The stories of my life on a little island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea ... and my occasional adventures beyond these shores.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Soul-searching – An Insight Into Why I Write

Soul searching, I thought when I received Heather’s invitation to participate in this blog-hop, this is going to take a whole lotta soul-searching. I was thrilled to be asked and I’ve spent the better part of the free time I had last week wondering what to say. Because this invitation was for writers – and I have never really thought of myself as a writer. I am not a writer by profession but the more I thought about it, the more I realised that writing is not something someone can teach you (well, they can but you know what I mean). Like painting, it is an inherent expression of the soul. So here, in as concise a manner as possible, is my writing story.
Ghar Lapsi (50)
When my son was little, I would sit by his cot until  he fell asleep. Sometimes this would take a while, so in the feeble light of his little lamp, I would listen to all the thoughts going through my head and I finally found the courage to write them down. A little while after that I joined an online community of aspiring writers. It was called The Secret Attic. Not long after I signed up, they had a writing competition going on: ten stories would get published in the Christmas edition of their  magazine. Maybe it was just beginners luck but my story ended up being one of the ten that were chosen. I suppose it gave me the little push that I needed to carry on. I was quite active in The Secret Attic. Each week we could participate in challenges and then we would comment about each other’s work. Round about this time, I started this blog and continued to participate in writing competitions. My first success was never repeated and, as time passed, I found that I had no time to write stories for competitions. That, coupled with the fact that literally overnight The Secret Attic website was taken down without explanation, made me decide to concentrate solely on Stories and Scribbles and on my other blog Snapshots of an Island (which I set up solely with the aim of writing about this island’s history. Lately, this has become too factual for me and,  sadly, I have neglected this blog for quite some time). That is where I am today. Now on to the standard questions that I an required to answer.
What am I working on?
I would love to say that I am working on a book or writing an article for some famous magazine. But I am not doing anything that grand. Although I have have come a long way since I first started writing, there is still a lot to learn. So I am currently concerned with finding my voice and developing my style. I have taken up journaling again which is proving to be a very creative outlet. On a different note, I am also venturing into the field of manual photography because my photos have become an integral part of my writing process. At the back of my mind I am toying with the idea of taking an online creative writing course. But whether that happens or not depends on a lot of things.
Ghar Lapsi (38)
How does my writing/work differ from others in its genre?
I believe that every writer has a unique story to tell based on their life experiences, the people they have met, the places they have lived in or travelled to, their likes and dislikes. Two writers may have a similar outlook, indeed they may have lived the exact same experience simultaneously, yet if they both had to write about it, their style and perspective would be totally different. If nothing else, this is what my short experience with the aspiring writers at The Secret Attic taught me. My writing is passionate when it comes from deep within, from those secret places that, even I, am still on the brink of discovering. Even if I admire another writer’s style, I make sure to stay true to self, using photos that I have taken to guide and inspire me and using my own words. There are times when I have used a famous poem to help me along, to illustrate my point better. But I try to keep those instances few and far between.
Ghar Lapsi (45)
Why do I write what I do?
This is where a lot of my soul-searching took place. The simplest answer I could come up with is this: because there are places and people with a story to tell and not everyone is able or willing to take the time to tell it. In the very public world that is the internet it is easy to lose sight of who you are in the pursuit of becoming ‘popular’. I find that the bloggers writers whose work I enjoy the most are those who are true to their inner selves; who write out of the pure joy of writing without worrying whether their style will add ten or a hundred followers to their blog.
Ghar Lapsi (52)
How does my writing process work?
Well, sometimes my writing flows and sometimes I end up biting the  tip of my pencil or pulling at the ends of my hair in an effort to come up with something coherent. I’ve found that what works best for me is to write a draft, sleep over it, then go back to re-read and edit it. After that I hit the Publish button before I over-think things too much. I often use my photos as a starting point for my inspiration. Other times I read something which triggers a memory that I have to share or else I might come across a quote that will take me on a quite unexpected journey.
Ghar Lapsi (57)
So there you have it – an insight into why I feel compelled to write; and now I will introduce you to the two women who will be sharing their own writing story next week. Saying that these two women are very different is, definitely, a cliché – but they have one thing in common and that is the bare-faced honesty with which they speak about themselves. Josefa is following her childhood dream of becoming a writer and I think she is making serious progress towards achieving her goal. Kayni, who is currently recovering from a very serious health condition, is an avid traveller and I have visited many countries vicariously through her writing.
Josefa Pete_Kidspot
Josefa is a working mum juggling one husband, two boys, two bunnies and a ream of to-do lists. She battles through life with false eyelashes and a non-stop supply of coffee. Her big-extended family and boisterous boys give her many reasons to find sanity through her words. Working in science for the past fifteen years, she now spends most of her time writing.
Josefa believes that a community’s voice is a powerful one. Her blog, always Josefa, is a place where the power of storytelling is what matters the most. It is a place where she writes passionately about all facets of life, society, spirituality and the diversity of community. Life is about listening to that voice inside, the one that beckons and begs you to follow your dreams at all costs. How can I teach my boys to follow their dreams, if I am not following mine?
One day, Josefa aspires to be jumping on Oprah’s couch to celebrate the launch of her latest novel. Perhaps a chick-lit, or even a modern take on parenting survival guide, either way you can be certain that where there is coffee you will find her and her words.
Karen Dacoco, known by her friends as Kayni, is a Filipina-American who’s passionate about travel and chocolates.  She was born in the Philippines, spent her late teen years in Hawaii, worked in Alaska in her early twenties, and studied history in the District of Columbia and Rome (Italy). She resides in Maryland with her husband, Jeff, and their cat, Dizzy. They’re thinking of adopting a dog this year. In the spring of 2008, she was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder called Aplastic Anemia. After a failed clinical trial and numerous blood transfusions, she went through a bone-marrow transplant on January 11, 2014. After two months in the hospital, she’s now recovering at home and dealing with a mild skin graft-vs-host disease. While recovering at home, she spends her time running her online shop, Kayni’s Kreations, and learning how to bake cookies and pastries. In her blogs, she shares her travel and life experiences through stories and photography.
kayni’s corner café –
kayni’s bone marrow -
kayni’s kreations -
And finally I would like to introduce the sweet lady who passed this on to me. Heather, who writes at Lost In Arles, is a professional writer who has had articles published in various magazines. Receiving this nomination from her makes it doubly sweet. I will refrain from saying much more as you can read about Heather below.
Benandmebeach - copie
Heather Robinson is a travel writer, blogger and amateur photographer currently living in Arles with her companion and their two Golden Retrievers. She never dreamed of living in Provence, it just happened that way. Initially, she received an MFA in acting from the Yale School of Drama and was prepared to spend her life swooning dramatically for Mr. Shakespeare in the rough jungle of the Big Apple. But, then she met Remi, a handsome professional photographer and moved to Paris instead. Together, they formed a journalist-photographer team and started traveling far and wide for such French magazines as Grands Reportages, Figaro Magazine and Le Monde des Religions. Her travel articles have since been published in magazines in Europe, Africa and Asia. Drawn by a fascination for les vielles pierres (the old stones), the couple made the move south in 2005 and since October 2010, Heather has focused her efforts on writing and  photographing the blog Lost in Arles, where she has gathered a truly fantastic community of loyal readers and friends. And while she may have been somewhat of an accidental inhabitant of la belle Provence, the region has been a welcoming host and has quietly claimed Heather's nomadic heart.
Thanks again  Heather!
With that I will conclude this very long post. I hope that next week you will find the time to read about the two amazing women that I have nominated. I wish you all, wherever you may be, a most wonderful week.
Location: Ghar Lapsi, April 2014

