Category Archives: Blogging

B – Writer’s Block…Quotes A-Z April Challenge.

“I deal with writer’s block by lowering my expectations.

I think the trouble starts when you sit down to write

and imagine that you will achieve something magical

and magnificent — and when you don’t, panic sets in.

The solution is never to sit down and imagine that you

will achieve something magical and magnificent. I write

a little bit, almost every day, and if it results in two or

three or (on a good day) four good paragraphs, I

consider myself a lucky man. Never try to be the hare.

All hail the tortoise.”

― Malcolm Gladwell

My theme for this year’s A-Z April Blogging Challenge is motivational quotes for writers and creatives working on ambitious, long term projects like writing a book.

Today, we address B for Writer’s Block.

Not unsurprisingly, Writer’s Block is almost synonymous with writing and volumes have been written about strategies for overcoming block and keeping the flow going and even overflowing.

What doesn’t get talked about and is equally important for many writers and creatives, is creative overflow. I’m not sure if you’ve ever experienced overflow but it’s when the creativity takes off and becomes all consuming, making it difficult to attend to the necessities of life and especially switching the idea off, slowing your brain down and trying to to get to sleep.

The aim therefore, especially when you’re working on a big, long term project like writing a novel or any kind of book, is to somehow tread the balance between the two. Stimulate yourself enough to get things moving, but if you’re prone to overflow, you might need to take deliberate steps to de-stimulate yourself. I find going for a walk can help keep myself on an even keel.

I also liked the above quote from Malcolm Gladwell because I think anyone trying to write a book has to have high expectations, yet at the same time lower those expectations to get through all the grind which goes along with it and to ride through the ups and downs involved.

By the way, I strongly recommend reading Malcolm Gladwell’s The Outliers. The really spoke to me, was the 10,000 hour rule which argues that 10,000 hours of considered practice are required to reach the top of your field. Or, as we have always been told: “practice makes perfect”.

How to you deal with writer’s block? Have you ever experienced writer’s overflow? I’d love to hear from you. 

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

A-Z Challenge…A for Adventure.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

Helen Keller

Just to remind you, my theme for this year’s A-Z April Blogging Challenge is motivational quotes. I am currently hunkered down working away on a collection of biographical short stories and was concerned that the challenge would be a distraction. Howe3ver, I’ve changed my mind and thought that coming up with motivational quotes every day could really boost my efforts and keep me going. After all, I’ve only just started writing up the stories and it’s going to get harder down the track. Of course, the going is always good at the start and it’s fine tuning the stuff at the end where things get really hard. Well, I think it’s how it goes. That’s how it’s been for me in the past. This is why I’ve also decided to go with short stories, even though many of these stories could be a book in their own right. They just didn’t quite seem to have enough oomph to make it to 80,000 words, although perhaps they’ll follow down the track. At this point, I just need to get a book I can be proud and has commercial potential done and dusted. I’m not investing all this time anbd effort into this for no reason. There’s a lot riding on it. I am the gambler who has stacked all their chips on one number and the wheel is spinning.

I guess that’s why I this quote by Helen Keller came to mind and I had to Google to remind myself who wrote it. Naturally, Helen Keller was a great choice because they other word I was considering was ADVERSITY and she covers both.

In case you’re not familiar with Helen Keller’s story, here’s a brief bio:

Helen Adams Keller was born on June 27, 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama. In 1882, she was stricken by an illness that left her blind and deaf. Beginning in 1887, Keller’s teacher, Anne Sullivan, helped her make tremendous progress with her ability to communicate, and Keller went on to college, graduating in 1904.

She’s an incredibly encouraging woman and an inspiration to all.

Touching on the featured image, that’s our dearly loved and departed dog Bilbo looking at the “cliffs”, which had developed on our beach after a storm. He’s certainly looking rather circumspect, and not at all likely to jump in for a swim (his idea of a daring adventure). Indeed, most of the time, Bilbo didn’t like getting his paws wet let alone going swimming. His paws were rather precious. That was until his beloved tennis ball started drifting away, in which case, his heart was seriously torn.

