Interruptions and Motivations

Curse of the TaniwhaFunny how when you want to write the most, is probably when you get the least amount done?

I mean, I am taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo at the moment, trying to write 50k in 30 days, and I have had some good days writing, but everytime I get on my computer, someone generally wants me to do something for them.  Like ring the finance company, put the password on the other computer, or housework that needs to be done.

So I have tried scheduling time into my week, so I can get some solid goes at writing, but it hasn’t really been that successful.  I can always find something else more pressing to do, like research on the computer (which I need to do, because Curse of the Taniwha involves life in a Maori Pa, so I need words for food, types of food available at that time, what roles women had in the pa etc.

Either that, or I realise that I haven’t vacuumed the floor and it desperately needs to be done.  Either that or the washing needs to be hung out, brought in or folded.  The dishes need to be done, dinner needs to be organised… on and on the list goes.

So I have decided what actually works for me is setting a timer.  At the moment I have set it for an hour, and I write solidly in that hour.  And you know what, it actually works.  I focus on writing for one solid hour, and then I have plenty of time to vacuum, wash floors, dust the furniture, change the table cloth, clean the toilet, bathroom, change the sheets on the beds, etc etc, and then I even find that I have more time for working on my story.

Yesterday I had one hour writing, in which I did about 3k.  Then I did another stint, but I finished at 45 minutes, and I had another 1.8k.  That’s a good innings really.

Oh, and I got busy – I’m no pro, but I made a cover for my book, taking a photograph of a necklace that I brought, because it reminded me of the Taniwha.  What do you think?

The “Can’t Help It” Days

Everyone has them, the days when they just keep sighing, nothing seems interesting, and they can’t get over themselves.  We call them “The Can’t Help Its”.  But how does one get over them?

I had one of those days in the weekend.  It had been an extremely busy week the previous week.  I spent some time at the op shop, I walked, rode a bike, helped with firewood, yet my day on the beach with my son, I just couldn’t get out of my funk.  Physically my body was ready to keep going, but mentally, I was exhausted.  I guess all the physical activity had outweighed its usefulness.

Having suffered from depression for the best part of four years now, these days can be harder than most, but I have to remember, that it isn’t a downer, it is just a blip on my radar.  I just have to remember all the good things that I do.

And it was my Mum that started the conversation, about why we volunteer our time.  We both work at op shops (aka opportunity shops / second hand shops / junk shops, whatever they are called in your part of the world), and often we get asked why we volunteer.  Mum couldn’t explain why she did, but I could.  I do it, because I want to give back to the community I live in.  All the money raised from our op shop is used to provide funds for local community groups who apply for help.

It was a real step outside of my comfort zone.  A big step out of my comfort zone, but a good one for me.  It has given me a sense of pride and sense of self, knowing that what I am doing, albeit a small part, is helping others.

Mum has always talked to me about the grid – a set of 3 x 3 squares, which makes up our lives.  Each square has a role that you play in it.  Every day, you should do something from each grid, that leads to a sense of accomplishment for the day.  It gives you a sense of purpose.

I don’t necessarily follow the grid pattern, but I try to focus on at least one thing that makes me happy each day.  Writing makes me happy, as does working at the op shop, or working at my day job.  Reading, spending time with my family, and walking / tramping are also things I enjoy doing.

So how did I end up getting out of my funk?  I actually ended up having an afternoon nap.  Sometimes it isn’t quite so drastic, sometimes its watching a funny video, or spending time doing some kind of physical activity.  In fact, once I woke up, had tea, I went out and stacked some of the fire wood that the kids delivered to my place on Friday.  It was what I needed to feel that little bit brighter.

So what do you do when you have the “can’t help its”?

Meeting Rena

Week one of Camp Nano was a real mixed bag.  I have achieved some writing, and while I have had a couple of good days, I have had some sub standard days too, but that is all part of the writing process.

