This week I am still at a loss as I wait for my computer to be fixed. You see my husband is a total computer nerd, but in an, “I also like body building” kind of way. So he looks good while fixing computers and playing PC games 😉
So the good news is, he can totally fix my laptop AND save my data, but the down side is him being able to find time to fix it for me. So until then, I’m limited to using the WordPress app on my phone.
I guess this has sort of been a blessing in disguise, as I found some short stories I wrote on the MS Office app on my phone.
After a little editing (on a much smaller screen, mind you), I’m ready to share one of these short stories with you all. This story was inspired by actual events, but of course, is still a work of fiction.
I pulled up next to the obnoxiously orange ford ute at the traffic lights and waved excitedly at the male occupant.
He waved back, looking a little confused, but as I began to wind down my window, he followed suit.
“Oh my gosh! Fancy seeing you here! Small world hey?! It’s so nice to see you again so soon.” I said with over-the-top excitement in my voice, my hands flapping around excitedly.
“Um yea… Fancy that hey..” He replied with uncertainty.
“You don’t remember me, do you?” I said in mock shock.
“No, I’m sorry I don’t.” He said with an apologetic shrug.
“Well I suppose I can forgive you.” I said with a silly girly giggle. “After all we only met for a moment, but I certainly remember you.” I said with a wink.
He looked at me questioningly, so I continued to enlighten him about our previous chance meeting.
“You’re the asshole that aggressively overtook me for doing the speed limit, barely missing the front of my car.” I said, still with a ridiculously sweet smile on my face. “And now we meet again, just seconds later at the next set of lights! Definitely a small world!”
I loved it when the dawn of realization formed on his face, as he suddenly figured out what was going on.
“Oh, green light!” I said as I waved and quickly pulled away from the intersection. I couldn’t help but laugh at leaving him behind looking utterly stupefied and embarrassed as I watched him struggle with the car’s gears in my rear view mirror.
Moral of the story: Driving like an asshole doesn’t get you very far, on the road or in life.
I’ve been quite absent the last few weeks due to some issues with technology and also because I couldn’t find anything I desperately wanted to write about so badly that I would sacrifice my thumbs and possibly even my vision in order to write a post using the WordPress app on my phone.
This past weekend we were all coming down from the excitement (and sleep deprivation) of celebrating my cousin’s wedding, when we heard that my brother lost a mate to the grips of depression.
This is not the first person my brother has lost and I’m not going to name names, out of respect for the man’s family and friends who are grieving. However, I did want to take a moment to acknowledge that it’s ok not to be ok.
The world needs to be reminded that even the roughest most “blokey of blokes” needs to know that it’s ok to talk, it’s ok to not be ok. It’s not a sign of weakness to seek help, comfort or to admit you’re not ok. No, not a sign of weakness at all. Sometimes some of us forget this though and even the “blokey bloke” himself needs to be reminded that it’s not weak to speak.
It’s not enough for us to say these things though, it’s not enough for us to say it’s ok not to be ok, we also need to act on it. Observe those around us, ask others how they are doing and really mean it. Asking, “how are you” should not just be a throwaway line, but a true question about a person’s wellbeing.
I’m not saying that we can save the world, but maybe, just maybe we can help to pull someone that little bit back away from the edge.
To all those we’ve lost, who saw no other way out of the darkness, we will always remember you. In your memory we will work together as a family, as friends and as a community, to bring mental illness out of the shadows and let everyone know that truly, it is ok not to be ok.
Everyday life has been getting in the way of my writing lately and it has been a while since I last posted, but I’m here now and hope to give you a little insight into my thoughts and views when it comes to my own writing.
You might have noticed that quite often, my blog posts are not perfectly polished, they contains typos, grammatical errors and silly spelling mistakes. There is a reason for this.
You see, my posts are meant to provide an insight into the inner workings of this writer’s mind. To give you all a glimpse of what I am thinking and feeling on the particular day/topic I am writing on. I want these posts to be real and sometimes quite raw in emotion and opinion, and I believe this is something which can be lost in the editing process. There is such a thing, in my opinion, as too much editing, especially when it comes to an opinion piece. Through the editing process we can start to censor ourselves as we strive towards the point of polished perfection.
Now, some of you might think that there’s no excuse for poor grammar or silly typos in a published piece of writing, and yes, that might be true. However this is the choice I have made in order to keep these posts as real as possible. I do, of course, read through my posts before hitting the ‘publish’ button, but I do not overly-edit them and a simple read-through is not going to catch all of those nasty little typos.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t or won’t edit my manuscript or that I fear that editing it will diminish the realness of the characters I have created, definitely not. Writing blog posts and writing a novel are two completely different things. When blogging I am trying to capture the sometimes chaotic and confused reality of a writer, who still has a day job and supports a family. The feelings, actions, thoughts etc. are already there and I am trying to provide my audience with a snapshot of my reality. However, when writing a novel, the feelings, actions and thoughts do not preexist. I, as the writer, am creating these and through a careful editing process, the world of these characters is further enhanced not diminished.
