The Novelist’s Little Helper … or Maybe Not

Miss Poppy asked,

Miss Poppy asked, “What are you going to do?” “Deep editing,” I said.

I’m sitting down to do some more ‘red-pen’ deep editing on my Tuppence Weatherstorm manuscript and Miss Poppy seemed interested. She’s the novelist’s little helper, or so I thought… 
Until this …

Miss Poppy thinks I'm boring.

Miss Poppy said, “That’s boring. I’m sleeping.”

When she declared (with her body language) that I’m boring.

Gotta love the little ragdoll rag-a-muffin. She’s very good at letting me know exactly what she thinks and feels.  

Another editing phase of Tuppence Weatherstorm

Another editing phase of Tuppence Weatherstorm


Oh well, I’ll keep editing out the boring stuff until I’ve got the exciting stuff on my pages.  Maybe then Miss Poppy will approve of my novel?  For now, she’s split the joint and slunk off to the windowsill and I’m left at the table with my other little helper, Rocket. 

Rocket lending me his support as I deep edit my manuscript.

Rocket lending me his support as I deep edit my manuscript.


I do love my poodle companion. He’s here for me, no matter how boring I look. 

So, I’m up to page 202 of 418 on this round of editing.  I’m not loving this process but it’s got to be done.  I prefer to let the creative ideas flow out and this phase of casting a critical eye over my work has been tough. So I’ve been procrastinating.  

This phase of the self editing process is also bringing up anxious thoughts.  

Thoughts like: 

“You can’t write.”

“Total rubbish.” 

“You’re not good enough. You’ll never be good enough.”

The kind of thoughts that seek to destroy my confidence and stop me from reaching my goal. 

But then I remind myself that I’m learning how to edit my own work one word, one sentence, one paragraph, one page and one chapter at a time and I’m doing the best I can.
At some stage in the future a professional editor will do their magic and help guide me to publication.
It’s just … sometimes that dreamed of publication seems so far away and … unobtainable.

But I have a goal and I’m working toward it.  Right now, I’m in the ‘red’ of it. 

My partner, Dave, reckons I’m procrastinating because I’m afraid of people reading my work and that it’s getting closer to that time when I could seek professional editing. 

I don’t know. 

I feel vulnerable. 

I feel lost in it at the moment. 

I don’t know how professional authors cope with these anxious thoughts. They must have them. But they also have a strong enough ego to believe in their writing too.

I hope I’m cultivating that. 

Stephen King’s top tips for writers

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StephenKing Image by the USO, via Flickr Commons_10968905154_140c71b403_m

Image by the USO, via Flickr Commons

I was surfing Facebook and found this great article on Open Culture. It was titled, Stephen King’s Top 20 Rules for Writers and I had to share it with you.

Of course I’ve read On Writing by Stephen King. It’s a must read for anyone with a passion for writing fiction (in my opinion). I loved reading it so much that I bought the audio book and enjoyed listening to him read his own work.

In the article by Open Culture, they list the top 20 rules Stephen King has for writers.

Below are four that resonate for me:

1. First write for yourself, and then worry about the audience. “When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.”

5. But don’t obsess over perfect grammar. “The object of fiction isn’t grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story.”

8. Don’t worry about making other people happy. “If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”

14. Stick to your own style. “One cannot imitate a writer’s approach to a particular genre, no matter how simple what that writer is doing may seem.”

Just those four rules or tips make my heart burst with creative joy.  It feels like I’ve been given permission to go forth and be as creative as I like. Then when it comes to rewrites I’ll cut out what isn’t the story.  That is so freeing.

I also love how honest Stephen King is. He is his own person. He writes honestly, even in fiction and that’s cool.

If you skip across to Open Culture for a look-see, I hope you enjoy and that you find these rules/tips as inspiring for you as they have been for me.

Happy creative writing.

Pressure Cooker Dahl

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I had a go at making dahl/daal with my new pressure cooker and it worked!