Have learned of a fatal flaw in Scrivener – I had an entire scene (about 900 words) disappear with one swipe of the keyboard, and it is gone, not retreivable – why?  Because after 2 seconds of inactivity, Scrivener auto saves, so the scene, which disappeared, was autosaved as a blank document.  Doh.

Have worked out what went wrong and how to fix it now, so have written some notes in the scene that went missing and started on the next scene.  I can get it written, no problems.  Thankfully, it wasn’t half a book, like the infamous August 2011 incident.

But anyway, today I wanted to introduce you to one of my characters from my story – Curse of the Taniwha.

Rena Collings is my heroine in this story.  She is about 30 years of age and loves the great outdoors, in fact we first meet Rena as she

Beth Allen - NZ Actress - my impression of Rena Collings

Beth Allen – NZ Actress – my impression of Rena Collings

tramps the Travers – Sabine track in the Nelson Lakes National Park.  She works in an office as a secretary / receptionist in a lawyers office, although she has no plans of studying further.  She gets a good wage, so uses it to save up for tramping gear and going on long tramping holidays.

Her best friend is Charna, a fellow secretary / receptionist at the same firm – Travis and Powers Barristers and Solicitors.  Charna is more of a party girl, but understands Rena’s needs for the great outdoors.  While Charna doesn’t play a big part in the story (at this stage), Charna will be there for Rena later on.

Rena doesn’t really have a boyfriend, she became friends with Rob Meyers when visiting at the Lake.  He was quite taken with her as she is an outdoors girl and he liked that about her.  He was the first to find her when she had her accident.  He convinced her to stay with him while she recovers and a relationship kind of developed.  Rena isn’t really interested in a relationship, she is happy in her own skin and happy to be on her own.  But she does like Rob – the fact he is a DoC ranger probably helps.

Rena is her full name, her parents gave her the name because they liked it.  It is a feminine version of Rene the boys name which means “Born again”.

Her favourite colour is red, but she doesn’t like dark colours.  In fact the lighter the colour, the more chance she will wear it.  Her wardrobe is full of bright colours, with only one black skirt and one pair of black slacks.  Even her jeans are bright colours.

She listens to a variety of music, but mostly rock, including Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Genesis, Nikelback, and for the fun of it, The Lonely Island and Lady Gaga.  She actually respects Lady Gaga for her originality and the fact that she isn’t worried about what people think of her.

Rena does have a tendancy to fall for men based on their looks, like Rob – who has a dark brooding handsomeness about him.  If someone isn’t good looking, she really isn’t interested, not that she is shallow.  Far from it, it is just one of the flaws she has, like also taking everyone at face value, which has led to some awkward situations in her past.

So there you go – Rena Colling.  I hope you enjoyed this little insight into her background.  And I am still working on it, so I might feed some other little tidbits as the story continues.

Being Proactive

I’ve recently been reading Stephen Covey‘s book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and I have been really enjoying it.  The first principle or habit is all about being proactive.  What exactly does that mean?

For a long time, I was reactive.  If an event happened, I would react to it.  If someone said something, I reacted to it.  What does that look like?  If someone said something about the way I did something, I would react by being happy, surprised, angry – whatever the emotions the circumstances demanded.

So what is being proactive about?  Proactive is not about anticipating situations, because you couldn’t go around anticipating good and bad things.  Nor is it about letting others influence us or allowing others to tell us what to do.

Being proactive is about taking charge of our own lives.  Not letting others influence us, or upset us, or needing others in our lives to feel better about ourselves.  Instead, it is about choosing how to react to the situation.  I could chose to react like I used to, or I could be more self aware of what is going on around me, using my conscience to determine whether it fits with my morals or values, and the independent will to act on my own self awareness.

Now I realise it all sounds like a lot of new age stuff, but it isn’t.  It is actually based on learning what your own core values are and staying true to them.

