Yesterday I came across a quote from Brené Brown when on a PD course that really struck me:
“The opposite of belonging is fitting in”
I thought over those words for a fair amount of time yesterday and marvelled at how simple, yet how astonishingly true they were.
There are times when we don’t want to be seen as different, we want to fit in like everyone else, so we make changes, we alter who we are in order to fit in, in order to assimilate and not stand out. Yet you see, whilst we may ‘fit in’ by doing this, we are not being true to ourselves, this is not belonging.
To belong, I meant to truly belong, is to be ourselves, our true self and to be and feel accepted as such.
No mask, no façade, no wall to protect us.
To be accepted for who we are, our true self, exactly as we are meant to be, this is belonging.
When we strive to fit in – we lose ourselves
When we strive to belong – we find ourselves
To belong can be one of the greatest gifts of all.
When we belong, we have the rare gift of being able to be our true authentic self. Belonging contributes to our overall well-being.
So may we all strive to belong, instead of striving to fit in.
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.
Have any of you ever had the feeling that you have been somewhere before, but there is no way that you could have?
This is the feeling I get in our new amazing apartment we moved to on Tuesday. After a busy day packing, cleaning and moving, my husband and I sat down at the antique dining table in our new apartment, feeling thoroughly exhausted but happy and content. My husband turned to me and asked me, “I have this feeling like I have been here before, I mean, I feel like I have lived here before, but I’ve never lived in this district before.” I guess he was describing a feeling of déjà vu and what is even more strange is I was having the exact same feeling, I felt it the first time we walked through the door to view the apartment and I felt it even more sitting at the table that night.
I know it can’t possibly be true, but I feel as though I have lived in this apartment before, not now though, not even a short time ago. I feel as though I lived here, a very long time ago. The building was new then, the view still amazing.
I know this can’t be possible, perhaps I feel this way because this is where we are supposed to be, but perhaps there is also another reason, one that I possibly shouldn’t even consider as I was raised as Catholic (reincarnation perhaps).
I spoke last week of the way that the apartment inspired me and how I began forming József’s story without even consciously trying. (If you missed it, you can read last week’s post here.) Perhaps this apartment is more than just inspiring for my writing, perhaps there is some sort of connection.
I know the feeling of déjà vu, is not particularly uncommon and it is something that people often describe, however when two people have the same feeling, there has to be something to it right? I can’t help but believe that I have been here before or perhaps I am connected with the people who came before in some way.
Whatever the connection might be, I’m not going to question it, I’m just going to embrace it. Whatever it is, it is doing wonders for the writer within, I am thinking and imagining more clearly than I have in months. I have even began writing and researching for my latest WIP. Those of you who right, will know and appreciate the simply amazing feeling of writing again and of making progress with something you’ve had to put on hold for quite some time.
Whilst I’m not writing thousands of words each day (hopefully that will come later), I am making progress each day either researching or finding out some of the finer details about the character. It truly is a wonderful feeling to be writing again.
Well, so much has happened this past week. I don’t really know where to begin, because not only is it a long list but I’m still in a slightly confused frame of mind with the different time zones and I probably wouldn’t be able to tell you what happened on what day anyway.
