Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Babysitters

A few months back, curled up on the lounge I started surfing the net on my iPad. I decided to take a nostalgic trip down memory lane and typed in The Babysitters Club. Well blow me down if it doesn't pop up that the author struck up a deal to get some of the books re-published as ebooks.

Now I LOVED these books as a "tween" and received my first ever copy in Grade 6 from book club. I thought I was all kinds of awesome - the pretty pink cover, the cool characters and ZOMG Claudia had a PHONE in her BEDROOM! I so wanted a phone in my bedroom but alas my parents never delivered. Sad panda here. 

Knowing my first ever copy was stored in the roof along with the others I collected over the years - I threw down a challenge with my likeminded girls and they were keen to join in. Then I promptly forgot all about said #challenge until someone reminded me last week, so I popped over to KOBO (sick of waiting for Hubby to get up in the ceiling) and I purchased the first ever Super Special for $5.17.  

26 Baby Sitters Club

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So does the book live up to my expectations of how "cool" it was back in the day? Well…  

While I wasn't completely riveted to my seat not able to put it down, I enjoyed a little trip back in time. It bought up old feelings of how much I really wanted to jump on a cruise and visit Disney World (not Disney Land) The book was easy to read as one would expect from "young adult" even with a glaringly obvious mistake on one page that I can't remember seeing when I read it the first time way back in the late 80's!

The Verdict: would I read this one again? Say in another 30 years time?
I don't think so! One trip down memory lane was more than enough. I might be swayed to re-read the first one I ever received in a few years when its time to pass the baton and hand over that box full of dusty, musty books for my daughter.   

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Vacant no more.

This little space of mine has been vacant for far too long - as someone so kindly pointed out & so I promised her a post. Its not that I've had nothing to say; instead more a case of too much to say and unsure where to start. Rather than go back and start at the beginning - I will just start here. Right now. 

So.

Yeah.

I seem to be flapping about not getting far with anything in particular and every day I re-write lists and then smack my forehead for not having the foresight to complete a simple task the previous day. Then there are days I stop myself and tell myself that I do achieve a lot - its just that I am currently achieving things that weren't necessarily on my 2013 goal lists. Amazing how your daily goals can change so much in 12 short months!

What I have been doing is research. It appears I am at that point in my story telling that I need to pay close attention to details. It doesn't help writing about a fridge in the 1930's when they obviously didn't have access to one. So I have been:

*  Printing diagrams & information on diseases from the inter webs (to be used for my own personal files)
* Downloading popular names from the era… then realising I managed to print the "Scottish" names. Apparently Australian names weren't as important!
* Reading books written in the same areas and times.   

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I've been madly writing essays. Aaaah! One of these I kid you not - I wrote & rewrote 3 times until my brain felt so mushy and my good friend & BETA reader had to point out I went all 50 shades and used the same words repeatedly. I think I have them to where I want them and will submit early this week with fingers crossed I receive a half decent mark (AFTER those repeated words were deleted "Oh My" )  

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Time spent re-reading my tutorials and cross referencing for extra information in my stack of helpful writing books. By late Friday afternoon my mind was buzzing with all these words and I was struggling to remember the difference between voice and tone. This has helped get the words from my mind. Maybe next week I will journal the words and their meanings - or I might stick to flash cards.  

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As I've been doing this, I've been jotting down notes for my own story. Of things to check and cross reference - I'm inspired to write more and more each day, alas the assignment writing MUST take precedence at this moment in time! Luckily a lot of my assignments can be based on stories I've written or am planning on writing for my  novel! 

In between - another High Distinction for Creative Writing was received from the College & the accompanying words of "Overall, a fine effort presented throughout, declaring your submission as student work of outstanding quality" of course has left me feeling… excited (because I obviously have a knack for this writing gig) and scared (because what if my future assignments are not up to par?)

In our day to day family life my health has been up and down, but fingers crossed is turning due to these awesome tablets I'm taking, my daughter decided to share hats (as girls are wan to do) and bought home a little more than I needed to see… if you've never seen war - you won't understand why my house suddenly had shades of genocide on those little creepy crawlies! Ugh. The joys!

Yesterday we had a dance concert, followed by a lunch with mum and dad where I picked their brains all things family! My dad then drops a bombshell that my pops brothers daughter had done some digging and came up with a heap of info on my elusive G'grandfather (he's the shady character who I have struggled finding his past) apparently his brother has copies and I have wheedled oh so nicely for him to get me a copy. I hear it's "real good reading" so I have an inkling that my "pulling my hair out why don't I turn him into a villain of dubious character" may actually pay off! YAY!

That pretty much sums up the WEEK! True story! I plan on getting back here a little more regularly - I'll aim for 3 weekday posts to start - because truly I miss rambling and nattering to myself & besides I feel it keeps me grounded.     

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Magical Words and Numbers

Did you wonder where I got to? Yeah - so did I! 

I've been searching for balance - that elusive thing where you want to try and do everything but you lament lack of time and head space?  

The last two terms I've felt I've fallen behind on my study - today was a designated study day - 4th week back in term and have only submitted ONE assignment. I have another 2 that are so close to completion - I just need to jump in and finish them both. Today though I've managed to get completely sidetracked with planning and Facebook.  

I have however been WRITING! 

Last month I stumbled across a new hash-tag on Twitter - #writechain. In a nutshell it means you set your goals and you create links in a chain. If you miss a day the chain begins again. I figured setting myself a small target of words each day may work better than the Crazy that is NaNoWriMo. My goal was:  

Write 400 words each weekday and edit 2 pages per week. 

I figured I had nothing to lose and everything to gain - in 5 weeks I missed only ONE day (& that was a student FREE day) 

AND LOOK AT THIS - SEE WHAT HAPPENS?  

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I have cracked the 50K! Hard to believe it took me nearly 2 years to get to that golden figure. Writing a small amount every day is far better for me and my wellbeing than attempting a crazy NaNoWriMo which will only burn me out and not let me concentrate on anything else. 

While 400 words a (week)day may not seem like much they do add up to 50K in 6 months. And the beauty is I don't always write just 400 - I have been averaging about 500, depending on how I'm feeling and the best part is I am utilising time I thought I didn't have. Rather than lazing about on the couch in the mornings reading Facebook on my iPad, I sit at the table with my coffee and I start typing on the iPad. Sometimes I get distracted but so far I have managed to get words down.

The 98 page manuscript is looking very real and very frightening each day it grows.    

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

13 in 13 Challenge… Book 9 - Graphic

Little White Dove
 
 Book #9 - 13 in 13 Challenge 

Vampire Academy - Richelle Mead  

Genre: Graphic Novel 

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It's been a while since I updated or read anything for this challenge and to be honest - I was starting to believe I could not finish it (truth be told - I'm still not sure I can finish it as the final few genres will be a really hard slog for me. Looking for my cheersquad - any day now!)

I have barely touched a book these past few weeks - even over the 2 week holiday I haven't been reading. I don't know why. Likely a combination of sinking my teeth into my own writing, spending far too much time on Pinterest and actually creating some stuff has left me with not enough time and no headspace to sink into a really good book.

Last week I was feeling a bit blah and over lunch decided to find a graphic novel I could read. I originally had every intention of reading the Smallville Graphic Novels (well more like Comic Books) but my husband informs me they are now up to issue 70 or something. Seeing how they are also on HIS iPad and I don't want mine clogged up with them; I haven't had a chance to read much more than 10 or so issues.