So there you have it.
My aim is that my blog posts are real and raw, with the occasional (OK, sometimes more than occasional) typo and error, but this is my preference, rather than having a perfectly polished, but void of “realness” post.
My manuscripts, on the other hand, will be getting a completely different treatment though.
So write, read, edit, whatever, but do it your way.
I don’t know if I’m noticing it more since returning to Sydney or that Sydney has seen an increase in bat numbers, but there definitely seems to be a lot of bats around lately. They’re huge too! When I went to take the bins out the other night one was flying so low that I could feel the wind from its wings and the wing span was enormous!
I know the bat wasn’t trying to hurt me (I hope), but it scared the crap out of me! Besides the fact that they are creepy-looking, bats carry disease and are the things of horror movies. Not to mention that bat crap is like acid mixed with paint-thinners and tar and is an absolute bastard to wash off any surface, even if you catch it early before the sun bakes it!
On the other hand though, have you ever watched a bat in flight? When curled up, the black flying fox doesn’t look very big, but their beady little eyes are super creepy. When in flight though, the larger ones can have a wingspan of up to 1 metre. They glide through the air with ease and land in the trees, grabbing hold with their feet with extreme accuracy. There’s something almost graceful about them in flight, you become mesmerised by them and almost forget about the ghoulish nature of them as depicted in horror.
So it seems that there’s more than one side to a bat, there’s the creepy, ghoulish nature that we’ve been conditioned to believe in fiction and society (and the fact that they can carry disease, doesn’t help), but then there’s the other side, the graceful image of a bat in flight and the startling accuracy of their landings.
Now, I haven’t decided whether bats deserve their ghoulish reputation or not, however I think that every creature, human and animal, has many different sides. This needs to be the same with the characters we create, they need to have more than one side to them, they need to be multi-faceted, they need to be real.
To do this, we need to consider who they are with their loved ones and how they are different with others. We need to figure out what drives their actions, what image do they put forth in public and so on, we need to decipher the different masks they wear.
Make your characters real, make them be seen in a different light, show your audience each of their different sides and draw your audience into their world.
There’s two reasons for the title of this week’s post, one is discussing the meaning of the song of the same title from, “Fiddler on the Roof” and the other is discussing the quite literal meaning of the two words.
I’ll start with the reflection. This past week I’ve been working at my day job quite a bit and I have returned to a school I haven’t been at for quite some time. As a result, I’ve come across quite a number of students, that I taught in the past, and their parents. This particular group of students I taught in years two and four but I knew many of them since they were in kindergarten. Now they are practically adults at the age of sixteen and are in year ten!
In the song “Sunrise, Sunset”, the two main characters are singing about how grown up their children have become and wondering when on earth that happened. With my daughter turning nine last month and now coming across students I met more than ten years ago who are now practically adults, it is definitely reminding me that I too, have gotten older and wrinklier (and fatter!)
I’m not the young twenty-something I once was. Sometimes I think back and long for those days again, less stress, less worries, but less everything I suppose. Then I look back and think that at the time, I wasn’t as stress and worry-free as I should have been. My worries back then were nothing compared to the worries I have now, but at the time, they seemed enormous, so I guess my ability to cope has increased.
Also, back then I didn’t have my children and no matter how much they frustrate and annoy me at times, I couldn’t imagine life without them. I also wasn’t writing back then, I was a lost girl looking for my path and every day I am thankful to have found it.
Now moving on to the more literal meaning of the words in today’s title. Which do you prefer, sunrise or sunset?
I am definitely a sunset person.
There’s a few reasons I say this without hesitation. Firstly, I’ve said before that I am a night person and definitely not a morning person. Even those students I just spoke of before who are now sixteen year-olds, knew back when they were in year four, to only talk to me when necessary when they first came into class. My husband and I are both not morning people and we can get up in the morning and drive him half an hour to work without saying a word until he’s getting out the car. Nothing frustrates me more in the morning, than a disgustingly happy morning person who’s all smiles and cheery voice. Unfortunately my dad is one of those, fortunately though, I don’t live at home anymore!
Another reason I am a sunset person is this: no matter how crappy of a day I’ve had, the setting sun reminds me that it’s over and the calmness of the night will return. Then we have time to re-energize and gather ourselves to be ready to face another day, whatever it might bring… not before 9 a.m. though, preferably.
Sunrise brings daylight, and in the daylight there’s no escape from reality. Personally, I think reality is overrated and revel in the opportunity to escape whenever I can. Sunset brings the promise of night, when you can take a step back from the real world, even for just a while.
