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Writing For Me

My last post I shared my new writing endeavour with Vocal and I want to continue on that.

I am finding this venture fun, also good for my writing ego because even though it isn’t a lot of money, I can see the reads and get paid as I go along. Paid not just for reads, but for engagement with others and posting.

Sure, I can’t deny it was the big payday that encouraged me to get involved and that didn’t happen, not surprising for a number of reasons. I have found over the years that my writing style isn’t necessarily the sort that wins competitions. This isn’t news to me, I’ve submitted to a bunch of comps over the years because there is an element of accomplishment and well of course acceptance that comes with such results, and I’ve never come anywhere.

Well except for the big one when I made the first cut for a novel comp. It was enough to give me the strength to keep going. Then of course I don’t really know how to stop. I feel all out of sorts if I don’t write.

Anyway moving on.

I’ve since published three fantasy novels check the first one out here, and feel free to buy the rest as well.

And a convention stories memoir of sorts here.

I am currently working on book two of my second series as book one sits in competition limbo. Meanwhile just to break things up I’ve found Vocal. It’s random competitions as writing prompts and the community make it a wonderful little side track for me. I am thoroughly enjoying it.

Of course I really wish I could get the thousands of reads others are getting and truth be told I have no real idea how to do that, but I’m still enjoying it. For me it has become something of a palate cleanser. I have my big projects but to clear my head on days I work or when I only have a little time, these projects are perfect, and it gave me the chance to write a legacy piece for my mother.

I tried other platforms but nothing seemed to really work. There were different reasons why, some offered just a place to put your work with limited engagement chances and certainly no financial incentive, others just aren’t the right sort of design for an author, works for other creatives just not so much for writers.

So I have found Vocal. It doesn’t mean I’m about to stop my other projects, especially being as I’m about to be on leave from work for a month, but I’m going to keep adding Vocal stuff to my writing regime. So far I’ve written short stories that are deep, thought provoking, some non-fiction topics and even stories that are hopefully entertaining. If you didn’t click the link at the top and would like to check my stuff out, do it here. If you like anything you read, heart it and I won’t say no to anyone who wants to tip me either.

Peace out and for all you writers, may the words keep flowing.

Writing For Me

So I wrote a short story to enter a competition and it got me onto a new platform. I’m enjoying it. I’ve even been paid a little. So this is my post that is going to have links to three of my short stories.

https://vocal.media/stories/old-friends-m4wt1m0drs

https://vocal.media/stories/four-point-two-kilometres

https://vocal.media/stories/finding-each-other-again

I have also added a poem and have another piece ready to go.

Please read, because any read adds to my tiny income.

What the…?

I could have sworn it wasn’t two months since I’d written here. Apparently I was wrong.

Still I have been very busy creatively, writing and writing whenever I get the chance. I finished the novel I wrote for NaNo, edited it and submitted it for a competition. I really wasn’t sure I would hit the deadline. But I did.

As far as work goes, I had been acting in a more senior position and so many people wanted me to apply for the job permanently, even my boss, thing is the flexibility of my normal job, and the less stress are so much better for me, especially as I have decided that this year my focus is on the creative.

To that end not only have I stepped back at work, but I have also started auditioning again. Like I said, focus on the creative.

So where am I writing wise, well one novel is in competition limbo, the short stories need their read aloud edit then they will be almost ready for publication, and I’ve started the second book in the new series.

And

I’ve decided that I will put some of my short stories and poetry out there. I would love for people to read and share the with other readers so please follow the link to my new Vocal Media account. My goal is to post at least a piece a week. It’s one way for me to hopefully widen my fan base.

And Then

So I was hoping to have finished the read aloud edit of my short stories by now but it wasn’t to be. It seems that sometimes life likes to throw us curveballs. In my case it has been a family emergency. the details aren’t necessary, needless to say my focus has been elsewhere.

Still I’ve at least been able to start transcribing the NaNo draft to my computer and it is currently sitting at over 50000 words. It looks as though next year may be a year for two releases, even though I got none out this year.

And what a year it has been.

