life, writing

Sucker for punishment

WP_20140424_002All my life I’ve had the tendency to pile more on. Someone needs a hand with something? I’ll offer to help out. Friend is going through a rough patch? I’m there to prop them up. A job needs doing and no-one else will step up? Then I’m your gal.

A lot of people call me a sucker for punishment. I work hard. Once I commit to something I am all in. I keep going, keep trying, keep working until the job is done and my goal is achieved. Even when the odds are against me. Even when it stresses me out. Even if I chose the path under less than ideal circumstances.

I’m getting a little better at saying no, but I’ve come to realize that some of the things I have taken on that sounded like they were ‘too much’ are some of the best things I have done.

Like becoming a Brownies leader for my daughters unit. The thought petrified me. OMG 20 or so 7-9yr olds, all waiting for me to… do… stuff… Yeah. Sometimes I still feel really anxious about that. There is a lot of planning involved. Hours a week to get organized for the programme and then run it. Sometimes there is very little in the way of parent help. There are reports to write, and meetings to attend and stuff on the weekends at times – but you know what? It’s really rewarding. The week I realized that the girls actually LIKED me, and weren’t just going along with my plan because that’s what you do was seriously awesome. I’m so pleased that I put my hand up when no-one else would.

Other things have been becoming the Education officer at Playcentre – I got an immense sense of achievement by helping people get through their courses and at the time we finished up at the centre we had the highest level of education we’d had in over a decade. All down to me. I got to remember that actually, I’m a really organized person and can totally get stuff done – even when it scares me.

Tales for Canterbury is another one. I had young kids and very little experience, but did that stop me? Nope. I grabbed the bull by the horns and rode that thing all the way to the Sir Julius Vogel awards. I got the nerve up to email Neil Gaiman and ask for a story, and he actually said yes.

So there is something to be said for being stubborn. For tackling things you don’t think you have time or the skills for. For being a sucker for punishment. Sometimes the things that seem the hardest, or the scariest, are the most worth doing.


An abundance of M’s

Today I’ve been trawling through every file on my computer, Dropbox and Google drive in an attempt to find  something I started writing 3+ years ago. I remembered that it had been an attempt to write something with more of an ‘action’ feel to it, and that it began as an exercise in a creativity workshop thing I was doing just prior to Natalie’s birth – I’d been too tired, too scared, too anxious about trying to write something novel length since Lauren was born, and this particular piece, stemming from a dream I’d had, was a perfect way to cautiously approach a novel.

Of course, I never finished it, because life with a newborn, a 20 month, and a 5yr old is actually kind of insane.

But I thought about it today as I’m in a weird place in life right now – I have some spare time, but I have to start work on another assignment really soon, I have no pressing deadlines hanging over me (for uni, or anything else), and I want to write, but have nothing in progress as such. I’ve finished the drafts of three novellas this year, but I don’t have the time right now to revise any of those, and there isn’t much point in stressing myself out about that right now because I don’t plan on releasing those until late next year…

So naturally my brain went back to that other time when I was in limbo, waiting, and wanting something to play with. And this novel was the thing.

It has zombie babies, and regular zombies too. I’m on a bit of a kick right now and a friend recently said to me ‘you should write your own zombie novel’, so it was inevitable that my brain latched on that old idea.

I never titled this piece, and I couldn’t for the life of me remember the main characters names, so I went digging through every forgotten file, every ‘untitled’ document I could find.

And I didn’t find the story initially*. What I did find was that I have a ridiculous tendency to give my female leads names that begin with M. Overwhelmingly so. I had no idea!

Madea is the MC in Sun-Touched, and then we have Melanie from Surplus to Requirements, there is Melody in The Way the Sky Curves, and Moana in Shell and Bone. And then we have Meredith, Marama, Meagin, Megan, Marie, and Melissa from various short stories. And finally, Matilda in the Zombie Baby novel. Yes, I’m just going to call it the zombie baby novel for now. I literally have no idea where the story is going, though I’m sure I’ll have a blast finding out.

Not ALL my novels have M’s in the lead – Delaney is in charge in Saving Tomorrow**, and Lyssa is the female lead in Chasing Ascension… Gah! That might be it? Lord help me. I have an obsession with M names. Someone stage an intervention, right now. I’ll have to go out of my way to pick ANY other letter of the alphabet the next time I start a novel. Well, Samantha is the lead in my next novel, so at least she’ll kind of balance things out…

Save me?

Next time I start something new, I think I’ll put it to you to choose the letter the name begins with, because I need help. Obviously.

*I did find the first couple of chapters, thank goodness, but only because I’d emailed them to Anthony and I hadn’t deleted that email. I’m so pleased that my inbox seems to hold EVERYTHING from FOREVER ago. Apparently sending your stories to other people is the best back up method after all!

** It appears I might also have a thing for titles that begin with S…