Art-ing again


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I’ve had a big break from drawing, painting and pretty much anything that equates to visual art. But recently, I’ve needed to feel my pen and pencil glide across the page and see immediate results of my creativity in action.

Writing novels is great fun but it is a long (and sometimes lonely) process. I can’t show it to you, you would have to read every word and immerse yourself in the story to see it, feel it, sense it, experience it. But with art, you can view an image and have an immediate reaction.

My artwork is very much a personal expression tool. I’m not the best of the best at it, but it’s who I am at any given moment in time.

So here’s me through images at this point in my life.

I’m obviously animal obsessed. Maybe that’s because animals accept me for who I am and don’t require much from me? Maybe it’s because (for me) animals are safe for me on an emotional level. I don’t know exactly, but I feel drawn to them in my artistic expression.

Last weekend, all I did was draw and play with watercolour paints and some new alcohol based ink markers. I watched a few art classes on and picked up some tips but mostly, I felt inspired to create visually again.

There’s nothing worse than looking at a blank page and wondering… “What am I going to draw, paint, sketch?”

Some of the above images have been put through Gimp and cut out and put on t-shirts at RedBubble under ShaplandArt. I’m not the best with digital image manipulation and always have to go to Google to figure out the next step. It takes ages but I eventually end up with something on a t-shirt that I’m pretty happy with.

I guess I can only improve.


Romance Love Rabbit T-Shirt by ShaplandArt

Romance Love Rabbit T-Shirt by ShaplandArt

Dream Interpretation, Art & Writing


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I’m starting this blog post off with some shameless self-promotion. Today I got inspired and made a youtube video on how you can use dream interpretation to help you with your art and writing.  Or … at the very least, I had a go at it.

Here’s the video.

I had loads of fun making it. I’m not sure I uploaded the first version with high enough definition but this is all about learning and growing into new skills.

I took a short course, How to Make a Great Talking Head Video (even when camera shy) by Lucy Lambrlex on and this is my first attempt after the class.

I hope you enjoy it and pick up a tip or two that will help you with your creative expression.

Red Bubble and me


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I am super excited to share that I have just opened up a Red Bubble shop. My artwork will be appearing on t-shirts, skirts, cushions, cups, journals, iPad covers, phone cases and all sorts of other useful items.

It has been a dream of mine to see my artwork out in the world and (hopefully) in the hands of people who appreciate it.

I am stoked to share this news with you!



Having an outlet to share my artwork in such a new way is very inspiring to me.

At present, I’ve only uploaded two pieces of my art but the awesome thing is … taking this action will encourage me to get back to my creative artwork. I’ve had a break for close to two years. It has been too long.

I love creative writing and I work on my stories every day but to see my artwork on t-shirts … well, I hope you can tell how exciting this is just by what I’ve written.

I’ve opened my Red Bubble shop under ShaplandArt because a long time ago when this blog was going through a previous incarnation, it was called ‘Selina’s World’ and I had ShaplandArt as my art brand name.

Anyway, here’s to creativity and sharing how it manifests in each of our lives.

Thanks so much for reading and for checking out my shop … if you’re interested, of course. And there are heaps of excellent artists on Red Bubble. Something for pretty much everyone.

Happy creativity – no matter the form is manifests in the world.


The Strangeness of Writing

I’m going through a strange…ness lately.

At the start of December 2017, I was exhausted. So tired that I couldn’t think straight and I didn’t want to write my stories for a while. So I put down my iPad and my Scrivener and my latest story, The Living Death of Toddy James, and started reading.

I read the rest of The Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes and loved it.

Screenshot 2018-01-03 12.39.53

Then I started reading Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman. It’s so beautifully written and the narration is so delicious that I find myself fascinated with the way Alice Hoffman has used the omniscient narrator to capture the Owens women’s lives on the page. The story isn’t at all like the movie with Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock. There are similarities and resonances between them but the two versions are stand alone stories, related and similar in genetics but not close enough to be family. They’re more like distant cousins.

So when I finally said farewell to 2017 and welcomed in 2018 (by sleeping through it – yes, I’m that much of an old nanna already) I decided it was time to get back into my creative writing. I finally started to feel that tingle in my mind and in my fingers, telling me it’s time to write again. But I didn’t want to push it, so I made myself have one more day of rest. It was new year’s day after all.

