Tuesday, June 18, 2013

kind of blank :)

I'm blank, I don't know what to write! I should be panicking but I'm not because I know why I'm blank. Today I've had a good writing day, I've organised my thoughts, done some editing, done my synopsis of previous chapters and done some actual writing. It's a great feeling, my mind is calm, the script inside my head is more to the back, I can think and there is no pressure of words trying to get out.

Well there is, but it's the words in the story, not all the other words that get jumbled up. Because I've got my writing organised and got a big chunk of words and thoughts out, the rest of the mess in my head has room to move and I can think. And the werewolf story is falling into place inside my head. I can't see it yet but I know it's there. The facebook story is also cogitating, but it will have to wait a little longer. The pressure is to keep on with the werewolf story.

It's a little frustrating writing a book simply because it takes so long. I have glimpses of what is going to happen further on in the story but because I'm somewhat obsessive I feel compelled to write chronologically, like getting to the parts I can see in my head is my reward for writing the introductory parts. I'm impatient and impulsive, and writing means that I can indulge that a little, but I also have to restrain myself. It's necessary to remind myself that I am the only one who knows these characters, I have to make them real to the reader.

But today I have done the organisational work. I have to know what I have written, pivotal bits, so that I follow them to a logical end. To me, when reading a book, it is very frustrating to have something introduced and then never referred to again. So I have a chapter by chapter list of all the bits I have introduced so I can properly tie them in. Of course, being me, I usually don't keep that up to date, and today I did so I'm feeling very virtuous. And it is much better for me to have that to refer to, for obvious reasons. I have typed notes saved on my computer, printed out chapters with red lines all over them and notes in the margins for editing purposes, the story outline (which is very vague because I know it will change as I write - the characters always make sure of that), the character list with all their attributes that I know now and that will be added to as I go, a folder of glimpses of future events in case I lose them from my head, and the work in progress.

I know other authors have even more, some have a great big whiteboard, some have card files, goodness knows what others have. But this is what works for me, makes me feel like everything is in order and that means that my brain is free to let all these words line up on the page. It helps too to start with the right mindset. I can write regardless of my mood, but sometimes I delete everything I wrote for the first hour or so until my mood improves from the act of writing. But when I start writing already in a good mood the words flow so much more fluidly, the story comes together as I write both from my fingers and inside my head.

Today I started writing in an excellent mood. Sometimes days just seem perfect, the sun is brighter, the air is cleaner, and I feel like dancing in the aisles at Woolworths (and have been known to do this). Today was one of those perfect days, where I live in the moment just like I am always telling myself to do. I was smiling at random, and strangers were smiling back at me, and everything just seemed to go my way. Even on my walk around the Gooseponds with the dog (who lives every day in the moment of course) it seemed to be an especially perfect day. I saw a senior citizen driving one of those motorised scooters, and he was flying along on the little walking track. I didn't know those things could go so fast! He clearly had no fear of tipping over, and disappeared from sight in no time. He was obviously living in the moment as well (or running really really late for an appointment).

I usually sit in my back yard in the late afternoon, with a drink and some small snacks. The dog adores this time, and she has her own snacks which I dole out to her. My next door neighbour feeds the cockatoos and the ducks and the cockatoos sit in the big gum tree just behind my back fence and chat to each other. It's a nice time of the day and a good way to wind down. I can't do it every day, because on work days I don't get home until after 6pm and it's already dark, but I do enjoy the days that I can do it. It's like a little time out from the stresses of everyday life.

So today has really been an almost perfect day. It's been a day of good things, right from my perfectly brewed pot of tea on waking (some days I just get the ratio of tea leaves to water exactly right) to all the events of the day. Everything today has made me smile, a lot. Even the gamer child insisting on giving me a play by play description of his latest game (no idea, I tune him out in self defence) has failed to annoy me. Today has been one of those shining gems in the bead necklace day :)

Sunday, June 16, 2013


I am an impulsive person, which does not sit very well with my aversion to change I know, but there you go. I react before I think, make spontaneous decisions (because remember it's ok to be spontaneous so long as it's me doing it!) and regret on an almost daily basis things I say to people I care about that I say without proper thought.

