1000 words a day challenge

1000words_500wThrough the Write Anything Twitter feed (@wawriters) I saw reference to Inky Girls 1000 words a day challenge.

Debbie Ridpath Ohi, the creator of the Inky Girl writes:

Too often, I find that writers start motivational challenges like NaNoWrimo with enthusiasm and good intentions, but give up when they start missing their daily targets for more than a few days in a row…undermining their confidence and defeating the purpose of the original challenge.

I also wanted a challenge that lasted the whole year rather than just a month.

I have been trying to build up to writing three pages a day – which some days is great and I get there with extra to spare – other days it just sux.  1000 words seems to be such a better target to aim for. I’m not exactly sure how you track a word count when your editing (and you are carving out words rather than inserting them) … I’m still to come up with a forumlae other than aiming for a page target.

If I can hit the 1000 word count for 21 days in a row I’ll gift myself the badge.  21 days in the magic number some behavourists came up with as the number of days needed to effect lasting change (well until you fall off the bike and have to get on again and recount another 21 days!)  In the next 21 days I will have celebrated my son’s 5th birthday and having made it through the first five years of motherhood, survived a 5th birthday party, been on holidays for a week and planned for the school holiday break.  There is plenty of writing to be done in the next week as I stock pile my Type A Mom articles and Write Anything for my week of solitude in the Bunya Mountains. If I can achieve 1000 words a day for the next 21 I think I will make it a lasting change.

On a completely different subject, I signed up for a 31 day course on “building your blog” and after having numerous problems getting my email address registered so I could get the daily emails and enlisting the help of the family email address, I have received a registration email, and introductory email and the Day One email on the Elevator Pitch … and then it got very quiet … and it is still very quiet.  I think I should take note of the obstacles here and perhaps consider this challenge for a different time.

(Today’s word count [not including Twitter, Facebook, this blog or emails] 1178 courtesy of my Write Anything column for this week The New Spin on Reality TV.)

Get Ready for This: Lifeline Bookfest

pile-of-booksThe Lifeline Bookfest is on again.

For those who live outside of Brisbane and may never have attended an event like this – it is the largest second hand book sale in the Southern Hemisphere. Not bad for the sleepy old backwater of Brisbane. It is held twice a year over the Queens Birthday Long Weekend in June and the second week in January and money raised goes towards supporting the important work LifeLine does in helping people in crisis.

When we first moved to Brisbane six years ago it was one of the things my soul sister Karen told us we “must do”.  Given we were still getting out head around Brisbane the first Fest we were in Brisbane and getting our head around our brand new son the following, we really didn’t know what to expect when we turned up to the January ’05 one.

So many books in the one place. That’s the first thing I remember about our first time there.  I also remember finding a really rare Micheal Odent book which I couldn’t buy for 50c because Dave had my purse and when I went back it was gone (you only do it once!) I remember finding a 50c hardback copy of Birth Without Violence just lying there waiting for me to pick it up. It was also the first place I breastfeed Dylan in public in our sling … wandering up and down the tables of books ignoring any looks I may have been getting.

A photo doesn’t do the sale justice – but I’lltry tomorrow.  There are more than a million second hand books for sale – trestle table upon trestle table of them.  I think a fair chunk of our home library has been procured from there.

As my attention turns more towards fiction this year, I’ve been searching out books to fill the gaps  in my own collection.  In January I got Darkness at Sethanon and Silverthorn.  Now Magician doesn’t look quite so lonely up there alone on the shelf. Dave also found me a copy of Lolita (which I have since read).  This time around I’m looking up the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (actually I think Dave is intended to take the list with him – he makes my avid reading look like a half hearted amateur effort) but also remembering what other gaps need filling.  On the top of my list will be:

  • The Time Travellers Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep – Phillip K Dick
  • Lightning – Dean Koontz

We’re also looking for the tragics – something to top How to Get a Date with a Vampire (which I found last week at the Rotary Book Sale) and perhaps something to send in to Spicks and Specks for their Substitute section.  And Dave is going prepared with not only the 1001 list, but a notebook to keep a record of all the strange book placings. Last time he found Barbara Cartland in “Classics”.

What would be on your wishlist for an event like this?

Image via Paper Pills

Blast from the Past: Grug

grugEarlier on this week I was strolling through QBD and ended up in the kid section.  There was nothing suprising in that, expect for once I was alone and not in the kid’s section searching out my son, mentally running through the negotations which would most likely take place to get him to leave.

When I look back there was no real reason to end up there, at the back of the store.  Then I turned and sitting on the shelf at eye level was Grug.