Friday I stumbled across the Vampire Academy book. I searched high and low for a ebook version wanting to read it then and there and thankfully iBooks had them at a reasonable price. I quickly downloaded it and curled up with my coffee and an hour later I was finished. I loved it - once I worked out which section to read next!

Now I know that Vampires are not some peoples "thing" and after Twilight they been a bit overdone (FTR I loved Twilight - give me light easy reading any day!) This series by Richelle Mead are different & I love the novels that this graphic novel is based upon. I would suggest though that rather than jump in and read the graphic novel, you would be far better off reading the original novels first. Although the graphic novels do explain the story to a point, the actual novel goes much deeper into the story and with 2 different types of Vampires (Moroi and Strigoi) as well as their protectors (Dhampirs) you'd best have some knowledge before diving into these. 

My only issue now is that the 2nd and soon to be released 3rd books aren't available as ebooks yet - so I have to wait for my next instalment! 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Scenes vs. Excerpts

School holidays are upon us and it has been a crazy few days of outings, birthdays and playdates.  

Time is at a minimum so I'm assuming that blogging will be few and far between until the school term resumes. I've a few posts in my head, but it will depend on finding the time and headspace to write it down. 

The past few weeks I have been attempting to dip my toes into the daily writing scene. Enough time has passed and if I ever want to FINISH my story I need to put words on paper. 

Except I struggled to get into a routine and the words felt rusty as they tumbled onto the page and I was so very aware of all the mistakes I was now making (and have made in the past.)  Learning about writing is all good and well until you compare your own writing. So my desk is now covered in lists of important stuff I need to double check. As well as items that need more research before I can say that section is complete. 

Not wanting to feel daunted by all the rights and the wrongs, I decided to start small. 200 words. One A5 page. Every day. 

The only issue is I found I was writing a series of excerpts in the one scene. Usually when I have written in the past (like NaNo) I had been writing a full scene at a time (around 2,000 words) 

Writing a scene at a time meant that each day felt complete but I still felt that my writing was stilted and was unsure whether the scenes would mould together upon reading them back.   

Writing a 200 word excerpt from a scene seemed easier but harder. Each day it was left unfinished and then the following day I would struggle to keep flowing with that particular scene. Again I found myself lost and writing disjointed pieces. 

Where is the happy medium? 

I honestly haven't found it yet. However I did find a few links via Twitter on Saturday morning.   

Then I stumbled over #writechain 
Simply - you set a writing goal; you follow your writing goal; and see how many links you can create. 

My Goals - 400 words each weekday / 2 page edits per week. 

I am starting small and keeping it simple. Making it 400 words means each section will be a little longer than a small unfinished excerpt and I'm hoping it will flow along and create a flow on effect for the scene and overall for this section I'm currently working on. 

Saturday I finally finished a long drawn out scene I had been writing the past few weeks. 980 words later I had finally finished a scene that I had been working on for the past week. It felt awesome to finish it and made me wonder if I need to go back to writing full scenes in one sitting.  

This week I officially started the chain - I've managed 3 chains and 1783 words. Not much in the bigger scheme of things BUT the exciting part I am literally 30 words away from cracking 37,000 (not including writing prompts) and the crazy in me thinks I should pop on over and churn out 30 words just to make it even! 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Four

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Dear Nanny, 

Today marks four years since you left us. As I lay in bed this morning at the exact same time I received that phone call four years ago, I remembered how I felt that day. Before I even picked up the phone that morning, I knew you were gone. Almost as though you had visited me during the night in my dreams, I understood we had said our goodbyes and it was your time. This morning felt a little surreal being awake at the same time and knowing that no phone call would come. Nor could I just pick up the phone and call you.

And it is that little fact that I miss the most. I miss not being able to ring you when I feel like it. I miss not being able to come visit you and drink tea - black tea, because we all know you were prone to leaving the milk out in a small jug. The same as you did the butter. Even on the hottest of hot days. What was with that?

Today I am wordless. I woke and wanted to write something to acknowledge this day, but words are lost to me. As are you. After four years I needed something grand and ostentatious because I believe you would like that - expect it even.

Yet I sit here, staring at a blank screen and my vocabulary is severely lacking and I yearn to write about how much you meant to me. How much I learnt from being in your life. How much I simply miss you. 

They remain empty words. Hollow, meaningless words that don't sum up the magnitude of how I am feeling today.

So I have decided that I will say nothing at all. I will remember you fondly and I will think of you as I do most days. And I will miss you like crazy; heck I might even go and make myself a black tea in a good china cup for old times sake as I raise my cup to you in memory. And I will crank up Neil and I will remember you and your crazy, gorgeous face. Remember the good times we shared and the laughs we had.   

You will never be forgotten.

Car xxx        

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

{trifecta} Rainbow

Rainbow
[from the impossibility of reaching the rainbow, at whose foot a pot of gold is said to be buried] :  an illusory goal or hope

Pennies rattled deep in her skirt pocket as she hurried toward the town car that was waiting to take her away. Her stomach heaved as the butterflies danced within. She had waited six weeks for this day to arrive, long days and nights of work had left her exhausted. Though she was weary, the thought of returning to the hospital had returned the spring to her step.

Grey skies darkened the landscape, hanging suspended over the mountainous ranges. Misty rain lingered after the previous evenings thunder storm. She pulled her cardigan around her against the chilly gloom of the air as he opened the back door for her.

“It will be a long and slow trip to town today” the driver said as she sank into the wide seat of the car.

She merely smiled at him as he closed her door. The engine of the car ticked over, emitting a gentle growl and a gust of black smoke. The car idled for a few moments, warming against the outside temperature. He slowly eased the hand brake off and they bumped slowly down the cobbled road, toward the open road.

Their combined breath fogged up the interior windows and she raised her free hand to slowly wipe away the steam.

Patches of cerulean sky flickered into vision as they left the mountain ranges behind and a lone rainbow appeared shimmering against the cloudy backdrop. Its tail resting along the road they travelled. Growing in size as they drew near it felt possible they could drive right through. The car chased the rainbows’ tail for many miles; it constantly glazed and glimmered into thin air, appearing again further in the distance.

She wondered if today would be the day. Her every waking thought of the past six weeks tied up in this moment and at the foot of that rainbow.

Perhaps today she might finally be allowed to bring her little girl home.

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{322 words}
I found this prompt via the Trifecta Blog (via a Twitter link)
It seems I am some weeks late to join in, but better late than never!  The rules of the challenge are set out here - and I think I managed to cover them all, even though I have used a piece that may potentially be used in my novel.

Constructive Criticism welcome.   

Monday, September 16, 2013

Ideas man

After 2011's NaNoWriMo and the sequel 2012's CampNaNoWriMo; I found myself cast adrift with no life raft. Words were splashed across pages but I wondered if they were at all coherent enough to weave them together into a real story. Caught in a riptide I struggled to return to this place I felt most comfort. It has been a year of treading water for me and I have a list as long as my arm of things I want to do to my story but I lament lack of time and lack of motivation. 

I wondered if my story would remain stagnant forever more. I wondered if ever the words would being to flow from my mind to my pen once again. I wondered if this was the end - destined to always be a WIPer.

