Baring All

Hello Lovelies,

What another amazing week of writing I’ve had. I’ve still been procrastinating from my Uni work of course and finding out I have a three day extension is not going to help the matter, but I’m so excited with the progress I have made with Lonely Hearts.I haven’t written anywhere near as much as I did at the beginning of the month, but the progress I’ve made has still left me feeling pretty awesome.

This week’s post is going to be a little bit of a self-reflection, I’m not looking to the past or pondering the what-ifs, but rather reflecting on the now and what the future has in store for me.

I’m up to a point in Lonely Heart’s where Rose has bared all (emotionally not physically, it’s not that type of story sorry!) She’s revealed the source of the darkness that plagues her, the darkness that haunts her dreams and fuels her anxiety. Rose has just been through such a traumatic experience, that brings the darkness of her past with such clarity, that she realising that the two horrible experiences are connected in some way.

Rose feels protected in Thomas’ presence and draws from his strength in order to tell of her experiences, together they shine the light into the darkness that haunts her. Baring herself in such a way, should have been an incredibly difficult thing to do, she was leaving herself open and vulnerable, reliving her painful past, but with Thomas by her side, even though it was still difficult and painful, it was also empowering as if it was in that moment that she began to free herself, to rid herself of the darkness.

Rose has come to realise however, that even though Thomas gives her the strength to face the darkness and bare her soul, it is not so easy for Thomas, his darkness is stronger and runs much deeper than her own. She hopes that with time, she can give Thomas the same strength he gives to her and together they can face his demons.

Writing about Rose baring all, got me thinking about a few things. Through writing, even in fiction, the writer bares their soul for all to see. This is one of the most frightening things about writing, when you share it with others you bare yourself to them, leaving yourself open and vulnerable. On the other hand, it is also one of the most exciting things about writing.

“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.”
—Virginia Woolf

Through our words and our characters, we reveal pieces of ourselves for the world to see. Perhaps that is why I kept my writing hidden for so long, because I was scared. Now though, I look to the future to the moment when I am ready to unveil Thomas and Rose’s story, in all its entirety, to share their story and also to share a piece of myself. The thought of baring all still frightens me, but I now refuse to let the fear consume me. Just as Rose draws strength from Thomas allowing her to face her painful past and bare all, I too am able to draw strength from others. I draw strength from those around me, those who support and encourage me and I draw strength from joy I experience through the characters I create and the worlds I make.

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”

– Stephen King

So, go forth my lovelies and no longer have fear. For the freedom that accompanies being true to oneself far outweighs the terror of baring all.

Enjoy,

KK

I had just bared my soul to Thomas, shown him the darkness of my past and something which I thought would be the most difficult thing to do. Yet in that moment, with Thomas by my side, it wasn’t as difficult as I had imagined. Together, we shone the light into the darkness, exposing the demons in an attempt to banish them once and for all. 

-Rose, Lonely Hearts

© Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within, (2013-2015). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Searching for the Window

“When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.” -Maria (The Sound of Music)

Hello Lovelies,

This week I’ve hit a few road blocks and so as the title of this post suggests, I’ve been searching for the metaphoric window in my writing and in my real life. The good news is that I’m getting closer to that window in my writing, unfortunately in real-life it isn’t so easy.

But enough about the negative, let’s focus on the positive. Last week I told you all that I hadn’t had much time to write as I was working on something else (if you missed it, you can read last week’s post here) and I promised to share with all of you what I was working on this week. Well, a week has passed and as promised I’ll let you all in on the secret, yesterday was my Grandmother’s 80th birthday and as her birthday present I made her a “This is your life” themed book, documenting the years from her birth up until the present. It included her ‘story’ (which I cut down to only 8 pages long!) and a collection of photos over the years including her the childhood, courtship with my Grandfather and her family, only about 110 photos, as I managed to cut it down from around 150! It was an amazing experience to exploring my grandmother’s story and I found out some pretty amazing things not only about my grandmother, but also the world which she grew up in. Here is a short excerpt from her story about the world she was born into,

It was the year 1934, the world had lived through the horrors of World War I and it was still enduring the aftermath of a severe economic recession caused by The Great Crash on Wall St in 1929. It was an era that is now known as The Great Depression.

