I write poems for the people, I write prose for myself, and I write for everyone. Sometimes a writer has only so few words…
Words © Steve Laker.
I write poems for the people, I write prose for myself, and I write for everyone. Sometimes a writer has only so few words…
Words © Steve Laker.
Words © Steve Laker. Photo by Ellen Rostant. September in 2016 My London calendar (CafeArt)
I favour prose over poetry or verse, as I prefer to write free form. Although my poetry might be better than that of Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings (or the Vogons), I don’t consider myself a poet first, but rather a writer who pens verse. Its an area I only dabble in, but I’ve accrued enough to encourage me to do more. Here’s one I made earlier.
IN A MOMENT…
Many challenges face the writer. Getting a good agent and getting published aside, the workaday process of writing a story logically begins with the idea for the tale. Thereafter it’s viewpoint: is the story told in the first, second, third, or other person? Next, tense: present or past. The setting; the time period. Then follows researching, writing, usually to a prescribed word count, re-drafting and submission.
The greater, overall challenge though is empathy with one’s readers, whom one may not see. The written word is a very powerful thing, in the right hands. It can create and destroy; it can invoke emotions… The writer needs to be able to empathise with his audience, so that his style of writing invokes the same emotions in his readers as it does him. Sometimes a writer has to write about that which disturbs him, so that he may have the same effect on his readership. We’re not actors but us authors are artists too. We play to our audience and if we wish to make them laugh, we can. We can also make them cry and we can scare them.
I have personally been asked several times to write pieces for people or situations. Often this is a private affair between me and the commissioner but some of my published stories and poems were also requests. Some sought relief, others hope; at least one sought revenge. In every instance, I have invoked emotions and often evoked memories, to the desired effect. I’ve created people and places. Sometimes I destroyed them. It is said that a good writer plays and stays in your mind.
Today I needed to write something for someone else. It had not been asked for but I felt compelled to write and express my feelings. Words are my greatest personal tool. I’m a reclusive, depressed alcoholic, prone to episodes of anxiety and paranoia. Words are my way of communicating; of recording and broadcasting my thoughts. It’s easier for me this way and it saves me having to repeat myself – “RTFB”.
I wrote a short poem to a friend with whom I went to school and therefore grew up with: kids of the 80s, the greatest generation. We were at school together; we commuted many miles, drank many drinks and shared good times. When one part of that generation in your life goes, it leaves a big hole.
My friend is not well. He reads this blog. We went to the same grammar school. We were privileged to be there during “The Barn”‘s iron rule as Headmaster, dictator, drill sergeant, fixer and all-round Top Cat: El Capitan. Thus we share a dark and gallows humour. So in writing to my friend, I realised that there is no point in sending a Get Well Soon card when he won’t. Similarly, there’s no value in all-will-be-well sentiments when it won’t.
So, where my inspiration who is Paul Auster is pleased with one or two pages of final copy at the end of a working day and I myself aspire to the same, today’s output was minimal but I hope worthwhile. For in this I have tried to convey togetherness and hope, while at the same time not shying away from the issue. To do so would be sentimental and in denial. So this is from me to him:
On The Platform
Standing here, look back,
on the story so far.
The past and passed.
Your life a stage,
filled with loved ones:
The Assembled Cast.
We’ll be there,
in just a while.
We’re moving onwards,
in this life
which knows no end.
To new adventures.
Like a wave from a train.
We will see you.
I’m pretty sure I told you mate but just in case, I did pass your note to The Barn: the great man smiled.
A good writer is on your mind. Always.
After a while, he was tired
Weary from battle
Battered and bruised
Unable to cope, he left
Time he was excused
He looked down
But his heart had died
Time to exorcise
The demons inside
It could be you
It could be me
So he walked
And so it shall be
13.04.15 (Day 477/34)
If I could be granted one wish at the moment, I would wish to be left alone sometimes.