For my birthday when I was either six or seven I got Grug and the Green Paint. It is one of the books etched in my head.  My oldest friend Ty was also a fan of Grug … it was probably something be bonded over at some early point in our friendship. Other adult friends I have asked about Grug have just looked at me like I was the one to have recently taken a tumble from a Burrawang Tree!

Becoming a Mum gave me reason to search out Grug but until Wednesday he had alluded me.  And I never understood why – when there were Mr Men books, Clifford the Big Red Dog and other classics such as the Pokey Little Puppy and Saggy Baggy Elephant readily available.

When I placed my pile of books up to the counter to pay (I also had The Four Agreements and a collection of short stories about Mothers from prominent English authors) I mentioned to the lady I had been searching for years for Grug.  It turns out Grug’s been on a publishing hiatus for the last 17 year.

Grug is back in print with a new publisher, Simon and Schuster and the first 12 books in the series were released June 1st – the next 12 will be released July 1st.

A few things I didn’t know about Grug, or his creator Ted Prior (because these sorts of things are not necessarily important to you when you’re six):

  • Ted Prior is Australian
  • Grug by defalt is also Australia
  • There are 24 books in the series
  • Ted Prior’s resume includes stints as a police officer and art teacher
  • Grug started life as the grassy top of a Burrawang tree, until it fell off and changed into Grug
  • The first four Grug books  (Grug, Grug and the Big Red Apple, Grug and the Green Paint, Grug and his Garden) were published in 1979 (my first year at primary school)
  • The last four  Grug books (Grug Builds a Boat, Grug and his Kite, Grug Learns to Dance and Grug Goes Shopping) were published in 1992 (my first year a university!)

It is with great enthuasism the not-quite-five, but Just Reading Dylan devoured his first ever Grug, over and over again when he found it sitting on the table – I’d forgotten to hide it up in the presents cupboard with all the other books. IT took one read through with him and he was reading it back to us with only a few stumbles.

At $5.00 a copy teh Grug books are a cheap and effective way of getting kids, especially boys, interested in reading. A friend who owns a bookstore in Bega said they have stocked the Grug books. Her son has five already and is making a decisive effort to sit and read them independently.

With a birthday on the horizon and another 23 Grug books to collect – it is entirely possible I may hit Grug saturation point some time in the future.  Until then – I’ll just be chuffed I’ve become reacquainted with an old friend.

What books from your childhood have you or would you like to, share with your children?

Dirk Hartog Series #3: The Rain

Benjamin stood looking up. Up to the top of the building and the turbines of the water mining units, capturing the moisture in the air, turning it into water. Water from the air running down pipes – not up pipes like it had once.

Propellers spinning round on the same trajectory. Turning, turning. Caught. Stuck.

As a kid he thought it looked as though the city was trying to escape. Somehow the buildings would gather enough lift and would fly away. Helicopter Buildings enmasse flying to Somewhere Else. Maybe somewhere it rained. A place the rain would wash away the sins of the city instead of allowing them to become ingrained. Where the wounds would be salved. A chance to heal. The building would take him and Clarice away with them and they would start again. A new beginning – in the rain. Read more

Space Making Play

playWhen I first started doing Fly Lady back at the beginning of 2007, the most noticeable change in our home (other than the lack of clutter and mess) was the light.  Somehow all the crap lying around sucked the light from the rooms. Yesterday was a kitchen blitz – including taking the curtains down for washing.  My kitchen is light again – but it is not the only area being flooded with wonderful light.

After a highly productive morning writing the latest installment The Rain in the Hartog Series and my contribution towards [Fiction] Friday I realised the decluttering I have been doing over the past few days, has been hard but worthwhile.  Opting out of non fiction writing projects, reassessing what I really want to write about and how I want to spend my writing time has been a creative declutter. It is as if the light has come streaming back in.

When I do any sort of releasing ritual I always make sure in thanking and saying good bye to what I am letting go, I always welcome something in.

Energetically if you don’t replace the old with something new, the old will just bounce right back in. After all – old is often a cosey fit, though often no longer useful.  Like  slippers which were two sizes too small for me, which I kept retrieving from the bin as a kid. I loved them but from memory there were no replacements, or nothing as delightful as the holey red Cookie monsters.

This is a covuluted way of saying I guess, this morning’s writing adventures have affirmed to me I have made the right decisions this week.  I’ve released what needed to go and in return what I want has come in. While non fiction gets you 21 000 hits in four months, it is like turning up to the office to work. I still have about eight breastfeeding article to write to hit my six month mark at Type A Mom and the carrot dangling before me “reference on Linked In” but I will take them one article at a time.  I still have along list of topics I want to write about.  I will probably never totally forsaken non fiction writing but for now it does not deserve the huge slab of my time, creativity and energy it has been gorging itself on. I like the idea of non fiction being a necessary diversion every now and again.

