Welcome to Life Images by Jill

Welcome to Life Images by Jill.........Stepping into the light and bringing together the images and stories of our world.
I am a photographer, writer and multi-media artist. Through my blog I am
seeking to preserve images and memories of the beautiful world in which we live and the people in it.



Sunday 28 May 2017

Writing writing writing......

Are you a writer? Do you dabble at writing but have trouble starting and sticking with it? Do you suffer from writer's block? 

I call myself a photographer-writer, but I think I am more a photographer than a writer. I have belonged to a writers group, the South Side Quills for several years. We published our anthology, The Runaway Quill, in 2016. And I write freelance for a couple of Australian travel magazines, but I don't know if I really am a writer. I don't think I have a "novel" in me. I am not driven to write like I believe a writer should be. For instance I don't write every day. I feel to improve I should be writing every day. 

 Last week I found a blog called The Writer's Journey - you can visit them here - Writer's Journey.  This link will also take you to some writer's tips. The first one of which is:

"carry a note book at all times, in your purse, your car, by your bed. Write in this notebook whenever you can, random thoughts, observations, descriptions..... If you feel too self conscious in public to use a notebook be a thoroughly modern Mr or Ms and make notes on your phone."

This is my first mistake. I don't carry a notebook, but I do carry my camera....perhaps there is a message to me in there. I do carry a notebook when we travel and I constantly make notes in it when we are away. I wouldn't be much of a travel writer if I didn't would I? 

But I know I should take notes.... so today I took their advice when I was out in the bush and I wrote some notes in my phone. Here is what I wrote. I know it's not much and it's not going to put me up there with the great writers in history, but it's a start.

There's a slight breeze rustling the leaves in the very top branches of the trees. It's a continual sound like a story being told to the undergrowth below. Unseen birds call to each other. The mist laying in the valley below slowly lifts as the sun reaches its tendrils down over the ridgeline and through the trees. Dew drops sparkle gold on leaves and turns delicate spider webs into chains of silver baubles. We sit on a log with our hot mug of soup warming our hands.  A flock of red tailed cockatoos fly squawking overhead. 

Their second tip was using writing prompts:
 "For a week start a piece of writing every morning with the words 'I remember...'. Especially good for memoir writers. Start writing your memoir as a list. Go back as far as you can and list all your memories as dot points....Choose one each day for a ten minute writing exercise."

The prompt for this month's homework for my writer's group was "the day it all ended" or if you like "began". For me this was a piece of memoir writing. And I have a picture to go with it, of course!

In the late afternoon on the day of my seventeenth birthday, 15th November 1972, at Belmont Senior High School, was the day it all ended. I put down my pencil, stacked my exam papers together and handed them into the Leaving Exam supervisor.

It was done. I knew I had not done well. After four years of studying shorthand it had all come down to this final exam. 

I was full of enthusiasm when I started studying Pitman’s Shorthand in 1969. That mysterious code of light and dark strokes, dots, dashes, curves and curls developed by Isaac Pitman in the early 1800s which he had spent half a century improving, was about to be unlocked for me and the other girls in my Commercial class. 

Ploughing on through second, third, fourth and fifth year high school. My results over those four years show the ups and downs of my study. At first diligent and fully committed to my studies, but slowly undermined by other distractions like the appearance of boys on my radar.  And anyway, I didn't really want to be an office worker, I didn't know what I wanted to do.

At some stage I must have believed in myself and my ability to excel. I even bought a book all written in shorthand – Half Hours with Popular Authors – for which I had paid the princely sum of 5 cents at a book sale.  Within these yellowed pages you can even read “An Evening Wind’ by Dickens. I never did read it or any of the other masterpieces hidden in those shorthand squiggles although even today I can’t bring myself to part with that book. 

That's me front row left

I passed my Leaving Certificate. I even received a distinction in Economics, somewhat due to my cramming on old exam papers the night before, to find to my delight, the same questions in my exam paper! Thank goodness for my memory that day! 

