I enjoy the challenge of getting a good photo of many things in nature. One of my minor interests is photos of trees, especially the trunks of trees and in particular those with interesting or arresting colours or patterns made by the bark.
The above eucalypt tree caught my eye while birding in a park near my home some time ago. The colours stunning the bark are quite special. When combined with the light and shadows cast by the sun, this is quite a noteworthy picture in my opinion.
While looking at it the idiom “barking up the wrong tree” came to mind. (For a definition of an idiom click here.) It’s an expression we use, especially here in South Australia, to indicate that we – or another person – is wrong, or misguided in some way. For example, if I was adamant that we had been to a certain restaurant on a certain date, and keep on insisting that this was correct only to find out I was wrong when later my wife produced proof that we were actually interstate on that day, I could be said to have been “barking up the wrong tree.” Plainly, I was wrong.
- Write a story about a time when you were completely wrong.
- Use the expression “barking up the wrong tree” in a short story.
- Have a character in your story use this expression – but incorrectly.
- Write a descriptive piece about how a dog chased a cat up a tree – but kept on barking at the wrong tree.
- Write an imaginative piece explaining how you think this expression was first used.
- Write a poem which is an ode to trees.
The Mausoleum of Mohammed V in Rabat, Morocco is obviously a sacred place in that country, going by the number of people visiting the site during our tour. If it isn’t a sacred place, it is certainly a very special place to many Moroccans.
We all have our special places; some of them are quite sacred to us. One special place for me is the small hill in the Flinders Ranges in outback South Australia. The panoramic view of the Wilpena Pound mountains in the moonlight was a perfect place to propose to my girlfriend. More than 40 years later she is still my wife.
This mausoleum was a sombre place. The stunning beauty of the building added to the strong sense of place and occasion.
- What sacred, or special places do you have in your life; write about them, describing why they are special.
- Write accounts of special places you have visited.
- Write a story set around a place which is special or sacred to someone else – perhaps a place special to many people.
- Write a poem about a place which is very special to many people in your country.
To many people history is boring.
I can understand that. Some history turns me off, while other aspects of history fascinate me. I guess it sometimes depends on the mood I’m in, or the particular aspect of history being discussed, read or shown on television. To many people family history is deadly boring – with and emphasis on the “dead” part.
Some writers complain that they have trouble coming up with ideas for stories and novels. My suggestion is to get hold of a family history book. If your family hasn’t had a family history book published, borrow someone else’s history. I have two family books; one based on my father’s side, the other on my mother’s family. Both are filled with family genealogical diagrams illustrating relationships in the broader family. They also include many interesting but rather stiff upper lip type photos which can be a little amusing today.
But I digress.
Both books contain hundreds of short accounts of the lives of people in my family. Many of these people are now dead. The accounts range from the familiar, mundane and ordinary, through to the unbelievable, adventurous and plain tragic. Take for example the account of my ancestors on my father’s side as they escaped religious persecution in their home land and migrated half way around the world to settle here in South Australia. Several members died on the boat journey out here. The story of the survivors shows great courage and drama. It’s ready made for retelling, possibly best written as fiction.
Any family history book, if it contains accounts of the lives of ordinary people, will be a fertile field ready for harvesting by a creative and imaginative writer. Troll through the book looking for that one story that captures your imagination. Then let that imagination have full rein. Let the story run its course. Don’t necessarily worry about sticking to the facts; you are writing fiction. Writers of historical fiction do this all the time; their stories are fiction based on a true story or actual event.
I hope you find a little gem of a story.
I recently had some publication success. Yay!
Every year the Creative Writing department of the university where I recently completed my MA (Tabor Adelaide) publishes an anthology of poetry, short plays and short stories. The contributors are all present or former students, and a few staff members also add to the eclectic mix of writing. This anthology was the 6th edition and the quality is extremely high. The competition to be included is making it harder to be included every year, so I was pleased to have a short story and a poem in the latest issue.
I’ve read all six editions and have enjoyed all of the stories. Many of the poems could easily have found a home in any of our most prestigious literary journals. In fact, two of our regular contributors, both former students, have had stories published in a leading journal in recent months. It speaks volumes for the standard of teaching at Tabor Adelaide, and says much for the talents being nurtured.
The anthology is called Tales from the Upper Room, reflecting the theological roots of Tabor Adelaide and a direct link to the upper room where Jesus and his disciples met to celebrate the last supper. The ‘upper room’ also refers to the fact that our writers’ groups meet in The Loft, the highest room in the university.
Writing can be a very discouraging occupation at times. Much of the time actually. I went through a period of many months a few years ago when I had a string of rejections – 30 of them in a row. It almost brought me to the point of quitting.
But like my need to breathe, I need to write.
So I kept on writing and submitting stories, poems and articles. I kept posting on my blogs. Soon the income from my blogs increased and soon I started getting my writing accepted again. I’m pleased I didn’t give up. The most recent 30 submissions have seen 18 acceptances. Now that’s a better acceptance/rejection ratio.
My most recent publication success came this week with the arrival of a complementary copy of a magazine which included a suite of five sonnets I had written. That’s more encouragement, and I really needed that because I’m going through a few tough health issues at present.
Keep on writing.