Looking back

This month has been a grand old mix of just about everything, and I can hardly believe that we’re almost to the end of the year. I had high hopes of knocking out another novella, but that hasn’t panned out quite so well. All good. I turned 32, had an amazing birthday, Christmas was wonderful and my garden got a massive clean out. So as a whole, it has been a good month. Just not so much for writing.

At the beginning of 2012 I posted that this year was going to be all about exploration. I knew it was going to be a ‘big’ year, but had no idea in what way that would manifest. Quite frankly, I had no idea what was in store for me. This has been a hell of a year, and while the growth that’s occurred has been great and life is on track to improve, in some ways I wish it never happened. It has been hard. Really hard.

I started back at university, which was really something. I LOVED the paper I took. I learned so much and have been able to apply a lot of the things I’ve learned to life in general, as well as using new skills to help friends through some stuff. It really confirmed for me that counselling is going to play a role in my life – whether as a career, or just as something I have in my arsenal of skills*. That said, I did drop out from the Lifeline training as I had this overwhelming sense that it just wasn’t something I could follow through on (the weekly time commitment etc).

This was just as well, because not long after that school started back up for Ivy and things deteriorated pretty quickly. She’d already been on a downward spiral, having major difficulties with her temper, her moods and life in general, but the added stress of school just seemed to tip her over the edge. It wasn’t long before she started talking about killing herself, and making plans for how she would do this. Naturally, I was beyond concerned and we went to see child mental health.

Since the beginning of April this year she’s been in therapy weekly, had a mass of testing done and been declared to have either ADHD, Aspergers, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Depression, Bi-polar or a combination of these things. They can’t really pin-point which is it, and have said she is ‘unique’ and ‘baffling’. She is also highly intelligent, but we already knew that. They got us to trial some medication for ADHD but it was like she was on speed, so we opted to discontinue that within a week of starting and haven’t looked back.

This lead to us making the decision to homeschool. School seemed to be a major source of her depression and it had got to the point where she could eat nothing at school, she had almost constant tummy aches, chronic anxiety about what might happen at school, and would begin crying or screaming at me within moments of walking out the classroom door (which would pretty much continue until bedtime).

Needless to say, none of our wee family were thriving, and it was killing all of us living in a warzone with one incredibly unhappy little girl. No child should have to feel the way she was feeling.

It was August before she got her exemption, but since then she’s been doing really well. Her desire to learn has come back, she is creative and imaginative now, and while she’s still very difficult to keep focused, at least she has a lust for knowledge. She can eat again, she has no tummy aches, and she hasn’t spoken a word about wanting to kill herself for months now.

Total win.

She’s still very explosive though and gets exhausted easily, just behaving herself on an ordinary day is tiring for her. What other kids normally cope with is very taxing for her, and I’ve learned to make allowances. If we have a busy day, an overly stimulating day, we stay home the next and she can meltdown as much as she needs to in the comfort of her own home. She’s generally very well behaved in public, which is a blessing. It’s not an ideal situation, but it’s the best we can do right now. I’m so pleased we can do this for her, and even her psychologist has said that the main factor in her getting ‘better’ even this much has been home school, not therapy.

All of this has meant more stress in our collective life, but in mine mostly. I’ve gone from having two kids home full time, to having three and adding teacher to my already comprehensive list of ‘stuff I do’. I’ve got to admit I do enjoy it (thank goodness!!) but it has meant we’re still working on routines and I’m still learning to take time out for myself (I’m not very good at that yet). We’ll get there eventually. It’s clear to everyone who knows her that this was absolutely the best thing we could have done for her.

To make all of my daughters difficulties even harder to deal with, I got my cycle back finally (after years without!) only to find that I have PMDD. This is pretty nasty and meant that initially I was all but useless for about 10 days a month. I thought I had lost it, and then realized it was incredibly cyclical. The doctor confirmed it, and I’ve since tried a few things to help. I’m still working on sorting it out permanently, but after 8 or so months now, I am finally learning to go a little easier on myself in those down days, and make the most of the rest of the month. It’s a work on progress.

As for my writing, well I didn’t get a single thing published this year. I spent most of my time working on longer pieces – I finished the first draft of Sun-Touched, and I wrote, edited and submitted Burn (at least I thought I did. Turns out I actually submitted a portion of my final assignment for my uni paper… moral of the story is: don’t hand in a bunch of things at the same time, you might get confused), and started a second novella as well, currently titled Shell and Bone. I feel good about the lessons I learned regarding writing, which will hopefully pay off next year. I’m trying not to be too bothered about the fact there were no sales.

The bright spot of my writing life has been my writing friends, who are so wonderful, and so great to work along side, and the discovery that no matter how long a break I take between projects, I can slip right back into writing with ease. Beautiful.