I read recently writing should be like playing. After completing The Artist Way three times, of being immersed in the philosophy of creativity as play I’ve persisted in making writing a job. It is a line the sand moment where I say here it is, I’m stepping over and not going back. I love fiction writing and it is where I want to be.

I’m glad I’m over.

Let’s play!

Image via Noise Between Stations which also has a great article on Is Play Important.

Navigation Guide: May Update

DespedidaIt has been a while since I revisited my “navigation guide” for the year.  I christened 2009 the “Year of Action” coming in on the heels of 2008 the “Year of Authenticity”. Here is my “creative business plan” along with quick updates on each dot points.

1. Write something every day – building up to three pages a day

I think I’m writing at least a page every day – some days more. The start and end of the week (columns and Fiction Friday) always see the best daily word counts. At the moment I’m trying to create a little bit of sense in my work schedule, down sizing on non fiction work so I can up size my fiction work and hit the three pages a day.

While Morning Pages were never meant to be included in the page total – I know in the back of my head I have hand written (most days) three A4 pages. Despite a great desire at the beginning of the week to give them away – I glad I have persisted and allowed myself to get through another block.

Editing also falls into the “writing” category and is an excellent fall back for the day in which nothing springs to mind to write about (though I have to admit this is rare – only on the days when I have to front up to write my breastfeeding article!)

2. Participate in [Fiction] Friday every week

When I wrote this I set it pie in the sky high – knowing deep down I would be happy to get two written a month after a terrible funk last year. Low down for this month – 3/5.

In May there was Hartog, Derby and Summer Girl . I am unexpectantly enjoying writing the Hartog series – a dark, sci-fi detective sort of story. It makes it a joy to front up for FF each week now and see how I can weave Hartog’s web into the prompt (or should it be the other way around? *wry smile*)

3. Read two books a month (or a minimum of 600 pages)

I didn’t quite get through two books in May which was a bit of a disappointment.  I’m still well ahead though given the huge month I had in April (reading four).  I was lent Kate Atkinson’s When Will There Be Good News and will be searching out more of her books – was very impressed.  And I’m almost at the end of Arundhati Roy’s God Of Small Things. My bedside table is currently groaning under the weight of all the books waiting there to be read.

4. Complete a manuscript

I’ve been in the process of drawing the line in the sand about the manner in which my writing is divided.  We are planning a family holiday to the Bunya Mountains the 3rd week of this month and I intend to take with me a printed copy of both my NaNo projects “Finding Aphrodite” and “Blue Melissae”.  And hopefully start the process of finishing one of them.

5. Enter a minimum of four competitions

Ha!  While I did get my QWC magazine out a few months ago and highlight some competitions, I am still finding it hard to gain traction on the second draft of several stories.  Light Years seems to be just beyond my reach and I need to track down possible flash fiction comps for my story Sandals.

6. Have a minimum of 2 fiction and 2 non fiction pieces published

I publish two non fiction pieces a week – so I think the first part of this is now redundant – however it would be good to get something in print – perhaps look at Kindred.  As for the two fiction pieces. As part of the Critiquing course through QWC we have to research and submit a story for publication.  First cab off the rank will be Deck the Balls (or what other name it gets).  But before any of this – must subscribe to the AWMO.

7. Compile an electronic anthology of my best short stories from 2008.

This has completely stalled.  I now don’t know if I want to put together an anthology – or if I would rather had pick some pieces from last year and try them for publication elsewhere, before staving off that avenue by self publishing.  More thought needs to be given as to where I want this to go.

8. Get my ‘Chinese Whispers’ novelette/anthology off the ground.

Ups and downs with this project but it is going forwards … and I can handle the downs as long as there is forward motion. We’ve lost one female writer, had a replacement put in at the 11th hour and now find ourselves short another writer – this time a guy. I’m being truly extended as an editor – looking at and critting work.  Very glad for the decision to do the QWC course.  It is helping to gain confidence in my abilities to crit.

I’m also having a bit of a giggle at how I worded the dot point – the project isn’t mine – it is a joint project – Paul and I at the helm but eight other great writers who are equally the project.

9. Begin writing my part of the Blood Sister project.

This is really something I should committ my morning pages to exploring – otherwise it will be another year gone by with no work on this.