And most of all - I wondered if I would EVER have a new story to tell (IF I managed to finish the first one)

I didn't relish becoming a a One Hit Wonder

 
As much as these song will go down in history as some of the best ever (according to me) I don't want to be forever known as that girl who wrote just that one book. That girl who only had ONE idea. One Story. One chance. I guess I've been feeling that this story of mine was handed to me on a platter - it isn't MY story, its my families story and much as I feel honoured to have the voices residing in my head (for now) and be allowed to tell it the best way I can, it also feels a bit like cheating. To be honest I am unsure I will ever get around to publishing it because it is a greatly personal re-telling in MY words with a lot of embellishment because truthfully I don't know the whole story, only what has been mentioned while growing up and what has been recorded in my Nan's hand. I'm creating a story around the bare facts and I'm creating stories within that may or may not have actually happened. And I'm unsure whether this is the right way to go or the wrong way. So it was placed on the back burner to be picked up again one day in the future. Yet it still feels I need to tell it. 

With so much angst riding upon my ONE story, it is no wonder I have felt trapped within its boundaries. With no headspace to think outside of the tide I am in, I have lacked new ideas and that of course started the worry all over again of whether I can do this. Can I be a real author? Can I write stories that aren't already gift wrapped. Can I build the bones of a story from the beginning.      

Then something magical happened.  As I studied more and wrote list upon list for my BIG story, little ideas started jostling into my mind. A snippet of a story here. A flickering mirage of an idea there. I don't know if ANY of them will take off, they don't remotely resemble bones of a story - they are merely an idea floating in my over capacity mind. They give me hope and the inclination that maybe instead of worrying about all the what ifs - I should be taking a giant leap into the unknown and see where it takes me.

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Forecast: Showers

I've gone back and forth on this blog post - in a way, it feels wrong to post it - but it also feels wrong to keep it in my drafts forever. I think for my past journey and because of what this blog is all about, I need to man up and push publish on it… 
Perhaps it will give someone who has a friend battling IF an insight into the vast emotions we battle daily.   

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At the start of the year I found myself surrounded by babies and bellies; I originally blogged about my feelings here. Since then I have to say that in terms of coping with all I've been through in the past - it has been a liberating and at times very difficult year; drawing a line in the sand of where my pain ends and where my happiness (for them) begins. I *think* I've done a pretty good job supporting and loving both very dear friends and family grow their tummies and slowly adding to their broods.

Looking back this year has shaped me further and made me face fears I would rather have kept buried. I have grown and I have learnt more about perspective than I ever dreamed possible.

I won't say it hasn't been hard; there have been times I was so fragile I thought I would shatter under the pressure, but I kept going and I worked through what was going on in my head both internally and externally - my shrink is another $500 richer for it and I have filled a journal with my thoughts. There have been moments I have had to put on a brave face, smile through gritted teeth and generally push one foot forward as I battled to keep what I was feeling inside so as not to dampen the sheer joy of others.

I am so proud of ME for having that strength to push on; to not wear my pain on the outside and to finally accept, acknowledge and move forward.

August arrived with a forecast of showers. Two baby showers in as many weeks. You ask ANYONE who has struggled ONE iota with Infertility and they will tell you they avoid Baby Showers like the bubonic plague.

I remember one such shower in the past, back while I was struggling to conceive my little girl - I sat and smiled bravely throughout the whole shindig. It's NOT so much about all the pain and sadness a baby shower stirs up - for me, it is a battle of balancing the sad (for me & my situation) against the happy (of them & their situation). This particular shower I was so immensely happy for the showeree (is that even a word?) as she too had fought an epic battle. At the end as everyone was leaving, the wicked witch (AKA Aunty Flo) arrived and the showeree ended up crying (darn those pregnancy hormones) and still I smiled, blinking back my own tears assuring her that everything was fine. Would be fine. And you know what it was. 9 months later I too delivered my little girl.  

Such is the circle of life.

The first of the two baby showers was a lovely morning tea with a group of lovely ladies. I was beyond anxious before hand, but once I arrived I pushed aside my own issues and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I laughed and giggled while playing the games and ate too much sweet food. I walked away peaceful, knowing I had finally turned a corner.   

The second shower I had received a message on Facebook prior asking me along, but also giving me an Out should I so desire. That small gesture nearly made me cry. More often than not, its the small act of acknowledgement that sends me unravelling. I was beyond honoured to have been asked at all. And to have her acknowledge that the event might be hard for me was beyond all expectations.

You see - this is not about Sympathy. Although it was a loss and grieving had to be done, I don't want anyone to pat me on the back and say "there-there, can I sing you Warm Kitty to cheer you up?" I don't want or need that.

Acknowledgment on the other hand.

It goes so far. To have someone acknowledge that YES there will be underlying pain "I understand this may be hard on you" makes a difficult moment easier to bare.   

Thursday, September 12, 2013

We are Family

Earlier in the week it was suggested, albeit flippantly, that perhaps another sibling would help to change a certain character trait of my girl. 

The character trait in question - not such a big deal.  

However. 

The flippant comment, one that is thrown about far too often without knowing individual history and while I could have said "but… we haven't had any more children because of X, Y, Z" I chose in this instance to stay in silence, barely nodding along with it. Inside a ball of knotted emotions swirled. Outwardly I was cool, calm and relaxed.

How far I've come these past few years.

As we walked back to the car, my daughter having heard the comment and of course the thought of a new baby to play with being fresh on her mind (what with my SIL only recently giving birth to her second) pipes up "I really, really want a baby sister. Or brother"

Of course. My heart shatters a little more.

What do I say to my 6yo? The reasons so intricate, so many factors within this difficult decision that its not so cut and dried. At the tender age of 6, where she still dreams of growing up and getting married (preferably to a prince) and having herself 2 little girls is such a ginormous and beautiful fantasy. I can't go destroying those dreams by saying sometimes people can't have babies. She's only a baby herself.

When she sees little cousins becoming big sisters, she looks at me sadly and asks why?

I struggled (yet again) to draw the line between my own heart ache and happily draw a bright picture of hope for my girl, all the while my husband muttering away in the background "there's always something that pushes you over the edge" and its true. So true. 

Sometimes it is the very smallest of things that set me off. While I can sit and say I have come so far to get where I am today, both mentally and emotionally (heck I didn't even shed ONE tear when the recent influx of babies arrived… for anyone who has dealt with one iota of infertility will know THAT in itself is HUGE.) I've spent the past few days pondering on how it has made me feel and how I want it to make me feel, because deep down this won't be the last time I am questioned. It seems to be a given that the natural order in life is to grow up, get married, have a baby then have AT LEAST one if not two more babies. 

Our family is complete with three (plus the crazy dog & the invalid bird!) I know that, but I still struggle with how to make those that are unaware; aware that families of three do exist. That families of three are complete and that they can be happy. Truly happy.  

The past few days rather than focus on the negatives of it all, I wracked my brain to find ONE awesome reason that makes being a family of three a good and positive thing. 

And my reason…. 

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Its cheaper to buy Krispy Kreme Donuts in packs of 4. One for Hubby. One for Child. Two for sad heartbroken mumma. Didn't ya know - donuts fix EVERYTHING!  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

#amwriting #amediting

I returned to Twitter today after a relatively lengthy break because frankly it was just another platform of social media that required thinking. Unlike Pinterest and Instagram where I just need to pin or add a cute photo - Twitter was fast becoming just another place to chat to a few choice (& awesome friends.) 

Then the #fangirl screaming started over the weekend when Kate Forsyth not only replied to my tweet but started following me too - a REAL AUTHOR following this little try hard writer. I was a little excited (okay A LOT excited!) 

