life, writing

Post study – update one

I’m about 10 days out of student life, and while things are looking good, there are certainly carryovers of study life that I am yet to shake.

Like, the horrible level of anxiety which crept up on me over the last few months. I think that this will start to dissipate once a few thing happen – namely, I have the results of my final assignments back and know 100% without a doubt that I’m done. And when I have Lauren’s home schooling approval sorted as well. Right now, both of those things are weighing on my mind an awful lot, to the point where some days it’s hard to get motivated to do anything outside of be here with my kids and facilitate their awesome learning experiences. I’m really enjoying just being with them and not thinking about the essay I should be working on.

However, I still feel like I should be working on an essay!!! This year was intense as I took on a halftime course load on top of life (which is always busy anyway). I have these little panic attacks where I’m sure I’ve forgotten something. I check frequently that I actually DID hand in those last assignments on time and that there aren’t any I somehow forgot about – I guess having that wrong final date in mine for the last one is probably to thank for this. Again, I hope this will be over once I have those final grades. It would be kind of awesome if I could get through a few days without having an anxiety/panic attack or freaking myself out.

I love the irony that I’ve got a Post Grad Diploma in Counselling but can’t seem to talk myself into feeling better about all of this. I know all the techniques, but it’s always harder to apply them to oneself šŸ˜‰

In more positive news, I managed to take that week off (mostly)! Afterwards, I realized I probably need more like a month, in a isolated cabin, where someone else is catering to my every need and I can just sleep 16 hours a day and read the rest. Unfortunately, that’s never going to happen, so I am going to have to try and take it easy on myself over the next wee while, and let myself take breaks when I need them. I’ve come to realize that I feel responsible for much more than I really am, and am working on stepping back and shaking loose some things I don’t need/want anymore.

And, finally, in some writing news, I am working on my final final final edit for In The Spirit!! This novella will be released on Dec 1st, and I’m thoroughly excited about it! I’ll share more in the near future, once I have my head around the whole thing šŸ™‚

I hope you guys are all doing well! Can you believe it’s November soon? I’m trying not to get panicky about that. It doesn’t take much right now though lol.

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Another Month Done

I am still getting my head around the fact that it’s March already. I always seem to forget that Feb is a short month – in any event, I managed to get through the revision of my novella, which was my primary goal. Yippee!

University has officially started for the year and I’m struggling to get my head back in the study game. The readings for the first two weeks are ridiculous (6 chapters of the text PLUS articles!) but thankfully it evens out a bit after that (1 chapter a week).

So, with that in mind, I’m taking the next week or so off from revision and am going to spend the time catching up on the other things that need my attention – I have books to read, stories to give feedback on, and study to do. My next major project is also revision (Sun-Touched, my darling, I’m finally getting back to you!) and I feel like it’s important to take a breather between projects. I’m hoping to write a new short story as well, which should be really fun.

Some of my writing buddies are reading my novella this month, so I’m feeling a little nervous and excited about hearing back from them. Feels like a while since I’ve had a critique done, but I guess you get that when you’re working on longer stories.

Right, that’s it for me for now! What have you got planned for March?

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Operation: Clear out the Kindle

My Kindle is dying. I hope it will be a slow death because I don’t want to replace it until we can get the new Kindle Paperwhite over here and who knows when that’s going to be. My current Kindle is not quite two years old, so I am sure it will hang in there for just a little longer.

Ivy was going to inherit it when I got a new one, but it has something loose that rattles around inside it, and now it’s doing random stuff like typing letters all over the page, or scrolling down when I’m not pressing any buttons, and sometimes it won’t turn on until I’ve tried three times. Hang in there, Kindle, hang in there.

The other reason I need it to last for just a little longer is that I have so many books on it and I can’t remember which ones were ones I really wanted to read, which were given to me, and which I just got because they were free. In response, I’ve slipped into mega reading mode, going through the books one at a time, giving them until around the 5% mark to see whether I want to continue reading them, and then deleting them either when I finish, or if I don’t want to read.

I’m also not going to buy any new books. Of course, it’s easier said that done. For instance, I saw a link to this Humble eBook Bundle that I simply couldn’t resist. Buy books for charity? I’m sold! I haven’t put them on my Kindle though, they are in a folder, and they can sit there and wait until I get a new e-reader.

So yes, that’s probably my reading taken care of for the rest of the year. I’m so looking forward to purging all this academic stuff from my head. Summer months are fabulous for just chilling out and forgetting about articles and assignments and theories and applications.

One more day until my essay is due. I should be done tonight, and then there are just a few little exercises to do and I am done. I can’t wait.

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and then I realized…

I spent all of the second to last weekend of July writing out the home schooling exemption forms for Ivy. There is a lot to put in them, and it came out to be five pages of single spaced information. Five pages!! I had no idea going into it, that it would be that long. And hopefully it’s enough. I’ve learned that it’s very common, in fact expected, that the Ministry of Education get back to you asking for more information, so we will just have to wait and see.

