Posts Tagged ‘Writing’

Alison Taft – by Kirsti Robinson

 

Alison is out of the ordinary. Growing up in Burnley – how many of us can make such a claim? She then went to live in Crete, moving on to the Middle East and later the Far East.

Determined to have a job she repeatedly got fired for insubordination. Adamant she would never get married, she‘s spent the last fifteen years living with Mark. Earnest she would not have children, she had two. And convinced she would never realise her childhood dream and become a writer; she has written three books – so far.

How so contrary?

Alison doesn’t know, but confesses her grandfather used to ask her that same question. Halso used to say she was telling stories. Telling stories is something she does very well. Her first book Our Father Who Art Out There…Somewhere is entertaining and deeply engaging. To Alison’s genuine surprise readers reception has been both enthusiastic and emotional. ‘It has been a revelation,‘ she admits: ‘People have come up to me and told me I’ve helped them deal with their own, similar situations. I never realized my writing could be good for other people too,‘ she explains.

On the arrival of her children, Alison became consumed by the need to find her birth-father. Her mother had re-married when she was very young, she was adopted by her stepfather and although she always knew she had a different dad, she felt it wasn’t something you could talk about as a family. But her own children fostered the need to know where she had come from and while searching for her father, the scene in her mind was set for their happy, loving reunion, complete with her proud introduction of her partner to her birth father and her father triumphant with his grandchildren in his arms…… Instead she got a letter – he did not wish to have contact with her.

Alison was not prepared for such a brutal blow. ‘I was reeling; how could anyone reject their own child and go on living as if s/he had never existed? – How could he reject ME!?’ she exclaims. The hurt and disbelief went deep but along the road she discovered writing brought her relief. ‘I found writing fiction allowed me to examine my emotions from a safe distance. I needed to mourn, and writing down meant being able to let go somehow,’ she muses.

At first Alison was only able to write about her emotions, but slowly, like peeling an onion (tears and all) she was able to go closer and closer to the core of her distress. As she finally was ready to face her pain head on, a character was born: Lily. Lily was someone who, like Alison, secretly believed her father would never voluntary have given her up. Unlike Alison however, Lily at 19 with her mother dead and no children or husband to protect or care for, was given free rein to unrestrained emotion and selfish indulgence.

Alison’s friend, who was allowed to read her passionate and sometimes outrageous scribblings (in one scene Lily kidnaps her fathers other daughter and as she refuses to believe that her dad lied to her, Lily shows her the wedding album) was impressed. ‘She researched ‘chick noir’ and found a publisher, Caffeine Nights,’ says Alison. ‘I only sent it to them because it said on their web-site they’d give feedback on rejected manuscripts. I nearly fell off my chair when they said yes.’

And she continues to smile, because her fathers refusal to acknowledge her as his daughter sent her on a journey where she discovered that writing is not only useful for escaping the day to day stresses, but also for gaining a clear vision and control over her own emotional life. But, most importantly, he has inadvertently given her the opportunity to help others and for that she is truly grateful.

Since 2005 parents can no longer have a child anonymously, but there are still families today, living with ‘the secret’ of having one or more adopted children. The concealment may go on longer when there is one natural parent and half-siblings involved and more often than not the reason given is to protect the feelings of the adopted childAlison is adamant that telling the truth early saves pain later. 

What is your opinion?

Alison talking about her fist book.

Alison’s favourite reads:
The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Milan Kundera
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
The Firm – John Grisham
Danny Champion of the World – Roald Dahl
The Beach House – Jane Green

Do you have a story you believe might benefit others?

Please don’t hesitate to contact me on maggisummerhill@gmail.com- Thanking you in advance and thank you for reading. Your comments and ratings are warmly received. Maggi

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Juliet Greenwood a woman of substance

Written by Maggi Summerhill

Juliet is a woman of immense strength and determination, who has fought a battle against the physical pain and mental anguish of ME for over ten years and come out a winner.

I first met her in New York a few weeks back and today we are sitting on the side of a mountain in Wales, she in the north and I in the south. Wearing wooly socks and clutching a steaming hot mug of coffee we ignore the wet and windy weather outside and settle down for a good chat.

Juliet is originally from Worcestershire where she grew up with her brother and teacher parents.

’I had an alternative education’ she reveals. I went to the Rudolf Steiner School and in the summer my parents who were teachers took my brother and I touring Europe in an old camper van. This was in the 1960’s, a time where you, if you stopped in a forest somewhere you were liable to be woken in the middle of the night by men holding guns. ‘

The unusual upbringing exposed her to other cultures and stirred an interest in the differing lives people live and resulted in an early fascination with history. But it also meant she felt slightly like an outsider and books became her mentors and friends.

‘They taught me about myself and shared human experience.’ She acknowledges. ‘That’s how writing became my passion.’

But Juliet believed becoming a writer was an ambition to far.

‘I was brought up to view writers and artists as a different species; not like us. To be worshipped from afar.’ She muses.

She became a teacher and pursued her other dream; to own a house. But just as she was about to enjoy the fruits of he labor, a little cottage with a huge garden right on the edge of a village in Snowdonia, she became ill with glandular fever which led to ME also known as chronic fatigue syndrome. She was in her mid 30ies and went from healthy and fit to suffering painful aching limbs and unconsciousness.

‘I could only concentrate a few minutes at the time, the rest I was asleep or in a foggy haze – it was scary.’ She admits.

But this was in the 1990’s before ME was properly recognized, the doctor soon refused to sign sick notes and Juliet was left in a terrible state with no income, neighbors she hardly knew and few friends.

Juliet believes ME have been the worst and the best thing that have ever happened to her. She was destroyed, brought down to a level where she had nothing left but a determination to stay alive. That determination led her to write, a few words every day just enough to stay awake at first and it worked. Having rediscovered her passion for writing she soon was staying awake longer, she was dealing with the pain and started to feel connected. Writing her way through her trauma and feeling of loss, she managed to build enough physical and emotional strength to get involved with a charity working with local kids one hour a week. The work was story telling and puppet plays.

‘It got my brain back in gear.’ She says.

But it would be another four years before she was back to health and during these years she confirmed her writing to be the greatest therapy and losing her wariness she started building on this, entering short story competition and later as she gained confidence, wrote novelettes and stories for magazines.

Juliet’s energy returning, she used her creativity and a hitherto undiscovered talent for raising money through grants, to set up a small award-winning charity taking storytelling and performance projects into the local community (www.storipen.co.uk (more…)