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!

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!

Buffy’s Prayer

May The Artist’s Way Circle
attract all that need it the most.
May we forever be connected to our
higher power as we proceed on this journey.
May our inner child come
out and feel free to play.
May we go along this journey and our
relationships to each other grow and prosper.
We may not know for certain where the path will lead.
However, we trust following our higher power
will lead us to the right road.

~Buffy

I’m not part of the Artist’s Way Prayer Circle–one new thing at a time, I think (& I’m already starting on my first ‘group’ journey!)

For now I’ve got my morning pages notebook ready & ‘warmed up’ to it by doing my morning pages for the last 3 days.

I also made a nice contract for myself using stickers of books and flowers–it’s true that when you put more effort into something you respect it more. I hope to carry that lesson over to my writing too.
For now I like how the contract focuses on taking care of our sleep, diet, exercise as well as pampering ourselves for the duration of these next twelve weeks. After all our bodies are the tools are spirits get to use and work and play around with for now!

I think I can keep up with my body’s sleep & diet requirements but I would also like to get back into a regular yoga practice. Not too much too fast but maybe starting with two days/week then to three & maybe after a month at this level back to five/six mornings a week.
The difficulties I foresee comes from
1) Which comes ‘first thing’ in the morning–yoga practice or morning pages?
2) I would like to spend more time in the gym working on my core (I did shoulderstand as a computer break today & could Feel the wobble!) & my stamina. Much as I would like to believe it, walking a ‘huahua & a moodlet twice a day probably isn’t enough to get me back in shape for 75 minutes on the mat!

I know. The only way I’ll figure out what works for me is to try them out & see how they work for me.

But I’m also going to get started on my ‘God Jar’ so maybe all this will work out beautifully after all?
Maybe even in the next 12 weeks!
And so far I’ve been keeping up with my 5000 words/day ‘collage’ process trying to cut & paste stuff that does work into draft 5 of ‘Dead No Bodies’. And I discovered a drawing site that I’m letting myself play around with. No, I don’t have to ‘work’ at drawing/painting/collage I can have fun with these things without feeling I’m wasting time. I think I forgot that somewhere along the way.

Walked the dogs late today, not till almost 6 pm (morning walk was 8 to 9am and they didn’t get a midday outing today) but it was wonderfully cool in the park by then & we did some jogs & some sprints & snuffled some new cut grass so I think we’re all happy now.

Really excited about Monday!

This Monday I’ll be starting the Artists Way 12 week journey with my facebook group

It will be my first time working with a group. Haven’t been very good about group work previously but maybe an online group will work better? (no need to spend time deciding whether to get drinks or trying to dispose of food provided by well meaning members!)

I’m hoping that by the end of these 12 weeks I’ll be able to sit down write systematically rather than play Bejewelled or Zombies till I feel in the right ‘mood’ to write.

I also hope that when I do write I can get out of the ‘mechanistic discipline’ mindset that too often takes over when I’m self-imposing deadlines–which seems to be the only way I can get things finished!