Resilience

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When I logged on to write this post on Resilience and share a video that touched me, I saw a notification from wordpress. It congratulated me because I  have been writing here for six years. I hadn’t thought about the age of my blog at all. It was a pleasant surprise.

One of the things I like most about my blog is that it changes as I change. I like that it allows me to connect with you on a personal level even though we may not have met in person.

That’s pretty cool.

Connection and expressing an idea that resonates with another person is something I love. I particularly like that about writing, making videos and writing fiction too.

So, today I wanted to share this YouTube video of Marian Keyes (one of my favourite authors) where she talks about resilience. It’s an important topic to me as I I have anxiety and suffer with worry, numbness and disassociation at times too. Sometimes I am lost in a darkness that spirals around so fast I can’t grasp the edge to slow myself down.

I wanted to share this video because when Marian Keyes talks about worrying when she was a child, it resonated so strongly with me. I worried too. A futile practice but I still did it and I still do par-take in the act of worrying without being able to control the outcome.

Worry gnaws at my nerves until they are red-raw. I have to write those worries down and shred them or burn them (in a controlled and safe manner) so I can be mentally free of them.

So, the ability to be resilient in the face of anxiety and depression isn’t easy for me all the time but, I know (from my own experience) it can be done.

Lately, I have been on the roller-coaster ride of anxiety. There are days when I am 100% okay and sailing through things. Life’s good.

Then there are other times when I wake up in the middle of the night with my stomach curling in on itself, tightening into a clenched knot of overwhelming dread and I don’t even know exactly what is triggering it.

I’ve learned to allow these experiences to be a part of the tapestry of my life. I’m not always keen on leaning into my uncomfortable feelings but I am doing it.

Sometimes I get swept away with what the inner voice is saying.

Other times I am able to discern what the worries are and see them for the shifting sands of anxious thought that they are. That’s when I am able to step back and see the pattern playing out.

Anyway, I hope the video with Marian Keyes helps you as much as it helps me.

I’m so grateful for Marian Keyes. She’s a great person and an excellent story teller. I especially love her honesty and raw grit as she shares her own experience with depression and anxious thoughts.

Through Fear and into Creativity

Since returning from the UK, I have been taking a little break from writing new stories and have been working on polishing up my manuscript, The Living Death of Toddy James.

I received some good feedback from the Ink & Insights 2018 Critique my Novel contest and decided it was time to submit my manuscript to an editor who can help me take it from the rough and step it closer to publication standard.

But as I have taken this step forward in my creative life, I have also had to battle internal fears. Fears that I am still not good enough to publish. It sounds silly given the spectrum of published works in the world since self-publishing became so accessible, but I still have an inner voice that speaks volumes about where it thinks I am at.

This inner voice drove me to pick up the book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert.  I listened to it on audio first, then went out a got myself a paperback copy so that I could refer to things that inspired me and provided me with ‘a-ha’ moments. big-magic-elizabeth-gilbert-book-review

This lead to me creating a skillshare course called: Through Fear to Creativity, where I explore some of the methods I have used get past the fears that have blocked me when it comes to creative writing and, at times, my artwork.

Fear to Creativity

I then made a short YouTube video where I speak directly about how Big Magic has helped me move through a perfectionism blockage and I hope, if you watch it, that my insights help you to.

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Then I thought I’d do a book review on Weekend Notes and I called it: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear – Book Review.

So, in a strange way I have been quite productive … dealing with fear and building courage to stand up and do what is in my heart to do.

But I have to be honest, writing a novel is a big project. It’s like a marathon level of focus, day after day. It took me over a year to write the first draft of The Living Death of Toddy James – most of it tapped into my Scrivener file during NaNoWriMo 2017. When I finished that draft, I was exhausted. I’d finally got the basic story out and I liked it.

Then anxiety crept in and I fiddled and fiddled with the manuscript filling in plot holes and other such things. Then I made excuses as to why I couldn’t possibly put the manuscript into an editor.

Then I went to the UK and found (to my surprise) that the level of my fiction writing was on par with the other students in the Fantasy Fiction course. I was stoked.

So, when I hit Australian soil again, I promised myself that I’d be brave and submit my story to an editor with a lot of years of experience and a good track record of helping authors actually bring their stories to publication.

