A Tribute to Strangers

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I have seen people living
In situations so bad
It taught me how lucky I am
To have been born here

There are some I remember
More than others,
Though they will never learn
Of their impact on me

I recall their smiles and joy;
A beautiful memory
At one time nothing special,
Something very sacred now.

The ones who slept on the street
And made so little
Are behind my attempts
To become a better me

© Laura Marie Clark

Excerpt from the book “City Of The World”

Please visit my author page and share in my adventure:
http://www.ctupublishinggroup.com/laura-marie-clark.html

New Recruits

‘All right you filthy maggots! Line up, go on, get in a line! What’re you doing there, sonny? Get in line – no, no, don’t push in there, go to the back! I said go to the back! You’ll be the last to get food tonight, so you’d better ‘ope the rest of the brats leave you something to chew on!

‘Now then, let’s ‘ave a look at you all. Oh, they’ve brought me a right ‘orrible lot this time, ‘aven’t they? No wonder nobody loves you lot – oh, look, tears! Wipe your eyes and get to the back of the queue, go on. Move it!

‘Listen up! My name is Mister Whitaker, but you’ll call me “Sir”. When you answer my questions, you’ll say “Yes, Sir” or “No, Sir” or “Sorry, Sir”. And if I ‘aven’t asked you a question, then you’ll keep your trap shut! Are we clear, hmm?’

‘Yes, Sir.’

‘And let’s keep it that way! Anyone ‘oo doesn’t know ‘ow to stick to the rules’ll meet the end of my belt. Is that clear?’

‘Yes, Sir.’

‘Well, thank goodness for that. The last lot were a disaster! Mind you, some o’ you lot don’t look much better. He looks a mess. Look at him! Are you still crying at the back there? Dry those tears and get inside, come on, all of you, stay in line and head over to the table for some soup.

‘Now, there’s a lot o’ you here, and there are two things that I ain’t made of: money and soup. So it’s half a bowl each and a roll of bread. Hold up your bowl, now, sonny … and move along and take your bread from the end o’ the table. Jeez! Do you even know ‘ow to use a spoon? People’d think you were raised in a zoo! Go on over there, sit down on the floor, and let the next one get some.

‘Oh, look here, look here now. It’s Mister I-Can’t-Stand-In-A-Line and Miss Crybaby. What a shame – no soup or rolls left for you two! You can lick the pan and spoon clean if you want – go on then, take ’em. Well? What’re you looking at me for? Go and sit down with the others.

‘Well now that you’ve all eaten, you can get off to bed. Go on, lie down there – here, there’s a few o’ these blankets for you. I guess you’ll all have to huddle together if you wanna keep warm, won’t you? Go on kid, like I said, I ain’t made o’ money. And I ain’t made o’ blankets either!

‘What. Is. This? What’ve you done? Nobody ever taught you to go to the bathroom, huh? Had to wet the bed, did you? Get up, get up, go over there and lean over the desk, looks like it’s time to take off the belt and teach you a lesson already …’


Author’s note: this was how the teacher greeted the class at the beginning of my first drama lesson.

Call for Submissions

I love to feature other talented writers on Let it Come from the Heart. If you would like me to share your writing with my readers, please visit the Submit page.

If you’re not sure whether your writing is suitable, take a look through some of the previous submissions below:

Miss Understood by Mudiwa

Submissions: A Tip from Ashby McGowan

An Arrow Drive by Joe Espinoza

When you’re confident, head over to the Submit page. I look forward to reading your submissions!

Let Me Share Your Writing

As the theme for June on Let it Come from the Heart is SUBMISSIONS, I have made the SUBMIT page public. I hope to make submissions a regular part of this blog in 2017, with at least one submission per week.

If you would like me to share and promote your poem, short story, flash fiction, non-fiction story or writing tip, then please visit the SUBMIT page. I’m happy to share something that is already published somewhere else – just make sure you have the rights to it first.

I am also available via my email address: lauramarieclark1@gmail.com. Please send all emails with the subject “Submission – [your name]”. Please post your writing in the body of the email – and don’t forget your author bio and web links!

I look forward to reading and sharing your writing!

Shades of the Same Skin: Laura Marie Clark

Check out my contribution to the ‘Shades of the Same Skin’ anthology:

Creative Talents Unleashed

Laura Clark Picture

Introducing Laura Marie Clark

From and currently resides: England, UK.

 I was born and raised in a tiny village. No church, no shop, no village hall … the isolation developed two opposite aspects of my personality: my nervous, shy love of being alone, and my wish to live somewhere vibrant, active and loud.

