The Ballad of Tommy and Faye – a Valentines Day Prompt

Not so long ago I was driving along one of our main roads and came across this:


It captured my imagination, so much so that I had to stop the car and catch it on camera.

I am now intrigued by these two whom I have never met. What is their story? What drove Tommy to proclaim his love and high regard for Faye and her achievements? Where are they now? Are they happy? In the city there are a thousand lives. In the city there are a thousand poles. In the city there are a thousand stories.

Are Tommy and Faye lovers? Siblings? Is this is the first time Tommy has proclaimed his love for Faye? Does Faye travel the same way everyday so Tommy is guaranteed a viewing? Is this Tommy’s prelude to or part of a proposal? Are Tommy and Faye young and impetuous? And why the need for Tommy to go public?

This is my ballad of Tommy and Faye.

Tommy was a truck driver. He drove a semi and usually did the gruelling Sydney to Melbourne run. He was a man’s man, loved his beer, loved his mates and had simple needs. Being constantly on the road in his home on wheels fed Tommy’s need for freedom, he was always on the move. There was never really time to stop, the big supermarket chains were relentless in their delivery needs, you missed a pick up or drop off by more than half an hour, you’d lose 5% off the job, cutting your margin to almost nothing. Not only that, your reputation as the best and most reliable of the best would slip and the work flow would slow to a trickle. The pressure and the traffic were ever present, but Tommy just kept on truckin’. It was the only life he knew.

Tommy was not one to examine his feelings in depth. Depth was a dark scary place that held surprises. Tommy hated surprises. However, discontent seemed to be gnawing constantly at his gut lately. Instinctively he knew he couldn’t continue with this life on the road forever. He had to settle down and start thinking about starting a family. His Gran always razzed Tommy that he would end up buried in the back of his truck with only his beer for company.

The one bright spot on Tommy’s horizon was Faye. Gorgeous Faye with the big eyes and even bigger dreams. Faye who was hell bent on making something out of her life and forgetting the abuse she had suffered at the hands of her overbearing father. Faye, the blond vixen who fit neatly under Tommy’s big arms, who made him forget the pressures of the road, who filled him with hope and yearning. Faye, who didn’t drink beer, but made him laugh like no on else. Faye, the one who made him feel.

Tommy’s mind went back to two weeks ago, to the fight he had with Faye. He’d been on the road ever since, a slave to the big chain supermarkets, and he missed her. Faye had advised Tommy that she couldn’t wait for him for ever and now that she had finished her early childhood studies certificate, she was working her way to opening up her own day care centre. Tommy was never book smart and felt totally out of his depth when speaking to Faye about her course and that unease came through the night of their fight. Tommy remembered Faye’s plea for security and stability, for a partner who would be there for her to share the journey. At that moment, Tommy questioned whether he was the right man for Faye, whether she could ever share in his world and stop dragging him into hers. The only problem was that he asked those questions aloud and in Faye’s presence. Faye’s big eyes and harsh words pierced right through Tommy’s gut, never mind his heart, which had taken refuge behind a wall of machismo.

In the two weeks he had been on the road with only his beer and his machismo for company, the kilometres stretching behind and before him in a never ending rotation of numbers, the highway scenery blending with his thoughts and his discontent he had found his clarity. His truth. Faye was his world and for her he was prepared to be vulnerable.

He just needed a way to grab her attention….

Has a homemade road sign ever grabbed your notice? Do you ever wonder about the backstory to those signs?

Please feel free to use this photo as a writing prompt. If you do, I’d love it if you posted a link to your post in the comments below so we can read it.

PS. I don’t usually write fiction, so this is new territory for me.

I Feel The Need… The Need to Read!

Top Gun, what a classic. Fighter pilots, men in uniform, men out of uniform, aviator sunnies with cheeky handles like “Iceman”, “Viper”, “Goose” and “Maverick”. It also gifted us some great lines, one of which I have borrowed and contorted for my own nefarious blog purposes.  So whilst the remaining MiGs bug out, here’s a fantastic compilation video of Top Gun scenes with the song that has been playing in my head ever since I thought of the heading for this post.

I’m not going to be shooting down any enemy planes today, but I do feel invigorated. Why? Because today I refound my passion for reading books. This folks, is a big deal, huge, phenominal even!

To put this in context, a couple of years ago I used to be a voracious book reader, running at two to three a week. Mostly veg books, to use the expression of my fellow blogger, Eagle Eyed Editor. After a long day reading copious quantities of heavy and dry business material, I craved the escapist world of veg books, no thinking required, just pure emotion and verbage.  All my books were paper books and I loved thumbing the pages, loved looking at the well used spines lined up like sentinels on my book shelf and loved rereading my favourites when the mood struck.

And then I stopped. Cold. I flirted briefly with reading some non-fiction books, but I never became so deeply immersed as when my imagination was ignited by fiction. The only real explanation I can think of why is that slowly or possibly not so slowly my reading habits changed from paper to online. Suddenly my reading became centered around blogs of all kinds, personal blogs of my WordPress friends, blogs about management and leadership, blogs about marketing and social media, newspaper and journalistic blogs, blogs about writing, and blogs about blogs!

image from microsoft clipart

Most of the material was and is engaging and it is material that as an Australian I would never have had access to before the online age. Suddenly there was a whole new world to explore and learn from. And it was all free and accessible whenever I needed. But I think it came at a price.