Do you have any adventures planned? What is your A for the A-Z Challenge? I’d love to hear from you!

Best wishes,

Rowena

A-Z April Challenge – Belated Theme Announcement.

This year, I came mighty close to giving much beloved A-Z April Challenge a  miss, as I’m deeply immersed in researching and writing a series of biographical short fiction stories. Indeed, I’m so immersed, that I’ve been using a snorkel and even scuba gear, to avoid surfacing for air. I’m so determined to see this project through and have my first book published, that I don’t want to stop for anything. Yes, it’s foot flat to the floor. All systems go.

However, for those of you who know me, you’ll know that being able to lock myself  away from all distractions into my writing cave isn’t possible. That there’s the husband, two teenagers, an older and fairly well-behaved dog but there’s also the two rapscallion puppy dogs who I’ve decided are the same as having pre-school aged twins at home. Case in point, this afternoon we had pup Rosie slipping out through the front door while I was maneuvering my way in, and and then she ran like a greyhound across the road and down the adjacent lane way. I would’ve liked to clock her speed. Move over Superman. I’m sure she was running faster than a speeding locomotive.

However, I’ve decided that I might be needing a bit of motivational encouragement on my book writing journey, which would also benefit others hunkered down working on their big projects. I still haven’t finished drawing up a list of words so I’m going to need a magic wand or a cattle prod. However, it’s surprising how you can pull the rabbit out of a hat during this challenge, and I’ve always finished April with a substantial body of work under my belt. That said, this year I’ll be keeping it short and sweet and much more in keeping with the nature of the challenge as well. You’re not really supposed to have a 55,000 word manuscript at the end. Indeed, I’m hoping that the book project might be getting to that kind of word limit if I really knuckle down. However, given the huge amount of researching and planning involved with biographical fiction, speed writing isn’t what it’s all about but I still need to get it finished and not in three lifetimes either.

So, although I’m launching off late please stay tuned. A is on its way.

Are you ding the A-Z April Challenge this year? If so, I’d love to hear about your theme or why you decided not to participate this year.

I hope you’ll join me for the journey and might even be inspired.

Best wishes,+

Rowena

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share- 23rd September, 2018.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

How was your week?

Every week when I sit down to catch up with you over coffee or whatever your preferred beverage might me, I have to switch on my thinking cap and try to reconnect with the week that was. What on earth happened? Do I really do all of that in one week? Or, more distressing…where did that week go? I’ve done nothing at all.

However, last week was more special than most because both my kids were in the school musical, Alice in Wonderland Jnr. Our daughter was on stage as one of the three Cheshire Cats who were the narrators in the musical and our son who has been on stage in Scout gang shows for the last three years, was actually backstage doing the lighting. However, although our daughter spent most of the show on stage and I was clearly besotted, I loved the show as a whole. Indeed, I thought it was an excellent choice for a school production as it allowed so many kids to shine. While Alice clearly played the lead, there were three Alices as well as the Queen of Hearts, White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter. A surprise character, at least for me, was the caterpillar, which I’ve never really taken much notice of in the book. The caterpillar was one cool dude. I was so impressed with the production, that I decided to go to the second performance and I’m so glad I did. I absorbed so much more the second time and I also managed to get a seat on the other side of the theatre right under my daughter’s nose.

The downside to enjoying the musical so much, was that it ended and I clearly know that I’ve fallen off the mountain top into a sense of “panging after the fjords” to quote Monty Python in a rather bizarre and twisted way. While well aware that the cast can get a sense of “grief” when the show is over, I haven’t really heard much about the audience or the parent of a performer going through this. However, I did. Yet, I make no apologies. It was such a great production and so upbeat, funny and entertaining. Moreover, I’ve known much of the cast and the audience for many, many years. Indeed, I’ve known middle Alice since she was one. Being a school of local production has that intimacy over something professional and it really was fantastic.

Amelia Ballet audition Sept 21 2018

Our daughter at her ballet audition.

