Thursday, November 27, 2014

'Tis the season

Why isn't she posting?? I hope you are asking this question anyway. I haven't been posting mainly because I've had a sinus issue and a hormone issue. If you're a man you'll not understand the hormone issue and I don't mean that in a sexist way. Simply that men have to worry about only testosterone, whereas women have two pesky hormones that if not balanced cause havoc in their lives. I've had hormonal imbalances since puberty - they've caused physical issues and also made me live an emotional roller coaster.

Mood swings, depression; I can have more mood flips in a day than the Melbourne weather ( for non-Australians please substitute a city in your area notorious for sudden, frequent and unpredictable weather changes). Also, a quick digression: for the grammatically fixated among you please also note that I was taught to not use the Oxford comma which despite its name is more generally used in America (where it is also known as the Harvard comma). If this causes angst among the pro Oxford comma folks, I apologise and I feel your pain.

Back to me - so I've been moody, depressed and plain exhausted. Plus I've had a two week long headache which is a combination of hormones and the aforementioned sinus issue. I'm having a pity party, want to come???? Seriously, I've been feeling very sorry for myself but I'm on the way back up again. It hasn't helped that I've been having to take medication for the headache which has zonked me out and caused me to spend much of my time with my head several minutes behind my body.

Have I got any work done? I have, slowly but I have been continuing on with the editing process. In truth I have to edit slowly or I get impatient and rush it, and then the editing is not so much editing as skim reading. I'm almost done, and while I've been doing it part of my mind has been working on the sequel and also the prequel. That's my mind, it never focuses on the one thing exclusively, except when I'm drawing.

I don't think it's accurate to call what I do zentangle any more. I use the patterns a lot, but I also make up my own, and make designs to fill with the patterns. The last thing I did was not even zentangle, it was a mosaic. I really liked drawing it and then filling it with colour although it took several days to complete. It's not as popular with friends and family I show the pictures to, but I loved doing it. It made me want to start doing mosaic tiles and mirrors - but those must wait or they will absorb too much of my time. Plus I have nowhere here to put them, and lets face it, no money for the materials!

To pull myself out of this funk I've been trying to count my blessings and feel gratitude. I do have a lot to be grateful for. I'm able to live here in Egypt and give this writing a go. I've got back enough of myself that I'm drawing again, I have two adorable cats that make me smile and a group of street cats that also make me smile. I have good friends who have stood by me, a family that loves me (well they have to don't they, that's the thing about families), and a roof over my head. Sure, money is tight, but that makes me grateful that all the superfluous stuff is gone and I can focus on what really matters. That last sentence could be a load of hokum, but really I do feel grateful for being so poor although of course the long term goal is not to stay this way! Poverty has a way of removing everything from the surface and leaving only what is important. It's a lesson I'm grateful to be learning. I'm grateful too that while I'm poor, I still have enough for a comfortable roof over our heads, food and clothing. We may not wear fashion items but we are clothed, warm (it's a little bit chilly now), and fed. We have all that is necessary and that is truly something to be grateful for.

Of course I am grateful too that I have a sister who opening her home to me and gamer son for Christmas. I'm sure I've said this last year - Christmas and I are not the best of friends. I don't look forward to it, I don't get excited by it. This season has the ability to bring me very low, so even if I wasn't struggling with hormonal and sinus issues, I'd still be feeling low now. So, I'm grateful that I will be spending Christmas with people who get me and don't expect anything of me, and I'm grateful that gamer son with be able to have a great holiday and will get a family Christmas.

So as you can see, I have a lot to be grateful for, and not that much really to feel sorry about. It's all about the perspective, and I really must try to make my perspective a positive one. Pics today include some of my artwork, and my mosiac which I am showing you simply because I like it!

Mosaic drawn but not coloured:

 Mosaic coloured:

Why did I put the pics in this order? I didn't, my computer did, and it's not even chronological. Everyone's a critic I guess...

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Did she finish??

I did! I finished the book and now I am editing. And having major self doubt and insecurity as well. I am a member of a lot of writing groups and self doubt is a common theme so I'm not alone in this thinking. Editing is quite hard because you have to be ruthless with yourself, and accept that rewriting will be required. And also believe that just because rewriting is required that does not mean you are a sucky writer.

Editing means removing redundant words, sentences and paragraphs. It means checking for passive voice (and I suck at remembering to do that), checking for continuity, checking spelling and grammar. It means making sure that every sentence serves a purpose, either of explanation or of moving the story forward. Stephen King wrote a book on writing and his golden rule was during the editing process remove 10% of the book. It's quite easy to do that, for me at least. When I write I write everything including backstory. A lot of the backstory is not really necessary to the book but is necessary to me to build up my characters and my world in my mind. During editing I have to decide what parts of backstory to remove.

My sister will go over this after me, and edit further - bless her analytical and detailed heart. Then once it is accepted by a publisher (positive thinking there) it will be edited again. Then you the reader will get to see the finished product. Writing the book really is the easy part and the rest is hard slog. I'm dreading writing the synopsis too. I loathe synopsis writing but it has to be done.

So here I am, editing. And other events in my life? Well gamer son and I are going to visit my sister for Christmas, which is due to her generous heart since she is footing the bill for my airfare. I am still at the stage of financial woe that gamer son breaking two glasses and a plate caused a budgeting crisis as I contemplated the replacement expense. And solved the problem with plasticware.

So I have been getting the trip to the UK finalised as we will leave in about 5 weeks. The flights were sorted easily enough, and the airport hotel since we get in late at night and need to take a bus from Gatwick to Cambridge. Then before I got the bus booked my bank introduced Verified by Visa for all online transactions. Have you ever had a problem with Verified by Visa? I think it is the most absurd thing ever. If the address you give does not exactly match up with the one on their records your payment is denied.

This happened to me, repeatedly and even after correspondence with my bank. This has happened to me before with a different bank too, and there are memes about it online so I know I'm not alone here. It took days and days to get it sorted and meanwhile the cheap bus tickets were all gone so I had to pay more which made me even more unhappy. Verified by Visa, stopping people using their own cards since inception.

Anyway, we are now booked and everything is paid for except the bus back to the airport. I had expected to have this Christmas here in Hurghada, which though fine for me would have been a bit sparse for gamer son - but certainly a different experience! However we haven't spent Christmas with my sister for about six years, so it's an unexpected pleasure to be able to do so this year. I know gamer son would have liked to have gone back to Australia for Christmas but funds simply don't allow this time. Next year our lives will be different and while I don't know where we will spend the Christmas period I know we will be in a much better place financially speaking (positive thinking again).

In other news? The weather is cooling down. It's autumn in this part of the world and while it's not exactly cold it is much cooler, all things being relative. A drop from 42C to 22C is a substantial drop! There is a cool breeze most days, the temperature doesn't go above 34C during the day and is decidedly cool at night, and there are a few clouds in the sky most days. Not like rain clouds or anything, but nice white clouds that make for pretty sunsets.

Insomnia is still my friend, sadly, and I've been having vivid nightmares too which leave me feeling exhausted in the mornings. If this blog is a bit flat today, blame it on the insomnia!

Now I've procrastinated enough. While I needed to write this blog since it's been too long between posts, I also need to edit that book. Gamer son is up to the exam period/final assignments time in school too. Distance ed was a steep learning experience for us both but I think we have it sorted for next year. For those non-Australians reading this, our school year ends early in December so gamer son is almost finished school.

I think this was a dull post, apologies for that, next time I promise to do better!

See! It's not only me!

The plastic plate solution, plus some pretty good pikelets :)

Mornings may be 22C, but Sabrina thinks it's cold...

Pretty sunset from the roof of this building