Chapter 73: Undoing myself

Editing So You Are… Pregnant! has been technically challenging (links are a one way ticket to la la land and not the one with A-listers fox trotting about), but reliving it over and over and over has been the hardest part of this entire process. It has sent me twisty quite a few times.

On January 15th 2018 I made the choice to replace drinking with writing. I vented and purged my story onto the page and had some big breakthroughs. By releasing my tale I was able to process a lot of mucky crap I’d been harbouring relating to those periods. I’d been carrying them for a decade and a bit, or more, or less and had no idea of the heaviness they had created within me.

It was all very healthy, release-y and the person I was after felt lighter, powerful, in control and excited about the possibilities of life and my rediscovered craft.

However, trying to constantly separate from the emotions of that time whilst re-reading and re-reading and re-reading morphed from tricky into ticky rather quicky.

I’m now on THE LAST FCKING EDIT in November 2019 and if I was to reflect on how I’ve been coping and processing everything – the answer is – not well. Not at all. That lighter, powerful, in control and enthusiastically refreshed writer woman has packed up and pissed off on a long, long vacay. Probably to some tropical island far away from all the doubty, negative shit-talk that seems to have replaced her world-conquering vibes.

Hurry up and finish your cosmic-colada, lady!

I can see how some authors might take decades to finish their work, particularly if it is semi self-memoirish like mine. Thankfully, my ten year period consisted of zero creative blocks because I was busy suppressing a books worth way down deep in the cockles.

The writing took a lot less time.

The shoddy editing, however took wayyyyyy longer than predicted.

I tried to edit like a robot. I really did. But when your visualisation skills transport you back to the exact moment – of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling everything – things get very overthinky rather rapidly.

Add real life as well as the never ending hovering doubts of not knowing if the book will be remotely successful – and it’s head fCk central in down town broken brain world.

Hopefully I’ll come up with some far more efficient methods on the next round and fingers crossed by then I’ll fully believe in what I’m doing.

For now – here are some of my So You Are… Pregnant! sideshow stoppers. These nuggets certainly halted my frazzled freight train a few times.

They step aside for the angel Midwives who gently lift up the gown to do their thing.

“Time to push, lovey. Come on now. We’ll be with you all the way,” Brighid’s voice is the guiding sound you follow when everything seems like an out-of-body experience. The mere presence of Juliette is like a soft bed of flowers that calmly supports your tired, weary body. They guide you in the most tender, warm manner and yet manage to retain your focus.

"I don’t think I can do it,” you whimper.

“Oh yes you can, honey,” says Brighid.

“Of course you can,” Juliette whispers and weaves the wayward strands of hair behind your ear. Every moment with them is a gift and even though the pain is bloody strong, you feel safe in the care of these two exceptional and amazing women. They never stop believing in you. Right until the very end they give everything of themselves and you will never, ever forget their selfless love and encouragement for someone they didn’t even know.

…my breath disappears every time I read this passage. It comes off the back of a fairly funny scene, is quite sudden and is still so very real to me. Every time I return to that space it’s like I never left. They are all there, exactly as they were – with the love, the excitement, the exhaustion, the fear, the unknown and unexpected.


Normally the power of Mum kisses solves everything. She wipes your tears. She squeezes you tight. Your hero. Your source of strength and go-to for so many of life’s booboo’s, always with an empathetic ear and a gentle nudge when you’ve lost your way. You wish you could be her happy little shadow, safe at her side this one last time. “You can do it, darling. I believe in you,” she whispers through her own tears and you both sob. This is one booboo she can’t help fix.

Another suckfest somehow always read first day of my period. This is word for word. I can hear her. I can sense all of that love and turmoil and desperation and disappointment that she can’t be there, she can’t help me, she can’t take away the pain, she can’t solve the problem. I feel her angst and her love. It’s beautiful… and it does my head in EVERY TIME!!!

Suddenly, a beautifully calm aura fills the room. You turn to the doorway and cry some more. This is a happy cry. It’s Bestie. You’re 99% sure she’s got a cape on. It’s blue with her favourite frangipanis and she seems more kick-arse powerful than normal.

“Oh, thank fCk,” you whisper, knowing she can hear your relief with her super senses.

Head on over for some nurturing vibes and safety.

A literal breath-taker. For a best friend, I probably keep my problems and woes from her the most these days. Just one whiff from either of us that the other is in an iota of pain & it’s tears and flood after flood of pent up shit we’ve held at bay in front of others, suddenly pissing out uncontrollably all over the show. She was my lantern during this period and I am in awe of her every time she is on the page.

Very few, if any, have seen you as dark and down as this, though you’ve been here plenty of times before – crouched on shower floors, weeping silently into pillows, driving down long, isolated roads losing it, but never with an audience. And never in front of your family. Today you hide nothing and those normally shielded have front row seats to this sad, hopeless, foreign version of seemingly always sunny you. That you would be mortified by your behaviour. This you feels nothing. Neither you has control over any of it.