I was in the fortunate position that nothing about my job changed. I work in an industry that has to just keep going despite things such as pandemics. In that respect I have been thankful. Though to be completely honest when I am making enough money from my writing I will absolutely quit.

Still on the topic of work, I have spent most of my year acting in a more senior position and I recently made the decision to step away from that, now I have the choice. So many people don’t understand my decision. Here it is summed up in a question a good friend asked, ‘do I want a job or a career?’ The answer is a job, see the point about me walking away.

When I am in my regular job my work/life balance is better. I have less stress. It is easier for me to focus on writing and other creative pursuits and it is those things that feed my soul. Work is a job. It is something I do and I’ve proven I can to the senior position I just don’t need it.

It seems to me that some people out there are driven by their job title, they have to have a certain standing and will do anything to get it even if they really aren’t qualified. You know what? Good luck to you. Just don’t think a title gets you respect, but I hope it makes you happy. I would prefer to be doing the things that make me happy and we all know what that is.

Thing is I would have thought this year would have been the year that made people realise the value of the things that truly give your life meaning and bring happiness to it.

As we step into a new year and people do what they do at this time, don’t lose hold of what you gained having made it through 2020.

I understand there are probably some who say I can’t possibly understand not having lost my job. And that part it true. And admittedly the social restrictions didn’t effect me a lot as I’m not a very social creature. That doesn’t mean 2020 didn’t have it’s problems for me.

2020 reinforced to me that friends and family are a core requirement in my life. It showed me how valuable my creative side is to me. It pushed my budgeting skills and laid me on my face before God on more than one occasion.

We have two options I think, stepping out this other side into 2021. We can pretend things can go back to normal (whatever that is) and we have learnt nothing, or we can learn – see how in some places the earth healed as certain industries were shut down, see how deeper connections are what get us through because they hold the most meaning, we can remember to tell those we care about how much they mean more regularly because we sometimes don’t know when/if we will be able to see them again.

It would be good if we could see the interconnectedness of our actions, but it seems for some that may not be a thing. There will perhaps always be those who are more concerned with their own selfish desires than the bigger picture.

I hope for most of us at least we have learnt more about ourselves this year and what things matter to us. Stepping forward these are the things we need to hold on to the tightest.

As for me I will hold my family tight, continue with my writing and invest time in those friends who hold a place in my heart.

Bring on 2021. I have more things I need to accomplish.

NaNo Victory

I did it. I hit the 50 000 words.

So now I have a completed set of short stories that I am doing my last edit on before I give to a beta reader and read aloud to my hubby (it has proven to be a very useful form of editing and he had dyslexia so reading isn’t his thing).

I also have the first draft of the first book of my new series, which I’m thrilled to have written. It was a book I had started but gotten stuck on and had my breakthrough when I figured out what rewrite I needed to do. And it worked and I am really happy with the way it is beginning to form. Beginning because first draft is always very rough and unformed.

Then today just when I was getting ready to get stuck into editing mode and type my new book into a document, yes I write my first drafts by hand, I find it a better creative process for me, I new idea came and I got roughly 2000 words down for that.

All in all I have to say that creatively my leave time from work has been very productive.

NaNoWriMo

So it is November, which for many in the writing community means NaNoWriMo, or national novel writing month. It is, for the uninitiated, 30 days writing with the goal of hitting a word target of 50 000.

I have done NaNo before, years ago. This year as I am conveniently on leave, I have decided to sort of participate. I don’t have a new project to work on but I do have three ongoing ones and so one of those is what I have chosen to work on.

At first I was going to edit the selection of short stories which will be my fifth book and then I was going to chug along adding the hopefully 50 000 words to the next book set in that world.

Then as is the way of things, the muse spoke differently. There was this other project that I had started it had been chugging along and then it stopped, there was an issue with my main character that I wasn’t sure how to figure out.

Coming into NaNo my hubby helped me figure it out, it’s nice to have someone to bounce ideas off.

Much to my delight my Kat has started to just leap off the page and as I write it feels so good. The story feels so right and I’m not sure that makes sense to someone who isn’t creative, but that is how it is.

So I am pottering along with this project, and if it keeps working then I will be close to a final draft by the time this month is over and I have to go back to my day job.

