Thursday, July 2, 2015

Found it, doing it: still me

Another thing that happened during my two month absence from blogging is that a whole heap of questions got answered. I'd been carrying around a few dilemmas in my life: nothing major but nothing for which I felt I could force an answer. It felt good just to wait and see what emerged.

One thing I was curious about was the purpose of this blog. When I started blogging, I wanted to join the conversation I felt my favourite writers and artists were having. Ostensibly, I wanted to document my journey into the creative life but, if I'm going to be honest, I also wanted to morph my life into something that resembled those of my favourite writers and bloggers (or at least, the pretty bits I got to glimpse via social media).

Five years on and I just cannot look at another  Discover Your Bliss type book or Do What You Love themed e-course. Because I have discovered it and I am doing it and the truth is: there was nothing to discover, I've known that I wanted to be a writer since I was four years old; and I am doing what I love and I'm still me, basically.

Don't get me wrong, the journey of discovery has come with many gifts. And incredible friendships. And I have certainly evolved, artistically, emotionally, intellectually, psychologically along the way. But at the end of the day, I'm still me. There's nothing I can read/buy/drink/wear/do that will magically change that... and, frankly, I'm no longer interested. Being me is actually OK, bingo wings and all.

(Though if I'm going to be honest, part of me feels wistful for that time, the girl that I was five years ago. Back then, I was an earnest beginner, an honest fool. I would have read/bought/ingested/worn/done anything to make my life feel prettier. There was not a Discover Your Bliss type book or Do What You Love themed e-course that I didn't buy into. And I honestly felt like if I just. kept. trying. something would change. There was something delicious optimistic about that time, however naive, foolish and costly -- and disappointing -- it turned out to be.)

(And to those of you who are scratching your head, unable to fathom wanting to be anything other than who you are: cookies for you! It's a thing, OK?)

As it turned out, only the hard ugly work of therapy actually shifted anything worthwhile. And self-compassion and acceptance have offered the most powerful means of noticing the prettiness that already exists in my life (though you'd be surprised how mind-bogglingly elusive that is!).

But anyway, all this to say that things will be changing here, over time. It's looking likely that I will start over, cull the archives, shed my Nom de Plume and focus more on my life as an emerging fiction writer i.e. my life as it actually is. And probably tweaking my offerings in line with that. Heck, I may even join facebook! I'll be sure to let you know as it happens.

Anyway, I just wanted you to know that I'm still here. And still very much me.

And as always, I'm grateful for your company. x

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

And then it was July... (and some August Moon news)

Ummm, yes. So the last time I posted, it was the end of April and I was planning to take a month off blogging so as to focus on my fiction writing.

And now it is 1 July.

And you'd be forgiven for wondering how one month became two. Because it's a question I have been asking myself. And one for which I honestly don't have an answer other than LIFE.

What I can say is that it did feel good to have a break. A few things happened in the space that's usually reserved for blogging.

One is that I got some rest. It's almost ridiculous how momentous this felt. I mean, I even rested on days when I hadn't "earned" it. You know: there were dishes in the sink and mountains of laundry to be done and emails piling up and letters to be written and weight to be lost and a self to be improved... but whenever a quiet moment arose I just picked up a book and lay on the couch and read it. And if you know anything about me, you'll know that was pretty radical.

The good news is that I also got a fair bit of writing done. Like everything in my life right now -- with a six year old in school (currently on school holidays) and a one year old who only naps for an hour during the day -- the writing happened in small bursts. Babysitting windows weren't huge but they were reasonably regular. And even though I didn't get to escape to my writing studio as often as I would have liked, I did what I could when I could.

I used the time to get organised. I got the Get to Work book (pictured above). I mapped out plot lines using index cards, sharpies and pins (pictured below). I wrote and rewrote major episodes. I scribbled down notes whenever inspiration hit. I hatched a plan to meet a September deadline. I applied for a novel writing master class in November (on the recommendation of a publisher) and got accepted.

So, the plan is to continue as I am. Maybe even the resting!

I have quite a few things I want to share over the coming weeks but the biggest one is that my dear friend Alana (aka Wolf and Word) has graciously agreed to host August Moon this year! I am so excited about this, mainly because I know Alana will do an AMAZING job but also because this frees me up to pursue the aforementioned September deadline.

Please do visit Alana's August Moon page for more information the beautiful theme she has chosen and how to play along. I've signed up and can't wait to savour some wolf magic this next new moon!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Gone writin'

I just wanted to share that I'm taking a break from this lovely little space for the month of May.

It's time.

I need to focus on my writing, for reals.

I just can't do it all.

I've noticed that since my son arrived last year my blog has felt a little like yet another item on the To Do list. When I've managed to show up, I've loved the writing process and the resulting connections. But the effort required to get to that point has sometimes outweighed the benefits.

I've also noticed I tend to bury myself in blog-related busy work when there is more "serious" stuff -- like rewriting a certain manuscript -- to be done.

This has forced some tricky questions to surface. Why do I continue to blog? Who reads and why? How do my offerings serve my readers? How do they serve me? What would happen if I stopped? What am I afraid of?