I started writing this ten days ago and just like almost every day since I’ve been living here, I didn’t finish as there were things to do and people to see, or rather people who wanted to see me. I’ve been living in the pub for a month now and there is rarely a dull moment, apart from the hours of sleep, which are few. That’s by choice though. I now have plenty of mates in this place and we’re often up late smoking, chilling and on the coke. It’s a pub, so we serve Coca Cola. So what I’ve managed to write recently is very little but for the record and for my tired mind to contemplate another time, this is where I was:
Despite advice to the contrary, I always seem to end up working with children and animals. More accurately, there always seem to be kids and at least one animal around while I’m trying to work, whether it be writing or in the kitchen.
At the moment I’m simultaneously writing and I have a pot roast on downstairs. On the writing front, I’ve returned to Bloodstained Knaves as I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately and have come up with a plot device to take it somewhere I want to but wasn’t able to. The follow up to The Paradoxicon is therefore on hold. The pot roast is a whole chicken in a slow cooker with some vegetables and stock. We’re still limited in what we can cook upstairs at the pub as we only have the slow cooker and a microwave. Tonight’s one pot wonder will be accompanied by roast potatoes though as we’re commandeering the pub kitchen downstairs. I’m cooking for seven: housemate Nick, myself, the landlady’s daughter and other half and their three kids. As an aside, housemate Nick and I have decided to call this place of ours “Stickys”: Steve and Nicky’s. See what we did there?
All will be well with dinner and I will get some more of the book written if I’m just left alone but the dog keeps coming in and so do the kids. To be honest, I don’t mind too much. The dog is cool, being a cross Golden Labrador Pit Bull. This in addition to the pub puppy and pool mascot, the Jack Russell, Chihuahua, Yorkshire Terrier cross. The kids just seem magnetised to me, like kids are for some reason. And they think that my little part of the pub is “really cool”. Asked why they thought this, I was told that it’s because there’s a PlayStation and a cool sound system here and it’s because my part of the pub has me in it. Last night they were all in with me, playing on the PlayStation and today they keep popping their heads around the door which isn’t there to check that I’m okay.
The one I feared accidentally addressing in a way that I shouldn’t is here too. She’s spoken for and just a friend, albeit a good one. I need to keep telling myself that and the longer we’re apart, the less the risk of getting too close.
Every five minutes or so I hear my name called, as one or more of the kids wants something, normally just to spend time with “Uncle Steve.” I really seem to have charmed this family without trying nor realising that’s what I was doing and I still don’t understand what it is about me that makes them gravitate towards me. I’m quite touched I suppose and I keep the kids and the dogs out of the way of their respective carers but sometimes I wish I had a different name.
I need a pen name. That way, while I’m working, I don’t have to respond to my real name as that is not the name I’m known by when I’m writing.
I have the weekend off from helping out at the pub but I anticipate the weekend being rather taken up by kids.
And so it came to pass that almost the entire evening was spent feeding and entertaining kids while a dog ran around looking lost. And although I’ve effectively lost a day, I still don’t mind. I don’t mind helping people out. It’s in my nature, especially when it comes to helping those who have helped me and if it wasn’t for the people I’m helping, I wouldn’t be able to help them because I wouldn’t be here. The landlords took a bit of a gamble on me and I have proven their hunch to be right. I can be trusted; nowadays. That wasn’t always the case.
Even though I’ve worked above and beyond the call of duty and done far in excess of what is expected of me, it really doesn’t matter. Especially today as I have tomorrow off; Sunday too. So – kids permitting – the weekend is the usual one I plan and fail to actually live: just me and the newspapers. It won’t happen because there will be too many interruptions. People calling into my space and wanting to spend time with me; people coming into the bar and asking if I’m around when it’s pretty obvious that I’m not there. But they know where I live. I may adopt a pseudonym for writing but I am not changing this address because the living arrangement is so agreeable.
The pub is closed. I know this as I can see the sign just below my window. Now I’m just waiting for the rest of those staying tonight to get themselves upstairs.
