Monthly Archives: October 2013

Panic at the disco … my Monday Top 10!


I confess to having a feeling of panic today. I have been writing late into the night and still don’t feel satisfied with my work. I have stacks ‘going on’ in my life also and am finding the juggle a bit much today. The temptation is of course to throw my hands in the air, dive back under the doona and achieve nothing. Which is why I am blogging. Not as a procrastination mechanism but as a meditation technique. If I don’t write what I am worried about down and also the many tasks I have to do, I will just churn it all around in my mind all day and get nothing done. So here goes:

1. Lily’s operation – after months of surgeries, casts, wheelchairs and crutches, my 17 year old has what is hopefully the last operation to remove some screws from her leg. This is exciting. She has to be there for 7.00am tomorrow morning. To be collected by 6.00pm unless they keep her overnight, which based on her last experience may be a possibility. Note to self – other daughter needs somewhere to go for a few hours.

2. Real Estate seminar 8.00 – 5.00 tomorrow – I really want to do this as the topic is ‘options’, which is exactly the strategy that I have spent the past few months teaching myself about and the one I think is going to make me the most money, as I have the skills to make it work. I only wish it was not tomorrow, but I guess Lily will be in surgery so short of sitting at the hospital worrying, there is not much else I should be doing … apart from …

3. Writing up the project sheets for my new client. This job could be really lucrative for me, and I don’t hate this sort of writing, but I would rather be working on my manuscript. But rent needs to be paid and food needs to be purchased…. speaking of my manuscript, it needs to be completed to a standard that I am happy with by Thursday 31 October to make the cut off for two major mentorship programs …

4. Speaking of Thursday, I have another thing to do on Thursday, a not so pleasant thing and this has caused me a certain amount of angst and sleepless nights. But, I am assured by those helping me that things are in hand so I just have to let this one play out. But again it is a time consuming thing.

5. Also for Thursday and Friday, I have my small business course which I have to do to get the funding to get my writing business off the ground. I am finding this tedious and a huge interruption on my time, but nonetheless a necessary evil.

6. House inspection scheduled for Wednesday 30 October – trying to get this postponed until next week as I really do not have time to vacuum the window tracks and clean the oven.

7. Saturday and Sunday, I have my longed for next stage of the self-development course – it is all about tapping into what you are passionate about and making it work in your life. I hope this will bring me some clarity and perspective about where I am heading. I know I am going to be with some very cool people on the weekend at least.

8. My money situation. It is really stressful being almost broke, but I know that this is only going to be the situation for the next ten days. I am a bit stressed about what to do when I get money though. It will be good to pay some long overdue debts to some beautiful friends who have helped me out in my time of need…

9. Speaking of need – must call electricity, gas and other bills up to beg extensions. Gosh darn it. That takes time too. 

10. My Best Friend’s Wedding … in Queensland … that I have yet to book tickets for as I don’t have the money … Thank god she is not on Facebook. I can only cross my fingers and toes that number 8 comes to fruition in time for me to get there.

SIgh … do I feel calmer? Nope. Any readers, please feel free to jump in with some strategies.

Reading Like A Writer

Love this! I am going to do this from now on.

A Dream Come True

Animated-desk-lamp-on-book-goes-off-gif-animation (1)

I once read, I can’t remember where (although I want to say it was Stephen King) that writers should read a book twice.  The first time as a reader…the second time as a writer.

I have found that advice invaluable (whoever said it) and I use that technique with everything I read.  I will read a book and see if I like it.  If I do, I then reread it and find out what the writer did to lure me into their world so effectively.  Most of the time, I’ve enjoyed a book or story because of the characters…I love a good hero or a despicable villain.  The plot is important, of course, but if you don’t have great characters with lots of depth and layers, I find it hard to get into the story.

