We Are

We are friable creatures, our photographs disintegrate in hairline movements, our smiles fractured on the floor.

We are parallel lines, leaving notes as we pass: your cup in the sink, my coat on the bed, our backs facing each other in the night.

We are the closing doors on awkward gazes, behind which silence teems. We are the eye of the storm before words are unleashed and twisted and cannot be unspoken again.

We are stuck in a loop, on the road, driving towards bad news. We are tunnels bright with failure, dark with disappointment.

We are black holes engulfing energy and light and all things nice. We are daggers and dead space, assholes and misers. We are blank paper, empty rooms, dust collecting, collecting malignancy. We are letters and sentiments, platitudes, post-coital apologies, happier times, always right, always wrong, slowly becoming irrelevant.

We are love dancing along the precipice, flying, falling, hand-in-hand. And we know not. We know not how to stop.

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The Cottage

Here’s my little offering to The Drabble, a great site where you can read daily and/or submit 100-word stories.

THE COTTAGE

Welcome, neighbour, to these little woods, there’s nary a soul but you. You, and we sisters three. Here on your doorstep: some fruit and an invitation to tea. Come, yes, from our window we beckon, where the foxgloves blossom and apple tarts cool. Long in the tooth and long are our days, we long for your good company.

And when you come calling, do not mind no one’s home; it’s only been empty these past hundred years. Mind not the thriving decay or the hanging dead things, never mind our pretty illusion.

Do come in, dearie.

Sit down.

Stay.

Confessions of a wannabe novelist

What happens on a good writing day:

5am – Alarm rings. Wake up. Coffee.

5:30am – Turn on Freedom. Write.

7:30am – Household wakes. Spend time with the hubby and daughter.

1pm – Daughter’s naptime. Write.

3pm – Daughter wakes up. Spend time with family and continue with the rest of the day.

7:30-8pm – Daughter’s bedtime. Write. Finish a scene, makes notes for the next.

***

What typically happens on a writing day:

5am – Alarm rings. Snooze till 6am.

6am – Wake up. Coffee. Write. (check mail and facebook in between, just a bit)

7:30am – Household wakes. Family time.

1pm – Daughter’s naptime. Write. Hang on, need to research 19th century handcuffs. Ooh, need a slow cooker. Or let’s look at Apple Watch reviews.

3pm – Daughter wakes up. Continue with rest of the day.

7:30pm – Daughter’s bedtime. Attempt to write. Delete ‘the’, change ‘then’ for ‘however’. Fall asleep in front of computer. Ah fergeddit, Penny Dreadful is on. Join Hubby on the couch.

Don’t call it writer’s block. Call it a ‘plot block’…until proven otherwise.

I’m stuck.

I’ve been stuck since November last year. See, I’ve rewritten this one particular scene about 10 times, trying to find the angle that works. I don’t think I can even write the next scene until I’ve sorted it out.

I do plan the story a few chapters ahead, then wing it up to that point, and repeat etc. I like the spontaneity of that method but it often lands me in a few plot point conundrums.

So, when I’ve hit a wall in my WIP, I tend to do a number of things:

1) Don’t call it writer’s block. Call it a ‘plot block’. That way you can say the ideas are still there but you’re just unsure how to proceed (total genius, right?).

2) Stare at the screen/page until something comes out (again, genius).

3) Re-read and rewrite furiously, shit or gold it matters not. If you keep making stuff up, eventually something will make sense.

4) Stare out the window until something comes out.

5) Read a bad book and tell yourself you can write better than this.

6) Read a great book and tell yourself you suck big time but that you’ll keep trying.

7) Procrastination is as useful as intense concentration. Think endlessly about the plot circle of hell you’ve written yourself into, all while you’re supposed to be doing something else.

8) Go back to basics. Sometimes it doesn’t have to be as complicated as you think it should.

9) Keep a writing journal detailing your woes and despair, your lone insights and flashes of brilliance. It keeps the juices flowing and your journal won’t mind if you’re full of crap.

