In today’s musing, I would like to share a little of my writer’s life. Some weeks the ideas flow like a flooded stream and others, the creek bed is dry and parched with not a word in sight. Many factors play a part in the keeping the wheels of ideas rolling. This week was a case of being over tired and unprepared.
I initially made the decision to rattle out a pure narrative on my computer keyboard which would not require much creative thought; just the facts lifted from history books. It was intended to be an interlude of relief from the ongoing story where William Lyons is acting out history in the here and now. It was to be the vehicle to move the story along; to take the reader to the next major chapter in William’s military life. After-all, that niggling feeling of walking the fine line that borders fact with fiction, was playing out loud in my head; my conscience was screaming “stick to the facts!” Of course I do not know what really happened in his everyday life in Egypt, and nor do the living relatives who knew him. But, of course, my mind never stops churning ideas, and a voice in the back of my head was telling me that William is purely the messenger I use to convey a point of view. Through his thoughts and actions on the page, I try to find some meaning to the horrific events that transpired.
Leading up to my writing the post I became engrossed in feeding my brain with facts about the Australian Light Horse in Egypt in 1915. Recently I have acquired some seriously informative books and diaries on the subject. I have also been given two very large coffee books about Ancient Egyptian Art and Culture. Reading the latter, I realized the irony of the Australian camps of Mena and Maadi sitting beneath the looming shadows of the great pyramids of Giza, ancient reminders of death. When I read about the ancient Egyptian Gods, I thought to myself about the powerful force of fate. I do not believe in co-incidences; things happen for a purpose. Regardless of the myriads of ideas sweeping through my brain like the winds of the Egyptian desert, I still had no idea how I’d piece the puzzle together.
Inspiration was what I needed and it was in short supply. So, I decided to go out to a shopping centre with my notebook and pen and see what a good cup of coffee could do to release words, thoughts and ideas from the deep crevices of my sub conscience. My first stop was a book shop, my usual place of worship. Often when stuck for words, opening a book at a random page will lift the fog. Scanning the spines of varying colour and titles arranged on the shelf, a Bryce Courtney novel caught my attention. He was an Australian Writer of remarkable talent for storytelling. Immediately as my eyes shifted across the open page, I read a paragraph about a man wiping sand off his khaki shorts. That was all I needed to open the flood gates of my mind; to urge me to buy that coffee, open my notebook and let my pen talk.
As my pen filled the pages of my notebook, I could hear William Lyons’ voice talking to me . I knew for certain that he was a thinker and that the hot Egyptian desert would have given him a thirst for facts and figures, and things that in 1915 could not be explained. I have gleaned from his diary and the artefacts he brought home at the end of the war, that he was fascinated by Egyptian culture, architecture and art. Lastly, I have stood in his footsteps at the base of the almighty Pyramid of Cheops, mesmerised by the magnificent creation by ancient man. It was an awe-inspiring experience that left me with questions about the capabilities of mankind. How could man, who is capable of creating places of such beauty and perfection, destroy life on an equally massive scale?
Once again I welcomed William Lyons back to the page as I knew that I needed someone there in the field to bring the story to life; to create a thought evoking experience for the reader. Of course we are all familiar with the facts of the war, but by creating conversation, we might be able to give history an extra dimension. So yes, once more I erred on the side of fiction, but only in the small details. My Great Grandfather was actually there in Egypt in 1915 living in the ominous shadows of the Pyramids. I’m sure he won’t mind being my voice in his own story.