Thursday, March 27, 2014

Opening the Envelope

Remember that feeling of receiving an envelope in the post? The wonder of what could be hiding inside?

Today I received an email and as I clicked open the attachment, I felt a sense of that wonder. Along with a few nerves as my internet connection waited to boot in. Scrolling through I couldn’t see it. I hurried to the computer to download the file and there it was…

High Distinction.

I let out a breath, I had been hoping these results would arrive before the weekend. I hadn’t asked anyone (apart from Hubby) to read my work for this assignment. One section of the assignment was to rewrite an earlier story.

I chose to rewrite a story I published on this blog back in 2012 - you can see the original story here. I had to use all that I had learnt in the tutorial to make the story better, rework the imagery, check the pace etc. After sitting at my daughters music lesson I had the original words scrawled all over with red pen, and in my book emerged a new spin on the tale, that finally felt was a little more MY style and voice - rather than the original stilted piece I wrote, but without losing the overall tone. I then had to write a half page report to explain what I’d changed and why.

I was a bit (okay a LOT) excited to receive a high result on this as I was rather proud of the fact I was able to go back and edit my work. I guess because it gives me faith that my story can be salvaged if only I spend the time working on the rewrite!

So what do you think?

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Years ago it was a grand circus, bright colours flapping in the wind. Reds, yellows and whites now faded, having sat derelict and in disarray this past decade. Weeds snaked around the few remaining structures as brittle grass stood tall, gently waving. Warning strangers of the misery and imminent threat lurking within.

Fabric pieces remnants of a glorious circus tent; now flapped in the chilly breeze that swept across the desolate field. Tattered and torn strips of white and crimson like a bleeding ghost, added to the eerie and silent scene.

As they stumbled past the ruins, they were intent on their final destination. Clearing away years of undergrowth they parted bushes and vines until last, before them stood a derelict machine. Propelling them toward it like an oversized magnet.

Faded gold letters were peeling from its fa├žade, the letters F, O, T, N all that remained of the original lettering. Mirrored glass beneath the sign now peppered with a layer of dust and grime barely reflecting their weary faces. It was unnerving to see their sombre faces in cracked fragments, staring back from this machine that once foretold fortunes great and small.

Red paint, chipped away by the relentless sun, revealed sun-bleached timber beneath like a matured skeleton. Years of exposure to the elements emanated putrid fumes, as wet timber lay dormant in a stagnant puddle. Spores of green moss wrapped their spongy tendrils around the base of the unit. It was a far sight from the glory it used to behold, but still they walked forward. Mesmerized by that which they could not see and determined to seek the answers they longed for.

Holding hands, uncomfortable at the sudden but familiar touch, he leaned over to pull the lever. Hopeful it would reveal to them a new fortune. Simultaneously they thought the same words as they leaned forward; how did everything go so wrong?

The machine slowly ground to life, groaning, clanking, squealing as though in pain, as rusty bolts screeched against weathered belts. The internal lights flickered dully. One hand clenched upon the lever, the second gripped tighter to hers. An apparition in the mirrored glass motioned them, a mouth hung suspended in air, forming words of silent sound, unheard to the naked ear. Together they leaned, closer, futilely to hear a new fortune told a bony and pallid hand as white as the snow, reached through the glass and drew them in.

Together they tumbled, legs and arms entwined as they fell inside the depths of the dark wooden box. Terrified they managed a brief glanced at one another before the lights slowly dimmed, and they were suddenly plunged into darkness. The mirrored glass turned black, their vision of the outside world blocked forever.

A voice in stereo, echoed their fortune into the dark and claustrophobic space; “Together forever, as one.”

Screams can still be heard on a still night far across the edge of the abandoned field, warning off travellers who might stumble across the impending danger.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Show us your manners - ya' drongo!

Drongo; A dim-witted, slow person or fool. 

Meaning taken from The Lingo Dictionary. My mum gave me a copy and to be honest, I'm unsure if it's because I may need to refer to it whilst writing the family history (our family does use a lot of Aussie Slang) or perhaps she is keen to refine my language and steer me far from the Effs and Sheesh's?

