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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