But that’s not what this post was meant to be about… It was meant to be about the fact that it took me an entire week to realize what this massive change meant for me.

And I’m not talking about the fact that I will have my three beautiful children home will me full time, or about the fact that I will be primarily responsible for my daughters education, or the extra work that will involve. I love all of those things. I am excited by each of them and I just know that Ivy is going to really thrive in the nurturing, supportive environment we have at home.

No, I’m talking about the fact that this means I will not be looking for a job in three years time when Natalie begins school. Because, she may not go to school. Lauren may not either, and though we’ll look at traditionally schooling again when Ivy hits intermediate age, there is every chance that all of our children will be home schooled for the foreseeable future.

I’m no longer on the path to a day job. Not in my immediate future (and yes sometimes 3yrs does feel like the immediate future). And that never even came into consideration when we made this decision.

And that’s not a bad thing.

I’ve always had it in my head that in order to not go back to full time work when Natalie started school, I needed to have a novel published or in the process of being published. So there was this self-imposed deadline on my writing career (not that I would ever stop writing, but that this was the time I had to really work at it, before I had to insert an evil-day-job into the mix), which has now been removed. And wow, that feels good!

I am still working towards publication, of course, but not having that deadline looming over me is really freeing. Which is funny, because I didn’t even realize it had been weighing me down to begin with. Now that it’s gone though… Yeah I can feel the difference.

In regards to my own studies, I am still going to finish my Post Grad Diploma. I was going to be doing that over three years anyway, and that’s still the plan. But it does probably mean I won’t be launching into my Master’s straight after. Which is okay, it means I have heaps of time to explore all my options and I’m really happy about that. I feel that we’re on the right track now, and that outweighs any concerns that might be hovering around.

When it comes down to it, this simply means that I don’t have to go and get a job just for money. I don’t want that. I want to be a writer, or a counsellor, preferably both. And I can do that now. There doesn’t have to be some intermediary job happening somewhere in between kids going to school and me being qualified. And that, my friends, is bloody marvelous!

I’m still laughing at myself that this wasn’t something that factored into my decision to home-school. But then, I guess that’s part of being a mother, right? You take your families needs into consideration ahead of your own – it’s just a bonus that in this case, it works out better for me too šŸ˜‰

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And then it was May

It was almost 9am this morning before I realized we’d entered a new month. A bright, shiny new month. I love those. Aren’t we lucky to have 12 of them every year?

I’m feeling a little silly this morning (in a good way). I have this huge smile on my face and I’m filled with zest for most things. For starters, April was actually pretty successful. I looked back on my first post of the month and checked in with what I wanted to get done. Despite my slackness, IĀ finished Sun-Touched, which was my primary objective!

I also planted a garden, made my new office space my home (my book shelf is where the TV was! yay!!!), purchased a second hand sewing machine (an old Singer, in a table – love it), day dreamed about upholstering my office chair, started writing my first essay for my Counselling paper, polished and submitted a short story, and many other things.

One of which was to enjoy the first beta weekend event for Guild Wars 2. I LOVED playing the game. I tried out a bunch of the classes, and all the races. I love it. LOVE it. Can’t wait until the game is actually released, and am very excited for the next beta weekend as well – hopefully the other two races will be playable!

I was meant to have the whole weekend off after finished Sun-Touched. And it was my intention to. Strangely, I really missed having a work in progress though. Missed having a novel to use as my home base. So really, it was just Friday that I took off. Saturday rolled around, I played in the beta, attended my writers chat in Google Hangouts, and um, opened all my documents relating to TCM.

For some reason, something this simple has really confirmed for me that I AM a writer, through and through. I could have spent all weekend delighting in GW2, but I spent quite a lot of time playing in my own world, tracing character arcs and solidifying plot lines. I love Mel, the main character, and I am loving figuring out how to make her story the best it can possibly be.

A week ago, I would have said to you that May would be the month I’d finally finish Sun-Touched. Get my essay completed and sent in, and then spend the rest of the month planning. I need to fully outline the novella that I’ll write next month, as well as finish off the planning for TCM.

Now that goal has shifted slightly. I still want to do all those things, but I also want to revise the first 10,000 words or so of TCM. (Funnily, that’s in line with my post from the first of April! – I’m amazed how sometimes things work out to plan, even when you think they can’t possibly). I don’t know if I can get it polished to submission standard by the end of the year, but I am certainly going to try.

What has May got in store for you??

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Admission time

I was going to have a great April. I was going to get SO much done. I was going to finish the first draft of Sun-Touched, among other things.

And all those high hopes went out the window, pretty quickly! It’s been a tough month, with many of my friends and loved ones having some pretty difficult times. I’ve had some difficulties as well, though I’m past those now, and trying to regulate things once again. School went back yesterday (YES!!) and so we can start to return to some kind of normal routine.