10) Allow yourself to daydream. It really is ok.

To be continued…

Kung fu fighting (and duct tape withstands the test of time)

I packed up my old room at Mum's house the other day and came across some little treasures of LOL - two 'novels' I'd written as a teen in the 90s. They were:

1) Printed from floppy disks

2) Bound with duct tape

One of them is about a masked, singing assassin. The other story is a mash-up/rip-off of The Net and The Bodyguard (the Jet Li version, which could possibly be a rip-off of the Kevin Costner one).

So I probably kinda had a predilection for techno thrillers and kung fu movies back then, and all the main characters in my stories knew kung fu. The heroines, especially.

I’d watch a movie, particularly if they were action, and sometimes get annoyed at the heroines. They always felt a little unsatisfactory. It was glaringly obvious: why the hell don’t they know kung fu?? And if they did know kung fu, why weren’t they the ones to save the day?

Sandra Bullock running from Jeremy Northam? Fix him with a crane kick. Kevin Costner not around? That’s ok, Whitney knows kung fu. James Bond can’t save tomorrow from a media mogul megalomaniac? Michelle Yeoh to the rescue.

Of course, time evolved and so did my ideas of female strength (and movie choices). I’ll tell my daughter that a girl can still kick ass and save the world and not have to know kung fu. Although nunchuck skills might come in handy…

Biting bullets and finding hearts

So I bit the bullet and enrolled in this writing course at the Australian Writers’ Centre. The last time I took a writing course was in 2005. I was working full-time and childless, and even then I didn’t/couldn’t finish it. I’d had 2-3 years to complete it and then Dad died in 2006. I lost the heart for any kind of writing then, and for a good couple of years more too. Ok, why now? I write in a vacuum. It keeps me focused. It helps capture the voice/s of the story, flaws and all. It’s also very unhealthy. Things get stale; you need outside influences to inflate or deflate the story. And though the first course wasn’t as interactive as I’d hoped, it greatly improved my writing by leaps and bounds. And why this one? Actually, it was their weekly podcast that kinda sold me. The hosts, Allison and Valerie are working writers and industry pros. These ladies walk the talk. Plus they’re entertaining. I’m a little nervous how I’ll manage for time and creativity this time round but lucky it’s just a five week course where I’ll be ‘forced’ to complete an assignment within a certain timeframe. And look, what have I got to lose really? Bit o’ blood, bit o’ heart, makes the story sweeter.

The lure of confessing into a void…

So in two years’ time, I might be out of a job. Major changes in my industry means my career may become redundant.

As the current sole breadwinner and with a preschool-aged child, this terrifies me. I’ve started looking at other avenues – study something else, start again in another area of my field. Either way, it involves having to start from the bottom up. It’s not the end of the world, but a part of me lamented: “I won’t have time for writing! I’ll never finish my novel!”

Then I had an epiphany. I thought: that’s bullshit, Karen. You never had time. You always have time. You have excuses, too. I’m too tired, I’m too busy. I’m always working. I have no space to write. There’s a show on telly. My dad died. I moved countries. I gave birth. I don’t feel the inspiration. I’m too tired. I’m too busy. Blah blah blah.

You never gain time as you get older; you gotta make it. I remember why I dreamed and wrote in the first place. I remember why I loved it so much. Somehow between that dream and now, I was worrying about having enough time more than how I was using it. Nothing puts things into focus more clearly than fear of losing.

So I’m gonna sit my ass down and write. Wake up at 5am on the weekend, write a bit after work, write in the car, on the toilet, in the dark – whatever, doesn’t matter. Just write. I don’t need to be published (although one can only hope 😀 ), I just want to finish something.

Losing my job still terrifies me and writing is hardly a safety net, certainly not enough to quit my day job. But I feel better for it. It keeps me sane and cheerful. It’s my own little slice of time.

There. Gauntlet thrown. Hit ‘OK’. The truth is out there now.