Rebirth

‘Resurrection’ was a potential title for my last blog post which I discarded. At the time, however, I knew of another piece that I was planning to write where it might fit. And now that it’s come time to do it, I’ve passed over the name once more in preference for this one. Such is the creative process.

I originally cracked this ultra-short piece out with a deadline in mind, October 31st, because, as everyone knows, November is NaNoWriMo. And once that started there was no hope of publishing this mini piece until way after NaNo was done and dusted.

Below is the piece as well as the accompanying art. When I posted it on my Instagram account, each sentence was actually a caption to the accompanying latte art that I had poured for the purpose of making one giant latte art. And by giant, I mean 3×3 photos. This was my take on those other Instagrammers that took a single photo and cut it up to publish as 9 consecutive posts, something that is easily done with some app, I’m sure. My version is a far more ambitious twist on that, a reversal, in fact.

It was fun because it was like flash fiction, quick and with little commitment, but refined to pack maximal punch, combined with another fun thing I do in life and in my café job.

Without further ado,

REBIRTH

From the pyre of his rebirth, he rose with a scream triumphant.

Tail lashing, he shot upwards, sparks riding in his wake.

The spectacular plumes used in courting streamed behind, like bright ribbons proclaiming his arrival.

At the peak of his ascent, the phoenix spread his wings, catching the bonfire’s updraft.

The heat lifted his spirit, washing away memories of the twilight years of his previous life, filling him anew with the fresh fire of youth.

Rainbow-hued secondaries flared, sprays of colour that would identify a phoenix to his mate,

Orange and gold wingtips stroked the air, tongues of fire licking, hungry.

He swept his gaze across stars and beach, where the bonfire began to smoulder.

Where was she who had prepared his pyre? Instead of a courting dance it seemed that first there must be a hunt.

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Taking Away My Cafe

Of course nothing so dramatic as the title suggests has actually occurred. Or if it has happened then the culprit is only myself. If I hadn’t mentioned it before, I had finally found ‘my local’, a café close by home I would regularly go to write. Good coffee and good atmosphere, the two things I look for when renting out office space for $3 an hour or so.

I had been wandering around all of Sydney trying all sorts of places, revelling in the abundance of good quality espresso but still had not had found a regular place to write. When it finally happened I thought I had achieved some sort of milestone as a writer. Yes, now I have MY café. I am a writer.

The boss, Mr P and his barista John, run a friendly, bubbly service and were always happy to let me take up one of their tables, drinking a single short black over the course of an hour. Writing was progressing well there.

All that has changed.

Ahem. That sounds a bit dramatic. What I mean is, the coffee is still great, the guys still entertaining. The problem is I can no longer get any writing done while I’m there. I started volunteering as a runner there in the mornings, which means I help serving the coffee, occasionally pulling the espressos, though it is still a bit hectic during the morning rush.

I’ve been pulling coffees at church for a while already but working in an espresso café is a whole other ball game. The atmosphere is fun and the energy is great. And I get free coffee now. All at the low cost of losing my writing place.

Sometimes I go back in the afternoons after my other casual job finishes and though I’ve packed my laptop for writing, I often find myself chatting to Mr P about coffee if I’m not practicing pulling one myself. I can’t even think of finding another café to write in, so I’m going to need to discipline myself when I go to write there, maybe employ headphones. Or maybe do as I’m doing now, writing in my kitchen before I head out to face the morning coffee rush.

Another One In The Incubator

Well it took me six days to complete, writing an hour or two here, and hour or so there. I just moved to a new city Hikone in Shiga Prefecture, Japan, and as usual am in search of a good place to write. I’ve been strolling around town a couple of times and have yet to find a good espresso but I have been able to get some writing done. It’s just a short piece, a small part of a larger story but also kind of an introduction to one of the main stories I’m working on. Thus I’m in a bit unsure if I want to publish it here quite yet.

