3 years old

Happy birthday to my little guy!  Hard to believe that three years ago, this was you:

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And now:

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Three years old, with very definite ideas about things that you do and don’t like.  You don’t like eating still (seriously, child, you ate half a chocolate cupcake today and then wandered away, bored), though you are far better at sleeping these days (apart from those darned night terrors and nightmares).  You love your trains and cars, Thomas especially, and you can name pretty much all of the engines from the series.  You love Superman, Batman and Iron Man, even though you have no real idea who they are.

You care about other people deeply.  You give huge cuddles, and love to hold people’s hands.  You say hello to pretty much everyone when we’re up at the shops.  You have your wobbly moments, but they are few and far between.  You also love your kitty, who has just realised that you’re old enough to know what you’re doing and will give you a light scratch when you’re tormenting loving her.  You love books, and you could happily be read to for hours.  You adore My Neighbour Totoro, and your current favourite movies in the world are WALL-E and Ponyo.  You love playgrounds, though you’re always a bit hesitant on slides.  You’ve just gained your confidence swimming, and are starting to do a pretty good dog paddle.

Another year and you’ll be in kindergarten.  And everything will change.  I don’t mind, as long as you continue to be the happy kid you are right now.  Though hopefully you’ll learn to eat soon 😉

Trying to get myself back into a posting schedule

Busselton Jetty

The view looking back along the Busselton Jetty, taken last week.

The last few months I haven’t been great about keeping up here.  I have been blogging elsewhere privately, but most of that has just been noting the day-to-days.  Dealing with a kid who has night terrors and nightmares.  Dealing with recent exacerbations of chronic illness, and potentially developing new chronic illness (hooray…or something).  And in the midst of that, writing.

I’m hoping to get back into some kind of a schedule.  Also getting back to posting my links again, because that actually forces me to keep up with my rss feeds.

In news of the good, we managed to actually get away for our first family holiday – first down to Busselton for a few days, and then down to Gracetown to stay with a bunch of friends for a few more days.  And oh gods, I didn’t realise how much easier it was to be on holidays with other families.  The kids entertain themselves!  We actually got to relax!!  Sleep, not so much, for me, since I don’t sleep well away from home anyway, and the kidlet has some spectacular night terrors due to ending up overtired and overstimulated.  The end result is that I now have a tonne of photos to go through.

I have Plans for the next year.  Moving on with the writing, but moving on with other things as well.  My OBOD work, reading and reviewing more, getting back to making jewellery and toying with the idea of learning a new craft.  I can’t believe that this year is almost over.  It hasn’t been a bad one, but I feel like I should have accomplished more.  Life with chronic illness, though.  You don’t always get that choice.  And I am acutely aware, writing that, that I am seriously privileged when it comes to my illness.  I have a husband who supports me, I don’t have to work outside the home, and my mother helps with the kidlet so I can write.

The light in the darkness is always there: personal postives

Here’s a fact: I am, by nature, a negative person.

I know this, and I have always known this.  Given a situation, I am most inclined to look towards the worst possible outcome.  I can find out a hundred ways in which something can go wrong.  Given enough time, I will discover more.  Is it any wonder that I am someone who is inclined towards depression?

I have to fight that negative bent pretty much every day of my life.  When I was younger, I often didn’t fight it very hard.  I spent a lot of time mired in depression, mired in the negative.  I wasted a lot of time there.  Sometimes it makes my heart hurt to think of how much time I wasted.  And there’s another moment lost to the negative.

I’m a mother now (a thing which, at times, still startles me), and while I still naturally lean towards the negative, I try harder to fight it.  I want my son to grow up in a world where he gets to keep his cheeky grins, his laughter.  I want his natural bent to be towards the positive.

The trick is how to do this.  I believe, as a parent, that one of my roles is to provide boundaries to my son.  It’s very, very easy, to get lost in this, to become the kind of parent who exists almost as a boundary themselves.  It’s easy to focus on the fact that your child didn’t listen to you, isn’t doing this, isn’t doing that.  And in doing so, you miss all the things that your child is doing.

I look around me for examples of people who focus on the positives.  And, sadly, on some days, it’s hard to find them.  Especially online, where, on some days, everything seems to be drama and passive aggression and plain old aggression.