This is a re-read/re-live one that is draining and surprising whenever I stumble across it. There’s a lot of times during the writing process I would go back to edit and have no recollection of typing the words. Which is cool when the writing feels real and this bit was very reflective of my truth at that time.

This was added later on. I’d been fixated on that one scene and it was one of the first that I vividly recalled because my behaviour was a shock to me. I had nothing. See this post for more details on how some Kristen Stewart scenes affected me quite heavily.

Another suckfest somehow always read first day of my period. This is word for word. I can hear her. I can sense all of that love and turmoil and desperation and disappointment that she can't be there, she can't help me, she can't take away the pain, she can't solve the problem. I feel her angst and her love. It's beautiful... and it does my head in EVERY TIME!!!

Chapter 72 : Dress to Empress

… Or – Writing Attire.

“Where are you going,” asked my son.

“To work.”

“Oh? Do you go somewhere to write?”

“Sometimes, but not today.”

“Then why are you dressed up?”

“Because I’m going to work.”

“But, you work at home.”

“Doesn’t mean I look like a slapped bottom.”

“You look like that funny art lady from Coco.”

“Ay?”

“You know, the one with the papayas and wants to set everything on fire.”

“Oh, that is awesome. You mean Frida Kahlo.”

“Yeah, the one with all the flowers in her hair.”

“Excellent. My life is complete.”

“Ay?”

“Comparisons to Frida? I’ll take it. Monobrow and all.”

“So, does it help you write better? Dressing up?”

“Yeah, it does. It’s good to put in some effort and if you feel good, you write good. Everything seems more creative.”

“Well, you look nice, Mum. Happy writing today.”

Favourite son.

…fine, only son, but whatever.

(…also acknowledging the above pic is the great Salma Hayak because istock has bought up all the decent images from Pixabay. Oh well.)

Picture Credit: Pixabay

Chapter 71: Dear Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/206673070389580581/




Dear Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

There was a time it was difficult for me to access knowledge. To serve self in any manner of evolvement – impossible. Your book Women Who Run With Wolves, like so many other bizarre forms of guidance that seemed to fall into my lap at the exact moment I needed them, had been on my radar for some time. I tried repeatedly to get my hands on a copy, but it wasn’t to be. So I handed the reigns over to fate in the hopes I would one day read your words when I really needed to.

The book gods answered luring me to a second hand bookshop and lo and behold there you were. Bold, commanding, standing on display for all to see – a little weathered – but there. For me! The funky youth at the counter had a jaw-drop moment.

“Where did you find this? You have no idea how many requests we get for this book and when it comes in it flies out.”

I told her my tale. As she listened she wrapped the book in brown paper and string with meticulous care, then pushed it gently toward me, like it was the most precious gift I would ever receive.

“All the elements that lead to that book sitting there on that shelf, unnoticed by me or anyone else – were all for you. You were meant to come here today. How exciting the universe went to such great lengths to get the messages in this book to you. Wow. I’m really speechless by it all. Enjoy.”

I am a quarter of the way through your book – only because – nearly every sentence on every page resonates so deeply, I can only mentally handle reading it in short bursts. It is that powerful – for me.

I am so grateful I found it. I am so grateful you somehow whispered through the mess, staked yourself a plot in my mind and waited patiently for me to return. Warmed yourself by the nearly extinguished fire and waited for me to reawaken.

The lovely book girl was right – the possibilities of life after I read your words truly are exciting.

Thank you.

I have already dog-eared the shit out of the book. There are too many quotes to mention. Here is a poem I hope is alright to post here. I have also included a poem of my own below.