It was in this year that Meccano Ltd introduced the first Dinky Toys and Percy Shaw patented the ‘cat’s eye’ road safety device. It was also the year when the “surgeon’s photograph” of the Loch Ness Monster was published in the Daily Mail –although it was much later admitted to being a hoax.

King George V was the reigning monarch and Ramsay MacDonald was the Prime Minister of England…”

What made this even more interesting, is the similarities between the world that my grandmother was born into and the world of Thomas and Rose. I did not purposely make this connection and as you may have read in some of my previous posts, Lonely Hearts originated from a dream I had, however terribly cliché that may sound, so perhaps on a subconscious level the link between the two worlds was made, but it wasn’t until I started to create this book for my grandmother that I realised the depth of the connection. My grandmother lost her mother at a young age, as did Rose (and Thomas) and what makes this subconscious connection even more startling is that my great grandfather’s name was also Thomas.

“…but in a small cottage in a village in the London Borough of Barnet called Arkley, Thomas and Bessie were eagerly awaiting the birth of their first child.”

retrieved from Flickr Creative Commons Copyright of wiatrak1
Retrieved from Flickr Creative Commons Copyright of wiatrak1

My grandmother was also an only child, both Thomas and Rose were only children. The more I think about this, the deeper the connection becomes, perhaps I knew these details of my grandmother prior to writing her story, but I know that I did not consciously make this connection between the two worlds when beginning Rose and Thomas’ story.

And…. there’s the segue into discussing where I am in Lonely Hearts. At this point I am exploring Rose’s relationship with her mother and how that has shaped her. I am also up to the point in the story where reader’s are given a small insight into the connection Rose has with her mother in the present tense of the story (just a reminder, Rose’s mother passed away several years before the story’s timeline). Reader’s also gain a little more information about the underlying cause of Rose’s nightmares and the darkness that gives the book its title and I can’t wait to explore these ideas in even greater depth.

Today I have a small excerpt to share with you all. Some of it may seem a little familiar from previous posts, as I usually do a small amount of editing as I attempt to bind one idea with the next. Although I can quite easily spot errors in other people’s writing, I am still horrified at my ability to miss the errors in my own writing, so be kind. Sometimes even in the way I speak, I cringe afterwards at my lack of correct grammar, I think some of my student’s are rubbing off on me!

Enjoy,

KK

“What am I thinking? Why am I even considering this? Thomas and I are from two different worlds, it would be best for both of us to go our separate ways. One evening, which will be lovely, I’m sure – perfect even, but it cannot go further than that. I cannot help but feel as though I am throwing something of immense value away and as I catch my reflection in the window, I see my mother’s face looking back at me and as she does in those moments when I need her help or advice she spoke to me, “Rosie, some things are just meant to be.” What does she mean? That Thomas and I are meant to be or are we are meant to go our separate ways? But before I could ask she was gone, the same as always. I missed my mother so much, she was the only family I had ever known. I am thankful for having József in my life, but it’s not the same, a girl needs her mother and she was taken from me when I needed her the most.

I thought about the days after she died, I had felt so alone and afraid. Sometimes I still feel like that, when the darkness closes in and another nightmare consumes me, pulling me down. It’s always the same, it’s dark and lonely, with nobody to love or care for me, then they appear and I’m no longer by myself, but the darkness grows deeper and fear and pain surge through me. Then I hear her voice, telling me to stay strong, pleading with me to hang on and to reach up out of the darkness, then he is there – József is the one pulling me out of the darkness, taking away the pain and the fear, offering me a father’s love and beginning to heal my lonely heart. Lately though, having József didn’t seem to be enough and the frequency of my nightmares have increased. Perhaps it is because I am now older and no longer the young girl he saved, but I feel the darkness pulling me down and the loneliness closing in again, I have to find a way to keep the darkness at bay, I cannot let myself slip into the darkness again, for I fear that if I do, it will be the end and the darkness will consume me.”

© Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within, (2013-2015). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Why Is It So?

Hello Lovelies,

Unless you are living in the dark ages, I’m sure you have all heard of the sad passing of the much loved comedian and actor, Robin Williams. As details of his passing emerged, most expressed their surprise, sadness and sympathy and extended their condolences to his family and loved ones. Sadly though, a small minority referred to his final actions as selfish or cowardly.

In a world where political correctness is spiraling out of control, how is it that people are still ignorant and discriminative against those who suffer from mental illness? I think Ricky Gervais was spot on when he posted this on social media the other day,

Telling people with depression to “just snap out of it” is about as useful as telling people with cancer to “just stop having cancer”.

robin-williams1

People all over the world are struggling to comprehend how a man who was loved and admired by so many could take his own life. The thing is though, we (the public) saw Robin Williams the comedic genius, talented actor and generous person, but we didn’t know that man that struggled with depression and substance abuse*. People are asking why, they want to know why he did what he did, why he didn’t ask for help, they want to know why he couldn’t see how much he had to live for and how much people loved and admired him. Whilst I haven’t experienced depression myself and I won’t pretend to understand what it’s like to suffer depression, I can see that it’s important to bring it out in the open and to create a society where people are not ashamed, embarrassed, criticised or discriminated against for suffering a mental illness. Organisations such as beyondblue, R U OK? and Lifeline are working towards bringing mental illness out of the shadows, removing the stigma attached to mental illness and providing help and support not only for those who suffer from mental illness but also those who are supporting loved ones.

Although society seems to be obsessed with political correctness, discrimination against others because of race, social class,religion, mental illness and a range of other factors is still clearly evident in all corners of the world.

I began writing down my thoughts and this is what I came up with:

There are countries at war, because of race, religion or land.

There’s death, destruction and devastation.

But why is it so?

 

There are people without homes, people with no place to go.

They’re cold, hungry and alone.

But why is it so?

 

There are children born to parents who cannot or will not care for them.

They’re feeling unloved and unwanted.

But why is it so?

 

There are people who discriminate towards others because of race, social class, religion, sexual orientation, mental illness.

They’re leaving people feeling alone and afraid, unable to ask for help.

But why is it so?

 

In a society that promotes equality and fairness, a society that encourages us to embrace our differences, why are we still not equal? Why is there not peace? Why is there loneliness, despair, discrimination, death?

Why is it so?

Now I leave you with this final statement, if you are ever feeling down, alone or afraid please ask for help and if you suspect someone might be feeling this way, simply ask them R U OK?

-KK

*please note, all released statements provided clearly say that they believe Robin Williams was sober at the time of his passing

© Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within, (2013-2015). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Breaking Down the Barriers

Hello Lovelies,

I’ve had a bit of a breakthrough this week with my writing. Not with my assignment that was due on Friday, the lecturer gave us all a week extension, so of course I’m still in procrastination mode with that one! My breakthrough if with my (not so) short story that I had hit a wall with.

Sometimes when you come up against a wall in your writing and some type of barrier is preventing you from exploring your characters and story further, you need to get yourself a big ol’ metaphorical sledgehammer and break down that barrier in your mind. If you keep on hitting away at the barrier, usually you will eventually have a breakthrough where the words begin to flow again and you start to unravel the complexity of your characters. This is what happened to me this week, I’m in the process of discovering just how complex these two characters really are, particularly my female lead. At this point the characters are still known as ‘he’ and ‘she’ and perhaps it will stay that way. The story is told by both main characters, with each character telling the story in sections from their own perspective. We have a man who never felt love as a child and has searched for someone for him to love and to love him in return. He has found that in a woman who experienced nothing but abuse and false love as a child and had shut herself off from the world as a means of self-preservation. It wasn’t until they met each other that the world came alive again for her and he experienced what it felt like to love and be loved in return.