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

The Potter’s Wheel

He had a kind face, the potter, a gentle demeanor and an easy smile. HIs shop was down a flight of rock-hewn steps that led into what, to me, seemed to be a cave. The British tourists that visited his curious set-up nicknamed him Peter the Potter. But we knew him by his real name: Ninu. It was my dad who would take me to visit. I would follow him cautiously down those time-worn steps with an eager anticipation of entering a world which was totally different to what I knew. I could not have been more than six or seven years old at the time.
Pottery 003
Although Ninu was of the same generation as my grandparents, he and my dad always fell into an easy conversation. What they talked about, I could not tell you. Maybe they talked about the weather or about world politics. I cannot remember because I was mesmerized by the potter’s wheel. Unlike his sons, with their electrically-powered contraptions, he used his legs to turn his wheel. Round and round it spun and under his experienced hands, the shapeless clay slowly took shape. The muddy mixture oozed from between his fingers and flecks of it stuck to his work apron as he skillfully shaped it into a vase, or a flower-pot. To an impressionable seven-year old, the simple act of a turning wheel, a lump of wet clay and a pair of hands took on an almost mystical quality.
Pottery 005
I did not know it at the time, but what I was witnessing was one of the oldest skills known to  mankind. The potter’s wares were everyday objects in the ancient world. From giant urns,to oil lamps, cups and plates, ancient potters must have been very busy. But like the potter’s wheel keeps turning, so too does the wheel of life, and with the passage of time come many changes. Ninu the potter is long gone. His wheel turns no more. Three and a half decades later, the irony of the fact that as a child I had witnessed the end of things as they had been for thousands of years is not lost on me. In many ways, I mourn the passing of that simpler life, of that unhurried pace, that seemed to turn to the rhythm of one lone potter’s wheel.
Pottery 004


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