NaPoWriMo 2019 WIP

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So far I have written eighteen poem as part of NaPoWriMo this year. I wouldn’t necessarily say that they’re all good, but they’re not all bad either. I will probably go back to them later in the year and review them, There’s sure to be a couple that are worth working on.

I had be usual monthly meeting of the poetry group I’m a part of on Wednesday night. I didn’t take any of my new poems, I took one that I started working on in my mind while at a book launch in February.

I promise I was listening and not being distracted by my own inner genius; sorry Chris.

I am not a poet

I am a teller of stories
long and complicated ones
or shorter ones
no less complicated
each person I create
or recreate
from fragments as deep
and complex as I am

I am not literary
I prefer pulp
to dense poetic prose
but I’m a snob
adverb tags
unchecked repetition
trite tropes and
prostrate plots
enrage me

I am not an editor
in my own work
I skim over
obvious errors
I skirt plot holes
with ease
reading others’ work
I find plenty
to fault

I write in a world
between
high and low brow
a place where I
aspire to greatness
but can’t explain
what that means

I will always admire
styles different to
my own
more sophisticated
more practised
more authentic
more colloquial
there will always
be something
to aim for.

And now for some poetry

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It turns out I work best when I’m working on a deadline, and a month-long challenge is like a deadline every day.

In April I usually participate in National Poetry Writing Month. Modelled on the popular National Novel Writing Month, which I do in November, NaPoWriMo provides prompts and encouragement to help you come up with a poem every day for the month.

I’ve done this challenge a couple of times in the past. Some of the poems are dreadful and I never look at them again, some have excellent potential and are worth working on at a later date.

I have been a bit quiet here on the blog lately; I moved house last week, and into a place I bought! It feels very grown up to have a mortgage. I have a two-bedroom apartment near a park in a very nice Melbourne suburb. It feels very decadent to have a whole bedroom to spare. I may get a housemate down the track, but there’s no hurry.

I hope you’ll join me in the April poetry challenge, it is motivating to know that other people are also participating.

The month that was, the month to come

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Phew! February was the month of book launches. I had my own launch on 17 February, you can read about that here. I also attended three others: a novel, Small Blessings, by Emily Brewin, on 13 February; a poetry collection, Palmistry, by Chris Ringrose, on 23 February; and a collection of poems and photographs, Blue Milonga, by Edward Caruso on 28 February.  That’s not even counting the one I couldn’t make because my band were playing a gig. 

I don’t think I’ve ever been to so many launches in my whole life, let alone in a single month. Perhaps there’s something in the water at the moment. Each one was different, as were the books themselves, but all involved the signing table, and schmoozing of guests. Emily’s launch had the most wine, while mine had the best catering (if I do say so myself).

March is shaping up to be intense as well. To begin with, Wasted Monday are trying out a new drummer, hopefully we all agree that the relationship works and we have a full band again. Lu and I will be doing open mics around town to keep our performance skills up until the drummer is ready to join us.

I’m also moving house at the end of March. I recently made the bold, and terrifying, decision to purchase an apartment, so I now have the joys of mortgage repayments to look forward to instead of rent. At least this time I have enough notice to plan my move.

It’s also the time at work when we have an external body come to audit us, so that’s shaping up to be a pretty busy time.

My writing has suffered a bit as a result of all the stuff I’ve been doing. I’m trying to get myself back into a good writing practice but am very good at finding excuses. I have purchased, but not yet started reading, The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield, which is specifically about the tendency to procrastinate when attempting to do a large, long term project like writing a novel. Hopefully I’ll get around to reading it soon and it will give my a burst of renewed enthusiasm.

Things are ticking along. With a hectic last month and another hectic month approaching I hope that I’ll be able to make time for some productive writing work, apart from my morning pages which are going well. I look forward to keeping you all informed.

It’s launched!

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On Sunday I released my second novel. I decided to throw a small launch party for it.

Here are a couple of photos from the day courtesy of Stuart.

I would like to thank everyone who came along, and everyone who bought a copy of the book. I was very nervous about it, but I think it went smoothly and I hope everyone had a nice time.

Special thanks to Savannah Blaize for being the MC, to Alison for doing the lion’s share of catering, and to Lu for providing the tunes.

Discovering the Franklins is available in e-book on Amazon and other good retailers, and in hard copy from me directly.

Happy reading and thanks for the support.

Pre-order ‘Discovering the Franklins’

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I’m super excited to announce that my second novel, Discovering the Franklins, is now available to pre-order on Amazon and all other relevant sales channels!

Over the Christmas break away from my day job I finished the very last edits and I’m ready to show my new baby to the world.

