Why blogging is bad…

Good morning!

Time to shed some light.

Re: the picture in my previous post… No it wasn’t soapscum. Or bacteria, or an ancient piece of artwork.

It was, in fact, the bottom of the pot of spaghetti that I left cooking too long because I was obssessed with posting a new blog entry. There – I’ve fessed up. Burnt spaghetti pot. Maybe I can turn it into art – horror art. The gruesome reminder of what happens when you allow yourself to get sucked into blogland… BWAHAHAHAHA! *shudder*

I could have titled this piece “Social media – who’s the boss?” and I guess what I’ve learnt is that the right answer should be Me. Will I get it right? Rule over Twitter / FB / WordPress? Probably not.  Will I have fun, learn tons from fantastic people and burn the odd dinner along the way? Without a doubt.

Oops – better go check the stove.

May your day be burnt-pot free!

Can you guess what this is…

Warning: the following post is completely arb, thoroughly random and of absolutely no consequence.

Look carefully…

Okay – let’s have your best guesses please – what is this? There’ll be a prize for the winner. 🙂

(Not really, but it sounds cool.)

Deadlines. Emphasis on the ‘dead’…

The phrase ‘Deadline’ must be the biggest misnomer of a buzzword since the days that being gay meant you were happy. For a start ‘dead’ implies, well… dead. No life, no spark, no vitality or freshness. Line is vaguely acceptable as it hints at something to cross, something to aim at. I’m afraid dead simply doesn’t cut it, it has absolutely nothing to do with delivering the goods.

Where does this erroneous saying come from anyway? Cavewoman Unk draws a line in the sand with her fat hairy toe and says to Caveman Onk, “You get Yak for dinner. You no cross line with Yak, you dead.” Voila. Deadline. Or maybe from the shoeless, gravid, kitchen bound babe of the 50’s: “You Line my palm with some Greenbacks Honey, or you’re as good as Dead.”

Okay, so maybe my imagination is a little overactive, but the word doesn’t work like that in real life. Ask me, I know. You see the sad truth is, left to my own devices I am the queen of procrastination. You only need look as far as my sewing basket for the evidence. I have some half-finished baby-gro’s lurking in there and my daughter’s now headed for Grade 7. Say no more… Entire weeks can be swallowed in a blur of meaningless activity, aimless attempts at keeping the millstone of life turning. Energy levels bottom-out and a gloomy blanket of pointlessness settles on the household. Ghastly replaces fine as the answer to ‘How was your day?’ Tired, the only response manageable to ‘How are you feeling?’ and not enough covers the standard morning ‘How did you sleep?’ You know you’re in trouble when you’re too tired to go to bed at night.

Yet, drop a project into my onerous world, slap a deadline on it and I come ALIVE. The metamorphosis is nothing short of miraculous. My entire life falls into neatly segmented time chunks, worked in reverse chronologically from The Deadline. Getting out of bed happens spot on at 6, and even the most mundane tasks come into their own as they are allocated space on the hallowed Meeting the Deadline Time Table. There’s a peculiar energy created while working within a limited time frame that feeds the inner creative genius. Moments on the loo that would have been wasted staring at blue paint with thoughts of little consequence floating from ear to ear become powerhouse times of divine inspiration.

In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me to discover that all the really good inventions were thought up on the loo. Think about it. There is Thomas Edison, hiding out in the outhouse with his crossword trying to escape Mrs Edison’s nagging. And the sun goes down. What’s a guy to do? In a flash of brilliant illumination, the light bulb is born. How about Mr Bell who spent hours a day labouring with parchment and quill responding to letters from home, unable to tear himself away to rescue his bladder with a visit to the Water Closet. The obvious solution? Instant communication. Ta-daa! The golden age of the phone bill is upon us. And you thought Newton discovered gravity by watching an apple drop. A deadline is the spine from which the bones of my life hang suspended – each in its place, ready to perform the function it was built for.

