New Start & September Anticipations

If this is scattered (more so than usual) it’s because of 1) slight stress headache due I think to 2) EXCITEMENT because I’ve been told to watch out for a DHL delivery today–it’s a present and I’m pretty sure it’s an iPad!!!

But I’m telling myself it may not be, no point looking up apps/getting excited. There are lots of things that qualify as a ‘portal to new experiences’… it could be concert tickets, tarot cards, an umbrella…

No, I mustn’t speculate. Must wait & see. Must stay calm and have lunch first…

I haven’t been writing regularly here since all the excitement of last year’s AWARE takeover partly because there hasn’t been anything big and public I wanted to focus on and all my little issues/doings/happenings get aired on Facebook; and partly because I was taken aback by some of the comments I got on those pieces–fundies who send ALL CAPS rants in bad English and links to Pastor Prince sermons–but I realise that even with my morning pages (on the wonderful 750 Words site) I miss this blog.

I miss the accountability. Thanks to the Artist’s Way Journey I’ve been taking (we’re on Week 10 now) I’m going to miss this group so much when the journey is over!
Of course it’s possible we’ll all stay in touch but that won’t be the same as knowing we’re all working on the same chapters week by week all over the world.

(Sorry, I know it’s a lot of links for one post but these are places I’ve been en route to here!)

Thanks to The Artist’s Way Journey and the books & experiences it’s led me to explore I’ve become more aware of the incredible energy, blessings & synchronicity surrounding me now. I want some kind of record for myself that can also serve as a general route guide.

Like I find I walk more when I wear a pedometer & set a target I hope I’ll be more focused in my reading and writing and yoga practice if I write about where I hope to be going in these areas. Setting goals helps define them so at least I know what I’m trying to do!

Reading is on my current list thanks largely to Steve Leveen for pointing out 1) We each have individual ‘great’ books lists 2) Don’t waste your time on books you don’t connect with–there’s so much great writing out there waiting for you 3) With all the great writing and so little time it’s a huge waste not to plan what we want to read/love to read.

He may not have meant to say those things in his book The Little Guide to Your Well Read Life but that’s what I got out of it and according to him that’s what counts!

Another book that’s inspired me to try this is Nick Hornby’s Housekeeping vs The Dirt, a chronicle of fourteen months of reading which starts each chapter/month with Books Bought: and Books Read. Haven’t finished it yet but I’m enjoying the read so far. It’s tremendously freeing to feel I don’t ‘Have’ to finish what I start reading if it doesn’t work for me at the time.

I’m hoping to post twice a month: Once in the first week and once in the final week.

September Intentions:
1. Finish corkboarding the mystery novel on Scrivener. I’m switching from first person to third person which means rewriting it completely, also cutting it down from 70,000 ++ words to 50,000 words. For a while I thought ‘no way’ I can do that in 3 months but that was exactly when ‘Creative U-turns’ came up in TAW and it could have been addressed directly at me. I’m going to practice the process and keep going till I’m stopped–this time I won’t stop myself. I’m also reminding myself that a publisher giving rewrite suggestions is a very GOOD sign and actually once I got over the panic most of the suggestions are very very good. It’s due at the end of the year so if I manage to put down a structure I’m happy with I think I can make it. In September I hope to put down at least 15,000 words.

2) Children’s Book. Why not? I wrote 2 for SPCA (they’re only taking one) so when I heard about the NBDCS children’s book competition I thought–why not? It will be an interesting experience. I’m targeting 40,000 words for this. In September I hope to finish the outline & roughly 12.000 words.

3) Yoga. Back at yoga after so long I realise how limp wimp I’ve become! But I’ve cut myself down to doing part of Primary Series at least twice, ideally three times a week. September goal: Back to doing Full Primary Series three times a week

4) Reading: I’ve just discovered the world of audiobooks but don’t want to give up reading paper just yet so… first step is to finish the Nick Hornby and the Artist’s Way course and then I’ll see. I have 4 library books and Swan Thieves and I feel like rereading stuff after surprising myself by enjoying The Scarlet Pimpernel so much…

5) Travel: Going to Paris for just over a week–hoping to try art journaling the trip. If that doesn’t work out just mean to enjoy it.