And this is the journey I have been on – to learn what my core values are.  It has been a very interesting experience, determining what really matters to me.  Some of the words I have come up with are:

 

 

Core Values

Core Values

 

There is a lot there, and I still have a lot of work to do, the next part is creating my own personal mission statement, but for now, I need to work through the above list and work out which of these are the most important to me.

So what are you’re core values?  Are you proactive or reactive?

 

 

Writing Monstrosity

This month has been all about editing, and while I enjoy that, I am about ready to start writing again, so thank goodness for Camp NaNo!  Next month, I plan to write a story that has been building within me, and fits in well with Cursed Love.  I have tentatively called it Curse of the Taniwha.

I don’t want to give too much away, but there are some characters over on my Pinterest page for you to have a look at to give you an idea of what I imagine my characters would look like.

I am basing this in the Nelson Lakes area, a beautiful area, steeped in Maori history.  I was entranced when I heard the myth behind the creations of the Nelson Lakes:

Maori legend tells us that there was a powerful chief, magician, and sorcerer named Rakaihaitu. Long long ago, before the great migration of the canoes, he came to New Zealand in his canoe Uruao, and journeyed around the coast. But when he landed near Nelson, Rakaihaitu decided to find a way overland through the rugged heart of the South Island. He and his followers set off across the plains and reached the beautiful wild country of the Buller region and the start of the mighty chain of mountains in the Nelson Lakes area. The chief took his great Ko, his digging stick and began to dig enormous holes in the ground. He worked long and hard, and eventually the holes filled with water, and became the known as Lake Rotoiti and Lake Rotoroa (The Nelson Lakes). Rakaihaitu then continued his journey South digging and naming all the great lakes of the South Island. Eventually he reached Foveaux Strait and settled there, and the tribes in that area trace their ancestry back to him.

Even though it was a main thoroughfare for Maori moving from Nelson and Marlborough to the Pounamu rich West Coast, no tribes actually settled the area.

But that doesn’t mean that I can’t use a little creativity and develop a story about a Taniwha in one of the Lakes…!

Stay tuned for more information on progress.

PS – If anyone can draw me a taniwha I can use for my Pic, I would love that.  Thanks  :)

Writing Process Blog Hop

pen writingRules:  Answer the four questions below, link back to the person who invited you, and name the people who will be posting the following Monday.

I was nominated by a wonderful friend of mine Zee Southcombe.  Zee and I got to know each other through KiwiWriters and have developed a wonderful friendship and together with some of Zee’s friends we are working on building a daily motivations website.  but that is further down the track.

I was then contacted by another friend, Virginnia DeParte.  I met Virginnia through RWNZ when I sent a request out for a critique partner.  She answered the call and has been so wonderful and giving in her advice.  It has been invaluable to me, and I appreciate all the help she gives me.

What am I working on?

Currently I am editing a story, ready to enter into a competition.  But I can’t give any details out about that.  :(

But I have started planning on a second story which is tentatively called The Curse of the Taniwha… yeah, I think I have a theme running here!  Basically the story revolves around a woman, a taniwha and a man and is situated in the beautiful Nelson Lakes area.

I also have a trilogy I want to work on – Huntress about a woman who is left for dead.  She has strange abilities that other humans around her don’t have, and it takes a while for her to realise that she is different – in a good way.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I have only recently started to write romance, but I am loving it, and the first story I wrote revolved around a curse, so it is paranormal, as the one above will be too.  But I also like suspense and both of these story’s have suspense in them.  So I believe that I have a new audience that I can target, those who like strong women characters, with romance and a dash of supernatural – with a twist!

The Huntress is an epic fantasy, very rich in detail.  I love writing fantasy, I love being able to create worlds for my characters to populate, and throw situations at them to see how they will survive.

Why do I write what I write?

I love to write.  I have written an epic fantasy, a gothic novel, a science fiction, a fantasy novella and romantic paranormal.  I like having the twist in the tale, the wondering whether it is supernatural, or just concidence, or both!

