Browsing "Family life and words"
As a little side project, I have been creating content and managing the social media for the newly published children’s book ‘The Tooth And The Sixpence.” This project is special to me because the book’s author is indeed my wonderful Grandmother, Eillea Mayfield.
Grandma is now 89 and whilst she is a whiz talking on Skype building websites and posting photo’s on Facebook is not really her forte, so I thought I’d help out. Just between you and me, I love doing it for so many reasons but the main being, it’s for family.
Tonight, I was up late, tea in hand and setting the keyboard on fire as I was writing up a bio of Grandma for her books website. It was challenging condensing 89 years of life into a few paragraphs and keeping it in the theme of the website. What was even more challenging was my urge to start doing even more research on my family and learning more about the incredible journeys and lives of these people I have the privilege of calling my family and ancestors.
I did get a chance to have a look at a few of the branches in the family tree when my Mum let me borrow their copy of The Mayfield Family. This book was compiled by the very dedicated Pat Uppill and spans over a history of thirteen generations of the Mayfield family. Mayfield is my maiden name and one that I was particularly sad to let go on my wedding day but proud to see it continue in strength through amazing individuals like my Grandma who wrote the book and my little sister whom is responsible for getting it published.
Enough of the nostalgic ramblings . . .
Here’s 5 reasons why finding out some family history will make you a better writer:
- Writers need to be able to research – this is good practice.
- It will reconnect you with your family past and present.
- You will gain a better understanding of where your inspiration as a writer comes from.
- It gives you a real life understanding of timelines – this is good for script writing and novels
- You may find a hidden treasure – royalty, celebrity, pioneer – you just never know which influential individual you may be related to.
Make your words count. KM.
I read an interview many years ago with Sir Jeffrey Archer and there was one particular revelation that stuck with me. Despite the convenience offered through computers and technology in general, Sir Archer continues to write all of his novels by hand. This has become such an intrinsic part of his writing ritual that he uses a new black ink gel pen every single morning.
Although this process may seem tedious and un-necessary, 150 books later and sales of over 270 million publications world-wide goes to show that there is definitely proof in the pudding when it comes to putting pen to paper.
This proof is reaffirmed to me on a personal level whenever I receive a hand-written letter (yes they do still exist!). My letters are usually written between one of two authors; my darling Nanna who despite being over ninety and suffering from arthritis still manages to hand a birthday card for me every year as well as Christmas cards for the whole family; and my beautifully creative 6-year-old daughter.
My daughter has loved to write before she even knew how and regularly leaves little notes professing her love to me, her daddy, her brother or all three of us. Reading these meaningful words of emotion through her very carefully structured hand-writing on pieces of coloured paper, constantly tugs my heart strings.
So why is handwritten so much better than typed words when it comes to creating content?
It’s personal: The fact that there is such as a profession as a ‘Hand-writing expert’ reinforces that there is so much more to the written word that we see. The style of our writing in addition to the content, gives a personal insight to who we are, how we think and how we see the world.
It’s makes you accountable: Texting, typing – it’s all pretty in-personal but not only that, it’s so easy! Predictive texting, spell check all of these systems that are designed to help us are in fact hindering us and making us very VERY lazy. Grabbing a pen and putting it paper makes us 100% accountable for the content – no blaming technology for a miscommunication.
It’s deliberate: When you are writing as opposed to typing, you are giving your brain a chance to preempt your next thought in a timely fashion. Touch typing demands your brain to be fast-paced and hasty in it’s thought process. Taking the time to actually write will allow your ideas to come at a much more natural and organic pace. In this demanding age of technology and distractions, the best ideas will surface from those who take to the time to appreciate their formation.
Although hand-written communication is a dying art (Exhibit A: declining number of Christmas cards received each year), that little stomach jump I get when I find a hand-written letter on my bedside table or in my letterbox – as opposed to the windowed envelopes – will never fail to excite me. And I really hope that somehow, handwriting will make a comeback.
Make your words count. KM.
Ten years ago, I spent New Years Eve with a small group of friends in the carport of our two-bedroom home. The table we were sitting around was actually a table tennis table and my fiance’ (now husband), came up with a great little game for us to play – over drinks of course. Keep in mind, this was before the age of us living on our mobile phones and updating our status every five minutes. The game was simple, everyone had to write down three New Years Resolutions and then place them in a glass bowl.
We would then take in turns of retrieving one of these pieces of paper, read out the content then try and guess who’s resolution it was. The idea behind it was not only how well we knew each other but also making us somewhat accountable to each other to fulfill these resolutions. In 2006, my resolution was to finish writing my novel.
Hmmmm. Weddings, funerals, travel, a new house, a new business, a new dog and two kids later my poor resolution is still patiently – if not sadly – sitting in the back row of my priorities, waiting. My New Years resolution of finishing a book that had been randomly attended to was starting to fade as was the urge to complete it. My inspiration was replaced by duties and ‘life’ and then it became completely lost. I couldn’t find it, even if I had wanted to.