So this morning I popped by and retweeted a Tip by Henry Miller
"Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing"

A timely reminder as a hundred new story ideas have started buzzing through my mind. I have started jotting down the potential storyline ideas into a notebook in the hopes they will one day come to fruition, but in the meantime - I must focus. On one story and one story only. 

My second tweet of the morning went like this: 

"Back to the novel writing today, procrastination is no longer the new black. Send coffee. And chocolate. #amwriting #amediting" 

And that my friends is precisely what I've done. Except for the writing part. And editing part. Well lets just say I've been re-arranging all the teeny tiny snippets of writing prompts that I've done over the previous few years.


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I still have a little more organisation to complete this task in full, but for now I'm happy with how its starting to come together in an easier (for me) format. I even started my new notebook (more on that system to come in another blog post!)

Each snippet has been catalogued with a title and word count so I can keep track of what I've written and whether I've added it to my Writing Prompts master file. Knowing I have all potential story pieces saved in one area means I have a clearer head to expand on them further in which case they will be added to the main story. 

I wish in a way I had of known these types of tricks back before I started writing my story! 

In exciting news though - after collating all the prompts I could find; it appears I have MORE words than expected. With two more scenes I'm working on for my assignment my total words count (including prompts) is OVER 40,000… I'm feeling a little emotional at this! 

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Monday, September 9, 2013

Brisbane Writers Fest

Last Friday I was lucky enough to go along to a MasterClass at the State Library and listen to a talk presented by Kate Forsyth. 

After wrangling Mr Car into doing the school run for me, I headed into the city early morning and after finding out exactly where I need to be, I sat with a coffee and cake and wrote in my journal for 20 minutes. After a week of stress and rushing to and fro, I really relish those rare quiet times of being able to sit and be in the moment. 

The Masterclass was on Researching Historical Fiction, as you can imagine there is so much to be garnered that we barely touched the surface in the full 3 hours we were there. I  wrote so many pages of notes, notes that will need to be collated at some stage and I learnt much. It was really well worth the money spent to be able to attend.

We began the Masterclass by introducing ourselves to the group, telling them about what we are reading and what we are working on.

It was a great mix of people attending the workshop, and I was surprised at the number of people who are still at the dreaming and planning stage of writing their novels.  A few published novelists and several real researches were amongst the group as well as a few sitting on finished manuscripts.

When it came my time to introduce myself I admitted to having broken ALL the rules by starting my story first then realising I actually REALLY need to RESEARCH! I was assured that there are no right or wrong ways. That it is perfectly acceptable to do my research now.

I also learnt that I am sitting at the mid point of my novel. I am having a mid book crisis. I had read the night before a wonderful blog post by Kate Forsyth on the saggy middle and her words spoke truth to me. Combined with her words during the class I have realised that my middle section, the part I'm currently stuck on is my turning point. It is indeed a dark and dreary place to be - but after some insight my mind is now ticking over of ways I can add light to this section - in the form of the characters strength (the old adage… absence makes the heart grow stronger) of life continuing on merrily through grief (as in the world doesn't stop just because you are grieving… life goes on)

Three pieces of advice that were mentioned during this class were

1. Writers Need Courage

2. Busy is NOT an excuse

3. Learn to Write BY Writing

I will repeat each of these as my mantra as I begin to write again slowly. A small amount of words each day. It doesn't matter if it is not GOOD writing, it will be writing and I think having sat on the fence with my manuscript for so long - not knowing which way to lean for fear of falling flat on my face. I need to regather my courage and walk forward. Not back.

After the work shop - I managed to get Kate to sign her book that I had only finished days earlier.  

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The library had a bookshop set up as part of the festival, so picked up a copy of her other book "Bitter Greens" as well as a copy of the "Grimms' Fairy Tales" 

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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Hump Day

Wednesday is typically known as Hump Day. Contrary to my original belief it is NOT the day you don your loveliest undergarments and sweet talk your hubby. Yes I did think that. And yes I did actually admit to it here!  NO. Apparently Hump Day is that middle of the week hump once you are at the peak, it's all down hill from there.

My novel is much like that. And yes I can call it a novel, I think 30,000 words constitutes at least a push in the right direction of becoming a novel, don't you?

My novel has sat neglected in all its unedited glory waiting for me to edit it. Waiting for me to add more words to its story. Waiting for that elusive thing we call time. All of which are NOT forthcoming and so it has languished and I have despaired that I had become the little tram "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can" continuously pushing up that never ending hill. Aiming for that peak that never came.

In the past week or so, several lightbulbs have been switched on (a blog post of wisdom, words of encouragement by a real author, forgotten moments suspended in time) and I have come to the realisation that I am no longer on the uphill battle.

I am teetering upon that elusive hump. Today is my Wednesday.

I can choose to keep sliding backward down the hill of negative thoughts "I can't do this. My writing is mediocre at best. I will never get this story published" or I can embrace the positive thoughts and start speeding down the hill toward that finish line.

Today I am re-reading inspirational quotes, printing out maps and embarking on research. Today I am back on the train and that finish line is looming.   

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

August Moon 2013 - Day 1

How have you treated yourself this year? Have you kept your intentions? 

2013 has been a year of learning for me. An enormous amount of study greeted me at the beginning (some that I had left till the last possible moment; as you {shouldn't} do) each week I have been feeding my brain with new to me knowledge. As fast as I can feed it, the faster the thirst returns until I am needing more. It has reactivated my brain in ways I could never have dreamt. 

Learning has been my intention. And I have kept it. I knew I had to be serious about it and I have allocated every spare moment in my day to keep the momentum flowing and I am proud of where I stand today; though I still have vast amounts remaining that needs to be completed.  

However in honouring my intention to study; I have neglected ME.

It may sound selfish but I learnt a very valuable lesson of BALANCE last year. If I don't have a little creative balance in my life each day, I fold like a pack of cards. Last year was the perfect time for me to step away from everything and live a creative life. This year however I am struggling to find that elusive balance between study, work and creativity as well as keeping my daily chores kicking along.

Right now I am sitting upon that delicate knifes edge and it is NOW time to start making small changes for the better. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Reading #challengecomplete

Remember I signed up for a read along winter challenge?  

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And then I went a bit crazy (as only I can) by setting up a great big long reading schedule

Then if that wasn't enough - I ADDED to said challenge? Come on, I should really be given extra, extra bonus points for that type of dedication right? 

Well the past three months have sped by and I am here to share that I did in fact meet all challenge laid down.

1) read the book "Pride and Prejudice"

* It took me nearly the full three months to read it, partly because I was slack, mainly because I never found the time to fully concentrate and because I really and truly struggled with the language. It is the type of book that is written in such a way that you really need to think because the sentences are formed differently. While it was good for me to finally sit and read a classic, I daresay the timing for my brain power (or lack there of) couldn't have been worse. I've been so busy with all my studies, that I have lacked brain power for anything other than nice easy reads. So this one was a real slog for me. 

*I'm not saying I didn't enjoy it - because I did. I actually found one morning while sitting at Maccas awaiting my parents arrival for a coffee, that I was so engrossed in one particular section of the book that I didn't realise they were there until they were peering over the book laughing that I was miles away. I think that maybe promising?

* The book is split into three parts. Have you ever walked through mud where your gumboots get stuck so fast they either stay there and your foot comes flying out & / or you end up on your arse in the mud it is that thick. Thats a little how I felt with the first part. I would be traipsing forward having glossed over a full page and then have to go back and re-read it so that I had a gist of where it was going! In the end I set a mini-challenge to sit in the sunshine while the girl and dog played and I read 10 pages at a time then gave myself a mini Facebook break in between. This got me through the first part, but I won't tell you that between that and watching LBD took me the greater part of a day.

