christmas

October Polka Dots

20161027001-polkadot1ig

Digital painting. flokot.redbubble.com

As I sat down to draw yesterday, I found that the ideas simply didn’t flow. I got part way through a Cthulhu sketch, a felt-tip marker cat in a witch’s hat, and a Viking longboat, before I laid down the pen and wanted to give up. The enticing smoothness of the fresh paper and the flow of ink from my pens just didn’t translate into inspiration. However, I committed myself to get as much drawing done as possible in the pre-NaNoWriMo weeks, knowing that once NaNo starts, and the end of school year commitments for my kids, and the horrifying stress peace and joy of Christmas, and the social intensity of New Year’s – well, based on past experience, it’s usually February by the time I can recover enough to think about drawing again.

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NaNoWriMo Journal 2015: 18

Monday, 30 November 2015

9.25 am. This is it. I have roughly six hours before the kids finish school for the day and I have to write the entirety of the rest of my NaNoWriMo entry between now and then or I’m quite possibly not going to win. I had fully intended to finish it by last Friday but sometimes real life isn’t as straightforward and co-operative as I need it to be. Child No.2’s ballet concert and all its surrounding rehearsals, make up and hair requirements took a lot of time and effort and there’s just no speeding up the process. Child No. 1 had a number of social activities interspersed through the hectic ballet schedule. It took a lot of juggling cars, schedules and energy to help them through the weekend without anyone falling apart.

The good news is that the ballet concerts went very well and it’s so good to see Child No.2 pursuing a hobby that combines athleticism, self-discipline, socialising, music and creative expression. As I watched the performances of the older teenage and young adult dancers from the same school, I really got the sense how wonderful for their body confidence, strength and creativity it must be. The school is quite diverse, too, so a number of body shapes were represented – there’s none of this forcing girls into a single mould of outward appearance. I really think that’s great. There were girls there who did not possess the stereotypical ballerina physique – but that didn’t matter, because they all danced with great technique and skill and personality.

I look forward to completing Nano and getting back into art and, hopefully, giving the house a much-needed pre-Christmas and pre-summer holidays decluttering and cleaning. The veggie garden needs some attention, and so do the piles of papers needing filing.

My coffee’s ready, so it’s time to start!

Current word count: 45,806 / 50,000 words

Today’s writing soundtrack: Her Music for Advent and Christmas by Margaret Rizza. Her music compositions are just beautiful.

 

NaNoWriMo Journal 2015: 17

Friday, 27 November 2015

It’s time to panic! I’m learning to associate my US-based friends’ social media posts about Thanksgiving (both for and against the occasion) with end-of-nano panic. We don’t have a Thanksgiving. I guess our similar holiday is Australia Day in January, which usually marks the end of the summer holidays, and sparks debate about the abhorrent treatment of Indigenous Australians by English invaders, versus calls to just shut up and enjoy walking around in Southern Cross-emblazoned paraphernalia. Though there were attempts by Christian political lobby groups in Australia to start a day of national thanksgiving and prayer. I’m not sure if that ever really gained much traction outside of evangelical circles.

I entered my story text so far into the word count validator and lost 578 words from my story. There’s a huge discrepancy between the word count statistics in Microsoft Word on my lap top, Scrivener on my PC, and NaNoWriMo’s official counter. As my winning or losing is determined by the Nano website’s official counter, I have to re-calibrate my Scrivener aims according to my best guess of Nano’s difference. (Nano usually seems to subtract roughly 70 words from my scrivener account.)

I have today and Monday left available to me to write. Saturday and Sunday this weekend are going to be so busy that I will likely not have any time. People keep saying, “Surely you’ll find time on the weekend, if you’re motivated enough.” Those people clearly aren’t stay-at-home mothers morphing into hair and makeup artists for their daughter’s two ballet concerts over two days and a separate full dress rehearsal in a suburb about half an hour away. At literally exactly the same time my son has a bunch of commitments – namely a birthday party and a church end-of-year celebration for the department in which he volunteers – so that I have the interesting dilemma of needing to be in two physically disparate locations at exactly the same time. If I were the main character in my NaNoWriMo story I may have that ability. But for now my real life is looking a lot like that logic puzzle where the boatman has to carry a wolf, a goat and a cabbage across a river without leaving them alone in a predator/prey situation.

