The Twelfth Raven – a fabulous read

The Twelfth Raven – a fabulous read


The Twelfth Raven is one of the most beautiful books I’ve read — non-fiction — in a while. It’s upbeat and insightful even though it’s mainly the story of Doris Brett’s husband’s stroke and recovery, and Doris’s role accompanying him. Anyone who has found themselves thrust into the medical system, and has experienced it as an outsider, will relate to this account. It’s an inspiring recollection of lives that are well lived, and also well reflected upon.

We All Have Our Stories

We All Have Our Stories

Sunset Lake Eyre July 2010

We all have our stories. But so often our stories are not heard. And if not written down, at least in Western culture, they are often forgotten.

I was reminded of this during an early morning visit to the local pool. (I’ve been swimming at the same pool for nine years.) Today, instead of laps I was walking up and down in the aqua play area, and so was a retired fellow called Harry. We always say hello to each other, but this morning, since we were walking at the same pace, we started chatting. And before I knew it, I was listening to an amazing story.

In ten minutes I learnt that Harry was from Greece and had migrated to Australia as a 24 or 25 year old. Married to a woman from his own village, and determined to support his family and have a life, once in Australia, Harry worked in the textile industry — 7 days a week! And he worked hard.

Truth be known, Harry had always worked hard. His parents died when he was seven years old, and his 16-year-old sister — who had one leg amputated — had brought up Harry and his younger brother. By nine years of age, Harry was accustomed to walking 35 kilometres to the nearest town to sell goods, and then 35 kilometres back home. All in the one day! And I can just imagine the condition of his shoes.

By nine years of age, Harry had become the man of the house.

Now a grandfather, when I suggested that Harry write his story, so his kids and grandkids could understand the sheer guts and determination that is part of their family roots, and their DNA, he confided that he’d learnt to read, but not to write.

And that got me thinking. What would be the best way for someone who is not able to write in their second language to record their story? It’s an important question because Harry is one of the many many people whose story is so worthy of being on the public record — not just for the public, but for his own family, and for generations to come.

Creative Writing: How to Start

Creative Writing: How to Start

Creative Writing: How to Start — How to Take that First Step
So you want to write your story. Wondering where to begin?
Here’s three questions to get you going. Take time to consider them.

1) If you were to choose six parts of your life to write about — they could be events, experiences, life stages, transitions or times when you’ve learnt something significant – what would those six things be?

2) Why do you now feel the urge to write? Is it because you promised yourself you would before you turned 30,50,60 or 75? Is it because you want to hand stories down to family members? Or to reflect on your journey so far? Is it to tell the story of others through your eyes? Or perhaps just to let your creative self flourish, and see what emerges?

3) Who would you like the audience for your writing to be? Are you writing it for anyone in particular? Or just for yourself? Would you like it published?

Once you’ve answered the questions, write down the six things you want to write about. And then write about them! It’s okay if you only write a paragraph on each. Or you could write pages and pages.

Then, once you’ve got that writing done, take a good look at it. Then put it down, leave it for a bit. And look again. What are the threads that are common to each of the six pieces? What might hold them together? What would you like to replace or add?

This might give you an idea of what you really want to write.
And at least it’s given you a starting point.
The rest of your writing could easily develop from this.

Rather than pressuring yourself to write a book, you might consider writing an overview piece that links the pieces you’ve written. Or perhaps you’d prefer to write on one of the pieces that just seems to grab you.

You never quite know what’s going to happen once you start on your own personal writing adventure… So, be brave, be creative, and allow the story to emerge.

Go for it!

Michele

ps. for all those who say they can’t write, then speak it, record it, and get hold of some apps or technology that types it up for you! (See, there’s no excuse not to write.)
pps. You won’t believe how good for your health writing can be!

*

Text and Image copyright Michele Gierck

Michele Gierck is author of 700 Days in El Salvador, Fraying: Mum, memory loss, the medical maze and me, and co-author of Peter Kennedy: the man who threatened Rome.

Michele’s website: www.michelegierck.com.au

Michele is a member of The Australian Society of Authors.

A Fabulous Read – When Breath Becomes Air

A Fabulous Read – When Breath Becomes Air

This is such a stunning book: so insightful about the meaning and purpose of our lives, so beautifully written, and incredibly honest. Basically it’s bloody fabulous (as we would say in Australian parlance). And so sad when the 37-year-old author, a neurosurgeon and scientist, dies. It’s an absolute must-read, especially for anyone facing their own mortality, (that’s all of us isn’t it?) and for those who surround and love them.
An inspiring story that will live on long after the last page is read.