The Huntress is an epic fantasy, very rich in detail.  I love writing fantasy, I love being able to create worlds for my characters to populate, and throw situations at them to see how they will survive.

How does your writing process work?

Writing for me is a process of sitting down and writing, and generally if I have a goal, I write better.  Like April is when I plan on writing The Curse of the Taniwha, during Camp NaNo – I can set my word limit and write for the entire month, knowing that at the end, I will have a novel.  That is how I have written most of my works, although most of them are done through SoCNoC, the kiwiwriters version of NaNoWriMo.

I also have to be in the right head space.  My depression that I often blog about has really taken its toll, but this year I am determined not to let that bother me.

Look for the blog hop to continue next week (or the week after that, if they’re like me) on these sites:

Most of my writing friends have already taken part in this, but here are two, who I think are very interesting people and would have something to offer:

Grace

Kerryn Hewson who has a wonderful blog called Colour your Life

 

And the word for the week is… Connections

communicationThis word has popped up so many times for me this week – that I just can’t ignore it.

First, the psychiatrist that has been assessing me, told me that it is important for people to have connections in their lives, to connect with others and be socialable.  Then a book I am reading talked about creating connections within yourself.  Thirdly, at my writers meeting on Saturday, Ro Cambridge spoke about making connections to further yourself.

Connections, connections, connections!

con·nec·tion

[kuh-nek-shuhn]  

noun

1. the act or state of connecting.
2. the state of being connected: the connection between cause and effect.
3. anything that connects; connecting part; link; bond: an electrical connection.
4. association; relationship: the connection between crime and poverty; no connection with any other firm of the same name.
5. a circle of friends or associates or a member of such a circle.
Connection is a real foreign term for me, my life has been spent avoiding connections, or making connections in all the wrong places.  It is only now that it is starting to make sense.  And I have been so busy developing my internal connections that I neglected a very important part of my family.
My son.
He came to me the other day, crying, because he was “lonely”, he felt such intense loneliness, even when surrounded by friends.  He said it was affecting his sleep and he felt all squirmy in the guts.
How did I manage to miss this!  It was my husband that pointed out to me that my son was craving time with me, and because I had been so focused on getting myself right, I hadn’t thought about him.
So we made a date.  After school on Thursday, we would do some drawing together, after he had been on the computer (he has a half hour limit).  It was so important to him that we spend time together, that he asked if we could do it before his computer time.
With suffering from depression – because it has been confirmed by a psychiatrist that I have been – I have only been able to focus on myself.  I now have to widen my circle and spend time – quality time – with my son, doing things that he enjoys doing, that we both like doing together.
This isn’t a bad thing.  It gives me something else to work on – along with my self esteem and depression issues (yeah!  surprised me too to learn that I had low self esteem!)
So, remember, connections are good, even with your children.  And husband, and wife, and mother, father, siblings.  Connections build and strengthen relationships.

I ♥ Writing Groups

I have said this before, and I will say it again.  I love writing groups.  I love the encouragement and support you get.

And I love that you meet a writer that you know you will click with and get along with and you share similar interests in your writing.  I am part of several groups, two meet together.  One is the romance writers group which I have been part of for two years now.  Best decision I ever made.  I love these local ladies, we have a critique group also, but because I live so far out of town, it is hard for me to get there, but I contribute every now and then.

I have developed a close relationship with a couple of these ladies and we meet together once a month (alternating with the RWNZ meetings) and we have a catch up, laugh and talk.  Not necessarily about our writing, but when we do, we always help each other out, talking about our problems, characters, muses etc.

Support groups are wonderful, whether it is for writing, craft or anything, make sure you are part of a group because you get so much out of it.  The benefits for me are:

♥.  Knowing that there are others who have conversations with their characters, and they aren’t mad

♥. Wanting to go home and write and write and write and write

♥. Sharing a similar interest in our writing – whether it is genre or culture.