So in no particular order here is an annotated list of some of what has happened over this past week:
I had the pleasure (or not really) of experiencing the Hungarian health care system first hand – After trying to do everything myself the last 6 or 7 months and with all the craziness of packing and dragging ourselves halfway across the world, I got a little run down once things started to slow down. I guess everything just caught up with me at once. What started as a bit of a sore throat got even more serious quite quickly. I woke up the other morning feeling like I was being choked and my throat was so swollen I could only just swallow and also had a bit of trouble breathing. I honestly felt like something was stuck in my throat and had these horrible visions of some big blood clot or something that had taken up residence in my throat overnight. When I went to try and cough out whatever I was chocking on, it seemed to be stuck on the back of my tongue which made me choke even more and totally freak out too! After a trip to the GP clinic at the local hospital, it turns out it is *just* a throat infection. I say *just* but there’s a little more to it than that. My throat was so badly swollen that the thing I thought I was choking on was actually my uvula (you know the dangly thing at the back of your throat) that was so swollen that it was touching the back of my tongue and when I tried to cough it out it flipped forward and was lying along my tongue, choking me further until I had to forcibly (a very painfully) swallow it back down. The good news is that I am feeling much better today (after some pretty hefty antibiotics and painkillers, these Hungarian doctors don’t mess around). The doctors at the hospital were very efficient, I only waited around ten minutes before seeing a doctor, they were also very kind and comforting as well, which I’ve found is often a rare combination. They took the time to explain and reassure me, they also spoke English to me reassuring me that everything was Okay and explain to me what had happened, even though my husband was there ready to translate if needed. Despite the delights of the Hungarian health system, it’s not something I would like to experience again, the feeling of choking on my own throat bits is not one I would like to repeat in the near future.
Just finished unpacking, now we’re moving again – Yes, annoying as it sounds, it will be for the best. Even though we have only been in this apartment for 2 weeks and had only recently finished unpacking, we are moving again starting from tomorrow. So when I am finished writing this blog post and also started and finished my assignment (yes, I still haven’t done that, but I think choking on your uvula is a pretty good excuse this time), I will be packing up our 65 square metre apartment and moving our family of five to an apartment that is nearly 100 square metres. There are many reasons that we are leaving this apartment and not just because it is very small for a family of five. At first we saw the apartment as retro and quaint, it was built in the sixties and very much looks like it despite the near new Ikea furniture. This retro and quaint notion grew old rather quickly. We then began to see the apartment for what it really was: a small, old apartment with outdated appliances (the gas stove nearly blew up in my face), the tiniest washing machine that has a weird smell even after cleaning it, a bath that you have to wash before each use (as the washing machine drains into the bath), that gets stifling hot even though it’s cold outside (the central heating units can’t be adjusted as the tap handle things are either missing or don’t turn), that is constantly dirty and dusty due to the dirt and dust from the elevator shaft constantly finding its way in through every crack and vent in the place (seriously, I mop, dust and clean the whole apartment and by the time I’m done it’s filthy again), this constant influx of dust and dirt has also caused allergies in myself and the kids and finally lets not forget my favourite peeve about this apartment…. the toilet has a “poop deck”. Yes, you have read correctly, the toilet has what I like to refer to as a “poop deck”. Let me take a moment to explain this intriguing and disgusting notion a little further. After Googling, “My toilet has a poop deck wtf” the results explained that this toilet bowl (which is not the shape of toilet bowl I am used to seeing) is in fact an “inspection shelf” toilet bowl, which allows you to… well inspect your…. well you can guess what you might be inspecting, hence the reason why I refer to it as a “poop deck”. During my Google research in an attempt to explain the aforementioned “poop deck”, I did find an interesting post from a UK uni student studying in Europe, which clearly and humourously sums of what the purpose of “inspection shelf” toilet actually is —– Inspection Shelf Toilet WTF!
Inspecting the new apartment – We traveled to the first district of Budapest, aptly referred to as Castle Hill, because, yup you guessed it, Buda Castle sits on top of the hill. This is very much a tourist district as it is home to not only Buda Castle but also many other tourist attraction such as the Citadel and the many vantage points up on the hills of this district provide stunning views across the Danube of the many bridges that cross the river and one of my sons favourite buildings – Parliament House. When we found the address we were meeting the real estate agent at, we were surprised to see that it is right in front of the Danube, when entering the apartment though we were even more surprised, pleasantly this time. Even though the building is old, it is not asbestos dust wielding elevator shaft old, it is much, much older than this. The building is made of stone, stone stairs, stone walls and super high ceilings, the apartment is furnished, mostly with gorgeous antique furniture and perhaps best of all, it has a full-sized bathroom and the toilet DOES NOT have a “poop deck”. Oh and one more small thing, this is the view….