Then on Tuesday 2nd January 2018 I got on the train to go to work again. I pulled out my iPad and rewrote a part of the climax of Toddy James. It felt good to get going again and I wrote most of the way into the city.

But then this morning, I fell back into that abyss of strangeness where I couldn’t write. I sat on the train, flipped open my iPad and keyboard and … nothing. I couldn’t get a single word moving. Alarm bells rang inside my mind and all the anxieties rushed in to fill the void.

Sometimes that scares me. I’m scared because my mind races around and wonders if I’ll ever get through the labour of giving birth to this book? Will I ever deliver this book? Not that anyone is actually waiting on it, so I shouldn’t be all tied up in knots about getting it done, except to say that I committed to finishing the manuscript and I want to do what I said I would do.

My mind races a little more: Will I ever get my writing up to publication standard? Will I ever finish a story that people will enjoy reading? Why am I persisting?

So many anxious thought racing through my mind, they paralyze my fingers on the keyboard.

In the end I listened to an audiobook and chilled out. At times like these, that’s all I can do. My psychologist has taught me that these moments move through us like clouds through the sky. Clouds move with the atmosphere and are not stagnant and neither are emotions. Fears pass. Happiness passes. Difficulties pass. Everything passes because nothing is permanent.

This moment of strangeness will pass and I will move through it and I will keep writing because as my partner says, “Selina, you can’t not write. It’s in your blood.”

It’s just when the moments of nothing-ness happens fear rises up and stalks me like a beast in the darkest of nights. It breaths heavy on me, pants on the back of my neck and raises the fine hairs. All of my senses tell me that my shadow is stalking me.

I know my shadow self is watching and waiting. Lurking.

Sometimes I am afraid to face that shadow but deep down, I know that my shadow is my greatest teacher. She is the unseen and many treasures await in the depth of darkness. She challenges me to go after what I want and to stand up to my fears and move through them, move past them.

I will make it through the moments of darkness and I will step into the light where everything will work out and the words will flow again. Sometimes it’s about taking a leap of faith and taking a mini-break and accepting where I am in life.

In a strange way, I love my shadow self because she is so rich with opportunities to learn about who I am and where I am going in life.

I hope 2018 is a good year for you. I’ve got big plans this year. Plans for my writing and I am sticking with it because I love stories and I’ll keep coming back to the page. I’ll keep showing up and we’ll see where things take me. No pressure, just persistence.

Happy reading, happy writing, happy creating.


I really should be writing my novel



I have the day off work and I’m sitting in my cattery, in my wonderful big green lush comfy writing chair and … I’m surfing the internet and cyber… do I call it, stalking? Or is it that I’m really just a fan? Curious, inspired and interested about my newest fav author?

Anyway, I’m choosing to call it: cyber-checking-out. I’m sitting here cyber-checking-out Marian Keyes’ website because I bought her book, The Mystery of Mercy Close, and I’m loving the ‘courageous, vulnerable and wasp-tongued‘ female protagonist Helen Walsh. It’s a great read – at least it is for me. I say that because it starts off where two of the main character’s sister and her friend are talking about having a breakdown together, as though it’s a wonderful opportunity for a holiday.

I found it quite amusing and I identified with the main character straight away because I think I too have a ‘shovel list’ and an inner black comedy when it comes to certain things in life. Like when certain people sit not just next to me on the train but on me. My brain goes to all sorts of places and I often have amusing thoughts, the likes of which are not suitable for polite company.

So according to the back cover of The Mystery of Mercy Close, ‘the Shovel List is: a list of all the people and things Helen hates so much she wants to hit them in the face with a shovel.

Wow – I often have this monologue inside my head, talking to me and commenting and noting the things and people I wouldn’t mind smacking in the back of the head from time to time. I probably shouldn’t admit that, but I do. I have it. I think we all have something like that going on inside us… unless, of course, you’re a syrupy sweet sickly person who never ever thinks a ‘bad’ thing about anything.

If you’re that kind of person – lucky you!

Unfortunately, it’s not me. I try to be good in life. I try to say and do the right thing. I try to be caring and compassionate to others. I try to keep some of the things I hate close to my heart and bury them, but sometimes, under all that pressure, I still know that I just want to slap some people in the head and walk away from them. I want to tell them I don’t care about their problems, I don’t want their help, I don’t need to be mothered – because even though my mum has dementia, I still have a mum and I don’t need mothering!

