“The Social Network” ~~ by John Nedwill

“The Social Network” ~~ by John Nedwill

Writing is meant to be a lonely thing, isn’t it? After all, the popular image of the writer is that of a solitary figure, closeted away in some garret or study, committing their thoughts to paper. And the actual act of writing is something that is done somewhere quiet, away from people, all the better for the thoughts to flow uninterrupted.

Well, it’s not. Not for me, anyway.

I belong to a number of writing groups. Most of them are virtual affairs, based around message boards, with the members posting online to exchange views and offer each other encouragement. There is always a bit of chatter going on, with the conversations taking place over days or weeks. The nature of the internet means that the members of these online groups are scattered across the world, and they come on at various times of the day. I have made some good friends in these groups.

However, the group that I love best is my local writing group. It is a group of about a dozen members, although we rarely get everybody turning up at the same time. We meet twice a month in the function room of a local pub. The agenda for most meetings is the same: everybody gathers in the bar downstairs for a quick drink, then we go upstairs to start our meeting. We talk about the events of the last fortnight, share our news – good and bad – and then settle down to the evening’s business. Usually, this is a talk from one of the members on a subject of interest, sometimes it is a talk from a local author or a workshop. But this isn’t what is important to us. What is important to us is the companionship.

Writers are not antisocial. We like to talk to other people with the same interests. We like to share our experiences. Most of all, we want to be with people who are like us, who understand what it means to set pen to paper and create stories. And, while online groups are good and have their place, there is nothing quite like getting to know our fellow writers in person – and there is nothing like sitting around a table, talking with friends.

So, if there is a writing group local to you, are you an active member? Do you go along and share your thoughts with other writers? Or, if there isn’t a writing group nearby, have you thought about starting one? You never know who you might meet.


OMP Admin Note:  John Nedwill is a writer, OMP Network member, and a regular #OneMillionProject Blogger.  His work can be found on Wattpad.com and in the One Million Project’s Short Story Anthologies published in February 2018.


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

“HOPE — Against the Odds” ~~ by Christine Larsen

“HOPE — Against the Odds” ~~ by Christine Larsen

The odds WERE formidable.

A US Air Corps fighter pilot who found himself in a German prisoner of war camp after his plane was shot down. He survived that disaster but wasn’t too sure about his current ‘home’. Despite this, he refused to let the probabilities stop him from making the best he could of every moment he would have.

Boredom threatened his sanity until a light bulb moment illuminated a memory of a gift of an old ‘fiddle’, with the words, “It’s yours, Red. Maybe you can make music with it.” And thanks to that other life and long-lost place, he’d become a musician… a violinist with an intimate knowledge of violins and their magical workings. Getting one now was an impossibility but he had been carving many small things, so…?

His first move was a common tactic in these harsh conditions – barter, swap, or trade. For tobacco rations,  some sympathetic guards desperate for AmerikanischeZigaretten, traded a pen-knife. From his upbringing on a farm during the Great Depression, and his resourceful father he got determination, remembering, “You can make something out of nothing, Son. All you’ve got to do is find a way… and there always is one.”

When other POWs learned of his quest to carve a violin, they began slipping odd bed slats from their already barely underpinned and supported bunks. And he began whittling and carving. Some parts required a sharp piece of broken glass, others an old kitchen knife, ground on a rock to form into a chisel. All took time… a great deal of time. And patience. And stealth.

Glue presented another problem until he solved that one too, with others pitching in to help scrape old dried carpenters’ glue residue from a few chairs in their wretched barracks. Ground and heated and mixed with water, it worked. Soaking of other thinnest of timber pieces in water heated on their communal wood-stove enabled intricate manipulation and bending of the pieces.

It took three months to make the body, but time was one thing the prisoners had aplenty. Eternally grateful he chose not to be a smoker, care-packages provided him and several other non-smoking prisoners with many cigarettes to barter – for pumice for sanding and paraffin oil to bring out the golden glow of the beech wood, the now unrecognisable bunk slats. A sympathetic guard found him catgut for the strings and a real violin bow was like a gift from the Gods.

All was done… but would it play? To his joy, the pilot and his violin produced the pure poignant sounds of that wonderful instrument, as though this one had volumes to say. Although he was banished to the latrine for his earliest practices, he soon regained his old skills. And caused singing and dancing and some relief for aching hearts and bodies.

