Category Archives: Writing

Waiting

I thought I was getting better at waiting. I’m really not. I’ve got a few pieces of writing out for consideration and they have all run overtime on the deadline for responses. But all I can do is wait. That is the lot in life for an unpublished writer.

I can’t help but feel that if I was a more dedicated writer, I would just get on with the business of writing so that I wouldn’t even notice the waiting. But I do notice it. Every day. At least three times a day.

In first year Uni we did an experiment on rats either reinforcing, extinguishing or irregularly rewarding a press on a button with food. The reinforced rats just tapped away casually getting fed, the extinction rats tapped for a while, then gave up and got on with something else. The irregularly reinforced rats madly banged away at that button trying to work out what was the secret combination to get that food reward. I feel like one of those rats.

So, I guess my mission this week is to find something (besides work) to distract me from my email so I don’t keep checking to see if anything has come in yet. And I’m going to try really hard to make sure that thing is not TV.

It really is time for me to start working on a new novel.

 

Transformative Creativity

I was getting coffee with my work colleagues the other day when a song came on in the café that totally ripped me out of the here-and-now and dragged me back in time for just a moment. I’m sure my colleagues didn’t even notice the rip in the time-space continuum that gobbled me up and then spat me out. But I did. Those memories sat on my shoulders for the rest of the day.

Then on the bus I was transported to a fantasy land with a bunch of people I think of as close friends, despite having never met them. They don’t even know my name or what I look like. Of course they are characters in a book that I’m reading and they took me away from the congestion on the roads, for which I was truly grateful.

The arts really do have the power to take us somewhere else, to feel something else, to stop us in our tracks and make us suddenly see with different eyes and ears and senses. It amazes me how little time I make for revelling in other people’s creativity given how wonderful it can make me feel. I’m going to make a point of listening to more music and reading more books in the coming weeks. Maybe it will help with producing my own works of creativity.

Adelaide Writers’ Week 2019

I’m back, and how appropriate that it is Adelaide Writers’ Week weekend. I must confess that I didn’t go down to Saturday’s session. 2019 has seen record-breaking heat in South Australia and coming off the back of the hottest March overnight temperature on record, Saturday promised to be windy and a little over 40°C. There was no way I was going down the hill to sit in that sweltering heat after so few hours of sleep the night before.

But today (Sunday) promises to be much cooler (yes, apparently we now consider 31°C a cool day in this part of the world) so I’m going to head down and check out the Young Adult authors provided I’m not too old to be let in (I hope there isn’t an age limit for the audience).

Anyway, my own writing has slowly started to gather a bit of momentum again. I wrote another very short piece last week and have toyed with editing a few of my longer stories over the last month. I can’t help but notice that I’ve also gotten back into reading my book on the bus . I’m sure there is a direct correlation with how much I read to how motivated I feel to write.

So if you are in Adelaide this week, and you aren’t into super cars, check out Adelaide Writers’ Week in the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden near the festival centre. It runs until Thursday, and it’s a totally free event with well-known authors from all over the world.

And if you see me there be sure to say hi!

Creature of Habit

I tried to turn my laptop on today and it wouldn’t come on. I pressed the button a couple of times and then sat there, looking at my blank machine, wondering how it could break down with no warning?

My laptop at work has the ‘on’ button on the right side, in almost the same place that my home laptop has its volume buttons. I think you can see the punchline here. It took a lot longer than it should have for me to investigate the faulty ‘on’ button to discover I was actually just playing with the volume.

The computer is on now (button on the left side did its trick), but it made me realise how much we function on habit. Don’t get me wrong, habit is handy, it lets you do things while freeing up your mind to wander elsewhere. But I wonder if sometimes we let it limit us, because we believe we are doing the right thing, but there is actually a better way.

I think I’ve got to the point in my writing where doing things the same way is not going to take me where I want to go, so I need to do something different. I need to start a new habit. I don’t know what that habit should be, but I’m going to try and look at each decision from all sides, and work out if there is a different way.

Just an aside; we had the hottest day on record on Thursday, and nearly every day this week has had an overnight minimum in the mid-twenties – so sleep deprivation might also have played a part.

Work and Play

I’ve recently started a new job and I have to admit I’m really struggling to manage the juggle with work and writing. My office is very tech-heavy, so they have covered all the windows to minimise reflections on people’s screens. The result is that it feels a bit like you are sitting in a cellar, and your eyes never get to focus further than the length of the room.

Now, I know I’m getting older, so I probably notice this more than others, but my eyes are exhausted at the end of the day. There are only so many walks you can take to the kitchen to look out the window there. As a result, in the nearly three months I’ve been working there I haven’t written a creative word on my work days.

This has been highlighted with the recent Christmas break, where I got right back into the swing of writing. I thought I was on a roll, but now that I’m back in the office, my attempts at writing during the week have turned into a quick game of solitaire, checking my emails and then closing down.

After my brief burst of productivity, I’ve realised I need to find a solution to this. I don’t want to limit my writing just to days that I’m not in the office. I’m a big believer in work-life-balance, so when I’m not at work I want to be doing what I want to do, and that’s writing.