And then it occurs to me that I have one of the best examples in the world.  My mother.  Over the last decade or so, life has given her more than enough stumbling blocks.  She’s dealt with family issues that aren’t mine to go into in public, she’s lost her husband.  And yet every day, she wakes up and makes the world a better place.  She is one of the few people I know who genuinely listens when she asks someone how they are.  She smiles at everyone, and goes out of her way to talk to people. She does small things for people, like bringing in their bins after they’ve been emptied.  Few people thank her for this, but she does it anyway.

And I think about the ways that I can bring this into my own life.  Even the small things make a difference – like thanking people when they do something for you, like asking the name of the person who’s serving you in a store, like giving formal, positive feedback when that same person is doing a damn good job.

Most days I live a very quiet life.  I’m a writer, so I’m holed up at home, in front of my computer.  And in case anyone wonders how on earth this fits in with having a small child, look to the example of my mother – she watches my son for a few hours every day so I can work.  But there are things I can do, even here.  One of my favourite things to do is send friends books in the mail – books that I think will bring something into their world.  I try to comment on blogs, especially when posts touch me.  It’s all too easy to feel like we’re just tossing words into a void, and what’s the point in being connected by the internet if we’re not actually connecting?  I buy books published and written by friends and I read them.  I review books, I give feedback to podcasts that make a difference in my thinking and writing.  I try to give back, as much as I can.

I am acutely aware of the privilege of my life.  I don’t have to worry about where my next meal is coming from.  These days, I am in relative good health, and the healthcare I need is available and affordable to me.  I have a roof over my head.  I am warm.  I am loved.

I want to be someone who reflects that back into the world.  And I think that is a large reason why I write.  The darkness and the negative always creeps in there, but I always want to reflect hope as well.  I don’t know if I always succeed in that, but it’s my aim.

And so I write.  I hug my son and tell him that I love him.  I send people random presents in the mail.  I tell people how much they mean to me.  I buy their artwork, their jewellery, spread awareness of their work.  And one day, I’ll probably be the person bringing in their neighbours bins, even though they never get thanked.  And hopefully I’ll be smiling while I’ll do it, no matter what.

Getting organised

This week is turning into a week of not much actual writing, and lots of organisation.

Today involved the acquisition of some new stationary and filing organisation, and I began the task of truly getting my working area sorted.  The husband is amazing at keeping things organised, while I tend to just lob piles of paper into drawers.  Everything looks neat, but you can’t actually find anything.

The reality is this: if I want to pursue this as a career, I need to treat it like a business.  That means being organised, having vital papers where I need them.  I will note that I took particular joy in labelling a file “Contracts” today.  And realised that, even though I’ve only written three short stories in the last few years, I’ve sold all of them.  I have my fingers crossed for the fourth one, which is currently trying to find its place in the world.  I’ll never be a prolific short story writer, but I feel like I’ve levelled up there, at least.

I have my character bios rewritten, printed and filed away for Never, and worked on my place descriptions today.  Tomorrow, I’ll start getting my outline all sorted out.  I have hopes for this novel, and I really want to get the next draft finished relatively quickly.

What kind of creature shall I be?

So, yesterday Spotify launched in Australia.  I pounced joined up and am now happily enjoying streaming music.  Not sure as of yet if it’s going to be worth paying for a subscription.  I don’t mind ads.  We’ll see.

Another glorious day in Perth today: clear blue skies, though it’s cold this morning (where cold is a value of less than 10C for us, which is probably warm for some of you reading this.  Remember, it gets to 40C here in summer, we don’t do cold that well!).  There’s some frost on the lawn this morning, too, which always looks gorgeous.

I am meandering my way towards the end of this draft of Never and am reminded, as always, by how much I hate writing endings.  I am sorely tempted to just outline these last few scenes and go back and start editing.  I’ve written this in an odd way – I’m working from an outline, but I’m doing a fair bit of pantsing in between my outline points.  It means that I have a few subplots to go and put in and stuff to clarify.  Plus, I need to do some scene rearranging.  Luckily I love editing 😉

How to focus in an age of distraction

How to focus in an age of distraction. Image from learningfundamentals.com.au

 

I came across this infographic on Tumblr the other day, and just really liked it.  I think it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed by life, especially if you’re working online, and sometimes it’s important to take a step back and assess everything.