* Part two was a little easier going on my mind, though I felt I would have struggled had I not been watching LBD alongside it. That reading schedule helped me immensely because I could relate what happened in the book to a more shall we say current state of events. 

* Would I read the book again? I honestly can't say. While I did find myself being swept away with the storyline once the language started gelling for me, I really can't say for sure - it was not the type of book that I could escape into and having a noisy family yapping around me made it that much harder to concentrate. Maybe one day when I'm old and all is quiet I will re-attempt it! 

2) watch the "Lizzie Bennet Diaries" found on you-tube

* I had seen these before, but decided for the sake of the challenge, that I would re-watch them. I followed the reading / viewing schedule (linked above) and I enjoyed comparing the modern day production to the old style of the book as well as vice versa.

* Going out on a limb here and stating for the record… (& please don't judge me!) that if it weren't for the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, I would not have been able to endure reading Pride & Prejudice.   

3) watch a Pride & Prejudice movie (or the BBC miniseries)

* I watched the Keira Knightly (who I love) version of the P&P Movie and I quite enjoyed it

* While there were some parts I didn't quite understand originally, they have since made sense after finishing the book.   

* I also went out on a limb and watched Bride & Prejudice - the Bollywood version. It was funny but like the other one, there were parts I didn't quite follow. Also I struggled to keep track of which sister was which as they had changed the names to suit the Bollywood style.  

4) choose and declare the BEST Darcy EVER for bonus points.

* Hands down - Darcinator from Lizzie Bennet Diaries #FTW 

So there you have it, one challenge finished with just over a week to spare. The next challenge has been set #Emma but I have opted to sit this one out as one original for 2013 is more than enough for me. As well while I've been busy reading this book; I've not had a chance to read any others!  
 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Cows go Mad

Last week as I pondered my Nan it got me thinking about our somewhat crazy gift giving toward the end. She was a giver and some years you could expect to receive a beautiful, meaningful gift from her. Like the year I turned 19 I received a Pig Pilt (truth be told it is a Quillow… you know a Quilt / Pillow, I chose to call it my PIG PILT - Pillow/Quilt - I do nothing the easy way!) My Pig Pilt is still going strong 17 years later. On side it it panels of farm yard animals the other is a fabric with pigs and cows. Other years we received more obscure gifts (lets just say - one year I received some granny undies… so very huge. Yet I couldn't fit one leg into them :O )  

Anyhow likely the Quilt is where THIS cow saga all began.

It could have been the cheap Cow Bell (geddit LOL) she purchased for me at the $2 shop.   

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Or perhaps it was the laughing cow I got her the following year (you know those ones that laugh hysterically until you are laughing so hard you almost pee your pants?) 

It went back and forward for a few years until she sent me home with a birthday gift for my other half.

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Yes your eyes do NOT deceive you - she sent him a small packet of Cow Seeds. Complete with instructions on 'how to grow them'. 

I see your cheeky; and I raise it threefold, my dear sweet Nan. 

Mothers Day was not long after that, so my hubby and I decided to get a little creative and we made her a…  

COW GARDEN! 

A pretty blue pail, filled with dirt. A few seed scattered about, a cute "Cow Garden" sign and a couple of little "seedling" cows spread over the top.

It was the BEST. GIFT. EVER.

Except for the life of me - I cannot find a photo of it (oh the joys of pre-phone cameras!) lets just say it was hysterical and the gift went down like a lead balloon.

Nowadays the cow joke has been replaced with chickens. But I fondly remember those days of crazy gifts and I hope that perhaps one day, I will be too old to need normal gifts. Oh what am I saying, my own little chicken posse are doing a great job at continuing on my Nan's Legacy of Crazy Gift Giving!   

Friday, August 9, 2013

Inspiration vs too much

A little where I'm at… right now. 

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Every week I seem to be caught up in this whirl of busy and I am trying so hard not to get trapped in the anxious cycle again. This week has been no exception and while I have had some wins (if you call finishing ONE tutorial and taking ONE photograph a win that is ;) ) but I've also not achieved what I'd set out to do. I'm trying to tell myself that this is OK. It really is.  

On the health front - I have been battling a sinus infection most of the week - hello sore ears, jaw, throat, teeth and now cheek. Ouch! Not much fun, but it comes and goes and thankfully have only had one headache from it. I figure this is adding to my disjointed approach to everything this week.  

My mind has been abuzz with all manner of things, thoughts of life after study. Hopes and dreams rolled into pretty packages. A deep and meaningful chat with my dear hubby who is backing me 110%. I get this warm, fuzzy feeling when I know he believes in me and those little glimmers of hope sparkle brightly.

I have a million and one things I want to be doing RIGHT NOW. Alas I am garnering my energy and focusing on one thing at a time. Priority numero uno for August is to submit at least 4 assignments (2 writing / 2 photography) and Wednesday I had a moment to sit quietly at the library and churn out a couple of writing passages for my assignments. After a little polishing and some research I should have both ready to submit by next week. I have also have 4/6 photos for the first assignment and 1/12 photos for the second.

Sometimes I feel as though everything is coming together as it should; but other times like last week when I had a photo shoot all lined up - then it was cancelled. I know I can re-schedule but time is not being my friend at the moment.

I have new story lines buzzing around in my head, so much so that I've had to release them and start writing a few excerpts - stay tuned, I might even blog them. I have much research I want to gather for my Novel, it is all good and well to imagine but when it came to describing in 1000 words a scene - I flailed. Especially as the township I am writing of I have not visited for 25 odd years & our last brief drive through was at least 9 years ago. It is hard when you have snippets on the edge of your mind but you need to see to refresh and reconnect those memories.

Yesterday I walked about the house and there is piles of things everything - needed my attention. Apart from the piles upon piles of housework to be done; there is library books that contain information between their worn pages. Photography books I have borrowed to research styles. Bridal Magazines (no I'm not getting married) on loan from a friend to find pictures to submit for my assignment. And then there is the writing. Daily writing. Mutterings that make no sense, but need to see the light of day. Story snippets and conversations that need something more.

Then there is the study I should be doing.

And we won't even mention the severe lack of creating going on; at this stage of the game, I am thankful when I stick a small sticker in my current diary and call it art.

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Yet even with all this going on and swirling around me, I am managing to pick up my camera each day. I am capturing moments of our every day (most days) and I embarked on an epic scavenger hunt - contrary to popular belief it isn't for the prizes, it was more that I am struggling for ideas for photos each day - there is only so many waterfront shots I can take. So I've had a little excitement hunting down creative ways to take the photos on the list. My poor friends on Facebook must be sick of seeing my daily photos already! Not to mention I'm dabbling in a Project 55. We are given a word / subject to take photos of each day. I participated in a similar meme earlier in the year and I found it immensely inspiring for me to stop and think about photos and words. So I am doing that too - alas I am resorting to my P&S as that camera is with me everywhere.

And that is where I am in a mighty huge nutshell. More than likely a coconut shell! 

Monday, August 5, 2013

You did WHAT?

While I solely believe that we are all made up uniquely - I like to think we carry on traits from others near and dear; and those no longer with us. 

Example 1. My dad and I have the same feet as my (late) Poppy. True Story.  

Example 2. I find myself saying the same things to Miss K that were once said to me by my mum.