It’s now 2016 and for whatever reason, my lost resolution started to give me clues on it’s whereabouts. I did a massive clean out of one of our cupboards last week and found a box of my writing. Ranging from primary school fiction to bits of torn out paper with ideas for movies scrawled across it in black biro. My resolution was back and I successfully dug it out from underneath the pile of distractions and excuses that started to become my normal way of thinking. I have committed to extending the same courtesy to my resolution as I have applied to many other things in my life and actually spend some time on it.
However, like myself, my resolution has slightly matured and somewhat changed shaped from its initial form way back in 2006. I am still committed to writing and completing my first book but it’s content and my reason for doing it, is completely different.
I am hoping 2016 will the year that I can start making a difference to many things in many ways. So please accept these words as my slip of paper retrieved from a glass bowl “This year I will finish writing my book.” And I am happy for you to make me accountable for these words and not let them lie dormant for another ten years.
Happy 2016 x
It’s an interesting exercise when you have to actually write about yourself! You should try it sometime. I always place this massive expectation on myself to deliver, well, me in this most amazing light which will dazzle people so much that they will flock to me like a moth to a flame (without the intense heat factor).
So when I started piecing together my website and had to jot down that much loved ‘About Me’ page it really got me thinking. Sure I will put down all of my experience and qualifications – that’s an easy given as it’s all facts. It was when I came to writing the spiel for the page which instigated that dreaded writers block causing me to stare blankly at the computer screen in a trance-like state. What angle am I going for here? I’m a mother, wife, friend, sister, daughter, traveller, business owner, writer and a whole bunch of other labels I could tack onto my name badge.
So I decided to start from the very beginning (as it’s a very good place to start). What am I interested in and what makes me . . . me? I thought of an idea to help me simplify the process. I would go through and list a few of my favourite things. The only restrictions I put on this assembly of ‘things’ was it had to be specific items. So please don’t read the list and think of me as a materialistic snob since I haven’t mentioned the obvious family, friends, health, etc.
So here it goes . . cue instrumental introduction:
1. Old books: I love, love, love old books. As soon as I pick one up for whatever reason I am instantly calm. It’s almost embracing the era they came from and feeling somewhat nostalgic (and jealous) about how simple life probably was back then. I have several old children’s books of mine that I read to my kids. It is here where they get to witness one of their many weird-Mummy-isms, I smell the pages. Yes, I know it sounds odd and I’m probably sniffing and inhaling 30-year-old dust, dirt and old glue but nevertheless, I love the smell of old books.
2. My Nanna & Pa’s writing desk: This is another throw-back to the past with a piece of furniture that used to sit pride of place in my grandparents lounge room in their Swan Hill home. Although it blends in nicely to our living area and rarely gets a second glance from friends and family who visit, I love it because of what it represents both in history of my family and it’s design purpose. With it’s glossy solid timber panels and flip down platform to write on, it’s the little alcoves that were initially designed to place all of your mail that gets me. This writing bureau was built and used when people loved to (and I guess HAD to) write. Invitations were delivered, photos were sent and love letters were received by good ol’ fashioned hand-written envelopes. There’s something about hand-written letters that is so much more personal than a printed one. And although in this day and age the ways in which we can communicate are so much more, it seems that our focus on keeping in touch with friends and family is more about quantity and not quality.
3. A picture my daughter drew for me when she was 3: Every parent thinks their child is an art prodigy and in all fairness, some of their work would actually put to shame some pieces of ‘art’ I have seen recently. I have a piece of A4 paper sticky-taped to my wall above my beside table. This piece of paper has a Biro drawing of a little girl with fairy wings fluttering next to a flower on a stretched stalk towering over a princess castle. As soon as my daughter could hold a pen she loved to express herself and I have a whole display folder filled with her scribblings, paintings and pictures giving us a glimpse of her perfect little imagination at work and how much her perception of life has changed over the years. I love having this little reminder stuck on my wall on how we all used to see the world when we were little. If only we could stay in that amazing world where our thoughts are clouded with images of fairy wings instead of our grown-up problems. Instead I shall relive this wonderful world through my two fabulously creative and inventive children and their masterpieces.
4. A card from my husband: Two years ago my husband forgot our wedding anniversary. Not too much of a big deal. We were both so busy with kids, life, our business and just general living, that it slipped his mind (we can’t all be perfect). He was mortified when he realized. The next day I woke up to a gift and a card on the pillow next to me. To be honest I can’t even remember what the gift was (doesn’t mean I don’t want another gift this year) but the card that he chose and the words that he wrote were just beautiful. He will probably kill me for saying this since he’s a big-tough-kite-surfing-tri-athlete but I really do love this card and it still sits propped up on top of our chest drawers with it’s photogenic cover and poignant message greeting me every time I walk into our bedroom. Whenever I get a bit grumpy with him, that card is up there to remind me of the bigger picture and perhaps I’m not always right – just most of the time.
5. Cadbury creme eggs: I’m sure these class as ‘objects’ albeit their lifespan is very short when they come into my possession. For whatever reason when I was living in London and would rather spend my money on good times rather than nutrition I would buy a Cadbury Creme Egg from the little corner store on Warwick Road every day on my way to work. Anyone who knows me, knows of my weakness for these gooey blobs of sugary syrup encased in a thick tomb of chocolate. Nutella comes a very close second.