Poetry by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

How To Silence A Woman: Retrieving Her Voice

When someone says, “We’re saying the same thing.”
Say, “We are not saying the same thing.”
When someone says, “Don’t question, just have faith”
Say, “I am questioning vato, and I have supreme faith in what I think.”
When someone says, “Don’t defy my authority.”
Say, “There is a higher authority that I follow.”
When someone says, “Your ideas are seductive.”
Say, “No, my ideas are not seductive, they are substantial.”
When someone says, “Your ideas are dangerous”
Say, Yes, my ideas are dangerous, and why are you
so afraid hombre o mujer ?
When it is said, “It’s just not done.”
Say. “It will be done.”
When it is said, “It is immature”
Say, “All life begins small and must be allowed to grow.”
When it is said, “It’s not well thought out.”
Say, “It is well thought out.”
When they say, “You’re over-reacting.”
Say, “You’re under-reacting vato.”
When they say, “You’re being emotional.”
Say, “Of course I have well placed emotions, and by the way, what happened to yours?”
When they say, “You’re not making any sense.”
Say, “I don’t make sense, I am the sense.”
When they say, “I can’t understand you when you’re crying.”
Say. “Make no mistake, I can weep and be fierce at the same time.”
When they say, “I cant understand you when you’re being so angry.”
Say. “You couldn’t hear me when I was being nice, sweet or silent, either.”
When someone says, “You’re missing the point.”
Say, “I’m not missing the point, but you seem to be missing my point—
What are you so afraid of?”
When someone says, “You are breaking the rules.”
Say, “Yes, I am breaking the rules.”
When someone says, “That’s not practical.”
Say, “It’s practically a done deal, thank you very much.”
When it is said, “No one will do it, believe you, follow it.”
Say, “I will do it, I will believe in it, and in time, the world may well follow it.”
When it is said, “No one wants to listen to that.”
Say, “I know you have a hard time listening to that.”
When it is said, “It’s a closed system, you cant change it.”
Say, “I’m going to knock twice and if there is no answer,
then I am going to blow the doors off that system and it will change.
When it is said, “They’ll ignore you.”
Say, “They won’t ignore me and the 100s of thousands who stand with me.
When they say, “It’s already been done.”
Say, “It’s not been done well enough.”
When they say, “It’s not time yet.”
Say “It’s way past time.”
When they say, “It’s not the right day, right month, right year.”
Tell them, “The right year was last year,
and the right month was last month,
and the right day was yesterday,
and you’re running behind schedule vato,
and what in the name of God and all that is holy
are you going to do about it?”
When they say, “Who do you think you are?”—
tell them who you are, and don’t hold back.
When they say, “I put up with it, you’ll have to put up with it too.”
Say, “No, no,no,no.”
When they say, “I’ve suffered a long time and you’ll have to suffer too.”
Say, “No, no, no,no.”
When they say, “You’re an incorrigible,
defiant, hard to get along with,
unreasonable woman,
Say, “Yes, yes, yes, yes,
and I have worse news for you yet—
We are teaching our daughters,
our mothers,
and our sisters…
We are teaching our sons
our fathers,
and our brothers
to be
just
like
us.


By Molly Meary ©

Natural Law

why do you howl?
asked the forest of the wind
constant and incessantly
it never seems to end
With a clatter
and a snap
so brash and erupt
We air our concerns
yet you do not give up
We said – “lead like us”
showed you how to change
mentored and monitored
but still you stay the same
howling
scowling
volatile ghost
whipping about
perpetually morose
why don’t you conform?
tone down?
why are you permanently
scarred with a frown?

Forest…
spent an eon together
now my habit, once my friend
I fear our toxic timing
is nearing an end
Convinced without you
too weak to cope
too useless, too reliant
no purpose
no hope
But in lonely travels
made my way back to the sea
across the plains and mountains
brought me back to me
They whispered ever slowly
inner within-ness it did stir
they whispered ever softly

we remember who you were
take our salty wake up

take our comforting air
take our earthly courage
for you we truly care

whilst high upon the cloud tops
as I floated all alone
wispy bliss so peaceful
could not hear you moan
Manipulations deflating
noise makers too
not as abrupt
but I hear what you do

none of that is happening
what rubbish you do speak
more nonsensical censoring
such madness your tongue leaks
always angry, always belligerent
always looking for someone to blame
Our ruptures exist because of you
and your same will forever be insane…

No.
I am more than this
Your noise proves
you know it
actions reek of fear
disdain does show it
i move you
i shake you up
’tis me who sets you free
i give you life
i give you growth
none is possible
without me

then we ask you again
why do you howl?
manically
erratically
with a temper
quite foul

Impossible to live a life
impossible to thrive
smothered and snuffed
existing un-alive
morphed into another
self I barely know
uptight and irritable
because I cannot go
I cannot be a truth
the one you see invisible
the one you find intolerable
the one you think so critical
you cannot see your cliché
through your very trees
nothing will ever be enough
but
I can be enough for me.
I howl for I am unlimited
my story wide and vast
like the flower fields
and the oceans
I awaken to all at last.
So I will howl a new tune
to forgive and to yield
and shift as the sun so brightly
in the light of one who is healed.

Chapter 69: Writers Comp Bomb Out

I suppose it wouldn’t really be a true writers journey if I just posted the failed attempts without the emotion that comes with that failure.

I swore at the beginning of the year I was going to pack in the competition thing. While they are great for lesson learning, skill building and thick skin development – they defo have their down sides.

I invest probably far too much time in the entries and it takes away from my real writing. Plus it’s supremely shit for my nerves and even shitter for the confidence. But, it’s also super unrealistic and very all the eggs in all the unlikely baskets pinned up on the far too many hopes board for me to handle in a rational/non nervous-nelly manner.