 As a teenager, I went on a Polish exchange trip with school, which was the first time I had really – though temporarily – felt immersed in another culture. That was when I realized how much there is out there to discover, both at home and abroad.

Later, when I lived in Vietnam, I felt a huge change in the way that I wrote, and spent more of my time writing poetry and focusing on (usually negative) emotions and human experiences. I had seen how some of the poorer people there lived and I wanted to share…

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“City of the World” by Laura Marie Clark

On 31st October 2013, I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in the south of Vietnam. A recent graduate, I had looked at the jobs available to me in the United Kingdom and decided – against every introverted fibre of my being – to move abroad and teach English as a foreign language. As someone who struggles with social anxiety, it was not easy to adapt. Presentations were my worst nightmare – and now I was going to be doing them every day in front of people of all ages. But it was an adventure, and that was the important part. These poems tell my story.

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Praise for “City of the World”:

5 STAR REVIEW – Amazon Verified Purchase

“This compilation of poems is a meditative and intimate exploration of the writer’s time in Vietnam. It brilliantly conveys the exciting nature of being in a new and challenging environment as well as the anxieties and obstacles that come with it.”

City of the world is available in Paperback.

http://www.ctupublishinggroup.com/laura-marie-clark.html

http://www.amazon.com/City-World-Laura-Marie-Clark/dp/0692575391/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0692575391?ref_=cm_rdp_product


Laura Marie Clark is a graduate from England, UK. She has been writing for many years, after becoming inspired in an English literature class when some of the other students mocked her poetry. She graduated in 2013, then spent 10 months living and working in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. In November 2015 her debut collection of poetry, City of the World, was published. This book is based on her experiences as an expat.

 

Ideas: Your Interests

You’ve exhausted your list of prompts. What you have got written down in reserve is rapidly draining away. You have the urge to write something right now, whether something new or something you’ve been working on for a while, but you feel desperately short of ideas. Deadlines flash before your eyes and you have no clue how you are ever going to reach them. Let’s discuss another way to get those ideas flowing again.

So far this month, we have discussed several ways for eager writers to generate new ideas. Firstly, we discussed thought showers, followed by free writing, and most recently how you can consider writing everyday stories when big, impressive story lines seem impossible to imagine. Today, we will look at writing about something you love when you are lost for ideas and how taking the time out to write something a little more personal can benefit you.

This is similar to our exploration of using personal experiences for influence from last month. Your passions should automatically excite you, so you will not need to sit around trying to build up a huge amount of background knowledge or an air of enthusiasm for those tedious bits (there shouldn’t really be any!). How you choose to write about your interests is up to you.

If it is too much to ask to come up with a plot surrounding your chosen interest, then why not try to write about an event focused around your passion that has already happened? For instance, last year for Story a Day May I was challenged to research something and then write a story about it. I chose an interest of mine but an event that I was unfamiliar with within that interest and wrote a short story about the Pendle Witch Trials. This can be easier than inventing something entirely.

On the other hand, thinking about your chosen passion may be all you need to start creating fiction. An idea may spring out at your fairly early on with only minimal influence from real life examples, and if that’s the case then get writing! As soon as you spy an opportunity to get you back into creative mode, you should take it. We all know how one idea can lead to another, and another, and another, and so on.

Of course, you do not have to write something overly creative about your passion at all. You could take the opportunity to inform or to open up a discussion platform. I mean, here I am writing about writing … you may find it’s more fun than you first anticipate. Those creative writing ideas can come later – at least you will have an excuse to start writing again!

Your interests are ultimately your own. It doesn’t matter whether you love politics or horses or Disney, because there will always be something to write about on your subject. Look around for the discussions that are already taking place or start your own. The choice is up to you.


This month’s theme is IDEAS. If you have written something that you would like me to share on this blog on the theme of original ideas, then please post a link in the comments or email me on lauramarieclark1@gmail.com with the subject: Ideas.

A Moment that Changed my Life

My final university exam was over. There was nothing more to do but sit back and wait for the results. I went to the campus pub with some friends who had also taken the exam, and there we met one of our lecturers, who joined us for a drink. He asked us what we were planning to do next and why we had decided to go to university in the first place. My answers were, unfortunately, not the ones he wanted to hear: I don’t know and because I didn’t know what else to do after I had finished my A levels. He was not impressed.

During the course of the conversation, he suggested that we should look into living abroad and teaching English as a foreign language. I didn’t say it at the time, but I thought it was a terrible idea. I had not moved far from my parent’s house to go to university and I didn’t like the thought of living in another country. But a couple of months in a poor job market was enough to persuade me, and around six months later I left for Ho Chi Minh.

