Lazy days

It’s been a slow start to the new year.
The crows are creaking outside against a background chorus of buzzing insects.
I’m watching tennis with the sound muted because the tv antenna needs fixing and hearing the pop and crackle as the picture fades in and out is way too annoying.
I’ll start reading a new book soon, my kindle is waiting for me on the coffee table.Books waiting in many forms The fan is keeping things cool, but there’s also a nice breeze flowing through the house.
Even though I haven’t been writing much lately, I had two articles published in December.
There’s also another little snippet of mine here.
I’ve been reading hungrily and have worked my way through lots of great books.

Remedy Quarterly - Issue 11 Comfort
MAEVE Magazine - Issue 9 Christmas

I’ve just finished up a course with the Australian Writer’s Centre (highly recommended).
My pursuit of new writing work will begin in earnest again very soon, but for now it’s enough to surround myself with words, even if they’re by other people.
Hopefully my return to the day job for another year won’t be too much of a shock.
Happy new year. :)

November happenings

These past few weeks have flown by so quickly, I still can’t quite believe that it’s so close to the end of the year. With nothing very profound to say at the moment, I thought I’d simply share a little of what’s been happening in my world …

A night with Radiohead

:: The land of 9 to 5 is a struggle, but earning money for grand plans is pretty neat.

:: Thom Yorke recently reminded me that I will never be as cool as him.

:: My car was written off, with a nice new car since taking up residence in the garage.

:: There hasn’t been much writing happening, but a few lovely projects are ticking over.

:: The Mr and I have become Saturday morning breakfast regulars at a great local cafe.

:: I’m back into my boxing class routine.

:: Dark chocolate-covered cherries are rather delicious.

:: Inspiration arrives in the most surprising of places.

On that last point, take for instance the (fantastic) tv show Louie. Its freeform approach to plot and character arcs often makes for interesting and unexpected moments of insight. I recently watched the episode which features Joan Rivers talking about the up-and-down career path which most comedians (and many people in creative professions) experience. What she said really got me thinking:

‘Listen. I wish I could tell you it gets better. But it doesn’t get better. You get better. You think it’s been easy? I’ve gone up, I’ve gone down. I’ve been bankrupt. I’ve been broke. But you do it. And you do it because…because we love it more than anything else. That’s why you’re doing it.

You want a real job, honey, there’s a million things you can do. But what we do is not a job…it sounds so stupid…but what we do…is a calling, my dear.’

‘…it doesn’t get better. You get better…’ Love it. And so very, very true.

On doing and becoming (a writer)

The act of writing is easy enough. One simply puts pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and repeats as necessary. In making the journey from writing to writer however, things can start feeling more complicated.

Unlike professions which require completion of a certain qualification, or training in a particular set of skills, there are many different paths you can take to become a writer. For me such a realisation has been both wonderful and challenging. Wonderful because it means the door is theoretically open to anyone who wishes to write, but challenging because with such opportunity comes an extraordinarily generous measure of crippling self-doubt.

Writing and a writer

Writing has always been something I’ve pursued in the background, treating it more like a dream than a serious venture. Being a writer seemed to be a thing that other people did, and it never really occurred to me that writing is something I could and should be focussing on. So I’ve spent many years in professional wilderness – working in jobs I didn’t like, wishing I could just be ‘normal’ and be happy working in a corporate nine-to-five kind of job.

Having the past ten months away from work has honestly been the best thing I have ever done. Instead of it being time ‘off’, those months have very much been time ‘on’. I have learnt so much about myself and my writing during that time, and I finally feel like I have a clear sense of my future goals.

Even though I still have some unfinished business to take care of back at the day job, I have decided to completely embrace this writing life and all the ups and downs that come with it. While I may not always be comfortable expressing it, I know that in many ways I have always been, and will always be, a writer.

Breathing Space

The main reason I started blogging was to form a writing habit. Ok, done.
And of course I feel lucky to have come to know some truly wonderful people.

But when I start asking deeper questions of why I continue to blog, well the answers don’t come all that easily. As is evident by my periodic and sometimes lengthy absences, over the years I’ve had my ups and downs with blogging. But I think this time it’s different.

Breathing space

I am currently doing my best to write, write and write some more, so that one day perhaps I can call myself a writer with a capital W. Or even better yet, an author. So with that in mind, I feel that it is less important for me to maintain an ‘online presence’ in this form. I think it’s much more important to focus as much energy as I can on my actual writing.

The way I currently blog is costing me much more than it should. It takes too much of my time and effort to write quality posts, take my own photos, comment, and do all the other things that go into keeping a blog healthy. I no longer think the end justifies the means.

Breathing space

I accepted a long time ago that I don’t have a blog theme, but I recently realised that I am also blogging without intent. I have no real purpose here, and that just feels wrong.

So what does this mean? Well I haven’t figured that out yet. I’m not sure whether I’ll take a break or just change the way I blog. Time will tell, and I’m just going to trust my feelings and follow my instincts. If I do end up disappearing for a while and you’d like to say hello I can often be found on twitter or instagram. That’s one nice thing about the world – wherever we may be, we’re never too far away.

A Sense for Writing

Hi there! How have the days been treating you? I’ve been feeling a little reflective lately (more so than usual), thinking about life and other important stuff. Having my days revolve around writing means that I spend a lot of time caught up in my own thoughts – and that’s OK, but it has made me think about the influence of externalities in my world. While I may not always have a ready supply of common sense (the privilege of the dreamer), and I’m pretty sure I’m devoid of any extrasensory perception (although I do always know when good coffee is close by), I get along pretty well with most other senses – in particular, sight and sound.

