Sunday, December 16, 2007

First day

Today is the first day of work on my Masters novel. That's the idea, anyway. I think it may take a couple of days to shake down into a routine. So far I have written my morning pages (mental pipe-clearing - three pages of whatever mess is in my head) and fuelled up with coffee. Next is shower, then work for an hour, then a walk for the same head-clearing reasons. We'll see how well this system works.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Blocks of the non-building kind

You know, I tried. Tried to enjoy the pink newness of the new blog. But the lure of the old one is just too strong and, besides, I like the template better. So yes, I'm back here again.

I started work (officially) on the new novel today. I managed a whole thirty minutes and 1,000 words. I don't know what I've done to short-circuit my concentration abilities, but it's amazing how difficult it is to sit and focus on writing. Suddenly I have an overpowering urge to pair socks, make coffee, write an email ... anything to put off that godawful moment of actually putting some words on the blank screen. In fact, sometimes there isn't even a thought-process involved. I go straight from staring at the screen to standing by the coffee machine, moved there by an unstoppable force.

I think it makes things more difficult that this novel is based on my life in Zimbabwe. Some of it isn't the easiest to remember. My previous novels have all been fantasy (apart from a brief and embarrassing foray into historical romance), and this real-world lark is a lot trickier. I'm finding the books The Artist's Way and The Sound of Paper by Julia Cameron very useful at the moment as tools to unblock creativity and free myself from the impressive array of neuroses that jump up and down every time I turn on my computer. Amazing how many little voices come into play (I mean that in a non-schizophrenic way (probably)).

I'm meeting with my advisor next week, and I'm not really sure what to expect - but I think it will be beyond valuable to be answering to someone while I write.

By the way - does anyone reading this know of anybody who would do a fairly inexpensive website design and build?

Sunday, April 29, 2007


I have learned something useful about myself lately - well, a few things.

1) I am not a good middle-of-the-process person. I'm very good at the planning stages of the project and very good at the finishing touches at the end, but not so much in the middle. I get overwhelmed by all the things left to do. This happened last year with the magazine - I enjoyed coming up with concepts and ideas, but in that middle part where everything was in confusion, half the contributors hadn't handed their articles in and half the images hadn't been sourced, I was a nervous wreck. Then I'd perk up again when everything was in and all we had to do was treat the pages and proof-read. I've noticed it again while working on my manuscript assessment this month. Good to know, eh? I guess if you're aware of such things, at least you can shrug them off a little and say, "oh well, I know that's how I tend to react. It's not because I can't cope, it's just the way my personality is wired."

2) I tend to compare my insides with other people's outsides. That is, I look at people and on they surface they seem great - happy, self-assured, good skin and great hair, or whatever, and I compare that with how I'm feeling. I'm feeling confused, or unhappy, or just a bit blah, and I think, "I wish I was like that." Which is ridiculous, because they might be feeling that too. And I might look great on the surface to them. So it's a really silly way to judge your own life.

3) The things that I don't like about my life haven't changed for years. Which is depressing. If I look back at a diary I wrote three years ago, I'll be saying the same things - I wish I spent more time on my relationship with God, I wish I put more time and energy into my writing, I wish my life was in better order, I wish I wasn't so critical etc, etc, etc ad infinitum. So evidently, it's about time I prioritised these things.

4) There is no magical point in the future at which everything will fall into place and be perfect. If I'm going to be happy and do the things I want to do, I have to do them now. I can't wait for everything to be harmonious. For example, saying "I can't possibly write a novel now, the house is a mess. I'll wait till we move" is silly because when we move things will be in even greater chaos for a while. And then something else will come along to help me procrastinate. So my insight here is: there is no point in the future when I will be slim, fit, have perfect skin and hair, have harmonious relationships with everyone in my life, be fulfilled, happy, tidy, clean and generally perfect. It's impossible, and striving for it will only make me anxious.

5) I think too much.
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