I don’t tell them that or rarely will I allow such things to spill from my lips.

Oh no, I keep it wrapped tight as a mummy on Halloween… until the object of my frustration has pushed me to breaking point and then I can’t articulate properly and all the stuff I’m feeling comes out jumbled, or in the form of “f@ck off” which happened all too recently. Only then does my own ‘waspish tongue’ start to buzz and sting. I try to control it but I’m not always successful

Then, after the event I feel guilty that I said what I said. And yet, sometimes I feel justified in my response. I am, after all, only human and I can only take so much in life when things are stressful. That doesn’t excuse my own behaviour but it does put things into perspective, if you know what I mean?

Anyway, I should be writing my novel. I sat down here to specifically write 1800 new words or so of my novel. I started, then I felt hungry, so I ate. Then I got interested in Marian Keyes again (because she is funny, interesting and adorable and watching her vlog makes me feel happy) and then I thought, I just need to write this blog, so here I am punching out my word count on the blog rather than my novel. It’s not that I don’t want to write my novel. I do, and I am. It’s just that sometimes things resonate so much with me, I just have to share… I want to share it with you.

So now that I’ve written this blog and shared my terrible secret… that I’m human, I make mistakes and sometimes I just don’t want to care about all the drama of other people and their lives. Now that I’ve shared that I’m totally inspired by Marian Keyes and her quirky sense of humour, I feel I can focus my attention on my novel in progress, The Living Death of Toddy James.

My novel is moving along at a cracking pace right now. I’ve been writing new words every day for fifteen days now, and I’m in the middle of writing chapter 20 and things have got pretty hard for Toddy. She’s trapped and I’m not sure how she’s going to get out of her current predicament but as soon as my fingers hit the keyboard, I reckon she’ll show me the way and we’ll be off. Her moving through the action and emotions and me following her every move and scribing her thoughts, feelings and reactions on my Scrivener page.

Writing a story is hard work but it is also very exciting and a lot of fun.

I must go now. I have new words to write and Miss Poppy, my rag doll cat, aka ‘The Novelist’s Little Helper,’ is calling me to get her and bring her into her cattery (her queendom).

What can I say … I am at Miss Poppy’s command.

Thanks for reading my blog and for following me. I hope you have a great day, wherever you are in the world and that you take one more step toward realising your own passion in life.

Life and the act of creative writing


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When life becomes stressful for me, one of the things I thoroughly enjoy doing is throwing my characters into conflict infested scenarios.  Then I sit there and wonder … how on earth are they going to get through this?

Sometimes writing fiction is as challenging as navigating life itself.

Life’s been very stressful for me this year. I can’t deny it. My brother and I have had to come to terms with our mother’s recent diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Dementia and it is the most heart wrenching thing to see and experience. A truly cruel disease of the brain.

Mum Rodger n Me

My brother has been doing the most amazing job caring for our mum because this disease is tough. Tough on the carers. Tough on the family and friends too. It’s tough for the person going through the dementia too.


So grief, depression and anxiety have been my companions.

It’s hard for me to admit how much this situation is affecting me and I am struggling to put things in to words here because of how keenly personal things are.

So in October, I flew down to Canberra to see my mum. I loved seeing her but she had changed so much. My mum stood before me, physically the same person, at least on the outside, but on the inside … the brain damage she has sustained shattered my heart.

At times mum recognised me (I live in Queensland and she is in Canberra so we don’t see each other very often). At other times mum thought she had given birth to twin daughters and continued to tell me that she couldn’t remember giving birth to me. She also insisted that her real daughter lives in Queensland and as nice as I was … well, in her eyes I wasn’t her daughter.

Sometimes what mum said was funny, somethings it was devastating.

Anyway, it’s been an emotional roller coaster and I never know if mum is going to remember me when I ring her. But on the up side, I am doing my best to cherish  memories on her behalf and to remember my mum for the amazing, strong and beautiful woman she was as I grew up. My mum is still there and sometimes, in her lucid moments, she surfaces and it is a true delight!