I’m not much for cooking. My partner is more of the chef in our relationship but I had a go, thanks to a recipe given to me by my yoga teacher, Kristy from Yoga Rhythms.

I played around with the recipe and made it my own. Here’s what I did.

I chopped up the onion, added ginger and garlic and two table spoons of olive oil and sauted them. Then I added tomato, capsicum and fresh basil. Then I added cumin, chilli powder, a bit of curry powder and garam masala. Stirred it all around in the pot and then I added my soaked lentils.

I washed the lentils three times, then I drained all the water and soaked them in chicken stock (which was equivalent to 2 cups) and added an extra cup of water. Then I threw it all in the pot, turned on the pressure cooker, pressed the ‘beans’ button and let it do its magic.

And this is the first time I have ever made dahl that isn’t runny. It came out exactly as it is supposed to be – like porridge.

It was delicious. Not too spicy for me as my tastebuds prefer mild foods but I reckon you could do whatever you want with this nutritious food.

Yoga is having a very positive effect on my life in more ways than I had thought when I first started my regular practice.  Initially, I came to the mat just so I could find a way to stop the anxious thoughts whirling around inside my head and now it’s helping me to clean up my diet and get healthy. How cool is that!

This whole experience is changing the way I relate to the process of cooking. I love my pressure cooker and I am actually looking forward to being more creative in the kitchen.

Inspired!

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Yoga practice opens my heartLately I’ve been practicing yoga – more than I ever have before and I am loving it!

I’ve also been writing and editing my Tuppence Weatherstom manuscript and helping my best friend, Edward, get his book, Uriel’s Gift into the hands of people who will enjoy his story.

Life’s been busy and I’ve needed to spend time on the mat. I don’t get on my mat every day but I aspire to it.

Recently, I’ve been doing yoga with Kristy from Yoga Rhythms and Yoga with Adriene from YouTube.

They both inspire me to continue my #yogacommitted challenge and to seek balance in my life. I also find myself being kind to my body because yoga is about being in the present and being in sync with my breath. It’s not about body image or doing the perfect asana.  And I find that refreshing and healing.

I am finding that every time I come to my mat to practice yoga with awareness and intention my heart opens and heals a little more. My nervous system repairs itself a little more. My mind quiets a little more.

This is wonderful. I need it. I appreciate it.

Of course, I cannot do a back bend the way the person in the image does but I do my own version because I know that I am growing my practice whenever I commit to getting on the mat.

Some days are harder to get on the mat than others but I am doing my best to show up and be present. So far I have done 93 days of yoga this year. That is the most I have ever stayed committed to my yoga practice.

Regular practice is helping me to feel much happier in life and it is providing me with another tool to manage the anxiety that sometimes tries to eat me alive from the inside out.

And it’s helping me with my creative writing. I’m more focused and creative. It’s helping me to play with my animal companions more and it’s helping me to get back to my art which I think is brilliant. I am so grateful for all the benefits yoga is giving me.

Also I’ve found myself going through another phase … as I have become more interested in yoga, I have become inspired by my teachers to cook dahl (or is that daal – I don’t know which spelling – they both seem to apply).  We just got a pressure cooker and I’m going to give this another go. I’m not much of a cook but I feel inspired to try.

So I found some great dahl recipes on YouTube.  Here is one of my favs so far:

I love this lady. She is adorable and I really enjoyed watching her cook her version of dahl/daal. She doesn’t use a pressure cooker but I’m still pleased I found her YouTube video.

I hope my dahl comes out as yummy as hers.

I’ll let you know how I go.

Namaste.

Creative Writing Courses 2017 in Brisbane, Australia

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400dpiLogoI love sharing creative writing tips and when quality courses come along, I want to share them with you.

If you’re based in Brisbane and have been looking for a group of creative writers that will help you to develop your skills, I recommend checking out Brisbane Writers Workshop courses.  They will help you to develop valuable writing skills and inspire your creative ideas and develop them into stories.