August is upon us again and with it is birthday month. Both my parents, my brother and my (late) Nanny were born in August (as well as friends and cousins) so it has always been a busy month. Sadly my nan passed away 4 weeks after her 85th Birthday and I remember her fondly during that time and this year - 4 years on, is no exception. 

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I often ponder whether I might have inherited a teeny ounce of her strength; a smidgen of her wicked sense of humour Or her completely original ways.

Today it happened.

As I pushed my full to the brim shopping trolley out of the shops this morning, a young girl was approaching. I identified her as C. So I wave and smile and she looks at me blankly. As she neared I realised I had the wrong person; we can blame a million things - the light shining brightly behind her, new & foggy contact lenses, lack of caffeine coursing through my sleepy brain synapsis.

IF this had happened to my Nanny; for sure she would have stopped and started a conversation with this young girl. My nan, she was rather quirky in her own unique way and IF young girl didn't stop and talk to her, I wouldn't have put it past her to run after her & buzz her with her voice or something of the like. 

Ordinarily I would have been totally embarrassed for sing-songing HI to said stranger. I would have mumbled a "sorry wrong person" and hurried away, head hanging in shame. OH THE SHAME!

But. Not. Today.

Today as I realised that this young girl was NOT C. A started a silly conversation: 

Me: "Oh sorry I thought you were C"
Girl: "No. Did you think I was CS"
Me: "Yeah. So you know C"
Girl: {looking at me strangely}  
Me: "So do you work with C"
Girl: "No…." backing away as fast as she could
Me: "No matter. I'll see you later then"

Girl last seen tearing off through the shopping centre as I happily pushed my trolley out the door.

As I sat in my car, berating myself for being so stupid AND how could I mix up the two as they didn't really look anything alike. It occurred to me that I was turning into my Nanny. 

I came home and related the story to my husband who, when I shared my lightbulb moment, shook his head and sighed and said "God help us all" 

{for the record: my hubby LOVED my nan. his reaction was probably more due to the fact I was beyond excited that I had developed some Quirk. Because you know; I didn't have any to start with ROFL!}
So this moment has got me thinking - I might share a few stories with you over the coming weeks, because this woman was the epitome of AWESOME. I mean. I try really hard and I have nothing on her level of AWESOME.     

Friday, August 2, 2013

HIGH Distinction

While some days I lament that I am not cut out for this Study gig, days like this one make it all the worth while! 

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I had written this assignment (for Creative writing) out months ago. I sat on it - intending to review. Several times I went back to it but still I couldn't submit it. I wondered whether the book I had chosen to analyse Point of View was suitable. I wasn't sure of my own understanding of the third part where I had to re-write a story changing the verb tense and I again second questioned my piece I submitted.

This term it was time to get serious, so after pulling it out to re-read for the 500th time - I decided enough was enough - I couldn't polish it any better than I already had and I figured if it was wrong, then I could start afresh; rather than re-hashing what I already had.

This week I received my results and got a High Distinction (my 2nd for this course) I of course was thrilled to bits with this result and it has given me an amazing confidence boost to keep working on the remainder of my assignments for this course.

However it was the tutors comments on my work that has blown me away "near flawless - a nice, polished piece" that has really got my heart racing (in a good way) and made me think that everything I dreamed of may well be possible. If I keep on polishing my work as I go. Re-reading. Editing. Review. 

It has even inspired me to delve into a new writing book I purchased and I wrote a page & a bit (A4) and it felt… just right!

 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Cramps… stop being a girl!

Signs you know you have endometriosis… 

1) Walking 5 minutes to take the child to her school room - feeling fine; 5 minute walk back to the car and you are practically hopping on both feet with the rising pain. 

2) Popping 2 nurofen in the middle of the street (water optional; scotch highly recommended!)  

3) Standing at the coffee bar, pacing on the spot in agony as you patiently wait for the nurofen to finally kick in.

4) Going to the chemist and buying a heat pack and asking them to heat it up for you.

5) Practically feinting & / or vomiting as you await that long 1.5 minute for the microwave.

5) Walking up the street to Sports day with warm, soothing heat pad on your tummy.

6) Lugging about a now cold heat pack in your already overfilled camera bag.

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You see endometriosis cramps aren't like your normal Period Pain. They are crippling. They are vomit inducing. They make you want to claw your insides out. They make you no longer afraid to ask for something extra because the thought of walking around all day feeling as you do now - is not an option; nor is driving 20 mins home to collect your heat pack. Admittedly the nurofen would have kicked in - but by that time, the pains would have been excruciating by then and I likely would have developed a headache from the tension of fighting those pains.

I never ask for help.

I never take days off.

Occasionally I will stop what I'm doing for half hour to get on top of those debilitating pains, but then I usually go forward with life.

And I need heat. Without heat I cannot function. 

Luckily I am usually relatively close to home when I am struck down with the pain, my heat pack(s) on hand for instant relief. Somedays, like today, I can't help if because life goes on and it erupted upon me so suddenly.

Have you ever been caught out without heat? What is your go-to in this situation?

Did you know that a tea towel, a plastic bag, water and a microwave can act as a mini heat pack as well?   

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Cute Tea towel not essential, but it does ease the pain! Wet the tea towel thoroughly and place inside the plastic bag. Fold the bag over a few times and microwave on 30 sec increments - be VERY careful NOT to over nuke it because this can BURN skin quickly as the outside doesn't always feel as hot as it really is. I usually only do 30 seconds to start with and increase slowly as needed. Anyhow just thought I'd share this with you incase you are ever caught out; at a friends place or work place.  

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Month Ends…

A new month dawns (ok so I'm technically a day early, but I'm out all day tomorrow!) 

Do you ever find that as one month comes to an end, you focus on ALL you didn't accomplish and get bogged down with negative thoughts? I do.

Then something magical happens, I erase the whiteboard. ALL those tasks; gone in a millisecond. No longer there to mock me, in all there un-crossed off glory. A blank slate to write my new goals (which truth be told are basically, the same goals I didn't finish last month - just re-written in pretty new colours) and yet it is all fresh and exciting. A new day and a new month to achieve more. To no longer reflect on the negative but embrace the positivity of the weeks ahead.

Its a humbling feeling to be taken from negative to positive with such force.

I realised I am a very visual person, so at the beginning of each month - I take a blank calendar (I got my calendar from the Organised Housewife - here) and I write a list of everything I need to focus on for the coming month. I have also made a point of writing down expected hours of study available each day / week. 

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Then I re-write the white board. Its messy, but it's how I like it. This month I am returning to a full month overview rather than weekly view as this system didn't work for me in my July planning!
TIP: Store your whiteboard pens upside down and the ink will produce a far richer colour!  

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Then its time to pretty up my work / study diary. Each week I plan where I will be and list under that what I want to achieve. I may have been a little ambitious with the study for this week, but having it all there, makes it easier to stay focussed and less likely to forget something on those days that don't turn out how I expected. Case in point - sports day tomorrow will be 3rd time lucky due to incremental weather over the past 2 months :O 

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As I get older - Im finding that my memory just won't retain information like it used to, which is why I'm finding myself having to write down the most silliest of things.  I am hoping that if I can pick up the pace for the next month - I will be one step closer to easing back come the start of September to 2 days of study.  

Monday, July 29, 2013

FINISHED! of sorts

Finished

After 6 long months - I have finally finished the theory side of my photography course. There is complete and utter joy and happiness to have laid down my pen at last. My head whirls with all this excess knowledge that I know I will have to revise again and again. But it is FINISHED!  

