#1197 3000 words

3000 words. It can be a lot of words, or a little, depending on the context of which they’re in.

But for me, tonight, 3000 words is a HUGE DEAL.

3000 words is my first baby, my book, my idea, my brainchild (if I am allowed to call it that) being sent out into the world for 10 complete strangers who I have never met to read and critique and shock horror RIP IT TO SHREDS.

I just hit ‘submit’ after staring at the screen for about 10 minutes.

What to note down as I posted the first 3000 words of my novel in the round 1 critique for my online course. Sure it was easy when it was others’ turns, and I opened up their word documents and commented here, there and everywhere… but it is a WHOLE NEW sensation to have to release that which you have worked on for so long, and surrender yourself to whichever comments may come you way.

It’s because your story, is of you. There is a reason why I think, people can be fascinated to find out what genre you are writing in. What characters you are exploring. What world you are bringing to life.

That is because there is a slight expectancy, that in writing contemporary fiction, it may still be somewhat based on you, as the author.

YES, and NO. Sure, parts of my life, the people I have met and the places I have been have affected me, some even to the point that they may feature, ever so slightly in what I write.

Yet at the same time, there is no relation. It is all a pure fabrication, figment of my imagination, come to life through hours of thinking and noticing and observing events around me.

And that is still, the most terrifying part. No matter how much your story is or is not based on your life, all of the ideas undisputedly, have come, from YOU.

It is all YOU. All of it. Anything shit in there – YOU.

Anything boring – YOU.

Anything uninspiring – YOU.

I felt compelled to tell them in my notes on submission tonight –

“Please be kind.”

“I have gone over this a billion times.”

“I don’t know what to say.”

“I’m terrified.”

And explain and explain and explain my story… and then I remembered something i had heard, which was that author’s aren’t there sitting on readers laps telling them about their story as it is read.

It is up to the reader to interpret. You write it… you let it go.

So I let it go.

“Hi all

Here are the first 3000 words of my YA novel.

SmikG.”

No explanations. No excuses. No expectations. Nothing at all.

Just those 3000 words.

And although I am shitting bricks at what I will receive in return…

I know that releasing these words is the first step, to making them better again.

 

#1166 Of Course, it’s working

I sit at my laptop, day after day.

Night after night.

I squeeze in moments at work.

I think about it most of my spare time.

I think about it most of my ‘doing stuff’ time.

I lie in bed and count what I need to write.

I sit on the couch, and remind myself of what I am yet to catch up on my blog.

And I am writing even more now with this online course I am doing.

And simply, I am grateful to report, that the online writing course is working.

It is making me think. Reassess EVERYTHING. See things in a structured light, with themes and 3 acts and narrative questions and high stakes…

I love it. But it has made me realise one massive thing…

I have A LOT of work to do!

But it is my passion, therefore I will happily do it. ♥

 

 

#1155 The risktaker

What is it like to live with a risktaker?

What is it like, when that person is your husband?

They can be spontaneous. Things happen suddenly, plans change, and you have to learn to just go with the flow, and roll with the waves.

They get passionate. Passionate about big things, but little things too. Life. Music. That green shirt. Grass. It is all or nothing. The passion brings about great satisfaction and joy, but in lack of it, the days can sometimes drag on.

With passion comes the sure-fire heat. And not the type that comes from a stove. I am talking the heat of conversation, the explosiveness of words, the fuel that comes tunnelling forth with great news… and the disappointment that has to unleash with the bad.

Things are always ‘happening.’

Baby girl said to me a while back “you have to be a risktaker.” I was surprised to hear those words from her, until I realised where they had come from.

It was from school, the day before their ‘try popcorn and pineapple’ day.

But when Hubbie is a risktaker, he does things like this:

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Over 20 years post his days of climbing monkey bars. Never mind this followed some ‘casual’ drinks. Never mind he was wearing sandals that he could have toppled over in.

Never mind that our daughter was watching him with awe and amusement.

The statement “Don’t try this at home” suddenly had a whole new meaning.

“Don’t try this at school!”

But there is good. More good, than even all of the above mentioned.

Because with risktaking, there is hardly any emphasis of failure. Sure, a healthy dose of fear is there, it is natural… but it isn’t the main focus.

It is just ‘let me try this’ and if it doesn’t work out, then –

“Oh well. Now I know.”

In risk taking, you aren’t left wondering what could have been. Risk taking requires self-confidence, and being your own support group, so you can rev yourself up to go out there, reach high, and try to jump to the sky…

Much like Hubbie did today.

On the outside, as I scolded him and told him to get down, with a smiling baby girl looking up at him beside me, I may have seemed disapproving.

But in all honesty, I want her to be a risk-taker too.

And, so do I.

#1089 Rebirth of an orchid

I entered the laundry today.

Within moments – “Oh!”

