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.

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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?

Just Keep Writing

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I arrived back in Melbourne yesterday at 8:00am. It was a red-eye flight and I had very little sleep: I had one screaming toddler, one loud snorer, and a man sitting next to me who seemed unhappy with the amount of space I wanted to take up. I can’t say I blame him, economy seats are not large.

I had a fantastic time in Japan, my Facebook friends have all been spammed with my food photos, and my various landscapes, but here is a sample of the good ones:

I managed to keep up with NaNoWriMo while I was travelling. I had plenty of time on trains where I was able to sit down and just write for an hour or so. I’m lucky enough to be able to get my 1700-odd words out in about an hour, usually, and being unable to scroll through my social media while ‘thinking’ about writing certainly helps.

My NaNoWriMo manuscript’s working title is ‘Well Suited’. The two main characters are both professional, and very well dressed. My hero is a three-piece suit wearing graphic designer and my heroine is a sharply dressed legal adviser. I mocked up a cover but I don’t like it enough to show anyone.

Now that I’m back, I think it will be harder to get my words done. I’ve filled up my days a lot now that I’m home. I’ve even had to pull out of a project until after December 1 because I was trying to do too many things at once. Even now I’m blogging instead of NaNo-ing!

Better get back to it. Much love!

Letters from abroad

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I am coming to you, dear readers, from the Shinkansen service destined for Hiroshima*. I am travelling again!

This time I’m going around Japan. I’ve been here for just over a week already, I had a few days in Tokyo on my own before I joined a tour group last Tuesday. I had hoped to get to the Studio Ghibli Museum on my second day in the city, but I managed to get food poisoning.

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Harajuku fashion district in Tokyo

I had thought I would be safe in Japan; it’s a highly developed country with an obsession with cleanliness, but maybe I just got lucky. I managed to get through most of India without any issues and ended up having an issue with the food on the airplane to come home!

My impressions of Japan so far are that it is a highly organised and highly regulated society. The rules are well-known and they are strictly adhered to by most. I’m on a package tour which allows me to have a planned itinerary and tour guide available to answer my random questions.

I haven’t yet had any conversations with him about the state of Japan’s drug problems, or societal problems other than the ageing population, which was discussed briefly.

I had a surreal experience at the train station in Kanazawa. The local police were handing out small packets of tissues which had a leaflet inside with mug shots of wanted criminals. The police were so jolly and polite I wasn’t sure what was going on.

The landscapes here are completely different to those back at home. It’s probably the most extreme difference I’ve seen in all the travel that I’ve done. Geologically I suppose that Japan must be relatively young; it’s mountains are all high and steep, and haven’t yet shrunk with the passage of time and the erosion of wind and water.

It’s autumn here and the leaves are turning. While the pines remain evergreen, the maples, plum and cherry trees are putting on a show of colour; red, magenta, orange, yellow. Hillsides covered in this array of colours are breathtaking and remind me that I’m a long way from the uniform grey-green of eucalypts.

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Maple tree in the Hida Folk Village, Takayama

I have almost two weeks more here, I will try to get time to put up another post or two, but it will really depend on scheduling and energy. I’ve started doing NaNoWriMo again this year and so far I’m keeping up with the daily word counts. Travel time is particularly useful for making up my word counts! The story is slowly coming together. I went into this year’s novel with less plot development than I’ve had in previous years, but I think it will come together in the end. Probably in the second or third drafting stages.

I’m having a lovely time so far, food-poisoning notwithstanding, and I’m looking forward to my next two weeks and the projects I’ll be coming home to after that.

Big Love.

*The train didn’t have wi-fi, so I’m posting later.

Show Review and Other News

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Dear readers

I’m not sure why I started with that, but there you go. Since I last updated you, Alex found that Milk Bar Mag have put up a review of our little show here. It’s always very gratifying for people  you don’t know to say they enjoyed your work!Nanowrimo

I’m busily preparing to go overseas for a few weeks on holiday AND do NaNoWriMo at the same time. Past Fleur thought this was a good idea, but Present Fleur is starting to doubt her judgement. I will press on though, and even if I don’t get much done, I’ll have nearly two weeks after I get back to catch up.

