NaPoWriMo 2021

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For the last few years, in April, I’ve signed myself up to the National Poetry Writing Month, or NaPoWriMo. Modelled of the novel equivalent, NaNoWriMo, in which I also usually participate in, the aim is to write a poem each day in April.

This year I’m doing it again. I had a rough start, on 1 April I was performing with Wasted Monday at a dive bar in Thornbury after a full day of work and I didn’t get my poem done for the first day. I have managed to catch up, but it’s quite hard to write two poems in a day.

I can often pump out about 2,000 words in an hour or so when I’m sprinting on a fiction manuscript, but poetry is a different process. It’s about selecting just the right word, taking the time to consider the myriad meanings and nuances, the rhythm, the double entendre, the flow, metre, assonance-the list goes on.

Does anyone else do this month long challenge? A friend of mine wrote a poem every day for a year once, she found the process instructive, inspiring, frustrating, and sometimes defeating. I think part of the point of writing challenges like these are to force me to produce something. With poetry, perhaps more so than other types of writing, it’s easy to get caught up in the perfection of the piece. To obsess over exact word choice and placement, sometimes to the point of paralysis. At least if I write thirty poems, a few will be worth continuing. Plus Maureen, who manages the NaPoWriMo website, provides daily prompts for those of us who can’t think of something to write about every day.

Perhaps that’s another reason I find this harder, in some ways, than NaNoWriMo-I need a new concept for each poem. I could do a series, but it would still be a lot more ideas than for a novel, which is essentially one big idea, instead of thirty small ones.

I should get back to it, though, since writing this blog is procrastination for today’s poem. I’m sure I’ll publish one or two here on the blog, but others will stay locked away in the archives not for public consumption.

Behold

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After Ecce Homo Corona, by Eureka

A light skinned man sits, his hands are bound in front of him, his chest is bare, one shoulder covered with white fabric, barbed wire in a crown on his head. The background is red with spear like flower and foliage visible.
Cover image, Ecce Homo Corona by Eureka

I think of Christ

Jesus of Nazareth

Shepherd to a flock

convinced of their righteousness

but so often wrong

Dissident, revolutionary

not one to turn any away

yet so many now use his name

to push down the desperate

Christ as an excuse

My cup runneth over

giving to another

will not deplete me

instead build our mana

Just love thy neighbour

even the weird ones

Sweat Shake Palpitate

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My band, Wasted Monday, has released our first album, Sweat Shake Palpitate. For once, I’m not spruiking my writing.

“It’s been a long and winding road but we’ve recently finished recording our first album; Sweat Shake Palpitate!

A lot’s happened along the way; our original drummer left, our replacment French connection had to go back to France, Lu pinched a nerve in her neck, we found Aaron our lead guitarist! Then Fleur got hit by a car, and it got even better from there, COVID-19 hit Melbourne and for most of 2020 we were in lock down.

In a stroke of good luck Lu’s new housemate off-handedly said they’d recored our songs. Lu didn’t believe them, but a few days before Christmas, in a psychedelic lounge room, we recorded 9 tracks and here they are.

Avalible now on our Soundcloud and Bandcamp.”

We’re looking forward to a few more gigs and open mics now we’re out of lockdown (touch wood), so watch this space.

Déjà vu all over again

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It feels like it’s been a while since I wrote anything here. I haven’t written much on my other projects either, unfortunately. I’m sure a lot of you out there will identify with my frustration with the continuing pandemic situation. Melbourne went into our first lock down in March 2020, and we’ve just entered another five day Stage 4 restriction period. Naïvely, I believed that once we’d kicked the second wave that we would be able to go about our lives almost as normal. Cautiously, but mostly normally.

This morning I baked sourdough fruit and chocolate buns, pictured. I was going to take them to an event today but that was cancelled when the government announced the changes yesterday. I had the ingredients ready to go and I decided I wanted buns. In true pandemic style, I burned them, or at least I burned the fruit. If I pick off the burned chunks they taste okay though, so not a total waste.

We’re all worried the lockdown will be extended and we’ll end up stuck inside for the next three months like we were in winter last year. I don’t know if I’d survive another long period of restrictions like that. Eventually even binging Netflix doesn’t sound appealing.

The vaccine will start rolling out in the next month or so, and no doubt that will change the landscape for the pandemic but until then I guess we can only suck it up and try our best. It will be hard, but the end is near, I hope. Here’s to coming out the other side.

I’m really trying not to expect anything right now…

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I tried to write this on New Year’s Day but got distracted by being tired and a bit sore from having a big night. Even now I’m still tired and scatterbrained.