It hasn’t all been easy because there have been those dark days where I just struggle to focus, but I learnt years ago that sometimes the best thing to do in those moments is to write anyway, even if it is just a few sentences. I treat writing like a job on those days, something I have to do. Mostly I do this because if I don’t so something creative it becomes increasingly harder for me to move forward on those days where it feels like I’m slogging through a swampy bog.

Moving Forward

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For most people this year has been one full of changes and unexpected pains. Whilst COVID did very little to effect most of the areas of my life it has without question changed things in the bigger picture.

However I am not going to talk about that.

I am going to talk about the fact that life goes on and in amongst all the difficulties this year has presented us, sometimes normal life just likes to throw us the shittiest of curveballs.

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Now my job is a tough one and one I don’t talk about all that often, certainly not in specifics. This year I changed work locations, I needed to. Thing is I was worried about the move because change isn’t always comfortable. I have settled in, I think but it hasn’t been smooth sailing.

The new people I work with have been welcoming and truthfully as adults we know that we are not going to get along with everyone we work with. Which makes this place like any other place I have ever worked.

What was different, was I was thrust into a more senior position because they needed people to fill them. Very few people actually wanted to fill those roles during a period of transition because transition is difficult. However I did step up and at times felt like I was barely keeping my head above water for reasons I cannot go into.

Then I started to feel as though I was more than competently doing the job. If my line manager wanted something done he would come to me. I have been told repeatedly that I was doing a great job.

Into this mix throw a critical situation that I would have preferred not to have had to deal with but I did and it’s part of the job. I got nothing but compliments for that too.

But…

The transition period is coming to an end, and now other people want that permanent position. And it turns out that I’m not so good on paper saying look at me I’m great, give me the job. I truly feel that my ability to do the job should speak for itself. Even though really I should know better because I’ve seen this promotion process repeatedly promote people that make no sense to me.

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It was crushing. Particularly seeing as some of those who applied … oh it doesn’t matter.

Back to being crushed. People have said several times, words to the effect of  ‘but I thought you were a definite’, as if that was supposed to make me feel better. It doesn’t because now they are saying how can the writer write a bad Expression of Interest application. Crushing blow number two. So not only am I shit at my job I am also a shitty writer.

What do I do?

Well I fantasised about pitching a fit and telling them to shove it, to which my hubby looked at me, basically shook his head, asked if I felt better getting it out of my system, then asked what I was really going to do.

I love him, he keeps me grounded and focused.

So what am I going to do?

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I am going to do what I always do. Pick myself up. Look at what matters. Remind myself that it is a job that pays my bills and like most employers I am just a person who gets the job done, I am no more important, or less important, than anyone else.

Then I am going to focus on the things that make me happy; family, and the creative life. Oh and axe throwing, I do like axe throwing.

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See because life is full of these moments for most of us. And it is how we face it, pick ourselves back up and move on that matters. I will say my piece because going quietly into the night isn’t my style, and I will remind myself that if I actually had a choice in it all, my job of preference would be writing – fiction.

And maybe I need to remember a little of those writing skills when I write my next application.

I don’t give up in other areas of my life, (I still haven’t made my millions from my books, though I’m still holding onto that dream), so I won’t give up now. And I’m not the only person in life to be passed over for a promotion. In life we face the storms, buckle down and get on with things, knowing that tomorrow is another day.