Yes, it’s another ‘love story’ but there can never be too much love in the world! The timeline of their story is over several years and looks at the impact of both of their pasts and the darkness of it that can not always be kept at bay.

I have a little bit to share with you today. remember this work is raw and unedited and is only a first draft.

Enjoy and May the Fourth Be With You,

KK

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When I first saw him, I hated him with every inch of my being. He was the one threatening my isolation, which I so strongly desired. Yet for some reason I felt drawn to him, he didn’t ask too many questions, which was something I liked. He would simply say, “Hello” and give me a sweet, crooked smile. He would speak only when he had to and each shift was spent working side by side mostly in silence. It wasn’t until one evening that he didn’t come in for his shift that I realised how much being near him comforted me. He was sick apparently and without him there working silently next to me I became anxious and edgy and found it difficult to concentrate on doing my job. I dropped things, tripped over boxes and was so completely uncoordinated that the shop owner’s daughter wondered if I was coming down with whatever he had. I realised that I had come to rely on his present, I was beginning to depend on him and I hated myself for that. I had spent so long and worked so hard at trying to isolate myself from the outside world, that the thought of relying on another person angered me. Yet the thought of living without seeing him was becoming unbearable. It was stupid, I barely even knew him, sure we spent every night together for the past three months, but we weren’t exactly sharing every little detail of our lives. I knew his name and I knew he was well-mannered, I also somehow knew he understood my silence.

When he didn’t show up to work the next day, I stupidly found myself looking up his address in the staff contact files and before I knew it I was walking towards his flat and knocking on his door. When the door opened and I found myself looking into his eyes, I didn’t know what to say, I just stood there staring at him for what seemed like an awkwardly long time before he invited me in. I entered his flat without saying a word, he spoke first, “Are you checking up on me?” I remember him saying with the hint of a laugh in his voice, I didn’t want to tell him that I needed him and felt comforted being near him so instead I told him that I was just checking to make sure he was ok and that the shop owner had sent me over to see if he would be working that night. He invited me to sit down and made us some tea and in that moment something changed, we talked for hours, I did most of the talking. Told him almost everything about myself, where I was from, my time in foster care and my time on the streets, but I didn’t tell him about the deepest of the darkness in my past. I felt so comfortable talking to him, it felt good to let someone in. I remember the feeling of contentment that washed over me as I told him about myself and he didn’t go running in the opposite direction. He said we were the same person, that he too had been bounced around from foster home to foster home before he turned 18 and was forced to make his own way in the world. I also remember that he was glad that I had stopped by. I also remember telling him that I missed him. The words had come out before I could stop them, before I could even consider them. He had smiled his crooked smile and said that he had missed me too.

How I wish I could get back that feeling, the feeling of happiness, contentment and comfort I got from being with him, from knowing that he understood me. Now everything is changing and I hate him for that. I have to make things go back to the way that they were, I have to do something. I can change it, he doesn’t know yet. I can fix this and pretend it never happened and things can go back to the way they were.

© Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within, (2013-2015). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Darkness, Heartbreak and Devastation

Hello Lovelies,

This week I’ve been exploring Thomas’ feelings towards his grandmother. While for all intense and purposes she has been his closest living relative and guardian since the death of his parents, he does not feel any emotional connection towards her, only obligation.

When considering his feelings and the news of Charlotte Dawson’s passing (may she RIP) I started to wonder, how much heartache and devastation can one person encounter, before there is no way out of the darkness? After discovering the darkness of Thomas’ past in recent weeks, I am beginning to feel that one of my original plot twists is something that would cause Thomas to permanently retreat into the darkness, something I feel is wrong for the character and the story overall. While I understand that everyone has good days and bad days, especially when dealing with grief, I feel that my original plot twist is too much to bear. I now see my character taking a different direction, telling a different story, one of the power of human emotion and human connection. As Thomas ostracized himself emotionally after the loss of his parents and the coldness of his grandmother, I feel he is showing me that his story is not just a story of darkness, tragedy and loss, but a story of human emotion and the importance and dealing with our emotions.