Brisbane Writers Workshop courses are kept small to meet your needs and their presenters are experts in their fields with current publishing and editing experience.

So, I thought I’d share their 2017 schedule of courses which I put up on Weekend Notes.

Check out this mini-trailer above to see what the classes are like. This was the Fiction Blitz class from 2016 but it’ll give you a great idea of how cosy and cool the Brisbane Writers Workshop classes are.

Here’s the brief list of the courses on offer from April through to September 2017:

Intro to Creative Writing: Light Your Fire [4 Seats Left]
Saturday, 8 April: 2.30-5pm; Sun, 9 April: 10am-2.30pm

Intro to Creative Writing: Light Your Fire will inspire you to begin work on your creative story ideas.  Sometimes you have a piece of the puzzle of your story whirling around inside your head and may need a little help getting it to bloom. You may want to work on developing your author’s voice or want to understand the basics of story structure.  If that’s where you’re at, then this intro course will be a great start.

This course will give you the foundation information and inspiration to get cracking on your story!

Here’s the blurb from BWW on this course:
Spike your skills with this small-group course presented by Lauren Daniels. Developed for those with a desire to push ideas into more workable drafts, this course provides the petrol and the launch pad. Practice literary techniques, play with writing exercises, and build upon your strengths. Explore common issues from strengthening focus and omitting purple prose, to the crafting solid scenes with a focused perspective and an authentic, active voice.

Speculative Fiction: Myths & Madness [Filling Up!]
Saturday, 27 May: 3-5.30pm; Sun, 28 May: 10am-2.30pm

Speculative Fiction: Myths & Madness is going to be an course filled with ghost, ghouls, vampires and characters inspired by the myths of the world.  I can’t wait to go to this course. I enrolled the minute I found out about it.

Here’s the blurb from BWW on this course:
Got ectoplasm on your laptop and fire-breathing carnies on the brain? Got Rowling, Gaiman, Rice, King, Bradbury and Tolkien on your shelf?

While the term ‘speculative fiction’ dawned in the 20th century, the angle of alternative and inventive angles that synthesise magic realism with the supernatural dates back to Euripides and Shakespeare.

Our challenge is to bypass the cliche and stay fresh. If you need some support from savvy editor/authors who love this genre as much as you do, join us…

Travel Writing: Articles to Books
Sat, 3 June: 3-5.30pm; Sun, 4 June: 10am-2.30pm

Travel Writing: Articles to Books is a course for those who love to travel and write stories about your experience.

Here’s the blurb from BWW on this course:
With a travel writer and editor as your guide, join this expedition into one most the most popular of genres. The itinerary includes resources, publishing tips and how to highlight your experiences in a marketable fashion as short pieces of writing for periodicals as well as full-length works.  Travel adventure and disaster tales welcome.  Beginners to advanced writers will create this supportive atmosphere. Trade trekking insights and tips with like-minded friends.

Polish & Publish: The Insider’s Guide
Sat, 15 July: 3-5.30pm; Sun, 16 July: 10am-2.30pm

Polish & Publish: The Insider’s Guide is a course filled with tips on how to bring your writing up to publication standard.  I had a very positive experience when I attended this course. It was brilliant and kicked off a second rewrite on my own novel.

Here’s the blurb from BWW on this course:
Bring up to 2000 words of your writing to collect gentle and constructive feedback, discover your strengths, define opportunities for improvement, and get the inside scoop on publishing.  This course will enhance your writing and you’ll be inspired by passionate industry pros to join the ranks of writers who take these workshops and get published. At the Polish & Publish workshop you’ll feel empowered to edit your own work with verve and learn how to run productive writing groups.