When I wrote up this list I saw it’s exactly the same as last year’s. Perhaps it’s not a bad idea to stick to stuff I can do on my own, while in my house, until the COVID-19 vaccine is in wide circulation and the threat of another lockdown is not imminent.

So here’s the list:

  • Publish Singular Focus
  • Finish manuscript from NaNoWriMo 2020
  • NaPoWriMo 2021 (April)
  • NaNoWriMo 2021 (November)
  • Keep up the blog
  • Paint more murals
  • Put on a third Melbourne Fringe Festival show (October)*
  • Wasted Monday performances*

The last two are pretty much dependent on the ability to move around in the world. For a long time Victoria had no cases, but they’re back. We’re definitely doing much better than other places, so hopefully we can get the spread under control again.

Music, writing and art have kept me sane while socialising has not been possible. I really miss performing, but I know I’ll be back on stage soon.

For everyone’s sake I hope 2021 is easier than 2020, but if not, we’re all kick ass at staying inside and wearing masks now, and maybe that will make the difference.

The year that was 2020…

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I went back to find my new year’s post from earlier this year and boy, did I have no idea what was coming. Wow.

Usually at the end of the year I do a little wrap up post, I cover the goals I set in the beginning of the year and how I’ve gone achieving them. This year has been a shit show in a lot of ways so let’s see how I went.

From certain points of view, I’ve had it pretty easy – my housing, my job, and my income have all stayed stable. I have been safe in my home. I have had family and friends around me, whether virtual or in person when restrictions allowed.

On the other hand, 2020 can go straight in the bin. I was hit by a car in late January, and only now, eleven months later, is my ankle is starting to behave like a normal ankle again in the way where I sometimes forget it’s bung. There were periods where I was convinced I’d never walk unaided, but I can. I thought I would never be able to do normal activity, but mostly I can. For a while I was worried I would be in pain constantly, but while the ankle still hurts sometimes, it’s manageable. The surgeons have said it will become arthritic in 10-20 years, so I have that to look forward to, but I still have my leg so that’s definitely a bonus.

I’ve worked on skills I had not spent time on before; I painted a large wall in my house with a mural, I regularly make my own sourdough bread, I make stock, and compost and I’ve recently started doing home-made pasta, which is a bit fun. I started having piano lessons and am finally using the keyboard I have had for several years. I was even able to continue with my writing.

So the goals from January:

  • Finish revising and submit My Mother’s Secret to publishers
  • Finish manuscript from NaNoWriMo 2019
  • NaPoWriMo 2020 (April)
  • NaNoWriMo 2020 (November)
  • Redraft Janine’s story (working title)
  • Put on a third Melbourne Fringe Festival show (October)
  • Keep up the blog
  • Wasted Monday performances
  • Paint mural (in my house)

I’m surprised to have crossed off almost all the things. The two I missed were explicitly impossible under the government restrictions.

Wasted Monday is still pottering along, we’ve been able to secure a lead guitarist, Aaron, and there may be some new demo recordings soon. Actually that might be a secret so don’t tell anyone.

Even without the pandemic, the car accident would have taken the Fringe show off the table for this year. I have been recovering well, but I want to be able to leap and cavort on the stage without worrying I’ll fall on my face or hurt myself.

One other thing I did this year was to be elected as the President of the LMS. I’ve been heavily involved in running the society for several years now, and it’s nice to see that work being recognised by the membership. I hope I can do the position justice and uphold the legacy of the outgoing President.

Next year is probably going to be interrupted by more COVID-19 restrictions. It would be naive to believe that we would have no more outbreaks. Just this morning we had three community transmissions after weeks and weeks of zero cases. It’s an ever-present spectre, but one I had been putting to the back of my mind.

Let’s hope 2021 is less of a roller coaster. May your projects run smoothly, may your friendships be warm, may your income and housing be stable and safe. I’ll post my new year’s goals in the next few days.

New Release Announcement

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Well. 2020 has been a hectic year in a lot of ways (I refuse to say unprecendented because, far out, that word gets used a lot). With all the time stuck inside I’m excited to announce I’m ready to release my new book baby, an urban fantasy/romance, Singular Focus.

A book cover, a white woman with short hair and an eye patch stands in front of a moon and city scape, in purple hues, with a raven and storm visible. Text reads: Singular Focus, Fleur Blüm.

When Freya loses her right eye on her 28th birthday, her life has to change. Little does she know the whole world had changed too – there is magic in Melbourne. 

Visions of an oncoming storm, victims of a mystery coma-like illness are dropping around the city, and Jacob, the occupational therapist she can’t keep out of her mind.   

