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.
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.
A while ago I talked about how I was going to start doing something different to try and get my writing career off the ground. One of those things was doing more courses and networking events. Well, I’ve started, and it’s proving valuable in a number of ways.
Firstly, I feel like I’m doing something, which is hugely beneficial from a mental health point of view. In recent months I’ve felt like my writing was going nowhere. I started to wonder what was the point in writing if no-one was ever going to read what I wrote. Going out and doing something different helps me to feel like I’m championing my novels to a wider audience and that they stand a greater chance of being seen.
Secondly, I’m getting a better idea of what everyone else is writing. I thought the whole world was writing Young Adult Spec Fic novels, but in the two events I’ve been to recently it seems like memoir is by far the biggest genre for the great unpublished. That gives me hope, because it feels like the opposition numbers have been culled.
Finally, and perhaps most obviously, I’m learning stuff! I think investing in yourself is never wasted dollars, and so far both events have given me information that I didn’t have before. It is also interesting to see how quickly the publishing landscape is changing, so it is important to keep my finger on the pulse.
I haven’t got any more courses booked yet, but you can bet I’m going to be looking at the program with a lot more interest now.
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.
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.
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.
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;
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.
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!
I had a bee in my bonnet on Friday. I seriously wanted to write. Out of nowhere I was struck by an urge that felt as physical as hunger or thirst. Unfortunately, I had to work, so I put the inspiration on hold while I did the day job.
Being a believer in not waiting for inspiration to write doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in inspiration. When it strikes it is amazing and something to revel in. So, did I write? Of course! But weirdly, I did not write what I’ve been planning and thinking about for the past two weeks. I wrote something totally new. Something I wasn’t ready for. Something that demanded to be written.
What I wrote was no better or worse than the stuff I write when I force myself down to the computer, but I did enjoy the process a lot more than normal. Interestingly I did not write as much as I normally do in a sitting, but given how unexpected it was, I consider every word a bonus.
I can’t help but wonder if the blood moon that happened in the early hours of Saturday morning was somehow to blame for my overwhelming inspiration. Naturally I got up early to watch the lunar eclipse. Then at 6am, when I had taken enough photos, I came back inside, turned on the computer and wrote.
Inspiration may not be necessary for writing, but it certainly makes it easier.