6) Blogging–mean to get back on the page for my September round up!

TAW Week2

Week 1 was really good for me though I was spending a lot of time trying to figure out what I was ‘supposed’ to do. Really pleased to get to know some of the other on the journey because I hope the group energy will help me keep going as the journey continues.

I know it’s easy for me to practice yoga in a group than on my own despite how much simpler (no need to arrange time & transport, no need to wear anything beyond underwear… if that) it is to practice alone at home. I did worry I was going to class for the ‘wrong’ reasons but then I figure any reason that gets me on the mat is a good reason & I hope the same applies to my TAW journey!

All through the first week (sense of safety) I was asking myself ‘what are you scared of?’ during my morning pages. It struck me I was not looking for ‘safety’ (because if the Creator made me & put me here I am safe here) but the sense of safety that will let me try and play and relax and explore.

This week (sense of identity) I’m working on the question ‘who are you?’ but it’s really free play. Sometimes one of my imaginary lives selves decides to answer instead.

I’ve found some ‘relaxing’ (for me that means rain or waves or crickets) sounds on YouTube to lull the jumpy sides of my mind when I’m trying to work and I found the Absolute Write ‘water cooler’ that’s really speaking to me during my own writing breaks.

Something Pat (fellow TAW voyager) wrote about the physical act of writing bringing things home to us much more thoroughly made me write out my affirmations. Yes, I read we’re ‘supposed’ to but till then I figured as long as I had them in my head it would be good enough. What was interesting was that as I wrote them out I found myself adjusting them to suit me and though I started with 3 affirmations from the book I ended up (last night–today it may change again) with:

1. I create my self with each day’s thoughts and actions
2. I love learning, practicing and playing
3. I trust my self

No 3 comes out different each time: I get I trust myself to do my best, I trust myself to be gentle to myself, I trust myself to enjoy this life… it’s been fun!

And I read about James (another TAW fellow traveler–yes, one of the champions I mentioned previously) who’s doing like a hundred things already (stage rehearsals, music) and he’s already taking steps on his imaginary lives! I want to do that too! I’m going to the library later. I’m usually too hard up/stingy to buy books till I really love them but when I do I will buy them just to pay a thank you tribute to the people who wrote them ‘for’ me.

(James if you make it here again Thank You! I’m putting your comment on my happy board–at the moment it’s just happy sticky tabs but they work!!)

And I’ve made my ‘God Jar’. There are more sticky tabs inside. The thin coloured ones that I can fold and stick in on themselves in little squares after I’ve done. They look like candy in there. Yesterday I just wrote down the date & put it in and thought ‘now that’s taken care of’ & I think the day went really well.

Today I woke late–7.30 instead of before 6am as I’ve been managing to do so everything got pushed back a bit but a blessed angel came to walk the doglets and they got a long long trek up Clementi Road, round past the mosque and Sakuraya restaurant and down into Clementi Woods Park. That’s further than I normally take them and they came back so High & happy & hot & tired & panting & so very very glad to see me that I was happy (though not as tired) too! They’re both asleep now.

My difficulties with the TAW journey so far: I love doing the morning pages but my right hand & arm hurt, not being used to writing. I’m not doing morning yoga & meditation because I get right down to morning pages when I wake & then there’s dog breakfast, dog walking, feeding fish, turtles, watering plants before too much sun gets to them… and I’m not writing here as much as I would like to.

I’ve thought of doing my morning pages here but since so much of them goes ‘this is a nice pen. It writes better than the other pen. I want to change my handwriting to something more regular’ it would really be a waste of space.

And of course I want to get back to working on the CB (Current Book though sometimes the more vulgar term applies) by 9 am.

But overall I’m having a Great time so far. Thank you Wenona & everyone else on this journey!

TAW Day 4

The 4th day of my new Artist’s Way journey and the first day of July.

What do you do when you try to listen to your ‘inner artist child’ and all she wants to do is play???

Or perhaps all the others on this journey are better children than I am.

Today I have one last day of massive manuscript cut & paste transfer which should bring the manuscript up to 50,000 words. From there on it’s the fine tuning & writing in from all the stuff in messy handwritten notes & messier in-head thoughts. But in a way I”m looking forward to that too.

I did my morning pages and that was very good. I’ve found my creative champions–

Category 1: people who’ve actually helped/encouraged/given me money/read my stuff/staged my stuff/published my stuff/loved me even though they had NO IDEA what I’m trying to do

Category 2: people who’ve inspired me through time by what they produced/wrote/created/lived

Category 3: people who are inspiring me now in the step by step day by day art of living and committing to living creatively. And two of them are actually in this same Artist’s Way journey with me… three of them actually! (Thank you J & J & W!!!) and I just keep telling myself if they can keep walking the path with such good attitude despite all the other stuff they are doing and living with so can I.

That’s the best part about a joint journey, I think. That you don’t have to do it alone.

I really need to get this book completed and off to the publisher before the 20th or so of July. I’ve already gotten extensions & I know they’ll be nice enough to extend further if I tell them the product will be better but I’ve got all the 24-hour scripts coming in after the 24th-25th competition.

I really love the process of reading those scripts and I want to enjoy it again this year but I know I won’t if I’ve got UM (Unfinished Manuscript) thoughts hanging over me. And I would really like to get a couple of days off in between that, the judging, and getting on with the next manuscript, (now tentatively titled God’s Rottweilers) which was supposed to be finished when? Oh yes, yesterday… and the longer, even later Man Groves in the Lion City which has already had it’s first reading & I need to incorporate the comments from my sweet patient readers before I forget them/lose them/decide to rewrite the whole thing from scratch which alas has also happened to me before.

And I swear I can feel my bum growing just from the amount of time I’ve spent sitting instead of moving around and I haven’t been back to Back On The Mat in… let me see omg 2 weeks. I’ve been blaming the early morning rain (because I can’t walk the doglets at 7am I walk them after the rain which makes me miss my mysore window) but I’ll work something out.

Meanwhile artist child has got free rain, ocean & other nature sounds to play while I sit here at the computer. It seems to lull the dogs to sleep which is good.
Bless the people who take the trouble to record & post these sounds for free!

And ‘she’ got herself some lovely fragrant peonies for the work desk even though Monday’s flowers are still alive and well…

Fragrant Peonies

Monday’s flowers still here…

The little hard red buds reminded me of coloured jelly beans

Artist’s Way Week 1 Day 2

Did my morning pages for TAW & worked a little on my monsters for the Hall of Infamy. I was surprised how easily I located 3 monsters and how I believed their views of me for years!

But instead of writing the nasty letter I wrote them a joint ‘Thank You’ note.
Because I’m glad to be who I am and where I am now.

Some of the things said to me were just petty meanness (1) based I think on her own feelings of inadequacy she switched between trying to push me to achieve what she hadn’t and punching me down when she thought I was getting too full of myself (ie succeeding at what she hadn’t). As a result I always thought it was bad to be ‘smart’. “Think you’re so smart” was a standard scolding. And when I did well & there seemed nothing else to say she said “You know how small Singapore is? The rest of the world doesn’t care who you are!”

For (2) I don’t know what it was. Certainly I don’t like her now but at the time I was open to working together. Before my ‘thank you’ letter today I wrote a long long letter to this one & it’s in my folder (I got 2 lovely 6 pocket folders and made Week 1 Week 2 etc labels for them) itemizing exactly where and what she did that I think was unfair and unjustified and just plain unprofessional. Of course I won’t be sending it but just seeing these things on paper and writing them down made me realise I’m not at fault. She behaved like a real cb. I don’t wish her ill but I don’t ever want to work with her again. But I realise my first reaction to what happened–“I am never going to write for theatre again” was a bit extreme.

On the other hand if not for that I probably wouldn’t have decided to try writing novels and I’m really enjoying this new experience! So yes, thank you to her too.

For (3) the problem was I didn’t want to do a writing project & said I was trying to take some time off for my own writing. He told me novels wouldn’t sell in Singapore, nobody wants to read novels these days. People only want to buy cookbooks and textbooks. (He was asking me to work on a text book). He also told me I was a snob and elitist because I didn’t want to work on his promote ‘good English’ project. I didn’t want to because I believe language grows and evolves and I’m fascinated with how it does. He said that because I speak and write ‘standard’ English I’m reluctant to help others do so because it would be competition for me.

Huh what?
Anyway he gets a portrait in my hall of infamy. But a thank you too, because that meeting made me think seriously about language and speech patterns and where I stand in all that. I want to go in as an observer and recorder and listen and watch and learn all I can because people and their patterns of love, life, hope, work, wants, dreams, driving, drinking, death and desires are all so very fascinating.

One of the Artist’s Way affirmations (well that I adapted for myself) that really worked for me was that I am just transcribing stories already in the universe. I still have to think about structure and character and presentation but I’m doing that with my audience’s receptivity in mind, not inventing crazy stories out of nothing but selecting threads I want to echo or sing out and then packaging them in ways that they can travel safe to their new channels ie new people.

And yes, I got up to 40,000 words today, went walking, went cycling, had brown rice with carrot-potato curry & garlic-tiwan choy for dinner… I should cut up the papaya in the fridge it’s ripe but I’m so tired that I think it’ll have to keep till tomorrow!

Day 1 of TAW Journey

Did my morning pages, took care of the fish, turtles, plants and walked the dogs… these are things that I want to keep up whatever else I’m doing with my life.

Oh and of course the re-editing of Dead No Bodies. I want to add another 5000 words to the new draft (5) but I keep getting distracted.

Is this a side effect of letting the ‘inner child artist’ out to play? She doesn’t want to work/write she wants to water colour guppies and make up a list of stuff to do on the trip like: walk through Haw Par Villa, visit the Asian Civilisations Museum, buy, paint & eat mangoes, lychees and durians,

But I do want to keep up with my writing and reading schedule. I want read ‘proper’ stuff except inner child wants to read poetry and greek tragedies and architecture magazines and simone de beauvoir.

I also want to keep up healthy eating/sleeping/exercise (it’s on the contract). Today I woke naturally just after 6 am which means about 7 & 1/2 hours sleep. Rice & bean stew in the crockpot for dinner–I’ll probably add some fresh greens towards the end.

And exercise… that’s the toughie. I’ve been for one 30 min walk with the doggies and there’ll be one more probably longer in the evening if it doesn’t rain. In addition I want to do either a 30 min self practice or spend 20/30 minutes in the gym. We’ll see how that goes.

But for now, enough distractions–back to Scrivener!

Just found The Artists Way on Facebook!

& I’m signing up for the next ‘journey’ starting 28 June. I have NO IDEA how it’s going to work but I’ll do the 12 week journey and see.

I first discovered The Artists Way in 1995–was Peggy gave me a copy of the book and it was a great journey guide through the early years of writing.

I tried to keep up with the morning pages etc but gradually let that slip along with the rest.

It was a privilege to be able to afford ‘dedicated’ writing time, I thought, so I ought not waste it on stuff like blogging & going on ‘artists dates’.

But maybe that’s become a problem in itself.

I just connected with Tarn How (“you’re trying to work on 4 books?”) & told him it was worse than that right now, incredible as that might sound:

The writing situation now:
1) Man Groves in the Lion City (all titles are tentative) got draft 3 to readers, halfway through rewrite on comments put it aside for…

2) Guarding Dogs which I was very excited about, good energy, finished 1st draft in (for me) record time of 4 months, in second draft…

then spoke to Ruth from Epigram who said she was willing to read a mystery story so I said recklessly “I have! I have!” & dug out:

3) Dead No Bodies
4) Falling From Clean Windows
5) Killing Mothers

which I thought were all semi-ok light fiction, read through them & found them horribly horribly cliched, dated, pretentious, affected, limited… & am now re-editing draft 5 of Dead No Bodies hoping to send it to her without too much shame…

Sounds horrible right? And while trying to write all this I’m getting distracted by idea for a condo murder… tied into adultery, gambling debts & the possibility of everything being solved by a 90 million dollar en bloc sale… how like that!!?

But what is amazing is I’m feeling good, had a bit of a cold for 3 days but that got me back to reading which turned out to be good too, next week (or sooner) I’ll get back to yoga practice in the new shala I LOVE both for my favourite teacher Celeste & the location (lots of parking), & of course there’s walking the doglets twice a day.