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Thoughtful Tuesdays: Continuing To Overcome

By Eithne Cullen

Welcome to May’s Thoughtful Tuesday page. Continuing our theme of Overcoming in this issue, I have an eclectic mix of writing for you to enjoy.

Let’s start with some good news. If you’ve been reading Write On! from the start, you’ll know I interviewed Barbara Nadel for the very first issue, way back in 2019.

Barbara has not just overcome the steps to a successful writing career; she is soaring to new heights. She’s a friend of Pen to Print and I was lucky to have her as a writing mentor for The Ogress Of Reading, my first novel published through the Book Challenge.

Barbara’s exciting news is that her novels, set in Turkey and featuring the detective Ikmen, have been picked up and are being used to make a TV series.

I had a chance to hear how she feels about this great news. She told me:

“I’m both excited and apprehensive about The Turkish Detective being on TV.  It’s quite exposing in a way and I hope people like it.

It was a leap of faith putting my characters into someone else’s hands! It was nerve-racking and there was only so much I could do to put forward my vision to the TV company. It feels as though you’re giving away part of yourself. Significantly, however, I did get my choice of lead actor. Probably Turkiye’s biggest male star, Haluk Bilginer, plays Cetin Ikmen and he is perfect.

The stories you’ll see on screen are not direct adaptations of my stories. Film companies mix themes and so, while the characters and their stories are mine, each episode of the TV series has been written by a script writer. I ‘own’ the Ikmen world but that really resides in my books.

I’m very proud of this achievement, Barbara, and look forward to watching the characters I’ve read about in your books; books I love and recommend to people whenever I can.


On my April page, I included some ‘near-death’ pieces of writing (fact and fiction) and am happy to introduce another in the same vein here: a story by Sebastian Elanko, which evokes a terrifying event.

Aathma’s Quote

London, Current Day

He who in heaven may have created me with lots of thinking, but he who on earth saved my life without thinking, in my eyes they are both the same.

As Joshua read the last line of the overseas letter, it brought tears to his eyes as his mind reflected back to almost 20 years ago.

Sri Lanka, 26 December 2004

Early morning sun heated the sandy beach shore on the East Coast of Sri Lanka. Eighteen-year-old Joshua lay on the sun bed.

Suddenly, the breaking waves stopped. Water retreated back towards the sea as far as he could see. Deadly silence. Joshua was confused. A few minutes later, a continuous loud rumbling*roar crescendoed. Stunned, he looked at the sea. A wall of water was coming towards him, increasing in size and speed, unwavering and continuous. Realising the impending danger, he jumped off the sun bed and ran towards the hotel.  The water hit the land with an aggressive force. Through the corner of his eye, he saw people being swallowed brutally by the violent ocean. He could not race against it and suddenly, he was engulfed by the water.

Joshua was violently tossed and thrown around in the raging water. A wave raised him up ten feet and slammed him back down again. The debris and wood punctured his body and face. He was pulled and rolled several times until, with * enormous effort, he raised his head above the water. He saw a piece of wood floating a few metres from him. Paddling through the debris, he reached the wood and held on tightly.

Joshua saw the tip of a coconut tree a few metres ahead and he moved his body, while still gripping the wood, towards it. Finally, he reached the tip of the tree and held the thick petiole of the leaf. He had no more energy left.

He saw a screaming little boy  being swept along, clutching a piece of tree trunk, struggling to keep his head above the water. The petiole* was the Joshua’s last hope. If he let go, there was no hope. Instinct made him jump towards the boy and hold him and the trunk. They were swept along by the raging ocean. Joshua lifted the boy and put him on the tree trunk and held them both very tightly. He asked the boy, “What is your name?”

“Aathma,” the boy replied faintly.

“Aathma, don’t be afraid, you are safe.”

Aathma looked tearfully at Joshua.

Joshua failed to notice another piece of trunk floating towards him. It slammed into his head, making his ears ring. Fear of death possessed him as darkness fell over his eyes. The last thing he heard was the noise of a chopper from up above and a faint voice shouting: “Hold on, boys, we’re coming!”

London, Current Day

Joshua read the name at the end of the letter: Aathma.

© Sebastian Elanko, 2024

*The petiole is a stalk that attaches a leaf to the plant stem.


Cuckoo Clock, a poem by TAK Erzinger, is very apt for this time of year. Traditionally, people listened for the call of the cuckoo to mark the start of summer. However, in this poem, the poet uses the intriguing bird in a number of ways.

Cuckoo Clock

The cuckoo is heard mostly in spring
dispersing its eggs carefully
in secret: hide and seek,
without a trace.
It sings its songs up to the sky
in preened feathers, out of sight
an apparition against the light
ritual reproduction without mothering
Hatched: I stumbled into the world
my life broken open
with no time for a childhood
instinct a compass needle to the future
Life hid you, concealed in dreams
flight of fancy, music and food
when middle age arrived
with a partner, a home and hope
you thought you could capture me
with your words, my memory on your lips
I was no longer a shell in a foreign nest
love stumbled upon me, and I thrived.
You chose your own path merrily
bought a cuckoo clock as a souvenir
balanced it carefully on your wall
only to discover it had been broken.