So, now onto the reason for the title of today’s post. A wonderful thing happened to me this past week and it wasn’t finding a bigger apartment with an amazing view, although I think that had something to do with it. The night after we found the apartment, I settled down to try and get some sleep and my mind started racing. Yet it wasn’t the kind of thoughts that have filled my mind these past few months, it wasn’t “will everything be ok?” “I have so much to do?” “How will I get everything done?” and other thoughts that are more worries and concerns than anything else. No, this night the thoughts that filled my mind were imagining the apartment we are moving to, how it would have been long ago. Perhaps the original inhabitants liked to entertain friends, perhaps not. Perhaps they were a young couple, who dreamed of having one of the bedrooms as a baby’s nursery, cooing and doting over their little one dressed in clothes from a by-gone era. Then another thought entered my mind, perhaps it was indeed a young couple, perhaps that couple was József and his wife. Perhaps the main room had a small piano in the corner that his wife liked to play. Next to the piano, perhaps there was an old but well-loved violin, something that was passed down from father to son. Perhaps József dreamed of one day passing this treasured instrument on to his own child, teaching them to love music as he did. Then it struck me, I was well and truly back in touch with The Writer Within and it happened without consciously trying to do so. That night I went to sleep happy and content, knowing that whatever worries and problems would come next, that something in my life was now right again.
And now I must leave, because despite being back in touch with The Writer Within, I still have that last pesky assignment to get out of the way.
Well it has been quite a while since my mashed up words have been on your screens, but now we have begun to settle here in our little apartment in Budapest, you’ll hopefully be seeing more and more of my writing here on The Writer Within. Even though I still have one last assignment to do before I complete my Master of Education degree, I’ve decided it would be best to use these few minutes of peace to procrastinate from said assignment and update you all with what been happening the last few weeks.
We have been in Budapest for almost a week now, but to travel here with three young children was one of the most difficult things I have done with my children. Firstly packing up our entire house was quite an ordeal in itself, then packing five large suitcases, five carry-on bags, two backpacks, two laptop bags and a handbag with all the important things like passports and tickets and so on was quite a feat. Especially considering I didn’t really start packing until two days before our departure from Sydney.
The came the fun part (can you sense the sarcasm?), checking-in at the airport, while trying not to lose a bag or a child (thank goodness my parents tagged along for this part). Once this vital part was over with, we had to go through customs in Sydney. This meant taking the laptops out of the laptop bags, placing all bags (five carry-on, two backpacks, a handbag and a couple of plush toys) up to be screened and making sure we didn’t lose any children as we went through the metal detector one person at a time, always interesting to get a two-year old to walk through that one by himself without him wandering off.
This ordeal was carried out several times over the next 30 hours as we traveled from Sydney to Singapore, then on to Zurich and finally to Budapest. The good news is that we survived the traveling with all children and bags present and accounted for.
So, now here we are in the mild autumn weather of Budapest and here I sit coming to the realisation that we did it, we actually did it. I’ve always been the kind of person that when I set my mind to something, I will get there, I will do it, no matter how long it takes. So when we decided to pack up the house and travel to the other side of the world, with three young children, I knew it would come to fruition. It wasn’t just a pipe-dream or an idea, it was something we would do. We were in it for the long haul, even the long haul flights, although I wish there was a better way to travel long distances.
The same sentiment also applies to my writing, I will finish the many novels and novellas I have started and planned, no matter how long it takes. For when it comes to being a writer, you need to be in it for the long haul. Writing a novel is not something that happens overnight, it is something that takes a significant amount of time to shape and mold, to perfectly form the characters and to tell their story. Once I have my final assignment out of the way (if I can stop procrastinating long enough), my attention for writing will be focused on telling József’s story. Hopefully being surrounded by the history and culture of the city that once was the home of this character, will provide me with a source of inspiration. I only hope that I can do his story justice and convey the difficulties of the time in which he lived.