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Oh my goodness, apparently Hamilton isn’t historically accurate (you mean Jefferson didn’t sing and dance that way, or was it that he wasn’t black?) and these historical figures should be blackballed (can I even call it that anymore?) from history because they owned slaves, lived and worked within a culture that owned slaves, and so therefore all the good stuff they did should be negated.
Please people think for a minute.
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Firstly – Hamilton is a musical people and an entertaining one, yes it is loosely based on history but the format itself should indicate that liberties have been taken with the story.
Secondly – I’m pretty sure that is it super difficult to portray all the complexities of people in two and a half hours (even my daughter got that Hamilton himself was a bit of a douche). People are often a mix of light and dark (and I’m not talking about skin colour).
Thirdly – and I’m just going to say this, I read and watch fiction stuff because life plain stinks sometimes – but we are getting to the point where if you haven’t lived it, you can’t say anything about it, and that attitude is simply stifling. I have never been a mercenary queen and part dragon (not for lack of wishful thinking) but that is what I’ve written about. Does all this new ‘wokeness’ of people mean I can only write about what I’ve lived, which while funny at times and traumatic at others, will actually cost me my job because I’m not allowed to do that.
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Yes I get slavery was wrong, and traumatic on a level I will never understand, but should we not be happy with the fact we think this way now? Should we not look at how far we have come, and set up markers further down the road as sign posts for all the things we still need to change? And whilst on the subject of slavery, you are aware that it is still huge business right? Just thought I should throw that in there.
The arts have a place in our society but so many people seem so concerned with what can and what cannot be said anymore that we are in danger of stifling deep and progressive conversations. It seems scarily like we are walking down a road where opinions are going to be things you can not have in public.
Is slavery bad? Yes, people shouldn’t own other people.
Is being vegan right? Not for me, I like meat, but if that is what you want in your life go for it.
Do black lives matter? Yes.
Are there issues within judicial systems? Yes.
Are there bad cops? Yes.
Are all cops bad? No.
Are the problems only within those systems? No.
Are there bad black/white/and every other colour people? Yes
Are all ‘whatever colour’ people bad? No.
Will cancelling a musical change the intellectual landscape and make us better people? I don’t really see how.
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Let us instead continue to have open dialogue, let us look at systems that need changing and how we can change them. Let’s stop stifling creativity, let’s stop telling authors what they can’t write. And yes I know that statement means racist, sexist, and other ‘ist’ arseholes are going to keep spouting crap, but they do that anyway and it doesn’t mean I have to give it any attention, credit it with any value.
We are never all going to think the same, and diversity has value. How can we use this moment in time to keep the conversation going forward? We cannot wipe out our past and in trying to do so we may forget some very valuable lessons. The past can teach us, but we don’t need to dwell there.
And I don’t think demanding the creator of the musical give every penny he has made from it to some charity is a fair expectation. He created something entertaining and educational (I went and read about both Alexander and Elizabeth and learnt stuff) and that isn’t that easy to do, if it was everyone would do it. No creator is perfect but why should they be? How much less joy and beauty would be in our world if we crushed the creative spirit out of everything?
Yes the world needs to change, but we have been changing, it’s just that some are are only now realising how far left we have to go.

Keep On Keeping On

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I’m not very good at stopping and doing nothing. Part of me wishes I was. I didn’t even watch two and a half hours of shows today before I switched the tv off having had the constant feeling that I should be doing something else.

Reading is the closest thing I get to a day doing nothing and yet I can’t remember the last time I even let myself do that for a whole day without picking up a pen or filming something.

I actually like the creative part of my life, it focusses and energises me. Whilst I was on leave it was all pretty great. I was producing heaps and my life felt balanced. I was in a zone.

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Then though I had to go back to work.

It is a new work environment, and whilst most of the people there are great some aspects of it all are less than ideal, making what is already a stressful work environment even more so.

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I have found myself saying more and more often that I don’t give a crap. Last night my hubby told me that I had said it so much that it was beginning to worry about me because that kind of sentiment is just not me.

There are of course plenty of things I do still care about, but I have started to use that phrase as a way to distance myself from things. I am an over thinker and certain things eat away at me, even when they are not of my doing. Right now I don’t have the energy to deal with all those things and I think part of me hopes that if I repeat this sentiment over and over often enough I will stop feeling so much about the things I have no control over.

Problem though is if I start down this path am I going to be able to stop it? Because I never want to be a person with a hard heart that no longer cares for anything. I don’t want these frustrations I’m dealing with to poison my life.

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So I need to find a better way going forward.

Usually one of my best coping mechanisms is being creative but even that has changed.

My focus at the moment isn’t a world I’ve made up but a project called RAW, Rough Authentic Worship, and I’m really enjoying it, mostly. I don’t think my faith, for all my obvious and not so obvious flaws, has even been stronger. I am also really enjoying working with my husband. It definitely contributes to helping me maintain.