So, if the writer got my attention, I reread it to find out how they…

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Grace under fire

Of late I seem to be finding myself surrounded by gracious people. I spent some time in Bali in July doing a self-mastery course, and was partnered up with the most gracious woman called Hayley, whose entrepreneurial graciousness really touched me. Actually, I hugged her a bit in the hope that some of grace would rub off on me. Quite simply, I wanted what she had. I am working hard to get there, and I think I am becoming more gracious in my own knockabout way.
I would like to think that as I actively develop this trait, I am noticing it more in others, and therefore more gracious people are finding me – like my friend Gael, who has graciously made it her mission to help me further my writing career.
I have always had friends who are gracious on a daily basis – and to be honest I have spent most of my life secretly being mad at them because they were. I would like to say thank you to those people for persisting with their efforts to bring grace into my life, I know at times it has been frustrating.
One of these friends posted on her blog about how she was feeling ungracious and needed to work harder on being gracious, and I was interested to read it and then chat with her about her idea of ungraciousness, as I was sure she didn’t really have any ungracious behaviour to report at all. It turns out that she did – I reckon walking into a gathering of people focused on being centred and graceful declaring “I need some fucking graciousness” is pretty ungracious. Kudos to her!
I think therefore I am, and I have decided that I AM gracious just like this gal …
It may not be the same graciousness as my friends, such as the long limbed elegant graciousness of Fleur, or the ethereal wood nymph graciousness of Renee, the quiet articulate graciousness of Lara, the French inspired elegant graciousness of Amanda, or even the quirky biker chick meets 50′s pinup girl graciousness of Kelbel. My mentor, a gorgeous Irish woman called Maree exudes a graciousness that combines a whole heap of stuff I want to channel … hers is a take-no-prisoners, I’ll kick your arse / take you down Judo style while my hair stays perfect sort of grace. My graciousness is a little bit more of an out-there extroverted, laugh-out-loud-and-occasionally-snort style of graciousness, and I am learning to be OK with that. If that graciousness manifests in ungainly tripping over my own feet, or occasionally having to remove said feet from my mouth then so be it. I can graciously roll with that.
Yesterday I tested this new found graciousness. I spent the afternoon in the company of a very lovely man. We went to a movie (Tim Winton – The Turning, very long but loved it), dinner and took a stroll with coffees down in Fremantle. I was doing well at channelling grace, and only tripped over the hem of my dress twice … but I think that is because his idea of the pace of a “stroll” is somewhat different to mine. I didn’t get run over by any cars, although there was one near miss; and I tried to be delicate when I munched on the popcorn and only dropped three bits down between my cleavage.
I noticed and said thankyou when he did stuff like pull my chair out at dinner, and held the door open for me. I did have two glasses of wine the course of the meal, but I didn’t scoff it back like it was last drinks at the local nightclub. Just enough to be chatty and amusing … because we all know what a shy wallflower I really am.
I thought I would dazzle said man with an interesting and graciously told fact about the difference between how men and women communicate. I told him that on average women use about 32,000 words per day, and men about 7,000. He pondered this for a second, and then asked me, quite seriously “Who else’s words have you taken then?” … I think I laughed so hard I snorted … graciously of course.

Youthful Exuberance

“It is a happy talent to know how to play.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson, American writer 1803–1882

When my daughter Eden’s little friends came knocking on our door at half past eight this morning, being Sunday, my first reaction as I was still feigning sleep was to tell her to tell them it was too early, and to come back at a decent hour.  I quickly changed my mind and said to her that yes she could go off with them and play in the park.  I concede that I did this perhaps a little selfishly to give myself a chance to enjoy the coffee that she had brought me in relative peace before we head out to pick up supplies for our latest room decorating project, but it did get me thinking about children, play and the way we adults are responsible for stifling the joyous abandonment of unstructured play in the neighbourhood for our children.

Do we live in more dangerous times?  Possibly, or is it that we are because of the media exposure, more aware of the dangers that were always there?  We are lucky to live in a neighbourhood that is safe, with an abundance of parks and cul-de-sacs making it a little haven for the local children who live and go to school here.  It is lovely to hear and see the kids zoom past on their scooters and bikes, or playing chasey through the park.

As Eden is nearly twelve, I know that her years as a child, free to climb trees, shoot Nerf guns and play in the sand will soon draw to a close.  I know this as I have seen it start, the experimenting with makeup, my high heels and a general interest in things that her older sister is interested in.  I feel sad but blessed at the same time as Eden is still happy to play with the neighbourhood kids, some younger than her, and I love hearing her call out goodbye in the street, see you tomorrow … when the sun is setting and it is time to come inside.  I love hearing her chatter about what they did and who they saw … like when they helped a lost dog be reunited with its owner.  I have to trust that together they will stay safe in the park just around the corner and not get caught up in reasons to stop her having the joyous experience of free unstructured play.  

When I was a child, in among all of the dysfunction there were lots of times of joyous free play.  Running through Mrs Grayson’s yard, past lavender and pink and blue hydrangeas and squeezing under the wire fence where Mr Lawton grew his chokoes and scrambling over the big tree (like the magic tree in Enid Blyton’s Folk of the Far-Away Tree) into my best friend Caroline’s yard to bang on her door too early for her parents on a Sunday morning. There was a permanent path that marked this sacred trail.  Caroline and I are still friends now and often reminisce about those crazy fun times.  