My Leaving Stenography exam was the last day I ever used shorthand. Perhaps it was just as well as my results later showed only 50%, I had barely passed. But I can still remember those first strokes – p, b, t, d, ch, j.  And for some reason the symbol for “between” which I still randomly use when writing quick notes. I guess on that day I was the girl between – between school girl and working girl.  I started my first job within weeks of leaving high school, thankfully I wasn’t required to take dictation. 

 I decided to look up Mr Dickens' "An Evening Wind" on the net. It's a passage from Chapter 2 of his book, Martin Chuzzlewit. 

You can read it by clicking here at - The Literature Network

Here is the beginning of the passage which was written in shorthand in "Half Hours with Popular Authors".

"The sun went down beneath the long dark lines of hill and cloud which piled up in the west an airy city, wall heaped on wall, and battlement on battlement; the light was all withdrawn; the shining church turned cold and dark; the stream forgot to smile; the birds were silent; and the gloom of winter dwelt on everything.

An evening wind uprose too, and the slighter branches cracked and rattled as they moved, in skeleton dances, to its moaning music. The withering leaves no longer quiet, hurried to and fro in search of shelter from its chill pursuit; the labourer unyoked his horses, and with head bent down, trudged briskly beside them; and from the cottage windows lights began to glance and wink upon the darkening fields."

Don't you just love the imagery! No wonder Dickens was such a revered author. I am ashamed to say I don't think I have ever read any of his books right through, even though I have several on my shelves. I think I will need to amend this. Perhaps I was not ready before to read him. 

I've written a few pocket memories for my writing group homework at various times.  I'm thinking I should put them into a book, with photos of course! And yes, I started writing my memoirs a few years ago. I must get back to them. I think the idea of dot-pointing your memories and going from there is a great idea.

Do you use writer's prompts? What do you do to get over writer's block? Perhaps you would like to tell us in your comments. 

This week in my garden, the grape leaves are turning red and gold, the oranges on my orange tree are ripening and we are starting to pick them to eat. And the last roses of autumn are dancing in the late afternoon light. 

This image of the rose I took last autumn. I was thrilled when my artist friend, Marguerite Aberle, used my rose photo recently as inspiration for one of her pieces for a joint exhibition of rose pictures. Done in pastel on black paper, framed in black, Marguerite called it "Sunlit Dancer". The exhibition was a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation, and was held at the Bridgetown Pottery Restaurant. 

 And if you are wondering what that little book was at the top of the page, I went to a free mini workshop the other day run by Mairim Garret from Creative in Nature, where I hand made this little book just with papers and thread to sew it all together. 

Thank you so much for stopping by. I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Have a wonderful week. 

I am linking up to the link-ups below. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!


Mosaic Monday
Our World Tuesday
Through My Lens 

Wednesday Around the World at Communal Global
Travel Photo Thursday
The Lovin' Life Team over at Lifestyle Fifty
Sky Watch Friday



  1. You write quite well. It is like prose. Just keep writing and use the photographs as prompts and inspiration.

  2. I think you are a beautiful writer Jill as well as being an outstanding photographer. I mainly use my photos for prompts for my writing, but I also always carry a notebook around with me and write down little ideas or stories for my blog. During my recent holiday I wrote in a travel diary every day or otherwise I would soon forget names of places and other details.

    1. Thanks so much Kathy. I take lots of notes when we travel. As you say, otherwise I would forget what photo was there. And I try to download my photos at least every couple of days, and file them according to date. Then I can refer them back to my notes. However when I write later it is easy to forget the creative detail that will really take the reader into the place. WIth magazine writing, I am constantly restrained by the word count, and having to chop out words - frustrating.

  3. I take copious notes - guess it is the old newspaper reporter in me. But sadly my training and life was spent dealing with the facts, 'just the facts' so to add a creative touch to my words is the difficult part for me. Your beautiful sentence on the wind rustling the leaves and its sound telling a story to the undergrowth would have appeared in my notes: "Slight wind blowing. Undergrowth. Temperatures reaching x, y, z". Your writing and photos are artistry!

    1. Thanks so much Jackie! One thing about being in the writer's group is learning, or trying to learn, how to be more creative in my writing. And I must say I was inspired by Dickens in this case.

  4. Jill, I always love your photos. I tend to write to document life which is one reason I love to blog. I have felt for a long time I have a book in me. It will not be a novel though. We shall see. Thanks for writing. Sylvia D.

