The World According to Renee

Views, Reviews, Short Stories and More…

When There Are No Words

Mist over the mountains

As a writer, I expect to always have the perfect word to describe anything. I choose words carefully to convey a feeling, an emotion, a sentiment. But sometimes, there are no words.

I woke this morning to news that a friend passed away over the weekend. He was a diabetic with a place on a transplant waiting lost for new kidneys. Although suffering chronic illness, he was not “ill” and his death was sudden. On Friday, he was talking about his plans for the weekend. It’s difficult to believe he did not see the end of the weekend.

In times of grief, there are no words to adequately describe anything you are feeling, nor any words of comfort to a grieving loved one. Some people don’t say anything. Some unintentionally say things which are inappropriate. Some people are at a loss for words altogether. The majority though, will settle on a simple “I’m sorry for your loss”.

There’s been an idea floating around my head for some time now, to write a book called When There Are No Words, about what to say to someone in the very worst time of their lives. In my research, I discovered that there truly are no words to convey everything one wants to say nor what one needs to hear. It would be a very short book. But, you should definitely say something to someone who is grieving. They just need to know you are there for them.

Brett, you were a good friend. Always in good spirits even when you felt like shit and looked like you’d been hit by one of those racing utes you loved to watch. I am deeply saddened and shocked at your sudden death. You’ll be sadly missed by all of us on the forum. Goodbye, buddy.

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October 30, 2018 Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections | , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: My Love Story by Tina Turner

Tina Turner’s autobiography, My Love Story

So, you think you know Tina Turner. The abusive ex-husband, the legs, the solo stardom and Simply the Best.

In this memoir, which was written with assistance due to Tina’s stroke, Tina talks about her past and the battles she’s always fought and won. Yes, there’s a frank chat about Ike Turner and the abuse she suffered at his hands, but also the continuing love story she shares with her second husband, Erwin, and how he literally saved her life with a donation of a kidney.

Yes, a kidney transplant.

This autobiography describes Tina’s recent health struggles: her stroke, intestinal cancer and renal failure. She doesn’t dwell on these issues, rather she focuses on the positive aspects of her life as she has always done.

The book is written conversationally, as if the reader is sitting in Tina’s lavishly decorated home in Switzerland enjoying a cup of tea. Tina has worked hard all her life and is proud to display the rewards she’s reaped. In her case, it’s beautifully decorated homes with photographs she doesn’t care about the cost to acquire. It may sound arrogant or haughty, but Tina’s style is not like that at all. She name drops her famous friends but in a way that oozes love and gratitude, not a “Look at me” attitude. It is quite refreshing to read; other autobiographies tend to focus on name dropping for the sake of name dropping.

The reader is lead through Tina’s extraordinary life, from her beginnings as a child in a tiny town named Nutbush, to being racially vilified on tour with an abusive and unfaithful husband, to her escape, solo stardom and retirement. It kind of reads like a goodbye to public life, although Tina acknowledges she will never fully retire as there is always something to keep her in the public eye.

Tina Turner’s public image is larger-than-life and this is how the book reads, although the private Tina also comes through, especially in the later chapters. She acknowledges all the fans who have come up to her thanking her for sharing her story and giving them the encouragement and power to leave their own abusive relationships. In its own way, this memoir does the same. Not only for her story with Ike (like everyone knows) but also health battles and finding one’s own voice to move forward. Tina’s life has not been easy, yet she speaks of each challenge as a way to move forward and live life to the fullest with optimism and love.

Recommended for fans and people who need a little encouragement to never give up.

8 out of 10 bookmarks.

October 21, 2018 Posted by | Reviews | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Review: The Dry

WARNING: This novel deals with the death of children, and other themes/scenes which may trigger mental health issues in some readers.

Aaron Falk attends the funeral of his childhood friend and his family in the town they all grew up in. The deaths seem to be an open-and-shut case, but in this small, drought-ridden town, there are always unanswered questions.

Jane Harper is an Australian journalist who has turned her hand to writing fiction. This novel has quickly become a bookclub favourite, and has even been hand-picked by Reese Witherspoon to be made into a film. So when it came up cheaply on Kindle, I decided to give it a read.