I want my story to be the best fiction that I can make it. Not perfect. I can’t do perfect. I can’t please everyone. But I’d love to know that someone somewhere enjoyed reading what I wrote.

So I guess the next phase is about to begin. And to keep my mind from going totally crazy over what work is ahead of me with my manuscript, I’ve focused on creating book reviews, a YouTube video and a skillshare course.

Hopefully as time goes by I will finally figure out how to move my photos of the UK to some kind of show and tell thing-y, then I’ll be able to share more of what I experienced. But to tell the truth, I’ve kind of enjoyed allowing the travel dust to settle. Who knows when I’ll get around to sharing my UK photos and mini-musings.

In the meantime, Happy Creating!

My UK adventure – a few highlights

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My partner and I have been on a tour of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. We’re about a third of the way through our taster experience and I couldn’t be happier with what I have seen so far.

Here are some highlights so far:

I had an opportunity to visit Stratford-Upon-Avon. Below, I am standing in front of the museum that was once Shakespeare’s home and birthplace. Apparently, he is buried at the Trinity Church but I didn’t have a chance to see that. Still, I had a fantastic time at this beautiful place. I hope some of Shakespeare’s genius rubbed off on my creative writing!

Shakespeare’s house - the place where he was born - Stratford-Upon-Avon

Shakespeare’s house – the place where he was born – Stratford-Upon-Avon

Flags flying - Entrance to Shakespeare’s House, Stratford-Upon-Avon

Flags flying – Entrance to Shakespeare’s House, Stratford-Upon-Avon

Shakespeare’s ghost had to go wee wee. Such a great thing to see at Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Shakespeare’s ghost had to go wee wee. Such a great thing to see at Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Next we visited York.

I loved York. It has a wall surrounding the city and a moat too. And, apparently it is the most haunted city (city?) in England. I wasn’t there in the evening but I really enjoyed hearing about the things people have seen, like Roman soldiers marching down the street and the fact that certain buildings must have their windows painted white to stop a ghost from moving through the wall/windows and haunting people.

That’s a law in York. The windows of a particular house have to be painted white. I can’t remember the exact story but it was a woman who haunted the area so I was told.

A photo of the board outside the Golden Fleece pub about hauntings.

A photo of the board outside the Golden Fleece pub about hauntings.

The Golden Fleece pub in York - with my finger pointing to the sheep hanging over the door.

The Golden Fleece pub in York – with my finger pointing to the sheep hanging over the door.

Me (Selina) posing in a stone archway - York

Me (Selina) posing in a stone archway – York

David and I playing around in York.

David and I playing around in York.

Hadrian’s Wall was fabulous. I’m not a big history buff, so everything I discover is fascinating to me.

I learned that Hadrian’s Wall was built by Roman soldiers in 122 AD.

That blows my mind. Me leaning against Hadrian’s Wall - it was cold and sleeting rain that day.

Me leaning against Hadrian’s Wall – it was cold and sleeting rain that day.
Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian’s Wall sign

Hadrian’s Wall sign

David, my partner, exploring Hadrian’s Wall

David, my partner, exploring Hadrian’s Wall

David, my partner was so excited to see Hadrian’s Wall, he took off like a kid to see it.

At one point, I wasn’t sure I was going to get him back on the bus. Honestly, he couldn’t stop grinning. This visit to Hadrian’s Wall was an absolute must on our itinerary for him.

I was so happy to see him so happy.

David and I - photo taken just before we left Stratford-Upon-Avon
David and I – photo taken just before we left Stratford-Upon-Avon

Visiting these special places has been wonderful. One day it was sunny blue skies and warmth, the next it was drizzle rain and cold, but it didn’t matter – we both had a great time.

More instalments to come as I find places with reliable wifi.

The Tower of London

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Oh my goodness, I have so much to share with you but I haven’t had access to wifi for a while, so these updates are going to come well after the actual dates. But I hope this glimpse into my UK trip inspires your imagination as much as it does mine.

Last week when my partner flew over to London, we took some time to tour around and see the sights. One of the sights we went to was the Tower of London where Anne Boleyn was beheaded and many other gruesome things happened.

I took some time walking through the tower and observing all the armour displays. Below are some of the photos I took.