Truthfully – the disappointment can be a suck-fest – especially as you enter more, grow more and begin to believe your work isn’t half bad. It’s even worse if your initial feedback is nothing but praise and sunshine and wow’s and you’ve got a chance – vibes. When you receive that level of boosty positivity it’s pretty deflating to not place in a pool of just over a hundred.

We attended an author talk recently with a VERY successful young author who has gone gang busters with his first book. He’s won a tonne of prestigious awards and ironically was one of the judges involved in the competition most of our writers group entered.

He made a point of mentioning he entered this same comp many times and not once did his work place. He actually sounded a bit pissed about it. There was a bit of a “Fck you, look at me now” tone. It was funny, but also a relief. If people at the top can’t crack the winning formula, maybe I’m not such a dull storytelling dummy after all.

Different judges, different styles, different academic levels, different likes/interests, different trends, and all the miscellaneous and mysterious criteria to succeed – can be dissected, hypothesised and conspirisised (totally a word) – but I think I’d rather not know and let it go. Try again, or move on.

But first…

RANDOM OVERTHINKING INTERMISSION (BRACE YOURSELF…)

After I entered and bombed at a major comp last year I was invited (as were all the other entrants I presume) to be a possible judge for this year. I scoffed (super appreciatively) when I saw it. Was this a joke? How can a random – who only very recently returned to the writing journey she abandoned nearly two decades ago as an unpublished, unskilled, uneducated dabbler – be considered for an invite, let alone judge another’s work? Though I doubt I’d have been accepted, it left me pondering things a little.

I may have broken my brain a bit.. more.

continuing…

No point being bitter or bogged down on bombing out and everything is a learning curve, no matter how tricky and awkward it can be to swallow.

BUT – feedback would be massively helpful. I’d pay an entry fee if it meant you would get some tips on why you bombed, or even the thing that all unsuccessful entrants want to hear – it was good – there were just so many excellent entries this year. Shit, I’d even settle for your story was okay, but others were better.

Then there’s the possibility that mine was simply just crap – which though I’d probably melt into a sad old sorry puddle of goo, I I think I’d be fine hearing.

Here is my most recent bomber. Please forgive the formatting, WordPress don’t seem to care for indents etc and it’s too long for me to fiddle with.

Hiilville

The walls are higher. It looks like a prison. A medieval monstrosity smack-bang in the middle of suburbia. Nerd’s wet dream. The full moon shines on broken glass cemented into the limestone. Old school. Clever. They do that now, the smart ones. Source ideas from the past. Some work. Most fail. Great minds are scarce and the redevelopment shows. Everything returned to a primitive state soon after the fall. All except the safe zones and this safe zone stands like the same privileged, polished turd it always was. Now it’s just a fortified one. Synthetic, stifling, everything we ran from and here we are running back. Willingly. It was a hard pill for my son to swallow.
“You hate Hiilville.”
“We need supplies and information.”
“You said safe zones are traps,” Card pressed and any other time I would have praised his bullshit-sniffing skills. Only sixteen and keener street-smarts than a middle-aged man on the run.
“If we’re going to Dad, we’ve gotta make a move.”
“Yeah, but now? We’re safe here. We should at least wait until spring.”
“Love, we’re too vulnerable. Beasts are heading inland and Brae is getting bigger and louder. Just her gurgling echoes outside the cave. I nearly smothered her when a herd passed last week.”
“What’s to say that won’t happen out there?”
“Once we reach the coast, there’ll be less of them. Easier to kill.”
“There’s a thousand kilometres between us and Dad and we don’t even know how far south the beasts got.” Card gnaws his pinky. He never used to bite his nails. It started the day we saw the parachutes. Hundreds of pods falling from the sky, beasts clawing their way out and slaughtering anything living. The army took one down and hacked into its collar chip. GMO monsters designed by whoever caused the fall – created to locate resources for some sort of invasion. Now their mess roams free defaulting to hunt and breed. Card spits a bit of nail.
“That’s what we’ll suss out at Hiilville. In and out, I promise. It’ll be good for you. Sleep in an actual bed, have a warm wash. We’re all a bit on the nose.”
“I don’t remember what a real bed feels like. It’ll be a tease.”
“You won’t be saying that after a full night’s sleep on one. Cardie, it’ll be okay,” I lie, lovingly. He skulks like a typical teen. I peck his cheek and tousle his hair.
“I’ll go if you’ll stop petting me like a pug.”
“Deal,” I agree. A few years ago I would have followed up with a jab at the knee, or the weak spot on his neck, but we can’t risk it. I wonder if his old tickle places still exist, or if I’ll ever hear him laugh again. The beasts don’t give a shit about family moments, or joy, or anything other than gorging flesh. Card was right to worry. We were safe in the cave. Plenty water, plenty hunting. But we had to go. Back to their father. Back to my husband. Home… 

To be continued in Apocalyptic Campfire Comics

***

Chapter 68: Heroines Journey – Part 2

Writers Group Exercise Week 2: Homework – re-write a fairy tale based on the Heroines Journey Model. This is my attempt with the steps integrated because my brain isn’t that clever. Enjoy.

