This Time Might Be the Last: A Place for Daydreams.
When you don’t know what to write, when you think you have nothing of interest to say, you’re wrong.
Have you not lived a life? However short in years, however small it feels to you, it is not small. No life is. There is nothing that breathes on the page as much as our everyday stories do, in my opinion. Though even May Sarton, poet, novelist, and master journal keeper, beloved of mine, had this to say on the subject, “Anyone who is going to be a writer knows enough at 15 to write several novels.”
When you feel you don’t know what to write, start with something simple, from your own life. And write it simple. Nothing flowery, nothing decorative. Just a moment, a memory, a day.
Here’s a little example, something I wrote, from my childhood. See if if it inspires you.
My father came from the mountain, my mother from the valley.
Memories of my mother’s home are older, from when we were younger, and full of sunshine.
The children of children born in the famine, these grandparents are harder to grasp. Patrick Fox is an old man in a sepia photograph.
He was the local storyteller, the man to whom people brought letters to read and forms to fill. He died before we were born, but lives on in stories still.
My grandmother, Mary Susan Logan, was with us until I was six. She had long silver hair in a bun, gentle elegance. Her corner by the fire seemed dark at first, but she’d draw you in with emerald sweets and sweet smiling eyes.
Every time I see wild roses, I think of her and the way they brushed her head that time we walked to the corner.
She loved music and dance, and we’d dance for her, our shoes into slippers on her flagstone floor.
The lane from the road was long, and it wound, from high fields to a dip, a rugged place of fiery gorse, to golden crops and down again in verdant green to street, and house.
Whitewashed walls of stone with pots of begonia and another plant I can’t recall.
The blind goose who’d fought the fox and lived would make his way along the wall, then turn triumphant at the gap. The black dog Jasper was always waiting for us at the end of the lane without fail. We didn’t know our uncle Joe had told him we were coming, and set him on our trail.
Corraleehan was quiet in our childhood, a place for daydreams, but from our mother we knew it hadn’t always been. And her stories of Corraleehan she painted so clear that I could see the young people coming over the hill at dawn from a dance as if they had just come that morning. Or the summer the house was re-thatched, they slept under the stars. I like to think of them.
Hay time in summer heat, we’d hide under trees in the cool grass. One bonfire night, we had a big fire there with our uncles Joe and Pat. It was one of those perfect evenings after a long hot day, when the air is balmy and the ground smells sweet.
“Listen,” my mother said.
“Listen to the sound of the corncrake, a bird of the past. We might never hear it again, this time might be the last.”
I tried really hard to imprint it in my head, only to find that other things got printed there instead.
Jane Gilheaney Barry is an author, art therapist, and creative enabler. She lives with her husband and children in rural Ireland. Her first novel, Cailleach~Witch, a modern gothic mystery, is available on Amazon. She is currently working on the next in series, ‘Banshee’ and ‘Changeling’. You can follow Jane on Instagram or Facebook.