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Friday, March 18, 2011


Friday Speak Out!: Living with Words, Guest Post by Jo Bryant

Living with Words

by Jo Bryant

I started writing before I became a teenager. Anything--a journal, poetry, lyrics for songs, stories. Then I grew up and put aside writing. Marriage, children, they pushed aside the pen and paper.

Somewhere in those years I lost the imagination that took me riding on the backs of unicorns, or leading a battle on a white stallion. The only words in my life were those of others.

Now the children are out in the world, writing has found its way back into my life. The words that I read, and reread, are mine.

It started small. Poems, small stories about my life. University papers taught me how to organise those thoughts, until they had substance. Some words could open doors, and some would relatively slam them. They had grey hair at times, wore buttercup coloured boots and lay down in a field of poppies to watch the geese fly north.

Sometimes they went to war and wrote letters to their family, before they rotted in the mud that froze around them, their eyes not seeing the blood red moon above.

I learnt to keep a pen and paper beside my bed. For it is mainly at night--in that half state, somewhere between sleep and waking, where my ideas come from. It may be triggered by anything that happened that day, a conversation, the way a person wears their clothing, maybe a dog chasing birds in a park. Worrying about paying a bill has even been the catalyst for one story.

It was in that half state that the idea for my first book grew. And at two in the morning I started to write. A simple story of a conversation between a father and son. Fifteen hundred words, another short story for my writing group.

But he wouldn’t go away. The protagonist in that story, the son, well he just kept hovering around. Having a coffee with a friend I’d look across the table and see his green eyes. When I walked the dog he’d argue with his brother. I had to buy a small recorder to take with me so I wouldn’t forget what he was saying.

As the story grew so did the world around it. Maps formed in my head, a city emerged out of the dust and with it a new land took shape.

Writing is no longer about the black words against a white background. When my character leads the way through a forest, I am able smell the wood of the trees, the heavy warm aroma of the oak, and the walnut with its darker earthy scent.

I’m a long way from finished, but I know where I intend to end up. Eventually I should find my way there, but in the meantime--well, last night while I was writing--I heard the whales’ song as it echoed of the crescent moon.

* * *
Jo Bryant is a Freelance Writer ( She belongs to Pacific Poets, writes for the web, as well as articles, short stories, and poetry. She is currently writing her first novel.


Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!


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Blogger Melissa Ann Goodwin said...

You have some wonderful images here - especially love the buttercup colored boots.

9:55 AM  
Blogger Patricia Anne McGoldrick said...

I think I saw those green eyes, yesterday!
Well, maybe not, but your post really makes your story come alive!
This reminds me of a Canadian author, Susanna Kearsley, who brings her characters alive in her historical fiction/romance Novels. I recently reviewed her book The Winter Sea. You might be intrigued by it!
Great Friday Speak Out, Jo!

10:18 AM  
Blogger Kirsten Cliff said...

The 'buttercup colored boots' was my favourite too. Great post, Jo!

12:22 PM  
Blogger Joanne said...

Thanks so much. Will be heading to the library to check that book out Patricia.

Thanks Melissa and Kirsten- it is a favourite image of mine as well.

1:25 PM  

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