10. Commit to a schedule of professional development

I never outlined what I wanted to do with professional development – I was meant to do it in a blog post, which was never written, at the beginning of the year.  My plan was to complete a short story writing master class (check) and the six month critting course (check) through the QWC. I also had my sights set on Byron Bay Writer’s Festival (check for the purchase of the tickets)  NaNo while having its own dot point – also falls here – but more on it below.

The other element of professional development has been networking (this falls under professional development because it means getting out of my comfort zone!)  I have worked out how to drive Twitter so I can connect with more writers, publishers, agents etc which I am really enjoying and making an effort to go out and read more blogs, comment on more blogs, extend out my network.

11. Complete the series of articles for the Reclaim project on ‘Reclaiming Your Space’

I had forgotten about this (see why it is WISE to go back and see what your chartered course looked like)  Because of the non fiction nature of Reclaim – I’m wanting a hiatus – however all the information for these articles is in the talk we gave last year.  Just have to listen up and take notes from the video Kerry took of us. It would be good to finish this series of articles and also the articles to do with the survey we conducted (they are currently only half completed)

Annie and I had a super productive day brain storming the next evolution of Reclaim Sex After Birth but my heart and my head space have not be in a place to even contemplate taking it any further at this point.  I am hoping after a spell away from Reclaim, and a chance to invest back into one of my forlorn unfinished manuscripts, I will be ready to tackle the challenges of a rewrite.

12. Watch one movie a week

Cheap Tuesday brings great joy in our household.  In May I watched Seven Pounds (mind blowing), Twilight (I think three times and then ended up buying it) and others which don’t readily spring to mind (I really do need to keep a better list).

13. Participate in the National Novel Writing Month.

I have three ideas already vying for a space in November.  I’m not quite sure yet which one to take.  Glad I am not short on stories!

What I note most in this – projects which were important at the start of the year, have lost their importance.  And my focus has shifted greatly.  I had no idea when I wrote these I would land two permanent writing jobs within weeks of each other and my writing would be dragged in the direction of non fiction.  I did a quick tally tonight of the number of hits to the Type A Mom articles I have written since late January – just shy of 21 000.  That just blows my mind.  If only my fiction got comparable hits.

Image – Remedios Varo “Despedida”

It is interesting also the image I chose for the original post of these resolutions/goals/guides etc.  It was almost as though I knew my writing was verging off in different – no necessarily uncomplimentary of each other, but not necessarily a whole either!

Bowling as a Metaphor

For the past few days Dylan has been bugging me to go bowling.  I finally gave in last night and said we could venture down to the local bowling alley after kindy gym today.  Then I woke up this morning with the most awful lower back pain and the last thing on my ‘most enjoyable list with disabling back pain’ was bowling.  Still a promise is a promise.

By midday my back was “warmed up” and I was ready to look as though I was excited about the prospect of trying to make the overweight ball go in the right direction towards the ten sad looking pins at the end.

It was as I was struggling to make the ball do what I wanted it to do (so as not to be upstaged by my not yet five year old son – who in the end beat me by 50 points!) I realised what a metaphor bowling was for the current state of affairs in my life.

There are a number of elements in my life which I am beginning to see as obstacles and how cathartic it would be to just heave a bowling ball at them, knock them all down, clear the way and let me go on.  I thought about them as I twisted and made a dick of myself in the quest for the perfect strike (I got one … as I was meditating on this.) The thing with bowling, well at least from my perspective, with all the panache, all the skill and all the practise, there is still an element of luck in it.  You also have to concentrate – you have to really want to knock the pins down.

There was a moment when the mechanics reached down, lifted up two pins and swept the others away.  If only life could be like that.  If only some universal mechanism would lift me up and sweep away the crap around me so I could stand alone, uncluttered and ready to go again.  But life isn’t always like bowling or is it?

In game two after three successive “eights” I could see me as the lone Monk in my tarot deck – the eight of cups – hiking up a challenging hill with one cup, leaving behind the other seven behind. The card speaks of a difficult but necessary decision to move on.

So using bowling as a metaphor – it is time to start cutting down some obstacles, after one more review of what fits with my philosophy of ‘just write’.  To make a conscious effort to clear my part.  Scoring some strikes along the way would be nice too.

As Paul alluded to in a recent blog post, there are times when you have to make decisions about how you want to spend your time and these have to be transposed on the responsiblities which you have, ones which you can wean yourself out of and others you either have no current choice to opt out of or you really want to be part of.

It’s all part of the internal de-clutter.  And with Mars in Taurus it does feel like the hard plod – though as a triple grey ox  you would think by now I’d be used to the hard slog.  Or perhaps I’m tired of it.