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Maybe Drongo is not the correct terminology to use in my little story, perhaps it is too harsh a term because the woman wasn't really a fool. However I have already uploaded the picture (& this blog posts has been in drafts for weeks - so in it stays) A reminder to all those who cross me - I might just be heard calling you a drongo! 

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Now let me share my (rather) embarrassing moment; in which even though I was admittedly - completely and utterly in the WRONG - I still found myself astounded at a fellow persons lack of MANNERS!

A quick trip to the local Grocery store and after unpacking the groceries onto the conveyer belt - I did that weird contortionist move of squeezing your body between the wall behind and the trolley and counter in front. After disentangling my limbs I pushed it forward but I wasn't exactly watching what I was doing… you know where this is going right? 

So the trolley rolls forward and JUST as I turn around I watch it go BUMP right into the ladies *ahem* backside, in front of me.

I was mortified and before she'd turned to me I was apologetic and saying "Oh god I'm SO, SO Sorry. I wasn't watching what I was doing."

Now for the record - I didn't use the voice my 6yo is prone to when she flounces off to her room with a flippant "SORRY" over her shoulder at me - my sorry was genuine. I was horrified and I apologised profusely to the lady. 

To which she proceeded to give me a Death Stare, then completely ignored me as she turned away. 

I was so shocked as I stood there, face burning. 

I know I was in the wrong and even though it was CLEARLY an accident, I was flabbergasted that my apology didn't even warrant a reply. A simple nod would have sufficed.

Thinking about it a few weeks later - it still bugs me greatly that she couldn't acknowledge my obvious distress at what was an accident. I have taken into account all the what if's and I know myself have used a death stare on people and bitten my tongue when I've been having a bad day (but those times were warranted when I was dealing with real life Drongos) perhaps the point I'm missing is this lady saw ME as the DRONGO and as such decided I was not worthy of her response? 

All I know is I was taught MANNERS when I was growing up, the same MANNERS I am trying to instil in my 6yo and I get mighty cranky when I hear how its said that "kids these days don't have any manners" when I am faced with adults that don't have any either. Maybe I am expecting far too much from people!   

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A little bit musical

Did you know I am a little bit musical? It was many, many moons ago that I started learning to play the Organ. My Nan had one and would belt out tunes ALL THE TIME so my parents invested in one too and I spent many years learning to play as well as learning theory. By the time I was in high school, I had a new teacher and I had completed all of my theory exams. So I wheedled and nagged my parents to let me learn the piano and so it was they finally bit the bullet in 1993 and we were the proud owners of a beautiful Mahogany Piano. I sat several exams over the next few years and even though I didn’t garner great results (particularly in the last exam I sat for) I really enjoyed learning the more difficult pieces.

When I moved out of home, I did a deal with my parents and ended up buying the piano from them (it cost me a car and a stereo system and some from memory) but it was worth it. For the next 2 years I continued to commute to my home town and take lessons with my teacher and I had every intention of sitting for my 5th exam (even though I hated the exams and I completely bombed out when I had to perform in front of anyone!) but then as it does - life just got in the way. I was 20 something and learning this instrument that really was never going to take me places as I wasn’t cut out to be a “teacher” and what would I ever do with it. So I eventually stopped going to lessons. I got married instead and still played occasionally.

Each time we moved, I dragged the piano with me - determined to return to it one day. To find a new teacher. To perhaps return and finish my exams.

Fast forward a decade and I kid you not - I have barely touched it. It sits, my pride of joy in my living room and it remains quiet. Every now and then my daughter would have a little play and still I promised myself I would return to it. One day.
This year I finally found a teacher for my daughter to begin lessons. She only started this term and already is grasping it really quickly. I mentioned to my daughter that I really missed playing but sadly couldn’t remember much any more; she suggested that after few more lessons, she can teach me what I’ve forgotten!