There are things on here that I should do – like turning off the internet when I’m writing.  I’ve found using the Pomodoro Technique helpful with that, though – I simply don’t switch out of my writing program for the 25 minutes that I’m writing, and that’s that.  I’m always thankful that I work relatively fast, so even on a bad day when I only get that 25 minutes of focused time, I usually manage somewhere around 1000 words.

Email checking I’m bad on, since my phone alerts me, and if it’s near me, I tend to pick it up and check my inbox.  Twitter and Facebook I only check at the beginning and end of the day (and sometimes not then).

I’m sure I can do things better.  Then, of course, I have a toddler in the house, which means that all plans can go awry in a heartbeat.  I’m just thankful that he’s generally well behaved, non destructive, and that I have family who help me get writing time.

And that said, I’m going to get away from the computer for the morning and the husband and I will take the kid swimming.

 

We’re going to the zoo…

To celebrate my birthday this week we decided to take the kidlet to the zoo for the first time on Saturday.

I think he was more enamoured of the fact that we went on a bus, train and ferry to get there, and of the other kids at the zoo, than the animals themselves 😉  But he did like the meerkats and some of the small monkeys and he seemed to love the nocturnal house.

And – so cute – on the way home he turned around and asked “Go zoo again?”.  Heh.

I took a bunch of photos that I need to spend some time processing, but here are a few:

 

Kangaroo

Kangaroo who thought it was a cat, sleeping in the pathway.

Cheetah

Cheetah

The past does not equal the future

Writing space

My writing space, as it appeared this week.

 

This has been an odd week.  I have accomplished my writing quota every day, but I am trialling a new medication, and its main effect (apart from decreasing my pain levels, which is awesome) is to make me very tired.  Sleeping at night has been more broken than solid, as well, which is making it a little difficult to do any more than the minimum of work.  Still, this will pass.

Links for the week:

Authenticity: letting the world make its mark on you.

Gala Darling talks at TEDxCMU about Radical Self-Love.

Blue Milk shares a great quote about motherhood: Like driving at night.

The do-what-you-love guide.

 Experimenting with your sleep and dreams.

34 ways to begin your self-care practice.

Domythic Bliss showcases ornate door hinges.

The life-or-death pursuit of creative badass joy.

Plants are smarter than you think.

Finding place for outliers in virtual communities.

Change a habit in three steps.

Figuring out your writing style.

Stop taking this picture!

Take your writing to the next level.

Fat people can live as long as thin ones.

Try this: be innocent, faint and effortless.

How to screw everything and just write.

Women in science fiction and fantasy month.

Jump, and then you get your wings

365:1 Jilly snoozing

An old photo of Jilly sleeping. I haven't had the camera out much this week again, so you get an old photo.

I need to get the camera out more again.  I may actually start up a photo a day project again, because I’ve been neglecting photos so much.

This has been a rough week.  My pain and fatigue levels have been high post-Swancon, to the point where I actually took a full sick day yesterday and did nothing.  I feel better for it, too, and hopefully after the weekend, I shalll be recovered enough to get stuck into work again properly.

Links, which are for the last two weeks, since I neglected them last week (since I was at Swancon!):

Tansy Rayner Roberts rounds up a lot of links in Friday is an imperfect feminist but tries hard.

Theodora Goss talks about the real problem of finding energy to write.

Sarah Wilson: Jump, and then you get your wings.

A season in hell. (trigger warning for talk of cancer and surgery and illness).

An invocation for beginnings.

When I feel stuck or stumped, I got for a stroll.

Duck hunting, and why we should care about our awards.

Ten commandments for editing someone else’s work.

The narrative of women in fear and pain.

Depression and faulty core beliefs.

Why are mums so hesitant to view their male partners as full, competent parents?

A look at the Aurealis Awards gender stats.

Are you afraid of aging?

5 books that could change your creative game.

Amanda Palmer talks about first world problems.

Time management for the self-employed.

4 relationship mistakes you don’t know you’re making.

The top 10 books every mama should read.

Justine Musk on creativity and finding your inner freak.

How to create characters who fascinate.

Something has to happen.

Final edits – what do you look for?

3 questions you must ask your characters.