Shocked. Startled. Amazed beyond belief.

I was moved even.

It was about the Phalaenopsis plant. Rather, to you and me and most Tom, Dick and Nancy’s, the orchid. MY orchid. The plant that had been gifted to us when baby girl was born, the plant I had kept alive… until recently.

Until the move.

I am honestly not sure if it has bloomed since we moved house. Last summer, despite it being next to a window, I don’t recall seeing it blossom once, NOT ONCE… it soon moved to a less prominent position, but still by a window, and still facing the same side of the house as it was before… only it was in a different room. The laundry.

I was hopeful for so long. This plant held ties with baby girl’s arrival. Sure, it’s miraculous to keep these things growing beyond a few years. Plants die, ndoor potted ones more so… I get it.

But this one I COULD NOT LET GO OF.

I watered it. Gave it food. Trimmed some dead leaves and branches from it. With no change and the soil becoming more like sand than dirt, I started to contemplate throwing it away.

Again… I just couldn’t. I left it there in the laundry, facing the window, with dust settling on the leaves… thinking one day, I would do something with it.

I just didn’t know what.

So to walk in today and find this…

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What? My orchid was alive? Reborn from brittle soil when I least expected it, its seed lying dormant for the longest time, waiting, just waiting, for the right combination of circumstances to spring forth…

I honestly, clapped with glee. Got teary. I am so glad I didn’t give up.

You all know what this means. I may not throw out a plant now, NEVER EVER EVER.

Because you never know if a seed of hope is lying around somewhere, just waiting.

Waiting…

#1016 Her boldness

‘Gee she’s a handful.’

That was my thought this afternoon. Another Monday, another swimming lesson. Baby girl was in the lane with another girl and two boys.

4 this week. It was full.

I watched her as she splashed deliberately when the teacher drew near. She jumped up and down repeatedly, bobbing into the water wholeheartedly, her entire head disappearing from view.

When they had to push off from one side, she took off prematurely, and the teacher, for what I observed was about the 6th time that day, said “baby girl, go back, not yet.”

The others kids stood there – taking off when requested. Sitting patiently. Responding when spoken to.

And here baby girl was, kicking her feet wildly as other kids swam up to her end of the lane, giving them a good mouth full of foam.

She was a handful.

I watched her – silently praising the teacher for being so calm, while I was also alert, waiting for baby girl to look over to me up at the benches, so I could wag my finger at her, and tell her to listen to the teacher by pointing to my ear.

She didn’t look.

I thought about her character. I looked at the other kids. She was so full on! She couldn’t sit still! Sure, she was a tad younger than them, therefore their maturity was perhaps a tad more advanced…

But why couldn’t she just, listen?

Wait a minute, I suddenly asked myself. What was she doing wrong?

She was swimming…. YES.

She was listening… YES.

She was partaking in all of the swim class activities… YES.

She was being nice to the other kids… YES.

So then why did I feel a need to shush her? Stop her? Keep her still?

I suddenly realised, I was wrong.

I didn’t want to do ANY of those things to her.

Baby girl, is BOLD. The world will try to dim her light as she grows up, just as it does so for everyone else.

Why should her Mum then be adding to that shadow?

So what if she shrieks a little too enthusiastically?

So what if she is splashing all over the damn place (it is a bloody swimming pool)?

So what if she takes off too early because she is too keen and loves swimming too much?

SO WHAT?

I want my girl to have a voice.

I want my girl to be passionate.

I want my girl to be expressive.

I want her to have fun.

And she achieves all that by being BOLD. Loud. Flashy. In your face.

And I realised, so she should. 

Why should she live in the box? Adhere to the straight and narrow. Tell me… what has the ‘straight and narrow approach’ ever achieved?

I want her to nurture the fire in her belly, promote that kick in her step, and move forward through life knowing she can do and say and be whoever the hell she wants.

Without anyone wagging their finger at her 😉

And if that means being a splashing, loud and over-enthusiastic child, then SO BE IT.

I sat there smiling for the rest of the class. And when the teacher put her hand up high at the end of the lesson for the kids to try reach it for a high-five, when baby girl launched at her and water spray went everywhere…

I giggled and put my hand over my mouth. World, watch out.

#1014 Scaling heights and shedding fears at Faber

I remember going skiing with my sister and her friends when I was about 16.

It was then that I had to face my fear of steep inclines. A fear I didn’t even know I really had until then.

I had these long narrow skis on for the first time in my life, and after becoming quickly bored by the amateur kiddie slope, I knew I had to move on to something more challenging.

But the next step up was actually down down down… a slope that seemed dangerously steep.

It probably wasn’t. Being next in the skiing procession, it likely was a realistic step 2. But for me terror gripped my heart and made my arms and legs go numb at the prospect of going down it, and it wasn’t just from the snow.

