Family Christmas Prep

sally canteen

Will I blog more often in 2016? I’d love to get to this day next year and find a whole lot of posts on this blog throughout the year. The consistent bloggers choose one or more days each week and are sure to blog on those days, if not more. I think this is a brilliant idea, but hey, look, a butterfly…

Yes, I get easily distracted by a new project and then forget to blog about the amazing new project. I do some fun art projects, and I get a lot out of them, they are better than therapy at times! I’d like to blog about that process, the art to health thing. It really seems to work sometimes, although not always. When I’m in my studio, with my three legged cat Luigi on the desk snuggled up beside my laptop, and my labradaughter Sally sprawled out on the floor at my feet, I feel like I can do anything; no Pinterest artwork is beyond the scope of my ‘try this’ folder.

Doing fauxbonichi journalling daily has been a real pleasure the past few months. (To see what fauxbonichi journalling is, click here to go to my art blog) I have really enjoyed sketching a little, painting a little, writing a little about each day. It’s become a habit. A good one for a change.

Today I have to go grab some things for the family Christmas I’m hosting here on Tuesday. Just a few bits and pieces. I’m drinking coffee and putting it off, really should have left early to avoid the crowds. It looks like I’ll have to go alone, which is like doing public speaking at a venue for a thousand people for those of you who do not have chronic social phobia. Sure, I can do it, but when I get home there must be hot tea, maybe an hour in bed, maybe more.

I’m very grateful for the mild Christmas weather. Cool, windy, cloudy, rainy, it all makes for lovely times when you’re not an outdoors kind of person. I’d better go jump in my little car and go shopping.

be you xx Rach

Do My Magical Characters Brush Their Teeth

sally august 2015

Today I washed the kitchen floor. Not very exciting, but it made me think of the characters in my book, as always. Had they ever washed a kitchen floor? If so, how did they do it? If not, who has done this for them and why? Every action in my life has a corresponding thought, a wondering about my characters. Thinking about one guy I’m writing, I had to laugh at the thought of him ever cleaning anything with his own hands. As I thought about another character, a woman, I decided I couldn’t imagine her having ever cleaned either, but in a very different way. My female character wouldn’t consider herself ‘above’ such things, like the guy might, but it would never have occurred to her to clean with her hands when she can wave it into being done magically and get on with some form of fun or adventure.

Showering is another intriguing one, does a magical character clean itself or does it perform a ritual or a spell, or do they have the ability to kind of pre-set a regular cleaning spell that kicks in every certain number of hours or so? Do they brush their teeth? Do they floss? Imaginative minds want to explore everything and anything in the life of a character. Not all of this will end up in my book of course, maybe only a small fraction of it needs to be in the story to show who the character is. The rest still has value for me as I write, though, to add to my encyclopaedia of the story.

I have a handwritten encyclopaedia and a computer file as well. The computer file mostly holds parts of the book that I write and then decide to cut, character descriptions, place descriptions and bits from the text of the book that I want to be able to reference easily for consistent writing. I also have some pages in the file for things I find online, like a photo of someone who looks like one of my characters, or places that look similar to places in my book. My handwritten encyclopaedia is a collection of information I’ve written by hand about my story. I’m thinking about taking a photo of these bits so I can have everything in my computer file, all set out alphabetically. Ease of access when I’m writing is the most important thing.

Sally, in my photo above, is my muse. She lays at my feet while I’m writing and takes me out to our big back yard to run and play ball when I need a break. I love my labradaughter.

be you xx Rachel

Left Handers Day

Left Handers Day

lefties

So, apparently yesterday was international Left Handers Day. I’m not Left Handed but I do like those ‘international days’. I wonder who decides these things? Maybe now we’re all on social media, all that is required is an online announcement that hey, it’s International [fill in the blank] Day! Makes me want to put it out there that August fifteen is International Rachel Day. A day for everyone named Rachel? Why not? We’re just as awesome as left handers and they have their own day. Only, it must only be for the ones called Rachel who spell their name that way.  We can’t have the Racheal, Rachael, Raychel crowd getting in on our day. They can have another day. Maybe August sixteen?

 

Writing a Novel and Writing a Business Book

It’s been ages since my last post. I’ve been writing a book, and it has my attention most of the time. In fact I’m writing two books, one novel and one business book. This week the business book has had my full attention, especially since I bought some ink for my printer and was able to print out all of the pages thus far, so I could start editing and resorting.

I’m planning to self publish the business book, as an ebook. I think that’s one of the reasons why it is flowing out of me so easily. No publisher submission guidelines in my immediate future.

Another reason the book is flowing so well is that I know a lot about the topic I’ve chosen to write about; writing business books. I’ve helped a lot of people who were not writers, to write their own business book, I’ve consulted with many business owners, and I know something about what they want for their companies. I love the idea that I’ll have a book out there in the e-world, to help business owners. They are such hard-working people, with dreams beyond the next payday.

