Archive for March, 2013

If the stones could talk

Roman ruins at Volubilis in Morocco

If only the stones could talk.

I was totally fascinated by the ancient Roman ruins of Volubilis in Morocco when we visited during our tour of that country. It was certainly a highlight of the tour – a holiday with many highlights. These ruins are now a declared UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Volubilis was settled in the third century BC but only reached its zenith as a commercial, cultural and administrative centre under Roman rule in the first century AD. It was occupied for at least another 700 years, so it has a long and rich history.

Many of the ruins were destroyed during an earthquake in the 18th century, and it is only in the last 20 years that excavations have revealed some of its former glory.

While wandering around the site,  the writer in me couldn’t help speculate about the myriads of stories these ancient ruins could tell. At one stage over 20,000 people lived here. Each had a story to tell.

  • What did they dream of?
  • What struggles did they have?
  •  How many tragedies could be related?
  • Who were the heroes – and the villains – who called this home?

Writing prompt:

  • Think of some historic place you know well – or even revisit it.
  • It can be a building, a monument or even a natural feature steeped in history.
  • It could even be a photo of a place you have never visited – like those above and below.
  • Let your mind imagine the people of the past who may have worked there, lived there or had lives changed by being there.
  • Drawing on your imagination, write about those people, telling their story.

Good writing.

Roman ruins at Volubilis in Morocco

This really annoys me

WARNING: This post is not much about writing. I felt the need to vent a little online. I don’t do it very often.

Most of the time I am very calm and don’t let minor things upset, but every now and then something gets up my nose.


Then I try to let it slide; life’s too short to let a minor irritation get the better of me.

For many years now I’ve had a watch which had a stopwatch facility. Whenever I am writing, or doing research linked to my writing, I have used this facility. At the end of each day I record on a chart how many hours I’ve spent on my writing that day, as well as how many blog posts I’ve written and a word count for the day. These figures are kept as a tally on this chart so I can see if I’m reaching my writing goals. It’s a way of keeping me accountable to myself. Works for me.

Just over two years ago I bought a new watch. The old one had seen many years of faithful, reliable service, save for an occasional new battery. The jewellery shop I usually go to no longer stocked the watch, and batteries were no longer available. Time for an upgrade after many years, I thought. The new watch was good, albeit a little bulky/clunky in appearance, but I coped.

A few weeks ago the battery failed. Suddenly – right in mid-sentence. So I went to have it replaced – not a problem.  It was a few weeks out of warranty, but that wasn’t what upset me. A few days later the rubber/plastic strap threatened to break at any moment. Oh no. Having just spent money on a battery, I wasn’t keen to fork out more for a strap. It would have almost been cheaper to have bought a new watch. So I did.

The old watch is still very functional; I just can’t wear it, so it sits on my writing desk still performing nicely in timing my writing patterns. I am determined to get my money’s worth out of that battery.

The throw away society mentality really gets up my nose. Built in obsolescence has always pushed my button.

And I won’t even start on about having to replace a perfectly good – but very old – mobile phone this last week. SIGH.

Good writing.

Adelaide Writers’ Week

2010 Writers’ Week, Pioneer Women’s Memorial Gardens, Adelaide

Over recent weeks our capital city Adelaide has been abuzz with its annual Fringe Festival, followed by the now annual Festival of Arts; it used to be every two years. Somehow we manage to make this month into “Mad March”. In addition to these two major festivals organisers also manage to cram in the Clipsal 500 car race and this weekend we have the Adelaide Cup, a horse  race.

One of the features of the Festival of Arts I always look forward to is Writers’ Week. This is always held over about 6 days in the beautiful Women’s Memorial Gardens, part of our lovely parklands. Sitting in the shade of the trees on an early autumn day listening to writers talking about their books and their writing craft is a very pleasant way to spend a few – or many – hours.

Unfortunately life conspired against me this year and I didn’t make it to a single session. [Sigh]

You can read my impressions of the last Adelaide Writers’ Week here.

Adelaide Writers’ Week 2010, Pioneer Women’s Memorial Gardens


This post is not about writing, or about books or even about reading, but it’s something I’d love to share with my readers.

Yesterday my wife and I had the delight to see one of the shows in the Adelaide Fringe Festival, an exciting part of the world-renowned Adelaide Festival of Arts. The show was called Circolombia, a vibrant, energetic and compellingly hypnotic acrobatics display mixed with rap music and dance.

The stars of this rhythm-fest are all young people from the streets of Cali, Colombia. They have escaped the dangers of those streets and have taken their skills onto the world stage for all to see. My family has close ties with the city of Cali – both of my grandchildren were born there and lived for the first few months of their lives in a local orphanage. I can now see where they get their love of music from – as well as their amazing sense of rhythm.

One of my concerns about this afternoon’s performance was the Clipsal 500 car race, the track being about 150 metres from the tent where we sat watching the show. The main race coincided with the performance. I need not have worried. The booming reggaeton soundtrack showed that the high-octane performance inside the circus tent was more than a match for the average-octane cars on the street circuit car race nearby.

Another benefit of belonging to a writers’ group

Last night I attended the monthly meeting of my writers’ group. This group used to meet at my university in Adelaide, but this is no longer suitable because most of the participants no longer work or study there. Instead, we meet in a comfortable church hall in Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills. It’s a 35 minute drive for me, somewhat shorter than the previous 50-55 minutes, depending on traffic.

Last month we were set a writing task for this meeting. Six of the group had prepared stories to share  last night, but these readings and the subsequent critiquing session was postponed. Our  leader, Mark,  has experienced a tragedy only 36 hours before. His son, a talented writer in his own right, an occasional participant in our meetings, had suddenly died. It was a good opportunity for Mark to unload on a group of supportive friends and fellow writers. Normal proceedings were suspended and he just talked and talked about what he was feeling, and the circumstances leading up to his son’s death.

After an hour, he left the meeting. We had some other short stories and poems prepared to read, leftover from the previous month. It wasn’t how we planned the meeting to go, but in the process of letting Mark talk – and show his feelings – we not only helped him, but also helped each of us come to terms with the tragedy.

I also believe it has further strengthened an already very strong bond between us as a group.

Good writing.