Memories, Mirrors and Musings to stir the Muse!

She glances at the photo, and the pilot light of memory flickers in her eyes.

Frank Deford

Typewriter-Think

Where have the summer holidays gone? What happened to all my writing plans? The household tasks? The ‘to participate’ list for Melbourne’s wonderful festivals, events and permanent art venues? The catch-up cuppas with friends?

Some of the above were achieved, but not as many as I hoped and now it’s lesson planning time and in less than a fortnight I’ll be back at work at Mordialloc Neighbourhood House, Longbeach Place, Chelsea and Godfrey Street, Bentleigh teaching: Writing for Pleasure & Publication, Writing & Editing, Memoir to Manuscript and Life Stories & Legacies.

I’ve spent many days researching and organising to make the lessons fresh and interesting, the revision and research reminding me of the importance of always honing the craft of writing to learn and apply a variety of techniques. The learning curve necessary for tutor and student alike – I need a challenge too, or I’ll become stale and boring.

At least the writer’s mantra has  been applied over the holidays:  read, read, read – and write, write, write – then rewrite, rewrite rewrite!! This blog has helped keep me on my toes,  given me insight to what writers are doing in many other parts of the world and freshened my outlook. Variety indeed the spice of life!

The Internet a seemingly infinite place/space to research, read, find jobs, markets, meet people, network, but  most of all learn and much appreciated by a lifelong learner like me.

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Mirror Mirror on the Wall…
Mairi Neil

In the mirror there’s an image I see
Grey hair and wrinkles – how can that be?
Is that old woman really me?

In my head there’s whimsy and fantasy
My body bursts with playful energy
And my growing soul aches to run free!

In the mirror this image I see
Grey hair and wrinkles – who can she be?
An old woman – yes –  but not really me!

A mirror mirage with lips that plea
The grey hair and wrinkles others see
Belong to a future that’s still to be…

In the book of life I accept my age
Uncomplaining – feel no need to rage
As long as each day begins a new page

Wrinkles represent life’s trials -a trace
Of hardships and triumphs we all face
Effects of ageing accepted with grace

In the mirror there’s an image to see
Grey hair, wrinkles layered as a tree,
But that  woman is not the real me!

I still believe in whimsy.  Need fantasy
So must harness lots of playful energy
To be the me, I want to be!

The variety of classes I teach make life interesting and a challenge, particularly when many students return for another year and there is a range of age groups (the oldest student will be 94, the youngest 24), backgrounds, abilities, dreams and needs (some students have mental and physical health issues, but thrive in the safe friendly environment of a community house).

What a blessing and privilege to be teaching a subject I love in local centres with students who choose to be there,  to share their  life experiences, imagination and personalities,  knowledge spanning several generations, countries, genders, continents!

A shelf groans with class anthologies and  revisiting their delightful contents – each poem, story, anecdote and memoir takes me back into the classroom to  hear the voice of the writer, picture them writing and reading… imagining… ‘pilot light of memory’ flickering.

Memory… is the diary that we all carry about with us.

Oscar Wilde,The Importance of Being Earnest

We put so much of ourselves into our words. We share each other’s triumphs and support each other’s writing goals. When a poem a student wrote in my class was  accepted into Poetica Christi’s latest anthology her joy jumped off the Christmas card she sent me. Let’s hope there are more successes to come. it’s wonderful when the words work and are appreciated by others.

The Mirror
(after Sylvia Plath)

Why do you challenge me every morning? Do you think muted morning light will make a difference to the harsh incandescence of nightly fluorescents? Your eyes seek what I cannot give. I cannot stop you turning into your mother, or give you back your youth. I cannot heal the surgeon’s scar; replace the slice that changed your life.

I know you think I’m fickle. You rub to polish my view, seek a clarity I cannot give. It may make me reflect more clearly your desires, but not reality. A trick of the light your excuse as those once bright eyes mist and dull. I cannot control your heart or mind. I tell it how it is for me. I may be silver-coated but not silver-tongued.

But, why believe me? Does my opinion matter? I cannot reach out into the world, engage with people the way you can. Take well-worn advice, seek and ye shall find. There’s a window to your soul only you can unlock, and change is constant. Don’t challenge me because my view will always be limited. My reflections dependent upon light.

My power is gifted – take it back.

Mairi Neil 2013

Now back to my planning, revising and writing because …

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