Selina at the Tower of London

Selina at the Tower of London

That’s me (above) and behind me is a wall of armour. It was a great room to visit and very surreal.

Armour at the Tower of London

Armour at the Tower of London

Armour at the Tower of London

Armour at the Tower of London

Armour at the Tower of London

Armour at the Tower of London

The Tower of London

The Tower of London

The Tower of London

The Tower of London

The Tower of London

The Tower of London

I also took time to see the Crown Jewels and appreciate the magnificence of workmanship that went into each piece. This was a great afternoon in London. Funny to say that since it was a place that has known such gruesome historical events.

I have to say, that I am not a historian, but my visit to the UK has been helping me to develop a deeper interest in learning more about history.

Also, learning about life in a castle is so helpful for my fantasy fiction story that I worked on during my week with David Farland. The course went really well and I met some fantastic authors – all with excellent story ideas. I’m very much looking forward to seeing each of them published in their chosen genre.

I will try to update my blog as I go, but as I said above, the wifi isn’t always reliable.

Today, I am in the Scottish highlands. I’ll write about that another day.

UK here I come

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Tomorrow I fly out of Australia and will be on my way to the UK for a month.

I am super excited to be starting my holiday.

So it’s packing time and Miss Poppy decided it was time to check out the interior of my suitcase. Rocket tolerated some photos with me which I took with my new selfie stick. And Jack spent time inspecting my suitcase as I considered what I might take with me.

My companions are so sweet to look after me in this way.

I’ll miss them while I am away but I feel good that my best friend will be caring for them during that time.

My partner is set to jet off and meet me in the UK a couple of days after I go because I’m going to Oxford to do my writing course.

I’ve got a couple of new ebooks downloaded for the trip:

  1. Three Bedrooms One Corpse by Charlaine Harris
  2. Maim Your Characters: How injuries work in Fiction by Samantha Keel
  3. Play It Away by Charlie Hoehn

So that’s one fiction novel, one writing how-to, and one non-fiction book on how to overcome anxiety through incorporating play in your everyday life.

I’ve also got a few digital puzzles downloaded and I’m currently listening to Voyager by Diana Gabaldon.

It is going to be a big adventure for me. I have a fair bit of character development done on my fantasy story, although there is always more I could do. I’ve got some setting sorted. Conflicts sketched out and an idea of the plot. I wouldn’t say that I’ve got all the novel puzzle pieces in my head but it’ll come as I relax and enjoy this travel adventure.

I’m not sure if I will have an opportunity to post here during my travels but if I can, I will.

UK here I come!

 

Dragon Sketching

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I took some time out today to start sketching some dragons. It was a lot of fun to get back into my art and enjoy the process of creating on the page.

Below are some photos of my first dragon portrait. It’s an idea that I’m developing and hope to create a far more intricate image in the coming months. But for now, this drawing is about exploring possibilities.

Exploring possibilities is part of the fun of developing my artistic/creative expression. It also gives my left brain a break and allows my right brain the opportunity to take the driver’s seat.

I’m pretty happy with my dragon line drawing and I am looking forward to developing her further.

The second dragon I sketched today took about an hour and a half to create. I’m also rather happy with how the image turned out.

Dragon_2_04082018I think that this sketch can be developed further and more depth given to it, but for now, I am happy with the results of my time playing on water paper.

I chose not add water or colour to the sketch. I wanted to spend my time developing a dragon from my imagination and seeing how it came out on the page.

Today, it’s Saturday in Australia and I’m now two weeks away from my trip to the UK. I finally gave in and got myself a ‘selfie stick’ so maybe when I get back home at the end of September, I’ll have some other photos to share. I also hope this trip fills up my creative bucket with new ideas for creative writing.

15 days and counting down.

Have a great creative day (or night)!

Writing – Paranormal and Fantasy Fiction

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soul seeker 1A couple of weeks ago a new character came into my imagination. I knew what she looked like and I had a good sense of who she was. It was like being visited by a the soul of a real person.

I grabbed my iPad, opened a new Scrivener project and jotted down everything I’d seen, heard, smelled and tasted in that first meeting. It got me excited because I loved this character immediately and I wanted to know more, to learn more and experience more of her paranormal/normal life. I wanted to learn more about the conflicts she has over her abilities and how her paranormal abilities complicate her career, her love life, her sense of self.