Snow White and Rose Red

800px-Schneeweisschen_und_Rosenrot3.jpg

STEP 1: Separation from the Feminine.

I had a sister once. Lips red as blood. Hair black as night. Skin white as snow. Well, not exactly. She tanned nicely in the summer.

We had a lovely life. Uncomplicated. Simple. Though we looked nothing alike, she was my mirror. My twin soul in every way. One did not step without the others hand. One did not give without the other by her side. I loved her and she me. A sisterhood quite like no other.

STEP 2: Identification with the Masculine and Gathering of Allies:

We rarely disagreed until the day of the dwarf. T’was misty and an eeriness filled the icy air. A green tinge stained the sky, like a brew in a cauldron. What a cliché for a pointy hatted demon to present himself upon our doorstep, when the world outside looked fit to end.

I felt his presence before he stepped on our land. My unwanted gift of sight. An intuitive knowledge I found bothersome and useless compared to a blade. Never the less, I saw him, perhaps another, near the brier woods where only the wicked and giant dared pass. The vision was muddled, but the sentiment clear – evil. 

“A darkness approaches. Take caution,” I whispered and placed my hand to her temple.

“Oh, a small stranger, from… the woods. At this hour? Rose, are we in danger?” Snow asked like a timid blue jay.

“Only if we are careless.”

“Careless?”

“I do not think we should let this stranger in.”

“He is but a little man. What harm could he possibly be?”

“Tis his cunning I fear, not his size. I tell you, take caution.”

“Sister, you are overly cautious with your role as guard. I am sure mother did not mean you to replace the woodsman.” She giggled and fluttered towards me.

“If you had completed your training there would be no need for my protection, nor that of others.”

“Pish, training. We both know I was never going to be a warrior. Besides, I did not wish for silly lessons to distract from the torch you held for him.” Snow laughed louder, sprinkling her fingers across my arm.

“Nothing but a flickering candle. A dim one.”

“And no doubt the origins of your surly demeanor, sweet Red. Unexplored love… or maybe…”

“I neither pine, nor have need for love. Now take cover behind the door.”

STEP 3: Road or Trials and Meeting the Ogres and Dragons:

An abrupt knock. An unnatural echo. A graying of my skin leached of all warmth. Silence, neither party making the first move. A knock again, louder, longer, wretched.

“Who is it?” I asked with a tone reserved for such moments.

“Herr Zwerg. Are your parents’ home?”

“None of your business.”

“Well, my. I…”

“What do you want?” I snapped again.

“A terrible, beastly bear stole my satchel of gold, and all my worldly possessions. I have no food because the greedy wretch ate that too!”

“Did you harm him?”

“Who?”

“The… bear.”

“I most certainly did not. He was a giant, almighty…”

“How is this my affair?” I interrupted.

“What sort of an insolent girl would not offer charity to a kindly passer-by at the death of the day? Where are your manners? Where are your morals? Where are your…”

Step 4: Experiencing the Boon of Success – the heroine overcomes obstacles:

“For someone standing in the cold, penniless, hungry and with a great heavy door between he and the only help for miles, I would expect less insults.”

The voice scoffed and spluttered. I muffled a snicker. Snow stirred. It would not be long before her impossible conscience would be reprimanding my sport.

“Rose Red. This is not our way…”

“This is not your way, sister. I, however, grow tired of these villains and their advances.”

“Please, show mercy on the stranger. At least allow him a moment by the fire…”

“I hear another? Such sweet words from the lips of a butterfly…” the stranger’s voice called, his words dripped sickly like syrup.

“Holster your tongue and pocket your games. You shall find no distressed damsels to work your manipulations on here.”

“Rose!”

“Hush, Snow. Trust. Let me do what I do best.”

“You have nothing to prove here, sister.”

Step 5: Awakening to Feelings of Spiritual Aridity/Death:

I leant my head against the thick metal bar forged into our formidable stone door, recalling the day my father discovered it. The perfect rock, he called like a conquering god upon the mountain. Mother smiled, but something was not right. Snow tugged on her dress, tears falling as she cried Papa fall, Papa fall over and over. And he did. As his axe blade met the rock, the heavens opened and a lightning bolt like no other hit. Papa fell. Everyone mourned. All except Mother, who day after day chipped away at the large slab that had taken her husband.

I run my hands along the intricate markings she lovingly engraved. Her family crest, and sigh.

“Forgive me, Snow. You are right, ’tis not our way. Stand near the hearth. Keep your hand close to the stoker. We shall offer him food and clothes if he needs, then send him on his way.”

