I’m sure you’ve heard of the phrase “May you live in interesting times”. This has been linked to the Chinese but there is evidence to suggest it has nothing to do with them at all and it is in fact an English saying.
Hmm…so maybe it’s a case of good old Chinese whispers going on there I think. (Never a game I’ve liked. I’ve never got the point. Misinformation is misinformation and all that. It always struck me as a silly game.).
Whatever the origins of the phrase, it is a great example of irony in action. It sounds like a blessing but it is anything but. The speaker is really wishing you should live in troublesome times and I think it is safe to say we are doing exactly that right now.
Terry Pratchett’s Interesting Times starring his inept wizard, sorry wizzard (die hard fans will know why I’ve written that), Rincewind, takes its title from this (in)famous phrase.
It is my favourite of the Rincewind books in the Discworld canon. Do see the Wikipedia link for more on the plot and read the book. It is hilarious! (If ever there was a time, we could all do with a laugh it is now). I also think it would make a wonderful film. Another one for my wish list there. David Jason played Rincewind in The Colour of Magic that was adapted for film and I liked the adaptation.
I heartily wish we weren’t living in interesting times as we so clearly are, but I know I’m not alone in wishing that. So it is down to a question of how to make the best of things and, for me, creativity in the form of reading and writing will be a major help, as will my faith. The former will help me focus on something that is positive – creativity generally is positive – and my faith has always been a great comfort in times of trouble.
A Timely Quote
A quote I’ve seen a lot in the last few days comes from The Lord of The Rings and will resonate with all of us, I think.
“‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo.
‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.'”
J.R.R. Tolkien from The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 1 of The Lord of The Rings Trilogy
So whatever happens next, having something positive to do and focus on will be crucial.
Maybe this will be the time for some to take up hobbies to do at home but where folk have not had the time to follow through on.
Maybe this will be the time to get more writing done and submissions out there (email is a real blessing there!).
Maybe this time will be a great opportunity to read favourite authors and those new to you.
Maybe this will be the time for more of us to make more phone calls/send emails to loved ones and keep in contact more than we might otherwise have done. If so something positive will come out of this.
Fancy trying Creative Writing?
I’m going to share a few thoughts and tips for story creation if you fancy giving creative writing a go. I’ve found creative writing absorbing and it stretches you. Writing just for the sheer fun of it and seeing what you can come up with is just as valid as writing for publication. Indeed it is how most of us start out.
The lovely thing about creative writing is there is no limit to your imagination once you learn how to use it and there is no restriction on age either. Anyone from 8 to 108 can give creative writing a go! (Oh and anyone outside those age parameters is welcome to have a go too!).
Now if you’ve ever thought about writing but not got around to it, why not start now? The act of inventing people and situations is great for the brain. It stretches you. It entertains you. When I started out, I just wanted to see if I could do it. (I didn’t try to get published for a long time because I wanted to see if I could just keep on producing stories. It took me ages to get the confidence up to have a go at submitting work to outside scrutiny).
Flash fiction wasn’t around as we know it now when I started writing. (The last of the T Rexes had just left us if my memory serves me correctly….). So the good news is if you would like to write stories but the thought of having to write a lot is putting you off a bit, well give flash a go!
So how do you start writing a story? It would make sense to start at the beginning and work your way to The End surely? Hmm… doesn’t always quite work like that.
1. Think about your character(s) first. Who are they? Why do you want to write about them?
2. Think about where your character lives and how that affects them.
3. Think about the mood of your story – funny or sad etc?
I suggest you set yourself five minutes and just jot ideas. Write whatever comes into your head. You’re not aiming for perfection here. You just want to get something down (and if it can raise a laugh even better!).
The Story Game
An old game, which is useful, is to write a selection of words on pieces of paper and put them into two different hats or something like that. One set of words will be nouns. The other will be verbs (”doing” words). People have to take out two pieces of paper, one from each category, and create a story using these.
You could set a time limit here too. See what you can come up with in, say, two minutes and no more. The more nonsensical your invention the better! Oh and you could have a third set of words too – adjectives, something qualifying the noun – but ensure you have a third hat!
Let’s say I picked “Big Ben”, “driving”, and “smelly”, what could I come up with for that?
Big Ben was driving his way through London when he came to Westminster Bridge and saw the clock tower containing the bell he was named after. He gave silent thanks he wasn’t called Little Ben. He could imagine what the kids at that smelly school would have said though he suspected they would have stuck to the four letter words.
Allison Symes – 24th March 2020
Very much a fun but silly draft that!
The idea of this game is to be silly and to have fun. I strongly suspect anyone who ever wrote nonsense verse would like this and probably played it. Give it a go.
Whatever the times hold for us all, be creative, be kind, support one another as much as you can, and hang on in there. Maybe after all of this we will realise what and who were really important, how much our family means to us now we can’t see them so easily for a while.
And if as a result of isolation, people increase their love of reading and creative writing, I would love that.
It’s a pity it would’ve come about as a result of this but when eggs are broken, it is best to get on and make the metaphorical omelette!
Good luck and take care.
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
Never miss out on another blog post. Subscribe here:
Subscribe to Blog via Email