In any case it’s just a first draft and not ready as yet. But I’m happy to have pushed through and got the whole thing written start to finish. I started out with some good momentum during my couple of days off work but then had a tiring few days at work. I also wanted to do some Facebooking and start a new book in Japanese but I knew I had to keep my momentum and get the first draft done. I then hit a difficult patch in the story but as I said, I just kept plugging away. And now it’s done. Time to put it in the incubator and set the timer to six weeks a la On Writing.

Oh wait, I should probably type it up on the computer and do a word count. ‘White Mist. Red Evening’ took four days writing and weighed in at 5,389 words. This one took six days though to be fair some of those days I didn’t have time to write much, maybe nothing on some days. Hmmm a working title? Oh I already have one. ‘The True Hero’. Sounds a bit dramatic I suppose. I can’t say much about the main character but the story does involve a dragon.

I also suppose it is about time I checked in on White Mist.

Edit: typed it all up with only minor fixes. 3,634 words. A little lighter than White Mist. Okay, 6 weeks will be about May 29th. See you then.

Early rising

My dragonboat team, CCA (Chinese Cultural Association), had its Christmas party last night. It was a nice affair at La Tratt, fine dining in the Fairfield RSL. Everyone at that point thinks Fairfield! Not what you might associate with nice but go in there and it really is as if you were no longer in the west.

As usual the Dirty Santa had winners and losers (some of us aren’t very good at buying gifts). The reason for this post, however, is the espresso I had at the end of the three course meal. It was almost 10pm, considerably after my 4pm coffee curfew. The result of this is that I am wide awake now typing this at 5am. I did get some sleep but I don’t think I’ll be getting back to sleep anytime soon. So I figured I may as well use this.

Coincidently I was recently thinking of the below article that my younger sister, whose birthday it is today, sent me a year ago.

http://www.stevenaitchison.co.uk/blog/the-5-benefits-of-being-an-early-riser/

I gave it a go back then and no longer keep to it but it is an inspiring way to stretch the hours of your day.

A Hole to Work In

There are a couple of rules for writers that most people could guess at. One should write every day. Secondly, you should have a place to write that is free from distractions. Well these are not really rules but they are truly great pieces of advice, especially for fledgling writers such as myself. I’m talking about the second rule today but it is related to the first anyway. If you’re going write everyday then it helps if your writing place is easily accessible.

In his most excellent book On Writing, Stephen King prescribes a writing environment free from distractions. No phone, no copies of the latest novel you’re reading, no internet, no blogging and definitely no Facebook. In fact since I’m currently using good old pen and paper for a first draft I can probably do away with the whole computer. A prison cell in other words. If your cell has a window it had better look onto a brick wall or empty car park.

I must say that I agree with the above in theory; I just haven’t gotten around to installing a prison cell or buying an office for writing. Instead I usually write lying on the carpet of my lounge room or at the kitchen table when I’m in house. Other places I’ve written are in a secluded park (like a secret garden) under the train lines between Milsons Point and North Sydney, on the couches of various shopping centres, in libraries too (Steve actually says park benches and library carrels should be last resorts).

Recently I’ve been most productive when I take my notebook and pen to the Westfield shopping centre and choose a café I haven’t tried. I like to people-watch over a coffee and although there are lots of people and noise all around I find that once I start writing these are quite easy to tune out. I don’t bring the latest novel. I don’t have the internet to tempt me.  I order an espresso (which obviously doesn’t last very long) and get down to business. The Westfield is only a short walk from my home though rain still proves to be a deterrent for getting to my writing place.

Provided it’s not too busy the café staff will let you sit there for hours having only ordered one coffee. The only problem with this is that if I have the coffee late in the afternoon, say 4pm, I have trouble getting to sleep that night. But that’s a probably a good thing as it pushes me to do my writing earlier in the day. Steve gets his 2000 word quota written in the morning and then has the rest of the day to do other things which seems like a good goal.

The beauty of writing is that you can do it almost anywhere so really all it takes to write consistently is discipline (maybe I’ll write about this when I have some). But café writing combines some fun activities and while I haven’t found my Elephant House yet (none of the cafes in my area have the right vibe), cafes as a group have been where I’ve gotten some good writing sessions in.