I am what those who love to generalise will call a typical woman. I am emotional, irrational and I act without thought a lot of the time. I am also logical, rational and methodical and often I can be both ends of the spectrum in the same day - in the same minute sometimes! My emotions control my thoughts, or it feels that way to me. I lie awake in the wee small hours of the morning and over-think things, creating problems where none exist. In the light of day (after multiple cups of tea which seems to act as a mood regulator for me) I realise that my thoughts were pointless and irrational and really only good for future storylines.

I react, then I think, and then I regret. I never seem to learn to think, not react and not regret. It's a much better way of doing things, if only these pesky emotions could be less, well less emotional! So I stumble and lurch my way through life, reacting from an emotional basis rather than an intellectual one. I cry at sad movies, especially ones where the dog dies, but also ones in which a character that I have become fond of is suddenly and shockingly hit by a truck and BAM she's gone (happened to me in a movie last night - One Day it's called so if you hate a sad ending don't watch it).

I over-react, speak impulsively, regret what I said and then do it again. That's probably another reason why I like to write. That script in my head that tries to write the storyline - when I am totally emotional and impulsive it completely fails me, the conversation never ever goes even close to what the script says it will. Life is messy like that, can't control even my own emotions let alone someone else's words. My script is always trying to do re-writes on the fly, not just from my emotional outbursts but even in regular conversations. And then there are the conversations with people who have their own mental issues that make them not only unpredictable but also contradictory and the script shows signs of wear and tear (as does my brain).

So back to another reason why I like to write which I am sure is obvious. Control. When I write I can control the characters (to a point, they do have minds of their own) and I can control their conversations. The sense of relief is huge, being able to direct conversations the way they should go, instead of the way they go in real life (okay, that is said from the perspective of someone who perhaps has a little issue with order). I can write arguments that go any way I want them to go. I can make my characters rational, irrational, impulsive or thoughtful. So long as they stay true to their basic character - which of course I know better than my own - it's fine. Everyone is impulsive, irrational and foolish some of the time (some of us more than others). The trick is to make it believable. The trick with real life is that irrational emotional outbursts can be completely unbelievable!

Real life is messy and confusing, it can be upsetting, frightening and dramatic. It can be dull, boring, predictable and routine. There are low points where it seems there is no way out, high points that are frightening because of the fear they will not last and the fall will be worse in contrast. There are times when we seems to be merely existing rather than living, marking time instead of living it. And there are intervals, like shining gems in a necklace of beads, when everything is so perfect that the desire is to somehow grab time and stop it, just live in the moment forever.

Just as real life is not perfect, neither are people. We use words clumsily and convey our meaning imperfectly. We make decisions that seemed reasonable at the time but in hindsight are stunning in their stupidity. We can soar with the eagles and sink like a stone. We are all human, we make mistakes. We are all on a journey of self awareness and self improvement. And we should all forgive ourselves our mistakes and learn to love ourselves. Be kind to others for sure, but don't forget also to be kind to yourself.

Friday, June 14, 2013

words :)

Today I am procrastinating, something at which I excel! Many people excel at procrastination of course, it is a tendency of most of humankind to put off that which causes stress or anxiety, or boredom. Of course what is seen as procrastination by one person may be considered a strong desire to first finish that book/game/puzzle/whatever has captured the attention before moving onto what actually needs to be done. Procrastination can be rationalised until it no longer feels like procrastination (level, BOSS). Then the person is in fact feeling virtuous that he/she is maybe cleaning out a box left over from moving instead of finishing that report that is due in two hours. This rationalisation can also be far more subtle. As an example of this, I am here writing this blog post. I am therefore honing my craft, exercising my brain and writing a blog that is overdue. I am feeling virtuous. BUT, I should be writing the werewolf book and making notes for the facebook novel. I intended to write the werewolf book and I purposely stayed home today so I could get a good several hours in.

Instead, I took a nap, rationalising to myself that I would write better if I had some sleep first. I had a terrible night last night and managed only maybe two hours sleep and so I really did need to take a nap. But if I had drunk some coffee and walked the dog early, I would have woken my brain sufficiently to be able to write.  Now I am writing this blog, again rationalising to myself that it needs to be written and it is much quicker than the hours I will spend lost in the werewolf book. It is a perfect example of procrastination.