I’ve started talking lunch time walks as well as the many sorties to the kitchen for peppermint tea, but I think I need to find something more, especially with nearly a week of over 35°C on the horizon. Any suggestions will be gladly welcomed!

Publication!

This one slipped past me because I wasn’t expecting it until 2019. It was published last Sunday, but I didn’t check my email soon enough. This story, Bleed, is quite dear to me. It has a very personal meaning and was inspired by something in my life. Anyone who has read the story will be a bit confused by that, I’m sure, because the story is set in a time and place that is clearly not our earth.

It is a horror story, but only insomuch as there is a bit of gore, and bad things happen to people. It actually feels a bit more magical realism to me, but there’s not quite enough ‘real’ to truly fit into that category.

I’m not going to tell you the meaning behind it because, firstly, it is a stand-alone story and the meaning is not required to enjoy the story, and secondly, because this twice got rejected, once with the comment ‘this is good, and it will get published, but unfortunately not with us’ – and I wonder if it was because I told them what inspired it, and maybe it hit a little too close to home? The third time I subbed it I left the inspiration story off and it got accepted, so I think there is a lesson in that.

It’s published in Midnight Echo Issue 13 (which I was desperate to get into) which is the magazine of the Australian Horror Writers Association – of which I am a member. It includes some other great fiction, so you would do well to get yourself a copy.

I hope you enjoy Bleed, and if I see you face to face, I’ll tell you the story behind it.

Back on the wagon

A funny thing happened on Saturday. I was lounging about, stuffing my face with enough chocolate to make me wonder if it is possible to get diabetes in a single week of poor diet choices, and I suddenly got up, came into the study, and turned on the computer. More amazingly, I opened a writing project I last worked on in October and I started editing it.

This is was a very rough first draft, so I needed to write new words and everything. Within the first sentence I felt like I’d never been away. Next thing I knew nearly two hours had disappeared and I came up for air, leaving the world in my story behind and finding myself again in the study.

It was wonderful.

This is such a nice way to end the year. It gives me hope for a more productive 2019. I have my list of writing projects I want to complete, and now it seems I have found the motivation to get back to putting words on the page instead of just watching my own private movies.

I hope you all have a very safe, relaxing and fun New Year. I’ll see you all back here next year!

Time to plan

I love lists. I write a new list every week for what I want to achieve in the week. But I think the ultimate list is the one you get write at the end of the year about what you want to achieve in the following year.

I’ve got one week to come up with my list!

Look, I’m the first to admit that I tend to deviate from the list sometime around February, so it is clearly not set in stone. But when I have those moments during the year when I have no idea what to do next, I can always go back to the list. Chances are that I won’t do what is on it, but it prompts me to come up with an alternative.

This is an exciting time for me, and if I could find a way to incorporate a spreadsheet, I’d do that too. For now, I’m going to focus on the list. Or should I say lists. I like to categorise so they’ll be broken down into roughly;

  • Personal
  • Writing
  • Home and Garden

If you don’t normally write a list, I would highly recommend trying it, because it’s not actually the ticking-off of the list that is so great (I often lose it during the year anyway) it’s all about imagining what it would be like to have done all those things, and that’s what fires up the inspiration to do it.

Happy planning!

The story machine

I haven’t had a lot of time to myself over the past few weeks. Even on the bus I’ve been bumping into people I know and chatting, or reading books. Today I sat alone on the couch with the TV turned off, the 90’s hits playing in the background, and I let my mind wander.

It amazes me how my mind can go from one subject to another, completely unrelated subject, and somehow find a story. I generally start out by ruminating over something I’ve recently seen, read or watched and then my imagination kicks in. Imagine if this happened? Then that! Then…. Ahh, I think we have a story.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been a little worried that the stories were drying up. I’d heard some other writers say that with age fewer stories come, but I think the truth is that with age more responsibilities and demands on our time come. Give yourself the time and a bit of quiet and your imagination is still there in abundance.

Now if I could just start making the time to write some of these stories without upsetting family, friends, work and the rapidly dying hot water service!

How we see

I was talking to a friend about how we look at the world. This isn’t a conversation people tend to have. Perhaps it is a bit like our perception of colours – we assume everyone sees things more-or-less the same.

Turns out this isn’t the case.

He talked about going down the freeway and how he looks at the stratum of the rocks and thinks about the geology of the land. He considered how the folds and faults got there.

I look at the same folds and wonder what bizarre creatures might have wandered the earth when those lines were the top layer. Better yet, could some long-trapped virus caught in a blister of (something – research needed here) be scraped open and unleashed upon the world?

I know that not everyone has pondered the question of ‘would we be sent home from work if aliens landed somewhere in the world,’ but I did assume everyone makes up their own stories. I guess that’s sort of true, but the stories are not always fiction.

We look at the world through our eyes; the lenses of which have been shaped by a lifetime of fascination – and we are not all fascinated by the same thing.

Thousands of people go down that freeway every day, and every one of them has a different narrative running through their head. And I’m so glad that the world is like that.