However, there was no time to rest on our laurels. The musical was on Wednesday and Thursday nights and then on Friday afternoon, our daughter had an audition to appear in a local production of Madame Butterfly with the Melbourne Ballet Company. Normally, this would’ve been something we would’ve been well and truly prepared for and given such an audition it’s due. However, being the day after the bigger than Ben Hur school musical, we just couldn’t get into gear properly. No chance of getting organized the night before and I picked her up early from school and found myself driving like a maniac to the dance wear shop with quite a shopping list. Indeed, we were so short of time, that we rang ahead with our list and I was so grateful. They had the lot and had it waiting on the counter. We weren’t the only ones doing the manic pre-audition dash either. It was just crazy and I was under phenomenal pressure. We got there with about ten minutes to spare. Unfortunately, she wasn’t selected. Last year, nine people auditioned. This year there must’ve been 80 and I think about twenty kids were chosen. She was quite philosophical about it afterwards. “It was good experience”. With all that stress, I couldn’t bite my tongue. I had to disagree. Then, I remembered that it was my job to be the motivational coach, even when I wasn’t feeling motivated. That was when I remembered a pearl of wisdom I’d picked up during the week while watching an interview with former Australian 60 Minutes reporter, Ray Martin on Ahn’s Brush With Fame. Ray Martin had taken his son along when he’d interviewed Australia’s last ANZAC Alec Campbell. Ray hadn’t been able to draw much out of him, however he’s son had struck up quite a conversation. When Ray asked his son what he’d said, he’d said: “to have a go”. Have a go…it sounds too simple and yet that’s what lets me down time and time again. I’m so needing to be perfect and to get it right the first time and not make a mistake, that I don’t even try. I don’t have a go. I think I need to write that up and stick it on my desk where it stares me right between the eyes. Get on with it! Just have a go!

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Ahn Do pictured with Professor Fiona Wood burns specialist.

By the way, speaking of Ahn’s Brush With Fame, I’ve actually been doing a bit of binge watching this week. This show seems to be into its third series and I only watched it for the first time a week ago on what’s referred to as “Catch Up” on our TV.My daughter thought it was disgusting that an almost 50 year old woman could go binge watching and she thought this was something reserved for the teen. However, I had great delight in bursting her little bubble. Binge watching is suitable for all ages. However, at least in my case, the choice of subject matter was entirely different. I’m going to write something more detailed about the show once I’ve caught up. However, just to put you in the picture, Ahn Do is a lawyer, comedian and author of numerous books including: The Happiest Refugee. He is also an incredible artist and interviewer and that’s what Ahn’s Brush With Fame is all about. He invites a smattering of people he finds interesting onto the show which is set in his art studio. His subject takes a set in a really striking canary yellow arm chair and they just begin chatting while Ahn starts working away on the canvas with lashings of paint mostly applying the paint using cake decorating spatulas or knives. To be perfectly honest, I find it hard to believe anyone could create any kind of realistic portrait using these things but he does. He also tends to use the brush more for female subjects and he frequently uses his fingers. On the surface of it, it’s all anarchy but he’s one of those truly clever people who appear chaotic when there’s actually a surprisingly amount of order beneath the surface. He also sends the subject out for at least 15 minutes at the end of each session so goodness knows what he does then when we’re not watching, although I wouldn’t be surprised if it involved a magic wand. His portraits are incredible and each of the sitters I’ve seen have commented on how he’s not only captured a physical likeness, but he’s also brought out something of their inner being. He’s a very clever, and incredibly intuitive man from what I’ve seen. I think he’s also very curious and fascinated by what makes people tick and what’s to know what we’re here. Indeed, that’s what he asks at least most, if not all, of his subjects. You can watch the episodes online so just because you don’t live in Australia, it doesn’t mean you need to miss out. You can click Here.

In terms of my posts this week, there was a post inspired by Ahn Do’s interview with burns specialist Professor Fiona Wood. I participated in Friday Fictioneers again with a comic piece referring to cupid’s frustrations with us humans. Lastly, I participated in Thursday Doors and posted about Penguin Gaol, Tasmania. Indeed, the gaol was so small it did seem better suited to penguins than humans.

