Who To Listen To - Juliet Jackson
After becoming blind in her twenties, Juliet started listening to a lot of talking books. This sparked an interest in creative writing. The piece below, “Who To Listen To,” was written in Deborah Shepard’s “Life Writing” summer course.
We were living in a car at the time. Dad hadn’t been able to get many gigs, and was drinking too much. Mum was still working in clubs, as a stripper, but wasn’t getting good tips. They were talking of driving to another town, where they wouldn’t be known. It can help in show business. I was twelve. I wanted to stay in the same class, with my lovely Intermediate schoolteacher, but secondary school was looming. Mrs Simmonds encouraged me to apply for St Cuths. She said it was possible to get a full scholarship.
Riding The Teenage Years - Don Cowan
Don has been much encouraged by family and friends to write his story. Allegedly retired some three and a half years ago, he has now made more time to try doing it. So he’s participating in Deborah’s 2017 Life Writing course and this is his first formal effort.
I never cared that I was a teenager. Teenagers hadn’t been ‘invented’ in my day. I was simply who I was, and stuff happened. However, having just turned thirteen and being about a year younger than everyone else in my class, I was the only boy in our group who didn’t have a girlfriend. So a girlfriend was arranged.
Writing To Grandmother by Mary Henderson
Mary has inherited the gift of several folders of letters written by her parents, and sometimes her siblings and herself from 1948 – 1980, to family in the Netherlands. She is working on bringing these family stories alive for her family, and to honour her parents who made the challenging and rewarding journey of living in their new country New Zealand.
My mother made this request regularly, ‘Please write a letter to your grandparents.’ This time it was to acknowledge my grandmother’s seventieth birthday. We were given one transparent sheet of crinkly airmail writing paper and encouraged to write a draft.
A Childhood Memory - Robyn White
Robyn worked for Greenpeace from 1989 – 1995. Last year she was selected by the NZ Society of Authors for a mentorship programme where she worked with Deborah on her account of a 1992 sea voyage on the Greenpeace yacht Vega, from Auckland to Greece. She is stirred by the questions Who are we? What are we doing here? How do we make meaning of our lives?
I remember the thrill of going to the Easter Show with my family. We always went at night and would walk through the trees in Cornwall Park. It seemed we were entering a thick mist of soft watery light and boarding a large ship. There were the sounds of engines, generators behind stalls. I was so young, and remember looking up into a sea of legs and above that huge flying machines with stunned open-mouthed people whirling high.
Originally from Canada and USA, Mary has lived in New Zealand for nearly thirty years. She is an ecologist, theologian and writer, has two grown daughters, and lives with her husband Peter in the Titirangi bush.
In 1966, our family moved from Battle Creek, Michigan to Cleveland, Ohio, and my mother decided I was old enough to choose my new high school. There was only one problem: all she knew was that St Joseph’s Academy was half an hour from home, and Magnificat High School was an extra fifteen minutes.
A Childhood Memory - by Alison Quesnel
Alison is excited by the wealth of stories that have been uncovered in her memory whilst attending Deborah’s most recent summer life writing course. She hopes to make creative writing in memoir or observer style part of her semi-retirement – if she can stop working.
The picture itself is so faded now that only I know what it really holds within its narrow pale pink frame.
Pauline has often thought of recording the timeline of her life for her grandchildren. A history of the family told in short stories and memories. Two daughters and a grandchild are already prolific writers so she has strong encouragement to start the journey.
My father had an absolute horror of ‘getting your name in the paper’ so we were generally well behaved. I don’t know why he had this fear but it was the time of the Truth newspaper and any infraction including court cases and even divorce details were listed. This was also the time of conscription into the Army. Boy’s names were drawn from a ballot for three months military service. My brother was doing an apprenticeship so his boss applied for his conscription to be delayed. Even that was recorded in the ‘Court News’ in the Bay of Plenty Times. Dad was furious. You would have thought my brother had committed a crime.
Sunday Morning - by Adele Ellis
Adele Ellis, teacher of thirty years, is interested in writing and loves words and reading. In my work with children teaching reading and writing is my joy.
Auckland. Sunday morning. Mid-sixties.
I am in bed. Headachy. Bedspread turned down. Distant sounds of kitchen domesticity drift in and out. The music drones on. Leave me alone. I doze. Am I hearing this again? On the musical menu today Glenn Miller, big bands, heavy piano concertos. Is that Tchaikovsky or Grieg? Mozart where are you hiding?
Please submit your story via the Contact page and it will receive a gentle edit from Deborah.