Teaching an old dog new tricks!

I set up a blog four years ago, determined to not only learn, but actively participate in the digital revolution changing so many aspects of everyday life. As a writer I was aware that ebooks were increasing in popularity while publishers of printed books and bricks and mortar bookshops, dwindled. An online presence deemed a necessity because even traditional publishers expected authors to promote and market books as well as write them. To paraphrase the words of Bob Dylan, one of my favourite singers, the times were definitely changing.

And four years ago my life certainly changed – one of the reasons why the new blog remained with one entry. My enthusiasm for the blog tied up with being halfway through a master’s degree in creative writing, which of course encouraged writers to be relevant in today’s world and get online. However, diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2010, I faced rearranging priorities. I completed my degree with the study helping me to focus on the future as well as being a distraction from hospitals, doctors and chemotherapy, but I lost the confidence and the will to create an online presence. Perhaps ‘chemo brain’ kicked in – fatigue definitely did!

However, the desire to remain relevant as a writer and a teacher of writing has made me try again. I must thank Liz from Healthy Voices for giving me the confidence and that all-important push to do so. The eight week workshop I attended recently at Bayside Medicare Local encouraged ‘harnessing the power of words for positive change’ and was such a comprehensive course on social media and various alternatives for participating online, any feeble excuses I had disappeared.

I want to share my writing plus helpful tips and information I’ve gleaned from years of teaching creative writing, but I also want to write about social justice and equity, the places I’ve travelled to, as well as my journey with breast cancer, the books and articles I’ve read and any other topic that inspires me.  The internet is a great medium for communicating, sharing knowledge and staying in touch – and maintaining a blog will ensure I write regularly, the most important habit for a writer to cultivate.

I coordinate a local community writing group, Mordialloc Writers’ Group and as well as meeting fortnightly to workshop, we host Readings by The Bay on the last Sunday of the month whereby writers can read their work to an appreciative audience. Last Sunday was the last Readings for 2014 and we made it a fundraiser for Medecins Sans Frontiers Australia to go towards their work with victims of Ebola. I explained this frightening health crisis by reading an acrostic poem I had written to present the facts in a more memorable way. We raised $150.00.

Ebola is a river that became a virus, hemorrhagic fever, fatal illness – now uncontrolled fear infects night-time stillness because bacteria flows with ease like a breeze around the globe, contamination transferred with the touch of a robe.

Blood oozes internally and from gums and bowels. The fever fatigue, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, diarrhoea, rashes, kidney and liver death has patients writhing in pain –– a continent howls.

Outbreaks in Africa since 1976 have killed thousands in the Congo, Sudan, Gabon, Uganda, now Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria and Senegal –– just names in countries remote to most, but if the world takes responsibility we could make this virus a ghost.

Laboratories, hospitals, doctors, rehydration treatment, immunological and drug therapies neutralise and a cure we might see, but community engagement, expensive medical intervention, safe burials and social mobilisation the key.

African leaders plead for world help as their people die. 7000 lives already lost this year as this river of death bursts its banks to spread while nations capable of helping appear immobile with dread.

Vaccines in the experimental stage offer some hope to countries struggling to cope, with a virus flooding the city, drowning crowded urban communities –– showing no pity.

Infection of healthcare workers feeds international fear, confirming when vigilance lapses the virulence of this virus is clear.

Reducing the risk of human transmission means protective clothing and rigorous hygiene, in poor countries where clean water and sanitation is rarely seen. Transmission from wildlife means no contact with infected fruit bats, antelope, porcupine, monkeys, apes or chimpanzees and all meat must be cooked – advice not implemented with ease.

Under maximum biological containment conditions this virus is not a deadly threat, but in so many infected countries necessary practices can’t be met.
Semen and breast milk will contain the virus for 7 weeks after recovery from this illness ––
no wonder fear disrupts night time stillness.
© 2014

8 thoughts on “Teaching an old dog new tricks!

  1. I love your blog Mairi. You are an inspiration to people who want to write. I also love your poetry and how you encourage people to write without thinking. I believe that’s when writing comes from the heart.

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  2. Well done on picking up blogging again! I’ve also recently started again after many failed attempts thwarted by university, job hunting and life in general. Good luck with everything! I look forward to reading any tips you have as I’m always looking for new ways to improve with my writing! (:

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    1. Thank you for the encouraging words Fran – I’m still working on the appearance and site navigation, but I am determined to get there! It is coming to the end of my teaching year so hopefully over the summer holidays I can get the hang of it:) I’m sorting through lessons and responses to share tips, prompts and ideas that worked the best with my students. When I return from work today – rushing out now – I’ll check out your blog and work out how to share links. Your comments of being thwarted by “life” I understand only too well! Thank you again for your quick response to my first post – that is indeed the plus side of the Internet – immediate action.

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