Pots on a wall

Pots on a wall in Rabat, Morocco

We saw these beautiful, ornate pots while visiting Rabat, the capital city of Morocco. Our guide took us on a meandering walk through some narrow lanes in the Kasbah des Oudaias. I was fascinated by this set of large pots on a wall next to someone’s front door. They appear to have been recently cemented in place. Why? I have no idea.

We visited a number of sites while in Rabat, this older part being a UNESCO World Heritage area.

Writing prompt:

Use your imagination to answer one or more of these questions:

  • Why are the pots on the wall?
  • Who put them there?
  • What have they been used for?
  • Who lives behind the wall?

Incorporate some of your answers into a story about a person who lives in this old city. Or tell the story from the point of view of one of the pots.

Good writing.

Writing prompt: Donkeys and other animals

Donkeys in the streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

When one travels to other countries, your eyes instantly pick up interesting contrasts to what you experience in your home town. I don’t ever see too many donkeys roaming the streets of my home town, Murray Bridge here in South Australia. Sure, the odd kangaroo ventures down the road past our home but this is quite rare. The occasional fox, hare or rabbit will make an appearance quite often, as well as the usual snakes and lizards. Even a sheep or two and horses pass by – I’ve even seen a riderless horse gallop by.

But never donkeys. Though there is one living in someone’s paddock about a kilometre away from our home; we sometimes hear him braying.

So when we went to visit Ethiopia and Morocco last year we were interested to see so many donkeys in the streets, on country roads and in farm yards. They are a very common beast of burden in those countries and are frequently seen in the streets of the large cities. Drivers have to be particularly careful to avoid colliding with them.

Writing Prompt: write about the animals you have as pets, or animals you see in your region. If you are writing a short story, incorporate one or more of these animals in your story to enhance the setting. If what you write is only a few hundred words, you could even post it in the comments section for other readers to comment.

Good writing.

Tabor Adelaide Graduation Day 2012

Yesterday I dressed up all smart and official and headed off to Adelaide, about an hour’s drive from home. I attended the Tabor Adelaide Graduation Day for 2012. At the same event in 2011 I  graduated, having achieved my Master of Arts (Creative Writing) degree. It was a wonderful day and I had a great sense of achievement.

A few months later I was invited to join the teaching staff and I started lecturing as an Adjunct Lecturer earlier this year. So far it is going really well and I am enjoying the experience – in spite of how it tires me out at my age.  More recently I have agreed to teach a second subject next semester.

Today I was able to witness a number of close friends graduating. I also had the privilege of joining the ranks of staff members during the ceremony.

I would highly recommend Tabor Adelaide to any prospective students. Many of their courses – including the creative writing units – can be studied externally, and even overseas. Semester 2 does not commence until mid-July, so you have plenty of time to enrol. You never know – you could end up with me as your lecturer!

The writing courses are particularly valuable. I regularly write and then submit stories, poems and articles to publishers. When I started the course my strike rate was less than 10% – meaning for every 10 submissions, only one was published. My strike rate is currently 44% and rising. In a few months I anticipate that I will be getting a publication rate equating to one published piece for every two submissions.That’s very encouraging.

Good writing.

About writing, reading and lecturing

Regular readers of this site must be wondering whether I’ve dropped off the planet.

Both of my readers.

In reality, this site still continues to chug along with a steady readership despite not having new articles posted regularly. It must have something to do with the content written and posted here over the last six years. I missed writing anything for this site’s 6th birthday on March 6th. Happy Birthday!

Over recent months I have still been writing and very busy on writing type activities. Late last year I was offered a lecturing position at the university where I recently achieved my Master of Arts degree. This has meant a great deal of time in writing and preparing the lectures. My lectures are designed to help students new to tertiary studies on how to research a topic and then turn this into an academic essay. I am pleased that this is going really well.

More recently I have been asked to lecture in children’s literature to student teachers studying at the same university. This is an area I am very passionate about and have significant qualifications in this area. Not only do I write children’s stories, I have 35 years of classroom experience in using children’s literature to enhance student development. Furthermore, about a quarter of that time was spent as a teacher librarian. I’m really looking forward to teaching this extra unit in second semester.

Another thing I have been doing recently is getting back to reading more books. Over recent years the amount of reading I have done has shifted from books to more online material. I plan to redress that imbalance in the coming year or so; there are so many great books that I haven’t read yet – or wish to reread.

Another pressure upon my time for writing here since January has been my church life. Our pastor resigned unexpectedly in January and as one of the Eldership team it has been my responsibility to see that programmes still continue to move along. This has involved some preaching – a sermon takes many hours to write and prepare – a few extra meetings, and writing material, including devotional style editorials, for our weekly newsletter.

I trust I’ll find time to add new articles here on a regular basis in the coming weeks and months.

Good writing.

Dealing with time wasters

I guess almost every occupation has inbuilt time wasting activities. Unnecessary meetings, for example. In another life I experienced – as a classroom teacher – I was aware of many time wasters, and not just some of the activities indulged in by my students.

I, too, was guilty of being sidetracked by time wasting activities in my daily routines. Overall I think I managed them at quite a reasonable level. It’s amazing how accountability to parents, colleagues and a principal can be a strong incentive to perform.


As a writer, however, I generally don’t have anyone peering over my shoulder ensuring I keep on task. I’m accountable to only myself. There’s the problem; it’s so easy to allow time wasting activities and distractions to get in the way of productive writing times.

In recent months I’ve been aware of the growing problem I have with an enormous volume of email traffic. It was severely getting in the way of essential, on task writing activities. I wasn’t making the progress I desired, so I had to do something drastic. Several years ago I solved the problem in a limited way by categorising incoming emails into folders. This streamlined the way I dealt with less important mail by placing them in their own folders waiting for attention when time allowed.

Problem emails

Since then the problem has escalated to a new level. Dealing with my incoming mail was taking increasingly larger slabs of time every day. Some emails sat waiting in their folder for months without being read. That was not good. The ever growing number of unread documents was beginning to really bug me. In fact, I was almost becoming depressed.

In a few weeks I will be travelling for an extended time, a significant portion of the journey will be without internet access and limited access for the rest. It horrified me to think of how many thousands of emails would be waiting for me on my return.

Dealing with the problem:

Over the last week I have been steadily unsubscribing from a whole range of newsletters that were causing the issue. Many of them are very worthy and interesting, I’m sure. In order to get some semblance of productivity back into my life I had to take this drastic action. After all, I can resubscribe again if I really need to. It will also mean I won’t have a massive problem to deal with when I return home from my travels.

That has to be a good thing.

Good writing.