Some people believe mum should just try harder to remember things but she can’t do that. She’s had mini-strokes. It means she has brain damage and she can’t remember. When I’ve heard well-meaning people tell my mum that she has to try harder to remember and that she’s always had memory issues, I just want to slap them in the head for being so ignorant, so arrogant, so farking lacking in compassion.

If someone has a broken leg and it’s bent at some odd angle, would it make sense to tell them to, “Just stand up and walk. Use your legs!”


Sorry, I’m so frustrated by stupid statements like that. It’s ridiculous and causes anxiety for my mum and for her children.  But I do understand that the comments come from a place of wanting to help and trying to make sense of a disease that doesn’t make sense.

Anyway, since things have been so full-on emotionally, I’ve found myself doing quite a bit of creative writing. I’ve been working feverishly on The Living Death of Toddy James. I’ve spent some time plotting out a rough outline and now I’m elbows deep in writing the chapters. The act of writing helps me to compartmentalise the pain. But it doesn’t mean I don’t face and feel the pain, it just gives me a safe place to take a breather and I am so grateful.

So far I’ve written sixteen chapters and I’m drafting chapter seventeen now. I’ve been writing everyday and it’s been a twisting turning journey for Toddy James. I hope I’m doing her justice. But for now I’m not rewriting. I’m pushing forward because I promised myself I would finish this story and I will.

Writing is a passion for me. I can’t not do it. So is reading. I love to read and I’ve been getting into reading romance stories lately. I’m learning more about the romance genre which will help me with my own writing because all of my stories have romantic elements.

I think another reason I have been enjoying the romance genre lately is that I need something to lighten up my life and even though every story is filled to the brim with conflicts, romance is known for delivering happy-ever after endings and that’s a nice thing to look forward too.

I hope life is treating you well. I’m keeping on keeping on as they say and I’m writing but most of all I’m sending my mum and brother a tone of love because they are both incredibly precious to me.


Relaxation is … a cattery, animal companions and a new chair

About a month ago I moved house and when I got set up in my new place it was finally time to put together my cat’s cattery.  I’d bought it a while ago but had no where to put it as I knew I’d be moving, so it sat in big boxes in the shed waiting for the right time to be put up.

So as soon as we got settled in our new home my partner spent about a week staining the wood and then he and my best friend put the cattery together.

The cattery is a two by three metre cage with a door, cat shelves and two swing bridges. Miss Poppy isn’t too keen on the swing bridges but she’s okay with them staying as long as she’s not expected to walk across them.

Really, this cattery is like having a another room on the house. It even looks like a mini house.
I love it.
I’m sitting in it right now as I write this blog, Miss Poppy on the tiles chilling out, and Rocket and Jack relaxing in the yard.

And now Miss Poppy has an outdoor playpen where she is safe and the wildlife are safe too.

I think relaxation is … having this precious quiet time with my animal companions. I am feeling such blissful relaxation sitting here with them. Birds are chirping and the sky is blue. The temperature is warm but not viscious hot and I have a fan going in the shade too.

To add to my level of comfort, I’ve finally got myself a great chair.

It’s big. It’s comfy. It’s green!

And I love it too.

I freely admit that when I bought the cattery it was for Poppy but I also imagined myself sitting in it, reading and writing, spending time with all my animal companions and relaxing.

And now, I’m living the dream.

Relaxation is … wonderful.

I hope wherever you are that you too are enjoying some moments of peaceful relaxation too.

A little yoga healing

Yoga peace

Image courtesy of Jared Rice, Unsplash. Effect added by Selina Shapland

I confess that I have not stepped on my yoga mat for about three or four months. Not until this afternoon have I been able to step onto my mat and move through a sequence.


I will tell you soon.

Today, I did the following Yoga with Adriene which is titled, Yoga for After Disaster, which is central to filling me up with healing and positive well being and sending that out to those in need. For me, this was a truly healing practice.

In recent times there have been so many tragedies in the world.

Much upheaval.





So many things out of my control.

Sometimes I feel … tragedy fatigue.

And then I come to yoga and I am once again reminded to let go, to allow and to know that I cannot control such things. Even the small pains in my life are not in my control. I must feel them and experience the pain but it is how I choose to act in response to the pain that matters most.

Now, I begin to feel a moment’s peace.

