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It’s Here!

14 Oct

Current Status: Migraine-y

Food Consumed: My nerves

On The iPod: Page One; Katie Noonan & The Captain

Word Count: Lots of (longhand) pages!

Remember a while back I told you I’d won a place in a writing retreat? Well, the weekend of the retreat is finally here, and I’m a bundle of nervous energy.

My weekend of intensive writing starts tonight: the meet-and-greet retreat dinner. I’ve never been too good at dealing with meeting new people (hence part of the nervous energy), and I’ll be on my own, too, as opposed to being with my husband, who is only slightly better at meeting strangers than I am. If you’re anything like me – shy, awkward, doesn’t like public speaking or public scrutiny – then you’ll understand my trepidation.

I also get my manuscript report this evening – this is where most of the nervous bundle of energy comes in! I’m trying to prepare myself for the worst – that my novel is a big ol’ mess and is beyond repair – but there’s still a little voice in the back of my mind (or heart) that loves my novel so dearly that I can’t even begin to fathom why someone else can’t love it the same as me.

I have this sinking feeling that the night may end in tears: my tears.

I’ll let you know…

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Literary Censorship: On a Soapbox

23 Sep

This post has been brewing in me for a while. I didn’t want to write it angry, because then I tend to yell and come across as this crazy person who stands on her soapbox and shouts to force others to listen – anyway. So I waited until I was calmer, until I could get my point across clearly and without too much finger-pointing.

I should start by saying that this post isn’t about Ellen Hopkins at all, though it was the censorship of her books that spurred this post.

Ellen is a great advocate for YA literature that is a little left-of-centre, a little out-of-the-box, and since that’s where my literary interest lies, I have great respect for her as an author. I will admit that her books aren’t for everyone: they deal with very sensitive issues, and I get why some people are offended by them, why they don’t want their children to read these novels, why they think these books shouldn’t be available for just anyone on the shelves – I get it.

But this post isn’t about Ellen or her books (which, for the record, I adore). It’s about the censorship.

I’m going to use an analogy here. I’m going to use Vampire Diaries because, quite frankly, I’m obsessed with the show, and want any excuse to talk about it. Here in Australia, Vampire Diaries occupies an 8:30pm time slot. Back when I was a young teen, I was in bed by then. Most teens these days, however, are not, so they can access shows like Vampire Diaries (and other perhaps more risque shows that are on in a similar time slot), with sex and violence and issues that the younger end of the YA scale shouldn’t necessarily be subjected to. Yet we let our children watch shows with sex and violence and adult-type issues and we don’t really bat an eyelid about it.

Enter the controversial YA novel. It has sex. It has violence. It has issues that we perhaps don’t want our young teens to read about – drugs, alcohol abuse, sexual abuse – the list is endless. They’ve seen all this stuff with their own eyes in movies and on television shows. It looks real. They’re accustomed to it. Yet reading a novel with all this stuff they’ve already been exposed to in it is suddenly not acceptable.

We don’t want our kids to read books that explore the darker side of teen life; of life in general.

We don’t want our kids to be able to hire these books from a library.

We want to ban these books in case someone else’s child reads them and corrupts our children.

If you don’t want your child to read certain things, that’s fine – I understand. We’re all different and we’re all raising our children differently. I don’t hold you not wanting your child to read Ellen’s books – or books of a similar nature – against you. I really don’t. But don’t stop everyone else’s child from reading these “controversial” books just because you’ve decided your child can’t. That’s all I’m saying.

I know I’m probably not making my point very eloquently – forgive me. But I hope, in all of that rambling mess, you were able to see where I was coming from. Because it isn’t about Ellen’s books at all. It’s about the double-standard in the industry, and the cruel message that we’re sending to our authors: that’s it’s not okay to write these types of books, to write from the heart. That it’s not okay to write something that doesn’t have a happy ending or teaches teens that the world can be a dark place.

That it’s not okay to put a piece of our soul on a page – unless it’s a socially-accepted piece of our soul.

I Come Bearing Good News!

15 Sep

I got the news in the BP service station outside Caboolture. I was on my way to Brisbane for the writer’s festival, and it was the first time I’d had phone service since I’d left home.

I didn’t expect to get a place – in fact, I was so sure that I had no chance of winning that when the email came through – “delighted to let you know you have been accepted” – I was struck mute for at least a few minutes.

I had just won myself a place in a mentoring writer’s retreat.

