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!

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.

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.

Good Stuff

The writing is going well though slowly. Had to ask for an extension because there seem to be so many more things surfacing that I want to include/edit/delete!

The great news is that my favourite yoga teacher is now working out of her own shala in Tiong Bahru! I thought she would be ensconced in Pure Yoga forever (I know it’s a place that does good stuff but I tried it & it doesn’t suit me).

Now she’s back in Back On The Mat, with 6.45 am mysore classes Tue/Wed/Thur/Fri and 8 am mysore Sat/Sun. The official ‘opening’ isn’t till June 15 but I’ve gone for two practices so far and I’m already feeling better!

went to West Coast Plaza to get fruit & wholemeal pitta but got tempted by these!

Treated myself to a library visit & some desk flowers… maybe I’ll do this once a week!

Mixed Feelings on Friday

I’ve decided that yesterday was a great day. It was on the fence for a while though

Downs: I let myself get bogged down/stressed by writing requests that came out of nowhere & in spite of my saying ‘no’ ‘no time’ and ‘not something I want to do’. The problem is even after that I found group emails that included me & pdf files for me to read/edit/rewrite “just when you can, no hurry, but we need this by dd/mm and we can’t go ahead till we hear from you”
I went for a post yoga massage & found 11 ‘urgent’ messages when I turned my phone back on, most of them telling me to respond to my emails!
The biggest difficulty was all three requests came from people who I like & consider friends.
The old me would have obliged, I think–while feeling bad about it. The new me said ‘No’.
It’s difficult (Methodist Guilt) saying I don’t have time to take on a project when I’ve just had a back massage but my priority right now is the Current Book and I don’t want to drain myself on other writing.

Ups: I’m on track with the CB. Week’s goal was 25,000 & I reached 26,000+++ so I’ve got a bit of space to read/edit in.
I went to listen to Ferran Adria speak and was very impressed. Of course he was talking about cuisine but I thought a lot of what he said applied to writing.
My favourite points (paraphrased to a writer’s POV of course):
1. That we all crave different tastes & sensations in food but could not eat or indeed survive without the flavourless, colourless essential component of water applies to what we crave in the written word too.

2. There is a difference between sensational and significant cuisine… same thing applies to writing.

3. We must not be ignorant and superficial about historical & contemporary cuisines/literature.

4. You need good quality fish and rice of course but 90% of the success of sushi is in the temperature. For me that translates into needing ‘good’ characters and plots but success being in the writing that supports them.

5. You see cuisine differently as a cook and as a person. As a person he ‘eats airplane peanuts’. Yes, and differently as a writer and a reader too.

6. He is now closing El Bulli for 2012 & 2013 but even before that El Bulli (repeatedly credited best restaurant in the world) was open only 6 months a year, the rest of the time was dedicated to research. Yes! I have to spend more time doing serious reading!

Ferran Adria reminds me of Mozart as Mitsuko Uchida describes his music; (paraphrasing from what I remember of radio interview) on the surface it is beautiful, light, joyous energy and only if you look deeper do you see the incredible technical complexity that goes into his work.

Yesterday was also good because I had a good asana practice–only Primary Series but I think I’m getting ‘back’ into the flow. This morning I did a short practice at home and even could do the utthitas without problem… think in class the frazzle of getting there takes my balance away!
I find my balance is always better after meditation/pranayama. I should try to fit that in but before class there’s usually the rush of getting the doggies to daycare first which means traffic and sad canine faces are uppermost in my mind when I get to the shala…

This morning I read that Kathryn Stockett who wrote The Help spent 5 years writing it (she started the day before 9/11) and received 45 rejections from agents before she got published–I’m so behind on collecting rejections!!!

Full day today… got to get started.

Rollerblading!

Went rollerblading over the weekend–I’m looking for ways to exercise the dogs without killing my knees from running–and it was great!

But I can see myself going skating for fun without the doggies–I didn’t realise there were so many skaters/skating groups in Singapore…

What was really good (for me–still a raw beginner right now) was learning that YOGA is recommended to help beginners with balance and I think that may have helped me more than I realised!

But today I’m aching in strange places… back to mat practice, I think… !

Back to Practice

This morning after dropping the doggies at K9 (for day boarding/socialisation & grooming) I drove to Yan Kit Road for my first ‘real’ practice of the year.

It was raining, what I thought would be a trip of under 30 minutes took me almost an hour so by the time I got there it was almost 10 am and I had a 12noon appointment I needed to shower before and I couldn’t find parking closer than a hundred metres of construction work with muddy puddles & splashing cars away… it was SO tempting to bail, find a Starbucks & tell myself I need to get back into practice gradually… ie not today, not in the rain, not on a Friday after a tough week…

But bizarrely every time I thought about skipping this practice I felt a wince inducing twinge in my solar plexus, like the need-a-loo twinge almost but starting deeper–

I’ve been reading about purusharthas, triggered by an article in Yoga Journal (yes, reading about yoga is sometimes easier than practicing) & how the choices we make every moment are choices that could bring us closer to fulfilling our needs & goals or not. What we think of as ‘no choice’ situations appear that way to us because we’ve been previously conditioned to see them that way.
I’ve been trying to be more conscious of my choices & realise this solar plexus shiver-ache is how my body signals to me that its uncomfortable with something.

Though I wanted to get somewhere dry with magazines & coffee & be lazy till 12 and I was scared of plunging back into a full practice after three weeks, I also miss practice & miss the way I feel after practice. I also want to get rid of the little achey bits that surface in my shoulders & neck muscles when I don’t stretch & wring out the computer tension on the mat.

So… to the shala. Tried to explain to teacher I couldn’t do a full practice because 1) lack of time 2) lack of practice 3) lack of stamina could I just do an hour’s practice today?

Teacher, being a teacher of Sri K PJ lineage said “Just start. I’ll tell you when you’re ready to stop,”

And after all my initial fears I had a Fantastic practice!!!

Yes, I’d actually forgotten some of the sequence–couldn’t remember whether supta konasana & upavishta konasana came before or after supta padangushtasana when doing ‘air yoga’ in the car–but somehow, on the mat, muscle memory woke up and got me through it!

I was also afraid I’d transformed enough muscle tone into flabby dead weight to die at anything that required upper body strength but surprisingly it was like my body took the time out to figure out what it was supposed to do…

eg I used to struggle with my chakrasanas but today, each time I got into position & prepared to begin the struggle I found myself going over!

Yes, I did ‘cheat’ today.
I left out the vinyasas between sides, I used my arms for support in setu bandhasana, I didn’t do the final headstand (when I came in the others were finished/finishing the standing sequence. By the time I reached backbends they were queuing for the showers. I know I should have been focused on my breath but I needed to shower before 12…)

As it turned out I showered with plenty of time. I even had time to stop in Starbucks (no plexus ping this time) for hot tea & a banana before my appointment. And I learned something about practice today. It wasn’t about mastering the poses or the sequence. I was there because my body needed it. I was doing it to untwist and unkink and stretch out and flush fresh blood around this body I haven’t been paying enough attention to. Now I feel so good but as I sit here but I know it’s not going to last.

Yes, yet again I’m making the commitment to do this regularly.