Lastly, I’ve just started reading Tree: A Life Story, by David Suzuki and Wayne Grady, which extends that celebration in a “biography” to the tree. “A story that spans a millennium and includes a cast of millions but focuses on a single tree, a Douglas fir, Tree describes in poetic detail the organism’s modest origins that begin with a dramatic burst of millions of microscopic grains of pollen. The authors recount the amazing characteristics of the species, how they reproduce and how they receive from and offer nourishment to generations of other plants and animals. The tree’s pivotal role in making life possible for the creatures around it;including human beings;is lovingly explored.”- Goodreads

We now have one last week of term before the school holidays begin. One term left before the end of the school year. Where has this year gone? No doubt, you are just as baffled.

Anyway, I’d better get cracking. I’ve actually had a very quiet day and a big rest to catch up today. However, it time to carpe diem with whatever’s left. This has been another Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Eclectic Alli.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share 20th August, 2018.

Welcome to Another Coffee Share!

How are you? How was your week? My manners have improved this week, as I often launch into an animated diatribe about my week, without even thinking of you. While you could interpret that as “rude”, I’ll excuse myself by saying that I’m excited to catch up with you and I thought you might be interested in a few snapshots of Australian life. That’s one of the things I really love about our Weekend Coffee Share is gaining a more personal insight into what it’s life to live in an other country.

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Bushfire Viewed from Ettalong Beach, NSW.

After seeing some spectacular photos of the fires ravaging California and hearing horror stories of mass destruction and heartbreak, we had our own local  bush fire this week over at Killcare, North of Sydney and about a 15 minutes drive from here. I woke up one morning and feel a thick cloak of smoke immediately wrap around me, and there was a definite tightness and constriction in my lungs. I have about 55% lung capacity. So, the panic buttons went off and I was wondering whether I’d need to get out. However, the wind must’ve changed because the smoke dissipated and by afternoon, I actually ventured to our local beach where I could photograph the towering plume of smoke without suffocating.

Saturday, saw a different kind of fire. Our kids were attending District Scout Camp at this very remote camp site at Sugree Bag Creek. Different scout troops were attending and each had its own camp fire blazing by the time we’d turned up late afternoon after our daughter’s dancing. These fires don’t just happen and there’s quite a lot of science involved. I saw our scout leader clearing away the grass with a shovel, and I’m not sure what else was involved but when my husband picked the kids up the next day, I was told that the fires didn’t go out overnight and the local bush wasn’t set alight. People are so quick to criticise and blame teenagers. Yet, here we had at least 50 or so kids with fires, bush and no problems.

My husband and I decided to turn the drive into more of an experience, which is why I’d come along. Of course, only one parent was required to do the actual driving. It was about a 90 minutes drive to the camp site and while you think of the outback in terms of remote in an  Australian sense, once you leave the road less travelled and continue onto the roads rarely travelled, it doesn’t take long for you to either experience that sense of getting away from it all or feeling isolated and I little bit vulnerable. There’s “nothing there”. However, ideally you don’t go camping in the supermarket car park and you actually do experience all that’s entailed with getting away from it all and you find out what you’re made of. You find interest in nature and the simple life instead of being glued to electronic, TV or having your nose in a book. This is living.

This lecture is as much for myself, I should point out. I could easily have read a book for much of the drive instead of engaging in conversation or looking out the window. As we drove off the main road and kept driving and driving onto what was by now more like a driveway or a cattle path, I noticed a rising sense of impatience…”Are we there yet?” I felt like we’d almost driving off the edge of the earth and I should’ve been embracing it. Enjoying the get away. Appreciating the benefits of switching off instead of being constantly switched on and lit up like a Christmas tree. By the time we reached Spencer, it was like “there’s nothing here”. I was really hanging out for some coffee and cake by then too. It was 5.00pm and everything was shut. Well, that was except the “Dunkirk Hotel”…an open air pub with a wooden sign suspended over a picnic table.