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Yesterday afternoon, feeling a little stressed and after my daughter had finished her practice I grabbed some of my old sheet music from the cupboard and sat down. A few false starts and several times starting over (I had even forgotten how to read the music knew I would have forgotten a LOT since I last played and it took me some time to ever remember what notes they were, but after a few goes I managed the first two lines of this piece. And managed them not too bad (if I don’t say so myself)

Suddenly it was like my fingers knew where to play - I must have practiced this particualr piece over 100 times in the past (yes see that date - 6th January 2000!!!) I was very sad to see rusty I am at it now and there is no way in the world I could play it at 86 on the metronome (the piece is supposed to be played at 120-126 beats & way back then I was only managing to play it at 76 which was fast enough in itself!) Yesterday after 13 years, I would be flat out getting to half of those counts)

Hubby; bless him reckons I just need a bit more practice.

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Of course I could have started with something a little easier - but where is the FUN in that?

Want to hear how this piece is supposed to be played? Absolutely amazing playing - I can only dream to play to that extent.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

OotB - week 1.

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CHALLENGE:
WEEK ONE: Day In The Life – pick a character. It can be a new character, or and existing one. The only character it can’t be is the main character of a current WIP. Tell me about their day. It can be in any format you wish. Diary. Letters. Email. Any length. For new characters, you may if you wish include up to 150 words of backstory if it will make the main piece make more sense.

Before the dawn when all is dark,
his rising snores were heard.
Drowning out the sweet birdsong,
unaware of the raucous birds.

As sun peaked round his curtain drapes,
and warmed upon his face. His pain
pierced through his squinted eyes,
as tight bands squeezed his brain.

He stood and wobbled about the room,
the drums camped in his head.
His stomach began its revolt,
he swallowed it down instead.

She met him with an icy glare,
and shook her head in sorrow.
He walked on past regretfully,
for he’d drunken all his ‘morrows.

The day went on, he barely lived
kept busy with his chores,
Closed his eyes and while he worked,
he dreamed of places more.

The sun sunk low in the western sky,
the bottle raised to wet his lips.
Survival of another day,
the Tale of his first sips.

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I’ll be honest here - I started this prompt last week with my secondary major character and I couldn’t seem to articulate it what it was I had to say about her day. When I reached 600 words and she’d only just risen from bed, I shoved it aside and decided to use it as one of my writing prompts to be expanded and added to the overall story later.

Thus it left me with nothing to share for this prompt. I had a mini brainwave late last week and grabbed a piece of paper and started scribbling words. It was supposed to be a “list poem” I thought detailing my minor characters day as a list might work well for this. Yesterday I finally had a chance to sit with the scribbled words and after a little tweaking here and there, I ended up with the above poem. I actually didn’t want it to rhyme, but some of the lines just rolled off my pencil - which meant I had to go back and adjust those stanzas that didn’t rhyme. I should also add I have a head cold so what I’m writing & reading through my fuzzy brain may be absolute nonsense to you. It still needs MUCH editing, but for now I’m happy to send it live and get cracking on Week 2 prompt!

Step away - CRAZY Woman

It has been said before - I’m sure it will be said many times in my future - I AM a little CRAZY.

This latest idea of mine is NO exception.
Maybe its the head cold making me do it.
Perhaps it’s the awesome cold & flu capsules I’ve popped.
Chances are - I’m just plain crazy.
Yet I cannot budge this crazy idea from my mind.

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I alluded to new story ideas back in August and again in September. One of those stories keeps on resurfacing. After noticing a few signs I decided to heck with it and yesterday I found myself buying the final item I needed - and I am going to jump in with both feet. It feels like a madness - tell me I’m not mad?

Last year I purchased two books from Book Depository; the first was No Plot? No Problem! written by the founder of NaNoWriMo. I am 3/4 of the way through the book and found it really inspiring. While I know now that with everything else happening in life - 50K words in a month is not feasible for me - but I do know that I can write. I love to write.