In Character: Archetypes to the Enneagram
Sat, 19 August: 3-5.30pm; Sun, 20 August: 10am-2.30pm

In Character: Archetypes to the Enneagram is a brilliant course!  When I went to this course I learned so much about how to  integrate archetypes into my characters. And I learned how to use the Enneagram to further develop my characters personalities. It was an awesome experience. If you’re receiving feedback that your characters are two dimensional, then I recommend getting along to this course.

Here’s the blurb from BWW on this course:
Examine character through an array of lenses including Carl G. Jung’s archetypes, Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey motif, and the personality model of the Enneagram as exemplary creative tools in character and plot development. Read excerpts and experiment with character styles. Explore the concept of identity as you track what makes good characters great. Join author/editors Lauren Daniels, Josh Brockbank and Geneve Flynn for lively discussions, writing exercises, morning and afternoon teas.

Writing for Children & Adolescents: Picture Books through YA
Sat, 16 September: 3-5.30pm; Sun, 17 September: 10am-2.30pm

Writing for Children & Adolescents: Picture Books through YA is yet another course I’ve attended with BWW.  It was another excellent quality course filled with relevant information for authors seeking to write for children and YA.

It is amazing how much work goes into creating a picture book. And children are a tough audience, so the insights I received from the editors were pure gold.

Here’s the blurb from BWW on this course:
Meet with a team of editors — Anna Bartlett and Lauren Daniels — and award-winning, guest author Janet Reid to glean tips on what children’s and young adult [YA] publishers seek and how to prepare professional submissions. Find out about good storytelling techniques for young readers and how to earn the regard of this tough audience.

To find out more about the Brisbane Writers Workshop courses, check out their website.

Thanks for reading my blog and thanks for liking my posts too.

Happy creative writing!

My Happy Jar, Yoga, Writing and the X-Files

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My Happy Jar

One of my friends told me about this great site called Your Happy Jar and since my quest for 2017 is to connect with balance and count my blessings as well as write a great novel, I thought I’d join.

I’ve had a great time writing short notes that I can look back on and appreciate. Reading through my notes already makes me feel happy.

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Above are two of my happy moments. As the title of my website says – I am an animal lover. These are two of my beloved four legged furry friends.  The third one is a little more difficult to snap up a photo of but I’ll get him one day and he’ll be added to my happy moments too.

Here’s another happy writing moment:

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That day I’d been having so much fun writing my novel while on the train, I almost missed getting off at the right stop.  Reliving that memory is awesome, especially as writing a novel length story can be such a roller-coaster of emotions for me.

It is so nice to remind myself of all the happy moments I have in my life.

Yoga

As I’ve said before on my blog, I’ve been committed to my yoga practice as I explore the benefits to my mental, emotional, physical and spiritual self. Somedays I don’t want to get on the mat but the moment I do, it’s like I’ve come home to myself and I know I’ve made the right decision for my own self-care.

So far I have been #yogacommitted for 80 days.  I’ve missed a few days but this is the most consistent I have ever been with my practice. And I enjoy the idea of developing and growing my yoga practice.

Doing yoga with Adriene as a guide has been the catalyst for change for me in so many ways. The other day I did this yoga flow with Adriene. It was a strong practice and I found it challenging, but I breathed through each posture and my prana was rocking by the end of it.

As I result of daily (or almost daily) yoga practice with the youtube videos, I’ve started going to Yoga with Kristy near where I live.

Kristy is a lovely yoga teacher located on the Sunshine Coast of Australia. She makes everyone feel welcome and allows each participant to work at their own level with kindness and compassion.

This coming Thursday I’ll be off to attend her restorative yoga practice again.  I think I might float home.

Writing

As you can tell from the above, I’m still writing my first novel, Tuppence Weatherstorm.  I’ve finished rewriting the first nineteen chapters and have another ten to go.  I’ve been sending off chapters to my writing buddy in Melbourne and I’m looking forward to feedback on what works and what doesn’t.

When I wrote my first draft, it was just under 80,000 words. But now, on the third rewrite, the word count has grown to almost 95,000 words. So, I’ll be culling and tightening my prose as I go through my next rewrite.  I’d better add that to my editing list.