So, stay tuned over the coming weeks for updates and little snippets of what I’ll working on.
I’ve been reading a lot of Joss Whedon quotes lately and whilst anything Joss Whedon is pretty amazing, in my opinion, there was one particular quote that really hit home with some things I’ve been trying to figure out in the development of the characters in Lonely Hearts and that is PASSION.
“Passion. It lies in all of us. Sleeping… waiting… and though unwanted, unbidden, it will stir… open its jaws and howl. It speaks to us… guides us. Passion rules us all. And we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love… the clarity of hatred… the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion, maybe we’d know some kind of peace. But we would be hollow. Empty rooms, shuttered and dank. Without passion, we’d be truly dead.”
― Joss Whedon
Passion isn’t something reserved for romance novels or little love stories, passion is something that drives us and our actions and something that drives our characters, as Joss said, “Without passion, we’d be truly dead.” Therefore by creating characters that are passionate, we strive to lift them off of the page and bring them to life.
When I talk about characters who have passion or who are passionate, I do not mean some loved up couple who can’t get enough of each other (if you know what I mean). This is not what I mean at all, you can love another with passion, this is true, but on the flip-side, you can also hate with passion.
Although the word “passion” is often perceived to be synonymous with love, passion is not (and should not) be used only to describe someone’s love for another. The Oxford dictionary defines passion as a, “Strong and barely controllable emotion,” this is the kind of passion that I think Joss is describing, the passion that gives us life, that drives us and the same passion that brings our characters life.
Something I am striving towards now is creating characters that possess a strong element of passion. I want to give strength to their feelings and emotions and portray this strength and passion to the readers. I want the readers to feel the strength of their “barely controllable” emotions. The passion in their love, their hatred and their grief. I want the passion to lift the characters off of the page and bring them to life, because without passion, the characters are reduced to mere words on a page, without life.
In my writing, I’ll be trying to focus on the passion of my characters, the strength of their love, hate and grief, the feelings they experience that make them just that little bit more real for my readers to enjoy.
Thanks Joss Whedon, for reminding us that passion is what gives us life and in turn, what breathes life into our characters.
Before I end this week’s post, here is another one of my favourite Joss Whedon quotes, this one makes me think that George R. R. Martin might be a Joss Whedon fan too,
“People love a happy ending. So every episode, I will explain once again that I don’t like people. And then Mal will shoot someone. Someone we like. And their puppy.”
― Joss Whedon
“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”
― Robert Frost
Sorry I am a day late with this week’s post, but unfortunately it’s been a rollercoaster of a semester and an assessment task that was due had to take priority yesterday.
As you can see by the title of today’s post and by the quote at the top, I am going to talk about the importance of using the element of surprise when writing fiction.
I spoke a few weeks ago about realising a mistake I made in Thomas and Rose’s story (in case you missed it check it out by clicking here). I realised that I had given away too much of the story, too early on eliminated the suspense and surprise that the plot needed in order to develop at an engaging pace. Now sometimes, as the writer, you already know the little surprises coming up in the plot and when drafting you let them go a little too soon. This is when you have to rush back and edit, making sure you keep that element of surprise and suspense up your sleeve (like I am intending to do now I have submitted that nasty literature review!) Other times you are simply writing it as it comes to you and even though you are the writer, one of the plot twists even takes you by surprise.
So far through writing Thomas and Rose’s story I’ve laughed and cried, I’ve been shocked and surprised and sometimes I’ve been downright furious and angry, particularly with one of my more villainous characters. I’ve had moments when I would be writing away and suddenly I would realise where the story was heading. In that moment I feel the shock and surprise that I only hope my readers will feel too.