The truth is, I've had a question mark over the future of my blog in its current format for a while now. Ideally, I'd like to start afresh: a new site (under my real name, yikes!) to support my life as an author.

There are certainly aspects of what I have built here that I'd like to take with me. But I need to be clear about is exactly what I take and why.

However: now is not the time to seek answers to these questions.

Right now, there is a novel to be rewritten. And a finite amount of time to do it in.

Sometimes, a gal's gotta chose.

It's time to get to work.

See you on the other side! x

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

In which Patricia Josephine talks about angels

I don't actually know Patricia Josephine. But she's part of the StoryDam crowd so it goes without saying that we are comrades on the journey. When I saw on twitter that the second of Patricia's books in the Path of Angels series was about to be published, I asked if I could read her books so that I could help spread the word.

If I am going to be honest, angels-versus-demons is not ordinarily a genre I would be drawn to but I couldn't put either book down. I read Michael and Zadekiel each in one sitting! Patricia created a sense of place and pace that totally hooked me in. The main themes in her novels were very accessible and relevant to contemporary life, and her characters were especially well drawn.

So of course, I couldn't resist inviting Patricia to share her insights both into her stories and her process. Luckily for us, she's as generous as she is talented!

Kat: Tell us about the series: what will it look like when all books are written?
Patricia: Path of Angels follows four archangels born into our world. Their duty in life is to find Fallen angels who rebelled and send them to the fiery pit below. Along the way, they uncover a plot to free the devil and we can’t have that, now can we? There’s also some love. Wanting to protect those you love I think is a powerful motivator to make the world a safer place.

Kat: The books have a very cinematic feel. Tell us where you draw inspiration from.
Patricia: Well, in high school, I was all about art, so when I get story ideas, in my head I see movie scenes instead of words. That can be tricky when I need to translate what I see into words.

Kat The battle between angels and demons is a tale that has been told many times but you gave given it a fresh perspective. I particularly love the complexity of Michael and Lake's relationship. Talk us through the genesis of this.
Patricia: I’m not really sure how to answer this. The characters seem to create themselves. I didn’t sit down and plan anything about Michael or Lake. I got this image of a tall blond man and he introduced himself to me and told me the story. It’s a very organic process for me.

Kat: Unsurprisingly, I was especially drawn to the character if Zephyr: the quirky, lonely gal who has learnt to submit to a mysterious muse who writes through her, things she does not quite understand. How does she reflect/embody your experience of writing?
Patricia: Zephyr is one of my favorite characters in the series. I think her poetry is something that strikes me because at times I have no control over the story ideas I get. The pop into my head unbidden and can consume me until I get the first draft finished. I have yet to wake up with a story written in my sleep though.

Kat: It sounds like you lead a busy life! How do you carve out time to bring these amazing stories to life?
Patricia: Lately, my life has been quite calm and that lets me get plenty of time for writing. There are times, though, when I go days without writing. I’ve learned to work with myself. I’m a horrible writer when I’m tried, so instead of forcing myself, I don’t stress. Then when I have a day off from the day job, I will devote the entire day to writing and get 10K written. I believe each writer is different and it’s important to learn to push yourself, but also to back off and admit that something isn’t working for you.

Once you have recovered from the shock of discovering that it's possible to write 10K in a day (I practically needed smelling salts when I read that!) I'd encourage you to check Patricia's books out by clicking on the covers below.

Happy reading! And all the best, Patricia. x


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Things I'm Diggin'

My friend Cathy used to have this wonderful blog series called Things I'm Diggin' where she'd share the things that had been rocking her world. I hope she won't mind me borrowing her idea today: it feels like the perfect way to sum up all the things that are contributing to this curious little phase of my evolution.

1. This quote from Yoko Ono (via The School of Life) feels like a good place to start:

Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence,
Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance,
Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence,
Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.

2. This article from Kate Swoboda nailed it: the way I feel at the end of a busy day is completely contingent on how I have been talking to myself as I navigate my way through it. Bingo.

3. The Inner Mean Girls book has given me a whole new taxonomy for working with the fears that have been holding me back. It's like a whole lot of stuff I have been aware of has suddenly coalesced and I can see it more clearly than ever before. Highly recommended.

4. What's not to love about a room spray called Asleep in Clouds? I picked one up at a local pop-up shop showcasing local artisans and it's magic.

5. I love everything that Violet Gray Design make and wish that I owned everything in their collection! Recently I treated myself to a Chakra Kit and love the process of selecting a charm at random then sending loving attention to that part of me that needs tending as I move through the day.

6. This article about the truth of mid-life crises in The Atlantic made my shoulders come down about a metre. It's not just me. And it may be biological. And this too shall pass.

7. Spending an evening in the company of The Song Company was heavenly. I didn't want it to end. And it also got me thinking: how mindblowing would it be to stand in a room with other artisans and make beautiful music with our bodies alone?

8. I know I've mentioned this one before but Yumi Sakugawa's Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe is still rocking my world. It is, quite simply, EVERYTHING.