Last week I admit to a mini melt-down amidst fears I would never complete it, the thoughts of the myriad of photos needed for assignments weighting me down. My husband was a legend…. wait for it… airy help to my feelings of unease. He told me I can do it and kept me on the straight and narrow; even after I threw my hands up and said what's the worst that will happen if I don't submit the assignments. He told me to take things one at a time. I walked away wondering how the heck I could manage to take 50 + (awesome) photos in the space of 4 months and have them all submitted.     

With a fresh perspective, I decided I needed something small and very visual to track exactly what was required. I hung my new pink noticeboard and pulled out the sticky notes and on each note - I wrote what I needed to focus on. Still Life - 2x replicated; Motion - 3x Cars; Wedding - 2x failed shots. And the notes go on. As I capture each photo, each note will be placed under a completed sign until I have a bundle.  

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With that out of the way - I then picked up the phone with trembling hands and made some calls to friends and family for photography practice. I am quaking in my boots but am also just a little nervously excited.

After conquering those two fears - I even picked up my iPad and pulled up my copy of Photoshop Elements 6

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I figured it was high time I stopped being so scared of editing photos (the correct way) and start embracing a little change. Surprisingly it wasn't as scary as I thought. 

So now I forge ahead with renewed inspiration and motivation - ready to kick butt on this course and the next 4 months! I can do this!  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

{locked} a five sentence fiction

She had arrived at the home late last night, while the night sky was as black as a magicians’ cloak. A small one-bed room in some ways starker than the hospital room she'd called home these many months past. The wooden floors, cold beneath her bare feet squeaked as she walked, an accompaniment to the sounds of crying across the hall. Padding quietly toward the door, her hand hovered nervously over the brass handle. An audible click was heard as the door swung inward, croaking ominously, a blinding vision in white standing stoic, between her and freedom.

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A quick five sentences written late last night to ease myself back into the swing of daily writing again. Poor Miss Dove has been trying to tee up a virtual writing date with me, but each time she's messaged me I've been out and about. I'm supposing its only Karma that I message her last night right as her phone dies. Today I will write alone.  

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Enlightened

en·light·ened  

/enˈlītnd/
 
Adjective
  1. Having or showing a rational, modern, and well-informed outlook.
  2. Spiritually aware.

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The past few months have been weighing heavily upon my mind and I've had to reface seeing someone to talk things through. Its strange how we soldier on for so long then after speaking to someone - whether that be your husband, your best friend, your dog or your shrink - suddenly those problems you have been carrying around; no longer seem to heavy. The burden is  eased.

So it was for me. I had become so dragged along by what I thought was life itself that I couldn't see the light. Nor the colours.  

It turns out it wasn't so much life dragging me down, then myself setting personal expectations far too high. 

After much talk and a LOT of diary writing, I've finally found myself enlightened. Or perhaps. Lightened.

The silly little things in life had been pulling me along, dragging me off my path and like the snow globe {above} I felt trapped in a bubble of whirring thoughts. Whirling and swirling so fast I couldn't see past, to make sense. Of the nonsense.    

I know now that if I strive for more balance and less perfection; focus upon the positive rather than the negative - I can be and do so much more. If I let myself stop those fluttering thoughts momentarily I can see clearly. I can see with clarity, all the colours within.  

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The point being - it is likely I need to STOP and STEADY myself more often. Be more accountable for living in the moment rather than just being in the moment. Learning to SLOW those thoughts and know that its perfectly okay if I don't catch them there and then. Life is truly fascinating.

Todays' post bought to you by $500 worth of therapy; numerous cups of caffeine; thousands of words written and a $2.80 Buddah snow globe. I apologise if it makes no sense. These words are speaking perfect ZEN to me.     

Friday, July 12, 2013

Extra points?

Remember that challenge I'm doing to READ Pride & Prejudice, VIEW Lizzie Bennet Diaries and WATCH Pride & Prejudice movie? 

I think we are up to week 6 now and I should be officially HALF way through the viewing schedule and at least 1/3 of the way through the book - yet I  am still floundering somewhere in week 3. I am really struggling to get into the book (I'm sorry but the language is so hard to sink into my brain and its not the type I should be just skim reading either) 

So I did what any good Challenger does. I added another challenge. 

I present… 

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Oh yes I did! I watched the whole thing and quite enjoyed it. 

So do I get Extra Bonus Points for watching this movie too??? 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Words. Everywhere I look.

I have a million words swirling through my brain synapses at the present moment. The past three days have been spent hitting the books, knowing that I won't be around to study tomorrow and knowing that I have a tonne of words to be written, to be read, to be shared.

The more I read, the more my thirst evolves and I want to do everything right away. Alas I must bide my time, pace myself lest I burn out, so I have turned to making notes everywhere and marking them off when I can finally get to them.     

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On my desk right now aside from my laptop and a cold cup of coffee is:

2 x A5 sized day-to-day moleskines; the place I record what happened each and every day. A five minute job that has turned into an epic task as I found myself side tracked over the holidays and have managed daily titles only. I foresee a marathon writing date in my very near future.

1 x Subject Notebook with a list of activities to be completed for each course. Today was designated to concentrate fully upon the activities. I am half way through one task (converting 2x 5 min free writes into a short story - though the subjects are two completely different things) 

1x Subject Notebook for my blog posts. Each idea I get, I scrawl it in this book under a separate section then mark it off when I get to it. I am so far behind in blogging as I turned my back on my computer over the break and now have oodles to share and write about. 

1x Diary with only work related jobs to be done as well appointments that KEEP CHANGING. 

1x Tutorial on Creative Writing. The more I read and learn, the more ideas I have buzzing through me. I keep telling myself to SLOW DOWN, take it one step at a time, which means I've been making a lot of extra notes alongside those I need to do for my course assignments. 

In the past two days I have managed to write a full page of things I want to check up on in my novel. Everything from Senses to Syntax. Adverbs to Adjectives. Tone to telling. Pace to Plot. I can't get to that list until I submit the next few assignments. So I need to focus. 

And that has NOTHING on the table behind me. 

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It has my study notes book, my journal, a notebook with new story ideas buzzing to be written. A book of short stories, The Idiots guide to Creative Writing (its actually VERY informative), a writing book as well as several assignments I need to revise and prep and write. 

I love feeling so inspired, but sometimes the ideas in my mind swamp me. They battle one another to be the first to escape and I struggle to keep track of the path at hand. It is moments like these, I wish I had a time changer thing-a-me-bob.  

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

13 in 13 Challenge… Mid Year Update

Little White Dove
 

6 months into this challenge and I am pleased to report that I have successfully completed 8 or the 13 books in the genre challenge (not including the extra few I added to the Historical Challenge.  

Some of the books have changed from what I had originally intended to read, but for the most part they have remained the same. I have been actually REALLY enjoying the added challenge of extending my reading capacity to include genres I ordinarily wouldn't have looked at. 

So to date - here is my updated list of books finished. 

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I have 5 remaining genres to complete in 6 months which I am happy with. At this stage the only one I have changed my mind on is the Poetry book, I checked out the Banjo complete works and it is HUGE. So I picked up an Australian Poetry book and made a start on it last month, slowly reading poem every few days. I am really struggling with my approach to The Spiritual and Motivational categories - both are books that I want to read, but they are both pretty heavy going. My mind needs to be cleared in order to give them the attention they deserve - so the plan is to read those slowly in small moments of time where I can have complete concentration in order to really comprehend the words.