I’ve wanted to tell you all this for a while now (I found out a couple of weeks ago), but I didn’t quite know how to put it into words before. I’m still not sure I’ve done the news justice. Sure, to some out there this may seem a bit like overkill: to get so excited over something that, when compared to a publishing contract or something of similar magnitude, is quite small. But to someone like me, someone who has previously been too afraid to even put my work out there for critique, someone who has been knocked back with short stories and poems, someone who has felt the lowest of writing lows (and more than once), someone who has doubted her skills almost at every turn, well, this is huge and exciting and I still can’t believe this happened to me. Is happening to me.

My completed novel, “Times of Bright” is already with the author who will be conducting the retreat in a month’s time. During the three days she will provide me with feedback on my strengths and weaknesses as a writer, in order to help me polish the manuscript into something I can then send away to agents and publishers for consideration.

I envisage many rewrites in my not-too-distant future, but that’s okay, because I’m on the track to publication now. And I can only go forward from here.

Twenty-Five Things You May Not Know About Me

15 Aug

I’m following YA author and fellow blogger, Steph Bowe’s lead, and revealing twenty-five random, uninteresting, highly personal things about myself (though maybe not in that order).

Note: This is not me (but I do love to play in the woods, & I am 25)

1. I’m kind of an animal person. I have two cats and two dogs, and would have more of both if it was legal (and if money grew on trees, because feeding them… yeah, I’m sure you get the idea).

2. I write about scary, end-of-everything, apocalyptic-type things, but in real life I hardly ever think or even worry about such things. I know, weird.

3. I love indie films. I never used to, but now I do. So much.

4. To me, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is pretty much the be all and end all of understated sexiness. (And if you don’t know who he is – how dare you!!! (Kidding, but seriously, immerse yourself in this dude, cos he’s all kinds of awesome!)).

5. I’m really, really shy. My online persona is kinda outgoing, because really, I can talk to y’all without having to face you. But put me in a room with a bunch of you and I’ll probably giggle awkwardly and then face the wall. It’s not because I don’t want to talk to you or get to know you, it’s because I’m just really, really, really shy.

6. I’m deathly afraid of water, yet I just bought a kayak and can’t wait to get out amongst the waves. (I’m full of contradictions, huh?)

7. If I was born a boy my name would be Bart. I think that’s pretty cool.

8. I am the most unromantic person on the face of the earth. I don’t do anniversaries – I can’t even remember them to start off with – and refuse to celebrate Valentine’s Day, because it’s really nothing more than a greeting card-created holiday that doesn’t so much say “I Love You” as “I’m A Commercial Hack.” (See, unromantic, and possibly a little bitchy. Don’t hold it against me).

9. Part of me wants to pull a Chris McCandless and just give away everything I own and run away to the wilds of Alaska. The materialistic part of me, however, is now hugging her vintage dresses to her chest and screaming “NOOO!” like Darth Vader in Return of the Sith.

10. I have the most understanding, house-broken husband in the world!

11. I love Tasmania. I love the land and the people and the lifestyle and the climate – I love it all. And I want to live there.

12. I will never be a neo luddite. I love my technology too much.

13. I suffer from an incurable disease. I don’t talk about it much (it’s kind of a sore point with me). But that’s okay. We all have something difficult and a little embarrassing that we keep close to our chests.

14. When I was in high school I was determined to be a doctor. That was until I figured out my phobia of blood and guts and the like really was a phobia, and I wasn’t getting over it in a hurry.

15. I don’t like change. At all. It freaks me out.

16. I am beyond lazy. I’m also really messy. It’s not a good combination.

17. If I could eat whatever I wanted without putting on an ounce of weight, I would eat caramel fudge, strawberry freddos, feta cheese, salami, sour dough bread and vanilla slices every day. (If only, huh?)

18. I buy the newspaper but I never read it. Mostly I just look at the pictures and check the classifieds for death notices. Morbid, right?

19. I collect notebooks with pretty covers. I also collect pretty floral dresses made from vintage fabric, hippy headbands, Barbies, dvds, and ballerina flats in vibrant colours.

20. When I was a child, I was a girly-girl who played with dolls and wore jeans everywhere. Now I’m an adult, I’m a tomboy who likes camping, hiking, and fishing and I wear pretty, flowery dresses. Go figure.

21. I have attitude. I live by the “treat-others-the-way-you-wish-to-be-treated” rule, but there are times when my “inner bitch” comes out and I can’t help it. I blame the Irish blood running through my veins.

22. Despite the saying, I’m still unsure as to whether or not school really was the best years of my life.

23. When I was a child, I once tried to make a battery-powered night light work by plugging it into an electrical outlet (don’t ask why). Needless to say, it wasn’t very healthy after that, and I hid its smoking remains at the bottom of my clothes cupboard (thankfully, the house didn’t burn down).