My novel is coming along, too. I spent time last week fleshing out the three main characters and giving them back-story and reasons for behaving the way I have them behaving in the story. I’m enjoying writing these three girls very much. They are very different from one another, and they each have their secrets. It’s fun to write about secrets, to hint at them and leave the reader wondering all the way up to the reveal.

be you xx Rachel

I am taking charge of me

do be free

I’ve had so much talk counselling/therapy in the past 22 years that I am completely sick of it. The advice I’ve survived, the lectures I’ve tolerated, the scoldings I’ve gritted my teeth through, the sympathy, the empathy, the tears, I’m sick of it all. There is no cure, not mainstream or alternative, for the mental illnesses that have plagued my life. I’m sick and tired of people in positions of learning telling me I just need to try this or that or the other. Step back, experts! I’m taking charge of me!

You know what I need? I need to stay in my house and not be harassed to go to appointments that only add stress. I need to stay in my house and cook good food. Stay in my house and write my book. Stay in my house and write my blog. Stay in my house and love my friends and family from right here in my studio, where I can breathe easy, feel safe, feel happy. That’s what I need right now. Anyone who says different just ain’t living in my skin and hey, you don’t know how it is.

Thanks for listening to this.

be you xx Rachel

Loving My Writing Studio

It’s a gorgeous, sunny Winter Sunday and my writing studio is bright and warm thanks to the wall of windows across the back. It’s a really nice place to be. The kind of place I can look forward to spending time.

I have a second hand recliner in the corner, where I sit and read or edit my work. I have a white melamine round table in the centre of the room, with plants on it that I often forget to water and then wonder why they’re not thriving. At the moment I have papers spread across my whole desk, needing to be sorted into trays; my old business, tax, blog or writing fodder, government forms, current work. Maybe tomorrow?

Our chickens are very quiet in the yard. They’re not loving this cold weather. Usually they’d be marching around the entire yard clucking and chatting to one another, reinforcing the pecking order, hoping we’ll step out the back with a bucket of kitchen scraps so they can fight like ninjas for each little bit.

My dog Kira needs a bath. Really badly needs a bath. She loves to go under the house and take a dust bath, or dig up an old lizard she killed and rub herself in its putrid goo. She gets so confused when we invite her into the house and then start yelling in disgust at the smell and order her back outside. I thing she sees us as mentally deficient and incapable of making a decision.

It’s time to make Sunday lunch, but I feel like baking instead. I have leftover stewed fresh strawberries and I thought I might make vanilla cupcakes with the strawberries mixed through. Maybe I’ll have some of last nights leftover spaghetti in garlic red sauce first.

I hope your day is as nice as mine has been so far.

be you xx Rachel

Writing Fiction and Living In The Story

It happens to me every time I get the momentum to write a new book. I start writing and the story carries me into the lives of my characters, into the scenes I write, in front of them a little, so I know what’s about to happen. Sometimes. Other times I have no idea what I’m going to write until it comes out on the page.

I’m writing by hand, with pen and paper. This story just cried out to have the groundwork written by hand. When I say the groundwork, I mean the first draft, but I have a thing against the term ‘first draft’. What is a first draft? It is writing! Everything after that is rewriting or editing or the adding on of words. I’ve been known to scrap a whole chapter and write it again, but I still classify that as rewriting.

Inside a new book, as I am, everything that happens in my day is possible fodder to be included in the story. My husband cooking garlic and tomatoes for pasta, my cat standing on his one remaining back leg, trying to open the window, songs from the eighties being played on the radio, all of these things might just appear on my page, in the groundwork.

Some of what I write will end up having no place in the book. Some of it will turn out to be a distraction, a misuse of words, a dead end that I had to write at the time to get to the real story. Every word of the finished work must be in service of the story as a whole. Every character, setting, event and even the red herrings, must somehow service the story. This is the only way to write a delicious, fulfilling whole.

The great thing about writing with pen and paper is that I can do it anywhere, there are no batteries to go flat, I don’t have to keep saving it and in a strange way, I feel connected to the words in a way that I never do when typing them.

My book has a working title, but I’m not ready to share that just yet. I guess I think of it as book #6, but also as the book I’m writing after my divorce, after being single in my forties, after being remarried, and lots more. Life experiences definitely impact on my writing, and I wonder what I’m writing now that I wouldn’t have written say a month or a year ago. I know I have a different feel for what it’s like to be single, now that I’ve spent some time out there after a nineteen year marriage. I have a different feel for what it is to fall in love.

I’m much less mechanical about my writing than I used to be. I think because I spent time ghost writing and learned to trust myself that the words would get written as long as I kept at it daily. Years ago, I would write at the same time every day, seven days a week. I had a minimum word count for the day and would push my way to it. Now I just pour the words out as they come, I spend time every day just daydreaming about the book, the story, the characters, the theme. I’m really enjoying it.