Time is running out, Freya and Jacob must save the world before magic tears everything apart.” 

The ebook is available for pre-order now on Amazon and other good sellers, releasing on 1 February 2021. A paperback version will be available closer to the release date.

This book is a bit of a departure from my previous work. I was influenced by a lot of great Norse mythology and stories involving a real world with added elements, like magic. I’m sure fans of my work, and fans of the genre alike will enjoy it.

I’m taking some time off from the day job and not doing work for the LMS over the Christmas period. The plan is to lounge around, catch up with friends and family, that sort of thing. I also have a small list of projects around the house to do, cleaning the car, and other boring stuff. I hope you’re all able to have a break, or change of scenery.

See you for my annual new year goal post in a couple of weeks.

Let’s talk about why that isn’t a compliment…

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Yesterday I attended an end of year picnic with some people from the Life Models’ Society. A person approached me:

Them: You look like you’ve lost weight.
Me: [laughing] I really haven’t.
Them: Then why do you look like you have?
Me: [awkwardly ignores the comment and goes back to my previous conversation]

Let’s break down why this conversation was fucked up.

Photo by Maksim Goncharenok on Pexels.com

1: Commenting on my weight is never a compliment
Regardless of how well-meaning you are, commenting on my body shape, weight loss, or gain is not a compliment. I am more than the sum of what I weigh, and whether I currently fit into Western ideals of beauty. It also implies there are people unworthy of your compliment/respect/value based on their bodies, which is not cool. All bodies are good bodies.

What can I say instead?
Nothing;
Hello;
You look well;
You seem happy;
I’m pleased to see you;
That outfit is smashing.

2: If I correct you, accept this.
When I said I have not lost weight, and indeed I have put on a fair amount what with the injury and COVID restrictions and lock-down and stress and the like, the person in this conversation argued with me. This could be considered gaslighting, a practice where you habitually deny the reality of another person in order to undermine them. Part of my also wonders if people have a concept of what I look like that is a lot fatter than how I appear in person, given how often I get told ‘you’ve lost weight’ and the fact that I have not, in fact, lost weight.

What can you I instead?
‘What I meant was you look well/happy/great in that outfit’. Or maybe going back to the above idea of not commenting on my body in the first place don’t say anything. If I correct you, don’t ignore that correction, especially when it is about me, my body, or my life. I’m the expert in that field, and you have no right to doubt me.

Women in particular are subjected to appearance based judgement frequently and I, for one, would be happy to see it go in the bin.

This year has been particularly difficult for my relationship with my body. For a period of time it was severely broken, it is now only mildly broken. I have had a lot of intense pain, and still have ongoing mild to moderate pain and restrictions in my mobility.

I don’t consider myself permanently disabled (yet); time will tell whether my ankle injury (and the associated back pain which has become more of an issue now I’m more active) is permanent and to what extent. I have good days and bad days. I limp in the morning and when I get up from a long period of sitting.

In six weeks it will have been a year since the incident. I’m surprised, frustrated, and disheartened by the amount of work still to be done return to full functionality. Then again, I look back at the time when it was too much to walk to the coffee shop (ten minutes away) and back, and I’ve come a long way.

I’m sure I’m not alone in this experience. It’s always uncomfortable when people compliment me for the way my body looks; sometimes when I’m modelling artists will say I have a ‘real/natural’ or ‘womanly’ figure, which makes me uncomfortable not only because I’m being objectified, but because it implies an ‘unreal/unnatural’ or ‘unwomanly’ figure.

I welcome compliments on my creative posing, my stillness, my use of shadow/shape/foreshortening, my theatrics, but whether or not my body is highly consumable is not a compliment. I’m sure I do it too, it’s a cultural norm, but I’m working on it. Maybe we all need to spend some time cultivating new ways to tell people we value them.

NaNo-Success

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Well, November felt like it took several years, but I’vecome out the other side with another NaNoWriMo successfully under my belt.

Woohoo!

For this year’s project I rewrote a story I started in 2014. I had done a full manuscript, 78k words with rewrites, but I didn’t like it; it was in several different points of view and my style has improved since then. I thought why not rewrite it from scratch?

Now I’m hurriedly trying to finish reading a book for book club which was neglected in favour of NaNo. Once I’ve had a few days off writing, I need to start on edits.

I’m planning to release my new book on 1 February, 2021. It’s a stand alone ubran fantasy/paranormal romance. I got it back from my editor in late October and I have final edits and proof reading to go, then it will be ready for sale. Keep your eyes on this space for my launch.