The second book was the one pictured above Ready Set Novel! Now I did briefly consider using this for the novel I have already started to write, but at 60K words already - it feels a bit silly to start over plotting it.

Armed with these two books, I found this composition book at Officeworks while shopping for Back to School. I know NOT how it fell into my basket - only that I’m kicking myself on not buying MORE when I had the chance. This new crisp book has been awaiting my attention. I put it aside not knowing what I could use it for. I briefly entertained the idea of giving it to my daughter as they are identical to the Monster High Dolls Diaries (actually when she hears of what I plan to do with this - she will be most upset, so I will need to invest in another book or two in the near future!)

The next sign arose after reading a Roald Dahl book to my daughter, at the back of the book it had this section about his writing life - how he used to write and where he wrote. Now CRAZY would be me asking Hubby to build me my very own writing hut in our backyard; just like Roald. And while I have no doubt he would do it if I used just the right amount of wheedling voice - I am turned off by the thought of our resident snake population who would LOVE that little writing shack for their homes…

Noway I’m sharing a writing hut with a snake!

Did you know that Roald Dahl would write his books in yellow pencil on yellow legal pads. Those new pink pencils didn’t fall into my shopping cart accidentally!

Imagine the beauty of handwritten pencil words, written in the same book, year after year.

And that my friends is how I know I have really, truly turned bat shit crazy. So the question should be - should I do it???

Monday, March 17, 2014

Some days are just CRAPPY!

*because some of you asked so nicely…. here's the crapper story I wrote last week! 

Some days you shouldn't get out of bed. Today has been one of those days!

I have PMT and I am tired and irritable. And mighty uncomfortable. I couldn't afford to take another day off from study so I am powering through and opting to revise a tutorial. Needless to say I have post it notes coming out of the wazoo.

Before racing off to on the School run this morning, I went to the toilet and as I flushed the water went UP instead of down. "Oh shit its filling the bowl," yells I. Seriously that wasn't meant to be a pun… like I would talk about my own… *ahem*

Anyways I pop out to see hubby & he is facing the same issues with the office toilet. Except he keeps testing it. Fool… 

I race off to School & end up under the only rain cloud on the Island, which left the girl and I both thoroughly drenched (even with our brollies) and I craved nothing more than to come home to a nice warm shower; maybe curl up on the couch under the miserable grey skies and sleep off my mood and pain. 

Meanwhile hubby was at home dealing with a crappy mess {pun totally intended} you see we live semi rural and with it come the joys of country living; meaning we aren't connected to the town sewerage network and instead had to pay to install a REALLY EXPENSIVE sewerage unit. On the plus side - it pumps out crystal clear water over our always green back yard!  

Hubby opening the lid to inspect it is met with a nearly overflowing tank & utters "oh shit."  

"Oh Shit" says I when he rings to deliver the news. 

No showers. No toilet stops. No Washing the clothes (well that's a GOOD thing) No running taps. I swear it was like a return to the dark ages! 

After waiting FIVE hours I rushed to the neighbours house, "Can I use your loo PLEASE?" she giggled at my obvious state of distress. Yeah giggle now - I be about to explode everywhere. Hormonal bloating + no toilet for 5 hours = a very uncomfortable and very miserable girl!  

More waiting until finally at the 6th hour the repair dude turns up. "Crappy job huh" {the puns just keep on keeping on with this one!}

$350 later our tank is now back in full working order and no longer does hubby need to stand curb side like Cousin Eddie. 

   

Not that hubby did stand curb side pumping; the whole day just reminded me of the movie and I found this one youtube and it seemed fitting!  

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wordless

I've sat down to write several times since my last post but found although I had many words to throw at the page, articulating those words into something coherent was severely lacking.

I wrote a funny post about our failed crapper but decided it wasn't suitable material to publish.

I attempted one (of two) OotB writing challenges for Miss Dove, but didn't like it & want to rewrite from scratch.

Last week I wrote a post about rude people, but again felt uncomfortable posting.

Then there was the small post about unwelcome comments. Which was sent to drafts.