So my writing is right on track. I’m falling more in love with Tuppence Weatherstorm and the world I’m building which is good because writing a novel is a marathon activity.

The X-Files

IMG_1325I’m about 24 years behind the times, but I’ve just started watching The X-Files.  This is my  copy of season one. I’ve watched three episodes so far and I’m hooked.

I’m not quite sure what I was doing the whole time The X-Files were airing, but I’m glad the episodes are available for me to binge watch now.

I am loving the paranormal themes of this series. Just saying.

 

 

Phases of Writing my Novel – A Discovery

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I’ve learned there are many phases of writing my novel. Some phases are challenging as I struggle to birth the words and scenes that will make my story come to life. And some phases are filled with excitement and joy as my creativity soars and the words spill onto the page without effort.

In this post I’m going to tell you about some of the phases I’ve been through so far as I have been writing my novel, Tuppence Weatherstorm.

Back in early 2016 I was sitting on the train on the way out of the city and gazing out the window. It was a hot and humid day. The sky was mottled gun metal grey and overcast.  The train pulled out of Fortitude Valley and my eyes came upon thee old brick buildings with pointed roofs. The brick work reminded me of a church I’d once seen and then my creative mind was off and racing.

The first character, not the main character, appeared inside my imagination. I opened my iPad and started to type what I saw. I grinned as he formed on the page and the setting grew around him. I had no idea where the scene was going but I knew he had appeared for a reason. And I knew it was the start of a story, so I decided to go for it.

What did I have to lose? Nothing. By giving my ideas space to breathe, I had everything to gain, so I plunged in and wrote as much as I could when I could.

This marked the beginning of the first draft phase of writing my novel.

It took me five months of writing, developing my characters, developing the plot, thinking about internal and external conflicts and considering the treatment I’d use to tell my story. For those who are not familiar with the term ‘treatment’, it means whether I’d write it in first person or third person close perspective.

At the time I was also experiencing a high level of anxiety and creative writing gave me a way to express all the things I couldn’t in my real life on the page.

This was also the ‘no self-censorship’ phase of my writing.

I gave myself permission to write as freely as my imagination would allow. I chased ideas down rabbit holes, filled my manuscript with cliches and wrote it on Wattpad.  This was a great fun phase as I received encouragement from the people who read my first draft as I wrote it and shared it with them. Their kind words and support meant the world to me and it still does. I feel blessed to have their input into my novel.

Once I’d finished my first draft of my novel, I had about 80,000 words and no idea on how to proceed.  I’d never got this far with a story before. So I contacted an editor and asked her to take a look at the manuscript and paid her for her time.

This was the editing report phase of writing my novel. 

It was a time of vulnerability for me which was probably heightened by the extreme levels of anxiety I was experiencing in my personal life at the time. But I sat on my hands and waited for my feedback.

I received the feedback and it was great. I received lots of comments, all geared toward helping me to write a stronger story.  The editing review looked at holes in character, plot structure, conflicts, treatment and theme. It gave me added insight into cutting cliches. Cutting overwriting. Cutting tangents.

I also learned that I was trying to write two stories at the same time. This meant that I was consciously writing a paranormal story but my subconscious was dealing with the theme of anxiety.

I hadn’t seen that in the manuscript and was grateful for that insight as it helped me to consider if anxiety was really the theme I wanted to focus on in the story.

It took me about a two months, nearly three of digesting the comments in the editing report before I was ready to start rewriting. The editing report was one of the most valuable learning experiences I’ve had in the process of writing my novel. I used their feedback to help move forward with rewriting. I took one comment at a time and tried to focus on what they had said and see how I could create a stronger story by using that knowledge.

The editing report comments were gold. Pure gold.

I still return to my editor’s comments because they help me to stay on track and focus so I no longer write tangents into my story.