Isn't procrastination a beautiful word? I remember when I first discovered that there is a word that describes that tendency to put something off until another time or day or week. I was amazed and also validated. If someone somewhere had coined a word for this behaviour that can take a whole paragraph to describe, then that meant it was commonplace. That meant that I was in fact normal for coming up with complicated ways to avoid doing something that often I quite enjoy doing (like writing). That's one of the wonderful things about words. That a single word exists to describe something that you can recognise in yourself means that you are in fact not alone in your weirdness.

Pusillanimous is another wonderful word that I was thrilled to discover. Until I knew that this word existed, whenever I thought about a person behaving in a manner that seemed wishy-washy or faint hearted, I had in my head a picture of Charlie Brown. I always felt a little bit guilty for thinking this, poor Charlie Brown was not really faint hearted, he was just drawn that way! Then I discovered pusillanimous, a word that rolls off the tongue in a delightful way, a word that I always imagine staring scathingly down its nose as it consigns another person to the sad realms of cowardice. And of course, the fact that this word exists merely underlines that it is a part of the human condition that we are all at times cowardly or faint hearted. Not just Charlie Brown.

Then there is slothful. There is another supremely descriptive word. Even if you didn't know what it meant, the tones in which it is delivered when describing your behaviour must surely give a clue as to the meaning. Slothful at its most basic means lazy, but isn't it such a more descriptive word than lazy? Lazy has only negative meanings, you can't escape from it, you'd better move yourself and get more active. Slothful on the other hand certainly means lazy, but in my head I also get an image of a sloth, and I am very fond of this slow moving creature. So I find slothful to be a friendlier word than lazy, a word which stings and cuts. Slothful is a kinder word, even though it describes a general disinclination to move much or expend any energy.

Articulate, another word to describe a whole paragraph of meaning. So much more intelligent sounding too, to say that person is articulate than to say that person is good with words. When you say that person is articulate you also sound like someone who is articulate! And hand in hand with articulate is vocabulary. I don't believe you can truly be articulate unless you have a good vocabulary. You don't necessarily need to have an extensive vocabulary, but you do need to have a full and thorough understanding of the words within your vocabulary. Indeed, there are many degrees of vocabulary that are fascinating to me, but for the purposes of this blog probably don't need to be delved into :)

So today I am procrastinating, possibly being a little pusillanimous (if you want to use it in the context of being wishy washy about starting my writing), also a little slothful since I did take a nap instead of taking exercise, and I hopefully have been articulate and demonstrated a sound if not extensive vocabulary! Words, sometimes they save a lot of explanation.

Monday, June 10, 2013

long time between posts

It's been a long time since I wrote my last blog, sorry to anyone who has been checking in regularly :)

It's only because I have been working a lot more than usual, and I've just been running out of hours in the day. I keep meaning to make myself a schedule - write down what I need to do as well as what I'd like to do, and organise each day so I get done the necessary and have time for the fun. But I never do and instead simply lurch through each day and lie in bed each night and curse myself because I didn't get done nearly enough. Because of course a bed is this magical place where you remember everything you forgot to do during the day.

I haven't written a word all week, and that's causing chaos inside my head , with the result that I am even more disorganised than usual. I just can't think clearly if I don't write often, every day preferably. I really don't understand why, except as I have explained I am sure before, if I get the words out of my head and onto a (virtual) page, I can organise the thoughts left much more efficiently.

A peek into my brain right now would confuse anybody, even the most efficient organiser! I have random, unfinished thoughts swirling around, and every few minutes one will shine like a beacon and I grab onto it and examine it briefly before another shining thought distracts me. So I am thinking I must clean the bathroom, remember to sort out that box of junk, the character in the werewolf book is definitely not a vampire but what is he?, maybe I should make the facebook novel partially a diary sort of thing with the messages between the main characters, I need panadol, I have to walk the dog, don't forget to wash the towels today, should weed that front garden and fertilise, should I change the cover on the published book, I need to cut my fringe today, is the werewolf a leader of a pack or a renegade or a plant by a bigger group in a bigger story, and so on. None of the thoughts stay long enough for me to get them into any kind of order. The only way to do it is to sit down and write a list and prioritise it which of course is the schedule that I keep meaning to make.