Remove the spine, and you have a soggy bag of bones, covered with some skin that’s going nowhere fast. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but The List seems to be a close friend of The Deadline. In fact, one spawns the other, in the female version of the universe anyway. Whether that stretches far enough to include the male species is beyond me. It certainly doesn’t apply to my husband, who keeps all his lists in his head. He also doesn’t have a diary. The thought of it sends me into a wreck of quivering nerves. I’m too scared to even ask what the ‘D’ word does for him, if anything at all.

So what should we call this thing? This motivator of the masses, lifeblood to the lost. An aliveline? Hmm, a bit of a tongue twister. Not quite the mouth aerobics I want to subject myself to on a regular basis. An inspiringline? A little too close to firing line for my liking. Motivatingline? This is getting worse by the minute. I suppose the only way that I wouldn’t meet a deadline – so strong is its compulsive motivation – is when there is no air left in my deadline-addicted body. Surely I would need to have expired to not rise to the sweet challenge. It occurred to me on the loo just now, that looking at it from that angle, Deadline is probably the most succinctly accurate term on the planet. And the secret to life is to build in our own, self-imposed DL’s. Well, this time chunk is up and if I’m to get to bed on time tonight I’d better move on. Happy DL’ing!

Inspired by a cornflake?

 My nearly-12 year old has an artistic streak. I never realised how deep it ran till the day she took an hour to eat a bowl of cornflakes. Instead of yelling, “Hurry UP!” (my default response to anything slower than full tilt), I watched her for a while. She would dip her spoon into the bowl, come up cornflake-less and study the spoon. Tucking the “Hurry UP!” behind my left ear to whip out later, I asked her what she was doing. Her reply? “Look at the pretty patterns the milk makes on my spoon.” Ok-aay…

I was about to berate her father for adding oddness to the gene-pool, when I remembered some things I’ve been inspired by…

Sparkling rain-droplets on the inside of our tent flap while camping over new year… So beautiful. The fact that stuff was getting wet inside didn’t detract from my fascination… It speaks to me of liquid jewels or tiny people who live upside down.  Could be the fabric of a prom dress – or the dazzling surface of a brand new planet. Maybe each droplet has an entire world contained inside? The texture of an alien’s skin – or a creature that lives deep in inky blackness under forgotten mountains.

This oddness is not limited to myself and my eldest. We came home from school one day to find our gardener had put a stone straight through our glass sliding door. Being safety glass, it had shattered – but not collapsed. Did we erupt in anger at his carelessness? No. Did we run to phone to get the glass people out to replace it so we weren’t housebound? Not even close.

Three of us fought over the camera to see who could capture this stunning spectacle most satisfactorily.  Oooo – the things that this spoke to me of… the shattered barrier between this world and the next when someone dies. The way that being broken inside by trauma or abuse distorts how you perceive your life and your self. Each time the wind blew, some more chips fell free – how fragile the broken soul.

There truly is inspiration all around for those who’ve trained their eyes to see and ears to hear.

Here’s wishing you a day so brimful of inspiration that it feels as if your brain might explode through your eardrums and come squirting out your nostrils!

Dream Seeds

Do you have a dream inside of you that you want to badly that it hurts? A vision for your life that will not let up? Maybe you’ve tried letting it die after yet another disappointment, but all it takes is a piece of music or words falling into place, and the desire rises Phoenix-like – consuming you in its fresh flames.

I’ve tried to give up writing sometimes. The emotional rollercoaster – yay! they like me… despair! they hate me – seemed like too much to put with. Ha! Might as well try to saw off my right hand with a butter knife – it can’t be done.

I’ve come to realize that the dream inside of me has been planted there for a purpose and I’ve been carefully created to achieve that purpose.

Here’s a thought:

Seeds are amazing little things. They are the product of intimacy and a re-mixing of genetic material.

So when God built us, He took a tiny part of His dream – carefully packaged it inside of each one of us, tucked away together with all the right giftings and talents to see that dream fulfilled.  God’s dream inside of us is a remix of genetic material – part Him, part you. Only you can do that bit of what is on His heart. Be it writing, making movies, baking cookies, growing lillies…

 The mind-blowing thing is that the dream seed inside you carries God’s DNA too. His Life, His creative power, His freedom, His enabling – amazing stuff.

Talk to me. What are your dreams?