EDITED TO ADD. OH AND I CO-WON AN AWARD. I had totally forgotten, but Anna reminded me. That was also an amazing thing that happened in my writer life. A Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Collected Works. Epic. 

So yeah. Rough year. Big year. And that’s without all the tragedies and sadness that has happened to those I care about. If you’d asked me what I thought life would look like at the beginning of 2012, I could never have predicted that this would be it. I think we’re all still adjusting, but that’s probably just what we’ll have to call ‘normal’ for… well, perhaps forever. Who knows.

For right now I am looking ahead. I can’t see how 2013 could be any more challenging (knock on wood!!), so I am certainly hoping for more light spots than dark, more obvious progress, and more positive change within our family unit.

I’ll be studying two papers – one per semester – and as my writing group as dubbed it, 2013 is going to be the year of the novel. Sun-Touched is going to be my primary writing project and I can’t wait to knock it into submission quality.

I truly hope that your 2012 was a little easier than mine. And if it wasn’t, I’m really sorry it was so rough. Enjoy the last days of it, though, you survived and that’s something to be proud of. That said, I’ll be raising a glass on the 31st and saying thank god it’s over!

Here’s to 2013. Catch you next year 😉

*I managed to swing a B+ on my counselling theory paper (which I’m over the moon about. I know it’s not an A, but all things considered, it’s quite an achievement). As well as to complete the Mauri Ora course through Te Wananga o Aotearoa.


I totally need a new title…

I’ve barely mentioned the novel I’ll be revising this year, because I’ve been in deep thought about it. Without having read the thing yet, I know that there is a major issue with it and I wasn’t sure how to tackle that.

You see, it’s one of those pesky ‘partly set on earth, and then partly set on new planet’ novels. I chatted about it with M via email this morning and when she said those inevitable words ‘Do you even need the part on Earth?’, I had to stop and seriously think about it.

The novel was originally called The Consign Mate. The idea was one I had back when I was a teenager. It was about a girl who basically flunked out and so was set to be shipped off Earth to help colonize planets for the worthy. Part of the programme is that they are assigned a ‘mate’ who is genetically determined to be the match best suited to producing healthy, intelligent children. Her mate is someone she has a lot of negative history with. This is all pretty standard stuff, really, I mean, I was only 15 or so when I started writing this!

Anyway, the story morphs into something else entirely once they get to this new world, and that is where the interesting stuff happens. I think I would have come to the point where I asked myself whether Earth was really important at some point, but this conversation has spurred me on to it earlier. There will need to be some drastic reworking, but I think it will make for a much better story – one that I’m more excited about. There is something to be said for cutting massive amounts of story.

But I totally need a new title, because it has nothing to do with mates now. In fact, I could change a huge chunk of the backstory (and already have, in my head /rubs hands together in glee). It leaves room for some more freaky stuff, yup, I can see it now…

OH, this is going to be fun.

Of course, I should probably read the thing in it’s entirety before I get too carried away, and that task is on the cards for next week. I have a couple of things I would really like to finish up first, and then I plan to get stuck into a read through, during which I’ll also make scene/chapter notes.

It’s going to be such a good year, folks. SUCH a good year.

How is your 2012 shaping up so far? Making progress?


2012, you’re finally here!

Well, we are back from a week away visiting family, and it’s never been so good to be home. Gosh, I appreciate our space more than ever right now, and am looking forward to several months of just being here.

So nice <basks in the glow of being home>.

Anyways, I was lying in bed on New Years Eve, thinking about how I wasn’t staying up until midnight and wondering what this said about me. I finally decided that it meant I’m old enough to know that change doesn’t happen over night. The clock striking midnight doesn’t mean that magical things happen (though, wouldn’t that be nice), and that perhaps this wisdom will help me achieve all the things I want from 2012. Rather than starting the new year with a bang, I’m getting on with things slow and steady.

Or maybe I’m just getting old 😉 In any event, I can’t afford to burn through all the zeal I have stockpiled, I need to be the tortoise this year to get where I want to be.

2012 is all about:

of new and old, of the dynamics of my life, of everything that I am interested in and passionate about. It’s well and truly time to take things up a notch, and get down to business.

I’ll be completing Lifeline training, starting post-graduate study, finishing the first draft of Sun-Touched, editing TCM to submission standard and still being a kick-ass mother and wife – not to mention a million other little things. I’m feeling so good about the year ahead, and I know that if I pace myself, if I take it one step at a time, I will get to where I want to be.

I hope the year ahead is everything you could hope for, and I’m looking forward to sharing the highs and lows with you. I’ve been reading all the goals posts so far and love what I’m seeing. There is such a good vibe for 2012!

Onwards and upwards!


Wrapping up the year

Well, it’s Christmas tomorrow, and then before we know it 2012 will be upon us. There are a bunch of things I would like to get done before then, but I just don’t think they are going to happen – too much fun to be had with the family to be stuck inside getting through my pile of work.