This coming Thursday, my parents will be celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary and all sorts are coming out of the woodwork and turning up for the festivities. My Dad is the only one making a speech, and I’ve supplied him with photos so there’s been no role for myself in all of this, which perhaps could be a good thing. However, that hasn’t stopped me from thinking about their big day and what it was all about. I just don’t have much to go on, because I wasn’t there which isn’t always a given but that’s how it was for us. Obviously, many of the people who were there on the day are no longer with us or have drifted beyond their orbit. One of the interesting snippets from my parents’ wedding was that my grandfather was a pastor and so he had another minister there at the start so he could walk my mother down the aisle and conduct the service. My Dad’s family was Catholic and Mum and her family were Lutheran and they got married in a Lutheran Church. That meant Dad’s family needed to get dispensation from the priest to attend. I don’t even know what that is, but it sounds serious. Mum’s wedding car also broke down on the way to the Church. The reception was held at my grandparents’ home in Lindfield.

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Anyway, while I was pottering around with my research, I found a photo of my mum taken at a school reunion back in the 80s and found her year had set up its own web site, which included pdfs of the school newsletter. I was particularly interested in the Principal’s reports. One was headed “the casual cult” and spoke out about the horrors of casual dress, manners and the “bodgie pack”. More time research required. Also, there were quite a few references to the girls outperforming the boys academically, which I hadn’t anticipated from that era. I have sensed that the needs of boys are being swept under the radar, which is all well and good if you only have daughters and don’t believe in some form of equity.

I’ve also been making considerable progress researching not only my grandmother’s career as a concert pianist, which I’ve mentioned before. She worked as a music critic in the 1950s for the Daily Telegraph and despite so many of the old newspapers being uploaded onto Trove, the Daily Telegraph has only just been uploaded and I’m finally able to read her reviews without trudging into the State Library viewing them on the reel to reel and paying a fortune to print them out. I’m now in the process of converting them to text and pasting them chronologically into a word document. Sounds all well and good but why did she have to attend so many concerts and be so prolific? I know. I’d be complaining if there was only a handful of words but it’s going to take some time to get this under my belt. 1950 alone is currently standing at 30,000 words and I’m not done yet. I should also point out that she had four children under ten at the time, although her mother lived with her and she also had home help. Nevertheless, she was an extraordinary woman.

Book

By the way, I am still making my way through Raphaelle Giordano’s: Your Second Life Begins When You Realize You Only Have One. This supposed novel features a whole lot of steps towards finding greater satisfaction and fulfillment in your life. This week, I focused on: “Throw out ten things”. That was all well and good. However, it didn’t bargain on us stopping at a roadside sign advertising “FREE” in huge red painted letters. We had no idea what was free when we pulled over. However, being out in the country, we expected something along the lines of oranges or horse manure. However, much to our delight, there were bags and bags of good books, which somehow found their way into the boot of our car. Although common sense tells you not to bring bags of books into your house when you’ve just downloaded your ten items, the book didn’t say you couldn’t. So, now I’m clearing more space and my husband will no longer be sleeping on the train. He has a lot of reading to do.

Meanwhile, you might enjoy reading my review on the book so far and my progress Here.

Books

So much more creating more space…there’s an avalanche of books.

Lastly, I have come across a blog share, which you might like to take part in. This was my first week over at Thursday Doors hosted by  Norm 2.0. . Here’s my contribution.

St Johns Parramatta door

Thursday Doors…St John’s Cathedral, Parramatta, Sydney.

Well, that’s me done for another week. It’s been great catching up and I look forward to catching up on your news.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

The Cinderella Project – Friday Fictioneers.

“Meet me at noon outside Bloomingdales,” he said.

Perhaps, I’m the only person on Earth, who’s never heard of Bloomingdales. Being an outback Australian research scientist, I thought it was a park…not a shopping Mecca dedicated to greed and excess. Why would he want to meet ME there? Me… “Professor Cow Dung”? I was in New York to present a research paper, NOT to go shopping. We might’ve had a spark, but there’s no way I’m swapping my gorgeously shitty gumboots for a pair of sexy glass slippers for any Prince Charming. I’m no one’s Cinderella.

“Taxi!”