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I am also having a book launch event in Melbourne for fans who are interested in purchasing a signed, hard copy version of the book. It will be February 17, 2019, from 5:00-7:00pm. If you’re interested to attend please email me for address details.

For international hard-copy readers, I can mail you a signed copy, or you can order through Amazon.

I will have copies of my first novel, Sophie’s Path, available to purchase at the launch and copies of my poetry zine.

Thank you to Charmaine Ross for the gorgeous cover, to Annie Seaton for editing, and my mum, Jenny for the beta-reading and proof reading. Thank you also to all my supportive writing buddies, my friends and by family for helping keep me on track to get this done. I couldn’t have done it without you (please buy my book!).

Goals for 2019

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Last Friday I went to a workshop that I found through Meetup.com. I frequently attend Meetup events that have highly variable outcomes – some have been really great and positive, like one group for artists which was really positive and motivating for several months. Other times, like a board game night I went to recently can be full of people who make it not fun. But to get back to the point, this workshop was to create a vision board. These are essentially a big seven year plan with pictures. I’d heard of vision boards before, I thought they were mainly nonsense, but it sounded like it might be fun.

When I got there, a room full of women did a meditation and then cut and pasted pictures out from magazines, some of which where twenty years old, onto big coloured cardboard sheets. I’m going to re-do it – either as a list or with pictures from the internet which more closely match what I’m looking for. The magazine pictures were a bit too commercial and a bit too old school for me.

fireworks

Traditionally one of the first things I do in the new year is make up my goals for the next twelve months. Many of my goals remain the same from last year; I’ll do NaNoWriMo again, and NaPoWriMo, as they both generate a good amount of first draft material.

I’m not going to do a fringe show this year, but Alex and I are planning to work on another top-secret project instead. We’re also looking at writing a sitcom and will do a show in 2020.

I have a couple of maybe goals in there too. I have a manuscript that I started last year but abandoned because I couldn’t get the pacing right; I’ll go back to that project to see if it’s salvageable as a short story or novella. I’m also thinking about publishing one of my other back-catalogue manuscripts in the last quarter of the year, but that will depend on how much time and energy I have by then.

My 2019 Goals!

  • Publish ‘Discovery of the Franklins’
  • NaNoWriMo 2019
  • Finish manuscript from NANoWriMo 2018
  • NaPoWriMo 2019
  • Sitcom
  • Top Secret Project
  • Wasted Monday performances
  • Blogging
  • Life Models’ Society Exhibition
  • Life Models’ Society 30th anniversary

Maybe/if I have time:

  • Self-publish one of my other manuscripts
  • Finish/rework shorts story/novella

I’m glad I did the vision boarding workshop. Long term goal setting exercises are important to undertake every so often; it makes me feel less like I’m making things up as I go along. I’ll re-evaluate against the long term and annual goals as I go to make sure my priorities and values haven’t changed along the way (this happens at work all the time!).

I hope you’ve all had a productive, happy, and positive 2018. I wish you all of that for 2019. I’m starting to make my own luck and I’m really loving it.

Reflecting on 2018

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Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house… I was madly cleaning! I have two weeks away from my day job (woo-hoo!) and I usually spend time over the Christmas break doing those jobs around the house I don’t get to normally – like vacuuming the inside of my car, or cleaning the window blinds.

It’s also a time for reflection on what I’ve achieved in the last year. You may remember I posted a list of my goals for 2018, now I’m looking back at whether I achieved them, and what I did that wasn’t on my list.

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Last years goals were:

  1. Win NaNoWriMo 2018
  2. Enter 5 writing competitions
  3. Redraft ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ and publish it online (from 2017)
  4. ‘Fleur & Alexandra are Out of This World’ Melbourne Fringe Festival Show
  5. Edit ‘The Discovery of the Franklin’
  6. Submit ‘My Mothers Secret’ and ‘We Can’t Have Nice Things’ to publishers
  7. Perform with the new band regularly
  8. Two blogs per month

Of these goals I have achieved all but number six – I didn’t end up submitting my manuscripts to publishers. Since I’ve now started on the path of self-publishing, I’m happy to stick with this method for the moment. I don’t write strictly to genre, and I don’t write very commercially. For now, I’ll stick with the vanity publishing thing and maybe down the track, I’ll look into traditional publishing.

Number two, technically, I failed – I entered four competitions. I haven’t had any good news from any of them, although the Ruby won’t be announced until mid next year. But that’s okay, I entered them as a way to motivate myself, not to win.

Number five is very exciting. I am ready to publish my second novel, now titled Discovering the Franklins, which will be available to buy in February! The cover and exact release date are to be confirmed, but I’ll be sure to let you know.