How are you faring in this challenge?  

Monday, July 8, 2013

Back to Reality

Toward the end of June I began to falter. With the end of term 2 rapidly approaching and everything that needed to be done as well as everything I wanted to do, it was hardly surprising that I only managed a small portion of my goals list.

In hindsight I was burnt out and needing a break after pushing myself to study 3 days a week in order to get the theory side of my photography course completed.

I then made the mistake of mentally preparing myself for the practical side of the course {Insert many profanities and mutterings about needing more time} before I walked away from it all. I stuck my head in the sand like the proverbial emu (does an emu actually do that?) And I pretended if I didn't think about it, it didn't exist.

It wasn't a huge surprise when I was struck down with a head cold over the holidays and the a magical moment presented itself. It could have been because of the good Cold and Flu tablets I was on, but suddenly I found myself relaxed with camera in hand and at a wedding where we were allowed to take photos. As I snapped away I could feel my passion returning and since that weekend, I have had the camera out daily snapping away.

With Term 3 starting today and knowing I have a lot on my plate over the coming weeks, but also knowing that three days of study is NOT conducive to my mind set nor my living quarters - something had to change. My new diary has my days earmarked with the week in advance. I see at a glance which days I can study and those I cannot. 

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It feels good to be in front of the pack BEFORE the term really kicks off. I spent the afternoon yesterday updating dates in my diary, planning meals for the coming week. Working out how many hours I have available to study and accepting there are some days it just won't happen and that is okay too. I even went so far as updating my Goals board to list what I need to do this month. Rather than list everything PER Subject I have broken it down into weeks. Each week I have worked out a tentative hourly limit and worked out how many Tutorials / Assignments and Activities I should be able to complete in that week. 

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I feel so much more organised and less overwhelmed in working my list like this that I have already managed a bonus 4 hours today after finishing my housework early. 

There has been much soul searching over the past few weeks of areas I am lacking in and areas I am overextending. Perhaps this will be an ongoing battle to find the balance in life, but now that I've pinpointed those small things that make me lose grasp of reality.  Which in turn helps my own emotional wellbeing knowing that I can make time if I'm aware of time. It probably doesn't even make sense, but in my head its completely coherent. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

13 in 13 Challenge… Book 8 - AutoBiography

Little White Dove
 
 Book #8 - 13 in 13 Challenge 

Lessons in Letting Go - Confessions of a Hoarder; Corinne Grant 

Genre: AutoBiography 

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Book 8 / 13 completed. After a birthday party on Saturday, I needed a light weight read so I picked up Corinne Grant's - Lessons in Letting Go. I purchased this book at the Airport last year when I flew to Sydney with every intention of reading it on the flight - however I only managed to read one page, before it was stuffed into the side table, balanced precariously upon a pile of other books (still to be read) next to a purple teddy from my early 20's and above a framed picture quote.

The blurb: This delightful memoir is about hoarding and about how the things we hold on to can end up dictating our lives. Warm, funny, candid and insightful, Lessons in Letting Go is about the pain - but also the necessity and the joy - in learning to let go.

Autobiographies aren't usually my first reading choice (give me escapism any day) I think I could name on ONE hand the amount I have read, however this memoir was easy to read and if you are a fan of Corinne Grant - I highly recommend as it is a light hearted approach to being overwhelmed with STUFF. Which I am.

From the very first paragraph "holding what appeared to be a bunch of sticks in his hand" to "They're the first bunch of flowers a boy ever game to me" she spoke to me in a language I could totally relate to. *raises hand* guilty hoarder right here! 

Who hasn't kept a special bunch of flowers as a dried arrangement??? So maybe they were the flowers from my BFF's wedding and I tried to dry them, truly I did. From the moment the dead flower petals kept falling to litter the bottom of the cupboard, I did contemplate throwing them in the bin. Though it did take me several months to work up the courage to take those 10 steps from the cupboard to the rubbish bin and more courage still to stop from crying.

LUCKILY for me, Corinne did what any good hoarder does when they feel things maybe getting out of control, she wrote and shared a list of Levels of Hoardment. According to her list, I'm a lowly level 5 (out of 10) so I'm sitting pretty for now - though reading her memoir I was more than a little scared at a lot of similarities between us. {and not just our sense of humour and #comedygold moments}

The book covers a year of her life where she hit rock bottom and came to the realisation that keeping stuff for the sake of keeping stuff does not make one happy. It is her journey to discover herself minus the hoards of stuff she has carted with her since childhood. It really was a delightfully entertaining read and if you think you may have an issue with being a hoarder - this one is definitely for you. 

Now as I face reality and kick boxes out from under the desk to give my feet room, I look around my craft room with trepidation and I realise that I am in HIGH danger of becoming a level 7 (needing one or more family member to move out to make room for the stuff) so excuse me while I go do a major clean out of all the stuff I'm never going to use and am just holding on to 'just incase' 

I'm telling you now… baby doll dresses WILL RETURN TO FASHION one day soon, scurries off to find where I stashed that dress 20 years ago… 

      

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

13 in 13 Challenge… Book 7 - Thriller

Little White Dove
 
 Book #7 - 13 in 13 Challenge 

Above Suspicion; Lynda La Plante

Genre: Thriller

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This one took me a little longer to read than normal, likely because I am also reading Pride & Prejudice at the same time as well as starting a poetry book for the same challenge. I don't normally read more than one book and when I do, I find it slows down my reading overall.

This was book number 7 for the Genre Challenge. Only 6 more to go and with 6 months of the year I am more than happy with where I'm sitting challenge wise. Though I may not be saying that as my remaining genres are

* Poetry
* Spiritual
* Motivational
* Graphic Novel
* Auto-biography
* Fantasy

Apart from Fantasy - the rest I could take or leave, but I will push on because I am surprising myself with how much fun this challenge has become. Some days I almost feel "smarter" simply from expanding my reading.

Above Suspicion; Lynda La Plante I listed as a thriller but really it really should be classed as a crime mystery (? maybe ?) it wasn't quite a "thriller" as I expected as the suspect was known to the police all along, it was more a matter of breaking down the circumstantial evidence and pinning the crime on him. Usually I class my thriller reads as more Mary Higgins Clarke (don't laugh - I loved these a as a teenager) Martina Cole (particularly The Lady Killer WOW!) or Jaye Ford. You know the books you have to keep on turning pages to see whodunnit or to see how the heck they would get out of the situation.

Regardless - I chose to try and read new authors as part of this challenge so I could expand myself beyond the Twilight-ish books. I enjoyed the book, thought I felt it could have been stronger in certain areas. The murders were gruesome and I felt the horror of them was sort of glossed over - compared to other books on the market for me, the descriptions were bland. I always remember reading The Lady Killer & being absolutely shocked by the brevity of his murders. Maybe it was because I was only 17 (& I was so NOT supposed to be reading this book - I nicked it off dad when he went out one day and sat mesmerised by it) however I digress. I also thought the killer (a sociopath) could have been written in a way to make the reader feel real fear. Anna Travis is the young female detective who discovers the link, while I can see that the writer was setting up this character to become a female lead in future books, unfortunately for me she was a bit too unfamiliar. It probably didn't help that I kept seeing her as a sandy blonde when she was actually carrot top - I hate when that happens!            

I will be reading the other books in this series eventually, as I feel the next ones will evolve as the characters are cemented into the storyline.