    1. Yes, that is one good thing about blogging...it's a diary of sorts....well mine is anyways. Happy writing Sylvia and thanks for visiting.

  5. You ARE a writer for sure! Everyone has a book in them, it's just whether that book is ever allowed to be written. I started a course on 'writing your story' a few years ago and I have been thinking about it recently as I am now making new friends and as we exchange snippets of our lives with each other it is interesting to see which aspects of your life someone who know nothing about you want to know more about. I find there is always a lot of interest in my Australian life! Anyway just this little unseen bird calling out to you to write your book!
    Wren x

    1. thank you for the vote of confidence Wren! I will ponder on that thought....it's just whether that book is every allowed to be written....

  6. Wonderful writer ! and gorgeous and creative photography ~ love the little books ~ so creative ~ thanks,

    Happy Week to you ~ ^_^

  7. Oh, I do love a blog post with a back story and how I enjoyed reading about your exams and learning to write shorthand.
    I'm not a writer, blogging is about all I can manage but it's enough for me. Your writers group prompts sound very useful and could also work with a blog I think. Over the years I have bought quite a few Journals for different subjects, the last was a travel journal in which I promised my husband I would faithfully record our future trips. Guess what? I've never once taken it away with us, on our return I write blog posts to remind me of what we did and where we went, my online travel journal!

    1. so then you are writing Maggie! And yes, blogs are a great way to record our travels and the passages of our days. Happy blogging!

  8. I love your writing Jill! Don't ever say you are not a writer! I love the way you mix past and present and keep the reader interested with cameo scenes which surely strike notes in even the most insensitive amongst us.

    1. thank you so much Jo for your words of encouragement. It is interesting isn't it what posts strike more of a cord than others.

  9. Jill, I so enjoyed this post, both for its wonderful writing and spectacular photography! Your passage, penned on that beautiful trek in the bush, and prompted by the advice on the writers blog, illustrates how well you take direction and are able to put theory into practice!

    People's paths on this journey of life never fail to amaze me, and following you on yours, today, was fun and informative!


  10. That little handmade journal is beautiful! I love journals and should learn to make them too. I write a lot and always keep a journal but don't write as many stories as I should. I've written a few fairy tales and I enjoy that most. But nature photography has been my thing lately! Hugs!

  11. I'm loving your nature shots a lot! I took Gregg Shorthand way back then and still use bits of it now and then when I'm in a hurry.

  12. You are amazing, have said it before and shall say it again. Your writing abilities are very appealing based on what you have shared here, along with your written summaries along with your blog entries as you post...very nice indeed.
    In high school writing became one of my favorite subjects and I excelled in not only my ability to form words that got me the grades I was seeking, but back then penmanship was something that we all took and strive to be the best. I won the penmanship award for my class two years running.
    These days I do not write as often as I should, but when I do, I pretty much pour it out and lave it there. Sometimes it gets picked apart, other times it gets positive comments.
    You take good care. Keep taking the photographs, keep writing, dancing, cooking and everything else that you do so wonderfully well~

  13. Look at that shorthand! I did shorthand too, and I still use it. Although I didn't do Pitman's. I did Teeline (I think it was called). #teamlovinlife

  14. I'm more likely to be snapping photographs than writing notes when I think about it. I love the descriptive piece you wrote. It's very good! I did Pitman's shorthand too. Loved it and was very good at it. I was going to be a Court Reporter (back in around 1983) but I wasn't yet 18 so whilst I attended classes at the courts in preparation, I needed to get a job in the meantime. I got a Govt job and worked with lots of girls my age and was having a ball so decided court reporting would be too boring for me. I had very fast speeds. I did use it for a while in the Govt before it phased out. #TeamLovinLife

  15. I love your writing and enjoyed this post with more words than usual. The memories are fun too, imagine Pitman's. Does anyone still use it I wonder? I attended the Receptionist School at one stage (heaven knows why) but it did help me to touch type - I was hopeless at the PABX though.


I hope you have enjoyed your visit to my blog. Thank you for stopping by and for taking the time to comment. I read and very much appreciate every comment and love hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return.