Instead I get frustrated that I can't think clearly and end up doing only a few of the things inside my head and generally the least important ones, and while I'm doing those other thoughts keep popping into my head and it's really quite exhausting! Then as I lie in bed at night it all seems to realign and I think more clearly and decide on a plan of action which vanishes with the morning mist as the random thoughts start swirling while I drink my morning tea. But when I write each day, it seems to calm these thoughts and I can think and plan and map out my day. Of course it never goes according to my plan, but at least I do achieve more than when my mind is like it is right now. We all think differently, and some of us are much more efficient in organising thoughts - I do not put myself into that category!

One of the random thoughts that keeps popping up is general musing about social media. That of course is most likely because the facebook novel is about the impact social media is having on the world. I've read plenty of times that we are all becoming more insular, with many online friends and not so many real life friends. Children are not playing real life games but virtual games with friends in far flung parts of the world. People are becoming dissatisfied with their lives because of this access to other lifestyles and cultures.

This is all true of course. But do we decry this change or go with it? The world has certainly changed, but it is not the first time. There have been many times throughout history that the world has changed. Maybe not as fast, but with exploration obviously there was exposure to different people, lifestyles, culture. The world did not adapt well to these changes, as it is well documented. I could do a little bit of research here and give a few examples, but really I think anyone reading this will easily be able to think of several instances in history where the world has changed and not easily.The world is a little bit like me in fact, resistant to change.
Here is where I am going to play devils advocate. Sure there are many drawbacks to the internet and social media. But there are many positives too. Social media is breaking down all the barriers that were themselves put in place by society. Social media is destroying the barriers of race, culture, appearance, religion, age - all the things that we usually take into account when we decide to get to know another person. Through social media the only thing that matters is who the person is and what that person's thoughts and views are. I know a lot of people are suspicious and of course there are a lot of trolls and con-people out there. But so too are there those same sorts of people living in the same neighbourhood. It is up to us, as it is in 'real life' to differentiate. Talking to people in different societies and cultures expands our knowledge of our planet and increases tolerance of the many and varied societies that live on it. A friendship with a person in another country is no less real than a friendship with the next door neighbour. People have long had penpals - essentially social media is a faster, more efficient and more immediate version of that.

Social media is also teaching us so much about the rest of this world we live in, and hopefully raises questions in enquiring minds, both young and old. Google is brilliant as a learning tool, you can learn so much more from Google and so much faster than you can searching through a reference book that was outdated before it was even printed. Of course to use Google properly you have to reference and cross reference, but still you can do it so fast and so efficiently. Truly, as a person who is endlessly curious, for whom one question answered always raises another, I consider Google to be a priceless gift!

My youngest son talks gamer/nerd talk to me frequently. I understand very little, and that's ok since I have no desire to be a gamer :) He was brought up in a world where computers are common place. There is a whole generation of people raised in this manner. Whether you believe this is wrong or right, what it is, is different. It is change, a world wide web of change in fact. This generation has access to far more knowledge, education, and entertainment than ever before. They can talk to someone on the other side of the world in real time and with a camera. The world has shrunk, boundaries are being breached and we are becoming more of a global society. Given the differences in cultures, environment, religion and education the global society of science fiction is a long way off, if it ever happens at all. But I believe that a world with more tolerance and less barriers and boundaries is a positive thing.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

2am ramblings

Yes folks, it's 2am - actually it's 2.40am now, it's taken me a while to give up and write this instead of lying in bed telling myself I can do it in the morning.

2am, that time of the morning when the brain is down in the basement, sweeping out all the negative thoughts and emotions. This hour of the morning is the time when I go through all my conversations with people, second guessing what they said versus what they meant, and coming up with all sorts of hypotheses which are generally totally off the wall. But at 2am it all seems perfectly reasonable and I can convince myself of pretty much anything, so long as it's negative.

I have learnt to pay no attention to what I think at 2am, as I know it's all the negatives being cleared out of my mind. Problem is of course that I remember this at about 8am, and at 2am I'm like a dog with a particularly juicy bone, refusing to let go of it. I am so good at this, I can be absolutely 100% convinced of something that depresses me to the point of feeling absolutely 100% certain that my life is going down the drain at an astonishing rate and really I should just give up and go live as a hermit somewhere. Then in the morning after a pot of tea, I think again and realise that I was in fact thinking with 100% of my screwed up crazy self and nothing I had become convinced about was remotely correct. And I say firmly to myself, never going to do that again. Of course I do.