Yet there is much more to my story than seeing and feeling compassion and pain for those who have been touched by such tragedy in the world. The shootings, the terrorist attacks, the hurricanes, the volcano threats, the threat of war based in two over inflated egos.

So many disasters culminating.

There have been disasters in the past – big and small.

I feel I am rambling but this is what I must write. I need to write.

I am not insensitive to what is happening in the world, but sometimes it is all too much for me to bare and so I need a little healing. I need to turn inward. To silence the chatter of my busy mind. To silence the news, the social media and the psychic drain of those in power who seek to control others in the world and cause harm to people, animals and the environment.

Sometimes it is all too much and I begin to disassociate because that is how I cope when things get too big and overwhelming.

Thank God for yoga and meditation. I give thanks for the philosophy and the teachings that it is okay to heal oneself and then be in a position to give to others. I give thanks for taking time to find peace and relaxation inside.

So why did I walk away from my yoga mat?

About three or four months ago, we noticed that my mother’s dementia symptoms were escalating. When the realisation hit that mum was forgetting. Forgetting so much. It hurt. A deep hurt. So painful, all I could do was function in the world and get through the day.

I walked around in my own haze learning to come to terms with what dementia was and how my brother and I can begin to cope with this disease and extend the care our mother needs in a respectful and loving way.

So I walked away from yoga because I couldn’t step on the mat.

Strange that, when yoga brings me so much peace, but there you have it.

Now that the initial shock of mum’s escalating dementia has subsided I have been able to give myself my first 30 minutes on the mat and I feel so much better.

But dealing with this heartbreaking pain, the realisation that dementia is erasing my mum before our eyes and ears, has been a very hard thing to bare witness to. And even though I do not live in the same place as my family, I still feel the acute pain of losing my mother to such a wasteful disease.

Quite simply it is devastating to watch and hear someone I love so very dearly deteriorate.

In recent months I have cried many tears. I have been immobilised. Unable to give more because I had nothing left to give.

The pain was and still is deep.

I cannot express it more. Not now. But one day I am sure I will open up and plumb the depths of the grief I know I am experiencing at this time in my life. One day.

But not today.

Today, I have given myself the gift of healing and I feel refreshed for the first time in months.

If you have been going through a tough time, no matter how big or small, it is my hope that a little bit of Yoga with Adriene will bring you a moment of peace should you choose to step on the mat.

Namaste and Blessed be.

My Crazy Creative Writing Bucket

So many thoughts tumble through my head and I think, “Yeah, I’ll write that,” and then when I come to the blank page all those words, phrases and ideas skip right out of grasp and I’m left staring at the blank page, wondering why am I here?

I think my crazy creative writing bucket is empty. 

I’ve had months of that crazy-empty-creative-bucket kind of thing going on. I’ve been writing and rewriting Tuppence Weatherstorm and even changed up one of the romantic love interest characters and it seemed so great, so right, so awesome and then I realised just how much he was going to change the original story and my anxiety went CRAZY-BOOM!

I thought I’d totally wrecked my story. Sure, I loved the character, but my mind raced around slapping me with anxiety story after story. One part of me beat me senseless for being so foolish as to change a main love interest character when I have to story already written. Another part froze in place because it didn’t know which way to go. And yet another part of me loves this character so much I want to keep going with him. And another part of me wants to give up creative writing altogether because it doesn’t think I can do it. Oh my anxiety has been telling me such silly stories. Stories it wants me to think are true but aren’t. It’s tough when this happens because it’s hard to tell fiction from non-fiction when thinking about fiction.

Is that complex or what?

I’d also received some excellent feedback from one of my writing teachers and mentors on the structure of the current story and he asked me to focus on bringing out the goals, obstacles, stakes and tactics for each of the main characters because it wasn’t clear enough. That’s so great and exciting and my head went whirling into all the layers and that’s when I crashed again. 

All the ‘what ifs’ surfaced and scratched at my confidence, cutting deep and trying to rip me to shreds. Thanks anxiety. Silly fears telling me that the more work I do on Tuppence Weatherstorm the more I’m wrecking the story and the muddier I am making the colours of my characters. But I think every piece of creative work goes through a muddy stage and I’m in the mud right now. 

So, I’ve put my story aside for about a week now because I simply don’t know what to do. 