This marked another phase of writing my novel. The second rewrite. 

It was time to do a thorough rewrite. I had to learn to write stronger verbs. I had to start cutting adverbs by 90%. I had to replace cliches with my original prose and come to terms with cutting all the tangents that did not move the plot forward.

I had to focus and tighten and learn to cut out repetition while shaping the plot around the changes. It was a challenging phase and at times I wondered if I’d ever get through it. This phase was akin to going up a grade and learning at a higher level.

Challenging is good.

But I admit, there were times when my anxiety grew into a monstrous entity in its own right. I had to see my psychologist about it and discuss the way my ‘monkey mind’ attempted to sabotage my creative writing. And that was very helpful.

This phase of rewriting took me about three months of focus. When I finally finished the last chapter, I was so happy. I’d made it. I’d not only written and finished the first draft – the bones of my story, but I’d done it a second time and now it had some muscle.

At this point I entered into my current phase of writing my novel… another rewrite! 

Basically, as soon as I finished my second draft, I circled back to the beginning of my story and started reading and writing again. This time I looked at how I could bring out the secondary characters and write the scenes in such a way as to bring out the paranormal themes.

This is the phase I’m in right now.

So, during the week, I focus on rewriting a chapter at a time. Usually this is on the train on the way to work or going home.  (I travel for an hour and 15 minutes each way and use my time to progress my novel or to read and learn).

Once I’ve added missing detail, brought out the senses and developed character circuitry and peeled back another layer of conflict, I move onto the next chapter.  At the end of the week I go through all the recent rewrites on my home computer.

I open Scrivener and use the speech tool to listen to what I’ve written. I found using the audio function helps me to pick up sentences that don’t sound right. I instantly pick up incorrect words and missing words too. It also helps me to hear the cadence and to correct it as I go.

So far I am half way through the third rewrite.  Once this phase of writing my novel is complete, my writing buddy in Melbourne will read the story for the first time and provide me with valuable feedback. He’s my next beta reader and I’ll be integrating his insights when I receive them.  So that’ll commence rewriting phase four.

Going forward, I know there are many more phases of writing my novel yet to come. So, to help me prepare, I have spent time brainstorming a list of editing topics that I will concentrate on as I keep combing through my story and polishing it.

Here are just a few of the editing topics I will be focusing on as I move forward with Tuppence Weatherstorm:

  1. Have I captured all the senses in my story?  Do I favour one or two of the senses over the others? If so, I need to write in the missing senses to help bring out the ‘show’ aspect of the story.When I say senses, I’m talking about: sight, sound, smell, taste, touch.
  2. Have I caught all the repetition in every scene?  What else can I cut or rewrite to build tension and suspense in the story and make it flow better?
  3. Are all of my character’s voices individual?  If not, I will need to go back and do more character work, maybe interview my characters until their voices surface and then write that into the manuscript.
  4. Do I have any words that repeat that I need to vary?  I already know that I like to use the word ‘scream’ a lot. I think that’ll be one for the search and rewrite list.
  5. Do I have ‘tell’ words rather than ‘show’ words in my prose?  I’ll be searching for the word ‘felt’ and doing my best to rewrite the sentence so I show what is happening to my character in the situation.

There are so many more editing topics on my list but I won’t put them up here until I’ve been through them. Some I can’t put up here as I’ve learned them through private courses and the method belongs to the teacher.  But I’ll give you what I can once I know it works.

So far, I’ve been writing Tuppence Weatherstorm for a year and three months. I think that’s pretty fast for me, even though at times it feels like an eternity.

People ask me how long does it take to write and publish a book?  

And I have to say, “I don’t know.”

Right now I’m doing the work. I haven’t got to the stage of publishing my novel yet. And I think every writer is different. Every story is unique and even though there may be deadlines, a story unfolds in its own time. At least that’s how I look at it right now.