Blog pieces, or at least the best blog pieces, are less than a thousand words long and possibly even shorter than that. They are short sound bytes designed to tantalize and entertain and much territory could be covered in the space of an hour online. Get to the point and prove your expertise quickly or find yourself in the middle of a cavernous snoozefest. During my blog hopping phase I did pick up a book or three in the hope that I would once again find my reading passion and the buzz of immersion. Maybe they were the wrong books or maybe it was the environment, but more often than not I found myself stopping after five pages. That was until I read a couple of recent books, including the book I discussed in my last blog post

Today, my journey back to the book world reached a pivotal point, for today I wondered into my favorite bookshop. It is in fact the last of the giant bookstores in my city, three levels of tomes, stacked on pallets, stacked on shelves, well…just stacked! Today there was a promotion for a classical music CD taking place when I walked in and the sounds of a soulful cello played. The musician was in store with his cello and there was a buzz. Customers and store clerks milled about and there was some serious browsing taking place in the aisles.

Gratuitous aviator sunnies pic

I felt like it was almost a spiritual experience with a real sense of it feeling right. I savoured reading the book jackets and combing the shelves for an hour and I am happy to say came away with three books to read. It is time to be immersed, to be transported. It is time to read the marathon after a long time spent sprinting.  I am revelling in this sense of anticipation and looking forward to getting reacquainted with turning pages, sneakily reading ahead and shutting the book cover when the last full stop has been read.

It is time to feed the need, the need to read!

Did you find the internet impacting your reading habits? Do you love to read? Do you sneakily read ahead?

Y is for Yoda and Yarn: Connected, They Are (#atozchallenge)

photo from flikr -
leo reynolds'

I am not a procrastinator by nature. In fact, I’m the opposite. Once I have made up my mind, I go for it, totally zonal and focused. That was until it came to starting a blog. Just six short weeks ago I knew very little about blogging other than how to read and subscribe to one. What a journey it has been.

It was the A to Z Challenge that really put an end to the procrastination. I had to get the blog up and running for 1 April to be able to participate and really knew nothing about the tech side of things. Once I became aware of my blogging options, I got caught in the analysis paralysis trap, too many choices as I really wanted my blog to look sleek and welcoming. Of course, I was modelling my expectations by looking at blogs that had been up and running for years. Big mistake! At that point I realized that blogs evolve, are not just made and let my preconceived ideas go. It was then simply a matter of putting a pin in WordPress and typing.

I still pinch myself that I am sharing the blogosphere with real writers. My aim with this blog is to entertain by sharing my life experiences and to polish my writing along the way. Others of course have different aims. To those of you who can create characters and write fiction or achieve publication you have my utmost admiration.

A couple of weeks ago I started a writing course. I have learned some techniques that will help me get inside a character’s head and develop a story line. The classes have been fun and because I am already putting my writing out there in the form of this blog, I am less conscious about sharing my work with others. Creating, I have learned, is about just letting go, silencing the inner critic and keeping the pen moving.

Science fiction is not my movie genre of choice, I’m more of a chickflick girl. But one science fiction character I dig is Yoda. If ever there was an epitome of a wise oracle type of character, Yoda is it. From his wisdom to his ears to his speech, I wouldn’t change a thing. So it was with some delight that the convenors of the course chose to motivate us by giving us the following well-known Yodaism:

So here I am, doing!

As for the yarn, I am talking about this:

Informal A long, often elaborate narrative of real or fictitious adventures; an entertaining tale.

not this:

One of the writing exercises we had to do this week was to create a character and write on the topic “Love Hurts“. A short two minutes of creating, keeping the pen moving and practicing conveying emotion. With Yoda’s wise words firmly in my head I did just that and I thought I would share with you the yarn that I produced in those two minutes.

Lilly knew she had to do it today. She knew it wasn’t fair to string Brett along any longer. She had to break it off, let him go his own way to find a girl who could really appreciate him for who he was. Being at work in a busy restaurant wasn’t ideal. But Brett was here now, having started his shift as a short-order cook not twenty minutes before.

Lilly always felt lousy at times like this. She was always the one that instigated the break up. She had no desire to be the dumpee and Brett had gotten too close. She hated these moments, hated being the bitch… but her upbringing had taught her that love hurts. Yes, fear could do that to you.

Nervously looking to her left, she followed Brett’s every move. Distracted she almost dropped the plate of food she was carrying to table four. That just wouldn’t do, laden as it was with peas, carrots and gravy.

J. K Rowling I am not (nor do I want to be), but I am really liking this character and feel that I want to bring Lilly more to life. I’m not sure where I will go with her, but this is a huge leap for someone who is used to being overly descriptive in her writing style. I am starting to let go and leave matters to the reader’s imagination.

So this blog is a little different today and now I’ve put it out there and done more than try. I’d love to hear any feedback you want to give me, good or bad.

As Yoda would say, curtain you have started to raise. Go a little higher, you should.