March 2017

March 2017

The first month of autumn certainly went out with a bang. After a month of mainly intense heat and humidity cyclone Debbie arrived lingering far longer and travelling much further than the people of Queensland and northern New South Wales expected. Credit must go to those reporters on the ground who worked so hard in incredible conditions to share the visual images that can say so much more than words. Now it is the turn of the Emergency Services and Defence Forces who face the incredible job of helping those affected to try and clean up the devastation. Thank you all.

This month I’ve been thinking about the old saying ‘never judge a book by its cover’. These thoughts were prompted by the long awaited return to my U3A writing group. With daily radiotherapy completed I was finally able to return to my normal activities and this was a class I had missed.

The University of the Third Age does, by definition, attract senior citizens and while outsiders may see a group of grey haired, stooped, and (dare I say) elderly men and women, the stories they bring us can certainly belie their age. It is a class of eighteen and amongst them they have had a wide variety of life experiences. Before retiring here on the Sunshine Coast they have lived in Europe, Canada, USA, New Zealand, the Middle East, Asia, South Africa, the United Kingdom and we even have even some native Queenslanders. In their working life they have been nurses, teachers, engineers, secretaries, a laboratory researcher, an event organisers and a landscape gardener. And I’m sure to have missed someone out there for which I apologise.

Seated around the table listening to their various stories, I was struck by how true that saying is. ‘never judge a book by its cover’. Look beneath the surface and here is a varied and knowledgeable group of people with interesting stories to tell. The one thing that brings them all together is their enjoyment of writing. And we are all the richer for it.

And yet … as a writer I know that people do judge a book by its cover. And the final choice of a cover is only made after hours of thought and research; looking at dozens of covers to see what works and what doesn’t.

I know of some authors use the same artist to keep the ‘look’ of their books constant, yet another posted two on her website and asked her readers to choose which had the most appeal for them. So many articles have been written on how to portray the best image of your story. So when the writing and editing process is finally finished, there is yet another important job to be done.

My reading this month included The Timekeeper another story from imaginative American author Mitch Albom. You may remember him from Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven.

Yet again, this man engages the reader in what would appear to be an unusual choice of subject. This is the compelling tale of Dor, the first man on earth to observe the passing of time, to count the hours, the man who becomes Father Time.

He is the inventor of the world's first clock and is punished for trying to measure God's greatest gift, time. He is banished to a cave for centuries and forced to listen to the voices of all who come after him seeking more time - more days, more years. Eventually, with his soul nearly broken, Father Time is granted his freedom, along with a magical hourglass and a mission: a chance to redeem himself by teaching two earthly people the repercussions of trying to control time.

He returns to our world which is now dominated by the obsession with time that he so innocently began. He is given a mission - a journey accompanied by two unlikely partners: Sarah, a teenage girl who is obsessed by an unrequited love and is about to commit suicide and Victor, a wealthy old businessman sentenced to death by cancer but who wants to live forever by committing his body to a cryogenic laboratory.

For Father Time to save himself, he must save them both from their extreme choices

‘Try to imagine a life without timekeeping. You probably can’t. You know the month, the year, the day of the week. There is a clock on your wall or the dashboard of your car. You have a schedule, a calendar, a time for dinner or a movie. Yet all around you timekeeping is ignored. Birds are not late. A dog does not check its watch. Deer do not fret over passing birthdays. Man alone measures time. Man alone chimes the hour. And because of this, man alone suffers a paralysing fear that no other creature endures. A fear of time running out.’

That’s all for now - back next month.

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