I have no idea why I told myself that this month was going to be a productive one. Two weeks of school holidays? Not a recipe for success when it comes to writing.

Anyway, I am forcing myself back on track. I’ve made a list of things that need doing and rather than dividing my time, I am focusing on one thing until it’s done, and working my way through. The last few days have felt reasonably good, and the list is getting smaller. Saturday was AMAZING, because I managed to tick off a whole bunch of things. Now if only I could get another day or two like that before the weekend…

I say before the weekend, because it’s the very first Beta Weekend Event for Guild Wars 2, which I pre-purchased mid last week. *shakes with excitement* I’ve been waiting a long time for GW2, and this will be my first taste. I can’t wait.

But, I need to have some more done before I can play. Namely the completion and submission of a short story (Longing), and the first draft of my assignment for my counselling paper.

Sun-Touched may have to wait, though I would like to crack the 70K mark before the beta opens. I no longer think it will be done this month, but I am looking forward to writing the ending once these other little tasks are ticked off my list.

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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 šŸ˜‰

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!

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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!!

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Mmmmmm intellectual goodness

I’m not sure I’ve mentioned it here yet, but a few weeks ago I made the decision to enrol at University next year. I guess it’s a re-enrol, seeing as I have my BA already. Anyways, last week I was accepted onto the Post Graduate Diploma in Education (Guidance and Counselling), and the very third thing I did (after squealing with excitement and then emailing hubby/texting my study geek friends) was hit the online bookstores to locate the text book.

I couldn’t find it in the uni book store! How odd is that? Anyway, I did find it at Amazon and the book depository, but I thought I’d hit up the local trade site – and I found it for a mere $20. SCORE. It arrived today and there was more squealing to be heard.

*the crumpled corner was Natalie’s doing – I can see I am going to have to hide it from her! It’s obviously far too interesting.

I have to say that I was a little by how dense this book is though – seriously, it looks fine from above, but look at this:

Almost 800 pages of text. It stumped me for a moment. I mean, since getting my Kindle in January I’ve not read a single paper book. I’ve not taken notice of the number of pages, nor has the size of them crossed my mind. This is one solid book. Requiring a flat surface to read upon, most likely.

Of course, that doesn’t bother me at all – but it’s certainly going to be interesting getting stuck into a text book again. It’s been almost four years since I finished my degree. I’m hoping that having the distinction of paper = study and kindle = pleasure will mean I can still read a fair few fiction books next year šŸ˜‰

I am SO excited! SOOOOOO excited. I hope to have read the entire thing by the time my paper starts at the end of February. I can’t wait to use my brain again in an academic way.

The best thing is that I can study at home. I’m doing one paper next year, one in 2013, and the final two in 2014 by which time Lauren will be at school and Natalie will be in Kindy. The timing is perfect, and I’m thrilled to embrace this other side of me.

By no means am I quitting writing – I’m still going to make sure I set aside time for that – but I’m excited that by the time my girls are all in school, I’ll have a career and be able to bring some money into the family. Doing something I love.

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Thoughts on what comes next

The other day I was around at my Mum’s, and broached the topic of future career. I said, ‘I think I know what I’m going to do for a career.’

She looked at me and said something along the lines of, ‘I thought you were writing?’

It’s a pretty validating thing when your mother thinks that your writing is good enough that it can be the thing you do for a career, or at least, that she has enough faith in you to think that you could just write and make enough money off it.

The reality is that we don’t NEED an extra income, though a supplementary one would be VERY welcome. If I coud make money off writing in the next couple of years I possibly wouldn’t bother pursuing a second career choice. But as we all know so well, there are no guarantee’s in the writing industry, so it pays to have a back up plan!

Mine is to become a counsellor. I’m giving myself (and the girls) next year off so that a) I can have a year of just writing and being a mum – no pregnancy, wedding, study or anything else going on, b) have lots of time to transition Ivy into school and make sure she’s getting a good start there and c) hang out with Lauren and give her lots of time and attention and d) it’ll be my best shot at finally getting some of my novels ready for submission and working on getting published.

I’ll be looking around for some volunteer work to do though, probably with Lifeline or a similar group because I need some formal experience in a ‘helping people type work’ in order to get into the course – which I will be studying part time extramurally over three years so that I can max out my Mum time with the girls.

If I had that experience I’d go ahead and apply this year, but I don’t, and the interviews are in 3 months which isn’t enough time for me to get my stuff together I don’t think.

It’s both scary and exciting to think about studying again. I love learning new things, flexing my brain and all that. But at the same time I now have two kids to juggle instead of just the one, so it’ll be handy that Ivy will be in school I think.

Part of me wants to do it all now, but I think that having the extra time will mean I’m more balanced and really ready to do it all, and do it well. I dislike putting things on hold, but in this case, it’ll be the best thing I can do for our family (I think!).