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Traces and the pursuit of joy

On Saturday night Hubby and I went to see an amazing acrobatics/dance show. I hadn’t really known what to expect before we went in, though I’d heard it was meant to be awesome.

It really really was.

Seven performers, great music, beautiful dance, astounding acrobatics. I was blown away by the show and my arms were tired from clapping by the end of it.

Here is a snippet of one of their shows that I found on youtube.

There was more than just their feats of wonder that surprised and delighted me about this show though, and that was the sheer joy present on their faces as they performed, and the way that they interacted as a group – above and beyond what was acting or necessary for safety. ย After completing a skilled trick there would be grins, and slaps on the back, and you could feel their adrenalin, their joy, pouring off the stage. These were masterful performers who took great joy, great pride in not just their own performances, but in those of their whole group. Individuals who were made better, made stronger, by their collaboration.

That was super inspiring for me, and I felt my own joy blossom knowing that I could relate this to writing, and my writers tribe as well.

I started a new WiP recently, and the first few thousand words of any new project kill me. They do. The words all sound boring and horrible and like this could possibly be the most stale thing I have ever written. Until I hit between 3-5k where I find my groove, where my characters feel like they come to life and my story rolls out before me and I just want more. More more more more. Where every word I put on the page is wonderful, it’s joy. I love this part of writing and this is the stage that Traces reminded me of – love of your art, whatever form that art takes, is vital to make it really shine.

And it also made me think about the writing tribe I’ve gathered around me. Made me appreciate the way we have each others back, how we celebrate in each others triumphs and are there to help when someone falls on their figurative butt, or there to act as a support when anyone is about to leap into unknown territory. How this camaraderie gives me bouyancy, lifts my performance and makes me more than what I would be if I were alone in this.

Because while the act of putting words on the page might be a solo act between one person and their method of choice, in this day and age it’s never really done alone. Anyone who has done more than write a first draft knows that at various stages you have to let others in – when getting feedback, when it’s being sent off to editors etc etc. And if you are a writer and you’ve ever tried talking about writing to a non-writer… well, you’ll know that no-one truly understands you like another writer. They might smile and nod and pretend they do, but trust me, they think you’re a little nuts (“you keep talking about this character is if it’s a real person” – They are real, to me ๐Ÿ˜‰ lol).

Did I have a point with this post? I’m not really sure. I guess, follow your passion, find your joy – those are the best ways to be happy. And embrace others who are like minded because the journey is so much more rewarding when you have people to share it with.

Oh and also, go see Traces if you ever get the chance. It’s an awesome show.

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Change is afoot

Over the last several months my husband and I have been doing a lot of thinking, a lot of talking, reading, learning, and soul searching. Because we’ve had this problem, you see, and it just didn’t seem like it was going away, at least not without compromising and doing things that we weren’t entirely comfortable with.

The problem was that our eldest was unhappy. Hugely unhappy. Crying every day for hours, wishing that she could just hide under a rock, unhappy. And this unhappiness also showed itself in anger, and frustration, and raging against the world for no particular reason that we could fathom. It meant conflict about everything as she struggled with life. And all of these un-fun emotions were being directed at our family.

I just want to make it clear that Ivy is NOT the problem. But her misery was. We needed to help her. To find a way to make the world make more sense to her. It is not okay for a child of seven to be feeling like the world is a terrible place. We love her dearly and it was heartbreaking to know she was feeling like this. And so we got help, which included therapy sessions every week for the last four months, a fair few tests to see if they could figure out what was going on, and finally, a trial of some medication for ADD which they determined is the cause of Ivy’s struggles.

Except the medication didn’t work as I was told it would. In fact it had the opposite effect which suggests she doesn’t have ADD, though they are leaving her with that diagnosis for now. I took her off it as quickly as I could – neither of us were thrilled about trying them to begin with, but we got what we wanted from it.

On reflection, with this diagnosis of ‘ADD’ and the discovery that she has difficulty focusing in a classroom environment, and the knowledge that while she was holding herself together during class, she losing it within moments of school finishing, we realized that maybe the real problem here was school. It was a huge contributor to her misery. And we decided (after lots of consideration) that what we wanted to do was home school her.

Prior to this, I’d had thoughts about pulling her out of school approximately 10 times in the last couple of years. Incidences would crop up, things that made me uncomfortable but weren’t big enough issues, or solid enough to really place my finger on the cause, but there, all the same. But school is what a lot of people do, and I had never really considered being a home schooling mum, and didn’t I want a career at some point in the near future? And didn’t I desperately need the break from Ivy’s misery that those hours at school gave me?

Well, I did. Until I realized that so much of our conflict revolves around school. Until I realized that in the school holidays, when it’s her at home, being a part of the family, she’s actually really happy and I love being around her. I can and will still have a career at some point, but my time as a stay at home mum has now been extended by a few years, and that’s fine.

In fact, I’m really freaking excited about this. I have so many plans, and every time I talk to Ivy about it she comes up with plans of her own, and we bounce ideas and I can see her brain working overtime, being creative and being excited about learning, which is so wonderful to see because she’s been so resistant to regular schooling.

One of the things I think is important to gift to our children is an innate sense of curiosity about the world. Creativity, a desire to learn and explore and the skills with which to do those things under your own steam. And I can see that already. I can see she has the desire, and I can be the one to teach her the skills she needs.

We’re going to be embarking on an amazing adventure. Not just for her, but for our whole family. Lauren is thrilled that Ivy will be home and is keen to get in on the learning. Natalie will enjoy it too, and Ivy… She is so happy. She can’t wait to get started and has been telling everyone she can about it.

It’s going to be very interesting finding a new groove once we get the exemption certificate through. But I can’t help but be filled with hope. It feels like finally we’re onto a winning thing. Finally, we can help Ivy follow her passions, encourage her dreams and support her in learning the way that suits her best. Very exciting. Very exciting indeed.

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Mocha Nihilism – my intentions

I’m about halfway through my rewrite of Mocha Nihilism (still, but getting back to it now!), and after reading this post by the lovely Linda, I’ve made a decision and I wanted to publicly declare it.

I’m going to self publish the novella.

It’s something I’ve contemplated for awhile, and I think a novella is the perfect way to dip my toes into the self publishing world. Very soon I am going to have a really fun, enjoyable novella complete and ready for an audience. Initially I’d planned simply to give this to some of my friends and family for a Christmas present, ย but it seems like an awful waste to limit it’s audience like that.

So I read Linda’s post, then had a look around at e-publishers and print markets to see if there was anywhere it might fit. The markets are limited, and really? Most E-publishers aren’t offering great royalties, you have to do the bulk of the marketing yourself anyways, I might as well retain full creative control and do it all. I am not afraid of being accountable for the outcome, whether it’s positive or negative – in fact, either way, it’s a learning curve and I’ll get SOMETHING out of the process.

So there we have it. I’m excited by the prospect of having something more substantial than a short story out in the world, available to the masses. I’ve got a lot of work to do before it’s ready to launch, but the pieces seem to be falling into place. I have ideas for the cover, and a willing model to help me bring it to life, ideas about promotion and marketing – it really is exciting. I’ve made the decision to go e-book only, and realize I am thereby cutting out many friends and family who only do print books – but that’s a choice I can live with.

What about you? Ever thought of self pubbing? I am still going to try the traditional route with my next novel, but in the meantime, it’s really very exciting to be doing something towards getting my words in the hands of others.