Sunset also means it’s nearly bedtime for my three kids and even though I just said that I couldn’t imagine life without them, sometimes we all just need a bit of quiet time or even simply the chance to use the bathroom without being interrupted!
I’m getting older and so is everyone else around me. And;
I’m definitely a sunset person, sunset brings the promise of night, the end to what might have been a crappy day, with a hint of mystery and escapism. Then, of course, the chance to get a little reading and writing done!
“Above all things I believe in love. Love is like oxygen. Love is a many-splendored thing. Love lifts us up where we belong. All you need is love!”
-Christian (Ewan McGregor), Moulin Rouge
Some may say that love is all you need, with love anything is possible, that lover conquers all. I wonder though, is it true? Is love really all we need?
“A girl has got to eat… She’ll end up on the street.”
-Satine (Nicole Kidman), Moulin Rouge
Satine makes a very valid point. To survive in this world we need more than love, we need a home, food, clothing and everything else. However, if you love someone and they love you, whether it be a husband, wife, partner, parent, child… whatever… wouldn’t you make sure that they are cared for in every way possible, because that’s what you do for someone you love, isn’t it?
So back to my original question, is love all we need?
Love is a lot of things, it can be expressed in many different ways but can love in itself give us everything we need?
Let’s just take a moment to define what love is. Can you define love?
It’s not easy is it. To put feelings into words, to describe exactly what love is.
Even if it were, your definition would likely be different to others. From mother to child, from child to father, even from one wife to another their definition of love would not be exactly the same.
I think love is so difficult to define in words because love is better expressed through actions, rather than just words. Of course it is nice to hear the words, “I love you” but remember what they say?
Actions speak louder than words.
So, again back to the question at hand.
Is love all we need?
I’m going to say yes, because love is not in the words, it’s in the actions.
So, yes. Love IS all we need, because when you love someone you do everything in your power to give them all that they need.
Now get out there and SHOW those you love, exactly how much you love them.
The good news this week is that I have still been working on József and Anna’s story in “An Anguished Heart”. I may not have actually added any words to the manuscript in the last week, but I have been busy researching, it’s not procrastination this time, I swear!
Sometimes when a new character comes up in the story and I don’t yet have a name for them, I refer to them as **(character description)** in the manuscript so when I go back through, it’s obvious that I need to place a name in there, for example ***(soldier name and rank)** is one that has popped up a couple of times. This is usually done when I’m on a roll and don’t want to stop writing to go search for appropriate names for the character.
This is fine when a character first appears or is just mentioned one or two times, however it does become a bit of a problem with recurring characters. Without a name, it becomes increasingly difficult to relate to that character, no matter how minor they might be, but naming a character is often harder than naming your own children!
This is where I am now, Anna’s lady’s maid has been present in quite a number of chapters now and will be there for quite a few more, yet I’m still referring to her as **(maid’s name)**. It was fine in the beginning when she was first mentioned, but now she is about to play a more prevalent role in moving the story along, therefore she most definitely needs a name.
Some might feel that the name doesn’t matter that much, as long as it fits with the story, I don’t feel the same way. When naming a character I need to feel a connection with the name, not only does it need to be fitting for the time period, culture etc. of the story, but I also need to feel that it is the right name for the character as in my mind I already know them. Ever met someone and think that their name doesn’t really suit them? I sometimes feel that about my own name but the thing is, our parents usually chose our names before we were born, before they really knew us. They chose something they liked, something they thought would suit the child they imagined. I already know my characters and that’s why it is often harder to name a character than it is to name your own child.
Even though I claim to ‘know’ my characters, their identity is not fully formed until I give them a name, so in taking that into consideration, I also need to consider where the character will go in the story, how they will develop. If they are an outwardly strong character or have an inner strength that they don’t even know they possess, their name too needs to reflect this. Of course the names are chosen based on my own perceptions of strength etc. but at the end of the day, I need to feel the name fits in order for the character to progress. Some of you might remember a previous manuscript I was working on (which will actually be a later book in the same series as ‘An Anguished Heart’), where the main characters were originally called Thomas and Maggie. I couldn’t really connect with the character of Maggie and I realised it was because her name wasn’t right, this is when Maggie became Rose.
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”
– ‘Juliet’ in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”
Now I need a name, not just any name though. It has to be a traditional Austrian name in use in the late 1800s/early 1900s. Of course it must be a female name, but one that conveys youth and femininity but also a hidden strength. Not a name like Helga or Hilde, to me those names bring forth images of shield maidens, showing an outward strength not a deeply hidden one.
The right name is out there, but I haven’t found it yet and I can’t go on calling her **(maid’s name)**. For some reason, I have a feeling her name starts with ‘A’ or ‘E’, so I guess that will be my starting point.