24. I can’t watch the following movies without crying: Finding Nemo, Up!, Bright Star, Pride & Prejudice (Elizabeth & Darcy hooking up just gets me every time!), Wall-E, and Toy Story 3.

25. I’m having a competition on my blog soon. It’s only something small (as I’m a poor, struggling writer without a contract), but I want to reward my loyal followers all the same, so yeah. Stay tuned, folks!

Phew! I’m kind of glad I’m not any older than I am, because I was running out of interesting things to say!

If you’re into telling a bunch of faceless strangers a whole heap of kooky stuff about yourself, feel free to blog and leave a link to it in the comments so I can read, and hopefully not feel as embarrassed about all the crazy stuff I just posted for the world to see. Obviously if you do, you’d write x-amount-of-things about yourself depending on your age (so if you’re 20+, that’s a whole lotta nitty gritty writing!)

With a Fresh Start Comes New Goals

12 Jul

Current Status: Wrecked. Flat. Too exhausted for words.

Food Consumed: Nadda. Nuttin’. Zilch.

On The iPod: Lullaby; Sia

Word Count: Nadda. Nuttin’. Zilch.

My writing break didn’t go exactly to plan. I’m not coming back to the words refreshed. I’m not coming back to the words relaxed, full of energy, or raring to go. I’m coming back perhaps flatter and less enthused than I was before my break.

This has nothing to do with writing. Sometimes life throws you lemons – big lemons, super, ginormous lemons that squeeze their stinging, bitter juices all over you until you’re drowning in the stuff and can barely stay afloat, little own breathe. That was my weekend, and my time away from writing, in a nut shell.

But enough. I’m not gonna turn this post into a big whinge-fest about my sad little life. Every experience, no matter how negative, is also a positive because those experiences, the good and the bad, are what help us grow as a writer and as a person.

I’m not going to take the break further at this point. Although I’m not refreshed I still want to write. I have new ideas in my head that weren’t there last week – a plot for a new WIP that I’ve been struggling to make a neat concept for, fresh insights into the characters of my old WIP (Times of Bright), new scenes to add a bit more backstory to the tale, and a new goal.

I am going to share my goals with you, because if I do that I’m more likely to keep them. Not that I have any fear that I won’t keep them. My critique partner will certainly see to it that I do.

So, my goals are:-

1) I will finish the third draft of “Times of Bright” by September. I will. No joke.

2) I will write 5,000 words every week. If I happen to write more than that, it will be a bonus.

Simple, right? Well, almost. But I can do it, and I will. Now, time to open that word doc and get started!

What are your goals? Do you have a certain word count you want to meet per week or per day? Please share in the comments.

and tumbling tumbling

9 Jul

I am taking a much needed writing break. It will probably only be for three days – until next week – but if I can stretch it a little longer, I will. I need to just get away from the words and the frustrations of having no words and just —

Read.

Relax in the sun.

Take a load off.

Do nothing.

Do everything.

I’ll still blog because, let’s face it, there’s no way I can give up all writing – even for just a day. I just won’t be pressuring myself to write, and I won’t touch the novel.

So, if you need me, I’ll be on the beach, or at a barbeque, or sipping on hot chocolate in front of “Pride and Prejudice”, or losing myself in the words of Emily Dickinson or Edgar Allen Poe.

touch me I’m golden

wild as the wind blows

if just for tonight darling, let’s get lost

* The companion song for this post (and the one I was listening to while writing it) is Beck & Bat For Lashes’ “Let’s Get Lost.”

The Journey is What Counts

9 Jul

Talented young author, Steph Bowe, reminded me of something very important last night – something I think I’d forgotten along the way.

I’ve been so caught up in this rush to get my novel finished and ready for submission, have put soo much energy into getting that illustrious publishing contract so that I can finally feel like I have succeeded, that I’ve kind of left the fun of creating behind. I’ve forgotten how wonderful it feels just to be able to WRITE and have become lost in the pressures (all of my own making) of trying to write professionally.

I have to admit that this writer fatigue has been getting me down (a lot!) lately, but reading Steph’s post has rejuvenated me in a way I can’t really explain. I just know that reading it was what I really needed, and though I’m still struggling to get the words on the pages, I don’t feel so lost anymore, because it all makes sense in some strange, indescribable way.

As Steph said: “It’s about enjoying the journey, you guys.”

So write. But don’t write only to be published, or to please a certain demographic, or to get rich – write for YOU. And don’t forget to enjoy it.

If you haven’t read Steph’s insightful post, you really should! <– Linkie!