That lecturer doesn’t know I followed his advice. He probably doesn’t even remember giving it to me. But he set in motion a journey that culminated in a book of poems, “City of the World”, focused on my time in Vietnam.

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You can find more information on City of the World and purchase it here: http://www.ctupublishinggroup.com/laura-marie-clark.html

Optimism and Anxiety

The sound of my beating heart fills my ears. It drowns out everything else, and I feel as though the noise is echoing around the room, bouncing off the walls to assail the people who are there with me. Three of those people stare at me, waiting for me to speak; the other three are stood with me, patient for their turn. I’m the first of the group to speak, although I’m nervous beyond belief.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been in such a situation and it won’t be the last either. I know that, despite how well I feel the day has gone so far for me personally. If I can improve a little each time then the pressure and the personal struggle will be worth it. Every moment of pain, every second I spent gripped by fear.

So I ignore the panic rising up within me, squashing it down as much as I can manage. It isn’t easy, but I never run away: I enjoy the challenge despite how impossible it seems when I’m caught in the terror of the moment. I clear my throat in the hope that this will help me to keep my voice steady when I speak. It betrays me so often in these circumstances that I can imagine myself stuttering senselessly already.

I move my weight from one foot to the other and back again, unable to stop myself. It’s unprofessional and sloppy, but it calms me down enough to bring me back to the present so that I can focus on what I need to say. The whole world holds a breath, too many eyes focusing on me at once – and then I begin to speak.

The four of us haven’t had a long time to prepare for this presentation, but that’s what graduate interviews are like and I’ve attended enough of them to know by now. I stumble at little at the beginning until I get into what I’m supposed to say in my part of the presentation, the words come out without any breaths between them and I end the section rather abruptly. The last few words of my speech are left hanging in the air, uncertain and speculative. I want to scold myself for not performing as strong as I wanted; luckily, the pressure of such a formal environment bears down upon me, forcing me to maintain my poker face.

It’s that pressure that’s got me so wound up, like a coiled spring. I relax the hand that had become clenched during my speech, withdrawing my nails from the palm of my hand. The silence goes on for too long.

When I turn to the next candidate and they finally begin speaking, the fear begins to slowly drain away. Despite all of the errors that I have managed to pick up on within myself so far, this is far better than the last interview I went to. As the attention moves further down the line, I begin to feel increasingly pleased with myself. I anticipated many faults, but getting through the assessment day – and this part of it in particular – as well as I have done is a great achievement.

Just like the presentation, I stumble through the follow up questions directed at the group, feeling foolish when someone else provides a better, clearer answer than mine. One specific answer I give is embarrassing and I wonder what the other candidates must think of me as I backtrack, tripping over my own words. That seals the deal, and from that point onwards I know that no amount of excellence throughout the rest of the day will get me the job now.

I make a mental note of what the others say, how they stand and where they look when they’re speaking. It amazes me how they can keep the gaze of the interviewers at all times. I commit their words to memory in preparation for my next interview, hoping that they will help me to improve my performance.

It’s over pretty soon after the presentation, with a formal goodbye from the interviewers. Some of the other candidates discuss how they feel the day has gone, but I keep on the outside of conversations because there’s a throbbing sensation in my head that’s half disappointment, half relief. I’ve never liked talking to strangers anyway.

One of the other candidates mentions to me that he was nervous during the presentation and I wonder if he knows the extent of the fear that I went through. I wonder if he understands how the pressure of that situation left me without sense or answers. I step aside to carry out almost useless breathing exercises that are designed to rid myself of my remaining anxiety, and perhaps ten minutes later I’m stable enough to leave and make my way home.

A little over a week later, I hear from the company. It’s a generic email informing me that I didn’t display the qualities they were looking for in a graduate employee, but the rejection is far from unexpected. Family and friends make a fuss out of the fact that I failed and I wish I had kept quiet about the interview; they offer my sympathy, but I’m not upset and I don’t need it. In fact, I’m filled with confidence, which I know they can’t understand.

It was a significant improvement on the last interview I attended. I managed to keep myself together during the presentation, and even if my answers were poor quality I could at least provide something when put on the spot. That demonstrated that no matter how I felt at the time, the fear was not completely in control. The next time that I have an interview, I know I’m going to do even better – and as long as each interview is a personal improvement, it doesn’t matter how I look compared to the other candidates. It doesn’t matter how long it takes me to get a graduate job, because I won’t be torn apart by my anxiety.