I am looking forward to seeing what I write tomorrow, and I can’t wait until I have the whole book down. I love those two little words we writers constantly head towards; The End.

be you xx Rachel

Writing A Novel One Day At A Time

I’m writing my new novel, hoping that this will be the book I get published. So far, I’ve only been setting myself up to write, really; organising my initial thoughts about what my main character is like, blocking out some chapter ideas and possible directions for the flow of the story. Writing a first chapter to get the feel of the voice I’ll use.

eavesdrop 6

I am the kind of writer who doesn’t know what’s going to happen until I write it.This works very well for me, and keeps my excited about the book all the way to the last word. Sometimes it means I have to go back and rewrite entire sections of the book, because the freedom I allow myself can take me in new and completely unexpected directions. The funny thing is that when I read back over my writing, I can hardly see where I stopped one day and started the next. I find this amazing. My moods can be so radically different from even hour to hour, but my writing stays fairly well on course.

My daily task is to write 2000 words, and I aim to start writing in the morning and not stop until I have my word count. Some days it takes two hours and some days it takes much longer, but I find that if I make my goal a word count, I can distract myself very efficiently from the self questioning and doubts.

My tried and true, best ever trick to ward off what they call ‘writers block’ is to sit at my laptop and type these words; It’s really hard to write today because… and then I keep on with that, listing every single thing that is pulling at me to prevent me from writing that day.

Some days I write pages of reasons why it’s so hard to write, and other days I write just a phrase that encapsulates my not-writing mood so well, it propels me into a writing head-space. I think this habit is almost a meditation. My inner writer knows with certainty that we are sitting here to write, and write we will, so let’s get writing the story.

Of course there are times when I need to pause and reflect, ponder, muse, stare into space and let the possible paths of the story play out in my imagination. This is completely essential to the process of writing a solid first draft. Also, I keep a notebook and pen with me at all times, because thoughts will come to me at any time of the night or day, informing my choices about plot, characterization, theme. I can be having coffee with someone and they’ll say something that totally answers a question I had about the story.

A writing mentor told me years ago that I have a very organic process. This is such an awesome way of saying I do whatever I want in my process, as long as it writes the book. I’ve written a whole book sitting up in bed, a few hours each morning. That one took me 13 weeks. I wrote another book with my laptop on my lap, watching cartoons each day. That one took 9 weeks.

This book I think I’ll be writing right here, on my cheap little laptop table on wheels, in my living room, probably watching a lot of DVDs like Law and Order, Six Feet Under, and The Mentalist.

My psychiatrist encouraged me to write. Some of the most prolific writers in the world have struggled with mental illness. Writing is certainly the only thing I’ve ever found in my life that I can do, no matter where my head is at. It’s my refuge. Published or not, I’m enjoying being back in a book again. It’s such familiar territory. I’m truly looking forward to seeing what my characters do next.

be you xx Rachel

Moving OUT Day

moving out

Well, we did it. Thanks to my good friends Angela and John Chaperon, we moved all of my stuff out of the out-of-home office. I hadn’t been back there much at all since I had my breakdown and I was pretty stressed, thinking I was going to meltdown. But no, we unscrewed desks with Allen keys, carted load after load down those shocking stairs to my car and Angela’s van. It is done. I am ever grateful to Angela and John for their help and support, I love you guys heaps.

Moving everything out of that office is like the final layer of completion for me. It’s like the last thing I had to do to end the stage of my life where I was in business for myself. Sitting here writing about it, it feels good, but I’m sure the meds have something to do with that.

I loved my clients, with very few exceptions. I loved helping them in their businesses, and that was the most rewarding thing about the work I did, seeing other people succeed and grow and move closer to the person they wanted to be, running the kind of business they wanted to run. Every consultation I did mixed personal wants and needs with business dreams and goals. It always seemed to make sense to me that what a person most wanted for themselves should have been evident in the way they ran their business.

I’m still tempted to write a book about that, giving anonymous examples of business people realising that the way they were doing business had almost no relationship to the goals they’d set out to achieve by being a business owner. Maybe I could call it What I Taught About Business Before My Breakdown.

I’m happy to be sitting here eating a peanut butter sandwich, ready to write another chapter in my book. I’m glad that I was wrong about today, that it feels more like moving forward than grieving for a past I couldn’t handle. I’m at peace with myself in this moment.  I hope there are many more moments as clear and level as this one. I know I’ll enjoy being me a lot more if I can accept the present, the way I am today.

be you xx Rachel

Head Writing & Heart Writing

Everyone has a book in them. Some writing comes from our head and some comes from our heart.

Head Writing produces information, facts, knowledge and advice.

Heart Writing produces an emotional response, feelings of connection and it can truly inspire the reader.

The best writing is what I call Hybrid Writing; a combination of Head Writing and Heart Writing.

If you’re too much in your head, you run the risk of creating cold, factual content that has little appeal to a reader.

If you write exclusively from your heart, you risk your content becoming oversentimental, overpersonalised and selfobsessed.

There is an easy way to ensure balance in your writing: Hybrid Writing. I talk about this style of writing in my Writing Workshops and Courses and in my Author Consultations. Let me know if you’re interested.

rachel