The novel is well-written, with a flowing narrative that never meanders along mindlessly. Chapters are short and sharp, doing what good writing always does and leaving the reader wanting more. As for the narrative, it’s a good yarn, worthy of the praise that has been heaped upon this novel. As expected, the little town is full of secrets which are revealed in a manner which is easy to understand yet never leaves the reader feeling like they’ve missed something.

Despite the length, this is an easy read, perfect for those rainy afternoons when you just want to snuggle under a blanket and read. Also good when you’re short on time and can only read a chapter at a time. You’re not going to lose your place; I found some parts to be repetitive, so if you do skim over something, it will come up again later. The characters are well written and quite memorable. It’s the sort of novel that gets your brain thinking, analysing possibilities and wondering how it all fits in.

Without giving away the details, the ending is quite satisfying. The reader can see how the pieces fit together and the clues that led Falk and Raco to their conclusion. I did find it to be a little rushed, which gives way to coincidences. But this is easily overlooked as the conclusion neatly puts everything together.

I’ve read that Jane Harper is busily writing another novel featuring Aaron Falk, and that the book won’t be a direct sequel but can standalone. That works for me; The story of this small town is neatly contained within the pages of this novel and doesn’t need to be expanded in a sequel.

8 out of 10 bookmarks. Recommended especially for lovers of Australian fiction.

October 15, 2018 Posted by | Reviews | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to beat Writer’s Block

Writing pad with pen

You’re sitting in front of your notepad or screen, and the words just won’t come. You’ve hit a roadblock. Your characters are waiting to be told what they’re doing, but you just can’t find the inspiration. What now?

Here are my top tips for beating writer’s block and get those creative juices flowing again.

1. Write

Pick up your pen or keyboard, and write. Wait… isn’t that what you’re doing when you realised you’re not getting anywhere? Stay tuned for tip #2.

2. Look to your left

Or look to your right. Pick the first object you see and write the story about that cushion. For example, I have a red cushion to my left. I can write the story of this red cushion. My story will be, it was made by a young woman in China who was paid 3 cents an hour but her family will beat her if she does not work. The cushion was sold to a major department store, where it sat being held by thirty seven people before I paid $43 for it. Tomorrow I shall donate this cushion to an op shop, where it will be bought by a psychologist and fifty people a week will sit on, cuddle or cry into that cushion. Each of those fifty has their own stories to tell.

(I did not actually pay $43 for a cushion, and the tag says it was made in Australia.)

3. Writing prompts

Writing prompts are little sentences you can use to kickstart your writing. They are designed to introduce something happening within your story. At the very least, they serve as a distraction and at the most, they will kickstart a new subplot or character into your story.

Try these for starters.

* The phone rang.

* There was a knock at the door.

* They heard a loud noise outside.

* Water rushed from the kitchen.

* They heard music coming from outside.

These tips will initiate your brain to write. It doesn’t matter if you end up using what you’ve written, the exercise has just served to unlock something in your writing brain in order to write.

Here are some more examples.

* She suddenly saw a hole in her hem. (Did someone else wear her dress? Did she catch the hem while skirting out a window? Was it torn during a sexual assault? Is the dress hers?)

*Their attention was caught by someone’s shadow falling across them.

* A beautiful daydream came to life before their eyes.

* “Did you see/hear that?”

* a wayward puppy ran across their path.

* An invitation arrives in the mail.

I recommend writing a list of your own prompts, at least 10-20. When you’re feeling stuck, randomly pick one prompt and start writing. It doesn’t have to make sense, it doesn’t have to add to the story, it will just get your mind and fingers into the rhythm of writing. The beauty of this is, you’re free to change, edit or delete as you see fit.

4. Take a break

I know, I know… I did say “write” as my top tip. However, if you’ve been writing for a while and you’re just feeling stuck, take a break and go outside for five minutes. Make a coffee, eat a biscuit, hang up some washing. Do something else so that your mind relaxes and you’ll find ideas will pop up. If you’re feeling sluggish, eat a piece of fruit or a couple of lollies (lollies contain glucose, which is a vital sugar your brain needs to function. Seriously).

So there you have it, folks. My top tips for breaking that writer’s block.

October 4, 2018 Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections, Writing Journey | , , , , | 1 Comment