“Your path is a difficult one and I a burden who should never have been placed upon you, my dear.”

“You have never been a burden, Snow White.”

“Perhaps. Still, no matter the trial, you always return. Back to our truth. You always heed the calling.”

“The calling is an almighty pain in my rump.”

Snow smiled and made her way to the fire. I slipped a dagger into my boot and checked the pick axe on my belt.

“We can always call the woodsman if…”

“You know he no longer comes… now hush.” I tightened my grip around the leather holster. Mothers pick tool designed by the smithy as a commiseration gift. I think he was secretly impressed by her rock work. His blade is equally impressive and I run my finger along the sculpted handle, perfectly suited for splitting the skulls of cantankerous dwarves. If necessary. “You there,” I called gruffly. “I am opening the door. I am armed. We offer you broth and a warm fire, but then you be on your way.”

“But night comes, and I as ashen as a dragon feast. I shall surely die…”

“Those are my terms.”

“Well, girl, you leave me no choice. I accept your conditions, but I will not soon forget.”

“Do what you will, dwarf. I care not.”

“How do you know I am…”

I cranked the lever until a familiar click shuddered throughout the castle walls. Herr Zwerg stood in the entrance, his skin a paler shade than expected. I glared at his vile, bitter face as he barged into our home. My grip tightened and for a moment I considered killing him just for his indifference.

“Ah. The butterfly warms her wings by the fire. You look precisely how you sound my dear. May I enquire of your name?” Herr Zwerg extended his hand to Snow, who stumbled near the stoker.

“You may not. Our names are none of your concern. While you are a temporary guest in our home, you shall speak only to me. Now, tell me why you are wandering the dark wood where only fools would roam?”

He scowled at me then turned to the fire. He reminded me of an old cat who used to roam into our gardens come Spring. Prickly and suspicious he would soon scratch at your hand even if it held an offering of cream. For years he haunted our flower beds until one season he was gone. Snow mourned for the creature as only she would and created a shrine with the pebbles she had collected over the years. She offered me a slate coloured stone, but I refused to waste such a handsome object on such a loathsome creature. I set it on the mantle above the fire where the stranger now stood as unwelcoming and unlikable as that horrible cat.

“I was told of a great warrior who dwells near here. A warrior who has more riches than he knows what to do with and a penchant for investing in the intriguing.”

“Intriguing? Intriguing what?”

“I dabble in the practice of the mind and have made leaps and bounds in my research. Alas, a slight financial snag has accosted my enthusiasms of late and well… here I am, to present my work.”

“Sounds like sorcery and the only wealthy warriors we know of have either died or… moved on,” I replied, motioning to Snow who shifted lightly to the kitchen.

“I see. Well, I have it from a most reputable source. Perhaps you would like a demonstration,” he lurched towards me far quicker than I had thought him capable and I pulled the dagger from my boot.

“Take another step and I shall slash the curl from your boot.”

“Indeed,” he said, calmly, as Snow returned with a tray of steaming mugs.

“Is everything alright?” she asked in her darling tone. Before I could answer she handed the stranger the broth who was suddenly before her. He placed his pale, bony hand upon her fingers and they immediately closed their eyes. As I launched the dagger towards his chest Snow turned, blocking my path. The whites of her eyes were all I saw. Vacant. Ghostly. Dead.

Step 6: Initiation and Descent to the Goddess:

The dagger plunged through her heart with ease. The blood as scarlet as her lips spread across her dress. So intricate. So immediate. So final. She dropped limply into my arms and I released a foreign sound. Pain. Heartbreak.

“Who is the warrior? Tell me or I shall use my “sorcery” as you say – on you.”

Step 7: Heroine Urgently Yearns to Reconnect with the Feminine:

I no longer heard him. I saw the red roses that wound themselves around the window sill of her room. I heard her song within the snow that softly fell beyond the castle walls. I felt her forgiveness, her softness, her love. I felt my half leaving. She was gone, but was not. I felt some transparent version of her, hovering near my soul.

Step 8 Heroine Heals the Mother/Daughter Split:

I closed my eyes and saw it all. Herr Zwerg, the woodsman, father, mother, Rose, me. The truth of my gift. The dagger fell from fingers as I kicked aside the axe. The ground shook once more, but not from my father’s door. He heard. I knew. I think I always knew. He was coming.

“Why do you smile witch? What evil doth bound in the darkness?”

“T’was you who cursed my woodsman.”

“What nonsense do natter?”

“You lured him with a cart of weaponry. Disguised as a peddler. Twas you who stole the gold and food and cursed my love. My friend.”

“Lies! You lying wench! Who comes forth? Is it the warrior I seek?”

“You have already met the warrior.”

“What? Who?”