On and off since the first time she showed up, I’ve had visits from her and each time I learn a little more about who she is as a ‘real person’ in my imagination.

Then last night an antagonist walked out of the mist of my imagination and I saw exactly what he was wearing, the gate of his stride, the tilt of his fine boned face.

So once again, I opened my scrivener file and jotted what I’d experienced down. I don’t have his name yet but I’ve got the essence of who he is and the darkness that emanates from him in a seductive manner. And I know he is the opposing force to my female protagonist.

I love it when this type of thing happens. For me this is part of magic of writing fiction. I’m always learning and growing as a writer and story teller, and when a character comes forward and wants to be put down on the page, I get excited. It’s almost as if the character is whispering in my inner ear and I am writing their story from their perspective.

So, now I am a bit over three weeks away from my trip to the UK and I now have two stories growing inside my mind. After a period of feeling creatively fallow, these ideas are a delight.

One of my stories is a paranormal romance, which is probably my absolute favourite genre to write, and if this story goes the way I am plotting it, then it will be my third paranormal story with romance beats. I’m excited to write this story.

The second story is my fantasy novel which features dragons and a few humans that can use magic. I’m enjoying learning how to put an epic fantasy story together. I’m not yet sure how this story will go. Sometimes I feel frustrated that I don’t have all the puzzle pieces and other times I feel inspired by the ideas I have. Most of the time I am considering: How can I take this idea beyond cliche?

So far I have discovered writing a fantasy world is an in-depth adventure in itself. There is so much for me to think about, to brainstorm and to create. My thinking includes:

  • Characters – who is my protagonist, my antagonist and other roles
  • Conflicts – the major conflict and smaller conflicts for all characters and how they will play out
  • World building – there is so much involved in this part, sometimes I feel overwhelmed
  • Plotting how it will all pan out
  • Themes I want to touch on
  • Treatment – do I want to write this story from first person point of view or third person point of view?

So I am going to really enjoy my Fantasy Fiction writing course with David Farland in Oxford, and I am very much looking forward to learning about all the layers and nuances I need to consider to bring my ideas to life and create a believable fantasy fiction world that readers will want to experience via my characters.

When I return from the UK, I hope to finish writing these stories and to work on editing Tuppence Weatherstorm and The Living Death of Toddy James so that I can move them toward publication. It would be good move my writing to the next level, even if being published is a scary step.

 

29 Days and Counting Down

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Stonehenge by Kit-Ko from Unsplash.com

Stonehenge by Kit-Ko from Unsplash.com

I’m 29 days away from flying from Australia to England to attend David Farland‘s Fantasy Fiction Writing Course.

I am excited and still catching up on all the work I need to do to be fully prepped for the course.

I have been creating characters, working on my settings and figuring out the main conflicts for the characters I have so far. At this point, I haven’t started to explore the themes I want to bring out in the story as it is very early days.

In my story, I have dragons and people. That’s what I can tell you. The rest I’m keeping close to my heart because my story is like a newly conceived baby and I want to protect it while it grows into a being in its own right.

I’m very much looking forward to the course and the three week holiday I am going to have after the course is finished. I’ve never been to the UK, unless I count going through London Heathrow Airport on my way to Barcelona when I was fortunate enough to go for work reasons in the early 2000’s.

It’s going to be excellent for me to immerse myself into a different culture and to see the history of the United Kingdom. I’ll be going to Oxford, London, a number of stops throughout England, then through Scotland, down to Wales and to a number of stops in Ireland.

It feels so surreal at the moment but before I know it, I will be on the plane and in new countries.

During my holiday, my partner, David, will be flying over (for our three week holiday) and we’ll be taking a day trip over to Paris too. I’m very excited to see all these places. And I hope each new experience inspires my imagination to new heights and helps me to become a more entertaining and interesting genre fiction writer, as well as adding to my personal experience as a human being.

I’m certainly stepping out of my comfort zone on this trip. And I am staying positive about it.

29 days and counting down until a brand new life experience comes my way!

Learning Photography

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Last weekend I started learning the basics of my Canon DSLR which resulted in some photos that I loved. This week, I finished going through the Skillshare.com online course and put some of my new knowledge to use.