That said, I made my 20,000 word goal, and am feeling terribly excited about the novel. I will find ways to eke out a few words here and there so that I don’t lose this newly reformed daily writing habit, but I don’t imagine I’ll be getting time for more than a few hundred words a day.

I’d like to note that this is the most I have written on a new project in just over two years. It feels amazing to be powering ahead with a novel after so many months spent working in the short form. While I’ll always have a fondness for shorts, and I think that the learning I had from them has really improved my writing in general, I am finding a novel a very exciting thing to be working on.

It’s been a pretty good year all around. School went well for Ivy, I started going to Playcentre with Lauren and Natalie who are loving the stimulation. We’re all making new friends, which is fabulous. I’ve reclaimed some time for myself, both in regards to my writing and also by doing some study towards becoming a counselor. The rekindling of old dreams has been a real bonus this year, and not something I had foreseen. It’s a welcome change, and I feel really good about the way it’s subtly shifted things in our family.

I’ve learned that my husband is more than I had ever hoped for. Which isn’t to say that I had low expectations, but rather that I tend to think I should just handle everything in the world on my own and don’t ask for help as often as I could. This year he was straight with me about a few difficult things, in a tactful and kind way, and he has also been a huge enabler of me creating change in my life. I wonder if perhaps we’ve been together long enough now that he’s comfortable challenging my boundaries.

When I tried to back pedal out of doing the course this year, he was very firm about the fact that I WAS going to attend. None of my excuses made a dent in his wall of faith in me. Now, when I start to make noises about getting writing done, he often takes himself off, knowing how easily distracted I am. It is his quiet support that I appreciate. His faith in me (no matter how many extra things I decide to take on) that I can do whatever it is I’ve set out to do. That I will make the time for my passions, my work, and still be the best parent I know how, and the best wife. I don’t see how life could ever be bad with a man like this at my side. I had no expectations of who we would grow into as a couple, but wow, I am thrilled with the way our marriage is developing.

Our girls are growing too. Ivy is maturing in ways that I couldn’t have predicted, I’m so proud of her, and really delighted with the potential I see. I’m worrying less about the teen years now, because I think by then she’ll have worked through the kinks that other kids are usually just starting to address. She’s so vibrant and vivacious, she draws people to her everywhere she goes. She has such a lust for life, and I hope that’s something she gets to keep forever.

Lauren is a delight, as always. She’s blows me away with the way she looks at the world. The way she gives compliments for the sake of it. I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone in my life who so frequently tells me that I’m beautiful, or that they think I have pretty eyes/hair/clothes/whatever else, that they love me and think I’m wonderful. That level of love and kindness used to be so hard for me to accept, but hearing it from her has made it easier to accept compliments in general.

And Natalie… Well. The baby of the family, that hasn’t been a baby for almost as long as I can remember. Can you believe she is one and a half already?? She never ceases to make me smile. She is just so cheeky, so adorable that it’s hard to be grumpy, even when she’s peeing on the floor or trashing whatever she has come across in her explorations of the house. She is a thrill seeker, and an adventurer, through and through – definitely one that I need to keep an eye on 😉

So we’re ending the year like this. Happy, content, excited, growing, maturing, exploring and enjoying the bounty that we have. Because we are blessed.

You probably won’t hear from me until 2012, but I want to say Merry Christmas, and have an awesome New Years Eve. Celebrate everything that happened this year and welcome in the new one with gusto, because it’s going to be amazing. I hope I’ll see you back here in January. Stay safe, and enjoy!


Planning Ahead

It’s a little early in the month to have thought through 2012, but that is exactly what I’ve done! Nothing like knowing you’re going to have an insanely busy year to get you motivated.

My writers group has recently been talking about the structure etc, and it prompted several conversations with Merrilee, which in turn prompted her to jot down a plan for 2012. She’s posted a bit about it over here, but the gist of it is that next year I (we) are planning to edit one novel and write a new novel at the same time.

I’m really hopeful about this, because it’s a whole 12 months to get things sorted. If I do it a small bit at a time, I will get there, it’s just a matter of breaking it down into components and working my way through. It will be really great to learn to balance fresh writing, with revision/editing – I love them both, and they stimulate me in different ways.

Of course, on top of this I have study for my counselling paper, finishing up Lifeline training in January/Feb and then at some point beginning to take calls myself – they seem to have a relaxed approach to this, in that they encourage you to do it when you’re ready.

It’s going to be a huge year for me, learning to juggle a few new roles in my life – but I have discovered that the more I have going on, the better I seem to be at scheduling things in. The fact that I am getting time to focus on myself, and get out of the house and follow my passions, can only be a good thing.

I’m so excited! I can’t wait to see progress in every aspect of my life!!