Long live the memory of Paul Kalanithi. Que Viva!

After my latest book, Fraying: Mum, memory loss, the medical maze and me, was published, I was often asked to speak about end of life. Fraying was written from the perspective of a daughter, with no medical qualifications; a daughter struggling with the medical maze and the decisions to be made. When Breath Becomes Air is from a medical professional’s perspective, one who becomes the patient. The questions Paul and his wife, Lucy Kalanithi, must face, and dare to ask, are confronting. But they are also, in essence, questions about what it means to be human, and at what point living becomes too much of a burden.

This book is a precious gift to readers.

Michele’s website: www.michelegierck.com.au


Author, Michele Gierck, speaking in Adelaide – 23 September, 2015

Author, Michele Gierck, speaking in Adelaide – 23 September, 2015

Author, Michele Gierck, will be speaking at an Alzheimer’s Australia South Australia event on Wednesday 23 September, 2015. It’s a fab day, all part of Dementia Awareness Month. (For the fine details, please go to the Alzheimer’s Australia SA website.)

At 7.30pm that evening, Michele will be part of a panel speaking about dementia on ABC Radio, Adelaide, with host Peter Goers, broadcasting across South Australia. Naturally she will be speaking about her book, Fraying: Mum, memory loss, the medical maze and me. 

MontsalvatMichele SOLOMay2015

 

Looking for good read?

Looking for good read?

How fab, having Alzheimer’s Australia VIC endorse my latest book, Fraying: Mum, memory loss, the medical maze and me, as a good read.
Underneath this endorsement Carers Victoria commented: ‘It is great. We are looking at having Michele speak with carers during National Carers Week in October. Very insightful and honest.’
As the author, I am delighted by this positive response. (And all the likes.) Great to see that news about the book is spreading.

AlzAustFacebook26June2015

 

Refer Facebook page: Alzheimer’s Australia VIC, 25 June, 2015

Finding Your Special Spot

Finding Your Special Spot

Stream Maroondah Catchment

How good it is to find your special spot. A place to relax, to calm, to be. A place to listen, to be drawn into the moment. (No phones, ipads or laptops here!)

There’s been quite a bit of media and a number of talks given since the release of my latest book, Fraying: Mum, memory loss, the medical maze and me, in March. Now, it’s time to get back to basics, create a calm space … and write.

Yes, all the talks and interviews are enjoyable, but at heart the joy of writing is one that for me cannot be quelled. If I don’t write, I feel a part of myself is missing.

For those interested, I will be back speaking again in September, during Dementia Awareness Month. More details soon.

Readers’ Delight

Maguk2

Thanks so much to those readers who have taken time to write to me to tell me of the delight they have taken in my latest book, Fraying: Mum, memory loss, the medical maze and me.

One of those responses, from a trauma nurse who, it turns out, grew up in an orphanage was so touching. Reading about her life, I began to see Fraying through new eyes.

We have all walked such different paths, and stories are such a great way to understand the path others tread.

Image: Maguk, Kakadu National Park, Australia (Gotta get yourself there!)
Image and text copyright: Michele Gierck

Anticipation

Anticipation

Road to Aoraki MtCook

 

Waiting for your new book to be released (launched) is like having a ticket overseas and waiting for the journey to happen. So much anticipation. Will you rocket down the road ahead, reaching some fabulous pinnacle? Or …

Well, let’s see what happens when Fraying: Mum, memory loss, the medical maze and me is launched later this month. (So far there’s lots of interest!)

You can catch Richard Fidler’s Radio National interview with Michele, (that’s me) on 25 February at: http://www.abc.net.au/local/sites/conversations/  The 55-minute interview will be podcast and can be listened to online any time after the interview.

For more information about Michele’s new book check out her website: https://michelegierck.com.au/fraying/

Image and text copyright Michele Gierck

Photo: Road to Aoraki/MtCook, New Zealand

Pause, Ponder, Power Down

Pause, Ponder, Power Down

019 Kaikoura AM sea shot VG

Holidays, especially in naturally beautiful places, can be a wonderful time to pause … and ponder. They can become a vital time to power down, and then, eventually, recharge.

Image: view of the mountains from Kaikoura, South Island, New Zealand

Image and text copyright Michele Gierck