I must have expressed my fear to my sister then – I wanted to ski, go down, do something… but it was so damn steep.

She gave me some sage advice. Advice that helped me through that moment, and advice that you can apply to almost any overwhelming situation in life:

“Just look at the space in front of you. Don’t worry about the next 10 metres, or even try looking all the way down the slope – just keep your eyes in front of your feet.”

I was completely shitting myself, but following her lead, did as I was told.

I made it. Sure, I fell over myself awkwardly a few times, but soon I was sailing down, swerving left and right, and making sure my eyes were safely trained on that small space in front of me, that small space I knew I could accomplish.

Little skiing steps.

I had to overcome a similar fear today… but this one involved looking UP.

It’s been 5 years since my last writing workshop/class, an activity that was severely overdue for this creative head. I headed over to the Allen and Unwin East Melbourne office to partake in a Faber Writing Academy one-day course.

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I absolutely loved every moment of it. The interactivity, the encouragement. The shared and similar ideas, sharp proof that I was on the right track. The writing space provided, and of course, the highly sought after, terrifying feedback.

Wooo.

I can honestly say that once the day was done, I felt with all of my being, that I was definitely on my lifelong path. With so much upheaval this past year, uncertainty and confusion being such a prevalent theme in my life, to find that what I had always known and hoped for, was definitely the path I had to take, the path that was for me, was a true joy to realise.

How did I know?

Just the way you know in the feelings that emerge from such an experience.

Like when you have custard for the first time and you go “mmm.”

Or when you hear a new song and straight off you KNOW you’re going to play it until all those around you start to despise you.

The way you feel when you find love, and that little voice tells you “watch out – this is it.”

It’s that same knowing.

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I’ll leave you with one of my writing exercises of the day that we did off-the-cuff… it tells you more about my journey today in ways that I simply can’t at this heady midnight hour.

Theme? A journal entry. Why, I know ‘a little’ about that 😉

 

THE JOURNAL ENTRY EXERCISE

I thought I had given myself ample time to get there.

6am start.

Local café brekkie. My cappuccino had a leaf design in it, the way all hipster cafes do nowadays, and it reminded me of my most favourite emblem, the tree.

Tall, looming and abundant in nature, its roots expansive and far-reaching, to places our eyes were not privy to.

The tree was the symbol of growth and renewal, and the way in which it bared its leaves for all to see, still stood grandly amidst its shedding, and then found the innate courage to sprout green all over again, was an inspiration to me.

It was to be a similar fate for me that day.

The unveiling of myself. My deepest and most personal stories, a torchlight shone brightly on, magnified and criticised for all my like-minded peers to see.

There’s nothing like being in a room of those who do what you do, to instil the greatest sense of doubt in oneself.

Suddenly, I had 10 minutes to go and this huge mother of an escalator LOOMED before me. What? No one had told me I would have to scale those insane heights?

I clutched the rubber rail to my left at the train station, staring at the man’s orange tiger on his sneaker in front of me, willing the mechanical steps to go faster.

But because I had a fear of steep inclines, of course it took its time.

My journey to the top, body leaning forward at a 90 degree angle, was a brutal one. I couldn’t even look back down to the depths of the platform below to see how far I’d come.

I think I’ll take the lift on my way down.

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And that is why I am a never-ending… work in progress.

 

#907 For the love of Baking

I am quite pleased with myself. Pleased in that I don’t despair too much when faced with the task of cooking or baking, whether for myself or for others.

I don’t despair, because… I enjoy it. A LOT.

It is another avenue of my creativity coming forth. It requires thought, planning, precision… but just like the creative process, it also takes intuition, passion, and a healthy dose (perhaps a few tablespoons?) of spontaneity.

I’ve been baking a bit this week in the lead up to my nephew’s 16th birthday bash this weekend. And although I know I don’t mind cooking, the thought of making so much was initially, a bit of a worry in my mind.

How would I get it done?

Would it go as planned?

Would any hiccups occur along the way?

Amazingly, so far, none. Today was the last baking-fest, and each day that I had to prepare or tend to the oven, I’d put on a cd, turn it RIGHT UP, and begin the creative process in my kitchen.

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I have found real happiness and delight in making things with passion. With heartfelt intention. While singing out loud to Queen/Prince/Sia/Michael Jackson, other creative geniuses filling the rooms of our house with meaningful music.

I guess I’ve realised whole-heartedly, how important the act of baking is to me.

It brings people together. It carries on age-old cooking traditions and recipes.

It is magic, at your fingertips. Much like writing 😉

And it creates love and unity. Nothing is more rewarding that your Hubbie and daughter stealing baked goods that you’ve created for a party, knowing how happy it is making their tummies.

I do it, for the ♥

And that is how the magic comes in. You must do everything, out of ♥♥♥