So to my Eden, and all of the other children out there – keep playing and don’t let us adults tell you that it is too early, ever!

Sunday Breakfast as a Metaphor for Life

Sunday Brekky @ Beaufort Street

Sunday Breaky @ Beaufort Street

This morning I went for a leisurely Sunday Breakfast with my good friend Gael, who I met at a property investment seminar I attended some weeks ago. From the moment that I sat down next to Gael we connected, it was one of those organic friendships that sometimes just are from the moment you meet. Anyway, Gael and I were to join some other wonderful women for a discussion on where we are at with our investment strategy preparation. It is to be a regular thing, an empowering way to learn from and support each other in our journey towards replacing our incomes and then some through property. I have so much to learn, and for the first time ever I have put myself directly in the path of the people who want to share their knowledge with me. For the first time ever, I have said to myself “I deserve it”.

But that is not the topic of this post. This post is about an observation my friend Gael made about me and my tendency to wander off the true path and check out the shiny thing over to the side before I am fully done with the shiny thing right in front of me. I am something of a bowerbird in that regard, always looking for something to distract me. It is a recurrent pattern. This is not the first time a wise friend has observed this, however I am really ready to do something about it.

Gael is a coach – professional development, stress management, life … you name it, she can coach it. Gael offered to give me coaching around my writing as a career, and in a few short weeks together we have identified a pathway, and begun to implement strategies to keep me firmly on that path. I have a pressing deadline with respect to my manuscript (I can’t let the cat out of the bag yet), but if I can achieve it, it will be very worthwhile indeed. Every time Gael and I speak, one of the first things she says to me is “tell me about your book, where are you at with it”. Because writing and editing a work of fiction are such foreign things to me, I feel very unsure of where I am really “at”, and my fear of not being where I “should” be has tended to keep me going precisely where I shouldn’t be … and that is procrastinating, dabbling, tweeting, Facebooking, over-researching, reading, watching documentaries (occasionally even Big Brother?) … anything but writing and editing.

Gael used the breakfast I ordered to demonstrate her point. I ordered the breakfast bruschetta, which in itself is plentiful and satisfying. But then the cute Italian waitress asked if I would like a poached egg with that. I am sure I ordered it just to hear her speak her accent some more. But then I thought, what if I don’t want the bruschetta and what if it would be better with some sides, so I ordered a side of potatoes and a side of mushrooms. It was nothing at all to do with gluttony, as whilst I gave it a good go, I knew I could never get through the whole lot. It was about wanting to try as much as I could from the menu, as I wasn’t sure that I would be satisfied with just the wonderful bruschetta, with gorgeous fresh avocado, tomato and shaved cured ham slices … no way could anyone be satisfied with that surely …

It was then I understood perfectly what Gael meant about my use of distractions to avoid being unsatisfied. My pattern is to do that, get off track, and then when I am totally lost in the forest I use the drama of that to forget what my original quest was. Not this time damn it, I have a Gael to help me, I have the support of my children, and many friends, and most of all, this time I want this so badly that I am determined to just keep chewing (writing) one bite at a time, until I am finished. And satisfied.

The Distractions of Research

Most fiction, no matter how fictitious requires some form of research.  Among the projects that I am currently, simultaneously working on are the first and second books in what I hope to be a crime thriller series, a couple of short stories – one about mistakes, and the other about a wooden elephant of all things, plus a number of other story ideas and corporate writing assignments.  I am also using Scrivener to storyboard a number of other book ideas I have had bubbling away in the library in my mind.  

On top of all of that, I am doing what all budding authors do and building a profile / platform for myself on Facebook, this blog and Twitter … I haven’t the time for Instagram and tumblr etc as yet.

The topics on my current research agenda include windsurfing, kitesurfing, teenage pregnancy, the shipping industry between South East Asia and Australia, nursing homes, wills and estates, the Vietnam war, asylum seekers, Catholic convents, sex trafficking, drug trafficking, policing and law enforcement in a number of countries and property development – this last one both for fiction work and as part of my own wealth building strategy.  Of course I am planning to be a highly successful author but I know that could take a while, and even a healthy advance needs to be wisely invested.  That last sentence was partly to reassure my corporate friends that I haven’t completely lost my marbles!


Anyway, that sort of research takes time, a lot of it on Google (how did we exist pre Google?), and apart from the dangers of too much research and not enough writing, I was totally unprepared for how to manage the distractions that come with using the net as a research tool.  I mean, I have always been employed in roles that require me to research, and completing a law degree required me to do A LOT of research, but I was always disciplined, on a deadline and outcome focussed, as I was juggling studying, working and three young children.  