♥. Learning about another writers style and appreciating it.

♥. Getting goosebumps when you hear another writers story and knowing that it is good.

♥. Hearing that the other person gets goosebumps hearing about your story ideas

♥. Coming away with more ideas and small snippets from the writing exercises that could be useful in your current WiP

As a result of our meeting on Saturday, Donna Capil and I are going to be meeting together, via facebook, to encourage each other as we get writing this week.  Donna has a story she wants to finish by the end of April, and I have a story I want to start writing.  So we have a common goal and a common interest.

Will let you know how we go.

Charlotte Dawson RIP 22 February 2014

Charlotte DawsonCharlotte Dawson was a NZ born celebrity who struggled with depression.  On 22nd February 2014, she was discovered dead in her own apartment – Police aren’t looking for anyone in connection with her death.  Which means she killed herself.

Ms Dawson was an intelligent beautiful woman, successful and on the outside, appeared to have it all.  But she had suffered depression for many years, and while trying to break the stigma of it, often shared her thoughts and experiences through Social Media (mostly through Twitter).  She suffered abuse and cyberbulling and told to “go and kill yourself.”

It is shocking to think that people have no empathy out there, and are willing to say something as stupid as that behind the guise of a twitter account.  Nobody came out and said that to her face.

I heard about her death at my party on Saturday night, and it actually stunned me.  While I sympathised with her for her struggles – I understood how hard it could be to live with depression.  I couldn’t understand though, why she never found the answers that she was searching for, because depression is about finding the problem and solutions to make yourself better.

But these are my thoughts on the matter of her suicide:

I don’t know whether to be angry, sad or frustrated.  Why?

Angry because she has basically told people – through her actions – that it is okay to end your life because it isn’t worth it.  She was trying to be a role model…

Sad because she couldn’t find the answers that she was desperately looking for… (to be loved, to be wanted…), because of the effects it will have on her family (why couldn’t we help her, why didn’t she talk to us.)

Frustrated that while people might not have actually contributed to her death, it does say something about society that they believed they had a right to tell her to “go kill yourself”.

Life with depression is hard, it is frustrating and confusing, but some people are determined to get better and work hard at getting their life back on track.  Whether this is done via medication, counselling, exercising, journaling, talking… the list goes on. Depression is curable, it doesn’t have to end with your own death – there are other options out there.

So I hope, Ms Dawson, that you have finally found the peace you were looking for.  I just pray that thousands of others out there discover that there are more positive answers.

SOARing

EagleI turned 40 yesterday – yeah yeah yeah – Life begins at 40 and all that stuff.  That isn’t really what I anticipated.  I wanted to enjoy my 40′s, having been through a rough period in my 30′s (and 20′s), so maybe it does begin at 40.  I just need to sort out things in my life… still.

But anyway, for my 40th birthday, I had some magnets made up – which have an eagle on them, and Stretch Out And Risk (SOAR).  My husband wanted to know why I chose this.  He doesn’t really want me taking too many risks at the moment, but I told him what I am going to tell you now:

It isn’t about throwing myself out of a plan or abseiling or rock climbing, it is more about stepping outside of my comfort zone and actually taking a risk with it.  

Like my plan this year, to be published.  If I don’t manage to get it done via traditional publishing methods, then I will self publish, and get an ebook out there.  I know I have support from one of my writer friends who is also self published, and no doubt, others will encourage me also.

I am also doing a proof reading course – which will benefit my writing hopefully, but I also want to perhaps start a new business doing this on a more professional basis.  I will have to see how it goes for me, but I want to start making some changes in my life – start taking back my power, and doing things that I want to do.

Another goal this year, is to get my motorbike up and running.  It is currently unregistered and unwarranted, and needs to be certified and re-VIN-ed in order for the bike to be road worthy.  I want to get out and about and visiting and seeing the world.

So this year is about SOARing for me, taking a step outside of my comfort zone – even in a child like step and start something new.