Identity Crisis

Hi all,

As you can see, I”m having a little WordPress identity crisis. I’m finding myself amongst their vast array of themes.

I love the colours of some – but not how the sidebar works. Others… Great sidebar and buttons – not too sure on the rest. Is it normal to chop and change? Or better to find one and stick with it?

Bear with me while I chameleon. It will be a fun ride!

Great, restful Sunday for you!

Life as a Sponge…

One of the things I love most about being a writer is living life as a sponge…

We absorb everything: the pitch of the irritated lady’s voice in the queue ahead..  the sad creases of disappointment around a little person’s mouth when mom say’s no! to his nagging for a sucker. The flush on the cheeks of a smitten teen.

Life is never boring when you are constantly surrounded by techni-colour material that will breathe life into your next bit of writing.

Even our own insides become grist for the mill… Think about it – we have ringside seats to what churns inside when bad news comes at us down the phone.  How about the adrenalin thumping, squeal-inducing good news we’ve been waiting for?

I’m training myself to savour and ABSORB each moment – good and bad – analyze it, tag on some appropriate words, then file it away in my mental filing cabinet for the ‘write’ moment.

Life is truly a delicious array of  inspiration. Good and bad. All of it can be used.

May you find much opportunity to get thoroughly soaked this weekend!

Fruitful waiting

All writers know what it means to wait. And wait. And wait some more… Waiting to hear from agents, publishers… All the while trying not to hope too much that this could be the one, this could be the Big Break. Only to have it all come crashing down in a two line form email. We vow off writing, throw in the keyboard and take up knitting. Two days and three scarves later, we just can’t help ourselves. We start all over again – the next agent, publisher…

Talk about an emotional rollercoaster!  Well – that’s the end of it for me.

No more writing? No more hankering after publication, fame and fortune? Of course not! I can’t stand knitting scarves.

No – what I mean is this: today marks the end of fruitless waiting.  From now on I’m going to keep churning out stuff. Does it matter that I’m working on my second novel before anything has happened with #1? Nope.  Does it matter that I’m only 3 assignments into my Writing for Children and Teenagers course? Not at all. Little Tiger Press – get ready for my stuff!

Sometimes I am a finely tuned waiting machine and other times I am a jittery bag of hope and despair that checks my email every two minutes. But from now on… I will be productive.

Here’s wishing you all the best as you pursue your dreams!

You want to publish my book? No thanks!

I’ve either just made the best decision of my life – or the worst!

I’ve walked a long journey with my novel Shackles.  This journey includes being accepted for publication in South Africa by one of the three major Christian publishing houses – only to be told a year later that the market had changed and fiction publishing in SA was no longer viable. At the beginning of this year, one of the other SA Christian publishers said they will publish it if it is still available – when the market changes… The third doesn’t do fiction. So my options in SA are all out.

Enter… a friend of a friend in America.  Let’s call him Mike.  Mike loved my work and offered to publish it via Booksurge on my behalf. He had dreams of establishing his own publishing house and was just busy putting his own book (non-fiction) through the process.  At first I justified it to myself as not being self-publishing – after all, Mike was publishing my book, not me. He even had a name for his publishing house.  But the more I looked at it, the more I just knew that it still boiled down to self-publishing.

Being on Twitter has opened up a world of agents, published writers, yet-to-be-published writers, publishing houses… I’ve had such a new perspective on the whole industry. I’ve come away with two certainties:

  1. Self-publishing is good for those who have a platform. (I don’t.)
  2. Self-publishing your own book paints it black in the eyes of agents and traditional publishers and will adversely affect future publication prospects.

So… this week I made the decision and told Mike no thanks. I’m so grateful for his interest in my book, his high opinion of Shackles has boosted my confidence in my work.  But with the long term goal of being published traditionally firmly in my sights, I’m simply not prepared to go that route. Even if I have to wait. And wait some more. And some more.

Question:  Have I made the biggest mistake of my life?  Or not?

I hope there are no sharks…

I’m venturing out into the WordPress water’s hoping there are no sharks.  I’m looking forward to getting to know you all (well, some of you at least).  Looks like I’ve got a lot to get familiar with – I’m going to snoop around. Catch you later!

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