I don’t know what happened late last year, but I suddenly realised that I’m not getting any younger. To keep planning on what one will do one day just gives you an excuse to not do anything today.
I felt the pressure of that thought through our bushfire-ravaged Christmas and New Year. My perspective about what was important got seriously highlighted. So, after much consideration, I quit my job. It is time to write.
Don’t worry, I accept that I will (probably) have to go back to work eventually, but I have saved enough to give myself a decent break and I have got a plan with numerous lists to go with it. Just one spreadsheet though. I’m sure that will change.
The first stage, implemented in February, was to tidy up the multitude of short stories I had that were nearly finished and almost ready to send out. They are now doing the rounds and with luck I might get some acceptances soon (I’ve already had two really positive rejections).
March is new short story month. The past eighteen months, each time I’ve had an idea for a short story I’ve just written the summary of it into my ideas book. Stories can die in there. This month I’ll set some free.
So, join me on this next leg. Hopefully it will be rewarding for both of us; reader and writer alike. We might all learn something. I’m not committing to an every-Sunday post, but I will try to get back here as often as I can. Wish me luck!
For nearly 10 years I’ve ensured that (nearly) every Sunday there is a post here. In recent years I’ve thought that the blog medium was dying and I wondered if there was any reason to keep it going?
I think there is a place for it, but perhaps not how I’m using it. A blog is a great space to share ideas that do not fit into just 280 characters. Social media is now the place for sharing short observation and high-level ideas, not to mention koala photos.
So from now on I’ll only post a blog entry when I’ve got something to share; good news, bad news, or something I really want to talk about in more space that a tweet will give me. And who knows, I may end up missing it and coming back just as regularly.
In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter @nataliejepotts – I do have other social media accounts, but I’ll probably be posting here more than I do there.
Occasionally you discover a previously unknown truth that shocks you. It might be as small as realising you have been saying a word incorrectly your whole life, or it could be as major as discovering your parents have been hiding a secret brother in the cellar all these years. Neither of those happened to me this week (they don’t even have a cellar), but I did discover that a belief I’d taken for granted was wrong.
If I was a character in one of my stories I would have wallowed in this particular truth for a while (act 1), come to grips with it (act 2), and then made a radical change to my life to go on with the new knowledge (act 3). Instead I’m trying to pretend I did not make this discovery, and I keep going as if everything is still exactly the same.
Of course, my response is ridiculous, and will no doubt lead to some weird dreams, a few more neuroses and, eventually, several more horror stories. It would also be a very frustrating and uninteresting story if I was reading it.
I know I’ve said it before, but I wish I sometimes had the courage of my characters and lived my life more like a story rather than a prelude to retirement. I guess the issue with real life is that you can’t just go back and edit things if you realise your character is heading in the wrong direction. We only get a first draft at life.
This week my great Aunt died. While I hadn’t spent a lot of time with her in recent years, she was a big part of my childhood family-gathering memories. She is also the last of that generation to go, which opens up a whole plethora of feelings which I won’t be exploring here.
Next week my parents and I will likely go down and start clearing out her house, disposing of possessions that would have meant so much to my great Aunt, but to us are just things. It’s led to the inevitable review of my own life and all the collections in my house. How would my stuff look through the eyes of someone else?
I look at the biology text book that I’ve lugged from Adelaide, to Brisbane, to Melbourne and back to Adelaide as I’ve moved around the country. It’s well out of date, and I haven’t opened it in years, but every time I look at it, I have fond memories of all the hours I spent pouring over it for Uni when I still believed that I could work as a zoologist. No-one else will see that book that way.
There is the stuffed toy that was my favourite as a child, the framed drawing done for me by a friend at a time when I needed it, the glasses I bought myself as a gift to when I had my first paid publication, and of course the beautiful Archaeopteryx that I’d wanted for as long as I could remember and a special boyfriend managed to track down for me as a wonderful surprise.
All these things are just things, but they are the things that make up my past and colour my future. I just hope that I can give my Aunt’s things the respect and attention that they deserve.
I will confess, it was a lovely month off. I got to do a lot of socialising, family stuff, weekend getaways and lazing around. But that’s all I seemed to do. And if I’m honest, I could easily have fit the blog in around all those things.
What I noticed was that I felt no compunction at all to get to the computer. So, I didn’t just have a month off my blog, I had a month off writing. While I know I’ve said many times that I’d done no writing in the week, I did put out some flash fiction and edited stuff which I just didn’t count. This month I literally didn’t write any words of fiction.