I think it’s obvious to those of you who follow this blog, that since returning to Australia I’ve struggled to get into the right (or ‘write’) frame of mind to continue with József and Anna’s story in “An Anguished Heart”. First, there was the excuses. I had unpacking to do, the “real world” was getting in my way, I even found myself tidying the house rather than clicking to open the file on the computer.
The characters though, were constantly on my mind. I planned and I pondered the fate of my characters, I even went to The Rocks in Sydney to chase a little inspiration, but for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to actually sit down at the computer and type. I did other forms of writing in the meantime, this blog, some poetry even some short stories and children’s stories, but not one extra word was added to the word-count of “An Anguished Heart”.
I was lost and having trouble truly embracing the writer within. Perhaps I was a little scared. Perhaps it was that the last time I worked on József and Anna’s story, it was when I was in Budapest, away from the real world, away from the day-to-day constraints of reality. It was easier then, if I accidentally stayed up writing until 3 a.m, it wasn’t that big of a deal. I didn’t have to get up for work or to take children to school, I didn’t really have to do anything. In my mind I was stuck, I didn’t know how I would continue to work on my writing when I was worrying about staying up too late or making sure the kids lunches were ready for the next day. I just had to find a way to adapt and learn how to balance writing with reality, I’d done it before we left for Budapest, I just had to figure out how to do it again.
And now… I think I’ve done it. I’ve broken the self-made barrier in my mind and I’ve made the first steps to embracing the writer within again. The last few days I’ve deleted around 3,000 words from my manuscript, it was crap, I revealed too much, too soon. I’ve since replaced those 3,000 words though, plus more. I’ve researched, I’ve planned, I’ve taken notes and I’ve even figured out some later plot points and logistics of some of the upcoming events in the story. I’m problem solving the details.
I feel positive and energized, I’m telling myself, “That’s it, you can do this!” and I’m actually starting to believe it again.
Yes, it’s returned. The Writer Within is back! Now it’s time to embrace it!
Below is an excerpt of what I’ve been working on, it’s an excerpt where József is reflecting on Hungary’s involvement in the First World War. It is of course a first draft so it is extremely rough around the edges, but it’s been so long since I shared anything with you all.
So thanks for sticking around and as always…
It is not that the men in our family were cowards or disloyal to their country. However this war was not ours, it was a war forced upon the Hungarian people and by many other countries, as a result of the alliances formed over the years.
No, it was not a question of bravery of loyalty, but a question of right and wrong.
Was it right to go and fight a war that was not ours, not our country’s?
Was it right to take innocent lives for such a war?
Was it right to risk losing our own lives in the process, leaving our wives as widows, our children without a father and our mothers without their sons?
While Hungary is struggling through record low temperatures and the river Danube is turning into slabs of ice, here is Sydney we have been sweltering through the last few days.
When I was in Budapest, I wanted nothing more than to experience a winter snowfall, I may have gotten my wish, but it was only a small amount of snow compared to the amount they have now and the amount they have every other winter I’m not int he country.
Budapest, I thought we had something special and then you betray me like this.
I have said before that if I had to choose between summer or winter, winter would always win hands-down. I know the winter that Hungary is experiencing at the moment is brutal compared to what I experienced when we were there a year ago, but I think I would still choose it over the “hottest January night on record”.
All I can say, is thank goodness for air-conditioning! In Hungary air-conditioning is considered a luxury, but heating is essential. In most parts of Australia, it is the exact opposite.
I know these days people aren’t as “tough” as they used to be. Years ago people sweltered through the Australian summer. My parents didn’t get an air-con when I was a kid until I was almost seven in the early 90s and people survive without it now too. I’m sure people have come up with plenty of creative ways to stay cool in the heat of summer throughout the times and it got me thinking of what it would have been like for my characters József and Anna, leaving the climate of Budapest behind, with its chilly winters and mild summers and arriving in the sweltering summer heat of Australia.
What would they have done to cope with the heat? Desk fans were in existence during this time period, but it wouldn’t be something they would be able to buy or have access to immediately upon their arrival.
Having grown up in Australia, I found the summer weather in Budapest to be quite mild, especially when comparing it to the Australian summers I am accustomed to. Their definition of a heatwave is very different to our own. In Budapest you won’t end up with third-degree burns from crossing the road on a summer’s day in bare feet.
For people coming from Budapest to Australia though, I would imagine they would find the heat even more unbearable than we do. Without modern conveniences though, how would they even cope? How about when you’re expected to wear a corset, bodice, full skirt and stockings? Or trousers and a shirt? Would you cope? I know I sure as heck wouldn’t.
These are some of the themes I’ll be exploring int he next couple of weeks, with the current heatwave for comparison.
So, what are some of the creative ways you’ve stayed cool during a heatwave? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter.