Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Blogoff post - VICTORY

It's not if you win, it's how you play the game.

So they say. But there is still a joyful sweetness in victory, in being the best, that isn't matched by the taste of being runner-up.

My short story Beyond Happily Ever After won second prize in the Mid North Coast Writers Association short story competition which was fantastic. And I still thought how nice would it have been to take out first prize.

Still, if it hadn't been for Carrolline's encouragement I would not even have played that game. I wouldn't even have entered the competition. I hadn't written a short story with any intent for nine years (not counting homework and exercises with the writers group) and was convinced that I couldn't even think of a story that could have a beginning, middle and end in less than 2000 words. Holding the 'I can't do this' thought firmly in my head led me to thinking about fairytales and their short, succinct nature and I started wondered about Cinderella and what happened after the happily ever after. Once I combined the fairy tale traditional nature of the story with the perils of being a modern princess dealing with the tabloids and the pressure to produce an heir, the story practically wrote itself. I've just sent the story off to an anthology...we'll see what happens.

There was a time when I hated losing because my livelihood was depending on it. It's never fun to find out that you came second out of 150 applicants for a job. Then it becomes a what's wrong with me? But there are times over my career where I have applied for jobs that have been totally out of my league, and been hired for a secondary position that wasn't even advertised. I suppose it shows, you've got to be in it to win it. Even if it's not clear what the actual prize is.

One of the ladies at my writers group mentioned last week that she's become a competition addict. She's had a few highly commended but hasn't actually won anything as yet. But I can tell that she's enjoying the journey and in that process, she has her own sweet taste of victory.

Because when we set ourselves a goal and achieve it, we are victors in our own life. Far ahead of the couch potatoes mindlessly flicking the channels. There may be no prizes attached, unless you've bribed yourself with a box of chocolates or a dinner out, but it is the self-fulfillment that is the prize, that gives the sweet taste of victory. Maislow had it right with his heirarchy of needs - self-actualisation is the best. And being victorious does not necessarily mean beating other people. There is enough sweetness of victory for all of us to share...if only we are willing.

This is the final blog-off post in this round of the blogoff. Funny we talk about victory in this post, because yes someone will win and take home the pot of money, perhaps! Or maybe as in the last blogoff, the winner will donate the winnings back to Courtney's fundraiser. The victor is in the list on my sidebar under Blogoff Participants. Who do you think this round's victor will be?

Oh, and my post a little early this week as I'm off to Byron Bay Writers Festival tomorrow morning. Whoopee!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Holidays, Writing Festivals and Conferences

Yeehah! I'm on holidays for a week!

I've been working really hard so these holidays seem more of a luxury than before, and well-deserved.
On Thursday, I go to the Byron Bay Writers Festival for my yearly pilgrimage of stocking up on writing mojo. Four days listening to writers, talking about writing, eating out every night, and sharing writing camaraderie. Twelve of us are going, sharing two cabins and there's a mixture of the usual faces who have trekked to Byron every year and then number of Writers Festival versions. Should be a great time.

But in the meantime, I have four days off and much to do. I'm reading my friend Roby's fantasy trilogy to be published with Pan McMillan next year and the writing is beautifully evocative. I don't usually read fantasy as a rule because of all the description necessary in world-building but this could just about turn me on to the genre. I finished book one last night, and will start book 2 today.

I also have the final three episodes of series 2 of Hex to watch. A very likeable British series - not many out there that can boast having lesbian ghosts.

After Byron Bay, I go back to work for a week of working hard, with a couple of twelve hours days packed in there....and then I go to Sydney to meet new nephews, to catch up with family, and to attend the Romance Writers of Australia conference. I joined Romance Writers after the Cinderella story won 2nd prize in the Mid North Coast Writers Association short story competition. I will be attending a full day workshop with Jennifer Cruisie and four other workshops over the weekend. Really looking forward to immersing myself in learning about the craft of writing.

On the Friday evening, is a masquerade cocktail party, so I got all inspired and decided to create a collage mask. Here are the raw ingredients.

I will bewearing a black dress with embroidered roses, so I decided the colours needed to be black and red to complement the dress, and have rose details, and fit in with the theme of romance.

Because I do collage poetry, I thought that incorporating collaged words would make the mask uniquely 'me'.

I love the result: there's a few more bead strands to add, and I will probably lacquer it to give it a shine, but the process has already sparked a few more 3-D ideas to play around with Chickollage Decoupage.

Speaking of Chickollage, Cafepress is currently having a special promotion: buy 3 t-shirts and get one free. So head on over to the Chickollage shop and while you're there take the time to browse our new section devoted entirely to greeting cards - you now have the option of buying one card, a pack of 10 or a pack of 20, as well as notecards and my Chickollage partner Jennifer Gordaon has come up with some stunning new photo collage designs.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Blogoff Post - Breasts

When I was a teenager I really didn't have any.

Poached eggs maybe.

Bumps that completely disappeared when I lied down on my back.

Even the saying 'More than a mouthful is a waste' couldn't make up for the little I had.

But I ate as much as I wanted and couldn't put on weight. And without any extra body fat my tiny little breasts just weren't going to grow, no matter how many arm exercises I did, chanting 'I must, I must improve my bust.'

And when I got out of hospital four weeks after a car accident, having dropped another dress size, I thought there was no chance.

However, the next three months sitting around watching videos, unable to participate in my usual daily activities (e.g running up three flights of steps with two large pizzas and four bottles of coke) and my less frequent activities (sex!) saw my metabolism began to slow down.

The metabolic effect combined with the side effects of contraception and eating more because I was bored had a noticeable effect. I started to grow breasts, much to my delight. Suddenly there was something to push up with a push-up bra. I developed cleavage. I became voluptuous. Not quite Rubenesque but much more cuddly than skin and bones.

But my new voluptous curves were not just confined to my breasts. I had become curvier all over, curvier stomach, bigger thighs. I had meat on my bones. And I felt healthier. Much more healthier than when I was 48 kilos.

Of course the medical profession doesn't agree. I was mortified when I was told by a doctor doing a health check for my work place that I was obese. I don't feel obese. Sure, it might not always be fun shopping for clothes because designers still design for women with the shape of a fifteen year old boy, but I feel confident in my own skin.

But I get the lectures about the health factors, the need for exercise, the risk of diabetes, stroke, heart attack. And I wonder how unfair is the actual process of losing weight. Can someone explain why the first place that a woman tends to lose weight is her breasts? After all this work! And no matter what I do, I can't seem to shift that spare tyre!

Check out the 20 other bloggers competing in Courtney's blogoff in my sidebar. I'm sure they all have a thing or two to say about this week's topic, Breasts. If you'd like to make a donation to Courtney's three day walk for breast cancer, click on the link.

Other bloggers have talked in previous posts about serendipity. I received the word prompt on Tuesday. On Wednesday I got a call at work from a University. I was curious because I've had nothing to do with this university at all. Apparently they've been trying to locate me for a while for a breast cancer study because of the family history. Not quite serendipity, but certainly interesting timing!

Disappointed there's no photos? You want to see them. Tough titties!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Blogoff ver 2 - post 2 - HOPE

I've never really subscribed to the concept of HOPE. When I was young, perhaps! But I think it was something I grew out of reasonably quickly. Neither do I subscribe to the concept of hopelessness. In every situation, we have a choice of how we react. We are never hopeless.

I did some personal development courses in my early twenties. Somebody in one of those courses defined hope as a 'turd with a cherry on top.' That image, funny enough, has stuck in the back of my mind ever since.

Hope is just a vague fancy if there is no action behind it.

When I was in my twenties, I wanted to be a writer. Yet I only wrote occasionally. I did not write with any discipline and I did not write with any intent. I was busy living a life and dreaming of one day being a writer.