Without the element of surprise the plot runs the risk of becoming predictable and boring, definitely not something that will keep an audience. Be ruthless in your writing, be ruthless,shock and surprise your readers but try not to be predictable.
So now I’m off to do some rearranging of Thomas and Rose’s story, trying to keep the element of surprise, if I don’t get distracted by Game of Thrones, that is!
I’ve been a little stuck with my writing this week, the writing has not been flowing at all like it was last month. Not only has life and other things gotten in the way of my writing, but also I had this feeling that something wasn’t quite right in the most recent parts of Thomas and Rose’s story. In the early hours of this morning I realised the mistake I had made: I didn’t hold back.
I let go of a major plot twist way too soon, completely removing the suspense I wanted to build. You see, I am pretty new at this novel writing thing, I usually write short stories or children’s books, but never with the intent to publish and I am simply learning as I go. I couldn’t figure out how Rose would react to such a revelation or how the audience would react as well, even though I have never really considered audience reaction to my writing until that point.
This is what I’ve figured out:
Even though we often hear the phrase, “Don’t hold back”, for the purpose of suspense and character and plot development, sometimes it helps to hold back a bit. If you give all the answers and insight too early on, it creates more of a recount rather than a well told story. Most writers have probably already figured this out, but like I said, I’m learning as I go.
When rereading the most recent parts I had written, in an attempt to get the writing flowing again, I began to think about some of my favourite authors and the feeling of not being able to wait to get to the next page and the page after that, almost speed reading in order to find out what happens next. I wondered exactly what it was that kept me turning page after page -it was suspense, knowing enough to know that something was going on but not enough to know exactly what it was. Even if a novel was not described in this way, all good stories have a certain level of suspense. Thankfully it didn’t take me long to figure it out.
When reading a well written story, it is almost like you are trying to solve a puzzle and piece by piece you are putting it together. The words on the pages are the pieces of the puzzle and the puzzle to be solved is in the development of the plot and the characters, eventually leading to solving that puzzle completely by the time you get to the end of the story (and not before).
Now when it comes to writing, you need to keep this in mind, you don’t want to give your audience all of the puzzle pieces, numbered and with a set of instructions of how to piece them together. To keep the interest of your audience you need to drop one piece of the puzzle at a time, always keeping a few in your pocket to drop along the way. You need to find a balance though, drop too many pieces and you will give too much away too quickly, leaving nothing for the ending, but drop too few and you risk the story becoming dull, boring or uneventful, losing your audience either way.
I’ve known the basic plot from the moment I began Thomas and Rose’s story, I’ve even known some of the plot twists (with others added as I write), however trying to figure out where each of these should be placed in the timeline of the novel is something I am figuring out as I go along.
I always have a basic plot outline, but I like to leave some things to be decided while I write.
J. K. Rowling
Now I am heading off to delete a significant chunk of writing (not completely though, I’ll save it for later on) and rewrite that section, holding back a little and saving a few pieces of the puzzle for later.
So, for the purpose of creating suspense HOLD BACK, at least a little.
This past week has been one of reflection. My family and I went on a quick family holiday, which is a first for us believe it or not and while the kids (and the husband) are all exhausted from spending time at the beach, I find myself sitting on the balcony of the hotel apartment, my mind constantly working.
I find myself thinking about many things, but in particular I find myself thinking pondering the idea of what to write, if I were to send a message in a bottle. Would it be something profoundly profound that would end wars and put an end to all of the world’s problems? Would it be some type of life advice, a piece of wisdom I have picked up in my thirty years of life that would perhaps help someone else out there?
After thinking about this idea for a good hour or so whilst I sat on the balcony admiring the sunset as I peer past the edge of my laptop screen, this is what I’ve come up with…
Although, considering this on the flipside, if I were to receive a message in a bottle, this is definitely the one I would need to receive. Those who know me or have even read a few of my blog posts will know a little about the extremes I go to in order to procrastinate. I’m doing it now as I type, right now, this very minute, I am procrastinating from doing another Uni assignment that is due on Monday…
If Senior Manager of Procrastination was an actual job description, where the person employed in the position was expected to find ways to do everything except what they really should be, I would be a model employee with a team of interns eager to learn my ways, a Master and my young Padawan learners.