As I further explore my characters, I am beginning to gain a deeper understanding of the connection between Thomas and Rosie, it goes far beyond the initial physical attraction between them, it is a deep emotional bond, one that Thomas has been craving since his parents’ passing. Rosie encourages Thomas to explore his emotions towards his grandmother and his parents, something which his grandmother discouraged, with her help, Rosie is leading Thomas away from the darkness and into the light. Darkness, heartbreak and devastation still exist in the light, but in the light we are able to see and enjoy the things that give us joy and happiness that we cannot see in complete darkness.

Today I have a short excerpt where Thomas is scratching at the surface as he explores his feelings towards his grandmother, remember it is raw and unedited and will likely change many times before it is final.

Enjoy,

KK

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“Thomas, are you ready for dinner?” That voice, I’ll never tire of hearing that voice, I shrug into my coat and make my way to join Rosie in the sitting room of our suite. Our suite on the SS Strathaird is rather luxurious, I would have preferred something less extravagant but of course my dear grandmother would not hear of it, “if one can afford luxury then one should not settle for anything less”, remembering my grandmother’s words cause me to involuntarily shudder for some reason. As I enter to sitting room I see Rosie, a vision of perfection in a long pearl coloured evening gown and elbow length gloves, her chocolate brown hair pulled back into an elegant twist. No one would believe where this beautiful creature was from, not that it mattered to me at all. “My fair lady, would you do me the pleasure of accompanying me to dinner?” With a shallow bow, I offered Rosie my hand, as she accepted I dipped her and placed a soft kiss onto her crimson lips, as the kiss deepened we were interrupted by the noise of someone clearing their throat, of course that someone was my grandmother. I quickly turned to face her and saw her eyes of disapproval, “Grandmother, you look lovely, should we head down to the dining room?” Grandmother look at me, then glanced at Rosie letting out a long, disapproving breath, “My dear Thomas, I am not interrupting anything, am I?” I could distinctly hear the tone of sarcasm in her question to which I replied to with the same tone, “Of course not grandmother, your timing is impeccable as usual.”  As my grandmother pushes past Rosie and insists that I escort her to dinner, I shoot her an apologetic look, letting her know that it won’t always be like this. She understands the meaning conveyed and as much as I detest my grandmother and her stubborn ways, she has been for many years the only family I have had. Despite this cold-hard fact, I do not feel any real closeness or emotional bond to my grandmother, only obligation. I feel obliged to care for her in her older years and to put up with her nonsense as I feel it is my duty and responsibility. After all, she did provide care for me as a boy, through the employment of a long line of nannies and governesses and she did respect my parents’ wishes to raise me in Sydney, so it is expected that I now provide for her needs and indulge her moods. Yet, her animosity towards Rosie is wearing my patience. I try not to let my frustration and anger show as we make our way to the dining room. My grandmother’s false sentiment and moodiness towards myself, I can deal with and have done so for many years, but the way she is treating Rosie is becoming ridiculous and something which Rosie does not deserve. I do not often stand up to my grandmother, but this is getting preposterous, I have decided that once we arrive in England, things will be different. I will be the man of the house and she will simply have to accept that, I will indulge her silly luncheons, afternoon teas and other functions, but I will no longer put up with her ill-treatment of Rosie.