Thing is though when I went back to work, not only did my stress levels increase, the hours I got to be creative decreased. It was like a double whammy and we are still trying to find a new rhythm.

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Then in amongst all that is the doubt and second guessing of myself that is harder to block out when my reserves are as low as mine are now. There is that voice that is telling me to give up RAW because it is a project designed for interaction – to reach out to others, and that side of it seems like a failure, (even though I know these things take time).

Admittedly the feeling of failure is a struggle I have gone through before. Lots of people say positive supportive things but few give action to platitude. Sometimes words are the perfect solution and sometimes they are not.

The difference between RAW and writing a book only a few people read is that RAW is put together with an outward focus and fiction is simply a story I want to tell (and then if someone likes it all the better).

So how do I, in the midst of all this change, when my  feelings are so close to the surface all the time because I don’t have the energy to monitor them especially when I am safe at home, keep hold of my peace and keep moving forward?

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I don’t really have the answer to that yet. Like usual I am a work in progress. I am trying to shift my RAW focus – to be grateful for the things I am learning, the skills I am developing.

I am trying to stop the work issues from encroaching on the time I am not at work – finding ways to deliberately distract myself to stop over thinking.

Also I am trying to again find some form of balance. Trying to tell myself again that it is okay to do nothing, as well as getting in time reading just for enjoyment not research and maybe dipping my toes back into fiction as well.

Hopefully one day I will figure it out.

If you are interested in my faith journey you can always check out our Patreon site : https://www.patreon.com/roughauthenticworship

 

 

 

 

A Wonderful Woman

I saw a meme the other day that said ‘ask a man in your life to name a woman they admire and why’.  Well tonight I realised something about a very special woman in my life.

And no it isn’t my mother. Don’t get me wrong she was an amazing lady and I miss her so very much. In fact there are still days I sit and cry as I think on all the things she has missed out on, that my girls missed out on. Oh and as my husband reminded me, it had to be someone you’re not related to.

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But I digress.

Yesterday I had a very, incredibly average day at work. I was involved in something and me being me, I couldn’t stop overthinking about it.

When I finally got home, I still felt very unsettled and, if I’m to be honest – a little sick to my stomach.

See I find myself in a transition state where I am stepping into not only a new location but a new role, and everyone is telling me I’ve got this.

I’ve figured out something about myself, and that is I don’t really know how to back myself.

Again though I digress.

A woman whom I admire and why.

See I think it is important not just for men to acknowledge women they admire, but also for other women to lift up the women who mean something to us.

So here it is. Barbara Richardson – as she was when I met her.

She is amazing.

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What is my connection to her? She was my boss. But my husband pointed out tonight that I now consider her, in some way family.

I met Barbara when I was at a total quandary in my life. I had gone to the UK on a one way ticket, only to find the job I had, ripped away from me. Long story short, this wonderful lady ended up becoming my boss. I became her au pair. That is fancy speak for saying I was her nanny amongst other things.

This lady amazed me in more ways than I can say, and though I signed no confidentiality agreement, you really don’t need to know the details. Suffice to say there was something about her.

For no apparent reason that I really understand, this wonderful woman always encouraged and supported me. For example whilst other au pairs were run off their feet, she allowed me to follow my theatrical passion amongst other things. She also never, for reasons that even when I look back on our relationship make little sense, treated me as anything less than equal.

To the point then.

Last night, after this less than average day at work, I come home to find a comment on a FB post I had made. I had written about getting used to people looking at me as if I know the answer. Her response was, “Of course you know the answer! Why change the habit of a lifetime?”

For some reason that broke me, but not in a bad way. It was such unconditional support of who I am, that it floored me. I was her nanny for crying out loud, yet she has never been anything but super supportive.

In her life she had been incredibly successful in her chosen field, as well as a wonderful single mother. Somewhere in there she found the space to support and encourage a young woman in ways that still befuddle me.

It is many years later and her lovely son is grown, but we have stayed in touch.

However, I love her, she will always have a special place in my heart and I really felt that she should be acknowledged for the incredible lady she is.

And mostly I just wanted to thank her publicly for being one of the best people to ever have in your corner. The fact she is in mine is just amazing.

Thank you Barbara.