In addition to that list, I have achieved a number of things that weren’t on the list. My band, Wasted Monday, recorded three demo tracks, I travelled in Japan, I’ve done a couple of online writing courses, I participated in NaPoWriMo and I’ve become involved in judging competitions for the RWA.

I’ve also taken on the role of Secretary for the Life Models’ Society. This has been taking up quite a lot of my time and energy, and I’m really glad to be involved. I think 2019 will be an exciting time for the LMS!

The last year has been busy at my day job, too. I was sent on an awesome leadership development program in June, and I’ve been learning a lot of new stuff about the new projects we have on the go.

It’s been busy, I’ve done a lot. I’m really proud of what I’ve produced over the last year. I think my career as a writer/artist is really coming along. I’m not making much money yet, but I am starting to feel legitimate, and that’s big.

My next post will be my goals for 2019! I hope you all have a safe and happy new year, and I’ll see you then.

The Australian Dream

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after ‘The American Dream’, by Brett Whiteley

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Detail from ‘The American Dream’, by Brett Whiteley

The brain is a machine
susceptible to corruption
working away on incomplete
data sets

The bird builds a nest
fills it with eggs, potential life
feeds the young on instinct
and hope

Green and yellow earth
flow down to meet the sea
intuition and reason fight
for primacy

The blue ocean continues
insensitive to the logic, the imagination
of the painter who tries
to capture it

The red light of alarm, a dream
we wake from sweating
trying to make sense of the message
sent from the void

The coming storm, the enticing nude
the death of intellect as we
exchange emotion for distraction
and stop thinking.

Inspiration and Planning

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Today I attended the end of year gathering with my poetry group. We get together in an inspiring place, today it was the National Gallery of Victoria at Federation Square, and we write, if we’re inspired, or sit and ponder, if we’re not inspired. Then we have lunch.

I went through the George Baldessin and Brett Whiteley exhibition. I’ve always like Whiteley’s work; it speaks to be somehow. I didn’t care for Baldessin. I didn’t actively dislike his work, but I didn’t like it either. Except for these pears.

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George Baldessin sculpture in the foreground, Brett Whiteley painting in the background.

I wrote an ekphrastic poem, while looking at Whiteley’s ‘The American Dream’ mural. I’ll post it next week after I’ve had a chance to revise it.

For now I’m just going to leave you with this teaser: I’m planning to self publish my second novel in February. The exact date is still TBC as I have a lot of work to do to get it ready, but I’ll have a cover to show you in the next few weeks and then I’ll be able to announce the release date.

It’s a relatively short novel, around 50k words. I’m feeling good about it, which is a bit of a weird feeling for me; most of the time I don’t think very highly of my work.

I’ve also started thinking about my New Year’s goals. Each year I’ve written myself a to-do list and I sometimes get stuff done, and sometimes don’t. I’ll be posting a new list and a wrap up of last year in January. I feel like I’ve come quite a long way recently and I’m sure I have a lot of room to grow and develop too. I’m looking forward to it.

Post-wrimo comedown

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Yesterday I successfully completed my seventh NaNoWriMo challenge! Woohoo!! I did my first in 2012, and have completed at least 50k words each November since then. It’s a little mind boggling; my NaNoWriMo site stats are in the image below.

stats

A ‘lifetime’ word count of over 350k words. It seems absurd. That’s not counting anything that I’ve written outside of November. It’s nice to know that I can keep up my output for a whole month, even with everything else that goes on: working, other projects, travel. I can find time to write under almost any circumstances, with the right motivation.

At the end of November, after finagling and rearranging everything to hit the 1700 word daily target, I’m tired. I need a few days off before starting on the next thing. The story is not finished, I estimate I’m about 75% through. I’ve volunteered to help judge an RWA contest, and I have a manuscript returned from my editor. And I’m taking the weekend off.

NaNo-2018-Winner-Badge

NaNoWriMo is a sprint, it’s not a sustainable pace for me. I can keep up a pretty high output for a little while, then I need to have a break. I know some authors who write every day without fail; that’s not my strength. I prefer a variety in my projects, and I need to allow time for things like music, poetry, and theatre as well as working on my prose. November is the month for prose drafting.

December and January are likely to be reasonably quiet, a lot of people go on holiday and my day job should be less hectic (although it seems unlikely). I hope that these months will allow some rest and re-invigoration. Travel while invigorating, is not particularly restful.

For now, I’m going to bask in the glow of having achieved my goal. Or try to, my brain isn’t very good at celebrating achievements, it likes to move straight onto the next project. Have you got summer projects you’re looking forward to?