I attended my monthly Romance Writers’ group today, and we had a presentation from Lauren Clarke on Creating Compelling Characters. She had a great balance of information and activities, although there was a lot to take in. I took notes so I’ll be able to go back and look at it later if I forget.

It was a great opportunity to come up with some new characters, and from that I developed about half a plot for the new novel. It’s a relief to know I can still come up with stuff after taking a while off writing new fiction for the show, and to edit previous work.

I have a fresh new notebook to use for drafting, I bought myself fancy new fine-liner pens, in multiple colours, and I have the bones of a story. I might even make it through this NaNoWriMo with a novel that’s worth editing!

While I’m travelling and drafting, I’ve also arranged for the editor of my first book, Annie Seaton, to have a look at a new 45k manuscript. I’ll look at her feedback in December and aim to have something ready to publish in February. So keep your eyes peeled and on this blog for further announcements.

Lots of things are bubbling along, as is always the way, here at Fleur HQ. Thank you all for your continued support and love. I couldn’t do it without you.

Next on the list

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It was my birthday last week. With all of the goings on for my Fringe Festival show I didn’t have much mental capacity for organising a birthday do, or for contemplating mortality. This week I do! So I’ve been thinking about what it means to be 34.

If I think back to when I was younger, let’s say school leaving age, and what I thought I would have achieved by the time I was in my 30s. It included married/long term relationship, kids, uni, working as a doctor. Untitled design.jpg

I have achieved only one of those things: I successfully completed uni. I have also achieved numerous things that weren’t even remotely on the list: I’ve been in three bands; produced/performed two independent theatre shows; and I’ve published one novel, one zine, and has several short works included in anthologies.

At the end of year 12, when I got my university entrance result, I cried. I had missed out on medicine by less than one point. Sitting at my desk now, I don’t think I would have been very happy as a doctor. I probably wouldn’t have rediscovered my creativity. I wouldn’t have had the self-assurance (or possibly stupidity) to make my own opportunities.

I don’t particularly believe in an all-powerful omniscient being who has a plan for our lives, but I do think some things happen for a reason. I’ve been through some rough patches, and I’ve had some really great patches. Today I’m still trying to refocus my brain from the world of the show into the world of writing. I’m planning to do NaNoWriMo again this November, which will be somewhat more difficult due to spending half the month in Japan. I also don’t have any ideas yet! I’m sure I’ll think of something.

The passage of time has its effect on everyone. I find it interesting to think back on what used to be important to me, and compare it to what is important to me now. I’m proud of the life I’ve created for myself. I hope that my future holds even more stuff that I didn’t expect that makes my life richer. Who knows, this time next year I might have a completely different to-do list.

Sneaky Preview

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Dear readers!

It’s started! Two shows down, four to go! Reviews from family and friends are that the show is the funniest thing they’ve ever seen and excellent entertainment value.

The drummer from my band, Wasted Monday, Sarah, took this fabulous photo of us on stage on Monday.41991634_1099127766919997_5446149927262486528_n

So much silver! So much silliness! So many exclamation marks!

Tickets are still available for all shows, I recommend the Friday or Sunday performance.

I’d love to see you there! xxx

Holy Crap it’s Coming!

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I haven’t been writing much, nor blogging, because I’ve been frantically preparing for my second Melbourne Fringe Festival Show, Fleur and Alexandra are Out of This World.

We open on Monday night, we’ve done one dress rehearsal in the venue which was both exciting and terrifying. It’s all coming together but there are a few little niggles to iron out as is always the case with opening a new show.

ONLY 3 sleeps

We’d love to see you there, it’s going to be a great, silly, peculiar, over the top show. Happy Fringe!