Watching and listening to the world is the very stuff of story-making … the imagination feeds on a caught snippet of conversation, an observed interaction between strangers, or on hearing a certain turn of phrase. Sometimes these little moments weave their way into a story or form part of an idea that  is  (hopefully) original, yet still connected to reality.

Listening

I’m starting to think that I’ve been unintentionally training as an observer all my life. For whatever reason, and it’s something that I’ve never been able to explain, I seem well-equipped to blend in and become practically invisible – perhaps I’m like Marcus Brody? (of Indiana Jones fame). I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been stood on in elevators, walked into, or gone completely unnoticed because I haven’t been seen. Now this is not a ‘woe is me’ missive, but I won’t lie and tell you that it isn’t more than a little frustrating and de-moralising to have this happen time and time again. In fact, I’ve even had someone tell me that I ‘melt into the background’ … ouch!

Watching

After having my personal space invaded for about the millionth time this week, I’ve decided to look upon this camouflage of invisibility as a blessing rather than a hindrance. It does have its advantages. At least it gives me the opportunity to see and hear things that may otherwise go unnoticed, adding a different perspective to my writing … just call me Mrs Cellophane. ;)

Starting the year on the write note

I’ve spoken before about this year being THE year for me to get serious about my writing, and so I thought it’d be timely to give you a little update on my progress so far. Here’s hoping that you’ll all be able to keep me accountable if I ever look like I’m slacking off …  perhaps you’ve got a project that you need some encouragement with too? If so, I’m here to help with some positive barracking from the sideline or a helping hand where needed. After all, sharers are carers.

A few weeks ago I started easing back into the writing groove by setting myself a modest daily word count. From there I’ve increased my word count goal and shifted my focus towards ensuring I spend a certain amount of time writing each day (provided the baseline word count is still met), and it’s been working well for me. I want to treat writing more like a ‘job’ – so I need to make sure I turn up every day and put in a reasonable amount of time and effort. Most of the daily word count is going towards one main piece of fiction, but I’m also keeping my eye on a few other non-fiction side projects. However, rather than get too caught up with all the big picture stuff, I also want to make sure I take creative breaks from time to time … and that’s where I’m hoping the fortnightly Sparkapolooza briefs will help.

A line of deer

The first brief for the year was ‘Beyond the Square’, and if you’re interested you can find my (very) short story, ‘Lines of Nature’ over here. There are also lots of other wonderful submissions to the brief, and you can have a look at those here. I like the idea of using these briefs as a writing exercise – with the intention of just doing and not being too concerned with over-polishing. I’ve never been much of a fan of diamonds anyway! Haha! :)

A few moments in January …

Sure, I may be a little late in welcoming in this latest year, but perhaps that’s just an indication of how nicely 2012 has been treating me. I’ve been very much enjoying the feeling of ‘space’ the new year has brought with it … space to think, dream and be. Breathing space. Do you feel it too?

With one turn of the calendar, all the rush and hurry at the close of one year is left far behind, replaced by a magical sense of possibility. Apart from it signalling the start of the tennis season, the thing I most like about January is that time slows, creating more opportunities to appreciate the little happenings. With that idea in mind, I thought I’d share a few of my recent moments.

… There’s been flower gazing and cookie baking.

Green and purple blooms

Vegan choc-chip cookies

… Lots of bright sunny days, green grass and one very happy dog … Oh, and there’s always an opportunity to take my favourite sandals out for a relaxing wander.

A doggy roll

Saltwater Sandals (in yellow of course)

But I suppose the most exciting thing about this year for me is that I’m writing again. Actual honest-to-goodness proper writing … and gosh, it feels so fantastic! I’ve pushed all the doubts, negativity and annoying self-criticism to one side (for the moment at least), and I’m trying to just let the words do what they do best.

How about you? Have you experienced any little moments which have you thinking that this year could be quite momentous? xx

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I have very clear memories of my childhood career contemplations.

The most vivid and earliest memory of this is from pre-school, so I was probably about 5 years old. One day my teacher asked the class to draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we grew up. Can you guess what I drew?

My drawing suggests that from an early age I had already developed a love of all the things I still hold dear today. It also hints at the fact that I was not going to grow into a person of singular vision … I liked so many things in the world – so it was obviously too hard for me to choose just one future profession for myself.

I drew two pictures of myself – one as a Ballerina, the other as a Veterinarian … So, did you guess correctly?

While I’ve never been much of a dancer, I expect it was the pretty elegance and grace of ballerinas that made the world of ballet seem like a wonderful place to be. As it turns out, learning classical ballet was not something I ever actively pursued.

However becoming a veterinarian was a possibility I considered well into my final years of high school, but I suspect I always knew I wouldn’t find success in the field. I studied the right subjects, have a scientific mind, and love animals … but I just don’t think I could face saying goodbye to animals on a professional basis. My poor heart is too easily broken by such matters.

One thing I have actually done since childhood is write. My first short story was written by hand into a red vinyl-covered notebook, at the age of 8. I’ve been writing stories on and off ever since. Even though it’s been a life companion, sometimes I ‘hide’ away from my words, but that’s something I’m addressing this year.

Because my dream career and ‘real’ career have not yet aligned, whenever I’m asked that inevitable question, ‘What do you do?‘, I shall answer with my own question … ‘Shall I tell you what I want to do?

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This post is part of the the ‘Seven Day Blogging Challenge’ being hosted by Andrew. The theme of this challenge was to ‘answer one question I think people visiting my blog may have’. All the details of the challenge are here, and you can see who else is taking part here.