******

December 15th, 1932

By nothing short of a miracle, I managed to make it through dinner without telling my grandmother exactly what I thought of her and the way she was treating Rosie. Thankfully I was able to make polite conversation with the other people dining with us and I maintained my mask for society, you know the one with the polite smile and the perfectly timed compliments? Rosie is worried though, not because of the way my grandmother is treating her or worried that she might not fit in, but worried because she can see the fine lines that are becoming cracks in my mask. She is the only one who would see these cracks forming, the only person who knows the real me. Rosie is encouraging me to calmly discuss my feelings with grandmother, I told her that one does not simply discuss feelings with Agnes Heath, emotions are “utter nonsense” and have no place in her world. The woman has a stone-hard exterior with a heart of ice that cannot be melted. I know Rosie is right though, for my own sanity I need to express myself; if I can’t talk to Agnes Heath then I will express my feelings in writing. Perhaps someday I will have the courage to show her, but for now writing it down may be enough to keep the darkness from closing in.

© Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within, (2013-2015). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Exploring the Darkness

Hello Lovelies,

Welcome to this week’s post.

Since my last post I have been exploring my main character and delving deeper into the darkness of his past. I’ve found the more I delve into his past and his feelings towards the death of his parents, the more I am understanding him and what drives him. I am understanding his attachment and overly protective tendencies towards Rosie but I am also now questioning some of my planned plot developments, I have a feeling that one of the major events in the story is going to change slightly as a result of my exploration into my main character.

I guess an occupational hazard of writing is when you delve so deeply into a character, the thoughts feelings and actions of your character influence your own mood. As I have been exploring the darkness of my character so intensely this week, I have subconsciously been withdrawn and detached slightly in my own life, it wasn’t until I sat down to write today that I realised that it was happening. I think because we ‘writer types’ become so invested in our main characters that they truly become a part of us, therefore it is only natural that they influence our lives in some way. As I wade through the murky waters that are my character’s past and allow for his thoughts and feelings to be expressed, I am beginning to see the light that is now in his life in the form of his beloved Rosie. People say that love conquers all and overcomes all obstacles, whilst this may not be true in every instance, it certainly does help and in Thomas’ case, love has shown him that there is still light in the world, love has drawn him out of the darkness.

Today I have an excerpt of Thomas’ journal for you, this excerpt shows that he is beginning to explore the darkness of his past, one very small step at a time, so he is able to heal old wounds (sometimes self-inflicted), physically and emotionally.

Again, remember this is just the first draft and very raw material.

Enjoy,

KK

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I’m not ready to write about the darkest parts of my past, Rosie knows most things but in bits and pieces that she has pieced together or small parts I have confided in her. I think though, I am ready to write about my parents and what my life was before the darkness closed in.

I did not have the typical childhood of a child brought up in the midst of high society. My parents were very hands on, I did not have a nanny or a governess, I was their only child and they doted on me at every chance they had. I wasn’t overly spoiled by any means, I had no idea how wealthy our family was (and is), but I was loved. I still remember the warmth and comfort of my mother’s embrace and the playfulness of my father as we played chasing games, when he caught me (and he always did) he would tickle me until my stomach ached. I knew that my parents loved me, they showed me though every embrace, every word, every kiss goodnight. My grandmother used to always complain that if someone were to see the way my parents were with me, they would think we were simple commoners; I didn’t know what that meant until I was much older. In a way, perhaps we were commoners, my parents enjoyed the simpler life and my mother was not from a wealthy family, something which I feel my grandmother always held against her. My parents loathed the times when the expectations of society would take them away and prevent them from spending time with me. I had the perfect childhood, until they became sick, it was then that the darkness began to creep in. I wasn’t even allowed to see them, I didn’t get to say goodbye, and I didn’t get to tell them how much I loved them. They now say it was an epidemic, Spanish Influenza infected so many people, mostly people who were from poorer families. My grandmother blames my mother’s family for the loss of her son and I think some in some way her animosity towards Rosie is drawn from her feelings towards my own mother and the loss of her son. After they died, I remember feeling angry and lost, all normal feelings for one who is grieving the loss of a loved one, feelings that would eventually subside, so I was told… but they didn’t. These feelings continued to grow until they all but consumed me. The darkness closed in and I thought I would never see light again, until one day… there she was… my light, my Rosie. 

© Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within, (2013-2015). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.