What I do know is that once I’ve exhausted all of my editing topics on my list it will be time to submit my manuscript to my editor again. That will be another phase in the birthing of my story as I discover what else needs attention and continue the process of crafting and polishing.

When my story is ready for publication I know it will be the best I could do with the knowledge, experience and guidance I had at the time.

And that’s all I can hope for.

Happy writing and reading!

On Stephen King and Writing Characters

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Last year Stephen King received recognition for his work in literacy from the Librarian of Congress at the 2016 Library of Congress Book Festival in Washington, D.C.

They recorded his talk and loaded it up to YouTube which is awesome because I had an opportunity to watch it.

Stephen King did not disappoint. I love this guy! You know … in the ‘I’m a fan girl’ kind of way.  He talked about the Dead Zone and how he foresaw Donald Trump – scary that his work of fiction could have overtones to reality but there it is.

He told funny tales about being a famous author and discussed how to increase literacy in the community. This was very inspiring as he talked about reading for fun, about falling into other worlds and living through characters.

He said (and I’m paraphrasing) that people who do not read live one life and it may be a great life, but people who read, live thousands of lives.

I loved that message because whenever I read a story I get to experience what the character is going through but I don’t need to live their pain in my physical life.

And when I was younger (in my early twenties) I didn’t read much. It took me a lot of practice to learn to read well and then to enjoy the experience. I didn’t grow up loving stories mainly because I didn’t understand the joys of other worlds and characters. I found reading difficult but over time my literacy jumped and I found that I LOVED reading and I loved writing.  And that, in a nutshell, is how I came to be writing my own fiction.

Now, when I read books I have an opportunity to change my perspective on important topics and I learn that not every person who does ‘bad’ things is acting from a place of malevolence. Some characters have motivations that stem from a place of thinking they are acting for the highest good. And that makes the character complex and far more interesting to read about.

So a lot of what Stephen King talked about resonated with me, both as a person who once did not value reading and as a person who is so in love with reading I am never without a novel or a non-fiction book now.

Another interesting thing Stephen King talked about was how odd it was to see so many people in the crowd because writers are supposed to be secret agents. He said, “We’re supposed to observe you, you’re not supposed to observe us.”

I thought that was a great comment because as a writer I find myself observing people. Sometimes I’ve thought that I shouldn’t do that, but to write authentic characters and to gain inspiration for stories I realised that I needed to be engaged in the world around me (to a degree).

Mostly, I look at people’s emotions and how emotion impacts behaviour and the decisions and actions taken.  It’s endlessly fascinating to me.  I often contemplate behaviour and the principle of cause and effect as I write.

A number of my writing teachers have encouraged me to observe body language; to watch people and to do my best to notice the small giveaway signs of their thoughts and emotions too. I do this, but sometimes I think I do it more subconsciously than on a conscious level because I don’t sit across from people and just watch them. I listen to what they are saying, I do observe their body language from the perspective of being present with them and engaged in the topic at hand.

Yet I must admit that watching people teaches me so much about how to write believable characters with congruent and incongruent emotions and body language. Observing people (on TV and in real life) is fantastic way to develop my creative imagination as well as a vital skill for creative writing. So I reckon Stephen King, with all the years of experience and writing success, has a good point about writers being observers.

So, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Stephen King’s talk. He’s an inspiration both as a writer and as a mentor (even though he wouldn’t know me from a bar of soap).

And if you have time and you’re interested in Stephen King, literacy, creative writing or just interested in having a laugh because he is an entertaining speaker, that you’ll take time to watch his talk on YouTube too.

 

Yoga Committed

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16473056_10154361371861375_2419717276492334111_nYesterday, I completed 31 days of Yoga Revolution with Adriene.

Here’s a photo of the yoga calendar and all the stars I placed on it to keep track of my growing daily yoga practice.

The last 31 days have given me strength and flexibility in my body, but more importantly this practice has given me strength, flexibility and peace in my mind and attitude. It has taught me a new vocabulary and opened the door for me to have a daily ‘conversation’ with how I am feeling and where I am at in my life.

