Category Archives: Writer’s (building) blocks

All things that drive me and stop me writing

Disorganised, depressed and discombobulated and other dastardly D words!

My on again / off again relationship with my closely related nemeses depression and anxiety has been more on that off of late.  A bit like Prince Harry and Cressida… Oh hold on they are well and truly off it seems, which is great news for my daughter who has always fancied herself as a royal wife (not to self – must move to England STAT)…

Anyway, lame attempt at humour aside, I am starting to worry about it and of course this is unhelpful and extremely non productive. One of the unfortunate side-effects of my depression is that I become terribly disorganised to the point of complete discombobulation (according to the WordPress spell checker this is not a word), but there I go digressing again… even this post is disorganised.

My disorganisation is probably one of the things I hate most about being in this state.  It means I forget appointments, miss deadlines (so not great for self-employed struggling writer), get lost when driving (I am normally a cracker with directions), buy everything but the salt and pepper that I went to Coles for in the first place, which then makes me sadder still because what I was really craving was boiled eggs on toast with salt and pepper … you know the dippy egg kind that you have with little toast soldiers:

The happy making power of the dippy egg should never be underestimated as a cure for all manner of things.  Another thing in my life that makes me happy is going to writing events, where I get to meet and mingle and most of all learn from published authors in my bid to achieve my dream (I think goal sounds better – more achievable) of being a published and successful writer.  I was really counting on one such event scheduled (in my mind only) for this coming weekend, and I had sort of put it out to my universe that this event would be the much needed charm to pull me out of my funk!

Said event was


I had told myself that it would be my Mother’s Day present to me (and from the girls) and I was so SO looking forward to it.  Being with other writers in a learning environment was to be just the ticket out of Sadtown.  So imagine my distress (lots of D words going down here today!) when the very lovely Valerie Khoo, (you can follow her on Twitter here: who is the National Director and Founder of Australian Writers’ Centre and just happened to pick up the phone (yes, I had a slightly fan-girl reaction when she told me her name – Valerie as in “Valerie Khoo I squeaked) and returned a message I left, so gently and kindly, after I went into my babble and spiel about really wanting to do the course THIS weekend but could I pay on Thursday (I didn’t let her know I was broke until then because I am depressed and disorganised and forgot to submit some invoices) but could I PLEASE PLEASE secure a spot … Valerie informed me that this course, that I was pinning my hopes of happiness on was in fact as you can see dear reader (all two of you) …. LAST WEEKEND!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH! This is not me, but as close a likeness as I want to show right now, as I have hair that is short-in-between-rock-chick-tuckshop-mum, seriously unkempt brows (read monobrow with serious bristles that show under my glasses on the bridge of my nose – Hot!)) and a blind pimple the size of Everest on my chin (oh depression how you do wonders for my looks with your inability to even make it to the beauty salon.

Actually, this is a much closer likeness to me right now:

I digress again… after I heard this news, I babbled on a further forever minutes, and Valerie still kindly and patiently listened (probably thinking God, how on Earth do I get rid of this nutter?) In the course of the conversation, Valerie divulged that the next online course Image

is beginning next Monday 12 May, and as such I could pay for this on Thursday!  Now don’t get me wrong, the online course is being delivered by the awesome Allison Tait who kindly awarded me a copy of her book as a prize for something I wrote (my first and only prize so far, and whilst it is not the Man Booker prize but a Facebook comp prize, I felt like it was … ) “Get Paid to Write: The Secrets of Freelancing Success” which got me started with this crazy notion that I could actually make money out of being a freelance writer.  You can get your copy here: …

The next Perth course is not until August and the next writing event that I am going to is Natasha Lester’s Scrivener course:


Of course this is not until the end of June and if I stay depressed and discombobulated until the then my head will probably fall off. I just noticed that this course is not at the venue where Natasha has held her previous awesome courses, which is a good thing as I would have disorganisedly driven there and then got lost trying to find the correct venue, and turn up late which is never cool.  You can find out more about Natasha, an awesome Perth based writer here:

My success rate with online learning is not great – and has at times been a costly waste of time (3 x attempts at completing my legal practice course and a HECS debt to rival the GDP of China are evidence of this).  However, it is writing and I know I love writing, I loved writing when I was lawyering.  I never loved lawyering the way I love writing.  So can this disorganised, depressed, discombobulated wannabe be writer get her dishevelled shit together and succeed in some on-line learning … well I bloody well hope so, as I just put the cost of the course on my Mastercard … and at least this way I will be able to spend some quality time dragging my daughters around Bunnings for an alternative Mother’s Day present, as this one doesn’t really count does it?

I might even buy some worms for that worm farm I bought my daughter as a much loved gift a Bunnings Trip or ten ago!