On another note, the history of messages in bottles is a long one. According to Wikipedia (not always the most reliable source, but still interesting nonetheless), the first recorded messages in bottles date back to around 310 BC! Even New World discoverer, Christopher Columbus utilised the trusty message in a bottle system when his ship entered a severe storm. Apparently Columbus threw a report of his discovery overboard along with a note asking it to be passed onto the Queen of Castille in case he didn’t make it back.
Also, who can forget the awesome song of the same name by The Police, even though the song was released before my time, like any other person with a brain I can appreciate the awesomely unique voice of Sting and the days when musicians could actually play instruments. Excuse me for a moment while I sing to myself…..
So, I’m back now.
If you were to receive a message in a bottle..
what would you hope for it to say? What is something you need to be told or reminded of?
If you were to send a message in a bottle…
what words of wisdom would you leave for the unsuspecting discoverer of the bottle?
Let me know on twittter @WriterWithin_KK or on facebook using the hashtag #messageinabottle or simply comment on today’s post. I’d love to hear what your ideal messages in bottles would be!
Now I leave you in the capable hands of Sting and The Police while you ponder your answer.
Video retrieved from youtube (C) 1979 A&M Records Ltd
This week I was lucky enough to be able to squeeze in a little bit of writing time, it wasn’t much, but it was enough to put me back in touch with my characters and their story.
Even though I haven’t been able to write very much lately, getting back in touch with my characters again has been wonderful and has fuelled my passion for writing again. Even when I’m not actually writing, I’m thinking about writing and what is coming next in Thomas and Rose’s story. I have been thinking about how Thomas and Rose’s story began, I roughly knew what their story was, but I didn’t really have a clear idea of what type of book Thomas and Rose’s story would be. I wasn’t sure if it would be romance, historical fiction, paranormal fiction or whatever else, I didn;t really give it much thought, I simply began to write their story. It was a story that was quite a persistent one, one that simply had to be written.
“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”
― Madeleine L’Engle
So I set out to tell Thomas and Rose’s story, without slotting it into a genre, without trying to categorise it, I simply began writing to book that wanted to be written.
Quite a few months ago I wrote about genre and the idea of feeling locked in by categorising your writing into a particular genre (you can read the post by clicking here). I don’t want to feel trapped by stating that I am a *insert genre here* writer, some people are perfectly fine with stating that they are a romance writer or fantasy writer or some other genre and thats perfectly fine. If I were to attach myself to a genre though, I would feel like I was limiting myself. Like it says above, you have to write the book that wants to be written.
Lonely Hearts is definitely becoming much more of a Romance novel that I had originally thought. When Thomas and Rose’s story first came to me, it had a much stronger paranormal element to it, but as the story has evolved I have realised that this was just one element of their story, one that will be much more prominent in the second book of the series.
So if I had to, I would say that Thomas and Rose’s story is an Historical Paranormal Romance, with varying levels of each as the series progresses. However, I will not say I am a Romance writer or a writer of Historical Fiction, I will simply say that I am a writer who writes the books that want to be written, although I am yet to finish one!
So, as I head off to complete yet another uni assessment (and hopefully squash in some actual writing time), remember the book that wanted to be written and how it refused to limit itself by genre.
Also, here’s a little snippet from Lonely Hearts for you all.
I bit my lip as I fought the urge to laugh at Thomas’ ability to state the obvious, “It didn’t end well? Really? I would never have thought that after seeing you two together on Saturday night. You two seemed to be such great friends.” I rolled my eyes as I lost the fight to hold back my sarcasm, even though I knew that none of what happened was really Thomas’ fault.