Julie's Quest

Hello, and welcome to my blog. My blog is about the trials and tribulations of writing, where we celebrate successes and commiserate our near misses. We tell it like it is here and will do our very best to help you on the road to being published and pick you up after the rejections (they will come!) Whether you are a professional or amateur writer you will find something useful here.

I hope you enjoy reading my posts and will visit again soon.

Happy Writing

Julie Phillips - freelance writer - member of the Association of Freelance Writers - member of the Society of Authors

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

We Plough The Fields And Scatter.

It was the Harvest Festival at my daughter's school this morning and I found myself sitting in a school hall full of little children, teachers, and a few other parents watching and listening to the children doing readings, prayers and singing. I'd never been to one before but seeing as my daughter was a bit nervous about the festival and had asked me to attend, and I'm a school governor, I thought I'd better show willing.

I have reservations about attending things like this (the Christmas shows are worse), not because I don't enjoy them, because I do. And not because I don't think they are important enough for me to attend, because they are. It's because I find them very moving and I am ashamed to admit that I always, always cry at them! I find it difficult to relax at them as, before I even get through the door, my bottom lip starts to tremble. It's so embarrassing!

I don't even know why I cry. None of the other parents seem to cry! It's just me. I've always been the same. And it's not just isolated to school shows. Brass bands, bag pipes are the worst, any kind of live show where there is singing or readings - doesn't have to have children involved. It's very strange. Maybe I'm just hyper sensitive to the emotions and sentiments that are being portrayed. I don't know.

So I spent the whole festival trying to hide the fact that I was crying! I caught a glimpse of my daughter sitting cross legged on the floor of the hall with all her class mates and that set me off again! She's there waving cheerily at me, grinning from ear to ear and I'm shoving a tissue on my face, tears streaming down my face! Even blogging about it now has seen my eyes mist over again!

I hadn't realised before how big a part religion plays in the school. In this age of secular education and society in general, Christians are often embarrassed to admit their faith or celebrate their beliefs so it was heartening to see it alive and kicking in the school - they make no apologies for the fact they promote Christian values whilst acknowledging and accommodating other faiths. It was great to see.

Now, I have no strong religious persuasions but I respect those who do - that's not what this blog posting is about. I try to look at, and use my experiences in my writing and what struck me today about the festival was how people's beliefs impact on how they live their lives and resolve conflicts.

I was also interested in listening in to other parents and chatting to them - generally getting a sense of the occasion and the ambiance. Through my tears and embarrassment I tried to key in to people and the environment: the children singing and speaking, the IT problems concerning the computer and the display screen on stage, the teachers organising their class to sit in the right place and behave, the wonderful collection of food on the table in the center of the hall, that sort of thing.

I think, apart from providing me with a distraction to stop me being silly and crying, studying the room and people's behaviour/what they're saying can give writers great information they might use in the future for a poem or story. So when you go out places it's important to use all your senses to capture the moment and use it in your writing. You might not use everything you notice or note down but it can be useful to use snippets to infuse the emotion and atmosphere into your own writing: why is that little boy fidgeting and making a fuss? Why is that teacher not smiling but frowning and looking distracted? Why is that mother balling her eyes out!!! It's fascinating.

So don't forget, when you're out and about collect information for your writing! It's a must that you grab all of the opportunities available to you. Writing can be an isolating occupation/activity and your creativity can dry up if you don't experience real life once in a while.

Happy writing

Julie xx


Suzanne Jones said...

Never be ashamed of your tears - they show you're a warm, caring human being. And nothing is more tear-jerking than the voices of young children raised in song.

(From a mum who has been blubbing her heart out for years at daughter's school shows.)

Lynne Hackles said...

You are not alone. I cry at these things too. And as for brass bands... I reckon they must have been a big part of a previous existence.
And bagpipes.. I went to a funeral and was OK all the way through until a piper appeared in kilt and full regalia and started on those bagpipes. I dissolved.

Julie P said...

Thanks, Suzanne! I did feel a fool though. Once I got outside and was walking home I felt fine!! I think litle kids singing and reciting poetry and readings on stage is very cute and it just sets me off!

I'm glad it's not just me, but I'm making her Dad go to the Christmas one as I had to go to the last one and it had the same effect as today!

Julie xx

Julie P said...

Hi, Lynne. What is it about bag pipes that makes us blubber?!! My mother always loved bagpipes and I have a much treasured photo of her sitting between two pipers when she watched them perform whilst she was on holiday and ever since she died I've only got to hear a hint of a drone from a bag pipe and I'm off!!

Maybe you were in a brass band in a past life, Lynne! I'm hopeless at funerals - doesn't matter how well I knew the person whose funeral it is - I always cry. I used to be in the church choir and we got booked for a fair few funerals but I couldn't sing for crying! Terrible. I'm going to have to learn to get a grip.

Other people crying sometimes set me off too. When I was nursing and a patient died and I had to inform the relatives, if they started crying I had to fight back tears too trying to cling on to my professionalism. I think I am far to empathetic for my own good.
Julie xx

Teresa Ashby said...

I'm a weeper too, Julie. Always have been. I get all choked up just thinking about it.

And that reminds me of the day my oldest son came home with a white sheet and a note saying he'd agreed to be Jesus in the harvest festival the next day and could I whip him up a costume!

Julie P said...

Hi, Teresa!

I was getting emotional just blogging about it! It's rediculous.

Oh I bet you said a few choice words when you were trying to whip up the costume!

Julie xx