sunrise over swamps

sunset over melancholy seas

Is it March already?

I am amazed to see that my last post on here was November 2013. I can account for my absence: life got crazy. Really crazy. Between pulling the mini-mes out of their school, getting a kitten (thus proving to all that I am, indeed, the crazy cat lady I threatened to become), moving house, Christmas (the less said, the better) and just about everything else that life could throw at me in one summer, little things like “blogging” and “maintaining a social life” were thrown out the window. Things have barely settled but I am starting to find moments to waste time on iPhone games: between Tiny Death Star and Townsmen I have effectively drained my time to the point where I am eating, sleeping, and adding levels to an 8-bit space station with the weaponry to annihilate planets, or taxing angry little cartoon villagers while forcing them out into the snow to harvest wood.

 

As always happens when I go on a bit of a gaming frenzy, real life creeps in and eventually shakes me by the shoulders and cries, “You’re wasting time!” So, I reluctantly set aside the tantalising glow of the iPhone screen. Let’s face it, after I dropped my relatively new 5C in the toilet a few weeks back it hasn’t really glowed that much anyway. (I put it in a sealed ziplock bag with desiccant sachets, and that seemed to help. As did sticking it in a ziplock bag full of ground psyllium – though the psyllium gets everywhere!) I picked up some books that were sitting in a pile after we moved house. Ignoring the boxes that are yet to be unpacked, I have managed to make a good start on a few books. I hope to maybe review a few on here.

 

I follow the Anne Rice Facebook – I have done since I first joined the social networking site in 2007. And I notice that she is part of a campaign to get rid of trolls on book review sites. It’s such a good idea. I have generally only given reviews for books I actually read and liked – there’s no need to turn every corner of the Internet into a cesspool of human misery. I do have eclectic tastes – at the moment my bedside table has poetry manuals, fantasy novels, a Star Wars Expanded Universe guidebook (always Star Wars), and a book about historical Christian views of heaven and hell. If I can get onto it, and seeing as I often do Facebook status reviews of the books I’m reading anyway, perhaps it’d be nice to bring that back to the land of blog – where they might reach people that are actually interested. And I won’t be out to bully any authors!

 

In music news: I have been listening to classical music radio, folk metal, and iTunes radio. Also, if you like metal with an Aussie flavour, look at AndrewHaug.Com, an online heavy music radio station. In film and tv news: normally my response is, “I haven’t heard of it,” as generally I find the passive attention span necessary to watch tv is beyond me – I’d much rather be getting a high score in a video game! But I have been watching a lot of Star Trek. This, folks, is what happens when a Star Wars fan-woman (me) marries a Star Trek geek. We even went as far as naming our new kitten Commander Riker. I feel like such a traitor! 😉

 

I also recently helped set up a new little blog for someone I know, and you can check it out at Middle England Earth Art.

 

 

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Nanowrimo Journal Day 20

(Thanks to my using the scheduled posting feature, my previous entry in my nano journal for days 17 to 20 accidentally didn’t have day 20 included! So here it is, now. I wrote this when I didn’t have a wi-fi connection, so never sent it to the WordPress.Com site in time.)

Wednesday 20 November. 11.40 AM.

This morning started in a less than ideal fashion. Trying to manage the problems caused when one of your kids gets bullied isn’t easy, and all I can say on that is that we’re taking all reasonable steps to make sure things don’t get any worse. After dropping said child off at school with the words, “Only two weeks to go before you don’t have to worry about this anymore,” and praying that things don’t get any worse, I decided to go for a walk to clear my headspace a bit. The pollen aggravated my allergies, though, and then it rained on me. That’s okay, I thought, I will redeem the morning by getting as much writing done as possible when I get home.

I arrived home to see the neighbours had placed, “Warning, Pest Control Spraying in Progress” signs out the front of their place. The air reeked of the chemicals and I had to rush around shutting windows. Apparently the three hours I had blocked out on my calendar today for writing time would not go ahead as planned, in my usual spot outdoors. A haze of toxic chemicals in the air doesn’t go down too well at the best of times. Add to that the noisy equipment and blaring radio the pest control people were using, and I had to get out of there.

I’ll admit it. I felt pretty despondent and miserable. It seems like there’s always something standing in the way of me getting some space and quiet to write. And it’s usually the neighbours. It’s not just a one-off inconvenience. It’s most days. I start feeling angry at the world and angry at life. I feel like my ambitions are small: I just need some quiet, regular bouts of peaceful solitude, a good community, and a place where I can hear my thoughts and work my creativity. Yet, since I moved to the suburbs eight years ago, it’s as if someone flicked the “off” switch on my creative abilities. I struggled through uni while living here, where previously I’d been a high-achieving student without too much effort (but I did learn the important art of perseverance as a result!), always battling the distractions and noise.