9. I'm also head over heels in love with Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I mean. I couldn't sleep after reading it, it had every cell in my body zinging. I am totally going to konmari my belongings. And start thanking them for all the hard work they do for me. This is really is life-changing stuff. And a delightful read into the bargain.

10. I've also mentioned this one before but I have to say that The Alchemist's Oracle is the deck I consult every single day. It's always spot on. Delicious.

10 + 1 When I purchased my Motivation mandala ring all those moons ago, I signed up for The Fifth Element Life newsletter. The most recent Moon Energy reading started with the heading New Pathways and included the following words:

The portal for this pathway has begun to slowly open a space for you now, should you choose to take it. It's not one of those obvious choices, it's still a super daunting option, actually. To know our spirit calls you to do something so much bigger and bolder than the comfort zone you are currently living in. It's definitely something to do with our perceived fears - that this is the ultimate test to take us into our greatness.

I'm feeling it. Are you?

Finally, I brought the cup pictured above home from a tea date at The Travelling Samovar. As my BFF and I shared our progress along our souls' journeys, we savoured tea that had been poured with reverence. I fell in love with my terracotta cup -- particularly its imperfection -- and was invited to take it home with me as a gift. Today I am going to buy a tiny succulent to plant in it.

And that, somehow, sums it all up.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

April Moon 15: Alana's responses

As promised, below are Alana's responses to the April Moon prompts. [Image credit: Alana Lawson]

We thought we'd use them as an interview of sorts, just for the craic. Feel free to do the same, if there's someone in your life you'd like to know that little bit better! (They could even be first date material, if you're really feeling brave, heh.)

That's when I knew that this chapter of my life had ended. And now I was free to…
Get rid of a lot of stuff.  I’m still in the process of that really.

Knowing what I know now, I would tell my ten-years-ago self:
Keep writing. Write every day.
Maybe then I wouldn't feel as far 'behind' as I do now at times.

Giving birth doesn't have to be literal. So far, in my life, I have birthed…
Ideas, stories, poems, articles, as well as two of the cutest human beings on the planet.

The last time I felt completely relaxed was… 
A summer day in Canberra. A swimming spot called Pine Island. I was floating on my back and just had this overwhelming sense that things were going to be OK. This was about 13 years ago. Relaxation is not one of my strong points.

One of my greatest sources of inspiration has always been…
The night sky, the moon, the stars. If I feel stuck - or yuck - I like to go outside at night and just look up for a while.

Whenever thunder grumbles overhead, I think of… 
Watching the storms as a kid and my dad teaching me to count the seconds between the lightning and the thunder.

It's the first thing that comes to mind when I wake in the morning and the last thing I think of before I go to sleep:
"Thank you."

I wouldn’t call it a collection as such, but I do seem to have a lot of… 
Pop culture tees! Clever and/or cute and a tribute to one of my favourite films or TV shows? I want it!

I immediately feel my body tense up whenever I hear...
The phone ring.

The moment I enter the kitchen I feel...
Irritable. It's tiny, the oven doesn't work, and I'm usually going in there at the request of a hungry but extremely fussy child.

I am trying not to talk about...
How challenging things have been for me personally the last few weeks.

This is the best part of my day: 
Any part where Joe makes me laugh.

I sometimes wonder if I will ever... 
See the places I dream of travelling to.

This is what makes me feel lucky: 
My husband and I are really great together. As well as that we have two beautiful kids together and that I get to call these guys my family. So lucky.

I close my eyes and take a deep breath. I wish…
To feel like everything is going to be ok once more.

Now you can see why I think Alana is so beautiful! And why she feels like a true kindred. And why I was so keen to collaborate with her this April Moon. It makes me feel so lucky, to have her in my corner.

Don't forget, she runs her own series of Story Starters that are every bit as ace as the above -- if not more so -- each Wednesday on her blog. Seriously: you should check it. (And while you're there, you can read my responses to the above prompts.)

Thank you again for journeying with us! x

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Our work

April Moon ended on the weekend. It was a lovely two weeks and, even though it passed in the blink of an eye, a lot happened.

There was, as always, a core group of women who posted heartfelt, genuine responses every day and also made a point of visiting each other's posts and leaving insightful, encouraging comments. These superlative human beings really made April Moon.

But there was also a large number of kindred spirits who just followed along in their own way. Some worked through each prompt in their journal. And others just read the prompts and stayed open to the answers that revealed themselves through the course of the day. The presence of these souls was also palpable and I am grateful for them too.

My final wish for everyone who received our April Moon offerings is that they learn to extend the loving kindness they showed to each other throughout the journey to themselves.

This seems to be our work in this lifetime.

It's not for the fainthearted, a life of enquiry. But it surely helps to know that we are not wrestling with our demons on our own.

P.S. Alana and I are going to post our responses to the April Moon prompts interview-style on each other's blogs (e.g. I'll post Alana's answers here and she'll post mine on her blog) later this week. Watch this space!

P.P.S. Did you know there is a band called April Moon? They are a Canadian duo living in the UK. They reached out to me on twitter and they are simply fabulous