This has been a contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by  Rochelle Wishoff-Fields

When I first saw this week’s prompt, my immediate response was to think about the glitz and glamour, and then did a U-turn. Have any of you seen the Australian movie: Crocodile Dundee, starring Paul Hogan? That came to mind as well and I liked that resolute Australian character who knows who they are and refuses to conform or sell out. Even knee-deep in cow dung, they’re content.

Hope you’re having a great week. We’ve welcomed two Border Collie x Kelpie pups into our family and we’re currently fostering two kelpie pups…Dobbie and Yoda. They’re all asleep at the moment, but our lounge room and backyard are scenes of carnage. They’re chewing everything in sight, including each other but are so cute and so fun. We love them to bits.

xx Rowena

A Walk in Dulwich Park, London.

Tonight, my dog Lady and I went for an extraordinary walk, touching down in Dulwich Park, in South London to catch up with fellow blogger and author, Geoff Le Pard and his furry friend. I even found a cafe and met a few dog walkers to boot. How good is that?!!

This all came about after reading Geoff’s latest post: Milling About…Finding A Home, which talks about how he and his wife found their home in Dulwich Park, South London. I must be a bit low on patience this week, because I decided I’d had enough talk. I wanted to get to London myself> Walk the streets, museums, galleries and park my butt in a cafe. Not in a creepy, cyber-stalking kind of way. It’s just that I’d had enough of looking through the window. I wanted to be there instead.

So, I found a local park with a cafe frequented by mild-mannered local dog walkers. Now, I’m just waiting for Geoff. If I’d got onto this earlier, I could’ve been there in time for the Bloggers’ Bash. BTW, it’s just like me to run late!

However, there’s just one small problem with getting to London.

As you’re probably aware, I live in Greater Sydney, Australia. So, I’m hardly living next door. Moreover, as much as I’ve wanted to visit London and check out Geoff’s haunts, there’s been a small hitch. While they might have sent convicts out to the colonies at Her Magesty’s Pleasure, they’re not footing the bill to send us back. Indeed, I’d probably need to rob a bank to fund my ticket. However, knowing my luck, instead of running off with the loot, I’d pluck this card out of the pack: “Advance to jail. Go directly to jail. Do not collect $200.”

Reg Spiers

Aussies have done outrageous things to overcome the “tyranny of distance”. In the mid-1960s, Australian athlete Reg Spiers found himself stranded in London with no money to buy a plane ticket home. Desperate to get back to Australia in time for his daughter’s birthday, he posted himself home in a wooden crate and travelled as freight. You can read the full story here: The Man Who Posted Himself Home to Australia. It’s great reading.

While Reg might have been given a hero’s welcome, I decided to Keep it Simple, Stupid (the KISS Principle) and let my fingers do the walking. I travelled to London via Google maps. While I know this could be construed as cyberstalking, I picked a park on the map, found a cafe and thought this would be quite appropriate for a cyber coffee catch-up. I even took a photo…just to prove I was there.

As much as I love meeting fantastic people, especially fellow writers from all around the world through blogging, I often lament the ultimate Aussie devil… distance. That as much as our global isolation has made and shaped us as a nation, that I feel like sticking an outboard motor to the bottom of Tasmania and giving us a bit of a nudge North. Travelling to Europe is so expensive when you have kids, mortgage and an auto-immune disease to factor in.

So, while I’m waiting for Geoff, Lady and I went for a walk in the park. There were so many large, leafy trees and I certainly picked out a few oaks. It is Summer in London and while it’s partly-cloudy today, it is 20°C. Humph. Hang on a minute. We’re in the middle of Winter here in freezing conditions rugged up like Eskimos and it’s 16°C here. I’m feeling a bit ripped off. Well, at least, I’m catching up with Geoff and going on one of his many tours of London. So, the weather doesn’t really matter, does it?! After all, nobody goes to London for the weather!!

So, now that I’ve got the hang of Google maps, is there somewhere you’d like me to visit? Wow! This is starting to sound quite exciting…like climbing to the top of Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree and finding yourself in the midst of a magical land. Where will I be going next?

As for me, I’d like to invite you to walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It really is an amazing experience.

Happy travels.

xx Rowena.