I have to battle for the psychological and emotional health of myself and my family. I have to battle the sense of bitterness that tries to take root in my heart when I think of how my life has turned out. I struggle with the desire to blame others for my problems, too. I have learned many hard lessons in the last few years, about managing my own head space. I have reached a point in life where I realise that many of my life choices had more to do with me trying to please other people’s expectations, rather than choosing the life I want.

It’s not all bad, though. I managed to redeem the morning. I took my netbook computer to the nearby shopping centre food court – it’s always quiet here in the mornings. I bought a take away coffee and when they scanned my customer card, I’d earned enough points to get a free coffee. It’s my birthday soon, too, and I remembered that I had a store voucher that would get me a 30% discount off the journal I want to buy as a present to myself. I sipped my coffee and churned out 1,000 words in one hour.

There is always potential for small victories, even among the negative spaces in life.

I might be frustrated with the big picture, but it’s the little things, like doing something creative for myself, with potentially no benefit or use to anyone except myself, where I can look at the day and say it wasn’t wasted. And that’s a huge lesson I’m learning in life: when I am motivated out of a desire to make other people happy and fulfil their expectations, I am not living out of my own life and purposes and talents. I become a shell of  myself. And this is not some, “I’m just me so deal with it” thing, because I consider that to be an immature response to the world. This is something else, more balanced, more subtle. It is in realising that I don’t have to throw out everything that makes me unique for the sake of people who never really wanted to get to know me. It is in learning to say, “No,” in seeing guilt trips and manipulation for what they are, and for understanding that as I become more myself, I free others around me to be themselves, too.

How does this tie into NaNoWriMo? Well, the experience of choosing to write for the sheer joy of writing itself, with no expectation that it will mean anything to anyone but myself, is like reclaiming some of my own territory. It’s saying, “This is not going to please anyone except myself, but it’s important to me, so I’m going to fight for it.” It’s about carving out space and saying “No” to things that, as noble as they may be, aren’t vitally necessary to me. It’s learning that I can’t possibly be expected to be everything to everyone around me. I already do three nights a month, at least, of volunteer work. I seek to maintain healthy friendships with others, taking time out to focus on them. It’s not like I’ve isolated myself. There are no excuses and no defensive postures necessary to explain myself. I am living my own life the way I choose. Part of that means that I need time out to write, to create, and to practice my arts. It means shutting out the negative voices that are critical for criticism’s sake – though, of course, I listen to constructive criticism from those people who have shown themselves to actually care about me, who are able to communicate to me areas of my life that need work without condemning me (and such is a big benefit to me of belonging to a healthy, liberating religious/spiritual community and having great friends from different parts of my life).

I don’t want to type out my life story here, as I’m trying to craft my little sci-fi tale. But it’s funny how this year’s short-term projects like NaNoWriMo and NaPoWriMo back in April opened my eyes to the fact that if I decide I want to write and create for no one but myself, in the context of the rest of my varied and busy life, it’s actually very healthy and energising and freeing to me. And in the end, that makes me a more complete human who’s going to be more healthy, energising and freeing in the way I treat others. Peace.

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NaPoWriMo 2013: Reflections

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It’s finished! I have completed the 30 poems in 30 days challenge. And, boy, was it difficult.

It started out well – I had enough ideas in stock to get  me through the first week or so of impromptu poetry writing. After that, though, it became a difficult journey of trying to challenge my creativity.

It surprised me, too, to see the themes that arose. In my mind I would like to be a nature poet, more in the vein of Gerard Manley Hopkins or Mary Oliver. In reality, I am a fumbling amateur struggling to string together a sentence while heavily swayed by my inner emotional torments.

However, this in itself was a lesson. I enjoyed the accountability of having a daily task to write. I also enjoyed playing with the words. While I will not be too quick to leap again onto a “one poem a day” schedule, it did spur me to get more active with my writing. The process is quite cathartic, and good practice at developing new ideas.

I am hoping to reshare the best of my contributions to NaPoWriMo 2013 at my RedBubble portfolio, but I would appreciate some reader feedback first. If you have a WordPress account, please feel free to hit the “Like” button or even rate my NaPoWriMo posts (please be kind!) if you particularly liked one, or two. Or share/comment as you wish. I will use any positive and constructive feedback to determine which five or so pieces of writing get immortalised at RedBubble.

A big thank you to the dedicated readers who kept up-to-date with my NaPoWriMo offerings. I enjoyed exploring your contributions, too!

 

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