I recommend giving 31 days of yoga a try.

Now that 31 days of yoga is finished, what do I do?

I’ve started a Yoga Committed practice where I do 28 days of yoga based on another calendar graciously provided by Adriene in her newsletter.

Today I completed Yoga Tone and because I loved Revolution so much, I did day 1 – Ease practice again. The combination was fabulous.

So I am committing to daily practice and I am looking forward to discovering what the next month will bring in body, mind, heart and soul.

I’ve read that the more mindful a person is, the more creativity flows through them. I’m experimenting with mindful practice on and off the mat and I hope to see increased levels of creativity flowing through the river in me and out into the world.

Life isn’t always easy. And in these times of egos beating one against the other on a global scale have far reaching effects with worrying repercussions, so it’s important to find what is meaningful and connect with that.

There’s so much judgement going on in the world today and as we’re all so interconnected, thanks to the immediacy of the internet, the effects are being felt more now than ever before. The nastiness is tragic really.

I think the current actions taking place in the world can become consuming of individuals as one side fights against the other.  I’m not saying that we should not embrace change or look for ways to stay safe or better ourselves as human beings or stand up for what we believe to be right and true. What I am saying, however, is that no matter how in the fray one is … the effects still ripple out and are felt beyond the source of the conflict.

So, getting into a calm and centred spot is important and I think yoga will help me as it helps so many other people in the world to find connection, peace and calmness.

I believe that power, real power, not judgemental aggression and violence, comes from a place of centred calm.

So, my goal is to connect with my inner power and stand in it. Embrace it and own it. And even when the egos of aggression and life’s painful moment attempt to cause me harm, I’ll be centred and ready to withstand the storm.

It’s nice to share with you what’s good and also what concerns me. I’m grateful I have an opportunity to share art and writing and what inspires me with you again too.

Thank you for reading my blog.

I’ve been quite … chatty.  🙂

Blessed Be.

Merlin – My New Obsession

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I’ve found a new love and it’s the Merlin tele series.  I’m a bit slow on the uptake of some of these shows but when I fall for a show, I fall hard.

 

I think I like Merlin so much because I like a hero who has to deal with living in the mundane world while also struggling to hide and come to terms with the magical world they truly belong to.  I enjoy characters who  live two lives in one. And I enjoy stories filled with magic and monsters.

For years I avoided watching this show because I couldn’t handle the haircuts. Yes, I’m that shallow. But in my mind Camelot would not have a king, prince or mage with short hair styles. It seemed … wrong.

It irked me, but after watching the first episode, with heaps of encouragement from my awesome partner “to give it a go”, I was sucked into the story.

Basically anything with magic in it will get my attention but what really sold me on the series was the dragon.  The dragon character (voiced by the late John Hurt) is a guide to Merlin and a support to him as he grows into his powers. But the dragon is also a contagonist in that he has his own agenda. He is not aligned with the antagonist and initially encouraged Merlin to take actions that would be in the dragon’s best interest and not that of the antagonist or the protagonist.

The contagonist characters are fascinating because we do not know where their loyalties lie and they can switch sides as it suits them but eventually there is a moment in their story arc when they commit one way or the other.

When I got to the episode when the dragon committed his loyalties chills of excitement rushed through my body and my heart opened. For me, it was a pivotal moment in the story and one that I loved.

The other fantastic thing about watching Merlin is that it inspires me with my creative imagination.

I learn so much about the art and craft of story telling from watching these shows.  And I feel inspired to jot down my own dragon stories that have been bouncing around inside my head for years.  I have written parts of stories with dragons in them but I have not spent the time delving deep and developing them.

I think this year, after I complete Tuppence Weatherstorm, I’ll put my mind to the dragon that lurks in the dark spaces of my mind and give her life on the page.

Thanks Merlin for your inspiration.