It’s hard to focus on my story. I’ve had so many social interactions over the last two weeks that my introvert levels of exhaustion are very high. I love catching up with friends. I had no time to write yesterday, either, as I was out for a coffee (which was positive, so don’t get me wrong there, I appreciate friends who drag me out once in a while to talk about the deep stuff of life). At the same time I realise that because so many of us are asking really hard questions about life, faith, our collective dissatisfaction with controlling religious leaders in our lives, and fears of some that if they don’t get out soon they might one day find that they’d given their life, money and allegiance to a cult. Who knows? These are important questions and I think everyone needs to face them at some point in their faith journeys, but my impulse now is to start dialoguing on spiritual abuse forums to learn the warning signs from those who’ve already been there, when what I really, really need to do is to write almost 10,000 words within the next eight hours, get Nano done, so I can recover, and maybe even have some time to start confronting that most Wonderful Stressful Time of the Year, Christmas.

I have come down with yet another severe cold, which includes a really painful headache. My head is pounding as I type and my sinuses are beyond blocked. If I keep clenching my teeth I’m going to have to put in my mouthguard. The coffee grinder broke so I’m now reduced to using a mechanical hand grinder that makes me feel like I’m playing hurdy gurdy (which is okay, I guess, because I just imagine that I am like Anna Murphy the singer and hurdy gurdist in this song… Why yes, she is singing in Ancient Gaulish).

My story is at that disjointed stage where I’m just throwing in any scenes I can imagine. I’m not even bothering to connect them. I can do that later if I need to pad out the story. I look forward to getting this first draft completed so I can excise all its crumminess and get to the good stuff. A lot of people have requested to read my story and I massively appreciate the enthusiasm, but the reality is that I’m writing this first draft for me and my eyes alone. I don’t have the cognitive freedom to write it as creatively as I need if I’m spending the whole time worried that someone else might read it and see how terrible it is – it is in no way representative of the best of my writing. However, on a second draft edit it might manage to make the grade where I’ll look at possibly providing copies to my in-real-life friends (the ones that are sympathetic enough to understand that I’m really just developing my writing craft and that I don’t have the luxury of editors).

I’m looking forward to finishing Nano, and getting back into painting and drawing. December is always a hectic time of year. I can’t believe it’s almost upon us, and that my kids are finishing their first year at new schools (last Nano season I wrote a bit about why we left their previous school and home schooled during 2014, see here). Changing them to nonreligious schools has proven a fantastic choice for them and I’m just so glad that it’s mostly gone well for them. There were lots of hiccups along the way and new social dynamics to negotiate, but I can say with a lot of relief that neither of them has been bullied or beaten-up. Nor have the warnings of their previous school’s principal proven correct in any sense when he said, when we left, that non-Christian, government-based schooling was a factory of atheism that would force our children to give up on their faith. On the contrary, my kids have grown more confident in the knowledge that they choose to self-identify as Christians, while learning that their classmates come from myriad religious belief systems to which they are devoted at varying degrees of intensity (my kids now count Muslims, Sikh, Mormons, Catholics, Agnostics and Atheists from a huge range of ethnic backgrounds among their schoolmates). I realise just how more reflective it is of real social life in Australia. It’s so multicultural here in Melbourne that you either learn how to navigate the varied landscape of religious and philosophical worldviews – or put up the blinkers and pretend that everyone who isn’t exactly like yourself is “bad.” I love that just by changing schools the kids have been able to learn that “others” are more like us than they are different, and that differences aren’t bad, they’re what makes life interesting.

Anyway, enough progressive proselytising, it’s time to go back to my story… which, like my previous paragraph, seems to be morphing into a bit of a commentary on how we marginalise people because of external differences. In my story the bird-people were historically being jerks to the lizard-people but now the bird-people are starting to confront their deeply-embedded prejudices and realise that all the peoples must unite if there’s ever to be a restored pathway to travel between the inhabitable planets in their solar system… how my story went in that direction I’m really not sure. It’s going way off the original plot plans, that’s for sure.

Current word count: 41,144 / 50,000 words

Today’s writing soundtrack: a compilation of Native American shamanic music. I’m not sure I even like it. I’m also not sure how it ended up on my youtube suggestions, but there it is. I might switch to Gregorian chants soon. The birds singing out in the garden blend seamlessly into the music.

Painting in progress: Desert Santa

 

23 November 2015 – watercolour pencil, watercolour paint and watercolour pastel on paper. 210x297mm, 180gsm coarse paper.

 
I’m taking a break from writing and have dragged out the paints. I’m feeling Christmassy, so here’s Aussie-fied Santa Claus in the desert.