So the words seem to be there - but my content is waning.

What do you do in these situations - do you just hit publish regardless of the content, because it felt like a good story on that day? Or do you let your posts languish in the depths of drafts forever more?

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I've been spending some time each day in my journal. It is the kind of writing that isn't judged, it isn't on show for all to see and its completely me.  

Perhaps I am being too hard on myself - after the past few weeks and the fight I waged against anxiety, maybe the task of returning to writing is supposed to feel like it doesn't belong anywhere. Perhaps I should just press "send to blog" on one of those posts. I spend far too many waking moments worrying about what others may think, that sometimes I don't allow myself time to have my own viewpoint. This blog is my view. It is my point to discuss how I see life. And isn't that what writing is all about? To write with your own style, your own words as seen through your own eyes?  So many questions today and not nearly enough answers - but maybe that's what I need in order to return to freeing myself to be myself. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Moving past the Anxiety

Last week I wrote two posts that struck a nerve like a twanging guitar string (see what I did there… I done tried to invent a simile - though a poxy one at best!)

Added to that twanging nerve was an all encompassing depressed feeling I had developed while reading Anne Frank (same thing happened to a friend) and then the  anxious feelings of the next book I attempted to read.

By the weekend - I was an absolute mess. 

Plagued with consistent heartburn all day Saturday I took it easy, knowing this was a sign of my bodies response to too much stress and anxiety. By Sunday I felt a hundred times better and headed off to a morning of Art Journalling with the gals. As I painted and chatted, listened and drank coffee I could feel a peace descending over me. What is it about returning to childhood crafts that makes one so in tune with their minds and bodies?

After collecting my daughter I made the trek home and from the instant I jumped in the car, my heartburn started as did my racing heart. I fought it. I pushed it down. I told myself sternly that this morning I had been feeling wonderful what was so different now?

I drove home and pulled out my planner for the week ahead and as I stood staring at the blank pages before me, and hearing the words of all I had to do rushing in my head, bouncing over each other - I walked away. A long hot shower with some breathing exercises and I could feel myself losing grip.

When I walked out my hubby immediately freaked out "what's wrong with you - you look sick"

"I don't feel right. I feel I'm going to burs at the seams," says I. 

So I sat on the lounge and I wrote. I wrote as it is the only way I know that can move thoughts and feelings from my head. Page after page I wrote. All handwritten and messy scrawl.  I wrote about every little thing that was bothering me and as I did I could feel the tears prickling. Toward the final pages, a sense of peace started to settle over my body. My heart still racing, but it felt as though a kettle that finally blows its whistle as it boils. As I finally found words to talk to my hubby, my tears overflowed.

"Why are you crying mumma?"

"Because sometimes big girls need to cry too."

I had spent the past few weeks belittling my feelings of worry, squashing down the anxiety ridden waves in my gut, forcing my way on through the myriad of "to-do" lists and by the weekend my body screamed its protest. STOP WOMAN!

So I stopped. I wrote and cried it out. I went from feeling like a rubber band stretched taut to a liquified mess of limbs. I was utterly exhausted and lay upon the lounge staring at the TV before traipsing my way to bed.

Yesterday I decided to ignore the "Must do's" on my list. Yesterday I wrote a small list of 5 things, I picked up my camera and walked out of the house and took 15 mins time out to walk along the waterfront. I did the groceries without a list and bought home more chocolate then real food and just enough fruit & veg to feed us a good wholesome meal last night. I ignored the floors that mocked me, I hid in my study and I painted. None of it looked any good but by the time School pick up rolled around I felt as though I had a handle on ME once more.

I even managed to fold 5 baskets of washing while watching a movie! 

I've decided to face the rest of this week in much the same fashion and so far it is working. I am aiming to complete small tasks and not sweat the big stuff - surely it can wait till next week.

Sometimes life has a nasty way of becoming too overwhelming to cope with. Tomorrow my floors will be still there, still waiting to meet the vacuum - but today I am feeling like me.