Bringing things up to date, I’ve finally had a chance to catch up on all things personal tonight. And there’s a key word: personal. It’s very difficult to exist in total privacy when living in a pub and I shall repeat that I absolutely love it here. I have everything I need to sustain me in modesty. Tonight has been the best night so far though because I’ve actually had it to myself. I’ve had the place to myself as well, since the visiting family left to return to London for a few days earlier. I do miss them, as I do London but this is home now: a crooked old pub with two very wonky rooms on the second floor where I live my life which I’ve pretty much straightened out. There’s more to do and I need to do it on my own now, as that’s where I am and capable of doing so with the continued support of those who’ve stuck by me.
But I am on my own, finding my feet and loving the place they’ve landed in. On the basis of today though, I really do need to be a little more selfish and in doing so, merely taking the advice of many of those who have been around me for the last fifteen months.
I have this place and together we have a future. Some of the past has left me; some I’ve chosen to leave behind; but here I am, writer and chef in waiting, father of four and enjoying myself.
I don’t have to go running after those two eldest daughters of mine like the rabid dog who was once my mate does. They know where I am and they come to me when they need me: always here, I hope.
I can’t help thinking that things could go tits up any time soon but like calls to my phone: incoming. I guess it’s natural to feel insecure when something this good happens after fifteen months of having literally nothing.
Again the pub is closed and tonight the landlord and landlady are staying. So some of the rooms will be shared. I’m a little confused and frustrated by that little aspect of things as I’m expected to pay rent on the basis of the exclusive use of the flat above the pub. I don’t have that and the council are only paying for what I actually have but not what I’m meant to have. It’s fine by me as things stand regarding the living situation but I may need to renegotiate the rent. More hurdles and hoops.
And now it’s Monday, the thirteenth. I’m pretty much up to date on everything: the washing machine arrived, I can view all Freeview channels thanks to the new aerial I bought and once this blog is done, I can get back on with my second book. I’m receiving royalties from the sale of The Paradoxicon, albeit modest sums but such is the life of a writer and that’s what I have chosen to do. I have all that I need and only need to aspire to greater things. Just today I signed a contract with Horrified Press for the publication of some of my short stories in Schlock bi-monthly print magazine. That and my debut novel are available from Amazon and via my website: http://www.stevelaker.net
So I’m published and I’ve signed a contract with a print magazine: I’ve kind of arrived. Wherever I’ve landed, I certainly feel at home here, even if things are up in the air so much. The living arrangement remains modest and crooked but it is home and it’s mine. After the fifteen months of personal hell which went before this, I feel I deserve a bit of a break. If only the kids, visitors, supporters and family would allow me to have one.
In closing, I penned a short verse to those who have stuck by me but also those who abandoned me during my sentence:
It’s not your fault I went off the rails
You’re not responsible for the things I’ve done and seen
As I sat with a drink in one hand and a gun in the other
There’s no genie in the bottle
Nor in the magazine
…till I can hold her again.
21.12.14 (Day 363)
I miss my wife. Rather, the one who’s referred to as The Wife: my special girl; my little clingy thingy. She’s gone, at least temporarily. Incarcerated.
My little thing has done wrong in the eyes of the plastic police and as a result, she’s caged and had her Christmas cancelled. She’s just a kid and doesn’t deserve such bullying from those who seek to control her. But she’ll rebel. She’s a feisty little thing and she will harbour her anger. One day she’ll kick back and those who try to control her will find themselves without her.
I write this here as my daughter-type thing has had most means of contact confiscated. If she can access the internet, she reads this blog and she’ll see this message from me. She knows who she is. She maybe doesn’t know what she wants or what she wants to be but she knows that she is unique, an apple of my eye and that I love her dearly.
We’ve been through so much together and I wish I could rescue her from her entrapment but I’m powerless. This one’s for you little thing:
My ray of light
My drop of sun
When I’m sad
You’re the one
You make me laugh
You make me smile
The one I’d walk for
A millionth mile
But now we’re apart
Your candle still burns
In my heart
I long to hold you
My little waif
Like I always did
Keeping you safe
Don’t give up
Don’t let them win
Come back to me
Then we’ll begin
To rebuild you
To re-start your life
Always my friend
Always The Wife
I love you my little girl and I hope you see this and know that I’m thinking of you.
See you soon. I hope xxxxxxxxxx
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