We were seated at the feet of the Great Writer who at 37 already had three novels published, the latest of which had just won the Booker Prize as it was then known.
“I will tell you a secret,” he said. “one which is not really a secret. It has been known for millennia but it has been largely overlooked and forgotten. Aristotle first taught it in his ‘Poetics.’. It is the principle of Endings. “
We leant forward. I had my notebook ready. “The ending,” he said, “is written in the beginning. There should be only one way a story can end. The challenge for any writer is to surprise the audience with the inevitability of everything that happens. There is no such thing as alternative endings. I repeat, there is only one way a story can end.”
do you agree with that? Is there only one way to end a story?
can you think of a story — fairy tale, parable, short story, film — that could have ended in a way different to how it did?
have you read Salman Rushdie’s Booker prize winning novel, ‘Midnight’s Children’?
So where are you?
In a galaxy far far away.
No. Where are you really?
Isn’t that where …?
Yes, where Billy Pilgrim went.
That time traveller from ‘Slaughterhouse Five’?
Yes, he went there on his days off.
His days off? From where?
Reality. Reality bites, you know.
But what if you never came back?
Like Hugh Conway in ‘Lost Horizons’? Dorothy in Oz ?
Would it really matter? You’d be where you want to be. Would you even want to go back?
Have you a favourite fantasy place ? Which fantasy world would you live in if you could? What if you couldn’t come back?
Get yr feet off the table I was told.
Get yr feet off the pouf.
And I thought, what the ^%$#@ ?!?!
What does it even matter if I dangle my feet
from the chandeliers?
What’s feet got to do with it anyway?
But somehow they alwats march in.
I often start off on the wrong foot these days
Step on people’s dignity
Tread on their toes
Or worse put my foot in my mouth
A mean anatomical feat if ever there were one.
So now I keep my feet firmly on the ground
Close to each other
And far enough from my mouth as possible.
This seems to keep people happy.
You can’t swat it.
Shut it out.
Tell it to sit. Stay.
It’s in yr brain.
Friends, fellow writers
That first flicker of success
The green frog of envy.
There was a man in our street who had an apparition in the middle of an afternoon.
He was driving on a country road where on a whim he took a detour. His wife was beside him. They drove down the avenues and streets and occasional crescents till they realised they were caught in an infinity loop. The man began to panic. It was like that time he was stuck in a lift. He could feel his heart fibrillating, his bladder wanting to burst, his vision blurring but he held this from his wife who would accuse him of weakness.
That’s when he saw it, the apparition. It came for him, lumbering down some labyrinth in his brain, a Minotaur bristly and bellowing, big as a tank, barging into him. His heart stopped.
His wife never knew what happened but she found her way out.
A bird flew in my mouth.
I gulped in horror.
If it were a mozzie,
But a bird
A wattlebird at that.
It panicked in the echo chamber of my mouth.
I wrestled it with both hands
Trying to pry it loose.
Suddenly it plopped out like a fish.
It staggered in the air.
I staggered along the path.
A bird in the mouth is worth two in the bush.
My friend quipped.
So how was it? he asked.
Surreal, I clucked. Surreal
I was down in the dumps when someone praised
A recent poem of mine.
I know we should be immune to Praise
But it’s hard not to be lifted
Like a hot air balloon
Above the petty doubts and grievances
That beset us all
And to bask in the warm sun of appreciation
Knowing that, yeh, we’re okay,
We’re going to get there
We are not alone.
Hope is the helium that keeps us aloft.
can you think of an occasion when praise made a difference in your life?
what is the helium that keeps you aloft?