I want to write creatively but I can’t (at the moment). I feel like I’ve lost my creative writing mojo but I’m sure it will return. Right now I think my creative bucket is empty and it needs to be filled up and revved up with nourishment. 

In the meantime, I’ve also had a lovely reader contact me about my (sadly) half finished Wattpad story, The Living Death of Toddy James. She pointed out all the errors I have in the manuscript so far (in a really helpful and respectful way which I was grateful to receive) and then she said how much she was enjoying the story and asked me when do I update because she’s hooked! 

I was so thrilled that she loved what I’d written so far and even though she noticed the errors they didn’t deter her from reading and getting into the characters and story. That’s a great compliment and one I want to honour. I want to finish the story so she can find out what happens next. 

But … my creative bucket is so dry it’s like a barren desert. 

What an awesome comment for me to receive from a reader right at the time in my writing life when I feel creatively deader than a doornail. I was so stoked to hear from her and it made me realise just how much I’d let that story go stagnant. The reason I couldn’t write anything more on that story at the time was that I wanted to focus on getting Tuppence Weatherstorm up to publication standard and I had a lot (and I mean, A LOT) of emotional stuff go on in my life and I just couldn’t split my focus across two big creative writing projects and do them both the service they required. 

So the story of The Living Death of Toddy James went into limbo and is still there. I hope to jump start Toddy James’ dead heart in October. I’ve got a rough plot for the story and the characters but things evolve as I write and then things twist and go all over the place which is exciting because I love discovery writing but sometimes it turns into a pain because its a tangent that I’ll just have to cut later. I need to be more structured and stick to my outline, at least enough to keep on track and avoid writing my story into a corner which I think happened with Toddy James. That’s what happens when I pants my way through a story and don’t apply enough of the plotting I’ve learned to do. 

I guess, in a way I feel exhausted.

Anyway, in August I found out about the Romance Writers of Australia Conference (RWA) and I really wanted to go. I wanted to be a part of a writer’s community and to learn about writing romance. I didn’t get to the conference because I found out about it on the weekend it ran in Brisbane but I decided to join RWA as an aspiring author because that’s what I am.

I am aspiring.

Maybe next year I’ll get to the conference, but in the meantime the RWA offers online courses, a great monthly newsletter, avenues to connect with editors, authors and publishers in the romance world, and they help you to develop your writing skills through their forums. If I want, I can even request a critique partner and see who I ‘click’ with.  I might do that next year after I get through this creative dry spell. 

I do love to read a good romance, preferably with a supernatural theme which mirrors the type of stories I like to imagine and write.  Also, over the last two years I realised that my own romance plots are a bit on the thin side so it was time to dive in to a new learning curve.

I’ve started reading short romance fiction to become more familiar with the genre and I’m going to do a couple of short courses with RWA and another lovely romance writer, Juliet Madison who runs her own classes too. I’m interested in learning how to write a lovella (a love novella) so that I can learn the genre and how to write shorter fiction. This will help me grow as a writer in all sorts of ways so it’s going to be good.

I’ve also recently completed a two week intensive writing course through Margie Lawson Writers Academy on Show, Not Tell with Shirley Jump. That was a hard course because it challenged me to stop telling all the time and to show the character’s emotions in action. Showing is much harder than it looks but it’s a skill I need to learn to take my writing to the next level.  The Show, Not Tell course was excellent.

I think I’ve only just learned the tip of the iceberg (as the cliche goes) on how to show and not tell but it’s a start.

So what else has been going on that’s been taking my attention away from creative writing and making me feel creatively barren?

Well …

I’m in the middle of moving house – boxes everywhere and lacking the motivation to fill them, saving like crazy for a house deposit so I no longer have to move on the request of a landlord, Rocket (my poodle) had to go to the vet for an ultrasound because he had blood showing in his urine during a routine health check but he’s okay now, my mum’s been diagnosed with dementia which has been heartbreaking and difficult to deal with and on top of that, last week, I had a mega migraine that had me at home and in bed with heavy duty painkillers.

I guess, considering all that’s been happening in the background of my life it’s okay to have a rest from my stories and to allow myself a little bit of breathing space. 

My creative bucket will fill up when the stress of moving settles down. Two weeks and I’m in a new home. I hope that will signify a fresh start for my creative writing too.