printed menu and that customers had to commit to memory all the various dishes – or perhaps it was just the list of desserts and other sweets that one had to commit to memory.
Another shop sign that annoys me every time I drive past it near my home announces “Gwenny’s Emporium.” Mmm… it’s a tin shed for goodness sake! The word “emporium” indicates a wide range of goods for sale and so it is relatively accurate. I my mind, however, I have the impression that the word also implies a grandiose, magnificent building. There’s nothing in the basic meaning that indicates that it has to be such a building, but all the same, that’s the image I have in my mind. A shed simply does not cut it in my opinion.
As writers we need to be constantly on the alert about the ways we use words. We usually don’t have the chance to explain to the reader exactly what we mean. Misunderstandings do happen. We should strive to be as accurate and as unambiguous as possible.
Haiku #46: Rhododendron
Scarlet petals glow
In dawn’s new rays – a beacon
Heralding the sun.
© 2010 Trevor W. Hampel
All rights reserved.
To read more of my poetry, click here.