Two for Two


In the 24 hours since I finally completed the letter to Dad that I posted yesterday, that I had left half finished for three weeks I have felt lighter in my heart than I have for some time.  I think there are a couple of reasons for this, and I am going to list them in succinct dot points, Fleur style (in case you don’t know who Fleur is, she is one of best friends and writes a highly entertaining blog called MY EGO AND ME which you can find here:

I am going for succinct because I have stuff to do and for the first time in ages, I am actually a little bit excited about some of that stuff – like writing.  The more mundane stuff, well meh, but I don’t feel the heaviness about life that I have felt and I reckon I might even find the energy to tidy up my office tomorrow.

I have shed my musty old melancholy coat and am (metaphorically) wearing something far more hip(ster) … because a girl who has exciting stuff to do cannot be weighed down.  I don’t know that I am back completely, because I have also acknowledged that grief takes time to disperse and no matter how forthright you are about setting some stupid time frame on that, grief will do her own thing as she knows best.  There is a gift in that somewhere.  Being able to be authentic and real about how sad you feel.  From there, you can start to heal.

Anyhow, back to that succinct list of exciting things I have to do this week, in no particular order of excitement:

  • Dust off the bulldog clipped 95,000 words of my novel and get my Detective Cassidy Ryan on!
  • Tidy my office
  • Finish my BAS
  • Complete a couple of client’s resumes – Sophie, Kendal this is you!
  • Finalise a report for a development project
  • Get a pedicure
  • Send out 500 brochures to get some new work in
  • Finalise a report for a client in Gero so I can have a good reason to get up there to visit Larsy and Dave
  • Go on a first date with a lovely man (hence the pedicure)

Betcha you can’t guess which two of the above that I am the most excited about 🙂

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 …

On Trafficking …

So I am researching the very sad and disturbing issue of sex trafficking which features as a theme in my book.  It is really difficult to read some of the stories and I have found myself drawn into a web of terror and fear, and hours later I still feel like I only know the tiniest bit about the issue.  Whilst the broader and no less tragic issue of people smuggling / asylum seekers gets a lot of coverage, human trafficking for the sex trade in this country seems to go largely unnoticed.  

It is a challenge weaving this theme into my work of fiction without getting caught up in the politics of it all.  


Lost in Leederville with Lana Del Rey


Thank you Lana for helping me find the voice of my story

So, the other night, after a difficult experience, after a big old cry on the side of the road (even the most upbeat gals sometimes get pulled down by their melancholy defeatist Ms Ego’s … the trick is to start the damn car and get back on the road), I found myself driving home in the rain and dark with a flat mobile battery, petrol light on and no idea where I was.  

I ended up taking a long drive through Perth’s inner Northern Suburbs, which I have never really been through, not having done much in Perth until now but work and study for a career I didn’t love.  I finally figured out I was in Leederville (still no petrol station in sight) so to distract from my panic that I would be stuck on the side of the road in my daughter’s 96 Barina, I started to notice the lovely facades of some of the lovely 1930’s buildings (among the not-so-lovely), all while listening to the lovelier Lana Del Rey sing about her honey liking the bad girls in “Video Games”.  

It came to me in a flash, the struggle I have endured trying to find a voice for my story.  Trying to find a muse for one of my main characters – the gorgeous but troubled prostitute who learns one dark secret too many.  As Lana was singing, it all clicked.  A writer friend suggested I check out the “Noir” style of writing after I read out some of my story in our little class, and explained that I was having trouble finding the “voice” for my tale.  I really like Noir fiction, and I was pretty sure that is what I wanted to write – with a more modern twist.  Herein lay the challenge – how to incorporate the Noir style with my fast paced thriller set in modern-day Western Australia and South East Asia.  I have been struck down with inertia and unable to move my story forward for fear of not obeying the genre norms and hence creating something that will struggle to resonate with a publisher for fear of finding an audience.  The other thing I am struggling with is how to write my characters in this style whilst still making them strong and memorable characters and not dishonouring my feminist heart.  Can victims also be champions?  Of course, whilst I have written this book totally for me, like most writers, I do (I really really do) want to score a publishing deal, as I think it is a tale others will want to read.  Besides, It is not a thesis for my undergrad women’s studies unit – it is a work of fiction!!!!

One of the aspects of Noir fiction is that usually the protagonist is not a detective, but instead either a victim, a suspect, or a perpetrator.  Given that my protagonist is a detective with a bad girl side, I have been really scared that if I produce something that is as far from Noir as Tony Abbott is from Germaine Greer … Will I have to start all over again?  This writing gig is hurting my brain.


But hey, aren’t rules meant to be broken, and besides my novel checks other Noir boxes… Other common characteristics of Noir include the self-destructive qualities of the protagonist – check.  A typical protagonist of the Noir fiction is dealing with the legal, political or other system that is no less corrupt than the perpetrator by whom the protagonist is either victimised and/or has to victimise others on a daily basis, leading to a lose-lose situation – check.

Anyway, worrying about it now is not going to get the damn thing written … and I think I can make it work.  I got home and checked out more of Lana’s work – her little gem of a video for “Ride”, and found my muse.  

You can watch it here: … 

Thanks Lana and Leederville …