I have only been a full-time “writer” for a few weeks, thus still have not made the transition to being disciplined with a schedule when it comes to time allocated to other tasks related to my writing – like research and blogging.  This became very apparent this morning when I looked at my browser history and saw that apart from the “legitimate” research, over the past week, I have devoted equal time to increasing my knowledge about (among other things) Suzi Quatro’s music, Rhinoceros hunting, Chinese athletes, and spider man cakes … 

So from Monday, I am going to stick to a schedule, even if I do it in my pyjamas!

On backing yourself

It is the nature of the artist to mind excessively what is said about him. Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others – Virginia Woolf

In my long journey towards “being” a writer, I have given up and put works aside too any times.  Ok, so I have shared a post or two about self sabotage and my inherited alcoholic tendencies which give some insight into why, but in exploring other blogs and researching and even talking to published authors, even famous ones, I have come to the conclusion that we writers are mostly a nervy insecure bunch. (yep, like some crazy fan-girl, I am the woman at the writer’s conferences I make a point of talking to the authors I read and having them sign my books and hopefully remember me … any publicity is good publicity right?).


    So as the great Ms Woolf said, it is in the nature of the artist to mind excessively about what is said about him … well in this case “her”… Do I mind?  Well, yes very much.  As an emerging writer, working on my first full-length novel, my published works are so far limited to:

  • A lot of government documents (which are fabulous but I cannot claim)
  • some short stories (working on some more right now, and realising that I love writing short stories!
  • some poetry in Dolly Mag when I was young (oh the anguish …)
  • a friend’s wedding vows (getting your words printed on a 150 guest mementos counts doesn’t it?
  • many irate letters to the editor on all manner of topics – asylum seekers, gay marriage rights, other stuff that I (and you should) care about
  • the odd crikey post (got in trouble for these as I worked for the Premier’s department at the time in Queensland and I did not quite make myself anonymous enough :-))
  • a stack of tweets (much to my daughter’s shame, I tend to do a happy dance around the house when I get re-tweeted or RT’d for those of cool enough to be tweeters/twits? (sigh, I am so last season)
  • A previous blog that I had for 4+ years on the Journalspace site, until one day the whole thing crashed, disconnecting so many people who had shared each other’s lives from the sanctity of their laptops late at night – I only ever managed to reconnect with two people from JS – Mark & Ally (HI!), as it was pretty much before the days of Facebook
  • This awesome new blog, which apart from giving me a chance to practice writing, will hopefully contain enough wit, colour and insight to entice a publisher who likes by manuscript but is not quite ready to take the plunge – would it be tacky to link the publishing houses I am targeting here – maybe?)

In order to make some money to keep me in wi-fi and the kids from starving, I am also doing technical and corporate freelance writing, so jump onto the about me section on this blog if you need anything in that vein…

Back to the point of this post, backing yourself as a writer.  Just by listing the things I have written has given me a spurt of confidence I didn’t have.  I am a writer, and mostly a pretty good one.  I can entertain and convince with my words, and I think I have an interesting style.  A good friend posted this on my wall today:


It could not have been more timely … no such things as coincidences?  My journey towards “being” a writer has been littered with corpses – mostly of killed off characters – but also my dreams, killed off by my self sabotaging Ms Ego, who really really minds beyond reason the opinions of others.  She minds so much, that kept me safe by keeping me gainfully employed in a corporate career that was stifling me.  From an early age, when I was supposed to be doing homework or studying and more recently working on a dry legal document, my mind would wander into its library – a big old sandstone building covered in ivy surrounded by fog, it inside resplendent with tall oak shelves, full of fabulous old tomes,  and dark twisty passages leading to more tall oak shelves, full of fabulous old tomes. I even used to have conversations with the resident head librarian – a very tiny old lady (called of course Virginia) with a white bun, fierce eyes, half-glasses, and a lavender cardigan made of llama wool – about where to find literary treasures on my latest topic of interest.  From the Plantagenet’s to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, I have crafted stories in my head about the people of these times and places.  In the library in my mind, some have even been published.  In the library in my mind, I always backed myself and told my stories about whatever took my fancy, without the real world fear monsters creeping in to tell me they were not any good.

In the library in my mind, I have a whole shelf of amazing stories, and Virginia is directing other daydreamers to seek them out.  In the library in my mind, I backed myself.  Now all I have to do is make those stories come out …