One Christmas Eve, the pilot played Silent Night, and voices were heard from other barracks, singing that beloved old carol in different languages. Amongst them, German was heard… from the guards.  So many of them were ordinary family men far from their homes and their loved ones, too.  Somewhere in the shadows, it was said, an elderly guard [maybe the donor of the bow?] stood and sang quietly. And cried softly.

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Among the countless tributes, a particularly precious one was 50 years after WWII, when the pilot donated his violin to a special museum aboard the aircraft carrier Intrepid, honouring the men and their memorabilia. At the opening, the concertmaster of the NY Philharmonic orchestra played this precious instrument and commented it was ‘an amazing achievement’ with a ‘quite wonderful sound’, when he had actually expected ‘a jalopy of a violin’.

Not really. More like a gift from God was the thought the pilot had at that precious moment, later shared with his family.

Winning ‘against the odds’ does not always bear the shape we imagined, not always the wish we made. Bizarre how often the worst imaginable outcomes of illness and loss reveal unimagined ‘silver linings’, so often ending in unexpected strength and empathy, and a new or renewed determination to help and support others.

 


OMP Admin Note:  Christine Larsen is a writer, farmer, wife, mother, and grandmother from Australia. She has never been homeless or had significant cancer – yet – but has had exposure to both – creating a great sense of empathy and desire to help in any way she can. She is humbled by the opportunity to give one of her stories to the sincerely worthwhile causes of Cancer research and Homelessness.

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To find out more about Christine and her work:

ceedee moodling  (Christine’s website)

Christine Larsen, Author

 – on Wattpad

–  on Facebook

– on Tablo

– on Amazon

Old McLarsen had some Farms (farming memoirs)

ceedee4kids (Christine’s children’s book site)


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

 

At the Closing of the Day ~~ by Christine Larsen

At the Closing of the Day ~~ by Christine Larsen

Hallo old friend,

Or is this goodbye?

You’ve fought so valiantly for so long, but the experts agree this could be one battle too many for your poor tired body.

Of course, experts have been wrong before. Miracles have happened. You’re the living proof of that… so far.

Those closest who’ve shared precious time with you say they’ve never seen your spirit so low. You must be SO tired.

It sounds like one part of you wants to once more rise up and fight the good fight; spit in the eye of anything that dares get in the way of you living Life to its fullest, extracting every last drop of loving and laughing to be found in the world around you.

So it has always been. This is the way you have lived your days, when the going was tougher than any should have to expect.

But I hear your voice in my heart, dear one, and though I don’t want to accept your words, I understand. This is one mountain too high, one ocean too deep, one more journey than your poor body can bear, with the terrible burden of your disease rising up everywhere this time.

A poetic soul suggested we not go quietly into that good night; that we should burn and rave and rage against the closing of our day. I’m sure this is true for some, dear one. But not you. Not this time. You’ve been there, done all that. Especially when you had to accept the terrible genetic factors dictating your path; the one you could no more control than you could change despite your heroic efforts.

Those who love you suffer too, imagining being without you. It’s so hard to let go… too hard for some whose hearts are breaking.

Life will teach them the lessons learned by other mourners. Those others who have suffered the worst losses before, now able to accept the moment has arrived when all choices are history. Those others who have found a way through their grieving to celebrate memories of a wonderful life [and you would be the first to say a much longer life than ever expected].

Time has come to say goodbye… but only for a while. I believe we have a date over the Rainbow Bridge, for starters. And then…?

We’ll see, dear one. We’ll just wait and see.

Until then, with the greatest love and thanks for being my friend…… I whisper goodbye, God speed.

Christine


OMP Admin Note:  Christine Larsen is a writer, farmer, wife, mother, and grandmother from Australia. She has never been homeless or had significant cancer – yet – but has had exposure to both – creating a great sense of empathy and desire to help in any way she can. She is humbled by the opportunity to give one of her stories to the sincerely worthwhile causes of Cancer research and Homelessness.

IMG_7208

To find out more about Christine and her work:

ceedee moodling  (Christine’s website)

Christine Larsen, Author

 – on Wattpad

–  on Facebook

– on Tablo

– on Amazon

Old McLarsen had some Farms (farming memoirs)

ceedee4kids (Christine’s children’s book site)


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology