Countdown to Classes so Clearing Clutter Cancelled

hard 9

Words, Writing and Waiting for Inspiration…

Mairi Neil

Words are my business and passion
Often they flow, or stay sealed like a time capsule
Remembering, imagining, creating, forgetting…
Depending on mood, knowledge, skill… a dictionary
So they colour the page: language, meaning, interpretation… frustration

Why does the sentence not work
Or the words engage? Where’s the impact?
Rambling, nothing of substance… stuttering
Don’t start… don’t stop… less is more… decisions!
Structure? Be sensible, sensitive, sarcastic, serious, succinct, smart, strong

Alliteration can work
Repetition a crafty tool. Pizzaz needed
Especially metaphor and simile

Am I mad?
Losing it?
Laughing, crying, anxious, arrogant, scared… confident…

I squeeze the words from the pen

Hammer the keyboard
And shape the words and worlds to
Vindicate the term ‘writer’
End of story!

A writer is a world trapped in a person
Victor Hugo

My classes at local neighbourhood houses begin next week and I’ve already fielded phone-calls, emails, and visits from students. The excitement is building for the various classes and a new one next term:

Writing for Pleasure & Publication at Mordialloc, Monday mornings (95874534)

Writing for Pleasure & Publication at Bentleigh,  Tuesday afternoons (95579037)

Life Stories & Legacies, Wednesday mornings at Bentleigh (95579037)

Writing Creatively Towards the Future, at Longbeach Place, Thursday mornings (97761386)

And next term we will be Blogging A Book at Bentleigh, Tuesday mornings (95579037)


If you love telling stories, hearing and reading them, playing with words, writing a journal, diary, poems or prose, family history, life stories, memoir… what better place to hone the craft and be inspired and motivated than your local community house or writers’ group!

You are lucky to be one of those people who wishes to build sand castles with words, who is willing to create a place where your imagination can wander. We build this place with the sand of memories; these castles are our memories and inventiveness made tangible.
Anne Lamott

The poem above is an acrostic, a form of poetry useful and adaptable – I often use it just for brainstorming as well as crafting into a stand-alone piece.

The form is ideal as an ice-breaker or introductory exercise in a workshop or lesson. The starting point of an acrostic can be yourself.

  • Write your name down the page and then using the letters write words or phrases across from the letters
  • Acrostics do not have to rhyme
  • There are no rules about how long a line should be, whether just one word or a phrase
  • Think about your writing aspirations and/ or personality

Mother and teacher
And a would-be novelist
It is a murder-mystery.She
Rarely gets time to write so
It will be a cold case!

Or just have fun playing with words and poetic forms!

An acrostic poem is usually, but not always, one where the first letters of the lines spell out a word or words if you read them vertically.


Definition: acrostic a·cros·tic /əˈkrôstik/ Acrostic poems are a literary composition in which certain letters in each line form a word vertically. The poem, usually in verse, has the first or the last letters of the lines, or certain other letters, in order, to form a name, word, phrase, or motto.

There are many examples of acrostics in The Bible, particularly in Psalms, but also other books. They may require some serious decoding but they are there. Here are two messages Peace and Love, cornerstones of the New Testament message.

These things I have sPoken unto you
that in me yE might have peace.
in the world ye shAll have tribulation:
but be of good Cheer;
I have overcomE the world.

                           For God so Loved the world,
that he gave his Only begotten Son,
that whosoever belieVeth in him should not perish,
but have Everlasting life.

John 16:33 and John 3:16 (King James version)

Lewis Carroll‘s Through The Looking-Glass can be read here at Project Gutenberg.

The book was dedicated to Alice Pleasance Liddell. If you read the lines from top to bottom in the following poem, you’ll see that the first letters spell out Alice’s complete name. Carroll has rhymed the lines but this is not necessary in freeform acrostics.

A boat beneath a sunny sky,
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July-

Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear-

Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die.
Autumn frosts have slain July.

Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.

Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:

Ever drifting down the stream-
Lingering in the golden gleam-
Life, what is it but a dream?
Lewis Carroll


You can even combine poetic forms – why not be creative.

A  Hairy Fairy Tale

Mairi Neil

Rapunzel, a herb, a pregnant woman craves with insatiable appetite
And orders her husband to a neighbour’s garden, in the dead of night
Perchance the neighbour watches –– to catch the thief
Unbeknown to him, this enchantress has powers to cause grief
Not happy at the crime, she demands the babe as payment for the herb
Zealous parents agree because the cravings can’t be curbed
Eventually, a girl is born, and the enchantress stakes her claim…
Longhaired Rapunzel imprisoned in tower: destined to fairy tale fame.

How does she escape and win freedom you may ask –
overcoming the power of an enchantress no easy task,
but the main theme of a fairy tale is good versus evil
and there is much we can learn from tales medieval:
consequences, promises, values of loyalty, truth, and trust
of course, LOVE frees Rapunzel – ‘happy ever after’ a must!


Try writing an Acrostic – you can even have the letters going diagonal, or have them going up rather than down -you are the writer, in control. Have fun and share the joy regardless of whether you are writing fiction or fact. It’s a great start for memoir too.

1) Write an acrostic using your name or the name of someone you love.
2) Write an acrostic about a town or city (maybe where you were born, or a place you love to visit, dream about, or a place with special significance).
3) Write an acrostic about a season – spring, summer, autumn, or winter, – the lines spelling out the name of the season, or a particular month(tree, flower, activity) – add your memories, or thoughts.

Autumn Leaving

Mairi Neil

Leaves die and fall in autumn
Each one a work of art farewelled
And as the trees become bare and
Very sad through winter days
Early buds herald the onset of
Spring and promise new life!

5 thoughts on “Countdown to Classes so Clearing Clutter Cancelled

    1. No – you’re a normal writer:) I don’t think any of us is born with self-confidence. I even look at stories and poems I’ve had published and wish I had edited them better etc. I only stopped berating myself last night over dropping out of the blogging course – just wrong time for me, bit off more than I could chew. Sound familiar? Good luck with your story – leave it for a few hours, have a walk or watch a movie and I guarantee you’ll get a flash of inspiration:)


      1. Hi Mairi, yes, this self-confidence thing is weird isn’t it? The more I connect with other writers, the more I realise that most of us have very little & it seems to be that the better you get, the less you have (not sure why!).. I managed to finish my story and entered it into the comp – feeling quite happy with it, but we’ll see! Have a lovely day x


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