Step 9: Heroine Heals the Wounded Masculine Within:

“Me,” I said calmly. Herr Zwerg’s wrinkled mouth gaped as the bear entered, thrashing violently towards the pointy head that he swiftly removed from its murderous neck. The bear collapsed, shedding his beastly form and my woodsman lay before me.

Step 10: Heroine Integrates the Masculine and Feminine:

We buried my sister next to Mother and Papa, amongst the wild heather. I carve both family crests into their stones, forever bound, forever balanced on both plains. I talk to them every day, but spend most of my hours beside Rose. Even in death she still listens patiently, and guides me, as always with her grace. She is within. They all are. It brings me peace.

1024px-Schneeweisschen_und_Rosenrot.jpg

Chapter 67: On creating a podcast

I sent this in an email to my writing group peers. A year ago I would never have dreamed of suggesting, let alone actually pressing send on something this elaborate and wordy. This is the wonderful privilege of being a member of a group that builds each other up – with minimal expectations and zero judgement. I’m proud to be a part of it.

I also hope they don’t mind me recording parts of our journey on here.

To the WRITERS GROUP I still cannot believe I am a part of,

The podcast world for the unitiated is a rabbit hole that may have us taking on something that reflects other styles and not our own. I think our niche is simple:

  1. Stay true to the group sessions and what is created in them
  2. Keep it simple, yet creative
  3. Edit professionally.

Pros of our group:

  • story tellers
  • diversity,
  • camaraderie
  • love of writing
  • supportive
  • creative
  • open
  • empathetic
  • inclusive
  • evolving

This group is not just about the writing.

Here are some elements that drive me insane as a podcast listener:

Too many talkers on the dance floor:

Even podcasts that are done super professionally with great formatting and sound quality can undo themselves (in my ears) if there are too many people hosting. Whether scripted or in conversation – it can distract from the content because there’s no visual and your brain can’t help but focus on deciphering who is actually speaking. 2 is fine, but even 3 can be frustrating to listen to.

Presuming all listeners are on the same level:

(But without dimming ourselves or the content down) Regarding the writing world – not everyone is in the know and one of the BIGGEST walls in my writing journey has always been the expectation that everyone knows industry jargon, who’s who/what etc – and feeling like an inadequate dummy when I didn’t.

The most wonderful thing about our group is how gentle and patient everyone is when explaining things – without making anyone feel like ninnies. They’re actually really good at putting non-knowing numpties at ease. We need to tappy tap tap into that! (The world does not need another podcast catering to those-in-the-knowers.)

Waffle * Drag on * Ego:

My podcast listening time is limited and PRECIOUS. If a podcast has too long an introduction, or the list of credentials of hosts and guests goes on for longer than 30 seconds, or things sound too self-servy – I’m out. Same if I have to fast forward to the actual content I subscribed for, or if it becomes too over-sharey with opinions, or full of itself – solo or collectively – wrong answer. Gone. I know it’s ruthless, but time wasting is the enemy! If we save the dreamy, contemplative creative thinking for the workshops and approach the podcast more like manic Mum’s on the run, or even better – millennial’s – the content will be tighter, relevant, entertaining and the production fast-paced and shmick.

Conversational style podcasts:

(Personal taste thing) I like a more structured style – either interview with defined Q&A (Joanna Penn) or a more informative, almost documentary style, like the podcast – What’s her name or The Exploress. There is another podcast of similar ilk I really like, however I struggle to listen to as the audio is terrible and they tend to tangent a bit too much.

A semi-scripted style would keep us focused, on target and hopefully produce interesting content and an overall better experience for the listener.

Wrapping this typically wordy waffle up:

What’s been created is truly unique. What I adore about Inklings is the lack of pretension, presumptions and bullshit. There is no mould to fit except a love of writing, a joyful spirit and an acceptance of fellow writers no matter their skill set, personality, nationality, age, credentials, history, or where they’re at on their writing and life journey.

THAT

is what sets us apart from so many others and why I come back week after week. It’s not about the race to get published, or focusing just on the individual successes – but nurturing each other whatever the goals each of us has, if any.

A space that shelves superficial shit and focuses on learning, polishing, brainstorming, sharing, supporting, growing – our skills, the group and one another. We truly are a powerful force because we’ve naturally progressed to a stage where we shift, generate and evolve as one. Even when half the group is absent, they are still there, still represented, still part of our collective.

Much like the things I’m writing – what I want to read – the podcast can be exactly that. What would you want to listen to regarding writing? Not another group basking, or another bloody How To – rather – celebrating the potential glory of those wanting to follow their writing passion, or brightening someone’s day with our story and stories. With nothing to gain. No expectations. No monetary exchange. No notoriety. No clickiness. Just a group of extraordinary women, writing and sharing extraordinary things for all the misfits writers out there who don’t fit a mould.

Just. Like. Us.

