A death in the family . . .

Half-way through our sojourn in the Outer Hebrides, in Harry Hymer (HarryCarrieAndMe.wordpress.com), we got the call that everyone dreads, though death really is a part of life. My father was dying. Within a couple of days, he was gone.

A very full life, he lived, to the great age of 92, and it was a kind of sacred duty to return for his funeral to the land of my forefathers. The travel blog was abandoned — who wants to write light-hearted material at such an emotional time — and we made our way, as fast as feasibly possible, to home and the organisation of my flights back to Toronto.

The funeral was a huge emotional release, as it turned out, and I spent much of the time before, during and after the event composing poetry in a creative effort to try to cope. By and large, the creativity helped me to deal with the very real challenges. There were too many conflicting emotions not to have taken advantage of some respite. But that poetry is intensely personal, not for public consumption, I think.

However, one of the poems is, I hope, going to be my own entry into a local competition to see art displayed on large posters in the Longbenton Metro Station here in Newcastle. It’s hard to imagine that a poem on the topic of death and winter could in any way be uplifting, which is the vague brief of the competition. And yet, that uplift is what I aspire to. In particular, my own feelings for and delight in, snow.

Meanwhile and ongoing, I’ve dealt with my inconsequential tristesse over not making the shortlist for the Adventures in Fiction New Voices/First Novel competition, and applied for a Start-Up Appraisal, for which all entrants were invited to participate at a reduced fee. That would be ‘Keep Me in Your Heart,’ my attempt at Historical Fiction for Young Adults, and the first 50 pages will be undergoing professional scrutiny with feedback. So I’m really looking forward to that, just to see if my ideas for the full novel have any lasting capacity.

And then there’s a few other competitions and ongoing Writing Group tasks. In particular, Bridlington Spa are hosting a competition to find a few poems on the theme of ‘Reasons to be cheerful.’ I’ve entered one which describes an epiphany I experienced some years ago, while hanging out the washing in this beautiful countryside.

The thing is, I really do have to write. It’s what a writer does, after all, and it’s odd to understand that this is really how I think of myself these days, as a writer. Whether or not public recognition actually accrues, whether competitions are won or not, whether my Writing Group friends think my efforts are worthy, still I have to persevere, to try to get better, to write more clearly, succinctly, appositely. It’s what, in the end, I do.

And, no doubt, will continue to do until I too die.

By Larry Winger

Retired scientist, devoted diarist (AllendaleDiary.org), community-minded aspirant novelist, I've lived on a smallholding in the East Allen Valley for the past 30 years, delighting in watching our family grow up, in experiencing the development of our grandsons, and in taking care of our small flock of chickens and garden.

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