For years I have been a writer, an editor and a teacher of creative writing. Now I want to share some of what I have learned along the way. Write On The Fringes is a blog about the dangers, the disappointments and the rewards of writing. It's a record of the writing of a novel, from the tantalising first inklings of an idea, through to the final draft. But above all it's an exploration of the art and the craft of writing and the nature of story, as well as a search for the essence of creativity and the complex nature of truth.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Book Excerpt From Flight – Part Two

 The Way of Love is
not a subtle argument.

The door there
is devastation.

Bird's make great sky-circles
of their freedom.
How do they learn it?

They fall, and falling,
they're given wings.

Rumi, (translated by Coleman Barks), The Essential Rumi

As promised, here is the second part of the prologue to Flight. For anyone who hasn't read the opening of the prologue, have a look at the previous post first. And for anyone who is new to this site, as my novel is published this week I am being self indulgent and posting a couple of book extracts instead of my normal posts. If you want to see what I generally discuss in this blog, have a look at some of the earlier posts.

My apologies to those readers who are not based in Australia or New Zealand and who would like to read Flight. It seems that there will be some restrictions on its distribution for a few months yet. There are a number of online Australian booksellers who may send print editions to international customers: such as Dymocks, Fishpond, Borders, Boomerang Books and Booktopia.

Flight - Prologue (Part 2)
He was biding his time. My father wasn't an evil man but he had already done wrong, and this deed had set in motion others. Then it was only a matter of time, as the prophecy ate away at him, turning him into its slave. Perhaps the seeds of madness had already been planted deep in his heart, in this life or another. Or perhaps they were sown later; I am not sure, for it is hard to see the beginnings of things.

People always say that children can't remember. That babies have no language and therefore no memories. That an abandoned baby can't be traumatised. They are wrong. There are many ways of knowing. The memories we carry in our consciousness are not the only ones. There are others, ones we can't relate in words, and yet their scar tissue builds up so that we live every day of our lives in reaction to them. I have learned first hand that we carry memory in our cells. Unresolved trauma acts like a cancer, scarring, mutating, warping our cells until they become sick. Remembering is implicit in the decision to enter the labyrinth, to look inside ourselves, at our wounds and our carefully buried strengths. It's there in the patterns we identify in our lives. And there too in the truths we discover and recognise as having always known. I know these things because I have looked deeply into myself and seen what needed seeing.

I was born in Adelaide on January 2nd 1989. From the beginning, life for me was a serious matter of survival, but it was also something I did not relish at all. There is a contradiction in this, I know, and one that tugged me this way and that, making me strong, yet fearful; determined, yet too ready to give up. A contradiction that for many years trapped me in a half-life, a twilight world of muted colours. A prison I didn't even know I was in until I made my escape.

I entered this world wearing my mother's blood and carrying the marks of my father's fist on my back. Within minutes of my birth an ambulance arrived, its siren sending my heart thumping too fast all over again. There were danger signals everywhere and I could no longer distinguish between what was safe and what was not. But I was a tiny baby, born a month early, and the hands of those men were gentle as they carried me to the relative safety of the hospital.

He tried one more time, in the hospital ward, his large hand grabbing me by the leg and swinging me up and out of the plastic crib and head first into the wall. One swing, but he hadn't built up momentum yet. My mother's loyalties were torn, but for that one crucial moment the hormones swilling through her body put her on my side. She screamed. Just once, but there was a tone in it, enough to bring people running. Before the next swing a nurse appeared in the doorway and, reading the madness in my father's eyes, pressed the alarm.

Already a master of disguise, my father recovered quickly, cradling me in his arms, uttering comforting baby noises while I stared mutely up into his eyes, my heart thudding.
'I slipped,' he told the nurse. 'I almost dropped her. My God, they're so fragile.' Then, as a nurse took her from him, 'She's alright, isn't she?'
Uncertain now, the nurse looked at my mother lying there in the crisp white hospital bed, wearing a white hospital gown because there'd been no time to pack, sobbing, milk leaking from her nipples.
My mother looked at each of us in turn, seeing the threat in my father's eyes, the bewildered fear in mine and the question in the nurse's. Then, stony-faced, she turned away from us all. She had made a decision. 'It was an accident,' she said. 'He slipped.'
But she did sign the adoption forms. To keep me safe.
Then she wrapped me tightly in a white blanket, placed me back in the plastic see-through hospital-issue crib and wheeled me into a room full of other howling cribs, setting me loose into a sea of indifference with no anchor and no oars, with only the sun, the moon and the stars to navigate by, and no lessons to help me decipher them.

On my original birth certificate there is a blank space next to Father. My mother's name is listed as Joan Childe. My name is listed as Erica. On my second birth certificate my father's name is listed as Richard Parsons, my mother's as Grace Parsons My adopted parents called me Fernanda after an evangelical missionary they favoured at the time. I called myself Fern. More than anything I wanted to fly. But in order to fly, one must first be willing to fall.
This is the story of my journey, following the clues back through the twists and turns that made me into what I was, searching for the moments of definition: the overheard sentence, the intention in another's eyes, a boy seducing a girl, a fist, a beating and a mother turning away. I had to go deep into the underworld and enter the labyrinth, with no guarantee of return, seeking the threads that I could weave into a rope thick enough to haul me out again.

In this story there are those gifted and cursed with the power of prophecy. There's a young man haunted by the past and an old man haunted by the future. There is death and corruption and injustice. There is love and passion and hatred, all carried across lifetimes. Occasionally there is compassion. But more often, as in real life, there is fear.

I am there too. Haunted and hollow. An outline, waiting to be filled in. Poised trembling before the entrance to the labyrinth. A shadow of the self I should have been. A shadow of who I am now as I sit here looking for a beginning when there isn't one, when there never is, because life is simply not neat, and one story hardly ever ends before another begins. Instead they span time and space, reaching back into a past that extends beyond our first breath and into a future that extends beyond our last, through a multitude of lives and tied only by the threads of souls and their patterns.

In the absence of a clear beginning I will draw an artificial line through time and begin on that stiflingly hot afternoon, in the attic room of a run-down terrace in the inner suburbs of Sydney. . .

Copyright (c) 2012 by Rosie Dub. All rights reserved. You may translate, link to or quote this article, in its entirety, as long as you include the author name and a working link back to this website:

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