And what was also strange is that I posted on social media less, not more. I took photos that I thought I should put up, but didn’t. I mentally composed ‘funny’ (IMO) tweets, and then never wrote them down.
It’s made me realise that this blog isn’t about getting followers or connecting with the big wide world; twitter, Instagram etc. do that now. This blog is about accountability, and clearly I need that in spades. Let’s see if anything else gets written this week.
At the moment I’m working with a group of IT developers. Every morning we have a stand-up meeting where we go around and say what we did yesterday, and what we are doing today. It never ceases to amaze me how when the developers talk about what they are doing I can understand 99% of the words they use, but only about 50% of the meaning. It’s like they are using a whole other language, but a language made up of words from my language.
Sure, there are some words I don’t understand, something that sounds like nougat, stuff to do with pipelines, and a wiff, or waff, or woff (I’m still not sure what they are saying). All I need to know is that they have sprinkled their magic code-dust over the computer and it is now doing what I need it to do. But to get that answer I need to ask my own yes/no question.
Any change in job or career means a learning curve where you need to re-learn some parts of your own language. The context of the word can totally change its meaning, and part of that context can even be the people with whom you are talking.
No wonder language is constantly evolving. If these differences can arise in organisations and vocations, is it any wonder we can speak so differently across states and countries?
We are at the tail-end of daylight savings, so the mornings are starting to be pretty dark when I walk down to the bus in the morning. Besides the odd funny encounter with possums that I mistake for the neighbourhood cats, the other pleasant side is that I now get to see the whole dawn show from last stars to first heat.
The other day, as the bus crested the hill and Adelaide opened up before us, I was struck by how similar the dawn sky behind Adelaide was to the dusk sky I spent so many photos on up at Lake Argyle. I remember the wonder and amazement I felt looking at the ever-changing hues of pink on that day on the lake, and yet I nearly let this Adelaide dawn go unnoticed. It was a beautiful sky and equally as beguiling as that Lake Argyle sunset.
I think the biggest difference was I was not looking with my tourist eyes, but my work-fatigued eyes. As soon as I started appreciating the beauty of the moment I felt my spirits lighten. I then got off the bus a stop later so I could walk through the mall and appreciate the dawn light in the city; something I rarely get to see.
And just for a short while, I felt like I was on holidays.
This week I didn’t find the solution to my working/writing conundrum, but I did continue to take lots of walks to the botanic gardens, despite the heat. In fact, if I’m honest, a little bit because of the heat. There is a little part of you that wants to pit yourself against that 40°C day, just to see how you’ll go.
So here is a selection of flower shots from the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, and maybe next week I’ll find a way to convert this creative stroll into something that generates some words.
I’m so far off the writing-wagon that I’ve wandered away from the road altogether and I doubt I’ll see another wagon to even be able to flag it down and hop back on any time soon. Okay, I’m taking the analogy a little too far, but I’m not even trying to write now.
Success in writing normally depends on… you know… writing.
Sometimes it is better to get off the beaten track (how many clichés can I fit into one post?) and discover something new. I don’t mean a new pursuit (though I must admit I’ve still found time for some photography), I just mean the opportunity to come at life from a whole different angle. And that’s what this feels like.
So I’m not the least bit worried. My mind still wanders to the next story I want to write, and I’m pleased to say at least in that respect I seem to have made up my mind. November was always going to be busy, and December doesn’t look like it will let up much either, but come January, I think I’ll be ready to climb back on a wagon. Maybe a different one, maybe one I make myself, or maybe I’ll just run out of ways of trying to fit my life into this cliché and I’ll just start writing again.
P.S. Here’s the moon peeking out between the clouds.
I have to confess that my phone line got fixed much sooner than they told me, so I’ve been online for a while. But September was a busy month, so I decided to take it off. I’m sure everyone can relate to that.
Some exciting things happened in September, not only did the princess turn 10, but I got two stories accepted! I won’t say any more until the contracts are in, but they certainly reminded me that I need to send off more stuff, more often. Stories won’t get accepted if they are only present inside my computer.
I also started a new job, so that took up a lot of my head-space, but I’m starting to get used to it now and my mind is starting to wander again when I’m on the bus. There are two main stories that I keep returning to, so I think the next step is to choose one to be next year’s JanNoWriMo. Or who knows, maybe I’ll even get into NaNoWriMo this year?
So thank you for sticking with me regular readers (I know who you are!) and expect to see me back here every Sunday as usual.