© TAK Erzinger, 2024

Connect with TAK on X: @ErzingerTak and Instagram: @takerzinger


Clare Brown has shared some of her poetry on my pages in the past. She uses her poetry to promote well-being, overcoming mental health difficulties and promoting some of the charities she volunteers with. I’m sharing a poem from her as May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

Clare says:

Mental health charity posts on social media are a great source of inspiration for poetry and an effective way to keep the conversation going. As Mental Health Awareness Month begins, it’s important to recognise that mental health is universal and know there is help out there for anyone who is struggling. Sometimes support can be hard to find. Tough Enough To Care is one such charity that offers support to those in need. They have partnered with Shout 85258 to provide 24/7 support by text: text TOUGH to 85258. It’s free, it’s confidential and it won’t show up on your phone bill.

Tough Enough To Care provides a one-stop shop for mental health support. They have weekly peer support groups providing non-judgemental environments for people to attend and support one another. They deliver free mental health training to non-profit community groups and grass roots sports clubs. They believe that lack of money should never be a barrier to accessing support or enhancing knowledge around mental health, which is why all their services are completely free of charge to the end service user.

Contact them at:

Another charity offering similar support is Hector’s House:

Here’s Clare’s poem:

Its Okay

Anything and everything goes
And it doesn’t matter who knows
It’s okay to get things wrong and make a mistake
We are all human, for heaven’s sake!
Life throws us all the odd curve ball or two
And it’s okay not to know what to do
We all have bad days when nothing goes right
You’re Tough Enough To Care so you know how to fight.
It’s okay to say no when you don’t feel okay
Don’t feel you have to explain things away
None of us is perfect that’s too big an ask
One step at a time is the way to complete the task
If today that mountain is too steep to climb
Be kind to yourself, there’s plenty of time

© Clare Brown, 2024


In this next piece, Ladyray reminds us of the power of simple, incredible water in overcoming our stresses as writers, and with life in general.

Water, Writing And Summer

Incredibly, water, often overlooked as a gift from nature, plays a crucial role in our overall well-being. While we typically credit good food, rest and exercise for our health and vitality, let’s not forget that staying properly hydrated is the foundation of it all. And here’s something fascinating to ponder: Could increasing water intake potentially contribute to reducing feelings of depression and anxiety? The answer is a resounding YES!

I believe water is just as essential as the air we breathe, playing a vital role in every bodily function. With around 60 per cent of our body being composed of water, drinking enough of it offers numerous benefits, including: lubricating joints, distributing oxygen, preventing kidney damage and promoting skin health.

As a writer, water keeps me going; water is my fuel. Apart from the fact that I attribute my glowing skin to my regular intake of water, I also attribute my productivity at work and as a freelance writer to drinking sufficient water. I want to encourage writers to stay hydrated always. Without sufficient hydration, writers’ cognitive functions diminish, hindering their ability to produce coherent written work. Dehydration not only affects productivity in writing, * it also impacts overall mental health by impeding energy production in the brain. This lack of energy can lead to a slow-down or complete halt in normal brain functions, potentially contributing to the development of depression.

Just as an athlete needs water after a long run, you also require water to enhance cognitive function. Keep a water bottle by your side when writing, to ensure your brain is functioning at its best.

Remember that stress can be a significant factor in depression, but you have the power to manage it. When writing about intense experiences, or conducting research that requires long hours, staying hydrated is key to reducing stress. Keep in mind water has natural calming properties that can help you stay focused and produce quality work.

Make sure to drink enough water to help maintain your mental well-being while writing. Your efforts will not only benefit your health, but also enhance your writing, so that readers can fully enjoy your work from start to finish.

© Ladyray (Rachel Affiong Umoh), 2024

Ladyray is a Nigerian by descent, currently living in the UK. She is a Rehabilitation Practitioner, specialising in disability and mental health support. She uses her love for writing to promote mental health awareness, disability rights and inclusion.

Connect with Rachel on Instagram: @umoh_rachel and X: @UmohRachel


I do hope these pieces have given you an insight into our powers of overcoming all kinds of stresses and issues. Keeping Clare’s message Be kind to yourself in mind, I’m off to fetch myself a glass of water!

Connect with Eithne on X: @eithne_cullen and on Instagram: @eithnecullen57

Eithne’s books are all available on Amazon.

The Ogress Of Reading

Never Not In My Thoughts

Pencils And Other Stories


Issue 20 of Write On! is available to read online here.

You can hear great new ideas, creative work and writing tips on Write On! Audio. Find us on all major podcast platforms, including Apple and Google Podcasts and Spotify. Type Pen to Print into your browser and look for our logo or find us on Spotify.  


If you or someone you know has been affected by issues covered in our pages, please see the relevant link below for ​information, advice and support​:

Mental health charity posts on social media are a great source of inspiration for poetry and an effective way to keep the conversation going.