About ten years ago, I re-visited my dreams of being a writer with serious intent. I committed to my dream. And I took concrete action to achieve those dreams. I started to write. I took writing lessons and workshops. I joined a writers' group.
I no longer thing about being a writer or even hope to be writer. I AM A WRITER BECAUSE I WRITE.
I can chant my writer's mantra: 'I will be a published author...I will be a published author.' But I'm not just sitting back and hoping for it. I am writing. I am editing. I am doing the hard yards. And at the same time, I'm remembering that it's not just about the's all about the journey

One day I will hold my published book in my hand. But it's not something I'm hoping for. I've done the creative visualisation. I've done the actualisation by having a copy of one of my manuscripts printed for myself. No, it's not something I'm hoping for. It's something I'm striving for.

One last thing about HOPE - we can all hope that one day they will find a cure for breast cancer. But we can also do something about it.

I am.

I'm blogging in this blogoff along with 20 other great bloggers listed in my blogroll. We're blogging to help Courtney raise money and to raise awareness. If you would like to do something to help the cause, then follow the links. This is the second post in Blogoff version 2. To support Courtney in her fundraising for the Three Day Walk for Breast Cancer, visit her website at Five Second Dance Party or click on this link:

Sunday, July 08, 2007

When Inspiration wakes you....

It's 1 pm on Sunday afternoon and I'm still in my pyjamas. Pretty slack, hey?

But let me explain. I've been working hard. My creative juices were fired up, so I jumped on the laptop to seize the thought while it was still in my brain.

I've been staying up late reading my friend's soon-to-be-published fantasy novel trilogy. I'm up to chapter five of tiny tiny print, single spaced double sided but I'm involved in the story and I want to read all (gulp) 450,000 words.

Anyway, her success has got me inspired once again and although I slept late this morning (blame the couple of 12 hour days I worked this week), my subconscious was mulling over my young adult manuscript Diary of the Future and I woke up with a fully-composed query letter in my mind. It's now on the hard drive. It's a bit left of field but I think that's okay.

Now all I have to do is compress my five page double-spaced synosis into one single-spaced page and give those first three chapters another polishing. And I'm ready! Finally, eight years of constant writing, and I'm finally getting brave enough to submit....

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Blogoff post: Survivor

Welcome to blogoff number 2 - this time there are no eliminations, no voting off the island, everyone will survive. Just like the song!

I'm pleased about that. I hated the eliminations, seeing a friendly voice disappear each week. This blogoff is much more inclusive but with 21 people playing the game, we will have a lot of words to read each week. And its great to welcome new people amongst the now familiar bloggers. All the bloggers are listed in the menu under 'Blogoff Participants.' Please pay them a visit.

I was surprised that I was a survivor for so long during the last competition. I'm not known for my survival skills. Leave me on an island, and I'd probably starve, go bonkers or both. I'd be totally consumed by chocolate cravings, and would probably start hallucinating, imagining that everything around me is turning to chocolate... just like the Cadbury commercial. Maybe I'd come to my senses just as I start gnawing on the palm tree. But maybe not.

While I don't think I'd cope very well if I was alone on an island or in the jungle, its not the being alone bit that I would mind. I often crave solitude. Especially after a day at work where I've been surrounded by noise all day, the constant chatter, the voices raising, the endless voices on the end of the telephone. Sometimes I just want silence when I get home. A chance for my mind to rest, for my ears to relax, and for my tongue to be still. Perhaps that's why the internet is so alluring - I can converse with fingers on the keyboard, and there is no accompanying white noise.

All I need to cope with the solitude is pen and paper. Or a laptop. Although I guess a laptop wouldn't last long on an island - unless it came with a solar charged battery.

Have you ever felt that your life is just about survival? Each day blends into another, and you constantly get a feeling of deja vu, because you've done exactly the same thing the day before. My life is flashing before my eyes, and I have nothing to mark one day off from the next. I'm spending a lot of extra time at work, and the collage poetry is not happening, the writing isn't happening, I've barely got it together to even write this post. But I keep telling myself I will survive. It's a temporary phase that I'm going through. And in three weeks time, I'll be on holidays, and travelling to Byron Bay Writers Festival. Until then, I have to survive. I've already paid for the ticket.

This is the second blogoff organised by Courtney at Five Second Dance Party. Raising money towards breast cancer research, for four weeks we blog on a one word topic. If you would like to make a donation to the cause, click on the banner at the top of the post which will take you to Courtney's fundraising page.