Tonight, or this morning, I decided to jettison the negative thoughts and write this blog instead. I'll sleep a lot better, albeit for a shorter time span, if I get this out of my head now. I had three distinct thoughts floating around in my mind. I've got one of them out and in the process I hope I've also chased out the negative thinking that initiated it all. The reason behind the change in my mindset is actually the fat siamese. She is lying on her pillow on the bed, snoring gently to herself. The other cat is stretched out beside my legs. She is much younger and thinner and she does not snore although she does pounce on my toes, and walk up my body to touch noses at an hour when I am guaranteed to be unappreciative.

Back to the fat siamese. I was lying awake indulging in my pity party, and she was lying beside me snoring on her pillow. So I reached out to touch her to stop the snoring. She woke and was so delighted to be patted (feline interpretation of any sort of touch) at such an unusual hour that she immediately started purring loudly and began cleaning my hand. This of course sent a little tide of good feelings along my nervous system that chased away enough of the sads for me to see that I was doing that 2am thing again. So here I am writing myself back into optimistic mode.

The fat siamese and I have had our moments. Possibly she was delighted to be patted at this hour because usually I am kicking her off the bed due to her lifelong habit of chewing her tail - loudly, for an hour or more at a time. It is as irritating to me as fingernails on a blackboard or a knife scraping on a plate. All her life, since she was small I have been saying in tones of extreme exasperation 'Taz, don't chew your tail!' and she has been ignoring me with supreme feline indifference. Until recently.

She was lying in her more customary position of across my legs, chewing away with volume and gusto and I said my catchphrase. She stopped, tail still in her mouth and gave me the death stare. Aha!! Our minds had a silent tussle. My mind was saying Aha! You do understand what I'm saying! The feline mind was saying Damn, busted, maybe if I stare hard enough I'll melt the human's mind and she will forget this ever happened. My mind was responding Na-uh, you understood me and I have won. She narrowed her eyes even more, she knew I knew she knew and she didn't know how to fix this error. So I said it again and I'm pretty sure she cursed me, but finally she dropped her tail - thunk! She's fat and so is her tail. Then with a final flourish, presumably to activate the curse, she dropped her head with an even louder thud beside her tail and went to sleep. So now, when she chews her tail I say my phrase and am rewarded each time with the exaggerated stare, drop, thud sleep reaction.

The third thing I was thinking about, and remember it's early early morning, so my mind is flicking about even more than usual, is the difference the way we feel makes to the attitude of people around us. Today I was at work, and I was feeling in a super good mood. I was painfully bright and cheerful (I am not usually obviously happy like this). I was full of optimism, a smile on my face all day, the world was bright and everything was good. I was one of those people I usually find really annoying. So everybody I met today was presented with super happy Sheryl. And they all reacted very positively. Now I usually present as a cheerful person, I am brilliant at wearing a mask in public. So I smile and chat and make all the right responses and give every indication of a happy person. And usually I am a happy person - just not generally a fizzy bubbly happy person. Today I was genuinely overflowing with happiness (maybe I'm going crazy, that could be it) and I got it back from everyone I came into contact with. Everyone I spoke to walked away smiling with their moods lifted. I was like the happy fairy today.

It was a slightly unnerving experience because as I said, I am not usually the happy shining fairy. There are people in this world who float along on the surface of life. They seem to be always happy, always smiling, content with their lives and never seeming to feel any sort of dissatisfaction. They live in the top of their minds, where it's light and bright and optimistic. Or maybe they don't have a basement. I have tended to be more at home in the basement of my mind, with the anxiety and worry. I second guess everything, worry about things I can't control, dive down into deep emotions and then struggle to get out again. I'd really like to live in the top of my mind, it seems a pretty nice place from my little trip there today.

So that's my 2am ramblings, they're just random segments from my brain - no point or anything, and not really even connected except they were the things spinning around at the forefront. Now I think I will be able to sleep!