Listening Through Closed Doors

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I’m sure many of your parents, like mine, told you that no good comes of listening to conversations not meant for your ears. But when you’re a bored teenager sometimes listening to an adult conversation can be quite revealing. How else were we to learn about life?

On one occasion my parents’ saying proved to be wrong and what I heard became a turning point in my life. The conversation unfolded between my father and a woman who often visited us, the very woman written about yesterday with the silver grey hair and the pink volkswagen car.

Said woman disapproved of the freedom I was given since I had started competitive swimming. She’d apparently seen me biking home from training with some boys.

‘You give that girl too much freedom,’ she said. ‘She’ll end up getting herself into trouble.’

Now I was at an age where girls getting into trouble meant only one thing, they found themselves pregnant. I was about to burst through the door in protest, but my father’s reply stopped me. His answer was simple.

‘We trust her,’ he said.

They were such powerful words and even though he never said as much to me personally he didn’t need to. His trust always came to mind when I found myself getting involved in teenage shenanigans.

So, conversations listened on through closed doors are not always a bad thing.

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Painting My Writing With Colour

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Falling into familiar patterns is easy. They creep up on us without our noticing and we find the excitement in our writing slowly goes into hiding. That’s what it’s like for me anyway.

I’ve done more factual than creative writing over the past three years, but now I’m trying to kick start my creativity. I have a few go-to books I enjoy when this happens and I pulled out one this morning. I randomly opened at a chapter about including the detail of colour in writing.

This was exactly what I needed. I’m currently writing a piece about ‘That Woman’ for my memoir group. My writing was drab, even though I was describing a woman vibrant in both the colours she chose and in her personality. Just being reminded of colour enabled me to revitalise my writing, bring more life to it.

The woman’s grey hair became silver grey hair, so silver the light bounced off it like sparks. Her pink volkswagen car became a car so pink it shocked the drab neighbourhood around it.

Sometimes it is easy to fall into lazy habits, but they are not impossible to turn around. Today I’m looking forward to painting the piece I’m writing with colour.

Memory Prompts are Everywhere

Quite often people think they don’t remember much about their past, but that could be because they are out of practice. In my experience, the more I write my stories down, the more twice as many memories come flooding in.

If you think about it, memory prompts are everywhere. No matter what you do, or where you go, it’s likely you did something in your childhood or younger life, or maybe a family member did something, similar to what is happening now.

Take this afternoon for example. I’ve just been watching the women finishing in the World triathlon Series race here in New Zealand. This not only made me remember my days as a young competitive swimmer, but also in adulthood as a Masters Swimmer. Then there are the memories of women’s triathlons and fun run and walk events I’ve participated in.

If you really want to write your life stories but don’t know where to start, I recommend you start looking at the things around you. Then, consider whether anything similar happened in your own life. Open your mind to memory prompts and start writing your stories.Image

Myself and two friends, after our first team triathlon effort, about ten years ago.