life, writing

Glimpsing life after study

As my study days wind down, I’m catching glimpses of what life might be like once I hand my final assignment in. It’s kind of beautiful, and I’m so looking forward to it. For a long time now I’ve had very little energy for things outside of my immediate focus. It’s been all about the kids, our family, and study, with the occasional round of editing for friends thrown into the mix.

I see a lot more of this in my future
I see a lot more of this in my future

Lately, I can see beyond that though. I see the sun shining, and can imagine having the time and energy to get stuck back into the garden. I can imagine long days at the beach with the kids, being able to let go of the tension and stress I’ve been carrying with me about assignments and grades.

I saw a submission call on twitter yesterday and thought to myself ‘I could write something for that!’, only then realizing how much I’ve missed doing that kind of thing. The last time I wrote a short story, it was The Dead Way, for Baby Teeth. It has been far, far too long.

There are so many projects on hold, just waiting for me to be ready again. I’m almost there. Almost ready. With one last assignment to write, and just two weeks until it’s due, the end is very much in sight. The light at the end of the tunnel is no longer an oncoming train.

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life

R for Recovery

RI feel like I have been getting over this sickness forever. The road to recovery is sometimes longer than the actual sickness it seems! April, in general, has been a rough month health-wise, and I am very much looking forward to feeling 100% better and getting back to work on my many projects.

First up is assignment writing. I began the first one today and am hoping to blitz it over the weekend so that I can get back to revision (that would have been a good blog post, maybe another time). Now is really when the year starts to get intense for me and I’m filled with some nervous energy about these assignments. The first one is always the hardest in that you’re unfamiliar with your marker, and with the subject matter, opening results is as intense as opening an email from a publisher/agent/market (though those are more likely to contain rejections than passes lol).

Anyway, I am going to do my very best to catch up with the A-Z! I’ve enjoyed it so far, even though it’s been harder than I’d have liked with the health stuff going on. I’d like to finish off the month anyway, even if the posts end up being shorter than normal.

How are you all doing this month? Anything come at you out of the blue? I hope you’ve all managed to stay healthy anyway.

writing

Here we go again…

As if agreeing to one month of blogging wasn’t enough of a challenge (one I’ve actually been doing pretty good with!), I’ve just signed up for yet another – the Blogging from A-Z Challenge (there is still time to sign up if you’re interested!).

I’m going to be participating alongside some of my writing buddies. So far Freya, Meryl and Emma have signed up, and I suspect there will be a few more who will join in too.

April is set to be a busy month! Camp NaNo, blogging challenge, and prep for my first two assignments. Feeling quite inspired and hyped for it actually – let’s hope that feeling lasts 😉

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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.

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University paper, complete!

I submitted my final essay yesterday morning, and then, just for kicks and because I was on a study high, I finished off my self-reflection exercises and submitted those as well – two weeks early! It felt amazing to have it all in. I’m fairly confident I’ll do well enough in the last essay to get a decent grade, and it feels like a huge achievement to actually finish off my very first post-grad paper.

And I am so pleased it’s done. I can now refocus on Burn and everything that will come after.

When I am in assignment mode I can’t write. I can’t even think of writing. There are too many facts and details in my head pertaining to the assignment and any other kind of writing pushes that information aside. I’ve given up on trying to multitask when an assignment is due, though next year I will need to be a bit more onto it than I was for this last one, which consumed me to the point where I couldn’t think beyond it’s due date.

Anyway, it’s in now 🙂 And I can breathe again. I can write again, and think again and read anything I want without fear of deleting important information.

Bliss.

I woke up this morning and for the first time in ages really wanted to write. I have opened Burn and started working on it, even though I’d told myself I was having the weekend off. I want to have it submitted before next weekend as we have a really busy one on. And I can’t wait to get back into reading Sun-Touched and forging ahead with plans for the rewrite.

Apparently, writing fiction and non-fiction simply don’t mix well for me. It’s one or the other, which means that I have until February to get through as much fiction as I can before Uni goes back! lol

I’m ready to admit that it’s October now.