Miss Poppy_1_26052018_Portrait

Here is Miss Poppy suffering a long photo shoot session. I used the Av mode on my DSLR to get a cropped image and to capture the sweetness of Miss Poppy’s face.

Here are some of the various photos I took this morning. Miss Poppy has to put up with a lot.

Rocket_1_25052018_AvMode

I managed to catch a photo of Rocket playing with his rope toy. I don’t think I had the camera on the right mode to really catch the moment, but I am learning. And I do love this photo of my poodle.

Rocket_3_26052018_AvMode

Next, I tried to capture Rocket in an interesting composition by getting down on the floor and photograph him from his level. He wasn’t too keen on giving me much face time for the portraits I was trying to take. The look on his face in the second photo says it all.

Jack (above) is a gorgeous boy but he doesn’t believe in sitting still for photos. It took me ages to catch these images and they are a little blurry. I’ll just have to keep trying.

Then I went out to Mapleton which is in the Hinterlands of the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia, and took some photos. The images above were attempting to capture the water fall movement using the Tv mode of the camera.

MapletonLookout_2_26052018

This is the view from the Mapleton lookout – or at least, a portion of the view.

MapletonLookout_26052018

I was striving to capture the expansive nature of the vista and to make an interesting photographic composition in the above image.

David_26052018_1_AvMode

Here’s an image of David, my partner. I used the Av mode to get this portrait.

Edward_1_26052018_AvMode

Above is an image of my best friend in the world, Edward. He’s also putting up with me snapping photos of him using the Av mode of the camera.

Selina_1_26052018_AvModeSelina_2_26052018_AvMode

And, lastly, I had to get in front of the camera. I set up the manual settings and gave the camera to David. He did a great job of these photos, I reckon.

Taking a moment out of the busy-ness of life has allowed me the space to capture images that mean a great deal to me. I’m a total beginner at photography, but I am thoroughly enjoying the process of learning. And learning is what inspires my continued growth and I’m grateful for that.

Learning a new creative skill

Last weekend, after doing some minimising of ‘stuff’ in my house, I wanted to do something creative and different. I wanted to learn a new skill.

So, I decided it was time to take the DSLR Camera (my friend owns it and I borrow it from time to time – he’s good to me like that) and start learning how to use it.

I went to my go-to creative learning site, Skillshare.com, where I created and published my own online class to teach people how to draw using negative space, and looked for classes on photography.

I found a class that focused on teaching beginners how to use their DSLRs. I watched the start and learned how to use some of the manual features of the camera. Buttons, and dials and widgets that had intrigued me for some time but I’d never got around to working out what they were for.

So far I have watched just over half of the course. As I learned about shutter priority, aperture and ISO, I fiddled with the manual settings and had a go at taking a photo or two.

Here’s a couple of photos of Rocket. I know these photos are not professional in any sense of the word and I’m not even sure what settings I used but I love them!

I think I love these photos so much because they really capture the cute attentiveness of Rocket. These are the first photos I’ve taken of Rocket in a very long time where I have been able to capture what his face looks like.

Having a black poodle is one of the greatest things in my life – I treasure him. He is my loving and ever present companion and I want to take images of him as he is, showing his sweet face to the world.

This tiny creative success has inspired me to keep watching the course on Skillshare.com and learning how to use the camera to take photos that I want in my life.

Also, learning a little bit of photography is a great way for my brain to rest after such an intense time of creative writing. I’ve found lately that my creative writing has slowed down and that I need to take a pause. To allow my creative writing bucket an opportunity to fill up again.

Learning a new creative skill helps to enhance all of my creative skills. And I get to share this with you too!

I’ve been cutting out the things in my life that no longer bring me joy or add value to my life. And I’ve been focusing on uncovering my highest values so I can live in accordance with them.

Creative expression is one of my highest values. I love being creative. Drawing. Writing. Painting. Mixed Media. Photography.

Each one of these creative activities helps me to take a breather from a fast paced world and allows me to see what is truly before me. Creative writing helps me to understand the human condition, as does reflective writing and journaling.

I am so grateful for creativity and the journey of continued self-expression.

If you haven’t tried something creative for a while, maybe it’s time to slow down the pace in your life and take a moment to put a creative desire into action.