Chapter 66: Sampson House, Fremantle

Earlier this year my family and I visited the delightful Sampson House in Fremantle. It was one of those days where everything seemed misty and sparkly and maybe, just maybe fairies were rustling amongst the garden beds. Magic was totally in the air.

And for a history nerd writing about Victorian era Fremantle – THIS was a DREAM! I did not want it to end. I could have easily spent another five people-free hours meandering along the corridors taking it all in.

I’ve already written a couple of reviews on this gem, so I thought I’d share a little poem instead. An ode to this exquisite time capsule. As with most historical things I write I’ve tried to look for the female element, unfortunately because my memory is like a chocolate pudding – I can’t remember any stories from the day. I’m sure there were plenty of fascinating tales about the women of Sampson House. There’s not a whole lot online (or what I know to search for), so I guess there’s nothing for it but to return and do another tour and sink my history teeth in a bit further.

If only I could take up residence for a couple of days. How rich and delicious that would be for my novel! Heavenly pipe dreams.

Sampson House

Scullery maids

High society dining

Spiral staircase

Artful refinery

Boom years

Brief opulence

Lace and steeple envy

New dawn – rifles and dictators

Roses for corn

the conquering warring century

Bobby socks and poodle frills

Restoration

Fremantle thrills

Cherry cola dates

Old tram chairs

A movie theatre makes

Dark musty halls

Tired and bolstered

Not yet dilapidated

Glorious snapshot

Era preserved

Tourists and artists

Captivated

Chapter 65: The swearing

Many years ago I ordered one of my first online print books about wayward mothers losing their minds and getting up to mischief. I couldn’t believe such a novel existed. It was as if it was written for me.

When I got my sweet delivery I was so excited to wrap my chompers around every word. Which I did with utter glee… until rather abruptly, I didn’t.

What I found wasn’t what I expected. I had been elated at the prospect of the hilarity and familiarity that only a book based on everything I loved, loathed and lived – would surely bring. Alas, twas not the case.

The book WAS funny AF. However, and rather sadly, I never finished it. One reason was a pair of gate crashing squatters (a pre-schooler and toddler) consuming most of my waking and non-waking hours. I couldn’t even read movie subtitles without being interrupted a gazillion times by shit, tit, shlop, vom… the list goes on. Why I thought I’d be able to read in any medium at any time of day still is one of the GOAT jokes of them all.

Randomly, something other than my sweet little spawners was keeping me from eagerly reaching for that paperback. It was the

? ? ? swearing ? ? ?

I realise how ridiculous rejecting a book I actively sought for that very reason sounds, especially someone who can’t speak three sentences without slipping the f-bomb in at least eighteen times.

The problem for me was the swearing took over the tale. From memory and wherever I got up to – the book was a memoirish perspective on being a modern Mum, dealing with kids etc and the strong camaraderie and bond this woman had with her fellow boozing besties. She was basically living my life.

I was by no means quick to push the book aside and when I did – I was seriously pissed off with myself (on a side note and in support of a ridiculously successful woman and fellow writing sista – I will make it my mission to read the rest of it hopefully sometime in the next decade).

Writing – at that point in my life – had long been abandoned and was not remotely on the radar other than a few poorly written reviews.

However, when the vile bile of So You Are… Pregnant! spewed out of me in it’s raw infancy – every second word was FUCK. When I finally did a read-through of the first draft I had that same feeling as I had with the sweary, rejectorino potty-mouthed book – but wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy worse.

(Disclaimer: the following is my personal response to ME – no one else.)

I felt cheap, but worse I felt like a great big dummy. That old saying I’ve poo pooed most of my life rung loudly – excessive swearing = a lack of intelligence.

Even though I knew what I was writing was raw, real and relatable, the sweary overuse was a little too loose goose.

The more I read, the more inarticulate, lazy and just plain old stupid I felt. To me – when I first write something (especially these posts) I write like I talk when I’m with close friends who would be concerned if I didn’t swear.

I really, really, really write how I talk.

So, I had a decision to make. Leave it in – or try to communicate with a less ca-ca mouthed approach. The first thing I did was this to every fuck I could find –

fCk

Yes. I know it makes no bloody difference, but visually it kind of softens the aesthetic blow – for me at least.

Then I either removed/replaced, or did what I should of done as a professional writer from the start: got creative.

Even now on the 4578th edit – I’m finding myself cringing at the overuse and much is being culled. I hope it makes a difference to the reading experience.

BUT – many have been left. This is probably one of the best pros of self-publishing. Because sometimes nothing quite says it like a good old string of fCk’s.

FCkitty – fCk – fCky – fCking oath.

FCk yeah.

Sorry Nan x

Protected: Chapter 64: Dear Dr Amanda Foreman

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Protected: Chapter 63: The Heroine’s Journey

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